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Whether it’s your first time traveling to Las Vegas or your 100th time, it’s always fun to veer away from the touristy and over-populated sites. In this local guide, I’ve compiled a list of 12 unique things to do in Las Vegas to give you a well-rounded experience of this amazing city!
Doing these 12 things will show you the local side of Las Vegas, off-the-beaten-path places, local tips to get some free stuff, day trips outside of the city, hiking spots and SO much more!
I am so excited to show you the side of Vegas that I’ve known since birth!
Table of Contents (skip directly to the info you're looking for)
- 0.1 1. Hot Air Balloon Ride
- 0.2 2. Hang out where the locals are
- 0.3 3. Hiking in Valley of Fire
- 0.4 4. Go on an Instagram walking tour
- 0.5 5. Rent a Pontoon Boat at Lake Mead
- 0.6 6. FREE Wine Tasting in the Desert
- 0.7 8. Zip Lining
- 0.8 9. Get a cupcake from an ATM machine
- 0.9 10. Drink a cocktail in a chandelier
- 0.10 11. Golf in the Middle of the Strip
- 0.11 12. Get FREE drinks while you gamble
- 1 Where to stay in Las Vegas?
- 2 What to pack for Las Vegas?
- 3 Best time of year to travel to Las Vegas?
1. Hot Air Balloon Ride
Did you know you can take a hot air balloon ride over the Las Vegas valley? There are a few companies who offer these tours, and they typically take off early in the morning. Whenever I drive to work near the Las Vegas Strip, I see them dotting the sky!
Prices range on time of year, time of day, number of people, etc. But you can buy a ticket for roughly $150 – $200 per person.
2. Hang out where the locals are
A popular thing that locals enjoy doing in Las Vegas is shopping and going to happy hour in one of our 3 outdoor malls. If I ever go to dinner or drinks with friends, it is 99% of the time at one of these three malls!
What I love about Town Square is even though it’s only a block from the Las Vegas Strip, it has inexpensive, local prices! Most restaurants and bars are chain restaurants, but they have great happy hour specials.
If the weather is nice, I recommend sitting out on Brio’s patio for a glass of their Rose and yummy Italian food. Another great option is Lazy Dog, which is a dog-friendly bar where you can sit on their patio with all the local pups!
Downtown Summerlin has adorable and unique restaurants that are not chain restaurants. The only down-side is that it’s far from the Las Vegas Strip (roughly 25 minutes). If you plan to do any hiking in Red Rock Canyon (a popular hiking location in Las Vegas), this will be a great stop for brunch to fuel up for your hike!
My favorite spot in Downtown Summerlin is Public School, which is a school-themed bar and restaurant with a nice patio overlooking the area! I am kind of a cocktail snob because I hate sweet cocktails, but this place has an excellent selection.
TIP: Get the Crushed Velvet cocktail, I promise you won’t regret it!
The district is another local hangout that is roughly 15 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip. This outdoor mall is much smaller, but much cuter than the other two! Picture cobblestone streets, tree-lined walkways, and twinkly-lit patios!
My favorite spots are:
- The Local, which is a new wine bar that offers wine flights. They have an adorable tasting room and on a nice day, they open their floor to ceiling windows.
- Bella Vita is one of my favorite spots in town! They have large round tables and a great patio that is shaded by trees. I come here often with my friends to split a bottle of wine and a ton of appetizers!
3. Hiking in Valley of Fire
Would you believe me if I told you it took me 23 years of living in Las Vegas to finally see the Valley of Fire!? When I posted pictures on my Instagram, all of my local friends have never even heard of this place!
A little over an hour outside of the city you can hike and photograph this little desert oasis! If you are traveling to Las Vegas in the summer, you may need to skip this because it gets dangerously hot. You can of course still explore the scenic drive, but hiking is not recommended.
Tip: Want to find this exact location? Located just past the visitor center on Mouse Tank Road between Mouse’s Tank Trail and Rainbow Vista Trail. This pretty viewpoint will be behind you as you drive into the park. There will be plenty of spots for you to pull over to photograph this jaw-dropping location!
