Things to do in Las Vegas

Top sights in Las Vegas

It’s party time! A dazzling adult playground in the middle of the Nevada desert, everything Las Vegas does is big, bright and brash.

  1. Venetian gondolas
  2. The Strat thrill rides
  3. Bodies… The Exhibition
  4. Drive a bulldozer
  5. Experience the Cirque
  6. Splash out at the shops
  7. Spend a night at the Grand Canyon

Vegas has made a fine art of indulging visitors’ every appetite. From its ever-changing architecture to cascading chocolate fountains, adrenaline-pumping zip lines and extravagant stage shows, everything is built to thrill. The city of excess is home to many of the largest hotels in the world as soon as the novelty of the newest additions wears off, something bigger and better takes this 24-hour city by storm.

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Rough Guides

1. Venetian gondolas

Paris, New York, Venice: Las Vegas has a penchant for recreating entire cities in miniature form. Perhaps the most delightfully bonkers is the Venetian hotel, where singing gondoliers row through replicas of famous sights from Italy’s most romantic city. Festooned with dazzling frescoes, it is loved by kids, clubbers and culture vultures alike.

Best for: Capturing Vegas’s camp and carefree spirit.

While you’re there: The Venetian and the Palazzo casino are linked by walkways, so you can step between the two without dirtying your high-heels.

2. The Strat thrill rides

Calling all daredevils: the top of the 1,149ft tall Strat tower - that’s short for Stratosphere - serves as the launching point for several terrifying thrill rides that must be the most exciting things to do in Las Vegas. X-Scream is a sort of giant boat that tips upside down a thousand feet above the Strip; Insanity is a crane that spins riders out over the abyss; Big Shot is a glorified sofa that free falls a couple of hundred feet. Best (or worst!) of all is the SkyJump, in which harnessed jumpers step off a platform to fall 855ft.

Best for: A day when you haven’t carefully styled your hair.

While you’re there: You’ve heard of the Elvis-themed chapels, but you might spot couples tying the knot in the Strat’s Skypod.

3. Bodies… The Exhibition

What better place to look for dead bodies than a giant pyramid? The Luxor resort makes an obvious home for this exhibit, where what look like brightly coloured mannequins are actual dead bodies that have been “plastinated” for permanent display. Some are posed as though in life, playing sports in perpetuity. Certain sections, like that in which an entire circulatory system, down to the tiniest capillary, has been teased out and dyed in different colours, have an astonishing beauty. Gruesome but uplifting.

Best for: Morbid curiosity

While you’re there: A combo ticket of $42 includes both Bodies...The Exhibition and Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition.

4. Drive a bulldozer

If you’ve always wanted to drive a bulldozer, or play basketball using a giant digger, Dig This! is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas. On a patch of desert waste ground, a mile west of the Strip, you get to operate your very own piece of heavy machinery. Anyone aged 14 and over can drive either a bulldozer or an excavator for 90 minutes; that’s a Big Dig, while a Mega Dig lets you do both. The point, of course, is that it’s all fantastic fun.

Best for: One of those ‘Only in Vegas’ experiences

While you’re there: For $650 you can crush a car with a Caterpillar excavator, in what they’ve dubbed the ‘Aggression Session’. Get crushin’.

5. Experience the Cirque

It’s showtime! Your list of what to do in Vegas has to include a spectacular show – and for sheer spectacle and hair-raising acrobatics, you can’t beat Kà. There’s more martial-arts muscularity to this Cirque Light performance than to their other, more ethereal offerings, with set piece stunts enacted on its tilting, rotating stage. Paired with extraordinary puppetry and sumptuous costumes, Kà is certain to expand your horizons.

Best for: Acrobatics, with a Vegas budget.

While you’re there: With the venue located on the MGM Grand’s casino floor, save some cash for a post-show flutter.

6. Splash out at the shops

Rock your oversized shades and faux fur coat dahling – it’s time to hit the glamorous Forum Shops. Marble statues, fountains and a false sky that cycles hourly between day and night; is it ancient Rome or simply part of the lavish hotel, Caesars Palace? Foot-for-foot the country’s most money-making mall, the Forum Shops likes its designer brands. Although, whisper it, you’ll find the likes of Gap and H&M as well as Versace and Armani.

Best for: Bagging a new outfit for a classic Vegas club night.

While you’re there: The mall has its own giant 50,000 gallon aquarium (whatever Dubai has, Vegas needs too).

7. Spend a night at the Grand Canyon

You can hardly come all this way without seeing America’s most iconic natural wonder. A trip to the Grand Canyon will make your Las Vegas holiday even more mind-blowing. To see the Grand Canyon in all its glory, you have to visit Grand Canyon National Park. This is the area familiar from a million movies. Studded with mighty red-rock buttes and pyramids, it measures a mile deep and eleven miles wide. It’s possible to fly there and back in a day – but a weekend road trip is really the way to see it. Not least because that will give you the chance to spend some time beside the canyon at sunset and dawn, when its colours change through gold and pink.

Best for: Earth-shatteringly natural beauty.

While you’re there: Sample the evening atmosphere of the old rim-edge El Tovar hotel.

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