Jen's Las Vegas Bucket List!
Below I've listed what I believe to be the best things to do on the Las Vegas Strip. All of the pictured attractions are absolutely FREE. I have also listed some fun related splurges; the $'s indicate the cost of the splurges ($ = under $10 per person; $$ = $10-20 per person; $$$ = more than $20 per person). Note that the prices do not take into account any discounts or 2-for-1 offers that you might find in coupon books sometimes given to hotel guests.
Dr. Jen (California, USA)
|#1: Watch the Fountains of Bellagio show
Every 30 minutes in the afternoon and every 15 minutes from late evening until midnight, the lake in front of Bellagio Las Vegas comes alive with dancing fountains choreographed to a song. You can watch from the Las Vegas Boulevard sidewalk (with the Bellagio in the background) or from the Bellagio hotel side of the lake (with the Eiffel Tower in the background). The song changes from show to show, so you might enjoy catching more than one show.
#2: "Go to Venice" (i.e. Visit The Venetian Las Vegas)
Both the exterior and interior of the Venetian hotel are spectacular! Both outside and inside, there are canals where gondolas ply the waters (the exterior canals may not have gondolas plying the water in the winter or in inclement weather). Inside, quaint little "streets" are lined with upscale shops and restaurants, and there is a small version of Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square) where living statue performers sometimes entertain.
Splurge: Try a gelato from Cocolini in St. Mark's Square. ($)
Splurge: Take a gondola ride. ($$ (shared gondola (up to 4 people)) - $$$ (private two-person gondola)
|#3: "Go to Paris" (i.e. Visit Paris Las Vegas)
Outside Paris Las Vegas, it is easy to spot the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. Inside the casino, the Eiffel Tower's legs sprout from the ceiling. Strangely, the rest of the tower magically disappears into the painted sky on the ceiling. The shops and restaurants near the casino look like they're located on little Parisian streets.
Splurge: Take the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Be sure to stay at the top to watch the Bellagio fountain show across the street. ($$)
|#4: "Go to New York City"
(i.e. Check out New York - New York Hotel & Casino)
The exterior of New York - New York has some of the Manhattan skyline highlights (compressed for space). There is also a Statue of Liberty standing proudly. Inside, the city street scene near the casino (that houses a food court) is captivating.
Splurge: Pick up an authentic looking and tasting New York City deli sandwich at Greenberg's Deli in the food court. ($)
Splurge: If you like wild rides, ride the loop-the-loop roller coaster that loops in and around New York - New York. ($$)
|# 5: "Go to Rome" (i.e.
Explore Caesars Palace Las Vegas)
The grand front of the hotel is graced with tons of statues along with a coliseum. Inside, a cloudy sky looks down on little "streets" of Rome.
|#6: Visit the Conservatory at
If you love flowers, the Conservatory at Bellagio just might be your favorite place on the Strip. The gorgeous floral displays change to celebrate the current holiday. The photo on the left shows a portion of the display for Chinese New Year 2013.
#7: Find "the secret pizza place" at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
"The secret pizza place" doesn't technically have a name, and you won't find it listed on any directory or map. It's down an unmarked hallway, lined with record album covers, on the third floor of the hotel, between Jaleo and Blue Ribbon Sushi Restaurant. You'll know you're close when you see people sitting in the third-floor lobby devouring big slices of pizza off white paper plates, but try to resist the urge to ask them where the entrance is, it's more fun if you find it yourself.
Splurge: Devour a slice of some of the best authentic New York City pizza you'll ever taste (As a former New Yorker, I got flashbacks to my childhood in as I ate). ($)
|#8: See a performance of
Sirens of TI.
Just outside the front entrance of Treasure Island Las Vegas hotel, four times every night, when the weather cooperates, the crews of two pirate ships battle each other, and only one ship is left standing. If you want to be close to the majority of the action, stand on the left as you face the Treasure Island entrance, near the ship. If you prefer a better view of the majority of the pyrotechnics and one really cool special effect, stand on the right, by the empty lagoon.
Note: At the time of this posting, showtimes were 5:30PM (early show in the fall/winter only), 7PM, 8:30PM, 10PM, and 11:30PM (late show in the spring/summer only). Current showtimes are listed on Treasure Island's official website and on a plaque at the bow of the pirate ship closest to the hotel entrance.
|#9: Check out
flamingos, other birds, and koi fish.
The Wildlife Habitat, open from 8AM to dusk, at Flamingo Las Vegas Casino & Hotel, isn't very large, but it's well-landscaped with little man-made ponds and waterfalls, beautiful Chilean Flamingos, swans, ducks, koi fish, and, supposedly, turtles. On my most recent visit, I didn't see any turtles.
Splurge: Visit the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at Mirage Las Vegas. ($$)*
#10: Check in with the fish at Mirage Las Vegas.
Even if you're not staying at the Mirage, you might want to check out the check-in area graced with a 53-foot long, eight-foot high, six-foot deep, 20,000-gallon, simulated coral-reef aquarium. The Mirage's official website boasts that there are 85 different species of fish residing there.
Splurge: Visit Shark Reef aquarium at Mandalay Bay. ($$)*
|#11: Get your picture taken
with the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign.
We've all seen the Welcome to Las Vegas sign in movies and on TV shows. It's kind of cool to see it in person and get your picture taken with it. The sign is located about two blocks south of Mandalay Bay on Las Vegas Boulevard. There are parking lots available near the sign.
|#12: "Visit Egypt" (i.e.
Luxor Hotel & Casino)
Outside the Luxor hotel is a huge Sphinx and multiple statues. The pyramid houses hotel rooms on floors that guests ascend to and descend from in inclinators, rather than elevators. Note that the inclinators will not operate unless a valid room key is inserted. There is a light on the top of the pyramid that is visible from outer space.
|#13: Admire the waterfalls
at the entrance to Mandalay Bay.
I was enchanted by the little area in front of the Mandalay Bay hotel, where the sound of rushing water surrounded us from all sides. My only disappointment was that we couldn't walk over the little bridge that you see in the picture, it is purely decorative.
#14: Take a dip in your hotel pool.
Okay, technically this isn't absolutely free, but if you're visiting Las Vegas and book a hotel, why not take advantage of this amenity? Some of the pools in Las Vegas are an attraction all by themselves. Note that the pool hours are likely shorter than you expect and that, especially in the winter, the pool area may be closed for refurbishment or for the winter season. If using the pool is important to you, call the hotel before booking your stay.
The most impressive hotel pool area on the Las Vegas Strip, in my opinion, is the Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis at Caesars Palace (pictured).
All of the photos above were taken by me in February 2013. I have personally experienced everything listed with the exception of the two splurges noted with a *. The biggest splurge that I've made in Las Vegas would be my helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon. It was like watching an Imax movie, live!