Every day, visitors turn up at the Ethel M Chocolate Factory to see the chocolate production facility where truffles, cremes, cherry cordials, peanut brittle, and other sweet treats are made. If you're lucky, you'll get to watch the confectionery delights being created, and you can pick up a free sample or a hand-dipped ice cream cone. Self-guided tours are free, although it might be tough to pass up a purchase after watching the sweets being made. For the serious chocolate enthusiast, a chocolate tasting experience is offered for $20 per adult and $10 for children. The cactus garden is also free and is billed as the largest cactus garden in the Southwest, with over 300 species of plants displayed over three acres.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Ethel M's self-guided factory tours and their large Botanical Cactus Garden are both free.
Terrisa's expert tip: The large Botanical Cactus Garden at Ethel M demonstrates a wide variety of cacti. During the spring months, be sure to look for blooming cactus, a rare and beautiful sight.
This small burst of greenery in the middle of the bustling Strip may surprise some visitors. Who knew that a secluded and lush escape was just a short walk away from the giant neon signs and sidewalk performers on Las Vegas Boulevard? The Flamingo's Wildlife Habitat is home to (naturally) flamingos, but you'll also find swans, ducks, koi, turtles and even two rescued pelicans. Lush landscaping makes for great pictures: think waterfalls, palms trees, and plenty of places to sit. The habitat is family-friendly, and it's free. Walking paths allow you to wander throughout the area, and if you've got kids with you, it's a nice place to stop for a family-friendly break.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Flamingo Wildlife Habitat is a hidden oasis on the Strip with water features, birds, turtles and fish.
Terrisa's expert tip: The Wildlife Habitat is not far from the entrance into the Flamingo on the Linq's Promenade, a pedestrian mall with restaurants, attractions and the High Roller Observation Wheel.
The Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge was built to relieve congestion over the top of Hoover Dam, which was formerly a part of US93. The new bridge re-routed the highway and opened up a whole new view of Hoover Dam. Best of all, you can park and walk across the bridge for free. Stairs and ramps lead up to the bridge access, and several placards and signs offer information about the bridge and the history of the men it's named for, although most people refer to it informally as the Bypass Bridge. The bridge is an architectural feat, one of the highest concrete-arch bridges in the world and the second highest bridge in the United States, standing 890 feet above the Colorado. It's 1,905 feet long and offers unparalleled views of Hoover Dam for those who are not afraid of heights.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is one of the tallest bridges in the United States and offers a pedestrian walkway with an amazing view.
Terrisa's expert tip: The turn-off for the bridge and Hoover Dam can be easy to miss. Keep an eye out as you approach the Hoover Dam Lodge – if you miss the turn, you'll have to drive across the bridge before you can turn around.
Before the Bellagio, not many people in Las Vegas knew what a conservatory was. Today, this beautiful indoor display of horticultural creativity is one of the city's best-known (and free) attractions. As the seasons and holidays change, the staff of the Conservatory swoops in to create sculptures and scenes made with plants, flowers, and other materials. The Christmas display is perhaps the most popular, but it's always a pleasure to walk through at any time of year. This area of the Bellagio, which is directly off the front desk, tends to get busy during midday with photo-taking visitors. It's also one of the few areas of the Bellagio receptive to children. Arrive early in the day to encounter the fewest people and get the best pictures.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The artfully designed scenes at the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are beautiful, extremely photogenic and free.
Terrisa's expert tip: Displays change every two or three months, with new shows generally coming in for the Lunar New Year, spring, summer, fall and the winter holiday season. A schedule, along with dark dates, is available on the Bellagio's website.
The Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian aren't satisfied with just having miniature Venetian canals, a recreation of St. Mark's square, or top-notch shops and restaurants. They decided to add street performers, which they've dubbed "Streetmosphere." Singers, performers, and living statues regularly entertain people, who are often caught off-guard, especially by the living statues. Costumed performers regularly wander through the streets. Several times a day, scheduled performances of singers, jugglers, and other entertainers take place in St. Mark's Square. Gondola rides are also a major attraction at the Grand Canal Shoppes, although the rides are not free; tickets start at $29 per person.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Streetmosphere performers at the fancifully designed Grand Canal Shoppes delight guests with free entertainment.
Terrisa's expert tip: Although pandemic restrictions have affected some performances, the full schedule of entertainment is slated to return in August 2021. Even when the Streetmosphere performers aren't appearing, a walk through the photo-worthy Grand Canal Shoppes is a fun experience.
