Vegas Must See

We frequently have visiting guests and we are always struggling with the primary question for first-timers, “what do I absolutely have to see while in Vegas?”. It all depends on your taste, but for the average tourist, here’s our list of “Must See” attractions with comments on why they are on the list. Please e-mail if you have additional suggestions.

Remember – every hotel/casino in Las Vegas welcomes guests and part of the fun during the day is simply walking thru these amazing properties to admire the beauty. Las Vegas is also a great people-watching town so whenever you sit down for a meal try to get a view of the casino floor or the strip so you can “people-watch” while eating.

At night there are many many free lounges in Las Vegas with live bands. Some of our favorites are at Excalibur, Gold Coast, Golden Nugget, Orleans, Plaza, Tropicana. Don’t be shy, just grab a table and enjoy the band! You may have to get up for your drinks as table service can be slow.

    • People who bring young kids to Vegas for vacation are selfish. If you can afford coming here and you bring your kids you should be ashamed of yourself. Take them to a Disney or Six Flags resort or to the Caribbean or Mexico. They just get in the way here and everybody thinks less of you as a parent.
  • Shows! Check our Vegas Show Reviews page to help decide.
    • Be sure to check out the numerous 1/2 price same day ticket locations like Tix4Tonite for great deals on show.
    • Our top 7 show recommendations:
      • Cirque du Soleil’s Ka, O, or Mystere – Best Overall
      • Jubilee – Best Classic Vegas Show
      • Phantom – Best Broadway Style Show
      • Barry Manilow (YES, Barry Manilow – read our review)
      • Tournament of Kings
      • George Wallace – Best Comedian
      • Lance Burton – Best Magician
  • The Sign! The famous Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada sign now has it’s own parking area so you can drive up, park, and take your picture.
  • Bellagio Fountains & Gardens
    • The Bellagio Hotel & Casino has the famous outdoor fountains that run year round. It’s free to stand on the sidewalk along the Bellagio and watch this amazing display. The Bellagio also has a beautiful indoor garden that’s also free to enjoy.
  • Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops
    • Caesar’s Palace seems to be in a constant state of growth and improvement. The property is enormous and their Forum Shops are beautiful and fun.
  • Cloud Nine Balloon Ride
    • What fun! For $22.50 you get in a giant donut shaped balloon basket that lifts you 500 feet into the air for the best view in town. Wow! This attraction is located across the street from Mandalay Bay, you can’t miss it (look for the huge balloon). Take your camera.
  • Excalibur
    • This place used to feel like it was catering to families but has done a lot to change that image lately. With the addition of Dick’s Last Resort restaurant, the Party Pit with a cat walk and go-go dancers and two lounges with live bands, Excalibur has become a regular stop for us.
  • Fremont Street
    • On the last three trips to Las Vegas before we moved here, we stayed at hotels on Fremont Street. This is the original classic Las Vegas. Food prices are better, gambling odds are better, minimum bets are lower, and the Fremont Street Experience TV in the sky is a major free must-see. Even as locals we still go to Fremont Street regularly. Park at the Golden Gate valet for the fastest valet service in town.
  • Gold Coast Lounge
    • Across the street from the Palms on Flamingo west of Las Vegas Boulevard and I-15 is the Gold Coast casino. If you love to dance to a live band (especially if you love to ballroom dance), this is THE place in Vegas. 30 seconds into the band’s first set, the huge dance floor is filled. Even if you don’t like to dance, its a very friendly place and great for people-watching. Free to get in the the 16 oz Bud Light is only is only $2 each!
  • Golden Nugget Lounge and Gold Diggers Club
    • The Golden Nugget is the classiest Fremont property and is constantly improving itself. Recently it added a great lounge downstairs and a dance club upstairs. Another great place for a fun night out.
  • Harrah’s Carnival Court
    • Between Harrah’s and the Imperial Palace is an outdoor stage called the Carnival Court. Live music plays nightly and the bar has performing bartenders. Another favorite of our when coming to Vegas on vacation. Free to get in but the drinks are pricey.
  • Luxor
    • You won’t have to spend too much time here, but you MUST walk inside and look up. This is the big black pyramid on the south end of the strip. It is just amazing. After you soak it up for about 10 minutes you can move on to the next property.
  • MGM Lions
    • The lion habitat at MGM is free and quite interesting. It’s another good stop on a walking tour of the town, and will only take 10 or 20 minutes to get your fill. The rest of the property is somewhat lacking in character and everything there is ridiculously expensive.
  • New York New York
    • This property has always been one of our favorites. It is full of character and even smells of apple when you walk in the door. The downtown New York restaurant area is great fun and as always you can walk thru for free and enjoy some great food at the many restaurants.
  • Orleans
    • Two lounges, bowling alley, stadium movie theater, showroom and arena make the Orleans one of the most versatile and popular “locals” casinos in town. It is almost always packed and with good reason. On Tropicana west of Las Vegas Boulevard and I-15.
  • Paris
    • This property is just cool. Only a handful of Vegas properties fully embrace their theme and this is one of the best. It’s free to walk around but going up in the Eiffel Tower is pricey.
  • Planet Hollywood’s Hawaiian Tropic Zone
    • The Aladdin Hotel and Casino was transformed into Planet Hollywood and the new ownership is doing all it can to make this property one of the hottest locations in Vegas. If you like food and drinks and bikini clad waitresses, be sure to check out the Hawaiian Tropic Zone. It’s also great for people watching as it has seating that extends out onto the strip.
  • Plaza Lounge
