As mentioned in my last post, I wasn’t feeling super stoked about visiting Las Vegas. When I travel, I love discovering the unseen, and the Las Vegas Strip is by far one of the biggest and most iconic tourist destinations in the world! So as you can imagine, there’s not a whole lot to do in Las Vegas that hasn’t been done a billion times before – and rightly so!
That said, given my affinity for going off of the guide book, I spent a fair bit of time researching fun things to do in Las Vegas, both on and off The Strip. While I didn’t want to miss out on the iconic things you simply have to do in Las Vegas, I also wanted the trip to feel unique. And that’s the best thing about Las Vegas – anything you want to do, you can! There’s the right vibe for everyone.
You could walk down the strip topless, cocktail in hand with all of your girlfriends (yep, we saw that!) You could spend 18 hours straight at a casino, gambling from sunrise to sunset as the hotel staff vacuum the carpet around you (yes, we saw that too!) You could have a Michelin star meal for breakfast, and end the day at one of the world’s biggest buffets (this was us! haha) Or you could pass on the food all together and stick to liquid diet at a raging party by the pool (maybe next time with the girls!) There are shows and helicopter rides, clubs and shopping. There’s also a fair bit of art and culture – you just have to know where to look!Ahead of our trip, I compiled a Las Vegas bucket list that was a good mix of must-dos and off the beaten path attractions, so we didn’t spend three days straight drinking frozen cocktails on The Strip. And you know what? Aside from some rain and a little bit of altitude sickness, our time in Vegas turned out to be pretty great :) So if you’re also heading to Las Vegas for the first time, and want a good mix of iconic and bespoke activities, here’s our Las Vegas bucket list!
#1 Hotel Hop
Let’s get this one off the list right away – if you’re going to Vegas, you have to check out all of the famous hotels! Start at one end of the strip and then spend a few hours making your way to the opposite end, checking out lobbies, casinos, shops, and impressive hotel features along the way. Some of my favorite hotels to explore were The Venetian, The Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Paris Las Vegas, and New York New York. Each hotel has a special theme or feature, for example Caesar’s Palace has excellent shopping, The Bellagio has stunning gardens, and New York New York has a massive roller coster winding through the cityscape. Each hotel has a casino, and a theme that carries throughout. We explored the strip twice, once in the day and again in the evening (big cocktail in hand both times – but more on that later!) and we would definitely suggest this strategy, as it’s fun to see the strip in daylight and again glowing at night.#2 Check Out First Friday
If you happen to be in Las Vegas on the first Friday of the month, you can check out the city’s local art scene. First Friday take place (as you might have guessed!) on every first Friday of the month, from 5pm-11pm in Downtown Las Vegas’ Arts District. Here you will find ample local art vendors, food trucks, and galleries that swing open their doors for a unique Las Vegas art experience away from the hustle and bustle of the Strip.
#3 Eat At a Buffet!
Las Vegas is the home of excess. Whether you’re looking for topless showgirls or the best casinos in the country, you’re sure to find it in Sin City. And the list of Vegas indulgences doesn’t end at gambling or erotica – here you will also find namesake restaurants for many famous chefs, such as Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, and Gordon Ramsay, allowing you to fuel your inner glutton. In addition to what you indulge in, you can also go a little bit crazy with the how much, as Las Vegas is also home to some of the most notable buffets in the world. While in Las Vegas, we ate at Bacchanal at Caesar’s Palace, a 25,000-square-foot restaurant with more than 300 items to choose from at dinner time alone! We indulged in everything from ramen to crab claws, panna cotta to pasta, and a lot more in between – and each dish was divine! The Buffet at The Bellagio and The Buffet at the Wynn were also highly recommended. If you’re going to do Vegas, you have to do a buffet!#4 Have Breakfast at Kitchen Table
As Kai and I were flying into Las Vegas from Amsterdam, I assumed we would be very, very jet lagged while adjusting to a 9-hour time difference. So on our list were a few stellar breakfast options that opened early – in case we woke up at 4am starving, we could easily find salvation! Top of my breakfast list was Kitchen Table, a scrumptious looking restaurant located off of The Strip, with some truly stellar sounding menu options. Pick from nine different mimosa flavors, benedicts, pancakes, crepes, a range of Mexican-inspired breakfast dishes, or just do lunch! Literally every item the menu made my heart beat a little bit faster and my mouth salivate – snickerdoodle latte?! Duck and cheese omelette?! Crab avocado dip?! Hold me back!
#5 Roam The Strip with a Giant Frozen Cocktail
In Vegas, anything goes, which includes roaming around with an open alcoholic beverage! So while you could save some cash and pick up a few beers at the local CVS, you could also hit up Lime Ice Frozen Bar (or one of the other many bars along the strip that sell big, frozen cocktails) and splurge on a icy margarita or daiquiri! My favorite day in Las Vegas was spent hotel hopping with Kai while sipping a giant frozen margarita along the way!#6 Play Giant Connect Four at Beer Park
If you love beer, Las Vegas has your back! While Beer Park is located on the strip and has a stunning view of the Bellagio, it hardly offers the flashy Las Vegas experience you might expect. Here you will find a terrace with fairy lights and communal picnic bench seating, an array of games giant outdoor games, and over 100 beers to pick from. If you’re looking for a fun, all-American vibe where you can play beer pong and enjoy some nachos and a beer served from a plastic cup, Beer Park is a fun stop where you can enjoy the strip, but with a laid back and fun twist.
