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August 27, 2014

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Leisure:

Las Vegas’ free attractions for everyone to enjoy

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Tom Donoghue/www.donoghuephotography.com

A replica of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign made of 50,000 M&M’s at M&M’S World on the Las Vegas Strip on Sept. 1, 2010.

Are you a local Las Vegan or soon-to-be tourist planning a trip to Las Vegas? There are plenty of fun things to do and see that won't take a hit on your pocket book. Here's a list of free attractions to enjoy on and off the Strip:

    • Bellagio Fountains
      Photo by Leila Navidi

      Fountains at Bellagio

      When you think of the Las Vegas Strip, the fountains at Bellagio are probably one of the first images that comes to mind. The free show has been featured in countless TV shows, films, photographs and commercials.

      The ballet of dancing fountains and lights is choreographed to music from artists such as Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. Rushing water soars as high as 460 feet from more than 1,200 fountains, creating the magnificent display. The area around the lake can fill up quickly, so grab a place along the railing a few minutes before the show for prime viewing. Several of the Bellagio’s restaurants feature outdoor seating along the 8.5-acre lake for those looking for dinner and a show.

      Shows run every 30 minutes Monday through Friday, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Shows run every 15 minutes from 7 p.m. to midnight.

    • Bellagio Gardens: Summer 2010
      Photo by Tom Donoghue/www.donoghuephotography.com

      Bellagio Conservatory

      Las Vegas may lack seasons but the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden does a pretty good job of making up for it.

      The indoor garden is the Bellagio's most notable interior feature. Step into the lush garden located just off the hotel’s lobby and you would never believe you are still in a smoky Vegas casino. The garden is designed around the current season—spring, summer, fall, the winter holidays and Chinese New Years—with flowers, trees and sculptures to complement the occasion. The Bellagio’s 140 expert horticulturists work year-round, arranging theatrical gazebos, bridges, ponds, and water to bring the season to live.

      The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden is open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Make sure you come with a camera in hand or you might not fit in with the rest of the crowd.

    • Animal Attractions
      Photo by Leila Navidi

      Silverton Aquarium

      The Silverton Aquarium has the ability to transport you from the hot, arid desert to a lively, tropical oasis like few features in Las Vegas can. The 117,000-gallon reef aquarium features more than 4,000 tropical fish, three species of stingrays and sharks, and mermaids. Yes, mermaids. Throughout the afternoons and evenings Thursday through Sunday, women dressed as mermaids add to the tank with flips and tricks of their own. Interactive feeding shows are held daily at 1:30, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., with the aquarium’s marine biologist on hand to answer questions about the different species.

      The adjacent Mermaid Bar has seats that surround one side of the tank where you can grab a drink or quick bite and enjoy the free attraction. Click here to check out Silverton's live aquarium webcam.

    • The Mirage Volcano
      Photo by Justin M. Bowen

      Mirage Volcano

      The Mirage Volcano has been a fixture at the Mirage since its 1989 opening but recently underwent renovations to bring it up to speed with other Strip attractions.

      The new volcano shoots lava-colored water 120 feet into the air while flames and fireballs are choreographed to a tribal track inspired by real volcanoes. The Mirage summoned the forces of WET design firm, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and Indian tabla artist Zakir Hussein, who composed the soundtrack to the volcano show.

      The show erupts nightly from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., every hour on the hour. The best place to catch the show is in front of the Mirage on Las Vegas Boulevard or near the valet area just outside the hotel.

    • Ruffin's Treasure Island
      Photo by Leila Navidi

      Sirens of T.I.

      The once family-friendly show outside Treasure Island has turned into one of the sexiest attractions on the Strip; the sexiest free attraction at least.

      The Sirens of T.I. is the story of a clash between a group of beautiful sirens and a band of renegade pirates. The 18-minute show takes place against the appropriate backdrop of a pirate ship, a lagoon and seaside village at Sirens Cove.