    • The Plaza is located at the intersection of Main & Fremont Streets and has always had a fun lounge act. Recently they rebuilt the lounge and booked a recurring Motown/R&B act that is phenomenal. Plenty of tourists and locals mingle and dance and the energy is high for a great night out.
  • Rio’s Masquerade Village and Mardi Gras Show in the Sky
    • The Rio is on Flamingo West of Las Vegas Boulevard and I-15 and is a large lively property that is NOT within walking distance of the strip! It features the free Mardi Gras Show in the Sky with floats and dancing girls and beads. Worth checking out, and while there you might try one of Rio’s expensive buffets.
  • Sunset Station’s Club Madrid – Saturday Night NAWGAHYDE
    • Every Saturday night at roughly 10:30pm NAWGAHYDE takes the stage at the Sunset Station’s Club Madrid. They are billed as Kick-Ass Mustache Rock playing .38 Special, BTO, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, etc… The bass player performs in assless chaps, 24 oz Bush Beer is served in a paper bag for only $4, and you can line dance to Iron Man! Doors open at 9pm, no cover.
  • South Point Showroom – Saturday Night Spazmatics
    • Every Saturday night at roughly 10:30pm the Spazmatics take the stage at the South Point showroom. This is an 80s band that performs in character – dressed like 80s nerds. Cheap drink specials and tons of dancing and people watching make it a must see. Doors open at 10pm, $5 cover.
  • Tropicana Lounge
    • One of the older casinos on the strip, the Tropicana has a great lounge with free live music set between their Comedy Stop showroom and Folies Bergere showroom. Great music and people watching and the Tropicana’s premium location make it another fun night out.
  • Venetian & Pallazo Canal Shops
    • The Venetian and adjoining Pallazo properties are probably the #1 must see loations in Las Vegas. The second floor Canal Shops include a canal featuring gondola rides with singing gondoleers and the views are just unbeatable. Visiting is free but you have to pay for the gondola rides.
  • Buffets
    • Las Vegas buffets kick ass. You can get $40 per person meals at Wynn and Bellagio or you can get a $7 buffet at Palace Station. For a great deal on a quality meal we recommend Station casinos (Palace Station, Sunset Station, Red Rock Station, etc..) or just about any of the buffets on Fremont Street. Excalibur has a huge buffet for a reasonable price on the strip.
      **Best Brunch in town? Main Street Station on Main Street one block north of Fremont Street (they have a free parking garage). Huge buffet, excellent selection (the cinnamon rolls are worth the trip alone), champagne and mimosas, and it’s only $11. We go at least once a month.
  • Monte Carlo Cafe
    • This might sound just a little odd but it warrants a place on this list. Go to the Monte Carlo cafe and order the Hot Turkey sandwich. We stumbled upon this on New Year’s Eve 2006. You expect a typical open face hot turkey sandwich, but they use a huge biscuit in place of the bread, and it is one of the best meals you’ll have. We’ve been back over and over since then and the friends we take along agree.
  • Grand Canyon
    • Just won a bunch of money? Why not take a bus or helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon? You can go to the west rim and check out the Sky Walk or go even further and check out the National Park. It’s surprisingly close to Vegas, especially when flown there. Tons of tour options are available from the reputable
  • Hoover Dam
    • About a 20-30 minute drive from the strip, everybody has to see the Hoover dam. Take the tour, it’s not expensive (park and buy tickets when you get there). Get it out of your system. It is interesting, just don’t ask me to take you there while visiting, after a bazillion times I’ve just about memorized the tour guide’s script!
  • Red Rock Canyon
    • Maybe 20 minutes from the strip, take Las Vegas Boulevard north, turn West on Charleston Boulevard and go until you see the entrance to Red Rock Canyon. It won’t take all day (maybe a two hour round trip all inclusive) and it’s a state park that lets you walk down into a beautiful canyon with red rock walls. The only cost is the price of the state park day pass for the car.
  • Strip Clubs
    • Vegas has a lot of them. If you are into it, knock yourself out. If you are not sure which one is right for you, actually has employees that review all the strip clubs. Spearmint Rhino is supposed to be one of the best, and Glitter Gulch is right there on Fremont Street and welcomes couples.
  • Topless Pools
    • Looking for a place to eliminate some of those tan lines? Many Vegas hotels offer “European” sunbathing. The Stratosphere is the spot most friendly to “regular people” while the Mirage, Mandalay, Caesars, Wynn, Venetian, Rio and others offer a more upscale environment. We tried the Go Pool at Flamingo (mid 2010 – no longer topless). Not bad, regular people, but the music was obnoxiously loud. Friends went to Tao at Venetian and Mon-Thu there’s no charge to sit but you have to commit to $50/person bar tab. Fri-Sun it’s $200/person to sit and the pool is tiny. No thanks.
      ->As locals we often spend our sunny Sunday morning/early afternoon at Stratosphere’s Beach Club 25. Great views from the 25th floor! Friendly people (locals and tourists), $10 cover for men, free for women. They have a bar, will serve you in your lounge chair or in the pool, and have a menu available from the Stratosphere’s pizzeria. Floaties and floating drink holders are available. Towels are provided. 21 and over and no cameras allowed, tops are optional (no pressure, ladies, many leave the top on) and bottoms can get as skimpy as you like (that goes for men and women). Every one we meet says they have been to other adult pools, and this one is the best in the valley. The staff is excellent – just be sure to tip the staff!
  • Valley of Fire
    • About 30 minutes from the strip (north on I-15) is another state park called Valley of Fire. Not as interesting as Red Rock Canyon, but still worth a look. Most of this red rock filled desert landscape can be viewed from within your car. Same as Red Rock, admission is the price of a state park entry pass per car.