#7 Visit the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden
While stopping by the Bellagio Hotel was already mentioned on this list, the Bellagio Botanical Gardens get a special shout out, as they are sensational and are not to be missed! I went to the gardens expecting to find flowers, and was shocked to discover creations – large scale sculptures, shapes, and animals, all adorned with thousands of colorful flowers. The gardens smelled delightful, and are one of the few free attractions you will find in Las Vegas. #8 Stroll Amongst Cacti at The Spring Preserve
The Springs Preserve is a 180-acre cultural institution that features of walking trails, museums, galleries, and botanical gardens. The Preserve is located 3 miles west of downtown Las Vegas, allowing you to sample dessert life without leaving the city. Although the Preserve was high on our Las Vegas bucket list, Kai and I didn’t make it this time around, as we planned to camp and hike outside for the next two weeks! If you do go, let us know how it was, as we definitely plan to check it out in thee future!
#9 See a Show
Las Vegas is home to some super cool artists in residence, ranging from musicians such as Celine Dion and Drake to magic shows such as Penn & Teller and Criss Angel. Prior to your visit, check out a Las Vegas show time calendar (such as this one) to see if there are any performances you’d be interested in checking out while you’re in town. If you wait until you arrive, you risk missing out on tickets or getting crappy seats. I was dying to see Celine Dion (I saw her at the hight of Titanic’s popularity when I was 10 and would kill to see her again!), Backstreet Boys (again nostalgia), or Calvin Harris (current Ali thinks he’s cool!) but unfortunately none of these artists were performing while we were in Las Vegas, so we left things till last minute. In the end, we were way too jet lagged to commit to a 9pm show – so thankfully we played this one right! That said, you never know when you will hit the timing of your trip to coincide with your favorite artist’s performance, so keep an eye on show times!
#10 Chill at a Spa
Jet lag in mind, I also looked into the best spas in Las Vegas, so Kai and I could spend a day sleeping and floating around in luxury. Most appealing was The Spa at Encore. The space was dreamy, but what I loved even more was that for $75, you could make use of all of the spa’s facilities (or $40 if you’re a hotel guest!) Included in the price are multiple hot tubs, pools, steam rooms, wellness showers, and relax areas, not to mention complimentary tea and infused water. Frankly, the cost to access the spa per person is less than Kai and I spent in 5 hours on The Strip, so value for money, I’d say it’s totally worth it if you want a plush Vegas experience and the ability to relax at the same time.
#11 All You Can Eat Brunch
And while we’re on the topic of value for money, let’s talk about all you can eat brunch at Aria. Here you will find a lush, all you can eat brunch for $59 per person on Saturday and Sunday. Included are all kitchen items, such as duck fat fries and orange ricotta chocolate chip pancakes (is it me or does this combo actually sound divine?!) in addition to live stations such as juice bars, carving stations, a poke bar (!!!), and (ready for this!!) A BLOODY MARY BAR! Sign me up!!!
#12 Check out the Neon Museum
The Neon Museum is cool! So cool that they got their very own blog post here. That said, it’s no surprise that the museum has secured a solid spot on this list :) The Neon Museum is home to a boneyard where massive, once glittering signs go to die – or not, as the museum has given these neon signs a second life in a rainbow collection that spans more than two acres! General admission $22, but if you book you ticket an online a discount will be applied. You can check find ticket and time information on the museum’s website here. Other than eating tons of food, visiting the Neon Boneyard was our favorite Las Vegas activity, and we’d highly recommend a visit if you’re in town!
#12 Take a Spin on the High Roller Observation Wheel
If you have the stomach for it, take a spin on the High Roller Observation Wheel. In addition to having a super suitable name, this iconic ride stands 520 feet high, surpassing both the London Eye and the Singapore Flyer. One rotation takes 30 minutes and offers unparalleled views of the Las Vegas Strip! And if you want to roll even higher, book a spin on the High Roller Happy Half Hour cabin – a special cabin that includes not only a ride but an open bar as well! And if alcohol is not your cup of tea, the Observation Wheel also offers personalized yoga sessions or chocolate tasting experiences. Turns out you can do almost anything at 520 feet in Las Vegas!
#13 Visit a Cupcake ATM
While Japan may have hot canned coffee and iPhones ready to spit out of a vending machine at a moment’s notice, Vegas has CUPCAKES. Yes, there is a cupcake ATM in Las Vegas and yes, you can order a fresh cupcake from it on the spot! Made by Sprinkles Bakery, this quick cupcake fix will far surpass the quick Hostess cupcake experience you’ve come to equate with cupcakes on the go. Note: The Sprinkles location at the LINQ closed on the 5th of July, but two new Vegas locations will open in the fall! So keep an eye on their site if you want a delicious cupcake to go :)
#14 Order Off the Menu at Chandelier Bar
Sure, you might have had drinks under a chandelier, but have you ever had a cocktail INSIDE one? Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas allows you to do just that, at a three-story bar where you’re literally situated inside a stunning chandelier. While the bar is known for serving award winning cocktails, the best drink is found off the menu. Ask for the Verbena and you’ll be treated to a delicious lemon verbena and ginger cocktail that truly tingles the tongue!
#15 Have a Pool Day
With so much going on, Las Vegas can be a little overwhelming. However, with nearly 300 days of sunshine a year and hundreds of hotels pools, relaxing in Las Vegas is a breeze. Pick a day, find a pool chair, bring your favorite book, and sip a wildly overpriced cocktail. You only live once!
This list only just scratches the surface of the fun to be had in Las Vegas! What is on the top of your Las Vegas list?!