Las Vegas is the kind of city where, unless you are a die-hard outdoors enthusiast and plan on exploring the area, most vacations are spent almost entirely indoors. This basically means that as far as weather goes, there is no “bad” time to head for Vegas. Spring and fall in general have the best weather – not too cold and not too hot. Summer temperatures can go into the 100s and winter ones below freezing. But humidity remains low throughout the year. Snow is possible but rare, and the only significant rain occurs in the summer. Bring sunscreen and layers just in case. Having said all that, there are factors particular to Sin City that visitors should consider before planning a trip. First of all Vegas is a convention city and some meetings can bring well over 100,000 delegates to the Strip. If you want to avoid crowds, check with the Convention and Visitors Authority (www.visitlasvegas.com) to find out who will be in town. Also keep in mind that Vegas gets more crowded on the weekends—and that these variations affect hotel prices.
It’s relatively obvious that the entire city of Las Vegas is one of the biggest attractions in the world. The Strip is the quintessential image of Sin City, but the growth of Las Vegas over the past few decades has created a larger radius filled with things to see and do. Most Vegas attractions are spectacles—things to see. The rest of the Vegas attractions are experiences—things to do. Topping the list are the Fountains of Bellagio Las Vegas, where water dances to music day and night. At the Stratosphere Tower visitors can gamble and go on rides 100 stories in the sky. You can witness a volcano erupting at the Mirage, or drive out of the city to see some real nature at Red Rock Canyon, the Springs Preserve, or even take the longer trip to the Grand Canyon. If you’d rather stay within the fantasy, visit the Eiffel Tower Experience at Paris Las Vegas. Explore a replica of King Tutankhamun’s tomb at the Luxor’s King Tut Museum. Take a gondola ride down the “Grand Canal” at the Venetian. Check out the high art at Guggenheim Museum at Venetian Las Vegas or the CityCenter Art Collection. Ride the Las Vegas Monorail. Watch the sharks at Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef. Get a thrill on the Manhattan Express rollercoaster at the New York New York Hotel. See a free show at the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas. Learn some history at the Atomic Testing Museum. Indulge at Ethel M Chocolates. Snuggle up to the lions at the MGM Grand Lion Habitat. Get married at A Special Memory Wedding Chapel.
Travel with Kids
Some may think the only kids in Vegas are middle-aged tourists, but Las Vegas has an enormous array of attractions either made for the old to feel young, or specifically for children. One of the best is Adventuredome at Circus Circus Hotel, with rides and games offered year-round. Kids will also love Adventure Canyon at Buffalo Bill’s. There are a few aquariums in the city—Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef and the Aquarium at the Silverton are two of the best. Some other fun activities and sights for kids include: Big Shot, CSI: The Experience, Canyon Blaster, Chaos, Desperado, Ethel M Chocolate Factory Tour and Cactus Garden, Floyd Lamb State Park, Frog Hopper, GameWorks, Gondola Rides, the Grand Canyon, Insanity, Inverter, Lake Mead, Las Vegas Cyber Speedway, Las Vegas Mini Gran Prix, Las Vegas Natural History Museum, Las Vegas Sportspark, Lied Discovery Children’s Museum, M&M’s World, Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, MGM Grand Lion Habitat, Mount Charleston, Nevada Southern Railway, Nevada State Museum, Pinball Hall of Fame, Planetarium and Observatory, Red Rock Canyon, Rim Runner, Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, Sling Shot, Springs Preserve, Stratosphere Tower, Streetmosphere, the Roller Coaster at New York-New York, Turbo Drop, the Volcano at the Mirage, X Scream, and Zoological-Botanical Park.
