When you visit Las Vegas, the choices can be overwhelming. The city offers some of the best restaurants, shops, nightclubs, entertainment and sightseeing in the world. Everywhere you look there’s something new and exciting to do, so where do you start? To make it easier for you, our staff has compiled a list of what we think are the Top 10 Vegas Must-Dos. We also thought we’d ask the advice of some of our fans on Facebook who travel to our city on a regular basis.And, to round it out, we talked to some of Sin City’s favorite celebrities to see what they say you absolutely can’t miss when you’re here.
1) Take a photo by the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada sign.
The sign, created in 1959, is an iconic symbol of Las Vegas. You’ve seen it on souvenir T-shirts and key chains and if you haven’t seen it in person, you’ve surely seen it on TV. For years people have wanted to get their photo taken next to the famous sign, located on the Strip just south of Russell Road (near Mandalay Bay) and they used to take their lives into their hands to run through the middle of traffic to do it. In recent years, a small parking lot was built next to the sign to make it easier and safer to get your photo opportunity. On May 1, 2009, the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign was added to the National Register of Historic Places, so it’s definitely something you don’t want to miss.
2) Visit a Vegas institution.
We have three specific places in mind for you. Start out with drinks at Peppermill’s Fireside Lounge on the Strip. It’s one of the few places left in Vegas where you’ll find that old-school swanky Vegas vibe. Maybe it’s the mirrors on the walls, the cheap drinks or the cocktail servers decked out in long black gowns. The best part about the Peppermill is the fire pit – sit around it and bask in the glow of old Vegas. After your cocktails, head to the Golden Steer Steakhouse on West Sahara Avenue for dinner. Established in 1958, the restaurant was once frequented by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr., and is famous for its service and its Angus steak. Top your evening off with dessert at Luv-It Frozen Custard on East Oakey Boulevard and the Strip. The walk-up custard stand has been in town for 37 years. It serves sundaes, cones, shakes, malts and floats with fresh custard made daily. Our favorite is the Western, a sundae topped with caramel, hot fudge and pecans.
3) Go see “Jubilee!” and/or take the Backstage“Jubilee!” tour.
Showgirls helped shape Las Vegas and the only old-school production show left with traditional showgirls in sequins and feather headpieces is “Jubilee!” at Bally’s. To really appreciate the showgirl life, take the backstage tour, given by a showgirl from the cast. During the tour, visitors will get an idea of how much weight the dancers carry on stage. The heaviest costume is a feather “backpack,” which weighs an astounding 35 pounds. In the dressing room, the tour guide also shows off several of the show’s legendary Bob Mackie-designed outfits.
4) Gorge yourself.
Vegas is home to hundreds of the finest restaurants in the world, run by the hottest chefs in the business. It’s also famous for its array of buffets, but if you want to really indulge, try the Buffet of Buffets from Harrah’s. If you stay three nights at a Harrah’s property you can get two allday, all-access passes to visit as many of the participating buffets as often as you like within a 24-hour period. The buffets include Lago Buffet at Caesars, Le Village Buffet at Paris, Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood, Flavors Buffet at Bally’s, Paradise Garden Buffet at Flamingo, Carnival World Buffet at the Rio and Emperor’s Buffet at Imperial Palace.
5) Tour Hoover Dam.
Hoover Dam, dedicated in 1935, is the tallest concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere. It’s mind-blowing to see the mammoth structure and to think about the work that went into building it 75 years ago. A fun photo op at the dam is to stand in the spot where you can have one foot on the Nevada side and one foot on the Arizona side and straddle two time zones at once. While you’re there, check out another engineering marvel, the new Mike O’Callaghan/Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which is the longest single-span concrete arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere.