      The show runs everyday at 7 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. as well as 5:30 p.m. during the winter months and 11:30 p.m. in the summer. The best view is on the bridge in front of Sirens Cove but the area fills up quickly so get there early before show time. Click here to see the Sirens Cove live webcam.

    • Animal Attractions
      Photo by Leila Navidi

      Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo

      Appropriately enough, the Flamingo is home to a group of Chilean Flamingos. In addition to flamingos, you’ll also find swans, ducks, koi and turtles tucked back near the resort’s pool in the Wildlife Habitat.

      Visitors can take a stroll on walkways alongside streams and waterfalls, lagoons and ponds in the habitat. Benches scattered throughout allow guests to sit back and enjoy the view. The habitat is open to the public 24 hours, 7 days a week.

    • Animal Attractions
      Photo by Leila Navidi

      Fall of Atlantis and Festival Fountain shows at the Forum Shops

      Just when you thought it couldn’t get anymore over-the-top at Caesars Palace, it does with the Fall of Atlantis and Festival Fountain shows.

      The Festival Fountain show features an animatronic discussion between Bacchus, Venus, Apollo, and Pluto while the Fall of Atlantis show uses life-like robotic figures to recount the myth of Atlantis. Both shows come complete with laser lights, fire, water and a certain level a campiness. The show takes place at the fountains in front of the Cheesecake Factory every hour, on the hour from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and until 12 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

      Once the show is over, you can walk behind the fountain and check out hundreds of fish in the 50,000-gallon saltwater aquarium. Divers do daily feedings at 1:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.

    • Midway at  Circus-Circus
      Photo by Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun

      Circus Acts at Circus Circus

      What would Circus Circus be without a few trapeze artists and contortionists? The kid-friendly resort hosts live circus acts at the main stage at the Carnival Midway. The acts include jugglers, magicians, acrobats and tight-rope walkers, just to name a few. There are only about 60 seats in the stands but plenty of standing room around the stage.

      Acts last usually around 10 minutes and run every half hour from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to midnight on weekends.

    • M&M's World
      Photo by Tom Donoghue/www.donoghuephotography.com

      M&M World

      M&M World, located next to the MGM Grand, is a candy-lovers paradise. The merchandise may not be free but there is tons of stuff to look at and play with. The first floor is dedicated to kitschy souvenirs like personalized key chains and mugs, while the second floor features a wall filled with M&M’s of all the different colors. The third floor is dedicated to collectibles, including a Swarovski crystal M&M’s guitar.

      The store does feature a free 3-D movie for all. “I LOST MY ‘M’ in VEGAS,” stars Red and Yellow and plays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

    • The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian
      /File Photo

      Streetmosphere at the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian

      Transport yourself to Venice at the Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes. The shopping area features a sky blue ceiling, cobble-stone like walkways, Old World-inspired store fronts and one very Venetian feature: a canal that runs through the center of the mall with gondola rides for guests. The gondola rides will cost you, but there are other features that won’t.

      In St. Marks Square between the Venetian and the Palazzo, a group of classically trained and costumed singers and actors called the Artiste del Arte perform for guests. In the evenings, The Venetian Trio serenades guests in the same area. Living Statues can also be found throughout the Grand Canal Shoppes and are a great photo opportunity.

    • Rio Show in the Sky
      Photo by Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun

      Show in the Sky at the Rio

      Performers clad in exotic costumes put on a show while DJs spin dance music for the crowd high above the casino floor at the Rio. Show in the Sky features professionally trained dancers performing to hits by artists such as Justin Timberlake, Beyonce and Rhianna on a stage above the casino floor and Mardi Gras-themed floats.

      The free show runs 7 p.m. to 12 p.m. every night. If you don’t mind spending the $13, you can get in costume and ride in the floats to be part of the show. A warning for parents with young kids: The revamped show might not be appropriate for all ages.

