Las Vegas for Non-Gamblers and Non-Shoppers
Is it possible to have fun in Sin City if you don’t gamble or shop? Recently a friend asked me about things to do in Las Vegas. She’s not a gambler, shopper, or one for lounging by a pool and was worried that she’d get bored spending almost a week in the desert oasis. I was convinced that there had to be lots of cool things to do outside of casinos and shops. In 2011 I spent a few days in Vegas on a girls’ getaway and we found that our trip turned out to be more about food, shows and relaxing than gambling or clubbing. One quick thing to know is that you don’t need to be a guest of a hotel to check out some of their awesome exhibitions and activities.
I’ve broken down my finds into a few loose categories to help you choose with nary a pool, mall, casino floor or bar to be seen.
Flora and Fauna
For being in the middle of the desert there are a lot of exotic animals to be seen in Las Vegas. You can visit the lions at the MGM Grand, sharks at Mandalay Bay or flamingoes at, where else, The Flamingo. If flora is more your thing you can get lost in the Atrium at the Mirage where they’ve managed to bring a small slice of rain forest to Nevada. I highly recommend checking out the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio. It feels like a Rose Bowl parade float.
- Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
- Lion Enclosure at MGM Grand
- The Atrium at the Mirage (a rainforest blooms in the desert)
- Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
- Aquarium behind the check-in desk at the Mirage
- Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage
- Flamingo Habitat at The Flamingo
- Red Rock Canyon
If you want to get your blood pumping have no fear. You can base jump off The Stratsophere or ride their trio of thrill rides. If coasters are your thing head to Circus, Circus to ride the Canyon Blaster or to New York-New York for the Big Apple Coaster. Off the Strip there are a few options for driving a race car or off roading in a dune buggy. Personally, I really want to try the indoor skydiving where you get blown into the air by a jet engine while wearing a flying squirrel suit. True story.
- Rides at the Stratosphere
- Coasters at Circus, Circus
- Big Apple Coaster at New York, New York
- Indoor Skydiving
- Race car driving
- Off Road dune buggy tour
- Heavy Equipment Playground
- Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park
- Zip-line at the Fremont Street Experience
Every city has at least one or two museums and Las Vegas is no different. One item that’s on my own must-do list for my next visit is the Neon Museum and Boneyard where more than 150 signs have been put out to pasture. And with Las Vegas’ past it’s a great location for the Mob Museum. There are a range of museums and exhibits that cover everything from atomic testing to pinball machines to fine art and classic cars.
- Mob Museum
- Pinball Hall of Fame
- Wax Museums
- Neon Museum and Boneyard
- National Atomic Testing Museum
- Bodies The Exhibition
- Erotic Heritage Museum
- The Auto Collections
- Titanic Artifact Exhibit at Luxor
- Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Where else can you go from New York to Paris to Venice to Luxor all in one day but Las Vegas? If you’re looking for a fake cultural experience, or just a few snaps to fool your friends on Facebook, you’re in the right place. Did you know that the US government mistakenly used a picture of the Vegas Lady Liberty on one of its stamps recently? If they couldn’t tell the difference, neither will your cousin. Gondola rides at the Venetian are a classic choice and you can pick either the indoor or outdoor version. To round out your day of faux-culture be sure to catch the fountain show outside the Bellagio and ride up the Eiffel Tower to see the Strip lit up at night.
- Eiffel Tower Experience
- Gondola ride at the Venetian
- Bellagio Fountain Show
- Volcano Show at the Mirage
- Fremont Street Experience
- Buzz ‘n Brushes
- Old Vegas Mormon State Historic Park
- Rock Star for a Day Fantasy Camp
- CSI: The Experience
- Haunted Las Vegas Ghost Tours
Dinner and a Show
Beyond all that there are more restaurants and headlining acts than you can shake a stick at. Guaranteed there’s a dinner and a show to suit everyone’s tastes. You can never go wrong with one of the Cirque du Soleil shows or a meal at Joël Robuchon’s restaurant.
I love to say that Las Vegas is delightly fake. Everything you see if man-made and quite new in the grand scheme of things. It’s not the place to go for a cultural vacation but if you just want to have a bit of mindless fun, eat some really good food, and see a top rate show, it’s a great destination.
February 5th, 2014 at 1:05 pm (#)
I loved Vegas and I am not a gambler or a shopper either. Cirque de Soleil is a must see – I think they have 7 shows in Vegas.
And a day trip to Valley of Fire state park was amazing – just an hours dive away.
February 5th, 2014 at 1:07 pm (#)
So, so many good shows. I saw Cirque’s Mystère when I was there and it was fantastic. You can’t go wrong with any of them. Great tip on the state park. I hadn’t heard of it before.