You’re traveling to West Virginia for the Annual Roadkill Cook Off (yes, that’s a thing) when your flight gets delayed in Las Vegas. Or perhaps you’re driving through Vegas on your way to your cousin’s Bar Mitzvah in Scottsdale, and you pull off for an extended “bathroom break.”
Whatever the case — layover or quick stop — you too can make the best of your short trip to Sin City. But remember, there’s no time to lose. Do not pass “Go.” Do not collect $200. This isn’t a game. This is Las Vegas, a 24-hour flurry of nonstop booze … and boobs. The struggle is real.
GOOD MORNING, SUNSHINE
If you’re flying: Play the slot machines at your airport terminal, because, hey, there’s slot machines at your airport terminal. If you win, treat the nearest group of tourists to the Sterling Brunch at Bally’s ($90 per person on weekends). If you lose (cue “Price is Right” loser sound here) opt for the 99-cent fried Twinkie (yes, that too is a thing) at Mermaids on the Fremont Street Experience. If you can’t scramble up 99 cents, you should probably just spend the next 24 hours dressed up like a costume character and pan handling for money to cover your cousin’s Bar Mitzvah check. You want him to become a man, don’t you?
If you’re driving: Proceed directly to Border Grill at Mandalay Bay, located just past the Welcome to Las Vegas sign (don’t forget to stop for photos), for a Border Bacon Mary or bottomless mimosa. You want topless too? Scurry over to Mandalay’s Bay’s topless optional beach club, Moorea. It opens at 11 a.m.
Sexy times: Like the prehistoric cavemen of yesteryear, many Vegas visitors also have great interest in a tool called the club. I’ll let you draw your own metaphorical conclusions about that last statement. Day clubs or pool clubs — such as Bare at the Mirage, Rehab at Hard Rock Hotel and Wet Republic at MGM Grand — are a mecca for modern day mating rituals, sun worshiping and general daytime drinking. Unlike prehistoric times, the women have a lot less body hair. Usually.
Non sexy times: If your idea of hot bodies is a little more, uhhhhh, clinical, check out Bodies … the Exhibition at Luxor. If skin and bones aren’t your thing, opt for Titanic … The Artifact Exhibition. Whatever floats your boat. For some open-air entertainment, dining and shopping, head over to The Linq. Hop on the High Roller (opens at noon) for some amazing views of the Las Vegas valley. You can even bring along your stripper-leg-shaped daquiri cup from Purple Zebra. Or you could head downtown to the Fremont Street Experience, ride Slotzilla, drink a yard-long margarita (or four), have a Grand Slam meal (and even get married at) Denny’s — the only one in the nation with a built-in wedding chapel — all before 3 p.m.
BEER O’ CLOCK
Every hour is Happy Hour in Vegas: Particularly when beer is involved. As the beloved “Simpsons” patriarch Homer J. Simpson once famously said, “Beer. Now there’s a temporary solution.” Here are just a handful of beer-iffic places where you can find your temporary solution in Vegas: Triple 7 at Main Street Station, Banger Brewing at the Fremont Street Experience, Yard House at Town Square, Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa and The Linq, or Pub at Monte Carlo in the Monte Carlo’s Street of Dreams shopping promenade.
“Does Whisky count as beer?”: Look, this is Vegas. We’re not beer Nazis, here. We won’t judge your drink choices, even if you opt for a pink froo-froo drink with a cutesy umbrella and maraschino cherry (well, maybe if you opt for a pink froo-froo drink with a cutesy umbrella and maraschino cherry). Bars with happy hours in the general vicinity of 3 to 7 p.m. are as plentiful here as a strippers with daddy issues. Blondies Sports Bar in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood offers $20 all-you-can-drink draft and wells. Ri Ra Irish Pub has $3-$5 specials on beer and wine. Park on Fremont has $3-$5 drink and appetizer specials. Or you could class things up with $3 Jell-o Shots at T&T at Luxor. There’s always room for Jell-O shots.
