Viva Las Vegas! Embark on a sensory overload and visit Las Vegas, one of the only places on earth where everyone can come in and be treated like a high roller, even with the smallest budget.
There are many reasons why people are so drawn to the bright lights and highs of Sin City, but the casinos or elaborate and expensive shows might not always be one of them. With so much to see and explore, get off the casino tables and get out there!
For me, Las Vegas is all about the architecture and city views, and while my husband and I enjoy a dabble on the slot machines and I’m a Texas Hold’Em player, there’s so much more to Las Vegas than the casino floor.
And let’s not forget the Las Vegas shows, such as the Beatles LOVE at Mirage, MGM Grand’s David Copperfield and Michael Jackson ONE at Mandalay Bay. While these are considered an integral part of the Vegas experience, with relatives to visit in town, we found ourselves with way too much to do elsewhere and skipped the shows this time around.
If you wish to go to one, do your research on tickets. There are sellers up and down the Strip that will tell you they have the best prices, and they do. But their secret lies in the type of seat you get.
Depending on venue size, their tickets could seat you right at the back with a limited view, so if you feel that would bother you, it might be worth paying the little extra to ensure you have the best seat you can afford. Some people have said they’d been sat behind pillars and therefore couldn’t even see the show, just to save $20 or $30 overall.
My point is, you can still make the most of your Vegas trip without gambling or spending hundreds of dollars on a show, and here are my top 8 things you must do in Vegas for that ultimate experience.
Get your snap by the famous Las Vegas sign
Would a trip to Las Vegas be complete without this obligatory photo op? It’s a gorgeous sign that’s synonymous with Sin City, and something you should definitely see for yourself on your Vegas trip.
Located south of the Strip beyond Mandalay Bay, my advice is to get up early and head down. The queue can get crazy long, and towards the afternoon other people grow more hot, bothered and impatient with waiting. At peaks times of the year, there can be hundreds of people lined up for their shot.
But it’s popular for a reason, and a tourist hot-spot I insist you visit on your trip to Las Vegas.
Sip a cocktail at Sky Bar, Waldorf Astoria
Formerly Mandarin Oriental, the Sky Bar is located on the 23rd floor of this gorgeously modern hotel recently taken over by Waldorf Astoria. As the night draws in, your view of Planet Hollywood, Aria, Paris and beyond is sublime with floor length windows for that ultimate panoramic Vegas view.
And while your wallet might not thank you, you won’t regret the luxurious experience of sitting and admiring the glistening Vegas evening in this intimate cocktail bar with a truly unmatched, breathtaking glimpse of the city from above the streets.
Boogie with the high rollers at Mandalay Bay’s The Foundation Room
For me, the Stratosphere tower is a waste of time. Forget it. If you want the best view of Las Vegas from high above (without getting in a helicopter) then go to the Foundation Room on Mandalay Bay’s 63rd floor.
To get technical, the Strip has a curve that begins just after Ceasars, so the Strat, which is north Strip and almost Downtown, doesn’t quite give you the same view as the Mandalay. And in my opinion, since Riviera was demolished in 2015, the mid and South Strip is where it’s at for the best views and places to visit. Mandalay Bay wins heads down over a trip to the Stratosphere.
Having said that, once you do get Downtown, everything changes for the better! While many people see Downtown as a day trip or a way to take a break from the Strip, it’s in fact just as bustling and lively as the main Strip.
With so much to do Downtown, you’d need a good couple of days just to see it all, but it’s totally worth it. From zip lining down the largest screen in the world at the Fremont Street Experience, to pub-crawling your way through some of Vegas’s best value bars, you’ll be sure to find the perfect way to spend your evening.
If you wanna grab some quick and easy veggie food, we ate at Nacho Daddy. They do really cheap burritos, nachos and everything else you can think of Tex-Mex!
If you’re staying on the Strip, the cheapest option is to bus it Downtown, with regular trips and a stop outside almost every Strip resort.
Spend at least one night in a Fountain View Room at Bellagio
Technically, you don’t have to stay in one of these rooms to get the view, but the whole Bellagio experience is worth the money, even for just one night.
If you’re strapped for cash but want the best photo-op of the Bellagio fountains with Paris and the Eiffel Tower, just head towards the main entrance of the Bellagio and look towards the fountains from the ground. In my opinion, this is the best view in Las Vegas, and probably the entire world.
If you’re feeling like a splurge, however, bag yourself one of these rooms because they’re truly beautiful and one of the best hotel experiences in Las Vegas.
Get a couple of beers or a bottle of wine and watch the world go by with a stunning panoramic view of the city.
Go for lunch at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant, Paris
And to look back and wave at yourself in the Bellagio room, you simply must dine at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant. As you can probably tell, I cannot get enough of the aesthetic of the mid-Vegas Strip. Paris and Bellagio are particular favourites and look just glorious inside and out.
To take the elevator ride and do the Eiffel Tower experience, it will cost you around $12, but if you want to combine it with a truly exquisite lunch, then book yourself in at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant and you can go up in the elevator for free. The view and experience you get from the restaurant beats paying to stand at the top for ten or so minutes – with a fine dining experience, you truly get to take it all in.
This is the second time I’ve been to the Eiffel Tower Restaurant. We came for lunch this time as the veggie options seemed more to our liking, and it was significantly cheaper for obvious reasons. Although I’m one of those people who’ll usually prefer to try something new, this experience just had to be re-lived. We both went with the California Veggie sandwich which was probably the best sandwich I’ve ever had.
Make your reservation online and ask for a window table to get the fountain view, a beautiful way to top off the afternoon.
Hike and Drive around Red Rock Canyon
You don’t have to take a day trip to the Grand Canyon to see some of Nevada’s natural wonders. Instead, rent yourself a car or book a tour to Red Rock Canyon to spend a morning and afternoon driving around this national park, boasting some truly beautiful mountainous scenery.
Located just half an hour from the Strip, you can still make the most of your time in Vegas without venturing too far and spending 4 hours round trip in a car.
Go on a Casino Crawl
Don’t treat Las Vegas like an all-inclusive resort holiday. No matter what resort you’re checked into, you absolutely have to visit as many of the other casinos around you as possible. Each casino likes to show off what makes it unique, be it in the Flamingo with their old Vegas charm and flamingo gardens, or Bellagio’s highly elaborate and expensive floral displays that change seasonally.
I’d recommend choosing a maximum of five casinos per day though, as walking around them all in an afternoon would be simply impossible (trust me, I’ve tried it) and racked up almost 30,000 steps walking from Tropicana to Ceasar’s Palace and back alone.
Increasingly, Vegas tourism is geared up to satisfying the tastes of anyone who wishes to visit. While some people dislike this new Vegas and want a taste of nostalgia, in all, Las Vegas is a destination that is constantly changing, with new properties replacing old all the time. You can come back again and again, and each time experience it just that little bit differently. And for you old timers, there’s more than enough still around to satisfy the urge to see Vegas at its golden age. The Mob Museum, Neon Museum and Downtown properties are there to remind us of the Vegas of the past, while the Strip is getting us ready for the future.
Even my two trips and extensive reading and research of Vegas (it is my favourite place in the world after all) could never prepare someone for the trip, but in all, I hope this post has given you some ideas on how to soak up that unique Vegas atmosphere.
Where is your favourite place in Las Vegas, and what would you recommend for people to do that isn’t included on this list?
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