With more vacation time and family likely to visit around the holidays, it’s the perfect time to find fun things to do that don’t break the bank. Here’s a collection of fun, free activities all around the state to enjoy with your friends and family.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Great Basin National Park
There are no entrance fees for Great Basin National Park! This incredibly beautiful park is located near Baker, NV in the central eastern part of the state.
2. Bellagio Conservatory
The conservatory in the Bellagio hotel features a different exhibit each season of the year, as well as a display for Chinese New Year. The exhibits are all free and exquisite! (You can also take a walk outside to see the famous Bellagio fountains which are free as well!)
3. Ghost towns
Nevada has several fun ghost towns you can visit for free, such as Rhyolite, Goldfield, Belmont and Beatty. In fact, did you know Nevada has more ghost towns than towns occupied by living people?
4. Seven Magic Mountains
Nevada is known for many whimsical road-side sculptures, all of which are free to visit. One of the newest is Seven Magic Mountains, which is located on the I-15 about ten miles south of the city of Las Vegas.
5. Thunder Mountain Monument
This is a very unusual set of sculptures and buildings created with recycled materials. The site is a State of Nevada Historic Site Restoration Project located on I-80 near Imlay. The monument is free to visit although donations are gratefully accepted.
6. River Walk in Laughlin
The mighty Colorado River runs through Laughlin. There is a paved, and in some areas lighted, trail along the river starting from Lake Mohave. This walk has beautiful views of the river and the town.
7. Circus Acts
The Circus Circus casino has free circus acts that run each day starting at 11 am. You can watch everything from jugglers to trapeze artists to aerial silk acts (a list of the current performers is always available on the casino's website). Circus Circus is located at 2880 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas.
8. Idlewild Park
Reno has its own beautiful river walk along the Truckee River with access to many lovely parks. Idlewild is one of these parks. It covers 49 acres and includes walking and running trails, duck ponds, a rose garden, children's playgrounds and more.
9. Sam's Town Hotel & Gambling Hall's Mystic Falls Laser Light Show
Sam's Town is a "locals" casino in Las Vegas that's known for its spectacular free entertainment, the Mystic Falls Laser Light Show. The 10-minute show inside of a 25,000 square foot atrium includes a waterfall, animatronic animals and a laser show. The show runs every day at 2, 6, 8 and 10 pm. There's a Christmas version during the winter holidays. Sam's Town is located at 511 Boulder Highway, Las Vegas.
10. Historic walks
Nevadans cherish their role in the history of the United States. You can find many towns with a rich historical heritage preserved for visitors with free self-guided walking tours, such as the Kit Carson Trail in Carson City and the Historic Walking Tour in Virginia City, NV (which comes with a free downloadable app for your phone!)
11. Hoover Dam
It's free to walk around the Hoover Dam (the tour inside is $15). Parking is $10 but it's free (shhh!) on the Arizona side of the dam.
Nevada is a fantastic place for stargazing because we have some of the blackest skies in the U.S. Tonopah was ranked #1 by USA Today for star gazing in the U.S. and the town has even mapped out "star trail" roads for visitors. Another great location for star gazing is Great Basin National Park which holds an astronomy festival once a year and its new observatory just opened this year.
13. Calico Basin Red Springs
Visiting the spectacular Red Rock Canyon Recreation Area requires a day use fee, but many people aren't aware of the Calico Basin Red Springs Park, which can be accessed just before the entrance to the larger recreation area. Visiting Calico Basin is free and this delightful spot has picnic areas and hiking trails and a boardwalk trail as well. The park is located off State Road 159 on Calico Basin Road, about two miles from the Red Rock Visitor Center.
14. Silverton Casino Aquarium
The Silverton is another "locals" casino in Las Vegas located at 3333 Blue Diamond Road. The 117,000 gallon aquarium holds tropical fish, stingrays and sharks. A "mermaid" visits the aquarium and greets guests several times a day. You can also watch feeding shows twice daily. And if you really love watching fish, the Bass Pro Shop located in the Silverton also has an 18,000 gallon freshwater aquarium with koi fish, and three smaller aquariums with catfish, carp, bass, trout, sturgeon, turtles and ducks.
15. Galena Creek Regional Park
Nevada has many wonderful free regional parks around the state. One gem is located in Washoe County near Reno. The Galena Creek Regional Park is absolutely gorgeous. There are picnic areas, walking trails, fishing and plenty of other outdoor activities. The forests, mountain views and the bubbling creeks in the park make this a nature lover's dream.
Do you have fun things in the state you enjoy doing that are free? Share your recommendations in the comments!