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Checklist for Your First Time in Vegas – Ideas & Inspiration

Are you visiting Vegas for the first time and finding yourself overwhelmed by the sheer abundance of things to do and see?

I thought it would be fun to throw together a list of “must-do” activities that every first-timer to Vegas should consider. Tastes obviously vary wildly, use my list as a starting point as you plan your maiden voyage to Sin City!

Itinerary Items to Consider

Visit Fremont Street at LEAST Once

The Fremont Street Experience is a stark counterpoint to the Strip. Neon displays are alive and well, gaming limits are lower, and there is an assortment of entertainment options ranging from free concerts, street performers, and overhead light shows on the Viva Vision Canopy.

Binion's sign on the exterior of their Las Vegas casino
Never enough neon.

My favorite aspect of Fremont though is that the slots are usually a touch looser than they are on the Strip.

If you’re an adrenaline junkie, check out the SlotZilla Zipline, which runs the length of Fremont Street and sends riders flying at heights of up to 11-stories.

A 11 story zipline tower designed to look like a slot machine.
Going up!

Sign Up for a Player’s Card Upon Arrival

Using a player’s card allows the casino to rate your play, resulting in potential freebies/discounted rooms in the future based on your play. You don’t have to be a high roller in Vegas to earn perks either. I routinely receive free and deeply discounted rooms as a low roller.

Enjoy a Unique Cocktail!

There’s no shortage of drink options in Las Vegas which range from a simple bottle of beer to massive slushie concoctions that you need a shoulder strap to carry.

A few cocktails, however, stand out as a must for first-timers.

  • Verbena Cocktail at Cosmopolitan: A citrus tequila drink garnished with a Szechuan flower or “buzz button” that, when consumed, acts as a fireworks show in your mouth throwing your taste buds into overdrive. Why simply get drunk when you can get drunk while enjoying a cocktail that is also an experience? Win-Win.
  • Frozen Baileys at O’Shea’s: The consistency of a malt, but made with frozen Baileys Irish Creme. It’s cold. It’s refreshing. It’s delicious. It’s also the perfect cure for a hangover.
  • A BIG drink: You’ll see ’em everywhere. Massive slushie drinks, some taller than a toddler. Here’s where to find big drinks in Vegas on the Strip and on Fremont Street.
Chandelier Bar at Cosmopoltan, which is bathed in light purple light.
Chandelier Bar – Courtesy of MGM Resorts

Take Advantage of Free Activities

Several casinos still offer worthwhile no-cost attractions to draw folks in. I recommend making time for the Bellagio Fountains and Conservatory, Mirage’s Volcano, Fremont Street Experience’s light show, the Pawn Stars pawn shop, strolling through Flamingo’s Wildlife Habitat, or just bouncing from property to property.

Here is a full breakdown of free things to do in Vegas that I put together – There’s a lot!

A hot air balloon and blimp made of flowers in Bellagio's Conservatory
Bellagio’s conservatory, hotel lobby art, and fountains are a must for first-timers.

Build a Souvenir Photo Album

See the sights while building a photo album for the ages at the same time. I’ve compiled a rundown of the best photo spots in Las Vegas to aid in your quest for great pictures.

Of course, the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign is on the list, as is the new Museum of Illusions, which is chock full of amazing photo opportunities that you’re part of.

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign during the day
Not many venues scream Vegas like its iconic sign.

See a GREAT Show

The city of entertainment won’t leave you disappointed regardless of your tastes. Show options in Las Vegas range from acrobatic Cirque du Soleil shows, comedians, burlesque shows, and big-name resident performers that include the likes of Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, Adele, and Barry Manilow.

If you don’t mind waiting unitl the last minute to buy, discount show tickets can be purchased at the numerous Tix4Vegas locations up and down the Strip.

Exterior of one of the numerous Tix4Vegas locations on the Strip.

If you can only see one show while you’re in town, check out something by Cirque du Soleil. You can’t go wrong.

