What To Do In Las Vegas (When You're Not Playing Golf)


Brian Jones/Las Vegas News Bureau

For a bit of Las Vegas history, from quirky to classic, the ever-evolving downtown is worth a couple of hours. Start at the Mob Museum, officially known as the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, for an interactive  history lesson in more than 100 years of  Made Men, from Al Capone to John Gotti, and much more.


Brian Jones/Las Vegas News Bureau

There are three floors of exhibits in an elegant building and an excellent cafe. The Neon Museum is another good choice; it offers nighttime tours (perfect for after a hot day on the course) so you can see the lit signs for full impact. There are more than 150 signs that date back to the 1930s, including the original signs from the Stardust and the Sahara, and the Lady Luck sign from National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation.

No trip downtown would be complete without a stroll along Fremont Street (, a five-block entertainment district that blends the best of classic Las Vegas (including some of the more affordable all-you-can-eat buffets) with the very contemporary laser light show, summer concerts, and even a zip line. Better yet, Fremont Street offers easy access to the classic gaming rooms of the Golden Nugget and Binions.

Head to the Strip for the glitz, kitsch and people-watching Vegas is known for. Just start walking and you'll find no shortage of spectacles and shows, from the Eiffel Tour to Shark Reef. The Mirage Hotel Volcano has been spewing fire and water every evening since 1989. The volcano's sound recordings are from actual eruptions; if you're close enough you can actually feel the rumble.

Stroll by the Italy-in-Vegas styled Bellagio for the dancing fountains in front of the hotel. The geysers go off every half hour beginning at 3 p.m. and every 15 minutes from 8 p.m. until midnight with musical accompaniment. If you're into rides, go for a thrill at the Stratosphere. Within walking distance of the Strip is also the 550-foot High Roller, a gigantic ferris wheel that offers fabulous views of the city (each spin takes about 30 minutes). This attraction is part of the LINQ, a huge outdoor entertainment complex offering open-air shopping, bars, bakeries, restaurants, and a casino.


Mark Damon/Las Vegas News Bureau

If you don't get your fill of the area's natural assets while playing golf, an easy option that's just west of town is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Drive the scenic 13-mile route through the park for amazing views. Before heading back into town, try your luck at the Red Rocks Resort & Casino.


Brian Jones/Las Vegas News Bureau

One of the most popular excursions from Las Vegas is Hoover Dam, an easy 40-minute drive southeast of the city. This engineering marvel with Art Deco architectural touches basically fueled the growth of the entire Southwest due to the electricity created by the dam. Nearby is Lake Mead National Recreation Area, a huge man-made reservoir (the biggest in the country) formed by Hoover Dam, where you can canoe, kayak, swim, water ski, fish and more. There are outfitters who provide guided tours leaving from Las Vegas, but it's well worth exploring the beauty of the area and the lake on your own time.