    • Neon Museum on Fremont Street
      Photo by Ethan Miller/Las Vegas Sun

      Neon Museum

      In a city of bright lights, it’s nice to honor the neon signs on the past. The Neon Museum officially opened when the first refurbished sign, The Hacienda Horse and Rider, was installed on Nov. 15, 1996, at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street. The historic display is located within the Fremont Street Experience for all to see. Though it’s open all day, the signs are best viewed at night. The attraction is free but donations are certainly welcomed.

    • Fremont Street NYE
      Photo by Leila Navidi

      Fremont Street Experience

      Fremont Street Experience combines all things vintage Vegas with some of the coolest technology out there. Legendary casinos such as the Golden Nugget, Fremont Casino and the Four Queens line the street in all of their old-school glory. The pedestrian walkway is home to the world’s largest LED screen, containing 12.5 million lamps and spanning 1,500 feet in length. The light canopy, along with a state-of-the-art sound system, features shows such as “Ophelia’s Dream,” “Bad to the Bone,” and the most popular show, “Don McLean’s American Pie.” Shows typically last seven minutes and run every hour, on the hour from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Other entertainment includes live musical acts on a nightly basis. There is no charge for entrance into Fremont Street except New Year’s Eve.

    • Big Elvis
      Photo by Leila Navidi

      Big Elvis at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall

      For those who love Elvis, there’s a lot of him to love at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall. Big Elvis does all the hits of the King of Rock & Roll, as well as some other popular tunes in the genres of rock, country, gospel, R & B, and pop, spanning six decades of music. Pete Vallee, who plays Big Elvis, has quite a fan club. You’ll see women dancing for and swooning over the impersonator on a nightly basis. The complimentary show runs Monday through Friday at 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. in the lounge area near the center casino bar.

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    1. Yeah all the thing I was expecting to be on that list. M&M world twice? Anyway the free crap we have here is mostly casino generated BS. You forget a few things on the list:
      Red Rock
      The Strip
      Malls
      First Friday
      Other Casinos
      Apex
      Air Shows everyday if you live NE.
      Vegas needs more culture and stimulating things to do to take us away from the strip. But that doesn't really make any money for the casinos. So the locals get a big mouthful of tourist gaming crap 24/7.

    2. They also don't mention what I read was to be a "significant" (pretentious enough for ya?) art exhibit from May 5th-forward at the Bellagio? A wide variety of original "Old Masters" to "modern" names--hopefully it's still on (if you go in for that sort o' thing), but, it may not, come to think of it be exactamontly "Free." Huh. Hold on--Ahh yaaH, (pulled it off the fridge--SO WHAT?)
      And I quote: "Las Vegas, one of the few cities in the U.S. without a public art institution" has, according to this article, received works from both the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and MOCA-San Diego for the exhibit "Figuratively Speaking: A Survey of the Human Form." Hey, it's VEGAS, ya gotta rope 'em in SOMEHOW, YAH?
      Listed: Renoir, Picasso,Giacometti (I drove one of those once), Lichtenstein, Hockney, Shea, Nara, you get the picture (ha-ahem).

      That other well-known representative of the "human arts," the MGM Grand, it says further, will wheel over a few of it's own Renoirs, Picassos,Degasssss, and, of course, their frequently under-appreciated but not-to-be-dismissed-out-of-hand Ferdinand Legers.

      So there you have it-I know it's HOT out there, but ya might want to change out of your flip flops for this one--or not-Hell, Leger probably wouldn't have. The whole shebang has probably moved on to Dubuque or some other art-starved cow-town calling itself the entertainment capital of the world by now anyway, but, if not, anybody out there know of any, y'know, COMPS, or anything?
      Hey. times are TOUGH, baby.

    3. There is Nothing here for Families that is not Casino Centric. They Make a considerable amount of money here, however provide NOTHING but mainly service jobs for the undereducated population. Las Vegas must qualify as having worse politicians than those occupying Congress. Maybe for Once they could be focused in working for The Public in the community. Art Museum, Zoos, Hospitals, Transit Systems, Education, Planning, Taxing where The Money Is - Name It and they Failed Miserably!