In March, I went to Vegas for a conference (of college composing teachers, so mostly bookish types who don't gamble.) Some of the things that either me, or my friends, did and enjoyed:
Bauman's Rare Books. This was the highlight of my trip, and if you're a book nerd, it's not to be missed. Because it's a store, not a museum, they will let you touch or handle any of the books. They'll also let you photograph them. I spent a lot of time looking at this late 19th century treatise on Conformation of the Horse, or some such; it was red and located on a bottom shelf, on that big book shelf facing the front entrance. If you take a cab, ask to be dropped off at Barney's New York in the Shops at the Palazzo. It's a very short walk from there. http://www.baumanrarebooks.com/about...-vegas-nv.aspx
Vegas is a great food town. Any kind of ethnic or regional cuisine you can dream up is probably available in Vegas. I had some great sushi (at Yama Sushi, which is not on the strip) and Hawaiian food. Think of something you want to eat, and you can find it.
I really wanted to do Dig This Vegas, but I couldn't justify the enormous cost. Basically, it's like the Richard Pettey Driving Experience but for construction equipment. http://www.digthisvegas.com/
Some of my friends enjoyed the off-the-wall museum circuit in Las Vegas. The Neon Museum is fairly new and very good. http://www.neonmuseum.org/ The Mob Museum is supposedly good too.
If you're open minded about seeing a show and just don't want to cough up much cash, there are often cheap last-minute single tickets available for same-day Vegas shows. Tix4Tonight is one way to get them. Another is to show up at the venue 2 hours before showtime and ask if they have any last-minute tickets to sell. Obviously the more popular the show, the lower your odds of getting tickets--but there's a lot of Vegas shows and Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday tend to be a lot slower in sales than Thursday thru Sunday.
My last suggestion? If you spend any time *at all* on The Strip, remember that everything is much further away than it looks because of the proportions of the buildings. If you think it's going to be a 10 minute walk, it's going to be a 20 minute walk. If you think it looks close as the crow flies, remember that Vegas is like one big amusement park where all roads are curvy, winding lines. I though The Strip was goofy, sort of like a gigantic miniature golf course.
As you're just about to hit Hoover Dam, there's a place there to get a helicopter view for about $50. If you want some driving, go out to where they have the glass bridge over the Grand Canyon. It's a 2-3 hour drive, but pretty amazing when you get closer. You actually can just see the Grand Canyon from the parking lot and don't need to take the $40 "tour" to take a 3 minute bus ride to the place where the glass bridge is, and pay about $30 for the bridge.
Walk the strip, as others said. Lots to see. You can't even see all of the hotels. The Aria has the ugliest, most uncomfortable decorating I've ever seen. Just awful. The Bellagio is always wonderful and whatever they have set up in the Conservatory is beautiful--all free.
We just did another road trip there and came through the Mojave Desert and Death Valley. It's a long day trip, but you could do it, depending on the heat.
We went back because I was Jonesin for the seafood buffet at the Rio that we did in November that has all you can eat lobster. Yum. Anyway, they have this $49 thing where you can eat at any of 7 buffets as many times as you want for $49. It's an extra $15 for the Rio seafood and $10 for the Ceasar's Palace one, but worth it. It also includes the Paris, which is wonderful. So, depending on how much you can ea and how you do your timing, you can eat three or four meals of amazing food for $5o to $75. I am finally done with lobster.
The Pawn Stars shop is an attraction now. There was a huge line of people waiting outside to get in.
The half price tickets aren't great. I splurged and paid $100 for Blue Man, which is good. But in the Monte Carlo they were advertising $40 seats. They may have been up high, but it's OK. There were lots of empty seats. It's REALLY hard to get any deals on any Cirque du Soleil shows.
Lots of great ideas here, guys. Thanks a bunch. I'm going to have to do some pre-planning and routing since I ditched my smartphone (and thus, my GPS/directions) last fall. I'm good at getting fashionably lost.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what
lies with in us. - Emerson
The National Atomic Testing Museum. We went there last time we were in Vegas (I hate to gamble). Sooooo interesting!! Well worth the trip, I highly recommend it. Plan to spend several hours there, I would have stayed there longer but we had dinner reservations. We didn't expect it to be so interesting, LOL.
The Machine Gun experience. Well worth the price, what a kick in the pants!! They teach you what to do, set it up for you, give you pointers, and all you have to do is enjoy!
Sadly, the Liberace Museum is closed That was also on our list.
Las Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame. Kind of interesting if you're into it. You can play all sorts of games (not just traditional pinball), some of them really really old. It's cheap, so I would say worth the trip.
Walking the strip and checking out all the big hotels is fun, as many above posters mentioned. Loved the Red Rock area as well.
Do the indoor sky diving... It was so much fun. Although my muscles were sore later. I have always wanted to skydive but have no desire to actually jump out of a perfectly good plane. So this was perfect. Safe, yet gives you the feel of weightlessness, and you can do spins, etc. It's near the convention center. Any taxi driver can get you there.
If you like good steaks, you need to go to "the steakhouse" at Circus circus. Now normally, Circus Circus is to be avoided, but this one restaurant is incredible. I've never had such good service and FANTASTIC Prime Rib. (Get the small cut. It covers your whole plate. I still had leftovers.)
Go to Freemont Street for the Laser light show, and to people watch. A whole different experience than the strip.
But even if you can't see the shows and don't want to gamble, the strip is its own entertainment. It's got (or maybe used to have) more New York skylines than any other town. It's interesting to walk around the various settings and just take in the atmosphere of what they've done. There are also options like going to the top of the Stratosphere for the view or riding the goofy monorail. I have rather enjoyed just walking around in the mall at Caesar's with its outdoor ceiling or at Paris Las Vegas with its faux cobblestone streets.
If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket