Must dos this weekend in Vegas: Dec. 24 – 28, 2014

Christmas is coming…on Thursday to be exact. So what should you do? Although Vegas tends to be quiet just before Santa makes his rounds, you can still have a great time here. Take advantage of these last days in December to enjoy seasonal displays, entertainment and eating. And there’s something else you can do that is unique to Sin City: Go shopping on Christmas Day. Hear that, procrastinators? A few retail centers on or near the Las Vegas Strip are open so you won’t disappoint [insert the name of your friend, family member or loved one here] this year. Tip: Sneak out for an hour early on Dec. 25, and then you’ll be all set to exchange gifts over a nice meal later.

Clockwise from top: The Forum Shops at Caesars, Town Square Las Vegas and Fashion Show

Clockwise from top: The Forum Shops at Caesars, Town Square Las Vegas and Fashion Show

Tick-tock – it’s time for last-minute shopping

The Forum Shops at Caesars is a shopping center unlike any other. Not because of the cobblestone streets. Not because of the sky-like ceiling that changes from day to night every hour. Not because of the fiery animatronic aquarium show. All of those things are cool, of course, but it’s because this Italian-themed retail destination – packed with 160 specialty shops and restaurants – is actually open late on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Seriously. We are not making this up. Hours for The Forum Shops at Caesars on Dec. 24 and 25 are 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Note: Don’t be a Scrooge. Show some charitable spirit while you’re there and toss your coins into one of the fountains. This money supports the Simon Youth Foundation, which helps meet the financial needs of students at risk of dropping out.)

Not to be outdone the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Palazzo | The Venetian are not closing their doors either. Joining their Italian brethren across the street, this retail center’s hours of operation on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

For bargain hunters, great deals await at the Las Vegas Premium Outlets – North in downtown and the Las Vegas Premium Outlets – South on South Las Vegas Boulevard. Both outlet centers are open – just not as late – on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Plus, you can get off to a bright and early start shopping (or returning all the things you don’t want) on Dec. 26 because they’ll be open at 7 a.m.

Although the Fashion Show mall and Town Square Las Vegas are not open on Christmas Day, you’ll have until 6 p.m. on Dec. 24 to get your goods. And then these malls reopen on Dec. 26 at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., respectively.

So ye Vegas visitors, go forth and shop!

From left: Mystic Falls Park at Sam's Town and The Palazzo's Waterfall Atrium

From left: Mystic Falls Park at Sam's Town and The Palazzo's Waterfall Atrium & Gardens

Get into the holiday spirit

Christmas comes around just once a year, and when it does Vegas goes all out. If you haven’t already visited some of Sin City’s seasonal attractions, then this is the week to do so.

Among our favorites are the decorations and holiday show in Mystic Falls Park at Sam’s Town. This indoor atrium, which resembles the great outdoors, is decked out in all its colorful Christmas glory with lights (and we mean lots of lights). In addition, you might spot the odd beaver building a dam or fawn standing near a faux stream. A special Christmas show – featuring fountains, lasers and lights choreographed to popular carols – runs every hour on the hour between 5 and 10 p.m. And don’t be surprised if you see a snow flurry!

The elegant winter scene at the Waterfall Atrium & Gardens inside The Palazzo is equally enchanting. The resort’s horticultural team created it with white poinsettias accented by huge pine cones and other frosted forest greenery. There are several crystal “ice” ponds as well, but you’ll be most captivated by the three towering white and pearl peacock statues.

Both of these attractions are free. For a complete list of all the ho-ho-holiday fun, read our roundup of Vegas’ most popular decorations and celebrations.

Clockwise from left: Top of the World restaurant at Stratosphere, the Diamond and Gold Lasagna at Portofino and a Wasabi Martini from Rice & Company

Clockwise from left: Top of the World restaurant in Stratosphere Tower, the Diamond and Gold Lasagna at Portofino in The Mirage and a Wasabi Martini from Rice & Company at Luxor

Eat, drink and be merry

Here’s a great gift idea, perfect for sharing (or just for yourself): a festive meal or drink at one Vegas’ restaurants or bars.

