Whether you have previously been in Las Vegas or not, I’m absolutely certain you know that this city is synonymous with nightclubs, casinos, bachelorette parties, easy marriages, beautiful hotels, wild shows, and much more.
Las Vegas is fun, and for many people, enjoying its essence wouldn’t be complete without immersing themselves in some of the city’s well-known casino and nightclub attractions. However, not everyone is a gambler or a party animal. Does that mean Las Vegas should be excluded from your travel list? Absolutely not.
My first trip to sin city was about 17 years ago, before marriage and maternity came into my life. At that time, I indeed dropped coins into a slot machine just for fun. Being a horrible gambler, I didn’t win anything. Since then, I’ve returned with my husband several times. A couple of times we had our daughter with us. Despite avoiding the gambling floors and nightclubs, we’ve always had a ball.
This time, I flew to Las Vegas to meet up with a dear friend visiting from Brazil. Our plan was not only to see the Grand Canyon, but also to include a short stay in the city. I wanted to show her around, even though she needed sleep after her long flight.
That said, the program was pretty much the same as my previous visits to the city. If you are wondering how we entertained ourselves without stepping inside the casinos or clubs, follow me through this Las Vegas non-gamblers guide to find out more.
Check out the hotels
When visiting Las Vegas for the first time, exploring the glamorous hotels and their foyers is an attraction in itself. The Strip, the main drag where visitors typically stay when visiting the city, holds most of them.
The hotels listed below are not only beautiful but are also excellent places to stay. My family has always been pleased with the service, location, beauty, and accommodations at all three.
The Bellagio is my favorite, inside and out. The dancing water in front of the hotel is something that cannot be missed, either during the day or at night. Every 15-30 minutes, the fountains exhibit a fantastic choreography of water and music that fascinates me every time I see it. Lights are added to the show at night which is amazing. Jets blow streams of water into the air creating a dance effect to the rhythm of the music. Spectacular!
Inside, another show. When in the main lobby, look up to see the sculpture made up of 2,000 colorful, hand-blown glass flowers, called Fiori di Como (Flowers of Como). The artwork designed by the world-famous artist Dale Chihuly, uses Lake Como in Italy as his inspiration and will blow your mind. The botanical gardens, immediately to the right, have seasonal displays and, depending on the time of the year, you will see exhibitions of beautiful designs and colors representing the four seasons. Additionally, the Bellagio has other seasonal displays celebrating Christmas and Chinese New Year. There is always something new to see.
The Venetian replicates the Grand Canal of Venice, which runs both outside and inside the hotel. It is possible to have a gondola ride with a gondolier dressed in a striped top and red neckerchief singing you a serenade. I personally think that aspect is a cheesy, expensive tourist trap.
But walk through the archways and check the gold and marble trim of the pillars, the lush floors, and the painted ceilings reminiscent of Michelangelo. Stroll in the main square and look up at the bridge and sculptures that very much recreate the fascinating city of Venice.
The Wynn is another of my favorites. There is a partial glass ceiling that allows the sunlight into the atrium. The live plants and flowers beautifully combined with lights, colors, and art make the lobby of the hotel a stunning place. The three atriums, just like the Bellagio, are decorated according to the season.
Considering the extreme heat of Nevada, one of my favorite things to do in Las Vegas during the day is to sit poolside to cool down, and people watch, of course! Whether taking a relaxing dip in the refreshing waters, lounging in a cabana equipped with comfortable chairs, having a cold drink, savoring small bites, or simply recharging while reading a book, sitting poolside is one of the best ways to endure the temperatures that can reach triple digits during the summer.
When visiting Las Vegas with kids, it is important to consider the family friendly hotels, such as Mandalay Bay Resort, the Venetian, and the MGM Grand Hotel, that will keep you away from the commotion of the city. While the children will be entertained, parents can definitely enjoy themselves, too.
