Las Vegas is such an entertaining city. There is SO much to do, see, and experience and there will never be enough time on a trip to do it all.
Most people come to Vegas for one of these 2 things:
• A night or a couple of days in between visiting National Parks
• Party, shopping: the “full Vegas experience”
Indeed, visiting Vegas is not a cultural choice for most people, yet there are SO many things to do that have nothing to do with The Strip.
I moved to Vegas in 2021 – on and off since 2020 – and being a countryside girl from the French vineyard, having lived in Sweden and spent all of my vacations in the ocean, you can guess that Vegas was NOT my #1 choice when it came to moving abroad.
But I did move there. And I love it here.
Like, I love it SO much.
Let me tell you why.
Las Vegas is a melting pot of EVERYTHING. You can experience literally anything: from having a drink in the streets of Rome to hiking in the desert, seeing pieces of the Titanic’s wreck, eating food from every continent, and meeting people from all around the country & the world.
Anything you can think of – well, maybe except snorkeling and surfing -, you can do in Vegas. But that also means that when you only have a couple of days in town, you can easily feel overwhelmed and not know where to start, what’s worth it, what’s not, what’s cheap, and what’s expensive.
First of all, I wrote a travel guide e-book on Southern Nevada and Vegas – and it’s free!! – But I get it, not everybody wants to read a 54 pages e-book – I had to say it’s 54 pages just because I’m so proud and can’t believe I actually wrote that much!! –
Anyway. I got you.
Today, I’m sharing with you my top 5 activities to do in the city: live show, food, outdoors, culture, and party! A little mix of everything – in no particular order –
- Las Vegas Art Disctrict
The Las Vegas Art District is located in Downtown Las Vegas, near Fremont Street Experience. It’s a cultural hub that is the home of many museums, art galleries, farmers’ markets, vintage and antique stores, and much more. It is mostly where locals go out – the Strip is really just for tourists and people who work there -. It is truly my favorite place in the city. I recommend looking up online what you would like to do there, but I narrowed down my favorite things to see, do, eat and drink there.
Where to eat?
• Breakfast: Bungalow Coffee Shop is an awesome place to stop by before your Art District visit. You can park for free pretty much anywhere in the art district but I love to park between Bungalow and Artifice because I’m always sure to find a spot. Bungalow Coffee Shop’s vibe is unmatched: dog-friendly, work-friendly, the nicest staff, and the best breakfast drinks & food – get their croissant and you’ll thank me later! –
NOTE: Bungalow is cash-free so make sure to have a card.
• Brunch: if you’re more of a brunch kind of person, or really just want to stay in the Vegas mood even if you’re not on the Strip, 18bin will transport you straight to a beach town in the middle of Vegas. I absolutely LOVE brunch on weekends: DJ, mimosas, and all the brunch food!
• Drinks: The Art District is known for all its local breweries and if you ask, me, it is definitely a must-do. Some of my favorites are “Three Sheets Craft Beer Bar”, “Nevada Brew Works”, “Servehzah Bottle Shop and Tap Room”, and “Able Baker Brewing” but don’t hesitate to walk around and do a brewery-hopping afternoon with your friends. Most of them also serve homemade & local food.
• Dinner: Esther’s Kitchen is 100% my #1 favorite restaurant in Las Vegas. The prices are affordable, the staff is nice, the vibe is so vibrant, but the food…the food is delicious! They are going to change spots this year but they will still be in the same street, which is good because it’s always packed and you always need a reservation – I recommend booking a couple of days in advance -. My recommendation: their famous sourdough bread with choices for appetizer, and Spaghettoni for dinner, or Caccio e Peppe for lunch.
• After hours: the Art District is also famous for its many bars. You can definitely visit the breweries at night but some bars I love are Velveteen Rabbit, ReBar, Berlin Bar, and even 18Bin!
