Friday seems like the perfect day of the week for a travel post about Las Vegas. It’s my favorite day of the week so to celebrate I give you my ultimate Vegas weekend guide! Before continuing, be sure to pop over to my post about why I choose to go to Las Vegas every year for my birthday. It’s a good one!
For this guide, I’m going to combine everything we did on our most recent trip a few weeks ago plus some tips and suggestions from all the other times we’ve been. Although I could write an entire book on things to see and do in Las Vegas, this list is full of my recommended resources to get the most out of your weekend. I had to dig deep into the photo archives for some of these, so I apologize for the less-than-blogworthy photo quality. Sometimes your iPhone is all you have in the wee hours of a Vegas morning. ;-) Also, if you’ve seen any of my previous guides from my Eat+Stay+Play series, you’ll notice that this one looks a little different. Rather than a chronology of our trip, I’m grouping my travel tips by where to eat, what to do, and where to stay.
Let’s talk food. Vegas is one of the best locations for fine dining as well as quick casual bites. Our first night we had tickets to Britney Spears and not a lot of time for a long sit down dinner. Jasmine at the Bellagio (also where we stayed) was the perfect spot. There are so many times we crave Asian food and Jasmine delivers. The highlight of the meal was the BBQ duet of roasted duck and pork – phenomenal! The atmosphere is elegant in the traditional Bellagio style with views of the fountains of Lake Bellagio. Dress is business casual.
Favorites for a pre-show quick bite or lunch:
++Lemongrass at Aria – Casual Thai food that never disappoints. We’ve eaten here many times for the quality and price.
++Todd English’s Olives at Bellagio – Casual environment with mediterranean fare. Al fresco dining by Lake Bellagio is also nice.
++La Cave at The Wynn – Great selection of small plates and impressive wine list. We’ve also picked up a flatbread here and eaten it poolside. Great charcuterie boards and wagyu.
Favorite casual dining spots:
++Battistas – Located off the strip, this Italian eatery is authentic, friendly, and fun. You may even see Gordy the accordion player entertaining diners. It’s definitely an experience and perfect for groups of friends.
++Carmine’s – Maybe I’m just partial to Italian places but this is another great option. Located in the Forum Shops at Caesars, this place is old school. Good comfort food and the atmosphere reminds me of every Italian mob movie I’ve ever seen. They have a great happy hour too, so eating at the bar is a fun option pre- or post-show. After leaving the Elton John concert a couple weeks ago, we enjoyed a few small plates at the bar with wine. They even put the wine I didn’t finish into a to go cup for me.
++Pink’s Hot Dogs – Sometimes there’s nothing better than a loaded hot dog late night. Pink’s is where it’s at. There’s usually a line but it’s worth the wait.
Favorite fine dining and date night spots:
++Jean Georges Steak House at Aria – One of my favorite steakhouses, hands down. Be sure to check out the abstract wall art (I didn’t see it at first, but once I did I couldn’t not see it – trust me, once you go you’ll know what I’m talking about). Food here is exceptional and it has a dark, romantic atmosphere. Great spot for birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
++Wing Lei at The Wynn – It’s the first Chinese restaurant in the United States to receive a Michelin star. The atmosphere is highly elegant and the service is unmatched. Even your purse gets its own little tufted chair to sit on. Business casual is required with men wearing a collared shirt.
++Koi – One of my favorite date night meals is sushi. Koi delivers this and more with a nightly happy hour of half off signature drinks and apps to get the party started. It’s located at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino and has an atmosphere that feels like dining in a swanky club. Very Vegas.
++Scarpetta – You don’t have to dine at the Bellagio for a table-side view of the famous fountains. Scarpetta, located in The Cosmopolitan, has great views of the fountains and great Italian food. Wow, we really do love our Italian food! Save room for dessert and order the Nutella & Vanilla Bamboloni. Think donuts plus nutella plus gelato. Doesn’t that sound like it’s worth a food coma? Because it totally is.
++Paradise Garden Brunch at the Flamingo – Enjoy a peaceful view of the flamingos and other birds while you eat.
++The Buffet at Wynn – This is the king of all buffets. There are 15 live action cooking stations so you’ll leave extra stuffed (which is kind of the point of buffet eating, right?).
We tend to stay in hotels that are part of the MGM hotel group. The Bellagio is one of my favorites so I was excited to be back this year. It has a prime location on the strip. It’s maintained its quality and cleanliness over the years and its decorative style is pretty timeless. I always enjoy seeing the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, a year-round free exhibit set to the seasons. It’s one of the most impressive indoor displays of flowering plants and trees I’ve ever seen. This year’s peacocks were beautiful!
