After my Nth time to Las Vegas, I get the odd request for the best things to do and see when first-timers go.
In fact, one came a few weeks after my most recent visit to the Consumer Electronics Show 2011. I duly sent off an email, and got told by reply that I should blog it, so – here you are! My tips on getting the best bang for your Las Vegas Buck.
When you come out of L.V. airport, if there are 3 of you or less (and you’ve not hired a car) consider getting the shared shuttle instead of the taxi. For $6 each or so you get driven to your hotel (if it’s on the strip) with a bunch of other people who are also doing the same – great place to start random conversations.
If it’s your first time, I’d recommend staying on the strip, some bargains can be had if you shop around. You’ll probably be visiting a lot of hotels on your trip, so don’t worry about paying top dollar for a top hotel unless you intend to stay in that one the whole time.
Make a particular effort to see the Wynn and the Cosmopolitan – also mooch through the Bellagio, Venetian and Paris. If you ever watched the series ‘Las Vegas’ pop over to the Montecarlo hotel. There’s a pretty good sushi bar on the ground floor there.
Things you MUST MUST MUST Do in Las Vegas.
0. The best free thing in Las Vegas is the Fountain show at the Bellagio. Every time I watch it, I find it utterly breathtaking.
1. Eat at the Wicked Spoon in the Cosmopolitan hotel – 29 bucks gets you fed and watered (more if you want booze) – prices are correct as at Jan 2011
2. Go see a show: it may cost a bit, but ‘O’ at the Bellagio is SPECTACULAR. you are best off getting blocks 203 (or 303 on the cheap). Section 10X will be cool, but you’ll be paying a premium for being closer to the stage. You may get wet in the first few rows. http://www.bestofvegas.com/Shows-Tickets/ go for the insider tour and for $260 you get great seats and a backstage tour – which I haven’t done ! Jan 2011 saw me with a ticket in section 303 at the back costing $100.
3. BARGAIN ALERT: if you gamble at tables in Paris or the Wynn, you will be given complementary drinks while you’re at the tables.
4. Yes, do the Fashion show mall, get 30mins at the oxygen bar but if you’re really into shopping, hit the PREMIUM OUTLET STORES for better prices. There’s an all you can eat japanese which is good value here if you’re not burger-inclined.
5. Other places to eat:
Margaritaville – surf food, and a brilliant evening out on the strip, try the tuna tataki – they also do lots of steaks.
There’s a Japanese restaurant in the MGM grand called Shibuya which is very tasty – I was taken there for dinner and consequently have no idea about the prices.
I would stock up at breakfast time, generally hotels will have an all-you-can-eat buffet where you can stuff in food to last you the day. If you’re staying on the strip, you can also wander into Denny’s for breakfast 24 hours a day. That’s a LOT of pancakes and hash browns.
6. Ride the Monorail! it gives you a great idea of where things are. It’s a terrible attempt at infrastructure and not actually near that much but it’s fun. $12 day pass.
7. Go to the shops at the Venetian and eat italian food under the fake sky. The gondolas are nice but be warned v. expensive – unless you’ve got a yearning, don’t worry too much about it.
8. If you like roller coasters, then go to New York New York and stick everything you own in a locker near the coaster queue. Buy a re-ride, you’ll want it! Also hit the Stratosphere hotel – have drinks on the nearly-top-floor bar, and go up on the roof for some truly hair raising rides. I highly recommend the drop ride on the top of the tower at night, which gives you incredible views of the strip. Ask nicely to be facing it when you’re hurled into the air.
The rides are not for the faint hearted, but the bar is the nicest part of the hotel, and they do vitamin water Detox/retox cocktails.
9. If you’re into quirky, look up both the Neon Museum and the Pinball Hall of Fame. You could also visit Fremont Street (the old town) although I’ve not had a chance to get down there yet. If you want to shoot things with live ammo, go to American Shooters who will let you fire real guns on their range.
10. Learn how to play craps!
It looks a lot like a city, so it’s easy to forget that Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert. So drink lots and lots of water. You might want to bring along some throat sweets too – a combination of dry air, lots of cheering and rollercoasters means you might be a bit croaky after a few days. At night it gets cold, so even if the sun is out, it’s worth packing an extra layer.
Have a lovely time, and let me know how you get on – Viva Las Vegas, baby !