I keep seeing “What should I do?” in r/LasVegas, r/poker, r/travel subs. Having visited Vegas since 2007, I finally wrote a guide for something that appeals to ALL demos, whether you gamble or not.
The general idea is that if you are on a budget, stay OFF-Strip.
If you have money to torch, well, the Strip is optimized for that.
If you stay on strip, Cosmopolitan is a great first-time stay. Off-strip, just get an Airbnb and car rental pre-booked.
For clarity, I divided my ideas based on activity, budget, and location.
$$$$ é by José Andrés, Cosmopolitan
I’ve been to a few Jose Andres. This one still stands as the most memorable and unique. Get reservations in advance, the whole restaurant has only nine seats.
$$$$, Joël Robuchon, MGM Grand
Spoilers, but…THAT DESSERT CART!
$$$$ Bazaar Meat by José Andrés, Sahara
Best steakhouse? Difficult question, I was torn between this and Prime at Bellagio, which is a more “classic” Vegas institution. But Bazaar has the real deal on Kobe meat and a more exotic menu.
$$$ Scarpetta, Cosmopolitan
A NYC Italian classic with excellent service. Aria’s Carbone is similar, but here the menu is a bit more interesting, a bit more for your money.
$$$ Bouchon, Venetian
If I’m down this part of the strip, THE essential Thomas Keller brunch spot (please, Peppermill pagans). Don’t forget to grab macarons at the Bouchon Bakery, too for the way back.
$$ Din Tai Fung, Aria
Put your name down asap, cause there be lines, but for good reason.
$$ Salt & Ivy, Aria
Favorite last-breakfast-meal before we head home. Lemon curd “Dutch baby” pancakes, yes.
$$ True Food Kitchen, Caesar’s
For the healthy traveler that has dietary restrictions, this is a Melis-approved, wonderful spot that’s never too busy with friendly service. Fastest way to get there is through the Valet/Uber pick-up entrance.
$$ The Henry, Cosmopolitan
Solid late-hour AND brunch spot. Preferably drunk or near broke. Maybe both.
$$ Momofuku, Cosmopolitan
Funny enough, I like this spot more than NY’s. Less fussy, but fast, great service.
$$ Yard House, The Linq
If you need a quick, deep menu that’s available 11am-midnight and won’t break the bank, Yard House is perfect for tournament dinner breaks.
$$ Grand Lux Cafe, Venetian
When you’ve just been beaten to death at the tables, and need a 24/7 spot to nurse your trauma.
$ The Pizzeria, aka Secret Pizza, Cosmopolitan
LOL at the haters, dude, this is like the cheapest NY-style pizza on the strip at three in the morning. Read the room.
$ Urth Cafe, Wynn
Healthy food, the best coffee in its area.
Iconic Southern Californian burger that’s been around since 1948. S+ merch, too.
$$$$ Shops at the Crystals, Aria
Harry Winston, Chanel, Gucci, Hermes. Accept no substitutes when it comes to Shopping, capital, especially when you win big.
Bonus: There’s a free James Turrell art installation near the rails upstairs.
$$$ Watch a show!
Cirque “O” or “Beatles Love,” can’t really go wrong with either for your first time.
Free The nightly Fountain Show, Bellagio
Grab the gang, and watch it like you just stole $150 million in 2001’s USD value. If you’ve never done this, did you even Vegas?
$$$$ Play in the World Series of Poker, Ballys and Paris
Self-explanatory, beginners not recommended.
$$$-$$$$ Bet on and watch a UFC/Boxing Fight
Your mileage may vary, but Vegas is the fight capital of the United States.
$$$-$$$$ Poker, Bellagio
Imho, a reliable $1-$3 spread to $5-$10 NL Texas poker. Sure, Bellagio has its weekday miserable regs. But on the weekends and weeknights, it’s got a good mix. Aria has more sharps, Wynn has higher stake whales. I haven’t heard of anyone vouch MGM, Venetian, or Resorts World poker, for that matter.
$$ Video Poker, Cosmopolitan
A bit of a misnomer, as there are no longer any low-stakes “full-pay” video poker machines unless it’s high-roller. But if you must, Cosmopolitan has a good collection of barely-break-even slot action with perfect play. IF YOU MUST.
$$ Lotus of Siam
When you research, “Best Thai food in Las Vegas,” don’t say I didn’t tell you so.
$$ Atomic Liquors
Oldest freestanding bar that was a Rat Pack hang. If you like beer, you must like it here.
$ Pinball Hall of Fame
A non-profit collection of over 200 pinball machines spanning seven decades, it’s something to behold.
$ Neon Museum
Grab your camera, and walk through signage history lore.
Free Seven Magic Mountains
Free, but you still need to rent a car, it’s pretty far out.
Free Red Rock Canyon/Valley of Fire
The hikes! Do very early or very late, the sun is no joke out here. Rental car, recommended.
$-$$$$ The Circa Sportsbook
The market-maker in Vegas. The lounge is the best place to watch a live sports game, there probably will be cover. It’s free if you stay at the Circa hotel.
Did I miss any other great recommendations? Let me know!
Note to Future Self TO-DO:
– Shelby Heritage Center
– Absinthe show
– Try Sodas from Around the World at Coca-Cola Place
– More cheap eats here!