We’ve all heard the saying—what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. And with high-rolling poker tables, dimly-lit dance clubs and boozy drinks around every corner, it’s no surprise.
But not everything that Las Vegas has to offer is scandalous. I’ve spent enough time in Sin City to learn that it truly offers something for everyone. I’ve traveled there on multi-generational family vacations, girls’ getaways and romantic weekend trips—and I’d do them all again.
Here, take a peek into the many adrenaline-fueled, educational, delicious and downright exciting activities nearby—some of the best things to do in Vegas, by far. You’ll be planning a trip to the desert in no time once you realize just how thrilling Vegas can be.
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
When traveling to Las Vegas for a girls’ trip, the magic in the air is tangible. We slip into our most flattering dresses, add some curls to our hair and paint our faces to perfection—though we usually opt out on the heels; those blisters are not fun.
And why, you might ask? The answer is simple: girls just wanna have fun.
On my most recent trip, we stayed at The Linq, one of the Las Vegas Strip’s newest hotels. This spot is right in the heart of the action, between Harrah’s and the Flamingo. The comfortable rooms were the perfect way to wind down after a night out. But the hotel’s most impressive feature is the High Roller, the largest Ferris wheel in the world. It serves up impressive 360-degree views of the area in addition to tasty cocktails (it is Vegas, after all).
By day, stroll the Strip, sipping frozen cocktails in oversized yardstick glasses. Whether you stop to play the dinging slot machines or to peruse the many shops in the area, these cool drinks will help you beat the heat and aren’t quick to run out.
After you and your crew have gotten dolled up, a night out is required. Many will opt to dance the night away at one of Vegas’ popular clubs. But one of the best things to do in Vegas is live it up at a live concert. Stars from all genres flock to this bustling city to perform for a night, a week or a year. Get your groove on watching Justin Timberlake or belt your heart out with Gwen Stefani or Celine Dion.
But the girls can’t have all the fun—Las Vegas is a great gathering place for the guys too. Whether it’s an important event like a bachelor party or simply a chance to meet up and reconnect, certain experiences seem tailor-made for the men to enjoy together.
One aspect of Vegas sure to capture some male attention is the booming culinary scene. There are famous chefs and innovative restaurants at every turn. While you’re sure to find somewhere delicious to dine at any hotel or casino, one of the best things to do in Vegas is to visit a Gordon Ramsay eatery. The Planet Hollywood-based Burger lives up to the hype, with affordable yet mouthwatering meals, a flame-fueled entrance display and unique milkshakes like the crème brulee or blood orange creamsicle.
Beyond food, get your heart pumping with the city’s most exhilarating thrill rides. My personal favorite—the one I always try to ride when visiting—is The Roller Coaster at New York-New York. Modeled after the Big Apple’s taxicabs, the cars race past the hotel’s skyscrapers at up to 67 mph. The Stratosphere is also home to a variety of heart-pounding adventures, including the Big Shot drop tower and the SkyJump open-air free fall experience from more than 800 feet in the air.
While Vegas clubs certainly appeal to the guys too, there’s a new activity in town to capture their attention. Gather the group and head to a Golden Knights hockey game. In its first season, the team already ventured to the playoffs, making them a huge hit, and now one of the best things to do in Vegas.
Best Things to Do in Vegas As a Family
Although it’s often envisioned as a place for adults, Las Vegas can be family-friendly as well. One of the most popular attractions for those with young kids is M&M’s World, where more than 20 unique colors are available for purchase along with candy-themed merchandise. But the real appeal here is up on the third floor. Visit My M&M’s to create chocolates with your own message on them.
For families that love to soak up all the culture they can, head to Le Village Buffet at the Paris hotel. Buffets are a must when in the city, and they give picky kids a chance to try new foods. Parisian-loving adults (like myself) will thoroughly enjoy the French-inspired setting. Cottages serve as different stations, and there is a variety of traditional cuisine to choose from. Whether it’s full crab legs with butter on the side, crepes, penne alla puttanesca or colorful macarons for dessert, you’ll feel more like you’re in France than Nevada.
All generations will enjoy a trip to Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage. First, head to the pool to see bottlenose dolphins as they flip in and out of the water. The Trainer for a Day program allows guests to get in the water with the animals as does the Painting With the Dolphins experience, where they will help you create a masterpiece to take home. They also host morning yoga sessions in the calming underwater viewing area down below.
Then, move on to the secret garden, home to big cats like lions, white tigers and leopards. With only chain-link fences to separate visitors from these massive creatures, we felt as if we were on the verge of stepping into the cages themselves. And when the lions roar aloud, you won’t believe your ears—no matter how old you are.
At the Mandalay Bay, continue your animal exploration. The Shark Reef Aquarium is home to everything from a golden crocodile and a giant Pacific octopus to piranhas, sea turtles, jellyfish and stingrays (the last of which you can touch). Explore a shipwreck exhibit as well, where different species of sharks traverse the 1.3 million-gallon tank.
Those that love the animals will enjoy a stay at the Golden Nugget in Downtown Las Vegas. All generations can enjoy time spent around the pool while the kids and kids-at-heart can take a trip down the waterslide, which travels directly through a shark tank. It’s also just steps away from the Fremont Street Experience, where live shows can fascinate everyone from teens to grandparents.
Keeping Things Intimate
Romance has a place in Las Vegas as well. Smaller groups—okay, fine, couples—will be able to find some unique experiences to keep them occupied as well. While the families head to the brunch buffet at the Paris, couples can skip right to the top of the Eiffel Tower for unparalleled views and upscale dining.
Whether you’re at the top of the Eiffel Tower at night, or strolling along the Strip, take a few minutes to watch the Fountains of Bellagio water show. With the mood lighting and romantic music, it’s one of the best things to do in Vegas as a couple.
But, by far, the gondola rides at The Venetian take the cake when it comes to romance. You’ll forget that your magical trip isn’t actually whisking you over Italian waters as you look up at the feigned clouds and blue skies. The cobblestone bridges just add to the experience as you travel down the Grand Canal. Past cafes and balconies, your gondolier will sing to you. The whole trip is one of the most unique experiences you’ll find in Vegas, or anywhere else.