39 Totally Free Things To Do in Las Vegas Right Now
Not everything in Vegas has to be expensive. Some things are free.
Las Vegas isn't quite the value destination it used to be. Gone are the days of widespread penny slots, cheap buffets and casinos where parking was always free. Drinks, dinners and resort fees are more expensive than ever, but not everything comes with a price tag these days. Sin City still has a few fun free things to do, making it easier to budget a vacation or explore the area as a local. So save a few bucks and check out all the cool things to do in Las Vegas that won't cost a dime.
The stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard between Russell Rd and Sahara Ave is what we all know as the Strip. It's more than four miles of hotels, casinos, overpriced gift shops and everything else you expect Vegas to be. From the giant sphinx in front of the Luxor to the High Roller wheel at The LINQ and all the neon lights in between, you have plenty of backdrops for snapping an Instagram-worthy photo.
The local library is a great place to borrow books and movies. But now you can also check out a free day-use entry permit to visit any of the 27 state parks throughout Nevada, including Valley of Fire, Spring Mountain Ranch, Cathedral Gorge and Big Bend of the Colorado (a beach on the riverside casino town of Laughlin). It's all part of the Nevada State Parks Library Park Pass program, which just launched at the beginning of 2023.
While Elon Musk continues to draw attention for all the wrong reasons on Twitter, his Boring Company is attempting to reinvent public transportation with an ever-growing series of underground tunnels for Tesla rides under Las Vegas. The Vegas Loop currently operates during trade show events and is free to board at any of the three stops at the sprawling 4.6 million-square-foot Las Vegas Convention Center. A fourth stop at Resorts World charges a daily rate of $4.50.
After seeing limited action throughout the pandemic, Southern Glazer's—the largest distributor of booze in the country—is reopening its Las Vegas beverage academy to the public with classes and seminars offered free throughout the first half of the year. The classroom is anchored by a beautifully illuminated, fully stocked bar: the perfect environment to learn about wine, beer, cocktails and spirits. The Academy is geared toward working professionals in the food and beverage biz, but will also welcome general enthusiasts with a serious interest on a limited basis. Register and inquire online.
Yes, you're supposed to be on a Vegas vacation, but sometimes duty calls. And by duty, we mean the work you were supposed to get done on the plane. So bring your laptop to the Capital One Cafe inside the Fashion Show mall, which is effectively a free co-working space for everyone, not just account holders. Visitors can take advantage of Wi-Fi and ample plug-in outlets in a comfortable, low-stress environment with snacks and drinks for sale. There's even a conference room free to students and community groups.
Drink for free
The price of booze has skyrocketed in Vegas, but it's still possible to get a hookup here and there. Valley Cheese & Wine hosts monthly Producer Spotlight sessions to learn about wine and enjoy samples from the bar. Look out for announcements on Instagram. Khoury's Fine & Spirits also has occasional in-house promotional tastings with the schedule posted online. Liquor Lineup in Centennial Hills has a bar in the middle of the store to sample whiskey and other spirits, including a few single-barrels. The Shady Grove Lounge at the Silverton will let you drink draft beer, well cocktails, or house wine for free (for two hours!) on your birthday with a few conditions. Make an advance reservation for anytime after 4 pm Thursday-Monday and bring at least three friends, who can enjoy specials, but won't be drinking for free.
See live music
Free live music is everywhere in Las Vegas with too many bars and lounges to count. But don't overlook top destinations like the Sand Dollar Lounge (and its newer sister bar Sand Dollar Downtown), a go-to spot for late-night blues for decades. Carnaval Court has an outdoor stage for live music and flair bartenders in a prime Strip location in front of Harrah's and The LINQ hotel. The Count Room is a speakeasy with Prohibition-era style in the back of Bugsy & Meyer's Steakhouse at the Flamingo with live jazz Friday and Saturday nights. The best spot, however, is the Fremont Street Experience, which has multiple stages for local acts all year long and name headliners between spring and fall for the Downtown Rocks concert series.