If you stay on the strip or nearby, you can most likely get away with walking everywhere you need to go while in Las Vegas. Keep in mind that the casinos are huge and walking from your hotel to a building just down the street could take 30 minutes or more! Many people rent cars in Vegas especially if they do not stay on the Strip. You will find that traffic on the Strip is not pleasant and getting worse; however, you can find parking, and in fact, you can valet park for free at most casinos (a tip is expected). When the city is crowded however parking lots can fill up. Taxis are also an option to consider—keep in mind that now that Vegas has so much more to see and do than ever before, going from a location like the Strip to downtown can require a car ride. The casinos also operate free transportation options, including the monorail, which can come in handy as it covers four miles and connects casinos to each other. The city also has public transportation. Visit the website for the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) for details. A cheap option is the CAT bus, which runs 24 hours a day from downtown through the Strip.
Mandalay Resort and Casino
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino caters to every Vegas visitor, from those on a romantic getaway to those in Las Vegas just for fun and everyone in between. Guests can enjoy lounging with a cocktail at the beach, a day at the spa, or an afternoon of shopping or golf. For the more adventurous types, excitement awaits at Shark Reef Aquarium. The Mandalay Resort and Casino offers rooms and suites in three places: The Mandalay, THEhotel, and the Four Seasons. Regardless of which tower you choose, you will receive the type of service you’d expect at one of the premier resorts in Las Vegas. Mandalay Bay rooms include Deluxe, Great, Vista Suite, and Hospitality Suite. THEhotel at Mandalay Bay has forever changed the perception of Las Vegas with its warm earthy tones, rich wood architecture, and of course its modern cosmopolitan feel. Guests can choose from THEsuite, V Suite, and the H Suite. The Four Seasons Hotel is located on the 35th to 39th floors of the Mandalay Bay tower and accessed exclusively by Four Seasons express elevators. Just steps from world-class gaming, entertainment, and nightlife, the Four Seasons invites guests to recharge within an oasis of tranquility. At the south end of the Strip, the Four Seasons non-gaming sanctuary provides immediate access to the amenities of Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Featuring the most recognizable names and incredible venues throughout the culinary world, Mandalay Bay offers the best restaurants in all of Las Vegas. From steak and seafood to eclectic menu creations, there is something for every taste. Fleur by Hubert Keller, Aureole, Shanghai Lilly, Lupo by Wolfgang Puck, STRIPSTEAK, and Border Grill are some of the Signature Restaurants. House of Blues, Noodle Shop, Mizuya, Verandah, and Burger Bar are some of the Casual Restaurants. For a quick eat, Raffles Cafe, Starbucks, and Bayside Buffet are some of the places the guest can utilize during their stay. Whatever your taste, whatever your mood, you can find a stellar array of Las Vegas entertainment choices performing every day and every night. You can see superstars in the 12,000-seat Events Center – from David Foster and Friends to The Latin Grammys to Beyonce – as well as world championship boxing, Ultimate Fighting Championships and more. Catch headliners like Bob Dylan, B.B. King and Sheryl Crow in the legendary House of Blues. Mandalay Bay also offers the hottest Las Vegas nightclubs, the coolest music venues, and the best lounges on the Strip.
Rumor Las Vegas Hotel
Rumor Las Vegas is the latest chic hotel from the Siegel Group, whose properties include the Artisan, Vegas’s most unique non-gaming boutique hotel. An 18-and-over, all-suite resort, Rumor Las Vegas has a convenient off-the-strip location across from the Hard Rock Hotel. This 150-suite, three-star boutique hotel provides an exciting and dynamic experience with a unique courtyard and pool, wet deck, and lawn lined with palm trees. Guests can relax in private cabanas by the pool, have a cocktail at the hotel bar, taste tapas at Addition Restaurant, or enjoy easy access to Vegas attractions. Whether in town for business or pleasure, guests are sure to find exceptional accommodations close to the action of the Las Vegas Strip with proximity to McCarran International Airport and the Las Vegas Convention Center. Rumor re-defines the experience of the Las Vegas hotel with contemporary design and a variety of cool amenities from private balconies to elevated, in-room soaking tubs. Poolside suites come with floor-to-ceiling glass terrace doors where you can join the pool and cabana scene in just a few steps. On the upper level guests can relax with a drink from the Rumor bar and a discrete view of the Rumor pool action. Real divas will appreciate the Diva Mega-Suite, which comes equipped with “Pink… Pink… and MORE PINK!” as well as zig-zag mirrors, an extra-large balcony, and custom California King bed. If you can get yourself out of your suite, visit Addiction, Rumor’s unique restaurant helmed by executive chef Vic Vegas (Winner of the 2008 Food Network Challenge Big Bash Caterers, and one of Esquire magazine’s “45 Under 45” outstanding men). But don’t miss the happening pool scene at Rumor, where guests can see and be seen 24-7. Rumor can accommodate a variety of special events, from weddings to business meetings. With exceptional service, Rumor can make even a complex event hassle-free from catering and accommodations, to entertainment, lighting, and sound.
