Mirage Volcano and Aquarium
A stop at Mirage Las Vegas will bring you close to a pair of free things to do in Las Vegas, each of which is of world-class quality.
The Mirage Volcano is actually a series of controlled explosions that are coordinated with musical selections. Some of the greatest names in music have contributed to the production, which is free but might cost you time. You'll need to arrive early to get a good observation point. Latecomers often wind up across the street, where you get the wider view but miss some of the finer points of the show.
The "Eruption Schedule" starts at 7 p.m. nightly and continues every 60 minutes, at the top of each hour, until 11 p.m.
While on the subject of Mirage, remember that the hotel also hosts an aquarium that ranks among the best to be found in any hotel.
It runs for more than 50 feet along the wall of the main lobby, so as guests check in, they're treated to a view of a coral reef in the midst of the Nevada desert. The 20,000 gallons of salt water enclosed in this four-inch-thick glass is home to about 1,000 species of fish and plant life.
Fountain at The Bellagio
After Danny Ocean and his gang completed the vault heist in the movie Ocean's 11, they can be seen enjoying the fountain show at The Bellagio, one of Las Vegas' favorite performances. As with the Mirage Volcano, it is loved, at least in part, because it costs nothing to attend.
Times for the show: 3-7 p.m., every half-hour; 7 p.m.-12 a.m., every 15 minutes. There are slightly different schedules on Sundays, and the shows are subject to cancellation in high-wind conditions.
Pick a time and enjoy one of the most talked-about shows on The Strip.
If you're near the Bellagio to watch the fountain show, keep in mind that there's another fountain inside the five-star hotel.
Visitors stare in amusement and amazement at what is thought to be the world's tallest fountain of chocolate. From ceiling to floor, it measures 27 feet, so it's tough to argue that someone else hosts one of greater size.
Jean Phillipe Maury is a world champion pastry chef and creates taste sensations for the adjacent shop. Those certainly do not come free of charge. But the fountain is worth a few photos and a moment or two of dreaming that the chocolate inside could be available on tap in your home. Dreams are free.
Venice Replica at the Venetian
But strolling through the replicated Venice, complete with canals and cathedral models, costs nothing. Whether or not you've been to Venice, Italy, you'll marvel at the work completed here.
Fremont Street Experiences
Among the top free things to do in Las Vegas is the Fremont Street Experience.
This was "the" place to come in Las Vegas for many years, but suffered a decline as The Strip became of vital significance to visitors. In an effort to bolster the businesses here, the "experience" includes entertainment, light shows and jumbo-screens every night. Smaller casinos operate here, much like what you would have found in the early days of the city.
Visitors love to come here, walk through the area, and pay nothing for the privilege.
While you're in the neighborhood, check out another free attraction at the Las Vegas Club Hotel on E. Fremont St.: The Sports Hall of Fame displays
When we think of sports halls of fame, the first thought is usually official museums such as one finds in Cooperstown, N.Y. or Canton, Ohio. But the country also has many unofficial places with memorabilia on display that use the unofficial hall of fame designation.
Las Vegas Club hotel offers scores of signed jerseys, balls, bats and other items on the walls of its club. You are free to browse the displays without paying a dime.
Coupons and Discount Codes
Las Vegas dining establishments often issue "buy one, get one free" coupons and other price breaks that can be worth pursuing, depending upon your tastes and interests.
In Las Vegas, as in other tourist areas, products and services are priced with huge profit margins added to the totals. Don't pay too much for a meal that fits this formula. If there's a coupon available online, grab it and save.
Don't forget about discount codes that are available for all destinations. These freebies will take a bite out of the expense of visiting Las Vegas.
Walking The Strip
A common activity in Las Vegas is walking the sidewalks of The Strip, more formally known as Las Vegas Boulevard.
You'll see every conceivable kind of restaurant, shop, and entertainment venue. Here you'll find as dense a concentration of casinos as can be found anywhere in the world.
Not all of this will come as a surprise, because The Strip is the most photographed part of Las Vegas, and newcomers feel as if they've already been there. But it's well worth setting aside a few hours of your stay to simply wander the area and experience one of America's most famous thoroughfares.
Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive
The picture above is not a typical Red Rock Canyon shot. Such lightning displays are fairly rare. But when the sun shines, you'll see some beautiful rock formations in various shades of red.
Admission to the state park is $7/car, but the scenic drive here can be done without charge. It's a 13-mile one-way loop that you'll drive slowly. Keep a camera within arm's length.
To reach the scenic drive, take State Road 159 and travel 32 miles west to Red Rock Canyon.
Observing the Las Vegas Social Scene
Las Vegas presents many opportunities to experience its unique lifestyle.
You don't need to be invited to a party or wade into the Las Vegas nightlife to observe the social scene here. In fact, an increasing amount of entertainment involves the mammoth swimming pools of the major resorts and hotels.
There is strong competition to build a bigger and better pool, and then host lavish pool parties that can cost the attendees more than $30/person.
Another example of the city's unique social scene comes with major sporting events, such as the annual "March Madness" NCAA college basketball tournament. The city's interest in the games rivals any place in America, as people wager on the outcomes and watch every replay on a seemingly endless collection of large-screen televisions.
Ask around, and you'll probably discover many other examples.
If you have a fair amount of self-control when it comes to shopping, Las Vegas is an excellent place to window shop. Many of the world's finest stores are located here, and they cater to celebrities for whom no trinket or wardrobe edition is too expensive.
Remember -- these places are suggested for window shopping only!