What are the best things to do in Las Vegas?

Answers from Our Experts (6)

Lake Bellagio©iStock/alinasolovyovavincent

Bright, jazzy lights and the sound of cards shuffling immediately come to mind when we think of Las Vegas. But the masterminds who grew a multimillion-dollar playground out of an arid desert certainly haven’t stopped at the slot machines. Las Vegas has evolved into a show-stopping entertainment hub. From multiple iterations of the larger-than-life modern circus that is Cirque du Soleil, to comedy any way you like it, to classic Vegas entertainment featuring magicians, showgirls, A-list celebrities and big-time boxers, the shows of Sin City have only gotten bigger and more diverse over the years. Here are the five best things to see and do in Vegas:

1. Gamble. There is no doubt gambling is the name of the game in Las Vegas, and the reason that more than 36 million people visit each year. You’ll have no trouble finding a casino willing to deal you in — if the slot machines in the airport weren’t enough of a hint. If it’s your first trip to the city, you’ll likely spend most of your time on Las Vegas Boulevard, better known as the Strip.

2. Catch Cirque. Sin City may as well change its nickname to Cirque City. With seven Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas and more on the horizon, the question remains: How many is too many? The amazing acrobats show off their superhuman flexibility and strength in productions such as the Mirage’s The Beatles LOVE, which has a rocking soundtrack; Treasure Island’s Mystere, a favorite among Cirque purists; and MGM Grand’s Kà, a martial arts-filled spectacle.

3. See showgirls. For a taste of old Las Vegas, snag a seat for Jubilee! at Bally’s to watch showgirls strut their feathers, and not much else. But if you glance behind the scenes, you’ll learn that there’s a lot more to being a showgirl than having a knockout body. Peek into the showgirl’s world with the Donn Arden’s Jubilee! Backstage Tour. A showgirl leads you across the stage, around the set and through the costume room, sharing fun facts about the production.

4. Watch the water show. Romance is anything but watered down at Lake Bellagio, as water, music and light meld together in an aquatic ballet. The water echoes human motion seen in dance, swaying while spraying more than 460 feet into the air. The jets’ moves are perfectly choreographed to music, with scores from Broadway, the classics and more. If you can’t snag a prime place along the Lake Bellagio railing, head across the street to Paris for an equally stellar view.

5. Hit the clubs. The Strip offers a brilliantly lit stretch of nightlife opportunities. Digitally savvy revelers will rejoice at the tech-toy playground that is Eyecandy at Mandalay Bay. Wine aficionados will encounter a playground of their own at the Palazzo’s Double Helix Bar. Surrender at Encore is the place for A-list sightings and, after an evening just about anywhere, a Bloody Mary at Zuri is just what you need to convince you to do it all over again.

Laura Janelle Downey

Now that its one year anniversary has come and gone, when you're in Las Vegas, you must catch a show at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. The cultural epicenter of the city features its own Broadway series — shows such as Wicked, West Side Story and The Addams Family have all come through the half a billion dollar facility. I've seen performances by the Nevada Ballet Theatre there and have also attended a Project Dinner Table community gathering, which was held on the front lawn of the Smith Center. PDT is another must-do if you're in Las Vegas. The event happens once a month and sells out quickly. It's basically a pop-up dinner hosted by chefs from all around the city. The Smith Center shindig was catered by some of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas' chefs. You'll have an opportunity to meet various people in the community and for a good cause. Once you buy a ticket, a portion of the proceeds go to different charitable organizations in Las Vegas.

I like outdoors, so I like to go hiking, cycling, dining. I like to go out and eat. It’s something I do all the time, except when I’m cooking at home. I like the shows — I like to find culture and see how this very young town is still evolving with an appreciation of the arts. Also, I like live music, so I like to go to shows and see people performing. I didn’t go to a lot of concerts, but when bands and groups come into Las Vegas — and they do all the time — I get to see them. I think it’s awesome.

I like taking a walk with my dog and my wife in a park that’s an oasis near where I live. We’ll go do that at least four times a week just to get out and walk. I like taking in the mountains and the scenery. Las Vegas is so much more than the Strip, and I really like to take advantage of that.

Visit Hoover Dam; hike at Red Rock Canyon; see O by Cirque du Soleil; check out the view from The Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay; and see the dancing Fountains of Bellagio.

Photo for Alex Stratta

1. I think going to Mystère, the Cirque Du Soleil show is great. I think that's a must. If you go to one show in Las Vegas, that's the one to see.

2. As far as Vegas is concerned, the Fountains at Bellagio are pretty cool.

3. Going on a hike to Red Rocks is really great. Most people don't know much about the Red Rock Mountains, which are absolutely beautiful.

4. Drive up to Mount Charleston. It's about 45 miles north, and it's just beautiful. You feel like you're in Aspen, and it's only 45 minutes away.

Xania Woodman

Turning 21—it only happens once. And like a cat waiting to pounce, Las Vegas is happy to usher you, your friend, your niece, nephew or child into adulthood the best way it knows how: by showering the newly-legal with all manner of boozy goodies. At the popular German/Bavarian beer hall and restaurant, Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas, the birthday boy or girl's first legal liter of brew is on the haus. But Tao Group has taken that most personal of holidays 20 steps further with the creation of its 21st Birthday Club.

Beginning June 1, 2013, guests booking a 21st birthday party will receive: complimentary admission and a round of shots for the person of honor and their friends; a custom birthday Evite created by Tao Group for posting on social media sites; a photo snapped on the Tao Nightclub red carpet; a "Happy Birthday" tweet from @TaoLasVegas; an “I Turned 21 @TaoLasVegas” T-shirt; a complimentary appetizer platter in the Tao Lounge; a complimentary dessert platter with a dinner reservation at Tao Asian Bistro or 20 percent off dinner reservations after 10:30 p.m.; a buy-two-get-one-free bottle special with a VIP table reservation in Tao Nightclub; a message on the LED screen in the nightclub; and a DJ shout-out to the club. In all, it looks to be the greatest night you'll never remember.

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