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Las Vegas may be best known for ways to separate you from your money. But, despite the plethora of activities vying for your hard-earned cash, there are a ton of free things to do in Las Vegas. And many of these free things are family-friendly!
The bright lights and manic energy of Las Vegas appeal to kids and adults alike. The grandeur and luxe found in the hotels along the strip entice us to embrace the luxury side of travel. Take it from a low-budget traveler such as myself, it’s easy to blow your budget on your very first day in Sin City. As such, I’ve become quite an expert in finding the coolest free things to do in Las Vegas with kids. The best way to make a Las Vegas family vacation affordable is to seek out the budget-friendly things.
Even better are the totally FREE things, right? Below is a list of our favorite family-friendly free things to do in Las Vegas.
Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
The Bellagio Hotel and Casino’s Conservatory changes with the seasons. It even has a special presentation for the Chinese New Year. It is one of our top picks of free things to do in Las Vegas with kids because it is fun and educational.
The Gardens are located across the lobby from the front desk at the Bellagio Hotel. Here, you will see a magnificent glass ceiling that rises 50 feet high. This gives an incomparable visual of what is to come…an absolutely breathtakingly beautiful conservatory.
In the spring you will be treated to cherry blossoms and a host of other spring blooms. Summer offers equally delightful fragrances and beauty. In the fall, the conservatory turns a vibrant red, orange, yellow, gold and brown. After Thanksgiving, the talented horticulturists transform the Conservatory for the Christmas season.
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Fountains of Bellagio Water Show
Just outside the Bellagio Hotel, you will find these magnificent fountains. I can attest to the fact that there is nothing like seeing them in person and they are totally free! Here, water, music, and light combine to tantalize kids and adults alike.
To take advantage of this top pick of free things to do in Las Vegas with kids, time your arrival appropriately.
Luckily, it’s hard to miss this daily show in Las Vegas. The show is every 30 minutes from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and every 15 minutes from 8 p.m. to midnight. On Sundays, the show starts at 11 a.m. and runs every 30 minutes until 7 p.m. when the show goes on every 15 minutes until midnight.
On Saturdays and holidays, the shows start at noon every 30 minutes and changes every 15 minutes from 8 p.m. to midnight. Of course, times may vary, so check to verify online or with the hotel.
Mirage Hotel Atrium/Tropical Rainforest
Just behind the front desk of the Mirage Hotel is a giant 20,000-gallon saltwater aquarium that my kids and I marvel at. Just beyond it is a 100-foot dome that houses a 60-foot waterfall, peaceful lagoons, and an enormous variety of plants. In addition, discover uber tall palm trees, bird of paradise trees, more than 300 orchids and 1,000 bromeliads, along with other colorful flora and fauna.
As you find yourself heading back outside, be sure to check out the volcano in front of the Mirage, rounding out the tropical theme of this hotel and yet another addition to the free things to do in Las Vegas with kids.
Wild Life Habitat – Flamingo Hotel
The Flamingo Hotel’s Wildlife habitat is easily one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas with kids. Open daily from dawn to dusk, this 15-acre wild habitat is full of lush foliage, flamingos (the coolest part), penguins, cranes, turtles, fish and lots of other birds.
Try to schedule your visit during feeding time, 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. You can also take your picture with the parrots, or use the excellent backdrop for exotic family photos.
Free Fun at Ethel M Chocolate Factory
This is one of the sweetest free things to do in Las Vegas with kids – and without! At the Ethel M Chocolate Factory, take a self-guided tour, eat free samples and watch the chocolate being made from behind large glass windows.
You can also walk through the four-acre Botanical Cactus Garden, the largest in Nevada. At Christmas time, this cactus garden is beautifully decorated in Christmas lights. There are 300 species of plants: half are native cacti and succulents and the rest are desert trees and shrubs, local and from Australia and South America.
The chocolate, of course, is all local – and delicious! Bring some back to the hotel with you for a late night snack. This will quickly become one of your favorites on the list of free things to do in Las Vegas.
Fremont Street Experience
Fremont Street is, quite possibly, one of the most famous streets in Vegas. And while it is fun — it has a zipline that goes from one end to the next — I caution parents heavily. In my humble opinion, it is not young kid-friendly. Some things show up on Fremont Street that a little risque for kids’ eyes. So, I include it here with a cautionary tag.
Fremont Street is sort of like an outdoor mall located in downtown Las Vegas. It is fun and wild and offers so much free activity that it must be included here. The ceiling is made of 12.5 million lights. where videos are played to music.