When to go
I don’t recommend going to the Art District during the week, especially at night. Not that it’s unsafe or anything, but it’s pretty empty and everything closes relatively early. Weekends are really nice, including Sundays. On the first Friday of each month, there is a big event called First Friday, and it’s 100% THE best time to go. You’ll be able to enjoy live music, art galleries opened late, delicious food trucks from all over the world – on the parking lot between Bungalow and Artifice I told you about -, and the most fun ever! The pizza food truck is probably the best pizza I’ve ever had – after Italy of course! –
What to do
Finally, the Art District is also known for its art galleries and vintage stores – thrifts stores, vintage & antiques – I recommend Buffalo Exchange for stylish and quality secondhand clothes & accessories.
Fun fact: If you have seen The Hangover III, this is where they park their car and Alan meet the girl of his dreams. This specific antique store is called Main Street Peddlers Antique Mall.
There also are boutiques that are very nice, my favorites are For The Love LV and The Good Wolf.
Every 2nd and 4th Saturday, there is a Farmer’s market called Fresh52 from 10 am to 3 pm in front of The Arts Factory.
I know it seems like a lot of information, but it’s not a big neighborhood, if you just walk around Main Street & Charleston you’ll see all these places I mentioned.
2. Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil is a Canadian entertainment company. Yes, you read right, it’s not French like many think. It originated in the French-speaking part of Canada. Although they perform shows all over the US, their main base is in Vegas. It is the largest theatrical producer in the world, and also one of the first circuses in the industry that never relied on any animals for its shows.
They have a total of 6 different shows in town, and I’ve only been to the “O” show, but really hope to see them all soon. Each Cirque du Soleil show is located in a different Las Vegas Strip hotel – because each show needs its unique and exclusive venue – so if you don’t have much time in town, make sure to pick the one you’re likely to enjoy the most!
• The “O” show by Cirque du Soleil is a theatrical romance show based on water that takes place inside the Bellagio Hotel & Casino, and let me tell you that I 100% understand the hype. This is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.
• The “Mystère” is the original Cirque du Soleil show and is based on acrobatics and dance. It is located at Treasure Island.
• The “Michael Jackson ONE” immersing show retraces the biggest moments of the King of Pop. It will transport you into Michael Jackson’s music world with its dances and acrobatics. It’s probably the next one I’ll go see. It takes place at Mandalay Bay.
• The “Beatles LOVE” show is based on aerial acrobatics, trampoline, and more, on the famous sounds of the band. You can see it at The Mirage.
• “KÀ” is a show based on an empire that defies gravity thanks to its aerial acrobatics and is guaranteed to take your breath away. It is located at MGM Grand.
• Finally, “Mad Apple” is a high-intensity show that celebrates the city that never sleeps with music, dance, comedy, magic, and aerial acrobatics. And of course, it takes place at New York – New York Hotel & Casino.
Prices range between $69 and $230. There isn’t always a show every day so make sure to check it out a little bit ahead of time.
PRO TIP: Don’t overpay for front row tickets, the cheapest tickets are worth it, because you can see much better from the red nose for a much cheaper price.
Get your Cirque du Soleil tickets here.
3. Titanic Artifact Exhibit
Being a HUGE Titanic fan myself, you might think I’m biased and it’s crazy to include a Titanic museum inside a Top 5 Vegas Activities blog post.
It’s not, though.
Hear me out.
Not only is the Titanic Artifact Exhibition one of the most visited exhibits in Las Vegas, but all the people I went with or recommended it to absolutely LOVED it. It’s awesome, really.
The exhibit is an immersive experience that hosts HUNDREDS of artifacts recovered from the wreckage by the search team RMS Titanic INC: from letters to pieces of clothes, unopened and unbroken champagne bottles, a replica of the grand staircase, cabins, and the outside deck – with freezing temperatures just like the night it sank -, hundreds of passenger stories, and so much more – I don’t wanna spoil the fun -.
They even have this huge piece of the ship’s hull. How crazy is that?
When you enter the exhibit, you will be given a boarding pass with the name and story of a passenger, and at the end of your tour, you will be able to find out if they survived the sinking or not.
It’s an experience that will really put into words and numbers the tragedy that happened 110 years ago, on a cold night of April, where so many innocent lives were lost at sea.
There is also a gift shop with lots of merchandise, and even pieces of coals recovered from the wreck. And yes, before you ask, of course, I own one!