4. Go on an Instagram walking tour
Las Vegas is overflowing with picture-perfect spots! Every hotel on the Las Vegas strip is extremely photogenic, plus a lot of off-the-beaten-path places you may not know about! I have a long, detailed guide on Best Instagram Spots in Las Vegas that includes photography tips, exact locations and constantly new spots! Click here to read the Best Instagram Spots in Las Vegas!
To give you a sneak-peak of the guide, here are my favorite three spots:
- New York New York Hotel
This exact spot is located at the Tropicana Hotel near the valet. If you go out to where the hotel meets Las Vegas Blvd, you will see green lawns just waiting for you to take a picture at!
2. Symphony Park
Located between the Las Vegas Strip and Downtown, you can find a small park call, Symphony Park. They have a rainbow art piece that is the focal point of the park, and if you go on a weekday, you will have the entire place to yourself!
3. Seven Magic Mountains
The Seven Magic Mountains are extremely popular on Instagram and are located just 20 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip. They are huge, vibrant boulders that contrast against the bland colors of the desert. I recommend going early in the morning to beat the tour buses!
5. Rent a Pontoon Boat at Lake Mead
Lake Mead is located roughly 45 minutes away from the Las Vegas Strip and is home to many water sports, boat rentals, and beaches. If you are traveling to Las Vegas with a larger group, it’s such a fun and unique idea to rent a double-decker pontoon boat. This one has a slide, tanning deck and full bar area for you to bring alcohol and coolers. Click here to see current pricing.
Fun Fact: Did you know Lake Mead is the largest man-made lake in the USA?
6. FREE Wine Tasting in the Desert
Did you know that wine can be made in as dry conditions as Las Vegas? Our neighboring city, Pahrump, is located only 45 minutes away and has a few wineries you can choose from.
Sanders Family Wine & Pahrump Valley Winery have small vineyards where they grow their own grapes and do the entire process right at their facility. You can do a tasting for FREE and they both offer a complimentary tour as well!
Like FREE stuff? I have a full guide on FREE things to do in Las Vegas!
8. Zip Lining
There are a few places in town that you can go ziplining, but zip lining over Fremont Street is a once in a lifetime experience! If you’ve never heard of Fremont Street, it is a bar-filled street in Downtown Las Vegas that is covered by a lit-up dome. This area has been featured in a lot of famous movies and TV shows! Note: You can go on a walking tour around Fremont Street.
The popular zip line I am referring to is called SlotZilla and you can buy tickets ranging from $20 – $50, depending on the length and height of the zipline you choose. Click here for their website to purchase tickets!
9. Get a cupcake from an ATM machine
Sprinkles Cupcakes at the Linq Promenade is available 24/7 thanks to their Cupcake ATM! You can pay with either a card or cash, and you can get a freshly baked cupcake immediately.
While you’re at Sprinkles Cupcakes, spend some time walking around the Linq Promenade for lunch or going on the large Ferris Wheel, High Roller. Tickets are fairly expensive (around $32), but it does give you an excellent view of the Las Vegas strip!
10. Drink a cocktail in a chandelier
The Chandelier bar at The Cosmopolitan hotel is my favorite bar on the Las Vegas strip! So luxurious, unique and the cocktails… YUM!
The entire bar is draped by hanging beads that will make you feel like you are in a chandelier! There are three floors to the chandelier bar and you have the option to sit at the bar or at one of their many lounge areas.
This is a great bar for drinks for a special occasion since it is so luxurious! If you are traveling to Las Vegas for a special occasion, read this guide for more ideas!
11. Golf in the Middle of the Strip
Topgolf has locations all around the world, but what is unique about Las Vegas is it has a perfect view of the Strip while you play! It is also extremely upscale and makes you feel like you are golfing at a nightclub.
Topgolf Las Vegas has three levels with private suits, multiple bars, lawn games, pools, hot tubs and so much more! Prices vary on time of day or day of the week, but you can read more about it here!
12. Get FREE drinks while you gamble
Gambling is one of the main reasons people travel to Las Vegas. The second reason is to party… So why not combine them!? Did you know you get to drink for free if you are actively gambling at one of our casinos? The service may be slower, but a cocktail server will walk around and ask you if you would like a drink as long as you are sitting at a table or machine.