There are also street performers, Elvis, and other celebrity impersonators, spray paint artists, live concerts and more. And, everyone loves the zipline!
Hike Springs Preserve
Get off the Strip and immerse yourself in the Springs Preserve, dubbed the Miracle in the Mojave. Here, you can take your kids hiking around the Springs Preserve without paying to get into the main part. Anything that gets kids off the Strip and running around is one of the top free things to do in Las Vegas with kids.
There are 1.8 miles of trails split between four themes, with wildlife, native habitats, and archaeological sites. The trails are open from 10 a.m. until dusk. Be prepared with plenty of water, sunscreen, and hats for all. Note that there are many, many additional activities that are available for a fee.
A quick search for Las Vegas Pass may be in order, as it allows free entry into Springs Preserve, among other benefits.
Named the “Best Free Attraction in Las Vegas,” the Mermaid Show at the Silverton Hotel is a must-see. The 117,000-gallon aquarium is home to thousands of tropical fish and LIVE Mermaids.
Subject to change, a free mermaid show occurs in the aquarium Thursday, Friday and Saturday hourly from noon – 3:15 p.m. and again from 5 – 8:15 p.m. Sundays from 10:30 a.m. – 3:15 p.m. and again from 5 – 6:45 p.m. Note, that there is a 15 minute intermission between individual swims.
The fish are fed daily at 1:30 p.m. and again at 4:30 p.m. There are thousands of tropical fish and one or two mermaids swimming every day all day. Totally amazing sight!
Calico Basin Red Springs
If you are in search of a little adventure in Las Vegas look no further than Calico Basin. Only a few minutes away from downtown Las Vegas, the Calico Basin is legit worlds away. This is the portion of the Red Rock Canyon National Park that you don’t have to pay to get into.
The area features spectacular red and white sandstone cliffs and, as the name implies, there are many natural springs that feed the abundant vegetation and attract a variety of interesting wildlife. Take a walk around the boardwalk, go for a hike and just enjoy getting away from the crazy non-stop assault on your senses that is the Las Vegas strip.
A natural escape, Calico Basin is a gem amongst the free things to do in Las Vegas with kids.
Free Circus Show
In keeping with the circus theme, Circus Circus puts on a free circus show each. No, it’s not Cirque de Soleil, but still, your kids will be enthralled.
The Circus Hotel show features jugglers, unicyclists, trapeze artists, acrobats and more. Each show is 10 minutes long and shows run every half hour, daily, from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Billed as the “World’s Largest Permanent Circus,” the popular show has only 60 seats, so get there early.
Budget-Friendly Hotels in Las Vegas
Las Vegas hotels can easily eat up all of the savings you earned from doing those free things. Our secret for an affordable room in Vegas: Stay near the Las Vegas Convention Center and take the Monorail up and down the Strip. You’ll save on parking and avoid the incredible hassle of driving in Vegas.
Among the Marriott International hotels options near the convention center:
SpringHill Suites Las Vegas Convention Center. This Marriott International brand offers families 25 percent more space than a standard hotel room, so there’s plenty of room for a playpen or crib…or teenagers. Hot breakfast and wifi are included in the price. We found rates as low as $89 per night. Buy the unlimited Monorail pass and head back for a dip in the rooftop pool to get out of the heat of the day.
Residence Inn Las Vegas Convention Center includes free breakfast and full kitchens in the rooms and an outdoor barbeque, making it easy for families to save money on food by cooking some meals at the hotel. Use the grocery delivery service to have the kitchen stocked upon arrival. And, if you don’t like leaving Fido at home, you can bring him along. Residence Inns are pet-friendly. We found rates as low at $109 per night.
If you have saved by doing all of these free things and you want to splurge on the hotel, try the Residence Las Vegas Hotel, with rooms that offer a view of the strip and rooms with Murphy beds for the kids. Or book The Westin Las Vegas Hotel & Spa
To sleep in one of those incredible Westin Heavenly beds (with a sofa bed for the kids). Or go all the way and stay at the sumptuous Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, part of Marriott International’s Autograph Collection.
SheBuysTravel Tip: The best way to get the best rate on your room: Book directly with Marriott International. If you find a better rate for the same hotel, dates and room type somewhere else, submit a Best Rate Guarantee claim. If Marriott International approves the claim, the company will match the lower rate and give you an extra 25 percent discount or 5,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.