See a show
Las Vegas definitely has a high level of expertise when it comes to entertainment. Year around, travelers arrive to see the continuously running performances—including several Cirque du Soleil productions, most of which can be enjoyed by all ages—that have become part of the city’s identity. A significant number of popular touring musicians make their appearance on stages as well.
The night that we were in town, we saw “Love,” a beautiful celebration of The Beatles, by Cirque du Soleil. It was fantastic! Needless to say, I’m a big fan of the Beatles and could have watched it again and again. The combination of music, props, and the fantastic acrobatic performance resulted in a superb spectacle.
I have seen and enjoyed several touring Cirque du Soleil presentations. Nevertheless, after seeing “O” last year, and “Love” now, they are nothing like anything I had ever seen before. Both are phenomenal. It is hard to say now which one is my favorite, but I think I‘m inclined to say “O.”
Eating and drinking
I won’t specifically recommend where to eat or drink because there are hundreds of fantastic places where you can go for a great meal or a drink. Whether or not you’re a foodie, you will be delighted to know that in Las Vegas there is an endless list of restaurants serving everything from simple burgers to full-course meals and buffets.
Some of the 5-star restaurants in town offer discounted prices during happy hour. In Las Vegas, there is a restaurant for every taste, style, and budget. Take time to do some research, find your fit, and dig in. I normally use Open Table or Yelp.
Las Vegas is a land without judgment. The only rule is to have fun. Some people release their inhibitions and become who they are not, and others feel encouraged to show their true identities.
As I said, Vegas is a really fun place for people watching. My friend and I chose a bar with an open view of The Strip, ordered a drink, and sat back to enjoy. Whether a group of exciting girls celebrating a friend’s bachelorette party, someone dressed as Prince, an intriguing live statue, or just people enjoying touring around, Las Vegas is always lively, stimulating, and exciting. It was fascinating! There was no shyness and nothing was forbidden.
Seeing the lights
Casinos, clubs, shows, bars, parties or beautiful hotels, the truth is that Las Vegas doesn’t stop. However, there are many believers who say that you don’t truly experience the city until you see the night lights sparkling in the dark skies. I must agree with that. It is beautiful! Stroll on The Strip, look in all directions and be delighted with it. Enjoy the magic!
If you are an enthusiastic shopper, the stores located in the hotels offer a wide variety of products from high-end designers to affordable fashions. It really offers something for every wallet and palate.
I have said before that shopping is not my priority when traveling. True. Yet, there are some exceptions, and being in Las Vegas on a girls’ trip with a childhood friend is one of them. Two ladies walking by great stores couldn’t result in anything less than adding a couple things to our personal belongings.
Get out of the city
Las Vegas is a city full of entertainment, but it can be overwhelming. A short drive from the center of the city can take you away from the hustle-bustle for which the city is renowned and give you a different perspective of the area.
The Hoover Dam, the immense concrete structure in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, is located about 35 miles from Las Vegas, on the border between Nevada and Arizona. It was the tallest dam in the world when it opened in the 1930s. The construction not only provides electricity to the residents of Nevada, Arizona, and California, but also stores water in Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the country.
On our way to the Grand Canyon, we did a quick stop at the Dam. Although there are a number of tours available, we only walked over the bridge, crossing the line from Nevada to Arizona, changing time zones from Pacific to Mountain, and enjoyed looking at the massive structure from different angles.
A visit to Hoover Dam can be educational, making it a great program for the whole family. Check out this link for more information on Hoover Dam.
Las Vegas may seem like a destination only for rock stars, but the truth is that the city offers plenty of fun for all ages. The list above is merely a sampling. For example, consider adding a fabulous spa treatment, a short drive to see the desert and mountain landscapes surrounding the city, or taking a day trip to the Grand Canyon.
Have you been to Las Vegas? What else would you add to this list for someone who is not a gambler or is traveling with a family? I’d love to hear your thoughts and learn of your experiences in the comments section below!