Situated in the heart of Las Vegas, Aria Hotel offers easy access to some of the world’s best shopping and dining. With spectacular views of the Las Vegas skyline or the mountains bordering the city, Aria Hotel and Casino is designed with comfort, relaxation, shopping, and play in mind. Accommodation at Aria Hotel and Casino comes in Room, Suite, Aria Sky Suite, and Aria at Home options. Corner Suites have 920 square feet of ultra-spacious, ultra-luxurious living space featuring separate, yet equally sophisticated, living and bedroom spaces, each with its own unique, awe-inspiring views of Las Vegas and twice-daily room servicing. For the most space choose one of the Sky Villas, which range in size from 2,000 to 7,000 square feet in two- and three-bedroom configurations, as well as single- and two-story retreats. The limited availability Sky Villas exist for the most discerning of guests who demand a unique, exclusive, and unprecedented experience. Taking extravagance to a new level even at Las Vegas standards, the Sky Villas feature panoramic windows to allow you to cast your eyes upon the lights of Las Vegas and absorb the energy that pulses from the streets below. If you can peel yourself away from your Sky Villa view, check out Aria Hotel’s stunning collection of restaurants hosting the world’s most critically acclaimed chefs, including enticing new concepts from such Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Michael Mina, Sirio Maccioni, and Julian Serrano. For the first time, Michelin 3-star chef Masayoshi Takayama brings his unrivaled mastery of Japanese cuisine to Las Vegas with Barmasa. Also new to Las Vegas, James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Shawn McClain introduces his innovative cuisine at Sage. Entertainment at ARIA Hotel is also a world-class experience. Featuring Viva Elvis, Cirque du Soleil’s amazing show dedicated to the music of the King of Las Vegas, and 150,000 square feet of Casino gaming areas, Aria Hotel really does have it all. For nightlife, Aria Hotel offers the Haze Nightclub, Gold Lounge, Deuce Lounge, and several smaller bars and lounges throughout the resort. With so many attractions, Aria Hotel makes the perfect event location. Aria can cater to all types of social or corporate events with 300,000 square feet of space and scenic rooftop gardens designed to combine the elements of nature to welcome the senses and blend business and pleasure.
The Bellagio is a 3,933-room, 5-star, luxury hotel and casino situated in the heart of the Strip. Famous for its fountains at the front of the hotel, the Bellagio is owned by MGM Resorts and is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. Bellagio offers a wide range of accommodation types, from Rooms and Suites to Villas. If you book a Guest Suite you can check in via the Executive Suite Lounge. Suites range from the 853-square-foot Salone Suite, to the 4,000-square-foot Presidential Suite and Chairman’s Suite, both of which offer the ultimate luxurious Las Vegas experience. At Bellagio’s Villas, privacy is paramount, enabling a rarefied experience for guests who are accustomed to the finer things in life. Each of the 6,500-square foot, two-bedroom/five-bathroom Villas and 8,000-square foot, three-bedroom/seven-bathroom Villas feature an in-suite workout facility, a massage room, a dry sauna, a private hair salon, a private kitchen, a formal dining room, a full bar stocked with guests’ favorite beverages, a dual fireplace, and a gorgeous private terrace and garden with a pool and whirlpool. Boasting a private limousine service with private entrance and a 24-hour butler service, the villas at Bellagio are the absolute pinnacle of luxury. Visit Bellagio’s Las Vegas Spa & Salon services where guests can feel restored, revived, and replenished with a unique menu of international treatments in a luxurious and spacious 65,000-square-foot setting. When it comes to entertainment, few places in the world can compete with Bellagio. From Cirque du Soleil, to fine art galleries, casinos, botanical gardens, golf, shopping, and bars catering to almost every conceivable form of sophisticated nightlife, Bellagio offers it all. Bellagio also boasts dining experiences that are equal to anything in the world, with its many award-winning restaurants serving gastronomic delights from all over the world in both fine dining and casual settings. The hotel can accommodate business and conference meetings with facilities ranging from spacious boardrooms to theatres and auditoriums for large-scale corporate events.
