Las Vegas, Nevada! Sin City! Vegas goes by many names. We can all agree that it’s certainly one of the most interesting places on the planet. An oasis in the desert and surrounded by nothing but miles and miles of desert and mountains. It’s really a beautiful place. Have you ever wondered “what to do in Las Vegas if you don’t gamble?” Well, thankfully, it’s something I’ve been thinking about since we in fact, do not gamble.
Just a short flight from just about every major airport in the United States, Las Vegas, Nevada has a lot of amazing amenities including buffets, casinos, major works of art, celebrities, and the list just goes on. But if you’re someone who hasn’t been starstruck by the unlikelihood of striking it rich on the slots, you’re like my wife and I. So, this blog will tell you what to do in Las Vegas if you don’t gamble. It’ll focus on AirBnB off the strip stays, strip visits for fine dining and also desert adventures you MUST SEE in Las Vegas!
So let’s start with a stay. Assuming you read my How to Elope in Las Vegas blog (if not just click this link and it’ll take you there) you’ve already scored an amazing deal on Southwest or Allegiant out west. In fact, Southwest flies direct to Las Vegas 3x a day from Indianapolis! But what about your stay? Well, you’ve got the casinos and their rooms. But the problem is that unless you’re a Caesar’s Diamond Status or some other high ranking hotel/resort status, most likely you’re going to incur a daily resort fee, which in the time of Covid-19, seems like the biggest money grab of the 21st century.
To avoid all the resort fees, here’s a better option. AirBnB!
I’ve created a list of amazing and highly rated AirBnBs throughout Las Vegas that will keep things fun but also avoid the unnecessary fees of the resorts. Check out the list here.
Okay, now that you’ve nailed down a spot to crash (and party!) we can move onto rental cars. I recommend checking out rental cars from Budget, Dollar, and Thrifty. All three of these companies are essentially the same but have far lower prices than some of the more mainstreamed options.
BUT THE KEY TO SUCCESS is actually one step further. Before booking, maybe a month or two in advance, sign up for their FREE rewards program. There are a ton of perks including skipping the line (which is a lifesaver after a long flight). There’s also discounts and upgrades as well sometimes.
Alright, now that we’ve got all that settled, let’s figure out some fun things to do! Let’s start with places to eat!
The best places to eat in Las Vegas (according to Nate).
- On Top of the World restaurant and the Sky Lounge. This bar and restaurant is located 800 feet up in the air in the Stratosphere hotel. You’ll have to drive to the north end of the strip which gets a little shady but are graciously welcomed by the tallest building in Vegas and the tallest building west of the Mississippi River! (it’s even taller than the Eiffel Tower!) To get the best deals (because I’m all about deals OKAY!) make dinner reservations between 7 and 7:30PM (depending on Sunset time) to guarantee amazing views of Vegas in a 360 degree manner. You’ll get to see Vegas during the day, during golden hour, sunset, and at night. BAM winner!
But On Top of the World Restaurant isn’t a cheap little diner to enjoy. It’s one of the nicer options that still remains in the “approachable for most humans” category. One way to save some cash but still have a good time is to go to the Sky Lounge bar (which is directly above the restaurant) and enjoy 50% cocktails, wine, and beer from 4PM-7PM. That means you can be a cheap date while still enjoying expensive views.
Side note: the signature cocktails are not half off during the happy hour but if you ask for an alternative liquor or variation, you can still get an amazing Manhattan (best I’ve had) for $10 instead of $20. I also recommend snagging some of their Pinot Noir because it was simply the best!
For further savings but with a limited menu option, check Groupon for their 4 course dinner option. It’ll save you around $30 a person which you should definitely tip back to the servers because their service was literally ON TOP OF THE WORLD!
- In-N-Out Burger! A truly legitimate fast food burger that doesn’t taste like a run of the mill burger made by the other burger chains. No, these are freshly grilled patties, grilled buns, and perfectly seasoned french fries and real milkshakes. The line is always long at In-N-Out Burger but they work fast and you’ll probably not wait more than 10 minutes from the back to the front of the line. Definitely worth a stop and at less than $10 for a tasty burger and fries, it’s an amazing deal for Las Vegas’ steep food prices.
