Ahh, Las Vegas… the city where possibilities are endless, both day and night. From gambling at casinos to eating at some of the most famous restaurants in the country, to seeing some of America’s richest history and most captivating shows — there’s something for families, friends and adults alike.
Boasting things to do in Vegas that offer an unparalleled entertainment factor, it’s no wonder this renowned destination has been coined “America’s Playground.”
And just as enticing is how it all began, and what led to the attractions in Las Vegas that beckon to tourists and locals today.
Las Vegas Attractions: Casinos in the Desert?!
What is essentially a piece of desolate, dry land has surely made a name for itself as the years have unfolded.
Las Vegas is Spanish for “meadows,” as the area it was once comprised of vast wells and greenery. Today it’s made up mainly of desert vegetation and it couldn’t be farther from the lush, green pastures of its past.
In the early 20th century, Las Vegas was a water stop for steam-powered engines on the railroads en route from New Mexico to California. Water was piped down from the then-abundant wells, attracting travelers, sustaining business, and helping the city to grow.
A few years later, in 1931, the construction of the Hoover Dam proved a turning point for Las Vegas. The population of Las Vegas stretched from 5,000 people to 25,000 people. The dam created jobs for workers but it also created a demand for things to do in Vegas, especially in the realm of entertainment. Officials soon recognized there was a vast market for gambling, right at their fingertips.
With so many male workers helping build the Hoover Dam and not many attractions, they realized gambling would improve the economy and provide the workers with recreation after work hours.
And so gambling was legalized in Las Vegas in 1931, and in came the casinos and showgirls
In 1935, the Hoover Dam attained completion, and Fremont Street was the place to be.
Fremont Street was the first paved roadway in Las Vegas, as well as the location of the city’s first traffic light. It quickly became known as “Glitter Gulch” thanks to the multitude of bright light that radiantly adorned it, dazzling folks with delight.
Between the 1940s and 1950s, Las Vegas activities underwent some interesting changes. Around 1942, the Manhattan Project brought many scientists to Las Vegas, helping to continue the increased tourism and economy.
Things were also escalating quickly in the gambling scene.
In April of 1941, Thomas Hull opened the first resort on The Strip, calling it El Rancho Vegas. From then on, the city experienced a building boom, and resort construction started to accelerate. The Flamingo opened in 1946, with The Desert Inn following in 1950 as the fifth resort to open on The Strip.
As the years passed, more and more casinos opened, enticing visitors to explore the abundance of new things to do in Vegas. Today there are infinite ways to enjoy “America’s Playground” — and they’re not limited to the casino scene or fancy restaurants!
In addition to exciting light, sounds, and historical Las Vegas sightseeing like Hoover Dam, there are countless amazing experiences to be had in and around this fabulous city!
Cloud 9 Living teamed up with Abbey to bring you a list of must-do’s in Las Vegas. Enjoy!
Things To Do In Vegas That Trump Gambling
Absinthe Show: Performed in a big-top tent in front of Caesars Palace, Absinthe is like a cross between old-fashioned circus acts and a raunchy comedy show. True fans are reluctant to try to explain it and, instead, often insist, “Just go.” Around town, the quick-witted “Gazillionaire” MC and his assistant, Penny Pibbets, have become unlikely (but beloved) local celebrities.
Weightless Flight: Try one of the most out-of-this-world Las Vegas activities! Slowly feel your legs float up, and before you know it, your entire body will follow. Become completely weightless and experience zero-gravity, just as if you were in outer space!
Ziplining: Enjoy the thrill of gliding over the radiant lights of Fremont Street on a short but super-sweet zipline run downtown. Want a more full-on experience off the beaten path, complete with stunning views, wildlife spotting, and fascinating history? Head to the Bootleg Canyon tour, where charismatic guides get even the faintest of heart down four unforgettable runs! (And yes, shuttle service is available from The Strip for carless visitors.)
Gun Ranges: Once at hot spot of the “Wild West,” it probably comes as no surprise that visits to gun ranges have become extraordinarily popular things to do in Vegas. To shoot outside, call the Pro Gun Club for a ride to Boulder City. Then pick a favorite firearm to try — they’re ready for you with everything from shot guns or an Uzi, to the enormous Barrett.
Corvette Thrill Ride: Of the most renowned attractions in Las Vegas are the city’s fast and flashy sets of wheels, rolling down The Strip and beyond. Why not experience the ultimate racing thrill for yourself? Embark on the ride of your life in a Corvette Z06 on the impressive road course of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway! Or check out the chance to drive an exotic car yourself! Hitting 120+ MPH, this experience is guaranteed to deliver an unforgettable adrenaline rush that can’t be found in any casino.
Cirque du Soleil: The array of Las Vegas attractions wouldn’t be complete without the one and only Cirque du Soleil show. The French-Canadian wonder has taken over The Strip and captivated audiences with several show themes to choose from: the watery “O,” a martial arts-driven performance called “KA,” a classic “The Beatles LOVE” show, and the new “Michael Jackson ONE,” among others.
Sky Combat Ace: For true daredevils only — this is one of the most exhilarating things to do in Vegas! Learn to fly a fighter jet or let your instructor introduce you to once-in-a-lifetime aerobatic tricks like tumbles, loops, rolls, and tail spins. Do you dare to experiment with the jet’s G-force to see how much you can handle?
Stratosphere Rides: The famous Tower Rides on top of the Stratosphere offer thrills that start at more than 900 feet. There’s the teeter-totter X-Scream that dips you straight down over the edge. Insanity experiments with spinning while dangling in mid-air. And Big Shot rockets you straight up to 1,000+ feet for the best freefall of your life. Still want more? You can now jump over the edge of the building for the urban version of bungee jumping and land smoothly on your feet.
Neon Boneyard: For some super-unique Las Vegas sightseeing, stroll through history at the Neon Museum — the final resting place of the city’s most famous, retired signs. The Neon Museum is a non-profit organization that strives to preserve Vegas history through these once-illuminated landmarks. Highlights include “motel row,” and signs like the recently-extinguished Sahara, the bedazzled Stardust, and (of course) the sparkling Silver Slipper high heel.
Off-Roading Excursions: Located next to the Pro Gun Club, V.O.R.E. (Vegas Off Road Experience) offers things to do in Vegas that bring movie-esque off-roading adventures to real life! Throw on a helmet and jump into one of the vehicles from the Mint 400 (made famous by Hunter S. Thompson). The track allows for stomach-churning turns and hills that will get you completely airborne.
WOW Horseback Riding Experience: Meet your horse and mount up to ride into a canyon with vertical sandstone walls and steep passages. Starting your journey in the morning, you will saddle up with some drinks and a lunch along the way, while taking in incredible views of Las Vegas, Lake Mead, and the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. Trust us when we say some of the most memorable photo opps of your life will abound on this outing!
And with that, we’re willing to bet that the next time you head to “America’s Playground,” you’ll get pretty lucky with so many remarkable things to do in Vegas!