Other favorite hotels:
++Aria – I really enjoy the casino of this hotel. There’s always an energy to it. They play good music, too. The rooms are ultra modern and it’s connected to the Bellagio via tram. You’re a very short walk from designer shops like Louis Vuitton and Prada at The Shops at Crystals.
++The Wynn & Encore – These hotels are on the higher side when it comes to price, but well worth the amenities. Everything is immaculately manicured and the crowd is less party animal, more sophisticated socialite. I usually hear classic Frank Sinatra on the speakers in the casino. I also appreciate that cocktails here are served in their appropriate glasses. Every time I request a champagne, for example, it comes in a flute. There’s just something about sitting at an elegant roulette wheel and sipping champagne in your favorite heels.
++The Venetian – I like the layout of the suites here. The living area is distinctly separated from the bedroom which gives it an apartment-like feel. If you can’t get to Venice for a gondola ride, the Venetian is actually a close second.
++The Mirage – Although it’s one of the older themed hotels on the strip, The Mirage still holds up against the new guys. It’s one of the best “bang for your buck” hotels on the strip. Make sure to include time for the lush pool here. It’s huge, has lagoons and waterfalls, and is heated year round. I also think the poolside drinks are well appointed for the price.
++Vdara – There’s no casino here but sometimes that’s not a bad thing. It was a quiet and relaxing stay. Vdara is known for having an incredible spa. The biggest draw for me was the intimate pool. Cabanas were available to rent the day of, and they were pretty inexpensive.
We always make it a point to take in at least one show when we visit. This year we saw two concerts – Britney Spears Friday night and Elton John Saturday night. Both were amazing. We’ve also seen Bon Jovi. Vegas draws some amazing performers. I also recommend Cirque du Soleil. The Beatles Love show is incredible! I can’t recommend it enough. Others we love are O, Ka, Zarkana, and Mystère.
A day at the pool of your hotel is a great way to re-charge. We go to Vegas every October and it’s still plenty warm enough to enjoy it. If I had to rank my favorite pools with 1 being highest, I would say 1-Wynn, 2-Bellagio, 3-Mirage, 4-Vdara.
Grabbing a pre-dinner cocktail is also one of my favorite things to do. I love getting dressed up and having a French 75. A great spot for this is the Mandarin Bar at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. It’s chic and sophisticated so make sure to dress appropriately. Cocktails are made by a master mixologist and given a local twist. They have a selection of tapas as well. Its location on the 23rd floor with 3 walls of floor-to-ceiling glass provide absolutely stunning views of the strip. Go at dusk to see the sun go down and the lights of Las Vegas come up.
If you’re looking for inexpensive and free things to do, here are some of my favorite attractions:
++The Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo (free) – We enjoyed watching a live pelican feeding. The lush grounds make you forget you’re in the middle of a desert.
++Fountains of Bellagio (free) – Easily one of the most recognizable attractions, but it never gets old. Shows run every 15 minutes to half hour.
++Las Vegas Car Museum at The Linq (adults $12.95 as of 11/2017) – If you’re into cars like me then you’ll love seeing this collection valued over $100 million.
++Fremont Street Experience (free to walk through) – One of the best people watching spots in Vegas. The free light shows overhead are pretty neat. It’s an experience worth doing at least once.
++Volcano at The Mirage (free) – This nightly attraction is a fun place to snap a selfie. The explosions and fireballs are pretty impressive. I’m always amazed by the heat it puts off.
Of course, what Vegas is mostly known for is gambling. I think you can see by now that you can go to Vegas without gambling a dime and still have a great time. But we enjoy a little gambling when we go. My favorite table games are roulette and craps. I just learned to play a little blackjack this last trip and it was pretty fun! I hardly ever spend time with slot machines, but I’ll admit that the Wheel of Fortune slot has a certain allure. If you’re frugal, you can make your money last a long time on nickel video poker.
The best places I’ve found for inexpensive craps are Excalibur and O’sheas. Don’t expect the finery of The Wynn at these places, but each has a unique draw. Excalibur’s decor is quite dated but there is always a $5 craps table and they serve bottled beer. O’sheas recently remodeled and has a pub feel where you can get a Guinness on draft and it’s poured correctly. And don’t be intimidated by the games. Dealers are happy to explain and help you along the way. They even offer free lessons. Beginner’s luck is a real thing, too. I’ve seen it numerous times. Just remember that you’re there to have fun.
I hope this guide is helpful! What are your favorite things to do in Vegas?
Eat+Stay+Play: Ultimate Weekend Guide to Vegas appeared first on Cathedrals and Cafes.