Free Things to Do in Las Vegas

Finding budget-friendly fun: Las Vegas' 10 best free things to do

If you’re watching your budget, you’ll be glad to know Las Vegas is full of free things to do, from entertainment to artwork. While off-Strip activities tend to be more wallet-friendly overall, the Strip also has plenty of free attractions.

Some of Las Vegas’ most well-known free attractions are at the Bellagio. The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens regularly attracts crowds with amazing displays, and the Fountains of Bellagio have been delighting audiences for years with their amazing choreography.

One of the best free shows in Las Vegas is a walk along the Strip or along the Fremont Street Experience, where a steady stream of street performers provides entertainment at no cost. But before you pose for photos with the showgirls or shirtless Magic Mike impersonators, be forewarned that they do expect to be paid. Be sure to ask about the fee before you snap pictures.

Getting out of the city to explore the surrounding desert is an excellent way to find free and low-cost activities. It doesn’t cost anything to walk across the second tallest bridge in the United States, the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which comes with a birds-eye view of Hoover Dam. If heights aren’t your thing, you might enjoy exploring the neon-colored rock towers at Seven Magic Mountains. The colorful boulders of this public art installation tower above the open desert with the Jean Dry Lake Bed in the background.

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Car fans will enjoy the Shelby Heritage Center, where visitors can take a free self-guided tour. Visitors can see the production facility and learn about automotive legend Carroll Shelby and his company. Shelby is perhaps best known for his work on the Shelby Mustang GT350 and GT500, but this accomplished race car driver and automotive designer had a long and distinguished career before and after that ground-breaking car. The Shelby Heritage Center houses over 30 of his vehicles and tells Shelby's story. The 15,000-square-foot Heritage Center is adjacent to the company's large production facility, and a gift store offers all kinds of collectibles and souvenirs.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Shelby Heritage Center offers free tours of its collection of historic vehicles designed by the legendary Carroll Shelby.

Terrisa's expert tip: Private, behind-the-scenes tours give visitors a close-up peek at cars as they're being built. Private tours cost $39 - $49 and are available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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Flamingo Wildlife Habitat
Photo courtesy of Patrick Gray/Kabik Photo Group

This small oasis 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 break.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Flamingo Wildlife Habitat is a small, secluded spot filled with birds, fish and greenery.

Terrisa's expert tip: The Flamingo Wildlife Habitat is close to the Linq Promenade, home of the High Roller Observation Wheel. The Habitat is very close to the Flamingo's entrance to the Promenade.

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The Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge was built to re-route traffic away from Hoover Dam, which was formerly a part of US93. The new bridge includes a pedestrian walkway that offers an incredible view of the dam. Best of all, you can walk across the bridge for free. Stairs and ramps lead up to the bridge, 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 stands nearly 900 feet above the Colorado River and offers an amazing view of Hoover Dam.

Terrisa's expert tip: The bridge is one of a few free areas around Hoover Dam--there's also no cost to walk along the top of the dam, although parking in and near the visitor center costs $10. Admission to the visitor center is $10 and tours of the dam are $15-$30.

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Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International

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. The Conservatory is directly off the front desk and 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 talented staff at the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens use flowers and plants to create amazing displays that regularly change.

Terrisa's expert tip: The Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is an easy walk from the front entrance, where you can catch the Fountains of Bellagio Show, which is also free.

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Streetmosphere at Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas
Photo courtesy of Grand Canal Shoppes The Venetian Resort Las Vegas

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, and costumed characters wander through the streets. Several times a day, a 15-minute-long performance featuring singers, dancers, musicians, and other entertainers takes 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 $34 per person. The Grand Canal Shoppes are also home to several highly rated restaurants, many of them in St. Mark's Square.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Streetmosphere performers at the fancifully designed Grand Canal Shoppes delight guests with free shows.

Terrisa's expert tip: The Gondolier March happens twice a day when the gondoliers march through the Grand Canal Shoppes, singing as they go to work in the morning at 9:45 a.m. and afternoon at 4:20 p.m.

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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. Down on the ground, free live music happens in the evenings during the week and begins at noon on weekends. The entire area is full of bars and restaurants, and you can easily walk in and out of the casinos bordering the FSE. 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. During the day, the FSE is a bit more sedate. 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 in downtown Las Vegas offers a free light show and free live music.

Terrisa's expert tip: Viva Vision's premium show is MIXology, which uses 3D visuals along with a sound track of classic songs. MIXology takes over the canopy at 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. as part of a line-up of shows happening at the top of every hour from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

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Outside the City

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 opened in 2016 and was scheduled to close at the end of 2021, but its popularity has led to an indefinite extension. 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: Seven Magic Mountain's quirky and colorful rock towers are captivating public art set in an unconventional location.

Terrisa's expert tip: You won't find any restrooms, vendors or visitor center at Seven Magic Mountains. Be prepared for a short walk in the desert (close-toed shoes are a good idea), and be sure to bring water.

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The Mirage's volcano rumbles into life at the top of the hour every evening from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., 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, which brings the entire lagoon area in front of the Mirage to life when it erupts. When it first appeared on the Strip, the Mirage's volcano 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 and Indian musician Zakir Hussain.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: With plenty of fire and pizzaz, the Mirage Volcano erupts spectacularly several times each evening.

Terrisa's expert tip: The Mirage Volcano has been on the Strip for 30 years but is slated for demolition in upcoming renovations, so make sure you see it next time you have the chance. Hard Rock International purchased The Mirage in 2021 and plans to build a guitar-shaped hotel on the site.

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Fountains of Bellagio
Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International

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. The show uses more than 1,000 fountains, some shooting water over 400 feet into the air. 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: The elegant, hypnotic dancing waters at the Fountains of Bellagio are famous world-wide.

Terrisa's expert tip: If you want a spot directly in front of the fountains for a front row view of the show, be sure to arrive early. Crowds start to really grow five to ten minutes before a show.

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No trip to Las Vegas is complete without visiting this landmark. Designed by Betty Willis in 1959, this famous neon sign welcomes millions of visitors to Las Vegas each year. Willis never copyrighted the sign's design, and consequently it's 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. There's no admission fee or charge for parking, but if you visit during the busier parts of the day, be prepared to wait in line to take your picture in front of the landmark sign.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" is an iconic symbol of the city that's on the National Register of Historic Places.

Terrisa's expert tip: The small parking lot for the sign is quite busy during the day. If you can't find a spot there, there's a large parking lot in front of the Harley-Davidson store across the street from the sign.

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Meet Terrisa Meeks

Terrisa Meeks is a native born, life-long resident of Las Vegas. She's watched Las Vegas grow and change over the years, especially the ever-evolving Las Vegas Strip. She still enjoys hanging...  More About Terrisa