Talk about the perfect pre-game to the nightclubs!
Where to stay in Las Vegas?
If this is your first time to Vegas, I would highly recommend indulging in the Las Vegas Strip experience. The Strip is between Sunset and Sahara on Las Vegas Blvd, and be mindful that just because a hotel has a Las Vegas Blvd address, it does not guarantee it is on “The Strip.”
There are endless hotels to choose from, all giving you a completely different experience. I will recommend my favorite ones in Budget, Average and Luxury:
The Luxor is my favorite, budget-friendly hotel on the Las Vegas strip. It is located in a prime location, offers a free tram service to many of the other hotels, and is uniquely shaped as an Egyptian Pyramid!
Caesars Palace is a beautiful hotel that feels like a luxury hotel but with a more affordable price tag. What I also love about this hotel is the abundance of restaurants, shopping (Check out the Forum Shops!), and beautiful hotel pool.
Wynn or Encore are both extremely luxurious hotels that are owned by the same company. It does not matter which hotel you choose because they are both connected and you get access to both amenities.
What to pack for Las Vegas?
Las Vegas is extremely warm most of the year, and our winters are very short. Recommending exactly what to wear will depend on the season you are traveling in, but here are a few miscellaneous items that are absolute must-haves!
I am not exaggerating when I say I recommend these babies on 99% of my travel guides. THE HYPE IS REAL PEOPLE! These sunblock packets are the size of a ketchup packet and can easily fit in your purse or pocket. You will thank me later when your sunblock has melted off your skin from that Las Vegas heat!
Picture this… you are partying at the nightclub for hours in your new, non-broken in heels, but it’s time to head back to the hotel room. Your feet begin to throb as you exit the nightclub and then you remember that the walk back is over a mile through the humongous Las Vegas hotel and your buzz has officially worn off. This could go one of two ways: One, you wobble back to the hotel room crying in pain because your feet hurt so bad or two, you whip out your foldable flats that were in your purse all night and walk comfortably back to the room.
Speaking from years of experience, I would highly recommend option two.
You know what’s really fun?! Drinking all night on vacation with your favorite people in the best party city in the world!
You know what’s NOT really fun?! Waking up the next morning from drinking all night on vacation with your favorite people in the best party city in the world.
I recommend bringing a package of hangover cure and try to drink one before you go to sleep and one right when you wake up. It comes in a small package that you pour into a water bottle that will nourish you with B Vitamins, electrolytes and hydration.
P.S. There is also this popular hangover cure and prevention pills. Check them out here!
Best time of year to travel to Las Vegas?
Is there really a bad time to travel to Las Vegas? No, not really. If I had to choose the worst season, it would be winter because you can not go to the Day Clubs or do a lot of hiking in the area.
Summer is fun if you plan to spend a lot of time at the pool, but sightseeing in over 100 degrees is unbearable for people who are not used to the hot climate.
Spring and Fall are absolutely beautiful in Las Vegas with 70-80 degree weather, minimal rain, and slower crowds than the summer months. If you plan to spend time at the day clubs and pools, make sure you plan to come in late spring or early fall. I would double-check with the hotel pool you plan to stay at or the day clubs you plan to visit for exact dates, because they change yearly.
That’s a wrap! I hope you love my recommendations of unique and off-the-beaten-path things to do in Las Vegas. Being a local, I have tried and tested all of the items on this list (or had a close friend vouch for me) and I can guarantee it will be a fun time!
Las Vegas is so much more than just gambling, partying and the Las Vegas Strip. I think this list will give you a well-rounded experience of this amazing city! If you want more guides on Las Vegas travel, I have too many to count on my blog!
This is a guest post by Monique from My Perfect Itinerary
Author’s Bio: Monique is a Las Vegas native who doubles as an HR Manager & travel junkie (contradictory, I know). Her love for travel has taken her all over the world at only 23 & she strives to share her travel knowledge to inspire YOU to see this beautiful world we live in! When she is not traveling, she is watching Gilmore Girls for the 13th time, making itineraries she has no immediate plan to use, and drinking wine while writing for her travel blog, Myperfectitinerary.com. You can follow along on her journey on Instagram & Pinterest!
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