The Top Free (and Not So Free) Las Vegas Activities

. They are choreographed to music and look especially cool at night, it is just absolutely amazing how powerful they are.  They typically go off every 30 minutes on the hour throughout the day and then every 15 minutes from 7pm to midnight, but it depends on the time of year as well.  They cycle through several different songs, so you could see multiple unique shows on any given day/night. 

I hope this article provides you with some ideas that you might not have thought about when considering a trip to Vegas.  As you can see, there is so much more to do in Vegas than gambling.  Be sure to get out there and experience all that Vegas has to offer.  And don’t forget to bring a nice comfortable pair of sneakers, a nice digital camera and some chapstick!  It is a desert after all and you’ll thank me later. 

If you have some extra time, you can take a quick trip off the strip to check out the Gold and Silver Pawn shop.  This is the pawn shop shown on the TV show Pawn Stars.  From what I understand there is usually a long line unless you get there early, so you have to be a fan of the show to make it worth while. Fountains, lasers, fire, steam and sound effects add to the excitement of the action. This high tech production is one of the most popular free shows in Las Vegas.  The show takes place next to the Cheesecake Factory in the Roman Great Hall and starts at 10am and runs every hour on the hour until 11pm or midnight. 

We did the Canyon Dream combo air/land tour of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and it was amazing!  That moment when you first go from being over land to being over the Grand Canyon is absolutely breathtaking.  Pictures do not even begin to describe what an amazing experience it really is. 

Conservatory and Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio Hotel – Since you’re already at the Bellagio checking out the fountains, be sure to stop in afterwards and check out the botanical gardens.  They change the display to match the season.

The Fountains of Bellagio – No trip is complete without a trip to check out the fountains. Las Vegas has an almost unlimited supply of choices when it comes to shows and attractions.  They range from completely free all the way up to astronomical, depending on your budget.  There is definitely something for everyone.  If your time and budget allows, I’d recommend trying a little bit of everything. 

Vegas offers a suprising number of completely free attractions and activities, many of which are must see!  Definitely be sure to take advantage of everything Vegas has to offer.

If you are walking through Planet Hollywood at the top of the hour, you’ll experience a quick thunder and lighning storm as you walk through the Miracle Mile shops.

Freemont Street – Take a bus/cab ride down to old school Vegas!  Check out the huge overhead video screens that run the length of Freemont Street, wander around old Vegas landmark hotel/casinos like the Golden Nugget and you can now even Zipline right down Freemont street with the light show overhead!

If you’re a big fan of Vintage Pinball machines, you might also want to check out the Pinball Hall of Fame. 

One quick tip when you arrive at whatever hotel you choose is to try the $20 trick.  It is quite common/acceptable in Vegas to tip the front desk clerk when checking in and to ask them if they have any “complimentary upgrades” available.  If they are able to provide an upgrade,  they will in most cases as long as they are not fully booked.  Be friendly and nice about it and give them the $20 bill when you show them your ID and credit card. 

If you have the time, $ and desire, I highly recommend trying a Maverick Helicopter Tour of the Grand Canyon.  It is one of those once in a lifetime, bucket list items that you will remember for the rest of your life!  Neither one of us are a big fan of heights and my wife is not a huge fan of flying and it was no problem at all. 

I can confirm that this works especially well at the Bellagio, as both myself and a relative received a “complementary upgrade” from the standard room to a fountain view room in the Spa tower as shown below.  Your mileage may vary, but it’s certainly worth a shot! 

$20 Trick

The Bellagio Hotel is very centrally located in the heart of the strip and I would highly recommend staying there if it fits within your budget.  You can typically find unadvertised discounts on the Bellagio and other Vegas hotels online. 

Sirens of Treasure Island – This runs several times right along the strip at the Treasure Island Resort throughout the evening starting at 7pm and it is another must see freebie.  Be sure to get there early as the crowds gather around 30 minutes before show time.

Special Vegas Insider Tip

Rock and Roll Memoriabilia at the Hard Rock Casino

Maverick also does helicopter tours that take you right into the base of the Grand Canyon for a picnic lunch/champagne toast and others that take you white water rafting, day/night tours of the Vegas strip, etc.  There are so many options, it’s just a matter of picking one that meets your desire and budget. 

In addition to the shows, there are a few excursions I highly recommend considering.  One is the Hoover Dam.  If you go there it’s traditional to take the Dam Tour!  Another excursion many recommend is a trip to Red Rock Canyon.  Lots of beautiful red rock formations and it is only about a 20 minute drive. 

Maverick Helicopter Tour of the Grand Canyon

M&M World – 4 floors of everything chocolate and M&M specific.  Very neat place for kids and adults alike!

