People always seem to think about Las Vegas as a very expensive destination since it is, after all, the gambling capital of the world. I love to have a great gambling party weekend as much as the next girl, but my girls and I already do that a few times a year. Every time I visited Vegas in the past I always thought about the fact that there are so many great free attractions, and wondered if you could have a whole weekend of fun with just the freebie activities. Last weekend, I set out to test my theory, and here are the surprising results!
In Vegas, just walking around and people watching on the Strip can be an activity in itself. I don't think I have seen more fascinating crowds anywhere, including New York! As I started out on my free fun quest, I decided to focus on the glamorous resorts of the Strip for my first night, first doing the outside activities. The spectacle at the Mirage is something that simply must be seen to be believed. The giant man made volcano is set to erupt in an impressively showy lava display every half hour. You will even feel some genuine heat coming from the fiery volcano, which is nice on those chilly Las Vegas evenings. Take a stroll on to Bellagio for what is indisputably the most impressive outdoor Vegas attraction. The water fountains are programmed to shoot jets of water hundreds of feet into the air, in perfect time with a variety of musical selections. These dancing fountains are so extraordinary that most people want to stick around for a couple of shows at the very least. No matter how many times I visit this city, I always find myself mesmerized in front of these fountains. You can catch the show every half hour from 3pm till midnight on weekdays, and from noon to midnight on the weekends. After 7pm the shows are done every 15 minutes, and you will usually find that the crowds begin forming to get a good view of the next show as soon as a show ends. The Treasure Island resort has replaced its famous outdoor pirate battle with a new, more adult oriented show. The Sirens of TI features dancing girls (and guys) who put on a sexy show right in front of the casino every evening at 7pm, 8:30pm, 10pm and 11:30pm. This is a great show that lasts about 20 minutes, and while it is a bit on the risque side it is not out of hand. I saw plenty of teens and younger kids in the crowd at the show and they seemed to enjoy it as much as the adults. My outdoor Vegas fun took hours, so you can expect a full evening of entertainment from just these activities. If you want to really pull an all nighter, try to visit the Freemont Street Experience downtown. This is a impressively massive light and sound show projected on an overhead canopy right in the heart of "old Las Vegas". This attraction is worth seeing because it really does bring some much needed life to the older area of the city, and gives it a whole new fun party atmosphere. This is one that I like to hit earlier in the evening because the later it gets, the more crowded it gets. I also try to bear in mind that while the Strip area is extremely safe and well lit, the downtown area is much less so.
Since I focused on outdoor fun for my first night, I decided to do the fun indoor freebie activities for my second night. First, I hit the Bellagio to wander its gorgeous indoor gardens. Every time I visit these gardens are completely different, since they are totally redone in a seasonal theme five times yearly. While this amazing display of flowers, shrubbery, trees, and water features is located inside a casino you would never know it since the feel is warm, inviting, and inspires long wanderings and dreaming. In fact, it really is quite a shock to emerge back into the noisy reality of the city after such quiet beauty, but I had to get on to my next freebie destination: The White Tiger Habitat at The Mirage! Just inside the casino entrance you will find it: A huge area shielded by plexi glass, behind which you can see white tigers and lions as they relax and play in the forest-like atmosphere. These creatures are breathtaking, so much that I always find it hard to tear myself away from their mesmerizing gazes. The animals are there 24/7, and admission is free. Expect crowds though, this is one of the best attractions in the city. I went just a little way down the Strip to visit the M&M's world. This is a free museum that has really engaging exhibits that cover the whole history of M&M's candy, and amazing displays of collectible items like jewelry and clothing. The museum shows some fun films in 3D every day, and the whole place is full of interactive type fun. Of course they sell some great souvenirs, but all the activities are totally free. Try to snag one of the over 20 M&M's flavors before you leave. I had to sample a couple, and I decided they are all excellent but do tend to ruin my dinner. This is a really fun way to spend an hour or two, and any age will love it here. M&M's World is open from 9pm till 11pm weekdays, and weekends it stays open until midnight.
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