Gambling, people-watching, shopping, and buffet binging are all popular activities in Las Vegas. But that's really just scratching the surface. There are so many less obvious things to do in Vegas that most people have never heard of. The slots and buffets will be there waiting when you're ready to get back to them, but for now, here are 11 things you didn't know you could do in Vegas.
1. Have a Cocktail at The Laundry Room
This isn't your average Vegas cocktail lounge. It only seats 28 people and opens at 7 p.m. But what really makes it unique is the reservation process, which you must do via text. Intrigued?
The Laundry Room is a hidden section of Commonwealth, a bar in Downtown Las Vegas. You must text your desired reservation date, time and number of people to (702)-701-1466. They'll then text you back all the info you need. The location was originally the laundry room for the El Cortez hotel, hence the name. There are some rules you need to follow in there - no loud conversations, no smoking, and no pictures. But it's the perfect mysterious speakeasy for a sophisticated evening out!
2. Enjoy Art in the Desert before it's Gone
It's called Seven Magic Mountains. Seven colorful stone totems, created by swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, stand in the desert about 30 minutes southwest of the Las Vegas Strip off Interstate 15. The totems range in height from 30-35 feet and seem to defy gravity. The location of Seven Magic Mountains is significant; it's near Jean Dry Lake, where Jean Tinquely and Michael Heizer created land art back in the 1960s.
There's a small parking lot and a short unpaved path you can follow to the totems, but they're visible from the Interstate if you're just cruising by. If you want to see them, get there soon. This two-year exhibition began in May 2016 and will end this spring.
3. Drink, Taste, Zen on the High Roller
The High Roller is impossible to miss on the Las Vegas skyline. Located behind The Linq hotel, this 550-foot tall observation wheel takes you on a 30-minute journey into the sky to see the glittering blanket of the city below. There are several different ways to enjoy the ride. You can jump into one of the 28 cabins and simply take in the scenery, or you can do it with a cocktail in hand. They call the ride "the happy half hour."
Or, for a truly unique experience, ferris wheel yoga is offered several times a week. The session lasts an hour at a time, so you'll get to go around twice. That said, it is yoga, so your eyes may be closed half the time.
One more popular option: be sure to check out the chocolate and wine pairing trip which is offered on Thursday evenings.
4. Feed a Giraffe or Lion at Lion Habitat Ranch
The Lion Habitat Ranch allows you to get up close and personal with some of nature's most beautiful creatures. The stars of the show are the lions and giraffe, but there are also plenty of birds as well. General admission allows you to view the animals, but the ranch does offer some special access for an additional fee. Watch as the staff feeds, cleans, waters, and bates the animals during a behind-the-scenes tour. You can also feed the lions and giraffe yourself. Better still, you can feed yourself while surrounded by lions as you 'feast with the beasts.'
Located less than 20 minutes south of the Strip, the ranch isn't always open, so plan your trip accordingly.
5. Buy Champagne from a Vending Machine
You may ask why. I'd say,why not? Venture to the 23rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel to behold the Moet & Chandon vending machine. You'll see it to your right as soon as you get off the elevator. It may seem like a lot of work for a mini-bottle of bubbly, but there are only a few of these contraptions in the U.S., and these are the things you do in Vegas, right? The front desk is also located on the 23rd floor and that's where you'll want to purchase the special coin you need to get your champagne, and to prove you're old enough to drink it. The mini-bottle may be a bit pricier than the hotel bar, at $25 a pop. But the novelty!
6. See a Hockey Game
This experience obviously depends on the timing of your visit, but Vegas has its own NHL team now! They're called the Golden Knights and play at T-Mobile Arena, between the New York-New York and Monte Carlo resorts on the Strip. 2017-2018 was their first seaso,n and it's always fun to see a new team in their new space. When planning your trip, grab your black and gold so you can root for the home team, or see if they're playing your favorite team and grab your team's hockey jersey instead.
7. Go in-depth with Organized Crime
If you're interested in the "families" who used to run major U.S. cities, the Mob Museum is a must stop. It's located in a building that was once a post office and a courthouse, so it has a cool vibe even before you step through the front door. Inside, you'll find a well told, in-depth history of organized crime. The museum takes you through how the mob began, the people who ran each city, who was trying to stop them, and how some mafia members met their demise. The museum also shows you how organized crime has changed through the years, and where it still exists today. It's a sobering and extremely interesting way to spend a few hours.
8. Enjoy a Chocolate Tasting at Ethel M Chocolates
This is the perfect way to taste, learn, and grab a gift for friends back home. Ethel M Chocolates are made in Henderson, about 20 minutes southeast of the Strip. They pride themselves on creating their candies in small batches with no preservatives and only the freshest ingredients. They offer chocolate tastings at the top of every hour.
It's best to reserve your spot, but they do take walk-ins if space is available. There is a fee for the tasting, but you get to sample several different types of chocolates while increasing your chocolate knowledge, so it's worth the cost.These are the same chocolates served during the chocolate and wine pairings on the High Roller, but why not go right to the source?
While you're at the factory, enjoy a walk through their Botanical Cactus Garden. It's the largest in the Southwest and will make you feel better about all the chocolate you just consumed.
9. Take a trip to Old Las Vegas at the Neon Museum
Las Vegas is all about the lights and nowhere is that more true than at the Neon Museum. They have more than 200 signs on display in what the museum calls, "The Boneyard." You can't just wander through the area; you must take a guided tour to see the signs, but that will allow you to be transported back in time for a glimpse of what Las Vegas used to be. You won't just learn about the city's history, but the history of the signs, the inspiration behind them, and the role they played in the development of Las Vegas. The hour tour of "The Boneyard" costs just under $20.
If you're unable to get a reservation or can't fit a visit into your schedule, you can see nine of the Neon Museum's restored signs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They're within a two mile area in Downtown Las Vegas. Be sure to download the map with details about each sign and where to find it.
A tip: The Neon Museum isn't far from the Mob Museum, and they do offer a combo ticket if you're interested in both.
10. Afternoon Tea at Mandarin Oriental
Yes, this is the same hotel with the champagne vending machine, but if you desire a more civilized refreshment, make a reservation for afternoon tea. This may be the most un-Vegas experience on the entire Strip. There are seatings at noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. every day. You'll get freshly brewed loose-leaf tea from all over the world, tea sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and almost too-pretty-to-eat desserts, all while enjoying a fantastic view of the Las Vegas Strip from the 23rd floor Tea Lounge. Plus you can enjoy a glass of bubbly - or even bottomless mimosas! - with your tea service, so you don't have to worry about being ahem a tea-totaller.
11. Take a Las Vegas Pop Culture Tour
Suggesting you walk more than you already have during your Vegas trip may cause you to quickly skip this option, but at least give it some thought. The Pop Culture tours are fun and informative and cover a variety of topics from Fremont Street, to arts and antiques, to the Strip. Tours range in length from 90 minutes to five hours and start at $30 per person, but you do get a cocktail with some of these outings. After your experience, you'll be able to drop some Vegas knowledge on your friends and family. It's better than dropping several hundred bucks in just a few hours at one of the casinos, right?