LAS VEGAS -- You don’t have to be an avid gambler to enjoy the thrill of Las Vegas. Aside from the casino games, there are plenty of activities that do not involve luck or risk. That’s because every entertainment option is a surefire winner.
Whether it’s burlesque revues, rollercoasters, white tigers, celebrity impersonators, circus acts or magic shows, there’s something for everyone in Vegas.
Like sports? This city is now home to three pro teams: the Golden Knights NHL team, which, during its inaugural season, made an incredible appearance in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final; the Las Vegas Lights FC soccer team; and the Aces, the WNBA’s newest franchise.
Enjoy new hotels? The Park MGM and Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas opened in 2018, and Bally’s Las Vegas recently completed a $125 million renovation.
Passionate about music? Lionel Richie and Barry Manilow are among Vegas artists with shows in October.
With so many choices and so little time, chances are you won’t be catching up on sleep or suntanning by the hotel pool. Instead, get out and explore some of the countless temptations Sin City has to offer. To aid you in this endeavor, we’ve created this convenient guide, featuring recommendations for the best events, diversions and can’t-miss amenities that overlap with the NACS Show, Oct. 7-10.
Vegas is never short on fresh flavors or new amusements, as evidenced by these recently opened additions.
Big Apple Coaster at New York-New York. Take a ride on this roller coaster (pictured), which bills itself as the first virtual-reality (VR) ride to incorporate popular current landmarks into its visuals. The Big Apple Coaster combines drops, high speeds and G-forces for a seriously fun 4D experience. (From $15; 800-689-1797; newyorknewyork.com)
Inferno: The Fire Spectacular at Paris Las Vegas. The Strip has been set ablaze—thanks to the fiery power of this hot new show headed by European illusionist Joe Labero and his cadre of aerial and pyro pros. With jaw-dropping fire stunts and explosive pyrotechnics, Inferno is bound to get your temperature rising. (From $37; 866-287-2028; infernoshow.com)
Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire at the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian and The Palazzo. Employing cutting-edge VR technology, this attraction promises an interactive multisensory experience like no other in this galaxy. The setup: You and other rebels must collaborate to penetrate an Imperial stronghold and abscond with vital secrets critical to your cause. Star Wars characters join along the journey. (From $33; 702-414-4525; thevoid.com/locations/lasvegas)
“A Mob Story” at Plaza Hotel & Casino. Perhaps Vegas’ worst-kept secret is that it got its start with backing from the Mafia. The city’s last godfather, Michael Franzese, will tell the story, including how the mob got pushed out, in this original production created and directed by Emmy and Golden Globe award-winner Jeff Kutash. Combining choreography, 180-degree visual effects and modern music, this toe-tapper tells a warts-and-all tale you won’t want to miss. (From $60; 800-634-6575; plazahotelcasino.com)
“Marilyn! The New Musical” at Paris Las Vegas. In a city known for glitz and sex appeal, it’s only fitting that Marilyn Monroe, icon of the 20th century, gets her own musical. Based on Monroe’s life story, “Marilyn!” boasts esteemed Broadway actress Ruby Lewis as the title character. You’ll hear 20 original show tunes, along with staples from the blond bombshell, including “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” and witness the rise and fall of one of Hollywood’s most dazzling and tragic stars. (From $49; 877-796-2096; caesars.com/paris-las-vegas)
MUSIC, MAGIC AND MIRTH
Elvis tributes aren’t the only stage acts Vegas is famous for. Check out these live performances in October too.
Barry Manilow at Westgate International Theater. From “Copacabana” and “Mandy” to “Looks Like We Made It” and “I Write the Songs,” Barry Manilow has a repertoire of classic hits that made him a pop music legend in the 1970s. Relive those glory years and bask in the brilliance of Barry’s evergreen voice by attending one of his limited Vegas engagements. October performance dates are Oct. 4-6 and Oct. 11-13. (From $54; 886-287-2018; westgateresorts.com)
Criss Angel Mindfreak Live at the Luxor (pictured). He’s been dubbed the “Magician of the Century.” He’s also been featured on prime-time TV more than any other magician and has broken multiple records in the world of magic. But with Mindfreak Live, Criss Angel is reinventing the art of illusion and treating audiences to stunts, tricks and effects they won’t forget. October performance dates include Oct. 3-7 and Oct. 10-14. (From $76; 886-278-2028; luxor.com)
KA by Cirque du Soleil at the MGM Grand. Two royal twins have become separated by wicked warriors after their palace is attacked. Death-defying acrobatics ensue. And that’s all you need to know to thoroughly enjoy KA, which tells a unique, nonverbal story through aerial choreography, dazzling costumes and a stage that rotates, flips and serves as a character unto itself. October performance dates include Oct. 6-10. (From $81; 866-287-2028; mgmgrand.com)
Lionel Richie at Planet Hollywood. He might not literally end up “Dancing on the Ceiling” or singing “All Night Long,” but chances are those numbers will be in Lionel Richie’s set list, among many other fan favorites, such as “Hello,” “Say You, Say Me,” “You Are” and “Running With the Night.” He’s likely to mine his Commodores gold, too, and leave you pleading for multiple encores. October performances include Oct. 5-6, 10, 12-13. (From $79; 866-287-2028; caesars.com/planet-hollywood)
Ray Romano and David Spade at The Mirage. These guys know funny. Ray Romano was the Emmy Award-winning star of the hit series “Everybody Loves Raymond” for nine seasons, and David Spade blazed a strong comedy trail in TV shows such as “Saturday Night Live” and “Just Shoot Me,” as well as in films such as “Tommy Boy” and “Black Sheep.” Together, they pack a strong one-two comedy punch that will demonstrate their solid stand-up skills and leave you laughing all the way back to the blackjack table. October performance dates are Oct. 5-6. (From $111; 866-287-2028; mirage.com)
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors preseason NBA game at T-Mobile Arena. This exhibition match pits the current NBA champions against an up-and-coming squad of impressive talent. Can LeBron James turn the Lakers into a title contender? How many threes will the Warriors’ Steph Curry hit? And can Kevin Durant continue his Finals MVP-caliber brilliance? Catch this contest at 7 p.m. Oct. 10 to find out. (From $30; 702-692-1600; t-mobilearena.com)
FROLICKING WITH THE FAMILY
Brought the kids along on this trip? Rack up some parent popularity points by exploring these all-ages attractions.
