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Las Vegas for People Who DON’T Like Vegas: Things to Do and See

Las Vegas for People Who DON’T Like Vegas: Things to Do and See

I’ve never been a big fan of Las Vegas for lots of reasons, but I’ve finally had a fun visit that WASN’T all casinos. Las Vegas for the non-gambler actually is really fun and interesting, and you can have a unique Vegas experience that includes nature, science, history, showmanship and awesome food. I hope these suggestions give you a good launch point for a different sort of Las Vegas trip than you might expect.

If you have additional suggestions, especially if you have a favorite show in residence in Las Vegas, please leave a comment or send us a note. I would love to share others’ recommendations, as Las Vegas is huge and I can’t even imagine how many trips it would take to do and experience everything. And here we go: Las Vegas for people who don’t like Vegas.

Rob Taylor at Flyover Las Vegas Nevada 1

Fun Las Vegas Activities on the Strip

You can gamble anywhere in Las Vegas, and it really is in your face, but that doesn’t mean it has to be any part of your Vegas vacation. Each hotel casino has many layers and within the bowels of the Vegas area’s hotels you’ll find countless theaters, museums and restaurants that offer a different side of the city. A couples weekend in Las Vegas is a fun idea, or a short family trip, so grab some of this activities for a new type of Vegas visit!

Flyover Las Vegas

The main reason I went to Las Vegas was actually to experience a new attraction on the Strip: Flyover Las Vegas. Located across from New York New York, Flyover is a collection of films shot in first-person fisheye and projected on a spherical screen while you’re seated in a flying contraption. Think “Soarin’ Over…” but covering the American West, Canadian Rockies, Iceland…

It’s more than a soarin’ experience or simple film. There’s a storytelling element, a themed cocktail element, and it’s a great alternative activity on the Strip. Super fun and I’m glad I said yes to trying it out.

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Wonders of the American West

I’m not too nostalgic… I thought. Doing the Wonders of the American West Flyover gave me goosebumps and I may have had an emotional reaction to it. Soaring over sights and places I’ve visited since I was little and that I’ve gotten to visit with my own kids was emotionally jarring. This film is simply beautiful and the experience of flying just adds to it. This was my favorite of the three Flyover films I did.

Wonders of the American West Flyover Las Vegas Nevada 3

Windborne: Call of the Canadian Rockies

I have also spent a lot of time in the Canadian Rockies, camping as a kid and then doing both the Rocky Mountaineer train and plenty of Canadian Rockies road trips as an adult. I love this part of Canada, but have never seen it from the air. From Banff and Jasper to Revelstoke, the edge of the plains to the ice canyons, the Call of the Canadian Rockies film was also just beautifully done.

Legendary Iceland

I know, three Flyover films might seem like a lot, but you take breaks between them in the cocktail lounge. The Iceland flyover was so different from the other two I saw. I’m not completely sure what made shooting the Legendary Iceland film so different, but the high speed soaring from the mossy hills down into the tight waterfall canyons was so cool. I don’t do great on helicopters, even though they provide the most incredible views, so the Iceland flyover is as close as I’ll get to flying like this here. PS: what an incredible to gain some inspiration to plan a trip to Iceland!!!

Map of Legendary Iceland Flyover Las Vegas Nevada 1

Book Las Vegas Flyover tickets here!

Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas

There are a number of Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas that are family friendly and really fascinating. This is a great activity for the people who are visiting Las Vegas who don’t like Vegas. If you’re not familiar, Cirque du Soleil is a dramatic circus/theatrical performance with acrobatics, dancing, mime, fancy costumes, live music and more. The different shows are very artsy and there’s a lot of interpretation to the story, but it’s all very visually stimulating and cool.

There are a surprising number of Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas, and they’re found from one end of the Strip to the other. Here are the options for Cirque du Soleil shows in Vegas:

Cirque du Soleil O at Bellagio Hotel Casino Las Vegas Nevada 1

I went to “O” at the Bellagio with friends and it was quite interesting. I loved the costumes and cool things they were able to do with water and having people appear in the water from under the stage, but the story was weird and confusing to me. I also am not a late night person and “O” didn’t start until after 9:30 pm. If you’re visiting Las Vegas with kids, you’ll probably want to find an earlier show.

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Find more options for Cirque du Soleil here:

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Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay

I wish every hotel had an animal element, but I know that’s just not feasible. The Shark Reef Aquarium at the Mandalay Bay is wonderful. It DOESN’T have any mammals, and the different tanks are very large and diverse. There are good exhibits with lots of information, staff throughout to talk about the different animals, and two different shark tubes to walk through.

