Sin City was built on excess. Fine dining restaurants, ultra-resorts and high-end shops are distinctive features of Las Vegas’ cityscape; and even though this town has a bad rep for sending home visitors with far less than they came with, this hub for all-things-outrageous is a tourist hotspot for a reason. If you consider yourself a traveller who likes to live outside the box, follow this local’s lead and check-out 15 free things to do in Las Vegas that don’t involve sliding dollar bills into slot machines.
Feel the Vibes at First Friday
Vegas locals have long complained about the lack of “culture” in the city. It’s true, as soon as something becomes old, bulldozers come through and knock it down. But, with a resurgence in the downtown community, there’s no more question of culture, and First Friday is a staple in the scene. On the first Friday of every month, young and old gather in downtown Las Vegas to indulge in food, music and art. Take a stroll through this event to see what Vegas is all about… just minutes from the strip.
Om at Silent Savasana
If your idea of a yoga class only involves gentle, syncopated breaths, twisty poses and mundane music, think again. Silent Savasana does yoga in true Vegas fashion. Silent Savasana is an innovative class where each participant wears headphones throughout the practice. The instructor and on-site DJ can be heard through the headphones at whatever volume the yogi chooses. So essentially, the class is in silence. This soulful experience is what happens when movement, music and mindfulness collide. Silent Savasana is totally free and takes place poolside at the Palms, Green Valley Ranch and Red Rock Casino, first come first serve.
Sip & Savor at the Pahrump Winery
About 45 minutes away from Southwest Las Vegas you will find a small town that’s known for wild horses, legal prostitution and a quaint winery. While a trip to Pahrump might not be at the top of your itinerary, the interesting history and enthusiastic staff of the Pahrump Valley Winery will make it well-worth your time. Take an afternoon to tour the winery, chat with the in-house experts and sample some of the only wines in the world that are made with grapes from Nevada.
Embrace the Calico Basin
Miles away from the lights, luxe and debauchery of the Strip you’ll find the picturesque backdrop that is Red Rock Canyon. Though there is a fee to enter the actual park, Calico Basin is on the outskirts of Red Rock and is totally free. This tranquil spot is located outside of the park gates, but you can still climb the charred, burgundy mountains, rest at immaculate picnic grounds and relish in the desert’s beauty.
Go Behind the Scenes at Ka
With the amount of talent concentrated in the Cirque du Soleil family, it’s no wonder that their ticket prices are so hefty. That said, if you want to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the 165 million dollar production, Ka, you can do so for free! Head to the MGM and get an inside scoop on the level of mastery it takes to put on a show of this caliber.
Find the Famous Public Art
Architects, designers and artists come together to create a Vegas experience that captivates you even when you’re not expecting it. Take one walk through the Wynn and you’ll find multi-million dollar art installments from artists such as Jeff Koons and Preston Bailey. There are masterpieces speckled across the Strip, just waiting for you—free of charge.
Take a Dip at Gold Strike Canyon
Head out on Route 93 and you’ll venture to a natural oasis only known by locals. Gold Strike Canyon is a beautiful trail that leads you through a rigorous 4.5-mile trek to the Nevada/Arizona border and the Colorado River. Once you complete this hike, you’ll find a wonderful gift from nature—refreshing hot springs.
Enjoy the Spirit of the Season at the Bellagio Conservatory
While the rest of the world can enjoy the changing of the seasons, tourists in Las Vegas really only get to experience the arid, high-desert climate. However, what the city lacks in natural flora and fauna, it makes up for with over-the-top floral displays designed by some of the world’s leading horticulturists. A walk through the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is proof of the magic.
Stroll the Springs Preserve
It’s easy to view the desert landscape as monolithic, but a trip to the Springs Preserve might just change your outlook. With a range of tours, educational programs and special events, the Springs Preserve shows visitors that there’s an abundance of beauty in the desert. Take a stroll through the garden for free, and you might even find a new angle of the Strip for your Instagram feed.
Lounge at the Park
With billions of dollars in renovations to its properties, MGM sought out to create the Strip’s very first park. This mashup is a perfect representation of the city itself. Though Las Vegas might prioritize entertainment and luxury, there are deep-rooted family values that can be found… if you know where to look. Take a stroll around this urban jungle just before nightfall to watch the two worlds collide.
Gaze at Wynn’s Lake of Dreams Show
Decadence, opulence and excellence usually correlate with the Wynn properties. If you can, snag a waterfront spot to watch Wynn’s Lake of Dreams. This free show draws you in with vibrant colors, special effects and a 40-foot waterfall. Shows run nightly, every half hour.
Marvel at Fremont
If there’s one place in the world where you can see a White Snake cover band and a Tupac impersonator while zipliners whizz by above your head, Fremont is it. A true spectacle that lives up to the hype, you simply can’t visit the city without a stop here. The walk might be free, but the deep-fried Twinkies are sold separately.
Be a Kid at Downtown Container Park
Thanks in part to Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, parts of DTLV that used to be barren wastelands are now trendy spots for hipsters, families and tourists. You’ll notice Downtown Container Park by the 40-foot tall, fire-breathing praying mantis out front. Even if you’re not in the mood for shopping, the Container Park is genuinely a great place to be. Oh, and the best part, in the center of the complex there is a massive treehouse playground for kids and adults—so don’t be afraid to take your turn on the slide.
Watch the Vegas Golden Knights Practice
For years, locals have longed for a true sense of community, a shared camaraderie that would outlast the transient slew of newcomers coming in and out of town each year. As the city’s first major league sports franchise, the Las Vegas Golden Knights have not only brought hockey to the desert, but they’ve also surged the city with undeniable energy. This team of golden misfits has already made history by advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural year! Sit beside proud locals, and watch as the Golden Knights level-up in practice. This has already turned into a Vegas tradition and practices are known to be full, even on weekdays!
Explore the Wetlands
Flora and fauna, native bird species and well-kept trails can all be found at the Clark County Wetlands Park. This unexpected natural-site is the perfect getaway on the outskirts of the city. Take a calm stroll, find a comfortable bench and keep and eye out for desert creatures.