One of the best things about Las Vegas is that there is something for everyone to enjoy no matter what your interests are. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Vegas regular, or you’ve never been here, there’s always something new to check out and probably something you haven’t tried yet. Whatever kind of trip you’re planning, whether it’s to indulge in nightlife or take advantage of recreational opportunities available around the city, we’ve put together a guide that will help you plot out your entire stay, from where to grab dinner to where to buy your souvenirs.
Where to Stay: If it’s your first trip to Vegas, you’ll probably want to stay somewhere in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip to be close to all of the action and be able to walk to as many places as possible. Some choices near the center of the Strip are Harrah’s, the Flamingo, the Bellagio and Caesars Palace. Another area with a lot going on is the corner of Tropicana and the Strip, which is home to New York-New York, the MGM Grand, the Tropicana and the Excalibur hotels. There are elevated walkways between all of the properties to make it easier to get from one to another.
Where to Eat: Even if you haven’t been here, you’ve probably heard about Las Vegas buffets and just about every hotel has one that allows you to indulge in all you can eat for a relatively economic price. One of the biggest and most varied is the Carnival World Buffet at the Rio, which offers everything from seafood to Asian specialties and Mexican dishes. Las Vegas is also home to many restaurants from some of the biggest celebrity chefs in the world so you might want to try Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, Emeril Lagasse’s Table 10 or Thomas Keller’s Bouchon.
Where to Shop: Sure you have shopping malls back at home, but we guarantee you’ve never seen one like this. The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace features Roman architecture, fountains, talking statues, spiral escalators and a faux sky that changes colors. Oh, and did we mention you can browse shops like Versace, FAO Schwarz and Pucci?
Attractions to See: Start with the famous Welcome to Las Vegas Sign — you’ve seen it on TV and in photos and you should get your picture taken there to commemorate your trip. A few other must-sees for the first-time visitor: the Bellagio fountains and conservatory, Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, Hoover Dam and free shows like the Sirens of TI and the volcano at the Mirage.
Entertainment: Nothing says Vegas like showgirls and if you’ve never seen one, then you’ll want to head to Bally’s to see “Jubilee!” The showgirls are everything you expect to see in a Vegas production show, wearing 1,000 different costumes made with 8,000 miles of sequins. Las Vegas is also home to big-name Broadway shows like “Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular,” “Jersey Boys” and “Disney’s The Lion King.”
The Art Lover
Where to Stay: Art lovers will want to stay at one of two properties – CityCenter or Bellagio – and luckily there just happens to be a tram between the two. Bellagio is home to the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art and a chandelier by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. Visitors can also see the Art of Richard MacDonald Presented by Cirque du Soleil, an exhibit of broze sculptures and original sketches. CityCenter is home to the first major permanent collection of art in Las Vegas to be integrated into a public space. The Fine Art Collection features works by acclaimed artists, sculptors and visionaries including Maya Lin, Jenny Holzer and Claes Oldenburg, among others. The Gallery at CityCenter, a 4,350-square-foot facility located within the Crystals shopping center, features artwork from Chihuly.
Where to Eat: Picasso restaurant at Bellagio serves the cuisine of award-winning Executive Chef Julian Serrano and surrounds diners with an extensive collection of original Pablo Picasso artwork. The restaurant’s entrance is also a tribute to the artist with wood beams, terra-cotta tile and hanging pottery.
Where to Shop: Inside the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, art lovers will appreciate the Peter Max and Peter Lik galleries. Peter Max’s gallery features abstract, psychedelic art while the art of Peter Lik showcases his vivid, digitally-enhanced photographs. Centaur Art Galleries at the Fashion Show mall features masterpieces from notable artists from the 16th century to modern times.
Attractions to See: In Vegas, neon is definitely an art form, so head downtown and check out the Neon Museum, a self-guided walking tour of 10 fully restored neon signs, all located downtown, mainly along the Fremont Street Experience. If you’re downtown on the first Friday of the month, the city’s arts distict hosts a festival covering more than 20 city blocks where you can make the rounds of all the galleries and shops.