Not So Free Vegas Activities

Take a stroll through the Grand Canal Shoppes in the Venetian resort and feel as if you’re strolling along the canals in Venice Italy, complete with gondola rides! 

Safety is obviously the most important concern when doing something like this and Maverick has a stellar safety record and consistently amazing reviews from customers on all the review sites.  They are very professional, friendly and everything went off without a hitch.  Be sure to check out all the different tours Maverick offers and I would highly recommend booking as far in advance as possible, as they do sell out. 

The Mirage hotel has a Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, where you can come face to face with white lions, white tigers, panthers, leopards, and a family of Bottlenose Dolphin

Free Vegas Activities

There are a TON of shows you can see, way too many to list.  From headliner concerts, to Magicians, to several of the amazing acrobatic shows of the Cirque Du Soleil.  And of course there is the unique show combining percussion with colorful visuals and humor, The Blue Man Group. 

Despite the fact that Vegas is known for gambling, the city and surrounding area have so much more to offer.  I wanted to try and highlight some of the must see activities as well as some off the beaten path ideas that you might not have otherwise considered.   

While you’re down that way, be sure to check out the outdoor volcano at the Mirage.  It erupts every 15 minutes between 7pm and midnight.  

Atlantis Water Show – Forum Shops at Caesars Palace

This show features animatronic statues acting out the story of the fall of Atlantis

NHL awards expansion franchise to Las Vegas

We’ll leave no stone unturned in our dedication, in our pursuit of hockey for Las Vegas, not just for our team, but for the community.”

The National Hockey League’s 31st franchise will play in Las Vegas beginning in 2017, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Wednesday.

With nearly 2.2 million people in the last census, Las Vegas is the largest population center in the U.S. Concerns about the Canadian dollar’s fluctuation, the stress of a two-team expansion draft and the league’s desire to correct its geographical imbalance — the Eastern Conference already has 16 teams, while Las Vegas will be the 15th in the West — prompted the governors to go with Las Vegas alone.

“There is no doubt as to the passion for hockey in Quebec City,” Bettman said. These components, the ones within the control of the Quebec City applicant, are first-rate.”

Foley realizes his team might not be alone in Vegas for long. without a team in the major professional sports. “I’m an Army guy, but maybe that’s not the right name for the team at this time. We’re going to work through the league.”

Sports leagues once rejected the city outright due to concerns about corruption from Vegas’ massive sports betting economy, but the NHL and the NFL no longer share those worries, with Bettman calling his sport “less susceptible” to gambling interests due to the small volume of bets placed on hockey.

Bettman said the league made the move largely due to the persistence and strength of the ownership group led by Foley, a financial services tycoon, who has been working on the idea for three years. He has strongly considered the Black Knights, a name that has special meaning to Foley, a West Point graduate.

Bettman strongly praised the bid backed by telecommunications giant Quebecor to return the league to Quebec City, the former home of the Quebec Nordiques. Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is interested in partnering with Vegas interests to build an enormous domed football stadium for his team.

“I think the NFL would be great here,” Foley said. “We’re dedicated to it. “They have a different fan base than we do.

“We won’t sell out every game with season-ticket holders, but I believe it’s going to be 85 percent, 90 percent (filled by season ticket holders),” Foley said.

Foley’s also bid had the enormous advantage of an NHL-ready arena built with private funding and eager for a flagship tenant. Foley is joined by minority partners Joe and Gavin Maloof, the former owners of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.

Although ice doesn’t last long in the desert, Las Vegas has had an appetite for hockey since the Kings and New York Rangers played a memorable outdoor exhibition game here in 1991. Foley announced plans to devote considerable resources to building community interest in youth hockey, including a two-rink team training complex that will be “open to all.”

“I love Black Knights,” Foley said. The IHL’s Las Vegas Thunder sometimes drew more fans than UNLV’s beloved basketball team at the Thomas and Mack Arena in the 1990s, and the Minnesota Wild’s Jason Zucker leads a handful of locals who went on to hockey careers.

On a 109-degree day in the Mojave Desert’s gambling mecca, the NHL’s Board of Governors awarded the team to billionaire businessman Bill Foley, who is expected to pay $500 million to the NHL’s other owners as an expansion fee. Vegas was an economic boomtown in the previous decade, and the NHL is betting that its slowed growth hasn’t curbed the city’s appetite for sports and spectacles.

Along with a top-six pick in next year’s draft, the Vegas franchise will be stocked by a June 2017 expansion draft that will be more favorable than previous drafts, theoretically allowing Foley’s team to become competitive more quickly. “There is no doubt as to the suitability of the Videotron Centre as a home for a team, and there is no doubt regarding the ownership credentials or the eagerness to own a team of Quebecor, which has been an outstanding partner. I don’t think it will affect us.”

