What to Do in Las Vegas (Besides Gambling)

What to Do in Las Vegas (Besides Gambling)

I have to start off with a very clear disclaimer:  I never thought I would choose willingly to go to Las Vegas on vacation.  I mean, isn’t Vegas all about glitz, glamour and the casinos?  This has never been a source of attraction for me.  I’m the type of gal who believes the height of fun is experienced while crafting and watching a sci-fi flick on a Friday night in my PJ’s surrounded by home comforts, including hubby, some gluten-free snacks, and our oh-so-cuddly cat, Napoleon.

But after my husband and I told our neighbour about our desperate need for a short vacation somewhere – anywhere – he suggested we give Las Vegas a try. Not only could we really relax there, he told us, but there is a lot to see and do besides gambling!  So, on a complete whim one night, while trying to decide where to go – and not getting anywhere on the matter – I blurted out, “let’s just go to Las Vegas!”  And so it came to pass 🙂  And let me say, it was an AMAZING vacation – albeit short.  I would not hesitate to recommend it as a destination vacation for couples or families.  As a couple of geeky sightseers, Las Vegas turned out to be a dream destination for hubby and I.

With just three days to spare, we had our work cut out for us, but I think we chose well.

The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden - Las Vegas - Japanese structure

By far the prettiest location in Las Vegas, ‘The Conservatory’ as it is known, was absolutely gorgeous! Located in the famed Bellagio resort and luxury hotel, the gardens are transformed each season by a team of horticulturalists to provide beautiful displays. This season featured Japanese zen gardening that was breathtaking.

Japanese structure - Botanical Garden - Las Vegas

Botanical Gardens - Las Vegas

Botancial Garden - Las Vegas - Pink Flowers

Botanical Garden - Las Vegas - pond

Botanical Garden - Las Vegas - Flowering Tree

Botanical Garden - Las Vegas - Tree

Botanical Garden - Las Vegas - Tulips

Hoover Dam & Lake Mead

What would a trip to Las Vegas be without a drive to Hoover Dam?  Constructed in the early 1930’s, the dam is over 700 feet from top to bottom and has enough volume of concrete to stretch across the US!  We were certainly eager to catch a glimpse of this enormous construction.

But on the day of our trip, it seemed that everyone in Las Vegas was heading that way.  If I could have, I would have turned back (so glad we didn’t), but once you are on the road, there IS no turning back. So, we kept our patience, crawling along with the rest of ’em 🙂

The drive to Hoover Dam.

And so we inched along, coffee in hand…

Coffee - Road Trip Ready

And finally arrived!

Driving over Hoover Dam

Driving over the Hoover Dam

But with so many at the site, every parking lot was full – that is, with the exception of the uppermost lot. This was a blessing in disguise because of the view that awaited us there!

Bird's Eye View - Hoover Dam.

The entire dam could be viewed from our little parking lot perched at the very top of the site!

Hoover Dam

Directly on the opposite side of the parking lot was a spectacular view of Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam’s reservoir – the largest in the US in fact, when full.  The area has been experiencing a drought for years, however, and so Lake Mead has not been at capacity since 1983.

Lake Mead - wide view.

If you take a close look, you can see where the water line was at one time, which is right up around the black tops of the land below.

Lake Mead - Vertical View.

Red Rock Canyon!

After spending some time taking in the stunning views of Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, we decided to carry on to Red Rock Canyon that same day.

Red Rock Canyon entry

Red Rock Canyon is a National Conservation area located just 17 miles west of Las Vegas. For both my husband and I, this was the highlight of our trip.  In contrast to Las Vegas, which is geared toward entertainment and gaming, Red Rock Canyon’s attraction is its rugged beauty and sheer size.  The walls of the Canyon are as high as 3,000 feet.  And the Canyon itself is a mix of large red rock formations and sandstone peaks.

Before getting to the Canyon, however, you will need to stop at the Visitor Center. This is where hubby and I took in some stunning panoramic views.

Red Rock Canyon - Panoramic View

Vertical View - Red Rock Canyon panoramic view

Red Rock View - Desert

After exploring all the indoor and outdoor displays about its cultural and geographic landscape (geek alert!), we set off for the 13-Mile Scenic Drive all around the Canyon.

Taking the Scenic Route - Red Rock Canyon

Taking the Scenic Route - Red Rock Canyon

Along the 13-mile route, there are several overlooks where drivers can park their vehicles and get up close.

Views from the Road - Red Rock Canyon

Views from the Road - Red Rock Canyon

Views from the Road - Red Rock Canyon

Views from the Road - Red Rock Canyon

And the desert terrain all around had a raw beauty all its own.

Views from the Road - Red Rock Canyon

Views from the Road - Red Rock Canyon

Views from the Road - Red Rock Canyon

There was also some really interesting plant life – like something from another planet 😉

Views from the Road - Red Rock Canyon

These are just some of the stunning views we took in while driving around Red Rock Canyon. As with any trip, photographs cannot replace the experience of being there in person. We hope to be back again one day to do some more exploring of the Canyon where you can go on hiking trails, trail rides on horseback and so much more! (See Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association for more).

Shark Reef, Mandalay Bay Hotel

1 Sign

For those of you who follow me on facebook, you already would have seen our trip to the Shark Reef at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Hotel.  The Shark Reef is a large aquarium with a volume of over 1 million gallons of water with a variety of sea life. Talk about geeking out!

Shark Reek Tunnel - Las Vegas

Shark Reef - Las Vegas

And there are not only sharks in this aquarium – all sorts of exotic and interesting fish can be found there as well.

Shark Reef - Las Vegas - Fish

Shark Reef - Las Vegas - Jelly Fish

The Strip

A trip to Las Vegas would not be complete without a stroll down the famed Las Vegas Strip. We did so on the last day, taking in the architectural wonders of the downtown core.  The center of entertainment in the city, the Strip did not disappoint.

The Las Vegas Strip

The Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas Strip

The Las Vegas Strip

And the palm trees were everywhere!

Las Vegas - Palm Trees

Las Vegas - Palm Trees

Seeing as it was our last day, we could only explore so much of the Strip. We really needed several more days.  Next time!

Design Inspirations Galore

As a home craft and design enthusiast, I could not help but take some snaps of decor inspirations while in Las Vegas. It was a real feast for the eyes, from Navajo-inspired, handmade crafts…

Las Vegas - Navajo Pottery

Las Vegas - Navajo crafts

…to beginner’s weaving kits!

Las Vegas - Navajo Weaving Kit

Our hotel was also a constant source of design inspiration. I couldn’t get enough of it. There were all kinds of suspended displays, but this one was by far my favourite.

Las Vegas - Suspended Rock Display

Our hotel room was also pretty spectacular. I loved the geometric motif that could be found both on the walls (of our bathroom!) and in the carpeting.

Las Vegas - geometric wallpaper design

Las Vegas - geometric carpet design

Leaving Las Vegas

We really enjoyed our brief stay in Las Vegas!  It’s such a beautiful city with gorgeous surroundings. My only regret was that we did not stay longer. There was so much more to explore.

For more tips on what to do in Las Vegas besides gambling, here are some great travel articles to read:

12 Things to Do in Las Vegas (That Don’t Involve a Casino)

25 Things to Do in Las Vegas Besides Gamble!

The Ultimate List of Things to Do in Las Vegas (Other Than Gambling)

16 Things to Do in Las Vegas Besides Gamble – We’ve Got You Covered

34 Things to Do in Las Vegas When You’re Not Gambling

Although we are home now, we will always keep a little bit of Las Vegas tucked away in our hearts.

Las Vegas - Piece of Vegas

Viva Las Vegas 🙂


For more inspirations and ideas from bloggers around the web, check out:  Happiness Is Homemade,  Bloggers Spotlight Link Party,  Sweet Inspirations Link Party.


  • Reply
    Danushi @ House in Tillford
    April 14, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Great guide, Ive always thought there must be more to vegas than just casinos

    • Reply
      April 15, 2016 at 5:48 am

      I would be the first to admit that I only thought of casinos and ‘glitz’ when Las Vegas came to mind – but no more! I was just discussing the trip recently with another friend who has been there and thought the same! She said that she would return ‘in a heart beat.’ I couldn’t agree more 🙂

  • Reply
    April 19, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Wow, my husband and I won a trip some year ago to Las Vegas and we didn’t know all those amazing things to do. We just visited some hotels, saw some shows and went with a helicopter to a picnic area in the Colorado river. I am pinning this just in case we come back any day!

    I would love to invite you to share this at our Sweet Inspiration party which is live every Friday at 3pm UTC.

    Have a wonderful week!

    • Reply
      April 19, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      It sounds like you and your husband had some fun yourselves. If I had the courage, I’d have gone on that helicopter ride myself! I’ll definitely share the post on your Sweet Inspiration party. Thanks for the invite 🙂

  • Reply
    Mary-the boondocks blog
    April 24, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Jelica that was one amazing mini vacation. I can certainly see why you would want to go outside of the city and see all that nature has to offer. Those red rocks were spectacular. And the botanical garden certainly was a pleasant surprise. I guess I’ll be changing my opinion of Vegas after this post. Thank you for sharing with us over at Sweet Inspiration.

    • Reply
      April 24, 2016 at 10:15 pm

      I’ve certainly had my fair share of surprises while on vacation, but Vegas was the most surprising trip of all. Beautiful, scenic and relaxing – words that we don’t often associate with the area, but all so true.

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