Must See Myths – Attractions hyped as must-see that are not worth your time.

  • Circus Circus
    • Kids and clowns – can’t imagine anything worse than that in Sin City.
  • Hard Rock
    • If you are going for the pool or a concert at the Hard Rock, it will be worth your time. Otherwise, it’s off the strip and just not that interesting. You can see a Hard Rock Cafe in places all over the world. This isn’t much different.
  • Mirage Volcano
    • Even after a multi-million dollar renovation this is still lame. If you happen to be walking by the front of the Mirage when the volcano “show” is running it’s worth a look, but don’t go out of your way to see it.
  • Palms
    • Parking is a pain in the butt and you end up with a bunch of posers looking to spot celebrities. Only worthwhile if you are here for a concert. The theater is supposed to be great but has a lot of movie hopping brats dumped here while irresponsible parents gamble and the staff does nothing to control it.
  • Sahara
    • Seems like Sahara took most of the Frontier’s “yee-ha” customer base after they closed. Very smokey, poor ventilation, tons of Nascar crap, and out of the way. If you are up in that area of Las Vegas Boulevard, drive another block to the Stratosphere.
  • Treasure Island Pirate Show
    • This used to be fun, but ever since it was converted from a true pirate show to “Sirens” with nearly naked men and women, you just feel embarrassed for the performers. You stand in a huge pile of people outside Treasure Island and after about five minutes realized you are pissed off for wasting your time.
  • Wynn
    • Just not much to offer unless you are shopping for a Ferrari. Regular people with average bank accounts need not bother.
Bellagio Fountains

Clound Nine Balloon Ride

Fremont Street Experience


New York New York

The Spazmatics


Hoover Dam

Valley of Fire