Everything was beautiful at the buffet: Buffets are a Vegas staple and a tradition. Plus, they have come a long way. It’s not just an all-you-can-eat crab legs and prime rib carving station free-for-all anymore (Not that there’s anything wrong with that). Many Vegas buffets including the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace and Wicked Spoon at The Cosmopolitan, combine the traditional buffet faves (three cheers for mashed potatoes!) with unique gourmet fare like tapas and artisinal cheeses in a non-cafeteria-esque environment. Beer and wine are included in the buffet price at M Resort’s Studio B Buffet. Nothing wrong with that.
Visionary dining: If you’re just as interested in what’s around you than what goes inside, opt for dinner with a view. Sunset is the perfect time to eat high above the city at the Stratosphere’s Top of the World or Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris. Or you could kill two birds with one stone (that’s an expression, not a meal suggestion) and stay on the Paris lower level to dine on the patio at Mon Ami Gabi for an unobstructed view of the iconic and must-see-while-in-Vegas fountains at Bellagio. Bam!
SHOW OR TELL
Save the drama for yo mamma: From the Australian Bee Gees to Zombie Burlesque, there’s a Vegas show for just about every letter in the alphabet. Absinthe, Blue Man Group, Chippendales, David Copperfield, Evil Dead The Musical, Frankie Moreno … yeah, you probably get the point. Most Vegas shows last about 90 minutes and are sans intermission — you’re in, out and back at the bar before you even know you left it.
Tongue-in-cheek: If you don’t feel like sitting still for 90 minutes and you’re a fan of the iconic rock band KISS, check out KISS: By Monster Mini Golf, across from the Hard Rock. Open until midnight, you can test your putt putt skills on a tricky final hole that immortalizes Gene Simmons’ enormous, outstretched tongue. If you’re looking for a more romantic venue for puckering up, take a Gondola Ride at the Venetian (open until 11 p.m. on weekdays, midnight on weekends).
One-night stand with Vegas: Are you getting tired? Well pull it together. You’ll get plenty of sleep at your cousin’s Bar Mitzvah. This is Vegas, and the party is only getting started. Nightclubs are basically day clubs (see above) but the women wear slightly more clothing and make much worse decisions. Then, of course there are strip clubs, but that’s a whole other story. If you have trouble choosing from our plethora o’ nightclub choices, or you really don’t want to waste time with velvet ropes, book a VIP Club Crawl, Vegas Party Bus Express experience or a VIP Party Pass. These are like the appetizer sampler platter of the nightlife world, giving you front-of-the-line access at a selection of clubs.
Velvet NOPE: Have no fear if clubbing isn’t your thing. It’s probably beer o’clock somewhere. There’s also a slew of late night shows such as the 10 p.m. showing of Cirque du Soleil’s O at the Bellagio. After the show, take a stroll through the Bellagio Conservatory and grab a dessert crepe at Jean Philippe Pâtisserie. At Monte Carlo, you could catch the 9:30 p.m. showing of Blue Man Group and follow it up with a crafted coffee from Sambalatte, a Sake flight from Yusho, live music and epic people-watching on Monte Carlo’s new outdoor promenade.
Cure for the common hangover: Hey there, Tiger, how does your head feel? I said, HOW DOES YOUR HEAD FEEL???? What? Keep it down? Your head feels like its been trampled by 500-pound elephant wearing stripper heels? Join the club. Vegas has plenty 24 hour restaurants with fried food to help dry out your cirrhosis-bound liver. There’s everyone’s old favorite Mr. Lucky’s at Hard Rock or the “Disneyland of Breakfast,” The Griddle Cafe, at the brand spanking new SLS Las Vegas. If you don’t mind needles, REVIV at MGM Grand offers a Royal Flush Infusion with vitamins to help aid in wellness and recovery, plus a dose of glutathione, which is the body’s natural detoxifying agent. Or (as long as you’re not driving) you could always just start drinking again.
Sleep it off: If all else fails, pass out on a bench until it’s time to leave.