The Titanic Artifact Exhibit is located inside the Luxor hotel’s casino. To access it, enter Luxor casino from the main entrance – the Las Vegas Boulevard side – take the stairs on the right and it will be on the second floor.
General admission $32
FREE for Children under 3
Buy your tickets here.
4. The Linq Promenade
The Strip is SO big it’s sometimes hard to know what’s worth seeing over the rest. Well, let’s head to my favorite part. The Linq Promenade: a pedestrian street between The Flamingo and The Linq that leads to the famous High Roller.
I think I love it so much because the vibe reminds me of European cities on a Friday night: cute bars and restaurants, boutiques, and stores, with a bunch of people enjoying life.
Where to eat
• Yard House
• Gordon Ramsay’s Fish & Chips
• Off The Strip
Where to shop
• Pier 30
• Welcome to Las Vegas Gift Shop
• I love Sugar Candy Store
• Honolulu Cookie Company
What to do – click for tickets –
Where to get drinks
• Minus5 ICEBAR
• Breeze Daiquiri Bar
There are much more things to do there but I listed some of my favorites.
5. Red Rock Canyon
It is probably my favorite place to go to out of the top 5.
Red Rock Canyon is a National Conservation Area based in Las Vegas. It is my favorite place around the city.
It’s also where I got married!
West side of Vegas: less than a 10-minute drive from the Summerlin neighborhood and about 25 minutes away from the Strip.
Being this close to the city, we would tend to think that Red Rock is polluted by lights, noises, and even trash, but no! Red Rock Canyon will amaze you in every way: it’s quiet and peaceful, and the breathtaking landscape.
When to go
I personally love to go before sunrise, so I can be alone, have good lighting for pictures during the hike, enjoy the quiet, and go on with my day before 9 am. I love seeing the sun rising East on the mountains. But it will be beautiful at any time of the day!
Red Rock Canyon has only one entrance gate: right before the Visitor Center, and then the road will take you on a one-way 13-mile scenic loop drive. For directions, I recommend writing the Visitor Center.
What to do
In the park, you can drive, hike, walk, rock-climb, visit the visitor center, camp, and discover its wildlife and geology.
No matter how good of a hiker you are, you will find something to do. Indeed, there are over 30 hikes and trails: from beginners to advanced. My favorite hike is Calico Tanks Trail, which isn’t a loop but an easy to moderate hike located between two big rocks. I love hiking, but I am not an experienced hiker, and I have done this hike 5 times easily. It does take a little bit of rock climbing, but nothing too crazy. And you will be rewarded with an amazing panoramic view of Las Vegas at the top At the top of the hike.
Calico Hills and Petroglyph Wall are other famous hikes, but you can see a full list here.
But if hiking isn’t your thing, Red Rock is still worth visiting. You can still go to the visitor center, drive down the Scenic loop drive, make stops along the way and enjoy the views while walking around.
• The Visitor Center is open from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
• Scenic Loop Drive and the rest of the park
Nov‑Feb 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM
March 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Apr‑Sep 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Oct 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Daily per vehicle $15
Daily per motorcycle $10
Daily per bicycle or pedestrian $5
Red Rock Annual Pass $30
America the Beautiful Annual Pass $80
Free for active-duty military
Free for permanently disabled visitors
IMPORTANT: If you visit Red Rock Canyon between October 1 and May 31, you need to make an online reservation before on recreation.gov. The reservation fee is $2, on top of the entrance fee if you don’t have a pass. You will have to create an account but I highly recommend creating your account now because it will be useful for many National, State, and Recreational Parks.
Additional resources for Red Rock Canyon
I also recommend making the reservation in advance IF you plan to visit on a weekend. Saturdays can be extremely busy at peak season and you might have to wait several hours to get inside the park if you show up without one. You will have to turn around and drive back to Summerlin to get service and book online.
NOTE: there is almost NO service in the park and if you need internet you will need to purchase wifi.
Thank you SO much for being here! I hope you enjoyed this mini Vegas guide. If you did and want to read more, here are more resources you can find on my website:
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