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Saturday, September 7, 2019

My Favorite Free Las Vegas Attractions part 2

In my last post, I started telling you about my favorite things to do in Vegas if you don't want to spend any money. Believe it or not, there are quite a few things that are absolutely free to do. If you don't want to spend your entire trip on The Strip and you're willing to rent a car or Uber somewhere else, then that opens up a whole new world of Las Vegas for you.

Every year I try to find more new things to check out, so I can bring you some of the best. A few of these are old favorites and some of them are new, but you're going to want to check out some of them.

Pinball Hall of Fame

This will soon be moved to The Strip, but right now it's a mile or so away on Tropicana in a very non-descript warehouse with no windows. Inside you'll find hundreds of vintage pinball and arcade games. Each game has a card on it with info on the game and manufacturer. You can even play these games, though you will have to shell out money for that, but most play on just one quarter, so you can get a good chunk of entertainment out of just $5.

Ethel M's Chocolate Factory & Cactus Garden

This is another destination we hit up nearly every time we're in town. You can watch the process of chocolate-making in their working factory for free, get samples, and browse all the different kinds of chocolates they make or pick up a non-edible souvenir, like a magnet or souvenir. Outside is an extensive cactus garden, which you may have seen on my Instagram stories. There are even ones that I haven't seen, coming from Arizona. It's really tranquil, even when it's 115 degrees outside. 

Downtown Arts District

Downtown Las Vegas has so much more than it used to. In fact, it's no longer the dirty, sketch place it was, and now has a revamped look with the city working with local artists for murals and sculptures and other types of art. One of my favorites this year was the bright pink The Empty Club by artist Andre Saraiva, who specializes in French aesthetic. Eric enjoyed the giant fallen robot right next to it. 

Container Park

If you've not been to the Container Park yet, you need to go! I always suggest going at night, but you really should do it during the day and then return after dark to get the full genius of it. The Container park is a collection of shops and eateries made of shipping containers. Inside you'll find a huge playground for kids and a fake grassy area. After 9pm, the park is only open to 21+ and they host activities such as movies on the lawn, wine tasting and live entertainment. 

Out front is a giant metal praying mantis that was part of Burning Man. After dark, it shoots fire to music. You'll also find The Dome, a dome that houses music shows like the planetarium. I wrote about it here. You can also see a video of the praying mantis at work.

Fremont Street Experience

Maybe you've been afraid to go downtown at night time, but know that you will find the area patrolled heavily by police, so you really shouldn't worry too much about your safety. I enjoy visiting Fremont during the day as well, but you'll find a whole different vibe when the sun's still up. Depending on when you visit, daytime Fremont is pretty chill, though you'll find the same "showgirl" and "celebrity" photo ops anytime, you may also see some interesting street shows. On our last visit, we stopped to watch a saxophonist do a set. You can also get your palm read, buy souvenirs and people watch. 

When night falls, you will find tons of free music (there are three stages that run all at once), and each hour they turn the lights down for you to turn your eyes upwards to watch the Fremont Street Experience. There is a light canopy that runs two blocks. Music plays and the lights create patterns, show videos, and chase each other throughout the show, which can last 3-5 minutes. Tourists flood the street at night, so if you're not a fan of crowds, this might not be for you. 

This last visit, I had a tip from a fellow blogger about a vintage toy store on Fremont Street, so we went in search of it. It's called Toy Shack and it is packed floor to ceiling with amazing vintage toys from all decades, as well as some new stuff. Many of the things inside I've never seen before. They don't mind if you take pics and video and are happy to haggle with you if you're reasonable. It's definitely worth a look inside, plus it's air conditioned, so it's a nice break from the heat outside.

You can visit Fremont Street, the Container Park and see a ton of street art all within a few blocks of each other, so if you're looking for the biggest bang for your drive/ride, this is it.

Lyft Art Park

Right across the street from Fremont Street Experience is a funky little art park sponsored by Lyft. It's not large, but everything is from local artists, it's free, and you can even sit and rest inside or play giant cornhole. I loved it! Each time we visit, it seems Lyft is sponsoring a different cool art project. Just keep your eyes peeled while you're walking around. You'll also see revamped, retired neon hotel signs up and down the street.

Seven Magic Mountains

If you haven't seen the colorful photos of people visiting this art project in the desert, you might be living under a (normal, non-painted) rock. It's a bit of a drive out of the city, but I thought I was going to miss its run when I didn't visit last July. I was really excited to find they had extended the project for a further 2 years (and wonder if they won't just leave it indefinitely). The Seven Magic Mountains are seven stacks of painted rocks that contrast sharply with the surrounding brown and muted green desert landscape. It's quite surreal and the stacked boulders are pretty amazing. 

We did a lot of sightseeing this trip, spending most of our money on food and basketball tickets. I'll be talking about coffee shops and other foods in Sin City in another post, so stay tuned for that. 

What are your favorite free activities in Las Vegas, or what are you hoping to do on your next trip?

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