Get you Shark Reef Aquarium tickets here!

I know that seeing wildlife in the wild it’s 100% preferred, but experiences like the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay are able to inspire interest in animals that city kids might not encounter anywhere else. My thought initially was that it was weird to have this at a hotel, but then I thought about how many kids get brought to Las Vegas for vacation and they might not get too much time or exposure to life under the surface, so I can’t bad on Mandalay Bay for providing an opportunity like this. And I really enjoyed it!

Rob Taylor at Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay Hotel Casino Las Vegas Nevada 1
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Nathan Burton Magic Show (at FlyOver)

Our family loves magic shows. We do them when they come to St Augustine and we do them when we travel. We loved Tristan Crist at Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, and the Nathan Burton magic show in Las Vegas is similar. A combination of mathematical magic, sleight of hand and large illusions, it’s a really well done show.

And here’s where I show my age: he does AFTERNOON shows! That’s right, in the land of late nights the Nathan Burton magic show happens in the afternoon so you can do it after lunch or before dinner. You don’t have to stay out until midnight to have a magic show experience in Las Vegas. This show is a good starter for kids or adults who don’t take themselves too seriously. You’re getting the grandiose illusions of David Copperfield, but the up-close magic element makes it pretty cool.

Get Nathan Burton Magic Show tickets here!

Nathan Burton Magic Show at Flyover Las Vegas Nevada 1

Fremont Street – Vintage Vegas

I had this glamorized vision of what I thought vintage Las Vegas would be… and I wasn’t completely wrong. Fremont Street is where you’ll find the most vintage of the old casinos, and at night it’s the most fun place in Vegas just to be.

So many of the historic casinos have been taken down and replaced over the years, but Fremont Street has the remaining classics. The Golden Gate is the oldest continually operating casino, and from Fremont Street you can see its stone exterior from its 1906 opening date. Alongside you’ll find a few other vintage hotel-casinos and looky-lou buskers. What I wanted to see though was all the vintage neon.

Book a Fremont Street walking tour here!

Yes! There are still awesome vintage Las Vegas neon and light displays along Fremont Street. While the iconic cowboy light display is under the Fremont Street LED canopy, it’s still cool. Better vintage Las Vegas neon and light displays can be seen with a block or two off the Fremont Street canopy, so walk a block. Also, there are tons of murals in the East Fremont Street neighborhood, as well as the Container Park, where there are restaurants and even a playground. Vintage Las Vegas is cool!

Showgirls on Fremont Street Vintage Las Vegas Nevada 1

Las Vegas Mob Museum

For a lot of people, Las Vegas is synonymous with mob activity. That was certainly the case once upon a time… and maybe it still is. If you want an interesting break from all the flashiness of Las Vegas, make the trip over the Mob Museum. It’s very near the Fremont Street area, so is easy to add to a visit to the vintage Vegas area.

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Free Things to Do Along the Las Vegas Strip

People watching is always free, but not always the best snapshot of humanity. It’s a fascinating activity and walking the Las Vegas Strip is a great way to have that truly unique experience. There are lots of performers, showgirls for photos (with a tip), and invites to discount comedy shows. Walking the Strip is interesting to say the least, and it’s way better now than when I was a kid. The things you have to explain to your kids have drastically decreased since the 90s.

Paris Hotel Casino at Night Las Vegas Nevada 2

Bellagio Fountains

I always love the Bellagio fountains. Starting in the afternoon and running late into the night, the fountains perform 2-4 tubes per hour, spraying water in sync with different songs. While the best spot to watch the Bellagio fountains show is directly in the middle of the spread, you can see them from the strip all across the front of the property. I like to see them at night because the lighting makes the water show even cooler. It’s free, it’s easy, it’s fun.

Rob Taylor at Bellagio Fountains at Night Las Vegas Nevada 1

Flamingo Habitat at the Flamingo

Yes, the Flamingo on the Strip is one of the oldest hotels there these days, but it’s still got something great to offer. Visitors and guests are all welcome to visit the gardens and flamingo habitat. It’s actually a great break from the loud Las Vegas Strip. It’s a small area, so it won’t take up tons of time, but it’s such a welcome change of pace and scenery that it’s worth a visit.

