I was able to go on several weekend trips to Las Vegas while going to college in Los Angeles. Even after I moved to New York, my friends and I have planned annual trips to catch up, party, and eat good food (emphasis on the eating). I wanted to share some of my go-to places in Paradise City.
WALK THE STRIP This only applies if you have never been to Vegas before. It's cool to see all the different hotels, the variety of crazy interior decor, random street performances and hotel displays. Be sure to check out BELLAGIO's massive fountain display outside and seasonal lobby display inside. The fountain show during the week is from 3-8PM every half hour, and 8PM-12AM every 15 minutes, and plays even more often during the weekends. All the other themed hotels are worth a visit as well, such as the VENETIAN with its canals inspired from Venice, Italy, and the island/pirate display of TREASURE ISLAND.
WELCOME TO LAS VEGAS SIGN Note: only visit this if you are a tourist and like taking pictures. A picture with this iconic sign serves as a fabulous souvenir from Las Vegas.
SHOP If you have a lot to spend, go to THE SHOP AT CRYSTALS at the City Center, which has pretty much every luxury brand. If you're a normal shopper like me, go to the MIRACLE MILE at Planet Hollywood, or THE FORUMS at Caesar's Palace. I guess you can also take a visit to the GOLD & SILVER PAWN SHOP if you're a fan of the History Channel show the Pawn Stars. If you have to find a last minute party dress, you might want to visit the physical RENT THE RUNWAY store located in the Cosmopolitan.
BUFFETS This might be one of my favorite parts of Vegas, attending the buffets the day after staying out all night.
- My favorite value for price is the lunch buffet at WICKED SPOON that's located in the Cosmo. (Lines can get long but definitely worth it!) It's only $38 for lunch (plus tax and tip) for great quality all you can eat. I love their meat carving station and the dessert selection. If you want more seafood options, go at dinner. Or to really get the most value, try to enter just before lunch ends and eat until they start bringing out the dinner options and eat again. (Be sure to look this up before you go--lunch ends around 2 PM for weekdays and 3 PM for weekends. Dinner starts at 5 PM on weekdays and 3 PM on weekends.)
- I love the new buffet at the ARIA, especially the paella and the fish market.
- The WYNN BUFFET is a great option as well. It's one of the prettiest in my opinion and a good atmosphere makes the food taste better! (Only half joking)
SECRET PIZZA Hidden on the third floor of the Cosmopolitan, this place has long lines but is definitely worth it for a great pie. It's takeaway only, so take it back to your hotel room and enjoy!
EARL OF SANDWICH Located in the shops at Planet Hollywood, this place is great for a yummy and quick bite to eat. I also always come here after the clubs close at 6 PM to grab a bite to eat before heading to bed. It's open 24 hours!
HASH HOUSE A GO GO Speaking of 24-hour restaurants that are good for post-parties, this all-American restaurant is located in The Plaza hotel is known to be a great place to prevent or cure hangovers.
BRUXIE This restaurant is based out of Southern California and I'm glad they also have a Vegas branch. I love their chicken and waffles, what more can I say? They're both perfectly crispy and well cooked. The sweet waffles with berries are also worth a try.
GORDON RAMSAY BURGR One of his great restaurants that's at a more accessible price point. I love how they offer such a large variety of burger types!
MON AMI GABI This moderately-priced French restaurant is located in the Paris Paris Hotel and is right across from the Bellagio. I like the outdoor seating where you can watch the Vegas crowds walk by. If you make your reservations after 7 PM, you can see the Bellagio fountains go off every 15 minutes, which would be best seen from the second floor terrace.
JOE'S SEAFOOD PRIME STEAK & STONE CRAB This highly rated restaurant has a long name for a reason--it excels not only in seafood and crabs, but also in their amazing steaks. It's located in The Forum Shop at Caesar's Palace.
SUSHI ROKU Excellent sushi without breaking the bank. The sushi chefs only select the freshest fish for their daily menu. Customers can choose to build their own bento box as well.
NIGHT CLUBS Sometimes it depends on which DJ is playing, but my favorite three are OMNIA (new club in the Caesar's Palace with an amazing light chandelier), XS (recently renovated at the Wynn with an awesome pool outside), and MARQUEE. I usually get in contact with my promoters who help my friends and I get in on the guestlist with no cover charge, and sometimes with free drink tickets. HAKKASAN is also a good choice, but I'm usually drawn to clubs that also have an outside area, which XS and MARQUEE all have. (Though during the colder months, the outside portion often closes down.)
I found that even if a super famous DJ is not playing, the club will still have a good crowd of people if it's a popular place. I also found that when a famous person is playing, the dance floor would be way too crowded and rowdy to really dance or move around.
DAY CLUBS I had a lot of fun at DAYLIGHT day club at Mandalay Bay. I also would recommend the MARQUEE DAY CLUB at the Cosmopolitan and WET REPUBLIC at MGM Grand. DRAI'S beach club also has a great view overlooking the strip. Make sure to see what the lineups are so you can see which clubs would be the most popping.
BELLAGIO's renown for its service, but pretty much every single Vegas hotel will have great service just to stay competitive in such a saturated market. I usually like to stay around the center, and places like VENETIAN, PLANET HOLLYWOOD, MGM are all good traditional Vegas hotels. The newer City Center hotels like the COSMOPOLITAN, ARIA, and VDARA are also great stays as well, with a more modern feel. Every hotel has a drawing feature, whether it's the great day/night clubs or restaurants or pools or attractions, so I think it's hard to go wrong with one. Especially since most of the action on the Strip is pretty close to each other and it's not hard to go from one to another.
Or, trying to stay within a tighter budget but still close to all the action? Since you won't really be spending much time in the actual room when you're in Vegas, I recommend HOOTERS HOTEL, THE MIRAGE, EXCALIBUR.
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