Want to savor a gourmet dinner served 800 feet above Las Vegas with a rotating view of the city? Go to the Top of the World restaurant in Stratosphere Tower on Christmas Day. A special four-course meal is being featured for $88 from 4 – 11 p.m. It begins with a warm baby frisée salad and is followed by a vegetarian posole. The main course is a duo of duck breast with aged cherry balsamic and lobster tail with champagne vanilla butter. For dessert, dig into a tres leche banana chocolate cake. You’ll feel like you’ve been blessed!

Indulge in a truly decadent dish that’s sure to make your season shine at Portofino in The Mirage. For the month of December, you can order the Diamond and Gold Lasagna for $100. With a price like that you’re probably thinking it better be made of gold – and it is. Well, it’s topped with glittering 23-karat gold flakes. Some other fine ingredients can be found between the layers of pasta: porcini mushrooms, Iberico ham, prosciutto di Parma, 24-month-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, buffalo mozzarella and Kobe Bolognese. This opulent lasagna is also covered with a “foiefredo” sauce (Alfredo sauce infused with foie gras) and shaved White Diamond truffles. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime culinary experience.

Or celebrate with more traditional eats at Du-par’s inside downtown Las Vegas’ Golden Gate Hotel & Casino. From 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Christmas Day, there’s a three-course prix-fixe menu for $22.95 ($11.95 for children ages 11 and under). It includes butternut squash soup and glazed ham accompanied by all the classic yuletide fixings (veggies, sweet potatoes and a dinner roll). You’ll also get to select a slice of one of Du-par’s famous homemade pies.

Heading to a buffet on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day is another wonderful option – and it means you’ll be able to stuff yourself in true holiday fashion. Most buffets not only have carving stations with roasted turkey and ham, but they also prepare many other seasonal favorites. Just be aware that in addition to special menus, there may be special prices in effect.

How about some eggnog for Christmas? Through Dec. 25, there’s a “Nog and Grog” holiday pop-up experience at Encore’s High Limit Bar. It features a menu with several variations of the classic drinks including cool cocktails like the Maple Bacon Nog and Toasted Coconut Eggnog.

Keep yourself warm with one of the spicy libations concocted by MGM Resorts’ mixologists. At Whiskey Down in MGM Grand, try Fire in the Hole (a combination of Grey Goose La Poire, Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, lemon juice and rock candy syrup). Or go to Rice & Company at Luxor for a Wasabi Martini, which is made with real wasabi along with Ketel One Vodka, cucumber purée, cucumber-infused simple syrup and sweet and sour mix.

For a selection of hot holiday drinks (both temperature-wise and in terms of popularity), check out this list.

Human Nature is presenting a special "Christmas Motown and More!" show at The Venetian

Human Nature is presenting the "Christmas, Motown and More!" show at The Venetian

Let the holiday shows go on!

There’s nothing quite like getting dressed up (or staying casual is OK too – as this is Vegas) to attend a special Christmas show. Although we don’t have the Rockettes and their signature “Radio City Christmas Spectacular,” you can still kick back and enjoy several shows packed with holiday music and good cheer.

Through Dec. 24, the Australian vocal group Human Nature is doing their special “Christmas, Mowtown and More!” presentation at The Venetian. Over at the Flamingo, “Legends in Concert” is putting on its annual holiday-themed show through Dec. 25.

You can also laugh it up with ventriloquist Terry Fator at The Mirage during “A Country Christmas” through Dec. 25. It features his loveable characters singing classic carols with a country flair.

Or go to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to hear some exotic music. Arm Melody Production is presenting the Christmas 2014 Persian Concert in The Joint featuring DJ Alex with ARASH and 25 Band on Dec. 25 or with Shahram, Andy and Mansour on Dec. 26.

No matter what you decide to do, oh by golly all of us at wish you a holly jolly Christmas this year!


I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Mostly about the city’s hotels, but on other topics – gaming and transportation – too. I really love staying at hotels. And the ones here are among the biggest and best in the world. Some key things I’ve learned: Resort fees are inescapable (frustrating but true), a friendly attitude at the front desk may score you a great view and over-the-top room amenities – bath butlers, Japanese tea service, menus with “intimate” items – do exist. What else should you know about me? Well, I’m comfortable at a blackjack table. And I like eating late-night pancakes in hotel coffee shops. A lot. Follow Renee on Google+.