Just because it’s easy to spend money in Las Vegas doesn’t mean you have to spend money in Las Vegas. While there are plenty of things to do in the city, like dining, hitting museums, gambling, shopping, and day trips, there’s also a world of free things to do in Las Vegas. From visiting the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign to strolling through the art installations at The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas has plenty of free things to do.
1. Visit the Welcome to Las Vegas sign
Perhaps the most recognized sign in the world, the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas attraction sits at the very south end of the Las Vegas Strip. Head to this glitzy spot to snap a photo that embodies the history of the city. You’ll likely spend more time waiting in line than actually taking a photo, but it’s a cool piece of nostalgia that brings people from around the world.
While you can walk to the sign from the hotels at the south end of Las Vegas Blvd., it’s a hike, so in the summer months, opt for public transit, cab, or ride share instead. Taking a photo is free, but oftentimes there will be photographers there, as well as characters to pose with, for which there will be a fee.
2. Get under the canopy at the Fremont Street Experience
Located in Downtown Las Vegas is the massive Fremont Street Experience. The pedestrian-friendly street spans five blocks of the historic Fremont Street (also known as “Glitter Gulch”). Covered by a LED canopy, the experience showcases dazzling light shows set to music. Under the canopy, you can find a cast of characters from showgirls to buskers to street magicians, all vying for attention (and tips).
In addition, there’s also the Downtown Free Concert series with performances from bands like Dashboard Confessional, Walk the Moon, and more set to take the stage in 2023. If you want to people-watch, there are plenty of spots under the canopy to grab a beer. Or, if you want to really get in on the action, you can head to Slotzilla, the Las Vegas zipline that takes you zipping under the canopy and above the throngs of people. You can get there via The Deuce, the public bus that heads from The Strip to downtown, or hop in a cab or ride share.
3. Watch the Bellagio Fountains
Prepare to get mesmerized by the magnificent Bellagio Fountains. Sprawling more than 1,000 feet and bursting almost 500 feet into the air, water from 1,000-plus fountains sways to music and light in front of the Bellagio.
Performances vary, and nighttime is definitely the most magical time of day to visit, as the lights of The Strip create the perfect romantic background to the dancing water. From The Strip, it’s easy to get to the Bellagio, which is located in the middle of Las Vegas Blvd.’s main expanse. It’s free to watch from the sidewalk, or if you’d like an elevated experience, grab food or drinks at many of the Bellagio’s restaurants which include views of the fountains.
On weekdays, catch the performances every 30 minutes from 3pm-6pm and then every 15 minutes from 7pm to midnight; Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, they are on every 30 minutes from noon-6:30pm and every 15 minutes from 7pm to midnight.
4. Wander the Bellagio
Aside from enjoying the fountains outside, there are many free things to do inside Bellagio. First, there’s the lobby of the hotel. Simply look up, and there you’ll see a work of art—Fiori Di Como—a huge hand-blown sculpture by artist Dale Chihuly. The colorful, flowerlike glass hangs from the ceiling and makes for gorgeous photos. Then, off the lobby is the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. The 14,000-square-foot exhibit changes seasonally courtesy of the hotel’s Horticulture and Engineering team, who transform the space into an immersive display using plants and celebrating Mother Nature. The exhibits are spring, summer, fall, winter, and Lunar New Year. It’s free to explore the conservatory, but if you want something truly special, there’s the opulent Garden Table. It’s a dining concept featuring dishes from Bellagio’s culinary team served in the conservatory and inspired by each season of the year.
5. Check out some games at the Pinball Hall of Fame
Near the Welcome sign is the new home of The Pinball Hall of Fame. It’s free to enter this non-profit museum which treats visitors to 25,000 square feet of playable pinball machines, along with vintage arcade games. It’s the world’s largest pinball collection, all of which belong to Tim Arnold, a member of the Las Vegas Pinball Collectors Club. The best part? They are all working machines, so grab quarters and treat yourself to classic games from the 1950s on up. It’s open 10am to 9pm Sunday through Thursday and 10am to 10pm Friday and Saturday.