Entertainment: If you are checking out the downtown arts district, stop in for a drink at the Downtown Cocktail Room, a sophisticated and swank gathering place filled with stylish modern design and interesting art. If it’s a show you’re after, “Crazy Horse Paris” at MGM Grand bills itself as “a celebration of the artistry of the nude,” and features beautiful female dancers whose bodies become canvases upon which light, colors and images are projected.
The Outdoors Enthusiast
Where to Stay: To be close to all of the outdoor adventure that Red Rock Canyon offers, the closest place to stay is the Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa, which is just minutes from the National Conservation Area where you can rock climb, hike, bike and horseback ride. The hotel’s spa also offers an Adventure Spa program with outdoor activities including river rafting and guided hikes.
Where to Eat: Nature lovers will enjoy the Springs Preserve, a 180-acre cultural and historical attraction that features gardens, hiking trails and Wolfgang Puck’s Springs Cafe. The restaurant participates in the WELL program (Wolfgang’s Eating, Loving and Living program), which is dedicated to providing the freshest ingredients while contributing to the conscious treatment of the environment.
Where to Shop: The District at Green Valley Ranch is an outdoor mall with more than 40 shops and restaurants including an REI store, which carries every piece of outdoor sporting equipment imaginable. In the warmer months, the mall often has free outdoor concerts and movies.
Attractions to See: Besides Red Rock Canyon, outdoor adventurers will want to enjoy boating, hiking and swimming at Lake Mead. In the winter months at Mount Charleston you can ski, snowboard and sled. For the thrillseeker, don’t miss Bootleg Canyon Flightlines, a zip-line tour in Boulder City that takes you soaring through desert and mountain terrain at up to 50 mph.
Entertainment: If you want to dance under the stars you can literally do that at Moon nightclub at the Palms. The club has a retractable roof like you’d see on a planetarium and if you want to head outside, there’s a sizable patio too.
The Night Owl
Where to Stay: If you’re looking to hit up as many nightspots as you possibly can, you might want to book a room at Luxor or Mandalay Bay. The two properties are connected by a walkway and between the two, you can cover many of the hottest clubs and bars in Vegas. Luxor is home to LAX and CatHouse nightclubs and Mandalay Bay offers a stunning array of nightlife choices including the Foundation Room, Mix Lounge, the House of Blues, Eyecandy Sound Lounge & Bar, Red Square vodka bar, Rumjungle nightclub, and Minus 5, a bar made of ice.
Where to Eat: For a restaurant with a nightclub vibe, there’s nothing sexier than CatHouse at Luxor, a French-style restaurant with a well-rounded menu from Chef Kerry Simon and a great lounge / nightlife atmosphere, open until 11 p.m. If you’re out really late, First Food and Bar at Palazzo is open until 4 a.m. during the week and 6 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The restaurant has a full bar, a DJ and some amazing food – don’t miss out on the warm donuts served with delicious dipping sauces.
Where to Shop: Malls that are attached to hotels are generally open pretty late and we recommend the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood – after you’re buying that cute new outift, you can stop in to party at Hawaiian Tropic Zone or Cabo Wabo, both located in the mall.
Attractions to See: Vegas is a 24-hour town and if you’re up late, there’s always something to do. Head over to the Rio and watch the Show in the Sky, a parade of floats gliding over the casino floor complete with singing and dancing performers. The show runs until midnight Thursday – Sunday. Looking for something even more exciting? The thrill rides on top of the Stratosphere are open until 2 a.m. on weekends.
Entertainment: There are plenty of shows in Vegas that have 10 p.m. or later show times including Blue Man Group (10 p.m. nightly at Venetian), Matt Goss (10 p.m. Fri. and Sat. at the Palms), X Burlesque (10 p.m. nightly at Flamingo) and Playboy Comedy (10:30 p.m. Fri. and Sat. at the Palms).