Ultimate Guide to Las Vegas for First Time Visitors

Las Vegas attracts millions of people every year with their luxury hotels and casinos. Some of the largest hotels in the world are on the four-mile strip known as Las Vegas Boulevard. Don’t like to gamble? No worries. Vegas has attractions you won’t see anywhere else.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Where is Las Vegas & How to Get There

Las Vegas is in southern Nevada just 37 miles from the border of Arizona. The Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge spans across the Hoover Dam and connects the two states.

Las Vegas

Since we are not big gamblers we spend a lot of time exploring things to do in Vegas that does not require lady luck to smile on us.

Las Vegas is a short drive from our home in Arizona, so we visit here often. To keep the post shorter we have divided our Ultimate Las Vegas Guide into six posts.

  1. Things to do in Vegas besides gambling
  2. How to Get Around Vegas
  3. Where to Shop
  4. Hotels in Las Vegas
  5. Where to Eat?
  6. 8 Natural Attractions near Vegas
GoCity Las Vegas

Things to do in Las Vegas Besides Gambling

  1. Stroll through the Hotels
  2. Go for a swim
  3. Explore Fremont Street
  4. Get your mugshot taken at the Mob Museum
  5. Have a drink at a Speakeasy
  6. Take a gondola ride
  7. Madame Tussad Wax Museum
  8. See a Vegas show
  9. Listen to a Concert
  10. Bodies The Exhibition
  11. Watch the Bellagio Fountain
  12. Visit the Bellagio Conservatory
  13. Buy some Chocolate & view the largest Chocolate fountain
  14. Gaze at Chihuly’s glass art
  15. Take a ride on a roller coaster
  16. Take a ride on a ferris wheel
  17. See a show at the Sphere
  18. Visit the Shark Reef aquarium
  19. Be a passenger at the Titanic Exhibit
  20. Check out Area 15
  21. Take in the the best views of Vegas
  22. Race in an exotic car
  23. See all the lights at the Neon Museum

Stroll Through the Hotels

Explore the dozens of Las Vegas Strip hotels. The strip has beautiful hotels with all different themes and gorgeous interiors. It can be fun just to walk through some of them. Each hotel has activities, shopping and places to eat inside of them. The Las Vegas strip is home to several of the largest hotels in the world including the Venetian, MGM Grand, Wynn, Mandalay Bay and the Luxor.

Las Vegas Pools

If you are visiting the desert city in the summer, you’ll want to cool off. Hanging out at one of the amazing pools is a great way to spend the afternoon. Our favorite pools in Vegas are at the following hotels:

  • MGM Grand
  • Mandalay Bay
  • Bellagio

MGM Grand Pool

The MGM Grand has an amazing lazy river, an adult-only Wet Republic pool (there is a cover charge for this one even if you stay here) and five more pools to choose from. In Vegas this is my pick if I’m choosing a hotel based on the pool area.

Mandalay Bay Pool

The pool area at Mandalay Bay includes a lazy river, a wave pool, a sandy beach, as well as an adult -only pool called Moorea Bay. There is a cover charge for the adult pool.

Bellagio Pool

If you’re looking for a more chill vibe with less of a party scene, the Bellagio pools are not only aesthetically pleasing they have a great vibe. Bellagio has five pools. The Bellagio Pool is heated, so you can use it year round. Unlike some pools in Vegas, only guests can use the pools at the Bellagio.

Visit Fremont Street

Fremont Street is classic Vegas. Here you can see an amazing display of lights for their night shows, zip line, shop, and gamble.

Fremont Street has three stages for musical performances. During the week they have local bands. During the summer you can watch free concerts from recognizable names. If you’re staying downtown or on Fremont Street just know the music doesn’t stop until 2 am.

At night Fremont Street has a cool LED light show set to music for visitors to enjoy. It is usually on the hour starting at 6:00 pm.

Get Your Mugshot Taken at the Mob Museum

The Mob Museum was one of my favorite things to do in Vegas. A short walk from Fremont Street this museum is inside the old courthouse where the famous Kefauver Committee held hearings regarding organized crime. It is interactive and very nicely done. If you like history, check out this museum. Don’t forget to visit the speakeasy.

