Gambling, cocktails, and shows might put a crimp in your Las Vegas budget. But if you know how to do it right, there are still plenty of free things to do in this gambling capital. From the free CityCenter tram to the stunning show at the Bellagio Hotel, here is our guide to 20 fantastic (and completely free!) things to do in Las Vegas.
Enjoy Free Drinks
As you may know, drinks are free in Las Vegas as long as you're dropping money into a machine or playing at one of the table games. You can, however, score free drinks if you're watching someone else play or if you're just standing around in the Casino. The trick is to tip well. It sounds simple but if you're sitting at the quarter slots, tip the waitress $2, and you might find that she's back by the time you're ready for your next drink.
Free drinks aren't yet extinct but do not be surprised if you sit at a video poker machine and are told you have not played enough for a complimentary cocktail. The policy is slowly changing on free drinks in Las Vegas.
Visit the Trademark Sign
Is this a free attraction in Las Vegas? Well, you'll see plenty of people at the sign getting their picture taken. There is a small parking lot to make it easy to stop on your way in or out of town and all of your friends will be jealous when they see your status update with a view of Las Vegas.
The welcome to Las Vegas sign is located near the south end of the Las Vegas strip near the Mandalay Bay Resort. The best time to visit is in the early evening when the lights are on.
See Flamingos at, Well, the Flamingo Las Vegas
The Wildlife Habitat at Flamingo Las Vegas is not a huge attraction, but you will see a few Chilean flamingos here—a delight if you have kids! As the animals get fed, staff from the Wildlife Habitat answer questions and deliver some fun facts that kids will love and parents will appreciate. There is an opportunity to feed the fish, and you'll see some of the wildlife roaming the grounds freely.
See Garage Art at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas
There are quite a few reasons to head over to the Cosmopolitan Hotel but if you are looking for a free reason, skip the hotel and head to the parking garage. Walk toward the check-in desk and find the elevators that go down to the self-park area. WALLWORKS is four site-specific artist murals, which are located in The Cosmopolitan's parking garage on levels B2 through B5. The commissioned paintings are by four significant figures in contemporary art: Shepard Fairey, RETNA, Kenny Scharf and Shinique Smith.
Take a Trip to the Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam is free, but you will pay for parking in the parking structure on the Nevada side. If you visit in the summer months the temperatures can be on the high side so saving yourself the money on parking might require a strenuous walk. River tours exist but for the price catch a view of the river down below from high up above.
Watch a Free Circus Performance
Head to Circus, Circus (where else?) for a 15-minute long, completely free circus performance. The show lets visitors get up close with the performers, who showcase their juggling and acrobatic skills. This is one of the original free shows in Las Vegas and it is still worth a visit.
Visit the Downtown Container Park
While this downtown Las Vegas attraction is indeed free, you should know that the shops and restaurants located around the space can be expensive. However, the main draw at the Downtown Container Park is the giant tree house, and yes, that is free! Even if a meal here is too expensive, you can easily amuse yourself on the giant tube slide and some of the interactive activities in the play area. This spot is not just for kids.
See World Class Art For Free at CityCenter's Collection
The art at CityCenter is a broad combination of style and mediums, ranging from sculpture and painting to large-scale installations. Located throughout CityCenter, installations are both indoors and out, creating a roving gallery of masterpieces that can be viewed by visitors and guests alike. Imagine for yourself a 67-acre gallery where the art is incorporated into the architecture, into the public spaces and the retail and entertainment districts. A free app even helps you navigate the artwork.
Watch a Volcano Erupt
The erupting volcano in front of the Mirage Hotel is still just as impressive today as it was on the hotel's opening night more than 20 years ago. It remains one of the best free things to do and see in Las Vegas, spewing fire and "lava" into the air three times each night, at 8 p.m., 9 p.m., and 10 p.m. The show is even set to a custom-choreographed soundtrack.
Gamble for Super-Cheap
Cheap gambling, cheap food, and cheap drinks all lead to a great time while spending a small amount of money. Sit at a table playing low limits, and the drinks keep coming all night long. If you are on a tight budget, this is a place where the fun is always going to cost you less.