Flamingo Habitat at Flamingo Hotel Casino Las Vegas Nevada 1

Mirage Volcano – a Quick, Fun Show

So let’s talk about how Las Vegas changes. There are always new things being added and things being taken away. The Mirage volcano is one of those things. As the hotel begins transitioning to the Hard Rock Hotel, the volcano may disappear. Talking with people, there is a lot of mystery about what will become of the Mirage and the free shows for passers-by on the Strip, but as plans finalize, I’ll update this.

In the meantime, all through the day as you are walking past the Mirage, stop to watch the volcano eruption as the fountains and lights go wild. I remember seeing it as a kid, and today it’s less glamorous to my adult eyes, but still nostalgic. Stay tuned for what will replace this!

Old Town Vegas Walk – A Break from the Strip

Fremont Street, aka Old Town Las Vegas is another wonderful place to visit. I mentioned before that it’s a fun spot for icons Vegas moments (showgirls and such) but visiting in the early part of the day is a totally different experience.

There is a large area fully under cover with a huge LED display happening above, and this is where you’ll find the oldest casinos in Vegas. They are smokey if you go in, but really still have such a deep vintage Vegas feel. You’ll find some cool cocktail bars that are straight out of the 60s and crazy western themed dining.

Just past the covered area is East Fremont Street. I think this is the coolest part of Las Vegas. It’s full of street art/murals, restaurants, outdoor dining, music, and an actual community. I think anyone will find this neighborhood surprising, because it’s just not what you picture when you’re visiting Las Vegas. In the morning, it’s very mellow here with lots of quiet food options, and then you can transition your day into the main area of the strip or do a tour OUT of Las Vegas for sightseeing.

Fremont Street Vintage Las Vegas Nevada 1

Treasure Island Pirate Ships – Is there still a show?

I think it’s safe to say that we all were on the edge of our seats in Miss Congeniality 2 as the pirate ship at Treasure Island sank… and this icon may be fully going away! Once of the most iconic sights in Las Vegas, the pirate show went through a few different versions over the years, but in 2013 they show was paused and never started up again. The pirate ships are still there for viewing, but there’s not a show anymore.

Where to Stay in Las Vegas – Top Picks

When you visit Las Vegas, the hotel you choose is a big part of the overall experience. While usually we go with the thought of “We’ll barely be in the room or at the hotel” when we travel, in Las Vegas the hotel really can make a difference. If you’re like me, you DON’T want to have to come in contact with cigarette smoke every time you leave your room. While it has gotten better, almost every Las Vegas hotel still smells terribly of smoke. Solution?

Park MGM Hotel Las Vegas

Unquestionably, the best Las Vegas hotel casino to stay at with kids or anyone that doesn’t want to breath in cigarette smoke or smell is the Park MGM. This is a 100% non-smoking property, from the hotel rooms to the casino floor. The Park MGM is the only hotel I’ll recommend without any caveat. It’s clean, beautiful, has a great location and wonderful food options.

The rooms at the Park MGM are very spacious, so it’s easy to have a place to unwind and not feel cramped. Also, the pool and fitness center at the Park MGM are very nice, so again, it’s a great and unique hotel choice on the Las Vegas strip in comparison with its neighbors.

Book the Park MGM here!

Rob Taylor at Park MGM Hotel Casino Las Vegas Nevada 1

Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

Another great hotel in Las Vegas is the Cosmopolitan. Since the Casino spaces are quite separate from the main restaurant and bar spaces, it’s much less smokey smelling than most other Vegas hotels. If you don’t like Vegas, the Cosmo is a great option to help you get a different perspective and still get all the flashiness of the city.

The Cosmopolitan has an awesome rooftop pool, huge suite rooms, and the coolest restaurant complex. Unique dining at the Cosmo includes the Chandelier Bar, the Wicked Spoon, and Superfrico (I’ve eaten there twice). It feels like its own city when you wander from quadrant to quadrant, but once you get the hang of the HUGE hotel, you’ll find that it’s a really fun place to stay.

Book the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas here!

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Boulevard Pool

I hope this is all very helpful in planning a fun visit to Las Vegas if you don’t normally like Vegas. You’ll find that the city really does have a delightful collection of things to do that don’t involve gambling, and it can be a very kid-friendly destination. For more fun Las Vegas area things to do, stay tuned! We’ve got ideas to get you into nature and to see more of the non-gambling side of the city.

If you have any questions about anything we’ve covered here or want to add your own suggestions, please leave a comment or send us a note. We’re always happy to share more!

If you're like me, you need to know how to do Las Vegas for people who don't like Vegas. Avoiding the casinos and smokey environments is easy, and there are many fun things to do in Las Vegas that aren't gambling. You just need to know where to look, which we've got covered!