Pool season is nearly upon us, but you don't have to splurge on bottle service at a dayclub or even be a hotel guest to take a dip in a Strip swimming pool. The Topgolf driving range has a 21-and-over Hideaway Pool of its own—a well-kept secret that's usually not too busy, especially on weekdays. The money saved can go toward a cabana rental (reasonable for Strip rates) or a soft pretzel charcuterie board from the food and drink menu.
The Pinball Hall of Fame is one of the museums that make Las Vegas wonderfully weird. It moved into a new, larger Strip location in 2021 and now houses vintage pinball machines (and the occasional arcade game) in an expansive 25,000-square-foot space. It's the largest collection of its kind in the world, drawing heavily on the '60, '70s, and '80s classic eras of pinball. Admission is free, but every machine can be played for 25 or 50 cents. And since the museum is a nonprofit, every coin collected goes directly to charity.
The "Fall of Atlantis" is an animatronic show that plays on the hour from noon to 8 pm (Friday–Tuesday) at the Forum Shops at Caesars. The quality falls somewhere between what you’d find at Chuck E. Cheese and Disney’s Hall of Presidents, but the combination of flames, fountains, and a giant winged dragon are enough to liven up any shopping trip.
Tickets to see a Golden Knights game at the T-Mobile Arena aren't cheap, but here's the next best thing—you can see the team practice for free at City National Arena in Summerlin. The schedule isn't highly publicized, but players generally take the ice between 9 am and 11 am. Check the Golden Knights Twitter account for practice announcements. Otherwise, you can splurge a few bucks and take part in an open skate yourself and grab lunch at MacKenzie River Pizza.
The Shelby Heritage Center celebrates the legacy of Carroll Shelby and the race cars he helped design, including the iconic AC Cobra and special-edition Mustangs. Guests are welcome any time during regular hours to take a free self-guided tour (or pay for a guided one) to see more than 30 high-performance muscle cars on display and get an up-close look at the production facility next door.
The 117,000-gallon aquarium at the Silverton casino is loaded with thousands of tropical fish as well as a few stingrays and sharks. Interactive mermaid performances run throughout the day Thursday-Sunday. You can also toss a few questions to a marine biologist during regular feedings or take part in mermaid classes, if you actually have a few bucks to spend.
Don't have the money for a Cirque ticket? No problem. Circus Circus has a full schedule of big-top performances at the Midway every hour starting at 11:30 am Friday-Sunday and 1:30 pm Monday-Thursday. Come by and see clowns, jugglers, aerialists, and more. The Flying Poemas, a trapeze act from Argentina, provide the biggest thrills.
The artsy block party known as First Friday takes place as the name suggests, on the first Friday evening of every month in the thriving Downtown Arts District. Each edition follows a dedicated theme with featured artists, gallery exhibits, and live music. There's a beer garden and at least a dozen food trucks too. You can also check out murals throughout Downtown and galleries like the expansive Arts Factory, which offer free glimpses of local art any time of the month.
It's a few miles east of the Strip, but locals love Mystic Falls, an indoor park at the Sam's Town casino with a wild west mountain theme. Walk among the trees and you'll hear the sounds of birds chirping, wolves howling, and a rolling waterfall underneath a towering atrium. Laser and light shows take place every other hour from 6-10 pm on weekdays and 4-10 pm on weekends.
The 541-foot tall Eiffel Tower replica at the Paris casino is more than just 5,000 tons of steel. The exterior hosts a colorful show of twinkling lights every 30 minutes between dusk and midnight. The timing coordinates with the Bellagio fountain shows across the street, creating a lively visual in the mid-Strip skyline.
So much Las Vegas history is hiding in plain sight. The Pioneer Trail is a self-guided driving tour of 16 historic sites northwest of the Strip, beginning with the Springs Preserve and ending with Biltmore Village. The experience also provides a rare look into the underrepresented history of Black culture in Vegas, including the Harrison Boarding House, where entertainers of color stayed when segregated from Strip hotel rooms and the site of the short-lived Moulin Rouge, which became the first integrated casino in 1955.