Have a Drink at a Speakeasy

Vegas has a lot of fun speakeasys to grab a drink at.

Arte Museum Las Vegas

Take a Gondola Ride

A gondola ride at the Venetian is a fun thing to do, they even serenade you. Pretend you’re in Italy and stroll through this gorgeous hotel. You can take a ride at The Venetian hotel.

Madame Tussad Wax Museum

See your favorite stars at the Madame Tussad Wax Museum. The museum is located within The Venetian.

Las Vegas Shows

See a show in Las Vegas. There are dozens of shows to choose from. Cirque du Soleil are popular shows. I highly recommend catching a show during your visit.

See a Concert

Want to hear your favorite musicians? The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas hosts various musical acts and is home to the NHL Golden Knights Hockey team.

things to do in las vegas

Watch the Bellagio Fountain

The Bellagio Fountain is an icon on the Vegas strip. Located in front of the Bellagio Hotel, the infamous water show runs every 30 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes in the evening.

Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

The Bellagio Gardens, inside of the Bellagio Hotel, is one of my favorite spots in Vegas. The garden design is changed out seasonally, so there is always something new to see.

Largest Chocolate Fountain

See the world’s largest chocolate fountain in the Bellagio hotel. Much more impressive in person than in photos.

Chihuly Art Displays

See the gorgeous blown glass art by Chihuly. An expansive piece can be seen in the Bellagio lobby.

A gallery of Chihuly pieces can also be viewed at The Gallery between the Aria Hotel and the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas in the CityCenter complex.

Roller Coaster Rides & Ferris Wheels

Need an adrenaline rush? The New York New York Roller Coaster will be a hit with the kids as well.

Take a ride on the High Roller, the city’s 550-foot ferris wheel offers stunning views.

high roller coaster las vegas

The Sphere

Shark Reef & Aquarium

The Shark Reef Aquarium is located inside of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas. The aquarium is not enormous, but it does have a very nice variety of aquatic life and the tunnels of fish swimming above your head are incredible.

There are sharks, but there are also lots of saltwater fish, sea turtles, jellyfish,crocodiles and stingrays. This is a fantastic place to take kids or anyone who enjoys aquariums. There is a “touch pool” where you can touch the stingrays,crabs, and small bamboo sharks. The Jellyfish tanks are very cool to watch, they almost glow in the black light. Another popular attraction was the giant octopus, sea turtles and of course sharks.

Titanic Experience

Board the Titanic at Luxor hotel. This historical exhibit takes you on a unique experience where you can view more than 250 artifacts from this famous ocean liner. You can view a recreated grand staircase, actual pieces of the ship and feel how cold the iceberg was on that fateful night.

Area 15

Not on the strip, but the new Area 15 in Vegas is a trip. The entire place is filled with art and blacklights. There are several immersive art exhibits, shops, bars, a rum distillery tour. We went there for the Lost Spirits Distillery Tour and it was unlike any other distillery tour we’ve been on.

Learn more about Area 15

Exotics Racing – Car Racing

This is not on the strip, but Exotics Racing is close to the strip. f you always wanted to be a race car driver make an appointment at the Exotic Car Racing track. Exotic car racing is a really cool activity. It is advisable to make reservations, so you can drive your dream car.

One of the best parts of this experience, besides the driving itself, was being able to spend over an hour viewing and sitting in all the exotic cars.

Our Favorite Vegas Views

Best views of the city can be found on top of the Stratosphere and top of Paris hotels. Both offer incredible views of the strip. Personally, I prefer the views from Paris hotel, but the Stratosphere offers views you cannot see from Paris. Both were worth seeing.

Good Photo Opportunities can be found all over Vegas. If you want the classic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign in the background there is actually a line to wait in for this opportunity. The line moves pretty quick and it is worth the stop. South Las Vegas Blvd just past Mandalay Bay. You can get a photo with Elvis here if you want to.

Where to Eat and Drink in Las Vegas

Shopping in Las Vegas

Getting Around Vegas

Hotels to Stay on the Las Vegas Strip