El Cortez Cabana Suites (eccabana.com)
Set in the up-and-coming downtown area of Las Vegas, the El Cortez Cabana Suites is the perfect off-Strip option for visitors to Vegas looking to explore an alternative to casino hotels. Each suite includes a 42″ Plasma, iHome Stereo with iPod Dock, custom furniture, fine luxury linens, wifi, snack bar, and in-room safe. Whether you are an early riser or an afternoon brunch type of person, the 24-7 fitness center at the El Cortez Cabana Suites is there for you. The state of the art work out facility includes treadmills, stationary bikes, exercise balls, and more. For those that have to work during their stay, the El Cortez Cabana Suites is proud to offer a fully functional business center. Multiple computers, printers, and fax machines are available at your convenience. Book a Junior Suite or Super Suite for extra luxury. Entertainment options are conveniently located across the street at the hotel’s sister property, El Cortez Hotel and Casino. Get your drink on at the El Cortez Casino Bar. This premier bar features the best domestic and international beers and finest liquors. Combine that with 42″ Flat Screens and video poker and the El Cortez Casino Bar provides a full night’s worth of entertainment. Experience the Vintage Vegas bar scene at the El Cortez Lounge Bar. Enjoy one of our 12 specialty martinis and our daily Happy Hour with friends from 5-7pm or enjoy the nightly live piano music with that someone who might be more than a friend. Kick off your pub-crawl at the El Cortez Lobby Bar. Grab a quick drink while you map out every pub, tavern, and hole-in-the-wall bar you want to hit up. Whether you’re topping your night off with a celebratory shot, enjoying the luxury of a glass of champagne, or soaking it up the next morning with a Bloody Mary, enjoy your favorite adult beverage any time of the day at any of the lounges and bars located throughout El Cortez.
Most people are now well aware of the culinary revolution that swept Vegas in the last decade or so. Chefs began to set up shop in casino hotels where they could launch original concept restaurants and develop franchises. These changes were welcome in a city too used to bland buffets for too long. In fact, the gourmet restaurant scene has become an alternative motivation for Vegas tourists who are not big gamblers. All of this is good news: Vegas now has a wealth of exciting, often new, and always creative restaurants. Go to Olives to taste Todd English’s approach to the Mediterranean. If you are in the mood for a steak, stop at Morton’s. For a cozy French country meal, dine at Pamplemousse; for fancier French try the Mandalay’s Fleur de Lys. Alex Stratta of Iron Chef fame has an eponymous kitchen at Wynn Las Vegas. Fix at the Bellagio offers the perfect blend of gourmet cuisine and accessibility. If you must buffet, do it at Bellagio, where the variety of fine choices is top-rate. If you must go off-Strip, eat at Rosemary’s. Drink vodka at Mandalay’s Red Square. Taste the best of Julian Serrano at Bellagio’s Picasso. Some other favorite foodie destinations include: Lotus of Siam; Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill; Delmonico Steakhouse; Cafe Heidelberg German Deli & Restaurant; Wynn Las Vegas Buffet; Rio’s Carnival World Buffet; Valentino; Mon Ami Gabi; Le Village Buffet; and Burger Bar.
