32 Things You Can Do for Free in Las Vegas
From pinball games to free museum visits, desert art displays, and more, here’s what to do in Sin City after you’re done with the slots.
Save your money for the slot machines or cocktails at Martha Stewart's new restaurant. A dollar doesn't stretch nearly as far as it used to in Las Vegas, especially in an era of high inflation. Cheap buffets and complimentary casino drinks are few and far between these days, but you can still find the occasional value. After all, some restaurants on the Strip are less expensive than others. Yet there's one price that everyone loves: free. And in a town known for excess, there are lots of attractions and activities that don't cost a dime. So check 'em all out below.
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.
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 Downtown Arts District. Each edition follows a specific theme with featured artists, gallery exhibits, and live music. There's also a beer garden and at least a dozen food trucks.
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 twisted steel. The exterior hosts a colorful show of twinkling lights every 30 minutes between dusk and midnight. The timing unofficially coordinates with the Bellagio fountain shows across the street, creating a lively and vibrant visual in the mid-Strip skyline.
So much Las Vegas history is overlooked, but 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 often underrepresented history of Black culture in Las 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 gold nugget currently in existence, weighs 61 pounds and is on display at (appropriately enough) the Golden Nugget in Downtown Las Vegas. You'll also see a replica of it a hundred miles away in the lobby of the Golden Nugget in Laughlin.
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, where you can not only visit the Hoover Dam, but learn all about the iconic landmark at the 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 faced by the workers who built 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.
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. The Fremont Street Experience also hosts Downtown Rocks, a free concert series by national acts throughout summer and fall.
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.
The Mirage is set to become a Hard Rock hotel in the next year or two, and the property's famous erupting volcano show is set to be demolished. Don't pin your hopes on a petition to save the free attraction—go see it while you still can. The elaborate display produces a lava simulation (with fireballs for good measure) 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 8 pm and 11 pm nightly.
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's often 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 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. Big spenders can take advantage of the Garden Table, an exclusive dining experience inside the Conservatory, which is one of the coolest things to do in Vegas right now.
The Ethel M Chocolate Factory in Henderson has free self-guided tours, where you watch candy being made from a long viewing 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 for the winter holidays or the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day.
Check out the vehicle affectionately known as the "Bonnie and Clyde Death Car" at Whiskey Pete's just outside Vegas in Primm. The bullet-riddled 1934 Ford Deluxe in which the gangster duo met their demise is 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.
From the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sands Avenue, you'll quickly spot a fountain show with lights and music in front of the Wynn. 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 a bucket-list dining experience best enjoyed with a dinner reservation.
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 oversize shoe sculptures in the lobby, digital pillars in the 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.
You could say it's a . . . miracle. The sprawling Miracle Mile Shops, which wrap around the Planet Hollywood resort, have an indoor rainstorm with shows every hour during the week and every half hour on weekends. The combination of water, lights, music, and fog is an unexpectedly fun way to break up the monotony of a shopping trip. Try not to get wet.
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?