6) Experience Elvis
Elvis may have left Las Vegas for the last time in 1976, but you can still find plenty of reminders of him here in the city he loved. The choices of Elvis tribute shows are endless. You can enjoy a free show with Pete Vallee’s “Big Elvis” tribute at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon. There’s also Trent Carlini in “The King” at the Las Vegas Hilton, Matt Lewis in “Legends in Concert” at Harrah’s and Pete Willcox in “The King Lives” at Hooters Casino Hotel. Elvis fans won’t want to miss Cirque du Soleil’s “Viva ELVIS” at Aria, a tribute to the King and his music with dancing, videos, acrobatics and much more. While you’re at Aria, don’t miss the great Elvis gift shop full of music, DVDs, clothing and just about every Elvis souvenir imaginable. To round off your experience, go snap a photo next to the life-size bronze Elvis statue at the Las Vegas Hilton where he sang for many years. If you want to get married in Vegas just like Elvis did, you can always have an Elvis-themed wedding or be married by an Elvis impersonator.
7) Party in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve.
Vegas is right up there with Times Square when it comes to New Year’s Eve festivities. Las Vegas hosted an estimated 315,000 revelers during the 2009 New Year’s Eve celebration, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The Strip shuts down to traffic and the partiers take to the street en masse to count down to the spectacular fireworks display. Not only are there fireworks, but Vegas also throws huge parties at every nightclub around town and hosts celebrities and top headline entertainment for New Year’s Eve.
8) Splurge and stay in a luxury suite.
Las Vegas hotels boast some of the most elaborate, decadent suites in the world and some can be affordable if you round up a big group of friends to split the cost, so why not splurge and stay in one of these luxurious rooms? The Palms offers the Fantasy Suites, which include everything from the Hardwood Suite, complete with a basketball court to the Kingpin Suite that has a bowling alley. Book the Emperors Suite at Caesars Palace where “Rainman” was filmed or re-create your own scene from “The Hangover.” You might want to nix the tiger in the bathroom though. Caesars also features the Absolut Find Your Flavor Suite, a six-room party pad inspired by different flavors of Absolut Vodka. Dance floor included.
9) Get a photo with a celebrity.
On any given weekend in Vegas, you can see as many stars as you would in Hollywood. Nightclubs like Tao, Pure and LAX routinely have celebrity hosts and celebrity guests. Stars are often spotted at the hot restaurants in town or shopping at designer stores in the Forum Shops at Caesars. Don’t be surprised to see your favorite celeb hanging out at the tables gambling or walking through a casino. If you don’t manage to run into someone famous, you can always go to Madame Tussauds Interactive Wax Attraction at the Venetian and stage a photo with Brad Pitt or George Clooney. Your friends will never know the difference.
10) Stay out past 2 a.m.
Last call means nothing to us here in Vegas. Nightclubs, bars, restaurants and casinos are here for you to enjoy 24 hours a day. If you’re used to having to cut the party short at 2 a.m. back at home, try one of Vegas’ after hours clubs like Drai’s inside Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon where the party doesn’t even start until midnight and goes until dawn. Hungry in the wee hours of the morning? First Food & Bar at the Palazzo has a fantastic latenight menu. There’s no limit to what you can do in Vegas in the middle of the night, including 24-hour bowling at the Orleans.
We asked our faithful Facebook followers what their top Vegas Must-Dos are and got a lot of enthusiastic responses. Here are some of the most popular answers:
- Visit Fremont Street
- See a Cirque du Soleil show
- Walk through the Bellagio Conservatory
- Watch the Bellagio Fountains
- Visit the top of the Stratosphere for the view, rides and Top of the World restaurant
- Take a trip out to Red Rock Canyon
- Walk along the Strip and people watch
- Ride in the gondolas at the Venetian
- Enjoy some dining bargains including the $6.99 steak special at Ellis Island (includes a potato, bread, green beans and a beer) and the $1.99 shrimp cocktail at Du-par’s Deli in the Golden Gate.
Attend the Rehab pool party at the Hard Rock Hotel; drink a Frrrozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3; take a tour to the Grand Canyon; go see Blue Man Group; watch the free Sirens of TI show.