Marvel’s Avengers Station at Treasure Island. After conquering movie theaters, theme parks and mass merchandise, comic-book favorites have infiltrated Vegas—further proof that superheroes rule the world. This brand-new attraction takes you on a tour of all things Avengers, showcasing authentic costumes, props and re-creations from the Marvel movies, including Captain America’s shield, Iron Man’s Hulkbuster armor, Bruce Banner’s lab and Black Widow’s uniform. Vivid state-of-the-art effects bring “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” to life, and a wealth of knowledge about each character and their weapons is a button push away. (From $32; 702-894-7111; treasureisland.com)
Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage. Treat the young’uns to some old-school animal fun by visiting this legendary attraction, launched by Siegfried and Roy back in 1990. The Dolphin Habitat serves as a research facility, where these intelligent sea creatures can be viewed, and the Secret Garden is a lush tropical environment populated with leopards, tigers and lions. You won’t see trained animal tricks, but you will see nature conservation at its best and endangered species treated with awe and respect. (From $22; 800-963-9634; mirage.com)
Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay. Sharp-toothed terrors of the deep aren’t the only creatures on display at Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef. About 2,000 animals can be viewed here, among them an 8-foot-long Komodo dragon and several crocodiles. Little guests will get a kick out of the touch pool. (From $20; 877-632-7000; mandalaybay.com)
Madame Tussauds at The Venetian. You likely won’t find celebrities such as Beyonce, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Shaq or Katy Perry hanging out at the casino clubs or roulette tables. But you can see these celebs and more en masse and in wax at Madame Tussauds (pictured), the world-famous purveyor of famous fakes that make you do a double-take. The 30,000-square-foot Vegas location has more than 100 replicas that are perfect for group selfies. (From $30; 866-287-2028; madametussauds.com/las-vegas)
Las Vegas area tours. Mother Nature has plenty more to offer beyond the Vegas Strip, and a guided excursion to one of these natural attractions provides a great cure for sensory overload. Book a bucket list outing to places such as the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Guano Point, Valley of Fire, Mojave Desert, Zion National Park, Red Rock Canyon, Colorado River or Hidden Valley. Visit lasvegas.com/tours for tour packages, prices and contact information.
ON THE HOUSE
Give your wallet a break and savor these free enticements while in town.
Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. No Vegas vacation is complete without a look-see at the Bellagio’s oral wonderland—a feast for the eyes, fingers and olfactory organ. While on hotel grounds, don’t miss the Bellagio’s famous fountains or lobby ceiling either. (866-983-4279; bellagio.com)
Fall of Atlantis at Caesars Forum Shops. The mythical underwater realm of Atlantis springs to life in this attraction (pictured), courtesy of animatronic statues and well-designed water and fire effects. Learn how this oceanic paradise met its demise (hint: familial squabbling over the royal throne) or just stick around to marvel at the 20-foot winged dragon. (866-983-4179; caesars.com)
World's Largest Permanent Circus at Circus Circus. Bring the kids, or your inner child, to this attraction, the name of which says it all. It checks all the boxes for a classic circus act, with unicyclists, acrobats, jugglers, clowns, trapeze artists and strongmen, and it won’t cost a dime. (866-983-4279; circuscircus.com)
The Volcano at The Mirage. Volcanic eruptions can quickly ruin a vaca (think Hawaii earlier this year), but The Mirage’s renowned mountain of lava is likely to be a trip highlight. The two volcano systems, fire shooters, lagoon and memorable soundtrack—boasting original music and actual volcanic sound effects—will make you feel like Frodo at the foot of Mount Doom. (866-983-4279; mirage.com)
The Aquarium at the Silverton. At this attraction, mermaids come to life and perform an underwater ballet, divers feed stingrays and more than 4,000 colorful fish swim about in a 117,000-gallon reef aquarium. (866-983-4279; silvertoncasino.com)