Let’s not mince words—a Vegas vacation can really dent your family budget! From pricey Cirque du Soleil tickets to the fine dining choices up and down the Strip, escaping the Nevada desert without a substantial credit card bill is often as difficult as seeing three cherries in a row on a slot machine. But there’s another side of Las Vegas, one that won’t cost you a penny! Here are 16 awesome free things to do in Vegas with kids, from flamingos to fountains and circus arts to art walks.
1. Bellagio Fountains
The iconic water and light show set to pop, opera, and Broadway musical numbers offers families a free experience visible from a number of locations, including right on the sidewalk of the famous Vegas strip. The Bellagio display covers over 1,000 feet of wet Vegas real estate and has water rising up to 460 feet into the dry Nevada air. The Bellagio Fountains show runs every half hour from 3 to 8 p.m., and every 15 minutes from there until midnight. The songs and choreography change often, meaning this is a free thing to do in Vegas with kids that you’ll want to do again and again.
2. Mirage Volcano Eruption
Like the legendary fountains at Bellagio, the Mirage volcano is a free activity that’s available daily, at 8, 9 and 10 p.m. This free show uses elements of nature, is set to music (The Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart and Indian tabla sensation Zakir Hussain), and thanks to tall explosions and powerful fireballs, is also bound to delight all ages.
3. The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign
Only in Vegas is a side-of-the-road street sign a cool place to visit! The iconic Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign is one of the most enduring visuals of this desert playground, remaining charmingly retro in a city hurtling toward the future. So pull over or park in the free lot and take your selfies and family photos in front of the sign!
4. 24 Hour Express Tram
Ride the free 24-hour Aria express tram from The Park MGM and T-Mobile Arena to the Aria and its Shops at Crystals all the way to The Bellagio Fountains. It’s cool, literally and figuratively, and is a 100-perceent free way to not only get around town, but also to see Las Vegas from a new perspective.
5. Seven Magic Mountains
The original plan was to have internationally renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains on view in the Vegas desert for two years after its opening in May 2016. But the popularity of this large-scale public art installation, roughly 10 miles south of the Las Vegas strip, means you’ll have through 2021 (at least) to stand in awe of these colorful crayon box boulders stacked more than 30 feet high.
6. The Park MGM Art Walk Wednesdays
Art peeping in Vegas is almost as good as the people watching on offer in Sin City! Join this free art walk on Wednesdays at The Park MGM to discover the stunning David Hockney and Henrique Oliveira’s audacious natural piece hanging above your family’s heads in the lobby.
7. The Flamingo Wildlife Habitat
Tucked into The Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel‘s lush 15-acre grounds, the Flamingo Wildlife Habitat is stocked with exotic birds, fish and turtles. Specifically, there are gorgeous pink Chilean flamingos (naturally, considering the name of the hotel), koi fish, ibis, ducks and pelicans, who are fed daily at 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Spending time inside this animal oasis on the strip is one of the best things to do in Vegas with kids.
8. Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
Everyone is drawn to the water show outside the Bellagio, and rightfully so. But after the fountains take their much-deserved break, head inside to experience the breathtaking Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, the design of which changes seasonally. This full-sensory experience features larger-than-life sights and the unique fragrances of autumn, spring, summer and the holidays.
9. Free Circus Arts Show at Circus Circus
Where else would you expect to find the circus arts in Vegas than at Circus Circus? Free performances on the center stage of the Carnival Midway start at 11:30 a.m. every day of the week and include flying trapeze tricks, feats of strength and balance, acrobatics, clowns, and umbrella artistry that will leave your kids jaws on the floor… and your pocketbook or wallet untouched!
10. Mayfair Supper Club Show
Opening on New Year’s Eve 2019, this elegant juke joint is inspired by the Mayfair neighborhood of London and the vibe of 1920s. It will serve food and drinks with a heaping portion of transformative entertainment that’s always appropriate to the time of evening, from a duet crooning Sinatra and Bublé at 5 p.m. to choreographed dancing and music from a cast of 16 later in the evenings. Professional lighting and sound will add a touch of class in the center of the softly colored social room, and the unparalleled views of the famous Bellagio fountains will make the free shows that much more spectacular. The meal isn’t free, but the stellar entertainment won’t cost you a dime.
11. Pinball Hall of Fame
There is a fair share of random stuff in Vegas (hello, Neon Museum!), but the best random free thing to do in Vegas with kids is the non-profit Pinball Hall of Fame Museum. While it costs a few quarters to play pinball on these gloriously retro machines (but that’s basically free, right?), it’s absolutely free to wander, look, touch and get nostalgic for your own childhood, while enjoying this delightfully anti-capitalistic taste of Sin City.
12. Haus of Gaga
Maybe you didn’t get a ticket to see Lady Gaga at the Park MGM Theater, but that doesn’t mean you and your Little Monsters can’t revel in her audacious world! Take a stroll through this ever-changing experience featuring the artist’s most iconic fashion statements, including that famous 2010 VMA’s dress made entirely of meat. The pieces span the last decade of Gaga’s cultural, musical and fashion reinvention, and the Haus of Gaga itself promises to be an ever-changing destination for hardcore fans and the Gaga-curious alike. And best of all, this is a totally free thing to do with your kids in Vegas.
13. Lake of Dreams
Inside the Wynn Las Vegas is a surrealist dream of a show running nightly, every half hour from 8 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. The Lake of Dreams show involves music, 4,000 lights, holographs and puppetry projected onto a 40-foot waterfall and pine-topped mountain. The result is a truly magical and free experience for families visiting Vegas.
A roster of classically-trained singers, actors and musicians from all over the world assemble inside the The Venetian and The Palazzo to delight people of all ages every single day. Visiting Italy is expensive, but strolling the Grand Canal Shoppes will give you and your kids a taste of Italy without reaching into your pocketbook or wallet once… unless the allure of gelato is too strong to resist! But hey, when in Rome…we mean, Venice.
15. Shelby Museum
Auto buffs and racing fans alike will want to take a free guided tour of this impressive automotive museum on weekdays at 10:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m., or Saturday morning at 10:30. You and your kids will see a slew of Shelby cars and trucks, including a GT, Snakes and a Cobra, and Shelby F-150 trucks.
16. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Rock & Roll Memorabilia Exhibition
You don’t have to pay to stay at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to walk around the property and gaze at authentic rock-n-roll artifacts from Queen, The Beatles, Elton John, The Rat Pack, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, and so many more world-famous musicians both you and your kids love. Unlike staying up late and paying a small fortune to see artists perform live, seeing their outfits, instruments, and accessories is a free thing to do with kids in Vegas!
Jeff Bogle lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with his wife, two daughters, and three cats. He is an award-winning photographer and respected travel journalist with bylines on Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping, PBS, Esquire and more. Jeff (probably) spends too much time in England watching football and far too many hours plotting his family’s future travel adventures. Find Jeff on his own site, Out With the Kids.