The Fremont Street Experience is mostly known for its overhead light show, Viva Vision, a spectacular display of lights and technology that fills the canopy on a regular basis. Street performers, impersonators and artists known as buskers are found all along the street level on Fremont Street, making a walk up and down the few blocks of the FSE feel like an adult carnival. A zip line ride, SlotZilla, zooms riders under the canopy and over the heads of the people below. During the day, the FSE is a bit more sedate. Pedestrians can stroll from casino to casino and check out the wares at the shopping kiosks. If you're shopping for souvenirs, several places along the FSE feature inexpensive trinkets and tee-shirts.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Fremont Street Experience features the free Viva Vision show on its canopy and a party-like atmosphere on the street.
Terrisa's expert tip: Las Vegas' newest hotel casino, Circa, is located along the Fremont Street Experience. Its offerings include some of the most buzz-worthy new restaurants in town.
The Seven Magic Mountains art installation is easy to see from I15, with its 35-foot-high towers of multi-colored boulders rising out of the desert east of I15, about ten miles south of Las Vegas. Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone's creation is an impressive piece of public art. These neon hoodoos look a little like the natural rock formations found in the Southwest, only instead of being sculpted by wind and rain, these locally-sourced boulders were put into place with heavy equipment. The installation will be on display at least through the end of 2021 and may be extended through 2026. The installation's setting against the backdrop of Jean Dry Lake and the surrounding desert is photo-worthy, and worth exploring from every angle. Seven Magic Mountains might not be artwork in the traditional sense, but it is a unique creative and engineering achievement, and it's totally free.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The brightly colored rock towers of Seven Magic Mountains are a unique art installation in the desert.
Terrisa's expert tip: The desert site where Seven Magic Mountains sits does not have a restroom or other facilities, so be sure to be prepared when you visit.
The Mirage's volcano rumbles into life a few times every evening, spewing flames and doing a nice, friendly impersonation of the real thing. Crowds gather early to get a glimpse of this iconic curb-side attraction. The entire lagoon area in front of the Mirage comes to life when the volcano is erupting. When it first appeared on the Strip, it was the first Vegas exterior entertainment of its kind, and it's still wowing audiences. If you've ever seen real lava, you're in no danger of mistaking the special effects at the Mirage for the real thing, but it is a Hollywood-worthy spectacle, and plenty of fun to watch. An exclusive soundtrack for the eruption was created by Mickey Hart of the The Grateful Dead's and Indian musician Zakir Hussain.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Mirage's volcano regularly explodes with fireballs and a host of special effects.
Terrisa's expert tip: Arrive a little early to get the best spots to see the eruption. Depending upon how close you get, you may even feel a little heat from the volcano's fire!
The dancing waters of the Fountains of Bellagio have become one of Las Vegas' most recognizable attractions. Jets of water shoot hundreds of feet into the air, sway gracefully and race around in patterns on the surface of Lake Bellagio. All that aquatic movement is choreographed to popular music, some of it very Vegas-y (think Sinatra and Elvis), but you'll hear plenty of classical, romantic and toe-tapping tunes as well. The fountain's elaborate show captivates audiences, plus it's a free Las Vegas attraction that's appropriate for all ages. Once you've seen the show, be assured that you'll want to see it again. The show is enchanting, no matter how many times you've watched it.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Watching the mesmerizing dancing waters of the Fountains of Bellagio is free and unforgettable.
Terrisa's expert tip: The Bellagio also offers two other popular free attractions: The Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and the Chihuly glass sculptures on the ceiling near the front desk.
No trip to Las Vegas is complete without visiting this landmark. Designed by Betty Willis in 1959, the famous neon sign welcomes millions of visitors to Las Vegas each year. Willis never copyrighted the sign's design, and consequently the sign has become synonymous with Las Vegas and appears on all kinds of souvenirs and artwork. On May 1, 2009, the landmark sign was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places. For many years, the sign was on the outskirts of town and stood in the median to greet drivers, but now it's surrounded by hotels and has become popular enough that a parking lot was built just for it.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The iconic "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign is one of the city's most well-known landmarks, plus it's completely free to visit.
Terrisa's expert tip: The small parking lot for the sign usually stays busy during the day, but it's generally only a short wait before a space opens up.