- Cinnamon’s Restaurant is truly a blast from the past for us. Having spent 3 weeks in Hawaii this year, we ate at many different restaurants. The consensus was that we love Hawaiian food and the tropical approach and feel it has. While researching “best brunches in Las Vegas” Cinnamon’s Restaurant popped up and said it was Hawaiian. Walking in truly feels like stepping into a Hawaiian restaurant and the food was outstanding. I highly recommend the lilikoi stuffed french toast (it’s passionfruit) and also consider getting rice as a side with some shoyu (soy sauce) with one of your savory meals such as the kalua pig eggs benedict or the laulau (pork wrapped in taro leaves) omelette.
- For a fancy brunch buffet, there’s only one stop, The Buffet at The Wynn Hotel. Since covid is still ruining all our fun, they’re choosing to serve all their buffet brunch or dinner items in a more tapas style way, delivered directly to your table. The brunch option for weekday brunch is $37 but you HAVE to add on the dual drink package which is another $30 (but includes unlimited drinks including mimosas, wine, beer, and aperol spritzes!)
This dining experience experience was unparalleled and the service was so quick and amazing. A pro tip if you’re a foodie is to try a little bit of everything. Instead of eating everything on the plate, try a few bites, savor, and move on to the next dish. Since they’re served on tapas plates in smaller portions, there’s less of that western world guilt of food wasting. But it IS Sin City and you SHOULD indulge a little! Try the baked clams! Felicia loved them so much!
After you’re finishing dining, be sure to the tip your waiter well. Ours treated us so kindly and was fast fast fast! Then, you can stroll through the Wynn’s gorgeous property arm in arm enjoying the vast casino floors which truly exemplify what Las Vegas always looked like in my head and even stop at Balenciaga or pick up some new Louboutins in their ultra high end fashion mall inside the Wynn.
- Pasta Mia, the most legit Italian restaurant you can experience! Just off the strip on our last day we had the opportunity to visit this amazing little mom and pop Italian restaurant. I recommend the Chicken Parmesan which was AMAAAAZING and perfect.
What to do in Las Vegas if you don’t gamble?
Well, here are some fun things to do if you’re not into gambling.
- Visit the fountains at the Bellagio. On the corner of Flamingo and the main strip, you can catch a fountain show every 15 minutes. Pro-tip, go at night and get a good spot for the show. It was amazing and so beautiful!
- Go shopping! Two of the places we checked out for amazing luxury shopping was at Caesar’s hotel and at The Wynn. Whether you’re in the market for some a luxury watch or just enjoy pretending, these are two places you can stroll through and don’t have to spend a dime gambling.
- Check out Red Rock Canyon! If you like to hike, take Highway 159 west out of Vegas and make some random stops out toward Red Rock Canyon! Be sure to bring plenty of water and wear appropriate footwear. If you’re not much into hiking, keep continuing down 159 because it makes a U and takes you back to Las Vegas. This nice hour long drive will take you through beautiful mountains, an inspiring landscape, and lots of places to pull off and check out.
- Book a photoshoot in a Dry Lake Bed! Seriously, you’ve never seen anything like this. There are two easy access dry lake beds outside of Las Vegas. These were where I took my wife for her shoot and Kayla and James for their engagement shoot. It blew my mind how beautiful it was and how flat and empty it was as well. Here are two different spots to check out for your dry lake bed adventure. Here’s a link to book me for your photo session there!
- Also check out Seven Magic Mountains. Built just a little over a decade ago, these multi-ton boulders were brought in, painted, and stacked on one another and are a great and easy stop. This would also be an excellent opportunity for my LGBTQ+ friends to get some amazing social media posts since the rocks are painted in all the colors of the rainbow.
6. Go to the Hoover Dam! Less than an hour away from Las Vegas is the Hoover Dam. Holding back 9.2 trillion gallons of water, the Hoover Dam is a man made wonder and is worth an afternoon trip!
Vegas is a totally different type of feel if you’re anywhere east of Nevada, you’re going to love how dry it is. Living in Indiana, it’s humidity central and makes me miserable. Even though the heat was far higher in Vegas than in Indiana, I didn’t even sweat at all!
So, I’ve got some recommendations below on what you can wear to Vegas to look and feel your best in that amazing dry heat! (These are affiliate links so I do make a little when you pick some of these up but it doesn’t cost you any extra).