“We want everyone to be a fan,” said Foley, who fell in love with pond hockey while growing up in Canada. The new team will play in T-Mobile Arena, the $375 million building that opened just off the Las Vegas Strip in April.

“We think this is a tremendously exciting opportunity, not just for Las Vegas, but for the league as well,” Bettman said, calling Las Vegas “a vibrant, growing, global destination city.”

The NHL is expanding for the first time since 2000, when Minnesota and Columbus each paid $80 million to join the league.

. Foley has already accepted more than 14,000 season ticket deposits and sold out all 44 suites in the 17,500-seat rink built by MGM Resorts International and Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Los Angeles Kings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bettman also announced that an expansion bid from Quebec City was “deferred” indefinitely, allowing Las Vegas to enter the league alone in the Pacific Division. Las Vegas will have four nearby rivals — at least by West Coast standards: the league’s three California teams and the Arizona Coyotes.

The endurance of that appetite will depend on Foley’s ability to keep fans excited about the newest show in town, but the NHL seems confident it’s getting in early to a growing market. The league’s alignment and playoff format won’t change.

Foley hasn’t decided on a nickname or logo for his team, but an announcement could be made in the next few weeks

Sports betting vs. the stock market: Which is riskier?

CNNMoney (New York) First published August 31, 2014: 8:14 AM ET

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“A large, steady company has a low chance of plummeting and causing you to lose all your money, but even Peyton Manning doesn’t cover the spread sometimes,” he said. For example, a stop-loss order instructs a broker to dump a stock when it tumbles below a specific price.

“Betting is more difficult and riskier,” said one resident of Hoboken, New Jersey, who bets on illegal gambling sites and also invests in stocks.

Related: How $2 billion Clippers bet could pay off

Gamblers and investors also have far different time horizons. People often invest in funds that buy dozens or even hundreds of stocks, which helps reduce the risk.

“You can hold onto your betting tickets all your life, but you’re not going to get squat,” said Stovall. Gambling on sports may be more fun, but it’s definitely a more risky use of money than putting it in the stock market.

That’s the percentage of time that Stovall’s research shows the S&P 500 — the gold standard in the stock market — has increased in value during the years since 1926.

Even the unlucky investors who jumped into the market at its peak in October 2007 eventually made their money back when stocks reclaimed their pre-recession levels in 2013. Gambling on football star Peyton Manning to win might seem like a safe bet, especially compared with picking winners in the stock market. He asked for his identity to be withheld due to legal concerns.

Related: Apple and 9 other stocks hit new records

Investors also have the ability to spread their money out among many stocks.

All or nothing: Gambling on sports tends to be a zero-sum game.

The same can’t be said for those who bet big on the Denver Broncos last Super Bowl. And in neither instance can you be guaranteed to be correct,” said Randall Fine, managing director of The Fine Point Group, one of the casino industry’s largest consulting firms. The stock might go up and down some, but it typically doesn’t go to zero. While many stocks offer steady returns, investors sometimes hit the jackpot (think: buying Apple back in early 2009 or Tesla in 2012).

A stock can theoretically be held onto for an infinite amount of time, but a sports bet can end in the blink of an eye.

At the same time, investing in stocks actually carries higher upside potential.

And investors have greater access to tools that can minimize the risk of losing money.

“A lot of people regard investing as gambling, but I frequently say no.

“You’re making a wager based on some facts and some intuitions.

Manning is really, really good at what he does for a living.

Such hedging tools are not as readily or even feasible to sports gamblers, Fine said.

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But don’t let those similarities fool you.

Those are pretty good odds.

To put it another way, the stock market is a lot more forgiving than the MGM Grand (let alone your local sports bookie). A bettor gambling on the Green Bay Packers will instantly lose his or her entire $500 bet if Aaron Rodgers and his teammates fail to win or cover the spread.

They both believe they can predict the future, and they sometimes fall into the trap of making decisions with their hearts instead of their brains.

In the long run, investors have the chance to make more money because there are fewer downside risks.

However, someone sinking $500 into Apple stock has little risk of losing that entire initial investment, especially in the short term. Which casino in Atlantic City, Las Vegas or Macau pays the bettor 73% of the time?” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at S&P Capital IQ.

But take it from one person who has lots of experience in both worlds. And of course, they both hate to lose.

Related: 4 reasons September could be good for stocks

The betting appeal: Americans bet an estimated $380 billion each year on sports. It’s easy to see why fans may be tempted to gamble on their favorite teams and athletes. Heck, even his commercials are funny