Performers dance to Smooth Criminal
Michael Jackson ONE – Courtesy of MGM Resorts

Visit the Neon Museum

If you have even the faintest interest in Las Vegas history, the Neon Museum is an attraction that will put a perma-smile on your face.

Neon Musem during the day
Credit: The Neon Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada

Historic neon signage from current casinos and properties of a bygone era are on display during the day, and come to life at night as part of the “Brilliant! Jackpot” display which uses projector technology to bring them back to life.

A sign depicting a cowboy with a handlebar moustache with the letters STAR in the background.
Brilliant! Jackpot at the Neon Museum

Eat at a Top-Tier buffet

Buffets are often thought of as being focused on quantity over quality at an attractive price point. High-end Vegas buffets, however, will blow the first-timer away.

The Buffets at Wynn, Caesars Palace, Cosmopolitan, and Bellagio delight guests with small portions of high quality and much fancier food options than are slung around at your local Old Country Buffet.

Check out my experience at Wynn’s Buffet, Bacchanal Buffet, The Buffet at Bellagio, and Wicked Spoon.

Entrance to the Wicked Spoon Buffet.
Wicked Spoon at Cosmo – Located center Strip. Your view of buffets will be forever changed.

Happy Half Hour on High Roller

Few views in Las Vegas can match the High Roller, which is located mid-Strip and reaches heights of 550 feet.

I’d recommend you opt for the happy half-hour ticket which will give you access to an open bar for the duration of your 30-minute round trip.

From experience, you can fit a lot of rum and cokes into that time frame. See my full review of the High Roller Happy Half hour.

High Roller Observation Wheel
Bring plenty of tip cash if partaking in an open bar experience. The bartenders are lightning-fast and earn every penny.

Find Cheap Drinks

Speaking of happy hours, let me help you find them – There’s no reason to pay $12 for a bottle of beer at the casino bar. Deals abound as long as you know where to look!

Check out our guides to happy hours on the Strip, and happy hour deals on Fremont Street.

Miracle Mile Shops Entrance
Cheap Drinks Galore in the Miracle Mile – ©yooranpark/123RF.COM

Seek a Thrill

Believe it or not, options for entertainment in Vegas exist outside of gaming, shows, and chemical ingestion.

If adrenaline is what you seek, thrill rides in Vegas include the Big Apple Coaster at NYNY, jumping off Strat’s SkyPod (an 855 ft. free fall), 3 additional (and terrifying) thrill rides that sit atop Strat, and 2 unique zipline experiences.

Xscream at STRAT

Get a room with a view

When booking directly with resorts on the Strip, you will often have the option to pay a few more bucks to get a room with a Strip View. As a first-time visitor, you deserve to go to bed with and wake up to a view of Las Vegas.

Rooms with a view are typically a tad more expensive and are labeled on the booking website as “Strip View”, “Volcano view”, “Fountain view”, etc.

I recently compiled a list of hotels and rooms with a view of the Fountains of Bellagio – Check it out!

View of Circa's Stadium Swimm rooftop pooldeck from my hotel room.
Tough to beat Circa’s view…

Take a Day Trip

Many overlook the numerous stunning outdoor attractions near Las Vegas. If you enjoy a scenic, challenging hike, I’d recommend making the drive out to either Red Rock Canyon or Valley of Fire State Park.

Both are unreal. Just click the link to see photos from my previous adventures.

A road surrounded by red rocks on either side with a blue sky above.
Valley of Fire

Of course, the Hoover Dam is also a short drive from Las Vegas and is worthy of a visit. I recently took the Hoover Dam tour, and really enjoyed the experience.

Hoover Dam and Lake Mead photographed from above on the bridge
It’s impressive.

Recently uncovered by the receding waters of Lake Mead is the St. Thomas Ghost town site, which is surreal to visit after spending decades under up to 70 feet of water.

A closer visual of the school house's entry steps, which are in great shape.

Hopefully, I pointed you in the direction of an itinerary item or two that appeals to your group! Enjoy your trip to Las Vegas, and have a great time!

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Gre Rei

Sunday 18th of August 2019

Red Rock Canyon and Hoover Dam.

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