A city guide to Las Vegas
The constant traveller: Las Vegas
Words— Kaitlyn McInnis
A weekend in Las Vegas calls for unapologetic indulgence—from fine food and wine to dazzling pools and hotel views but it doesn’t have to be all high roller casinos and residency shows. The desert oasis has a lot to offer every type of traveller, most of which you’ll find without having to leave The Strip (if that’s your thing).
Whether you’re in Sin City to try cool new cocktails and cuisines or you’ve been dying to catch an international rendition of Cirque du Soleil, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas—but we’ll let these recommendations slip.
Where to eat
Quietly tucked into the ARIA hotel, you’ll find Bardot Brasserie. French fusion is the name of the game here -- and they do it well. Start with a cheese board or a falafel plate and be sure to get the “Parisian” gnocchi -- a dizzying combination of fluffy semolina gnocchi, tete de moine cheese, morel mushrooms, english peas, french black truffle, nettle pistou and spring onion soubise.
From food truck connoisseur to Las Vegas’ newest culinary wunderkind, Roy Choi’s well-loved Best Friend restaurant takes notes from Koreatown in LA and translates it into a playful bar and restaurant serving up BBQ and late-night food in the new Park MGM Hotel and Casino.
Not in the mood for theme restaurants or opulence? Move away from The Strip for a night and try out VegeNation. This vegan-friendly mainstay is a favourite with locals and visitors alike -- and for good reason. Here you can expect fresh, locally-sourced “street food”, from pho and Nashville-style hot “chicken” to tacos and cauliflower wings, there’s something for everyone (and whatever it is, it’s entirely plant-based).
Where to drink
Sure, Vegas may be known for its over-the-top opulence, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a lowkey bar on The Strip. Ghost Donkey is a lesser-known speakeasy hidden in plain sight. The 8-seat bar serves up mezcal cocktails and nachos only -- but everything they serve is excellent. Look for the white donkey on the door hidden behind Block 16 Urban Food Hall.
Juniper Cocktail Lounge
Juniper Cocktail Lounge, nestled into Park MGM feels like the perfect hidden escape from the bustle of the slot machines just beyond the door. Grab a seat at the bar and chat with the bar staff before ordering -- here, they pride themselves on their innovative gin-based cocktails and the bartenders are always happy to make recommendations based on your tastes.
Hazel Cocktails & Coffee
Despite its positioning in the middle of Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, Hazel Cocktails & Coffee is a bright and cheerful spot, which boasts a selection of award-winning premium coffees by day and fresh takes on classic cocktails in the evenings. You can also expect gold lounge sofas (because, well, it’s Vegas), live entertainment and inviting dark wood finishings.
Galleries and museums
Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art
Art lovers flock to The Bellagio like moths to a flame -- and for good reason. With permanent pieces from the likes of Dale Chiluly and featured extended exhibitions from internationally renowned artists like Yayoi Kusama and Andy Warhol, the ever-changing displays of world-class art is a must see.
The Neon Museum Boneyard
A quick commute from The Strip will bring you to The Neon Museum Boneyard. Exactly as it sounds, this iconic museum boasts retired signs from old casinos and other businesses. The independent non-profit museum considers the signs artistically and historically significant to the culture of the city and each and every sign is carefully preserved in its original state.
The Las Vegas strip may seem gloriously tacky at first glance, but it’s well worth doing a deep dive into its unique architecture. From replica cities like New York-New York Hotel & Casino and Paris Las Vegas, to the striking fountains at The Bellagio and the kitschy turrets at The Excalibur, each hotel has something completely unique to offer -- and can make for quite the trip.
Make your way downtown to Fremont Street to catch a glimpse of old Las Vegas. Fremont Street was technically where it all began -- here you’ll find famous pieces of Las Vegas history, from the Golden Nugget to the Golden Gate.
Things to do
Cirque du Soleil
If you’ve never experienced a Cirque du Soleil show, there’s no better place to do so than in Vegas. There are usually at least two shows in the city at a given date -- one at The Mirage and one at The Bellagio. If you’re flexible, try to buy your tickets the day of the show you want to see -- there are often great last minute deals available online and in person.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Nature activities may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas but stepping outside of the city and taking in the dizzying desert landscape is well worth it. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is known for its jaw-dropping red sandstone peaks and canyons, seasonal waterfalls and hiking trails for all skill levels.
Graceland Wedding Chapel
Getting married in Las Vegas has become a pop culture touchstone -- it’s quicker than planning a wedding back home, but more fun than heading to city hall. If you’re not looking to tie the knot but you want the photos and memories of an Elvis-themed ceremony, many wedding chapels in Vegas perform commitment ceremonies or friendship ceremonies, so you can still say your vows in front of Elvis without anything legally binding.
Where to shop
The shopping malls in Las Vegas are something else. To escape the desert heat (or spend some of your winnings), head to Fashion Show. Located right on the strip, Shopping Mall boasts handfuls of familiar stores -- from AG Jeans and Free People to Louis Vuitton and Saks Fifth Avenue but the real star of the mall is the weekly fashion shows, which take place in the middle of the mall on a retractable runway.
The Grand Canal Shoppes
If you’ve ever been to Venice, Italy, The Grand Canal Shoppes may look vaguely familiar. Tucked into The Venetian Hotel & Casino and The Palazzo, this upscale shopping mall has indoor canals, where gondolas take people from shop to shop -- a cheeky, not-so-subtle nod to the Italian city.
Downtown Container Park
The Downtown Container Park is not directly on The Strip, but it’s worth the commute to Fremont Street. The unique shopping centre was built from old shipping containers and boasts a handful of galleries and a cozy courtyard where guests can stop and have a beer or frozen cocktail.