There's plenty to do in Las Vegas that's not on the typical tourist routes.
You can find thousands (millions?) of articles about the latest and greatest attractions and experiences in Las Vegas. Even in 2019, however, there are dozens of things to do in Sin City that elude mainstream attention and continue to fly under the radar. These well-kept secrets provide some of the most wonderful surprises. Here, then, in no particular order, are some of our favorites.
The View From Rivea
Rivea, the Alain Ducasse-helmed restaurant at the top of Delano Las Vegas, has one of the most incredible views of the Las Vegas Strip and the entire Vegas Valley. Naturally, then, if you book a table near one of the windows facing north, it’s a spectacular place to spend an important meal. Ducasse is famous for his French cuisine, and the menu has a notably Mediterranean flair. Surprisingly, the wine list has a treasure-trove of great California wines, too.
Golden Knights Game Parties at City National Arena
Can’t get a ticket to see the Las Vegas Golden Knights play live at T-Mobile Arena? Just head to City National Arena in Summerlin, where game-days are all-out parties at the on-site Mackenzie River Pizza Pub & Grill. The bar airs all Knights games on its big screens and offers a variety of food and drink specials to keep the masses happy. Because City National doubles as the team’s practice facility, energy levels are high—most of the time, you feel as if you’re right behind the glass at center ice.
Jazz Brunch at NoMad Bar
Get your groove on every Sunday at the NoMad Bar inside Park MGM. From 11 to 2, the bar pairs its special brunch menu with live jazz and delicious cocktails. Menu items include lemon poppyseed pancakes with whipped ricotta and blueberries, and a breakfast burrito with suckling pig, eggs, spinach, and chile de arbol. There’s also a delicious spin on a margarita, served in a giant copper chicken. Be sure to make a reservation, as waits can be long.
Late-night at the Peppermill
All-nighters in Vegas aren’t the same without a stop at the Peppermill. Yes, the North Strip fixture has classic diner dishes such as club sandwiches and mozzarella cheese sticks. But the real reasons to go are the scorpion bowls, the 1980s music videos that play on a loop, and the sunken fire pits—some of which have bubbling fountains. The vibe at the Peppermill isn’t necessarily Old Vegas, but it’s throwback enough to make you feel like you’ve entered another dimension for an hour, which is never not fun.
National Atomic Testing Museum
One of the best ways to bone up on the history of the Las Vegas Valley as a testing site for atomic bombs is to visit the National Atomic Testing Museum, on the East Side. The main collection comprises more than 3,500 artifacts, and the museum houses more than 16,000 official government and unofficial personal photos. Perhaps the best (and most disturbing) exhibit is a simulated atom bomb blast, which unfolds in a space that museum officials call “Ground Zero Theater.”
Sword-swallowers! Hula-hooping experts! Raunchy humor! Sci-fi drama! Opium, one of three zany shows from Spiegelworld, has all of it and more. The show unfolds in the Opium Theater in the Chelsea Tower at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. It’s a schlep from the casino floor, but the feats of derring-do are totally worth the hike. House mixologist Mariena Mercer also has created a menu of eccentric drinks for the theater bars, including one that comes in a bag and another that comes with pop rocks.
Seven Magic Mountains
The seven towers that comprise Ugo Rondinone’s “Seven Magic Mountains” stand alone in the desert 10 miles south of Mandalay Bay, commanding attention from just about every angle. Each tower is composed of giant boulders painted different colors; each tops out at about 30 feet tall. Since it opened in May 2016 the art installation has become a favorite spot for selfies. If you’re single, it’s also a popular pick-up spot.
Sin City Smash
Everybody needs to let off some steam now and again, and the rage rooms at Sin City Smash are great (and safe!) places to get it done. The place is built on the concept of “Destruction Therapy.” You pay for a set amount of time to lock yourself in a room, take a hammer, and break as much as you possibly can. This particular facility even lets customers bring their own stuff to smash. It’s a surprisingly fun and cathartic way to spend an afternoon.
Everybody knows mobsters ran their own under-the-radar drinking establishments, so it should come as no surprise that the Mob Museum has a speakeasy of its own. Dubbed “The Underground,” this bar and working brewery sits on the basement level and has a separate door. A password—available on the bar’s social media channels—is required for entry (or you can use your ticket to get in from the museum itself). The menu re-creates classic cocktails from the Rat Pack days. Beer brewed on-site is available, too.
Since it opened in 1996, the Neon Museum has become a popular spot to relive the neon glory of Old Vegas. Brilliant!, which began in 2018 and is ticketed separately, takes this homage to new heights. The action unfolds in a small lot of old signs to the north of the main Boneyard; over the course of about 30 minutes, an elaborate laser light show projected onto the signs has the effect of bringing them back to life. Think of the experience like a musical history of Vegas told by signs. It’s worth the extra $20.