Las Vegas has some of the most exciting shows and entertainment options available among all the cities of the world. While some of the past best free shows are no longer operating, the following are seven of the most entertaining shows available in Las Vegas today (Updated 2015). Some shows have morphed and changed over time, but these are the best you'll find available for free when you make your trip to Las Vegas.
Water fountain show at Bellagio Hotel. The water is delicately and tastefully synchronized to music and typically near the end of the song, the water will reach its highest peaks, up to 240 feet high. It's very impressive. The shows are short- 5 minutes or so, but a must see. Mon - Fri, 3:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., a show every 1/2 hour and 8:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m., a show every 15 minutes. On Saturday & Sunday, 12:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., a show every 1/2 hour, and 8:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m., a show every 15 minutes.
Fall of Atlantis show at Caesars Palace Forum Shops. It features statues that move and talk, debating who is a better warrior. Fountains appear to erupt and dazzling lights and sound touch the senses in a setting that is beautiful and impressive. A 20-foot dragon appears near the end of the 10-15 minute show. Nearby is a 50,000 gallon saltwater tank with small sharks, rays, tropical fish, and other sea creatures.
Sunset Stampede Laser Light Show at Mystic Falls Park at Sam's Town. Music, dancing water, fog, and a laser light show attempt to dazzle the senses in this free show located 6.5 miles east of Caesar's Palace, along Flamingo Rd). Shows at 2 pm, 4 pm, 6 pm, 8 pm and 10 pm daily.
Circus Show at Circus Circus Hotel. The show features juggling, aerial acrobatics, trapeze stunts, and clowns. The show is held throughout the day on the floor above the main casino. While you would think it's always a family friendly show, one show was by a man and woman who were scantily clad and groping each other in provocative poses, apparently somewhat 'acrobatic' in nature. It was awkward seeing little 4 year olds watch that from the front row.
Volcano at the Mirage Hotel. The show is short, about 5 minutes, and occurs in the evenings, approximately every hour at dark. It's basically the water fountains lit up with red lights, supplemented by some real fire here and there, and audio rumbles. It's not worth making a special trip to see, but something to check out if you're already in the hotel area.
Lake of Dreams Show at Wynn Hotel. A short light and music show Wynn offers nightly in front of it's pretty 40 foot waterfall. TIP: there's a balcony on the 2nd floor (near the weird circular escalators) you can walk out on and view for free instead of feeling compelled to pay for drinks at the bar on ground level.
Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas. This free light show appears in the evening (when it's dark), every hour. Two million lights are animated to music and appear on a canopy that is 1,500 feet long and 90 feet tall. Underneath the canopy are a variety of activities, including street performers, musical artists, and zip lining (fee). The light show itself feels a little dated, as they try to project graphics on light bulbs that are low-resolution for today's standards. With HDTVs everywhere these days, this hourly show about 7 minutes long is due for an upgrade and not worth going just for that. However, if you've never been to Freemont Street, with the free live music, street performers, it is a must-see experience. Highly recommended is a sax player, Carl Ferris, who is very talented.
17 more fun free things to do in Las Vegas that are 'kinda cool':
View a mermaid feeding fish at the Silverton hotel. Connected to it is a Bass Pro Shop, which is actually more impressive with its waterfalls, animal displays (including lions, tigers, deer, and a life-size taxidermied giraffe), and another aquarium with sturgeon. If you've been to a Caballa's or Bass Pro Shops before, it's pretty much the same, but if you've never seen it, it's like a free museum of lots of animals, a shooting gallery and every kind of outdoor toy you can imagine.
See the canals of Venice along with singers and performers in St. Marks Square in the Venetian Hotel
Nightly, there's an occasional projection on the clock tower at the Venetian (outside along the strip) which is kinda neat.
Flamingos, birds, and wildlife at the Flamingo hotel. For an old hotel, it has an impressively large pool surrounded by much palm trees and much shade, including shade coming from the hotel building itself. So, on a hot summer day, this area makes it seem cooler and like quite an oasis.
Aquariums in Las Vegas
Las Vegas seems to like aquariums, as there's a lot of them.
Silverton Aquarium. 117,000-gallon saltwater aquarium, plus Bass Pro Shops (connected) has one with a sturgeon (free)
Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay (is expensive and maybe not worth the price)
Secret Garden and Dolphin exhibit at Mirage (fee) more info
Mirage hotel lobby has a huge aquarium (free)
Caesar's Palace Forum Shops has aquariums- a large one with rays and a smaller one with seahorses at the 'seahorse bar'- very interesting creatures to see up close. (free)
Golden Nugget has a shark tank you can actually ride a waterslide through more info (fee to get into pool area or to arrange a tour).
Rainforest Cafe at MGM has a couple small aquariums with tropical fish
Some of the other Las Vegas hotels/malls have smaller aquariums too
Did you know THIS about Las Vegas?
MGM Grand used to have a full 33 acre amusement park behind its casino, but they tore it all down to make room for condos and a larger pool.
MGM Grand had one massive entrance where people entered the casino through the mouth of a lion. It was soon remodeled, because Asian guests thought it was bad luck. They used to have a light show near their front entrance, too.
Luxor used to have a laser light show with lasers coming out the eyes of the sphynx.
Luxor used to have a Nile River boat ride that took passengers around the inside perimeter of the hotel.
Tropicana used to have a laser light show in front of its hotel.
Tropicana used to have a free air show inside the casino which operated above the main gaming area, featuring ladies dancing and performing acrobatics.
Caesars Palace had a laser light show in the Forum Shops.
A $6 million impressively decorated restaurant with real race cars and a monster truck as part of its decor, Race Rock, existed in downtown Las Vegas; it went bankrupt, relating to a host of issues with its location.
Many of the best free attractions have unfortunately closed, like the pirate battle show that used to exist at the Treasure Island (TI) Hotel and the Masquerade Show in the Sky at the Rio, or the lion exhibit at the MGM. Much of the costs have been reallocated to other revenue-generating activities, like more shops or beach/pool clubs. See what some of these shows looked like.