The Hand of Faith, the largest known gold nugget in existence, weighs 61 pounds, was sold for more than a million bucks, and is currently on display at, appropriately enough, the Golden Nugget in Downtown Las Vegas. A replica is in the lobby of the Golden Nugget a hundred miles away in Laughlin.
The main attraction of Downtown Las Vegas is the Fremont Street Experience, a five-block pedestrian mall surrounded by neon lights and marquees. Most of it sits underneath a 1,400-foot-long canopy outfitted with the world's largest LED screen. Dubbed Viva Vision, it utilizes more than 16 million pixels for ultra high-def imagery and trippy 3D-like effects. Themed video shows take place throughout the night, usually on the hour.
Watch fish swim at one of three aquariums
Check out the 40,000-gallon aquarium at Bass Pro Shops (next to the Silverton), along with a waterfall, trout stream, and fun outdoorsy design. On the Strip, the Forum Shops at Caesars have their own 50,000-gallon aquarium near the Cheesecake Factory and Nike shop. Not to be outdone, the Mirage has a 20,000-gallon tank that's a little smaller, but makes an even bolder impression as part of the decor in the hotel lobby. No matter which one you visit, expect to be greeted with a wide array of tropical fish.
Take a daytrip to Boulder City and not only visit the Hoover Dam, but learn all about the iconic landmark by visiting a free museum on the first floor of the Boulder Dam Hotel. The Boulder Dam Museum documents the engineering behind the modern marvel as well as the danger and struggles the workers faced while building it under the hot Nevada sun. And yes, Boulder Dam was the official name before it was changed to honor the president who brought us the Great Depression.
As far as iconic Vegas images go, it's hard to beat the Fountains of Bellagio. Gather around the massive lake in front of the resort and watch as more than 1,200 nozzles shoot water straight into the air with the help of 4,500 lights. Each show is set to music with songs by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Andrea Bocelli, and Celine Dion providing the soundtrack. Shows are usually every half hour in the afternoon and every 15 minutes at night, but could be cancelled at any time due to high winds.
Before you even step foot inside the Mirage, check out the explosive volcano show out front. The elaborate display produces a lava simulation with fireballs, set to music created by Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead and Indian musician Zakir Hussain. The finale includes an eruption 60 feet into the air that's so intense, you'll feel the heat from inside your taxi on Las Vegas Boulevard. Shows are on the hour between 7pm and 11pm nightly. See it while you can. The hotel was bought by the Hard Rock and while the new owners are keeping the Mirage brand in place at least through 2023, the volcano is likely to disappear once the major reconstruction work begins.
St. Mark's Square in the Venetian's Grand Canal Shoppes is modeled after the Renaissance era of Venice, complete with passing gondola rides and as much historic architecture as you can manage in a shopping mall. "Streetmosphere" performers provide free entertainment, ranging from live violins to pop-opera vocal theatrics. If you actually want to spend a few bucks and grab a bite to eat, you've got a choice of three Italian restaurants: Brera Osteria, Canaletto, and Mercato della Pescheria.
The Gold & Silver Pawn Shop is the setting for the Pawn Stars reality show, which runs virtually nonstop on the History Channel. Check it out for yourself and browse the unusual and often historic artifacts for sale. Just know there may be a line to enter and no guarantee you'll see anyone you recognize from TV.
The Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, one of the most photographed places in Vegas, is a free floral exhibit in the Bellagio lobby that changes with the season, covering nearly 14,000 square feet underneath a 50-foot-high atrium. The intricate designs, featuring tens of thousands of flowers, are planned a full year in advance.
The Ethel M Chocolate Factory in Henderson has free self-guided tours to watch candy as it's made through a long window. Stick around and explore the four-acre Botanical Cactus Garden outside. It has more than 300 species of plants and is especially colorful when decorated in lights for the winter holidays or the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day. The Cactus Garden is free most of the year, but charges an almost-free $1 fee (that goes to charity) during the holiday displays.