You will not necessarily find lots of vintage treasures in Vegas, but if bling is your thing, Vegas is the right place to be—and many stores stay open late every night. Many of the hotels have shopping areas—some of the best are in Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, and the Venetian. You will find Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman-Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, an Apple Store, and Louis Vuitton at the Las Vegas Fashion Show Mall. The Boulevard, Meadows Mall, and the Galleria at Sunset are also decent malls. If you are looking for bargains, venture off the Strip to the factory outlets. For the big box stores drive down Maryland Parkway. Some other favorite retail therapy stops include: Agent Provocateur for lingerie; the fashionable Bettie Page Boutique; British Foods, Inc. for some Cadbury action, or M&M’s World if Mars is more your thing; Dead Poet Bookstore; Zia Record Exchange; Gamblers General Store; Antiques at the Market; Red Rooster Antique Mall; the Attic; and Buffalo Exchange.
Las Vegas might not be known as a stop on the museum trail, but it does boast the finest kitsch in the world, and, after all, it’s kind of one big living breathing museum! That said, there are indeed some really nice museums to visit in between poker and slots—many of them are on the spectacular side of “museum.” Here are a few to get you started:
Atomic Testing Museum
Guggenheim at Venetian Las Vegas
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Lied Discovery Children’s Museum
Nevada State Museum
Bodies: The Exhibition
Clark County Heritage Museum
Madame Tussauds Las Vegas
Marjorie Barrick Museum
Titanic: The Exhibition
Although Las Vegas goes 24-7, you will find that the Strip is most alive at night. If you have children, keep in mind that in Vegas anyone under 18 is forbidden from the Strip after 9pm on weekends and holidays. The bar scene doesn’t get going until midnight in many locations. The rhythm of the night really caters to going to an evening show and dinner, and then partying down until dawn. Major shows are featured in all the big casino hotels, from lots of Cirque du Soleil to Bette Midler and Barry Manilow. Many shows are semi-permanent. And, although there are fewer these days, you can still find variety shows, magic shows, and even showgirls. You will also find a fair amount of bland DJs in casino lounges. Don’t fret—Vegas is a must-stop city for the biggest concert tours. Ticket prices vary widely and often include a drink or two depending on the venue. Some highlights on the show circuit include Blue Man Group, Penn & Teller, the Cirque du Soleil franchise of shows, Lance Burton (magic), and Jubilee (topless revue). Other top shows (always check before you go since shows do close) include: Bette Midler; Cher; Cirque du Soleil’s O; Cirque du Soleil’s KÀ; Jersey Boys Vegas; MGM Grand’s Crazy Horse Paris; Disney’s The Lion King; Mac King; Cirque du Soleil’s LOVE; American Superstars; and Rita Rudner. For the best in the bar and pub scene visit Double Down Saloon; Petrossian; Caramel; Champagnes Café; Downtown Cocktail Lounge; Griffin; Pussycat Dolls Lounge; Whiskey Bar; and Ghostbar. Some gay-friendly options include: Gipsy and Krave. The best strip clubs include: Sapphire Gentleman’s Club; Seamless; Treasures; Déjà Vu Showgirls; Eden; and Cheetah’s. For clubbing head to Jet; Pure; Rain; Seamess After Hours; the Bank; XS; Cherry; and Christian Audigier.
Some top annual events in Las Vegas include Mardi Gras, Monster Jam World Finals (March 25,26), Sam’s Town 300 (Feb 26), Clark County Fair & Rodeo (April 7-10), CineVegas International Film Festival( June 1 -30), PBR World Finals, and the Las Vegas Marathon. For a calendar of events in Vegas go to lasvegasevents.com. There are also a good number of trade shows and conventions that convene each year in Sin City. Here is a list of the major ones:
Consumer Electronics Show
Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show
International Builders Show
Winter Las Vegas Market (Design)
World of Concrete
Associated Surplus Dealers
National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)
National Hardware Show
World Shoe Association
Associated Surplus Dealers
Fall Las Vegas Market (Design)
Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week