First, you have to decide where to stay. Quality, experience and price can range massively in the city, and while there’s economy hotels on the outskirts of town, it is the famous casino hotels that one must experience at least once in a lifetime. Choosing the right hotel depends totally on what experience you want and what interests you. For example, the Venetian Hotel offers a sort of Italian experience far from Venice, complete with Gondola rides. Or if Paris if more your thing, tire’s the Paris Hotel on the Strip with its very own Eiffel Tower. The Mirage offers a Secret Garden, a Dolphin Habitat and other animals like white lions. Or the Bellagio has its famous Fountain Show, as well as art galleries, a Botanical Garden, and more. But if you’re like me, you like the unique and unusual, so the Artisan Hotel might be right up your alley with its eclectic gothic underworld theme.
Casinos, like hotels, range from the backstreet secret havens of the shadowy underbelly to the high-roller private suites, though most of Las Vegas’ casino life sits somewhere in between. Like Chevy Chase’s Vegas Vacation movie, you can find obscure gaming options off the main strip, but for me, I found the remaining vintage stops as being the most interesting. The Flamingo still stands, and though it’s not the most luxurious, it is a landmark for historic Las Vegas, for Bugsy Siegel, the famous mobster opened its doors in 1946. Though, who doesn’t appreciate a little glitz and glam, and luxury… If that’s where you’re head’s at, then the Wynn Tower Suites, The Mansion at MGM Grand, and the ARIA Sky Suites might be just what you want.
Las Vegas is a major hotspot for theater, concerts, comedy and more, and while the price tags are far from generous, you won’t find better theater and showmanship anywhere else on the planet. That may sound like hyperbole, but I’m not joking. Most people visit for 3-7 days then leave, and in that short amount of time, you can only scratch the surface of what Vegas offers for entertainment. The famous must sees are (everything by) Cirque du Soleil, Blue Man Group, Penn & Teller, among countless others. To experience a wide variety, I would suggest seeing each of the above, as well as Absinthe, Rock of Ages, Zombie Burlesque, VEGAS! The Show, La Reve, V-The Ultimate Variety – Or if you’re feeling frisky, there’s always burlesque shows and for women, the Chippendales show.
Exploring Vegas can keep you busy, but unlike most cities, you can stay within a short distance of the infamous 2.5-mile-long Strip. Walk the Strip, do the Fremont Street Experience, see vintage Las Vegas, and all of the hotels and casinos, and the shows they offer, but then venture further away. Helicopter rides can take you to tours over the city at night, or for amazing aerial views of the Grand Canyon. If a once in a lifetime experience is your thing, you can hand feed a lion, or shoot an uzi, or go indoor skydiving. Then there’s the outdoors Vegas, like the Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, or a day trip to the Grand Canyon. Or for the more obscure, off kilter attractions, there’s the underground night life, strip clubs, and the other, of course, or there’s the Pawn Stars store, the Zombie Apocalypse store, or you can simply renew your vows at the Graceland Wedding Chapel (and yes, there are Elvis impersonators!). But if you’re looking for unique to the area, might I suggest the Mob Museum and the Neon Museum where the graveyard of vintage Vegas takes its final breath.
As you can see, there’s just SO MUCH to do in Las Vegas, and no matter how much time you have, you can not see and experience it all. If you would like more information on what’s hot, what’s not, and what else you can get into in Sin City, click here for the Best of Vegas.
(Photo by © Brandon Scott / Eye & Pen)