6. Explore a chocolate factory and cactus garden
Indulge your sweet tooth and get outside … almost at the same time. Head Off-Strip to the Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Garden. Here, there are free self-guided tours of the chocolate factory where you can get an inside look at how the treats are made. Then, step outside to the grounds, which encompass three acres and are home to one of the world’s largest cacti gardens. Featuring more than 300 species of drought-tolerant cacti, ornamental, and other succulents, the plants come from the American Southwest, Australia, and South America.
If you’d like more of a chocolatey experience, Ethel M also offers chocolate-tasting experiences which last 30-45 minutes daily at 10:30am, noon, 1:30pm, 3pm. and 4:30pm. It’s $25 for adults and you can add on wine for an additional $10. Kids 13 and under are $15 each.
7. Go for a hike in the desert or mountains
When it comes to free things to do in Las Vegas, some of the best are found outside. If you want to enjoy nature, there are numerous trailheads you can hit without paying park fees. Simply get out to Red Rock Canyon and check out free hikes along NV-159. There, you’ll find numerous paths which can wind you through stunning desert. Favorite trails outside of the national park include Calico Basin, Red Spring Boardwalk, and First Creek Trails. If you want to embark on more strenuous hikes like Turtlehead Peak or Ice Box Canyon, enter the park for $20 per vehicle.
If you prefer the mountains, Mt. Charleston also has various hikes, all of which are free. The most popular is the one to Mary Jane Falls, which has a gorgeous waterfall.
8. Explore Area 15
Not to be confused with Area 51, Area 15 is located off the I-15 and parallel to the Las Vegas Strip. This massive complex is loaded with immersive art experiences, food, bars, and more. It’s free to enter until 9pm daily (after that, it’s $15 and 21+ only), but you’ll need to reserve a ticket to get in. Once inside, you can wander the space and then add on additional activities like Meow Wolf’s Omega-Mart, go zip lining, or visit Lost Spirits Distillery, a truly unique experience that includes a “modern Cirque” show, plus a distillery tour and tasting. There’s plenty here for all ages, like the Illuminarium that uses state-of-the-art technology like 4K interactive projections, 360-degree audio, in-floor vibrations, and even a scent system to create experiences like no other.
9. Browse the Arts District
The Arts District is a gem for exploring quaint local shops, vintage clothing stores, art galleries, and more. Wander down Main St. and then branch off any of the nearby side streets to see this hip part of town. Window shopping and browsing are free, but you’ll probably want to keep your wallet out for one-of-a-kind purchases at Akin Cooperative, a collective of local artisans selling their wares here, or for a beer at one of the local breweries.
10. See wildlife without leaving the Strip
The Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo is another free experience in Las Vegas. Located on the hotel’s grounds, this lush oasis is home to Chilean flamingos, swans, ducks, and other exotic birds. The four-acre grounds provide idyllic nature, complete with streams and waterfalls. It’s the perfect experience for families. Every day at 8:30am and 2om, you can catch a keeper share details about the experience at no additional cost.
11. See the Hoover Dam
While you have to pay for parking (unless you’re prepared to take a long, long walk), taking in the sights of the marvelous Hoover Dam is free. Take a self-guided tour of the exterior, walk across the dam (and go back an hour when you cross into Arizona), and see what makes this engineering feat incredible. If you want to explore the inner workings of the historic dam, there are tours available for a fee. To get here, you’ll need to either book a tour, drive, or take a car the 45 minutes outside of town.
12. Attend First Friday
Be a part of the action on the first Friday of every month with the aptly named First Friday event. Held in the city’s Arts District, it celebrates local art, food, and culture with a bounty of unique vendors and live music. Galleries are open for exploring, restaurants offer special deals, and the area becomes the place to be for locals and visitors alike. It’s free to enter, but if you want to purchase food, drinks, or buy from local artisans, that will cost.
Going Picks for the best free things to do in Las Vegas
- Plan a street art day. The best street art is found in and around The Arts District and then in the Fremont East corridor of Downtown Las Vegas. It’s perfect for Instagram pics and appreciating the vibrant street art community Las Vegas has worked to cultivate through the years.
- Red Rock has many hikes, but our favorite is more of a journey. Located off of NV-159 is a labyrinth set among the stunning sandstone of Red Rock. To get there, drive west on NV-159 to Calico Basin Road and turn right. Drive north, then west for about 1 mile, where the road makes a 90-degree turn to the right. Continue on the road until you see a gravel parking lot on the left, and park there. Walk along the gravel path to the labyrinth.