Vegas on a budget
For a city full of so much glitz and glam, there are a surprising number of things you can do totally for free in Las Vegas, as t
Fountains of Bellagio
The Bellagio fountain display is one of the city’s most iconic sights and has been attracting huge crowds ever since it first opened in 1998. This gorgeous musical fountain show takes place every half hour, every night, at the centre of the Bellagio’s 8.5-acre man-made lake. The display is spectacular, using 1,214 water nozzles and 4,792 lights, with water shooting up as high as 460 feet.
Fremont Street Experience
Located in downtown Las Vegas, this five-block pedestrian mall along Fremont Street is known for its jaw-dropping shows and fun activities, from free concerts to the 12-storey SlotZilla Zipline. Fremont Street existed long before the towering mega-resorts of the Strip and – at Binion’s – was home to the WSOP for decades. Free entertainment comes courtesy of Viva Vision, a light and sound show with mind-blowing visuals that takes place on the largest video screen in the world, an LED canopy spanning 130,000 square feet. Held nightly, on the hour from 6pm to 2am.
Each season, the 14,000-square-foot Botanical Gardens is transformed into a different mind-blowing floral extravaganza. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter are all featured along with a special display for Lunar New Year. When the seasons change so do the displays. The gardens involve a HUGE staff of 120 gardeners, not to mention designers, engineers and electricians. Each seasonal exhibit features more than 10,000 potted flowers to produce a glorious display.
Pinball Hall of Fame
The Pinball Hall of Fame opened in a new location right on the Strip in 2021. Twice the size of the old venue, it houses the world's largest pinball collection nothing but pinball for 25,000 square feet. The machines date right back to the 1950 and all the pinballs are available to play for between 25c and 50c. Admission is free and it’s open daily - Sunday to Thursday 10am to 9pm. Friday and Saturday 10am to 10pm.
Flamingo Wildlife Habitat
If your kids are driving you nuts at dawn, then drag them off to the Flamingo Wildlife habitat. This idyllic four-acre escape opens at 7am and features meandering streams, waterfalls, exotic birds, turtles, and fish. The habitat is home to a flock of Chilean Flamingos, multiple species of exotic waterfowl, and Brown Pelicans. Take a selfie with parrots and look out for the hummingbirds – native to the Southwest – which offer close-up encounters at the feeders. At 8:30am and 2:00pm daily, there are Keeper Talks to learn more about the wildlife habitat.
The Volcano at the Mirage
The Mirage Volcano is a replica lava-flowing volcano which erupts nightly – on the hour, every hour – providing free entertainment right in front of the resort. The Mirage recently added flame shooters, a specialized soundtrack, an entire lake and lighting effects to add to the spectacle. The Volcano fires nightly on the hour at 8pm, 9pm, 10pm & 11pm.
Seven Magic Mountains
Seven Magic Mountains involves a bit of a drive – or a cab ride – but it’s worth it. Created by internationally renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, the Seven Magic Mountains is a large-scale, site-specific public art installation located near Jean Dry Lake and Interstate 15, approximately ten miles south of the city. Seven towers of colourful, stacked boulders stand more than thirty feet high, punctuating the Mojave Desert with a dramatic burst of colour.
The Linq Promenade
The Caesars-owned LINQ Promenade has proved one of the most successful: an appealing, tree-lined open-air pedestrian walkway featuring tons of shops, restaurants, bars, and attractions. Check out the dedicated guide to all the LINQ Promenade attractions.
Downtown Container Park
This offbeat, family-friendly outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment area is just a few blocks away from Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. Made completely of shipping containers stacked upon each other, this unique venue features shops, food outlets and a kids’ play zone with a 30-foot slide and water area. Various bands play every night in the outdoor amphitheatre and don’t miss the Mantis, a massive, 40-foot metallic sculpture whose evening “performances” include shooting fire from its antennae and blaring sound from its powerful speaker system. Created by aerospace engineer and artist Kirk Jellum, The Mantis debuted at the Burning Man Festival and made its way to Las Vegas in 2013. It’s “awakened” every night at sundown by a drum circle celebration called the “Call to the Mantis” and shortly after begins its flame-shooting display.
Streetmosphere is a free-to-watch spectacle at the Venetian’s St. Mark’s Square in the Grand Canal Shoppes. Here classically trained opera singers perform five times a day along with a stilt walker, jugglers, and other entertainers. If you get there about 20-30 minutes before the show begins you can get a front-row seat for the performance. The show is held on the hour from 1pm to 5pm.
Town Square Las Vegas
A climbing cube, slides and trampoline are just a few of the fun activities to be found in the Children’s Park at Town Square. Aimed at kids aged 10 and under, the playground is located adjacent to Town Square Park. Open daily from 10am.
Many attractions above are child-friendly and there are a number of specialist stores that children will LOVE including Hershey's Chocolate World, the Everything Coca-Cola Store, M&M’s World, and the Zombie Apocalypse Store. OK, maybe not so free if you end up buying stuff but hey, they’re on holiday too!
There are also great outdoor experiences beyond the strip, read more about heading to the great outdoors here!
Photo credit: Las Vegas