If you still are looking for a good, cheap place to gamble, try Bally's or the Downtown Casinos such as Golden Gate, Fremont and The D. Not everyone has ridiculous limits, but the smaller places tend to be more kind to those who are slightly less heavy in the wallet.
Vist the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown
The lights are bright above Downtown Las Vegas as the Fremont Street Experience dazzles and entertains you nightly. The show is free, and Downtown Las Vegas comes alive every half hour. Grab yourself a cheap hot dog and a shrimp cocktail and enjoy the light show.
Stroll up and down Fremont street, and you'll find drink specials, food specials and even a couple of those adult attractions that Las Vegas is famous for at a decent price. Live music happens daily for free on Fremont street and this area of Las Vegas is also famous for low room rates and low-limit tables.
Have a Night Out at Harrah's Carnaval Court
The one place in Las Vegas where you can bet on a festive environment and a good dose of nightlife is Carnaval Court at Harrah's Las Vegas. This is not a full-blown Vegas nightclub experience—but that's what makes it so great. Carnaval Court is more of an outdoor festival experience with people are dancing, laughing and not getting caught up in having to stand behind a velvet rope before they go in.
See the Bellagio's Impressive Conservatory
Four times per year, the 14,000-square-foot Bellagio Conservatory transforms, turning the incredible display of trees, flowers, and plants into a showcase of the season. A staff of 120 horticulturalists and designers work magic, showcasing everything from cherry blossoms to fall foliage throughout the year.
Take a Hike at Red Rock Canyon
This family-friendly spot is great for adventurous travelers looking to hike, climb, bike or just enjoy the outdoors only 20 minutes from the Las Vegas strip.
In the summer months, it is best to get there early to avoid the heat, but outside of May through September, this park is a delightful respite from the craziness of the strip. Hike in a slot canyon or take in the views from way up high. You'll be surprised by how far removed Las Vegas feels from Red Rock Canyon.
Have a Meal at the Top of the Stratosphere Tower
The meal might not be free, but your ticket to the top of the Stratosphere Tower will be. Alternatively, consider happy hour at Level 107 Lounge. You'll get the great views for free along with some impressive drink specials and food deals.
See the Lake of Dreams at Wynn Las Vegas
This unique lake (surrounded by a 130-foot human-made mountain), serves as Steve Wynn's unique performance space. The surreal Lake of Dreams performance is family-friendly and features a singing frog, dancing flowers, and more. To see the show for free, head down to the patio of the Wynn's bar, Parasol Down, to take a look. If you plan on sitting, you might have to buy a drink, but otherwise, you can stand off to the side and wait for the talking frog to show up. If you need a romantic nightcap, this lends itself to a special conversation or a long evening of chit-chat.
Walk Through the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian
You can spend a lot of time at the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian Hotel without ever spending any money. Take a long walk through the corridors of this mall, watch the gondolas go past or sit in the square and listen to the music. You can, however, have a cheap meal at the food court that shouldn’t set you back too much, or try the food at Cañonita, an affordable Mexican restaurant. Each of these places has items on their menu that will not leave you searching for the ATM.
Sample Chocolates at Ethel M
If you have a car, make the quick trip out to the Ethel M Chocolate Factory for an enjoyable and sweet treat. The premium chocolate-maker offers a free factory tour, but grounds are also home to a unique desert botanical garden.
Shop at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace
There is so much to see and do at the Forum Shops that you could spend a whole day here! Stroll through the massive mall and see the talking statues, eat at one of the many excellent restaurants or buy some souvenirs.
The cheap stuff at the Forum Shops? The Cheesecake Factory, for heaping portions and quality food, but if you're looking for a little more upscale, try Spago where for the price you get more than you pay for.
While heap shopping at the Forum Shops doesn’t exist, window-shopping is free, and the stroll is worth a few hours of your time. If nothing else, your time spent sightseeing might save you some money because you are away from the tables.