Check out the vehicle affectionately known as the "Bonnie and Clyde Death Car" at Whiskey Pete's outside Vegas in Primm. The iconic gangster duo met their demise in the bullet-riddled 1934 Ford Deluxe, now proudly on display in the casino. As the signs around it are eager to point out, yes this is the real thing. Whiskey Pete's also happens to be a welcome bathroom break while driving between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
The lobby of the Wynn Hotel is loaded with trees, plants, and elaborate colorful floral installations that include a 20-foot-tall hot air balloon and a 16-foot-wide carousel. It's not a destination as much as something to enjoy while on your way to somewhere else.
The four-acre outdoor Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo is a tranquil escape from the chaos of the Strip. The collection of ponds and waterfalls is home to all sorts of exotic creatures, including birds, turtles, koi fish and at least eight Chilean flamingos. The larger birds have been kept off display during much of the winter as a safeguard against avian flu concerns, but expect the exhibit to be back and better than ever in a few weeks.
Keep your eyes peeled for a fountain show with lights and music in front of the Wynn resort on the corner of Las Vegas Blvd and Sands Ave. It's a whole lot smaller than what you'll see at the Bellagio, but it's a nice break from trekking down the Strip and the performances run nonstop. The scenery also includes two waterfalls and large pine trees. The Lake of Dreams inside the Wynn is technically free too, but it's really meant to be enjoyed with a table at Lakeside, SW Steakhouse, or Aft Cocktail Deck.
Watch (or avoid) the street performers
Just like Hollywood Boulevard and Times Square, Las Vegas is overrun by street performers, either on the Strip or Fremont Street. Some have talent (like a handful of musicians, dancers, and magicians) while others just stand around in cheap-looking costumes. The entertainment is free to watch, but if you pose for a photo with one of them, a tip is expected.
Rest your feet with a tram ride on the Strip
If that long walk down the Strip gets to be too much, there are three free pedestrian trains to make the journey go by a little easier. One operates between Mandalay Bay and Excalibur, another travels between the Bellagio and Aria, and a third shuttles between Treasure Island and the Mirage. No charge. Just hop on board. Don't confuse any of these with the Las Vegas Monorail on the east side of the Strip, which begins at $5 per ride.
One of the great things about the CityCenter complex is all the art on display. Wander in and out of galleries by Richard MacDonald and Elena Bulatova before heading over to the Aria where fine art installations are scattered throughout the resort. The neighboring Cosmopolitan has a self-guided art tour of its own, led by Rose, the hotel's own chatbot concierge. Between oversized shoe sculptures near the casino, digital pillars by the check-in lobby and murals in the parking garage, the art often mixes tech and pop culture with an exceptional degree of ingenuity.
CBS Television City at the MGM Grand is a full research facility where you can watch an unaired pilot that's being considered by the network for an upcoming season. Give your feedback with the fate of future programming in your hands. You can also take part in surveys and focus groups about television, internet, and music streaming habits. You'll be handed some vouchers and a bag of free stuff at the end. Sometimes you'll even get paid cash.
The sprawling Miracle Mile Shops, which wrap around the Planet Hollywood resort, have an indoor rainstorm with shows that traditionally run every hour during the week and every half hour on weekends. The free attraction is getting a makeover for 2023 as part of the shopping center's ongoing renovations. So expect to see it back open by spring with enhanced lights, music and fog to break up the monotony of any shopping trip.
If you're speeding down Interstate 15 south of Vegas and you see seven pillars of stacked rainbow-colored rocks in the middle of the desert, you're not hallucinating. That's a 25-foot-tall art installation known as Seven Magic Mountains. So take the next exit and doubleback for a color-filled photo session.
Snap a photo at you-know-where
You may be out of cash, but you still have a phone. So head just beyond the south end of the Strip to the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign and have your photo snapped in front of the iconic landmark. There may be an Elvis impersonator or some dude in a Big Bird costume offering to take the shot on your behalf or even pose with you. But that means handing out a tip and suddenly, it's not free anymore, is it?