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The Best Things to do in Las Vegas
My husband and I recently took trip to Las Vegas and had a great time, ate lots of good food, saw some really GRAND (hint hint) things and didn’t gamble once!
We didn’t spend an insane amount of money (for us at least) and I still felt like we had a great trip and only missed out on going to one of the famous Las Vegas buffets.
So if you are looking for the best things to do on a Vegas weekend without gambling, you have come to the right place!
DINNER – Arrived in Las Vegas just in time for dinner on the strip. I had delicious chicken and waffles at Double Barrel in the Monte Carlo AND 3 (the hubs, his boss, and myself) of us were able to eat (and drink) for under $75. The restaurant was also set up to be open air that evening which is a huge win considering that Vegas has no humidity (unlike my dear Houston) and the evenings were a lovely 73 degrees. Which is the temperature that I set my car thermostat, so I felt right at home.
ENTERTAINMENT – After dinner we just walked around the strip for a couple of hours. This was super entertaining and cost NO MONIES. If you have never been to Las Vegas, the Strip is a pretty incredible sight and you could easily spend hours walking up and down the 5 mile row of ginourmous (apparently ginourmous is not actually a word?) hotels. We watched the fountains at the Bellagio and walked around inside of Caesar’s Palace and a few other hotels. Each hotel has a different style and it is impressive to see the amount of detail that goes into making each place unique.
My favorite hotel to walk through is the Venetian. It is modeled after Venice, Italy and has it’s own canal system through the hotel (and yes, you can take a gondola ride through the hotel with a fake Italian man who sings while paddling).
We rented a car on Friday (with the weather at sunny and 75, the obvious choice is a convertible) and started driving West. Las Vegas is within 2.5 hours from two national landmarks, the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon.
I had never seen the Hoover Dam and the hubs had never seen the Grand Canyon, and we had heard it was best not to miss out on those things if at all possible.
The drive to the Hoover Dam is pretty short from the Vegas Strip, at just about 45 minutes. We didn’t take any tours once we got there, but we spent about 30 minutes walking across the dam and reading every. single. informational. sign.
The dam itself is pretty impressive (although both Eric and an 8 year old boy near us proclaimed that they “thought the dam would be bigger”) and the views are exceptional. We probably could have gotten some even better views if we would have walked across the bridge that goes just over the dam.
Hoover Dam Highlight: Getting to stand on the state line between Arizona and Nevada and be in two places at once just like Mandy Moore in A Walk To Remember.
After leaving the Dam, we took off for the West Rim of the Grand Canyon.
PRO TIP: Eat before you leave the Hoover Dam. There is no food (NOT ONE PLACE) in between the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. We did spot some live cows, but determined that we weren’t fast enough to catch them and would not know what to do after that point.
So by the time we got to the Grand Canyon, we were starving and it pushed us to make some poor decisions.
The most popular tourist spots at the Grand Canyon are along the North and South rims of the canyon, but those are 4 and 5 hours away from Vegas and Google Maps told us the West rim was just 2.5 hours away from our hotel, so we made the obvious choice for the sake of time.
What we didn’t realize was that the West Rim is mostly owned by the Hualapai Indian Tribe, which will charge you out the nose to take one of their busses to see the edge of the Grand Canyon. If you would like to eat (which we were also interested since we could not catch the cows from earlier in our expedition), they will charge you a kidney in exchange for some mediocre BBQ.
We paid $150 to see the Grand Canyon. If I had to do it again, I would find a much cheaper route. And one with better food.
But the views were incredible and the Hubs said it was “much bigger than he expected”. The entire 2.5 hour drive back we talked about how fun it will be to take a family vacation there when we have older kids and take a trip to the bottom of the canyon or go rafting on the Colorado River.
DINNER: Once we were back in Las Vegas, we walked to New York, New York and had dinner at italian restaurant, Il Fornio. It wasn’t great italian food and we probably could have enjoyed our food more and spent less money if we would have just gone to Shake Shack just a few spots down.
The New York, New York hotel is pretty neat because there is an actual roller coaster inside of the hotel. That really puts into scale how large these hotels are, and it is also fun to watch people freak out on roller coasters.
In the morning we walked down to the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. We went to Vegas right after the Route 91 Concert shooting and the popular land mark had been turned into a memorial to the 58 victims. It was neat to see all of the momentos that had been added to the site in honor of the people who lost their lives. There were things sent in from all over the world. And at the time we were there, a Polynesian group was holding a traditional polynesian funeral ceremony.
Since this was a Saturday in the fall, my husband requested (nay demanded) that we watch TCU (his alma mater) play their football game. So we took a few hours to do that instead of sight see.
Things you could do in Vegas aside from watch football:
- Visit the Aquarium in Mandalay Bay
- See the Botanical Gardens in the Bellagio
- Shop at any hotel
- See a show (I haven’t seen Celiene Dion in Vegas, but she was the first cassette tape that I owned and I listened to it so much that the tape burned through)
- Eat at one of the numerous buffets. I hear that the Aria is top notch for buffet eaters. Also – If you haven’t seen this video of a girl freaking out about Las Vegas buffets to Ellen DeGenerous, take some time to brighten your day.
DINNER: The hubs made dinner reservations at VooDoo Steak in the Rio, which is just off the Strip. We got to the hotel and took an elevator to the 51st floor where we found that the restaurant had a full view of the Strip and the mountains around it. Better yet, we arrived just in time for sunset. It was really beautiful. There was also a zip line off the balcony of the restaurant (reminder it was 51 stories up) and we got to watch people zip line off the building all night. No one got hurt. It was very entertaining.
ENTERTAINMENT: We got tickets to see Penn & Teller on the recommendation from my Dad. These guys are magicians who also do comedy and my Dad said he remembered being boggled (yes, boggled) from their act many years ago when he saw them in Vegas. The show was funny and the tricks were really good. These guys have been around for over 40 years, so they know how to entertain. It was a clean show which is not run of the mill in Vegas!
Before you see Penn & Teller perform, you should know that the short one (Teller) does not speak in public. Eric told me that as we were walking into the show and had I not been made privy to that small detail, I would have been VERY confused for the entirety of the show.
We flew back home early Sunday morning and got to rest and recover a bit before going back to work on Monday morning. I loved our 3 day trip to Las Vegas and I felt like we got a full Vegas experience without doing any gambling at all.
I would love to hear your recommendations for shows or restaurants in Vegas so we can plan for our next trip! Let me know your favorite spots on the Strip in the comments below!
Check out some of my other travel posts: