Las Vegas, otherwise known as the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” is one of the most visited tourist destinations, not only in the US but globally as well. Because of its mega casinos and numerous forms of adult entertainment, it is known as the “Sin City.” Many people don’t know that there’s more to Vegas than meets the eye. You’ll be surprised to know that Las Vegas is not just for gamblers. This city offers fabulous shows, restaurants, and activities for every member of the family. If you’re traveling to Las Vegas for the first time, you may not know where to stay, things to do, where to eat, among others. Here, we share tips regarding Las Vegas for first timers.
Where to Stay in Las Vegas
There are many options for where to stay in Las Vegas. If you want to save money, try Airbnb (please click here for a discount). Through this platform, you can find hotel rooms, houses, and apartments in Las Vegas. Very convenient indeed.
But if you want to stay in a hotel in Las Vegas, read the following section.
How to Choose a Hotel in Las Vegas
Each hotel in Las Vegas offers a unique ambiance and set of amenities. If you’re finding it hard to choose a hotel, ask yourself this question: What are your priorities?
• Priority: Luxury
Las Vegas is a great city to indulge yourself. If you want to be pampered from head to toe, find a hotel with a good spa. While most hotels in Las Vegas have them, the Palazzo, Aria, and Venetian are more renowned for their relaxing and lavish spas. To enjoy the best price (and discounts) at the Venetian, please click here.
If you prefer Michelin-starred dining, choose a hotel that is home to any of Vegas’s fine dining experiences. The Aureole at Mandalay Bay, the Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian, and Wolfgang Puck’s Cut at Palazzo are good fine dining choices on the Strip.
• Priority: Gambling
If you’re going to Las Vegas to gamble, consider playing off the Strip at places like the Rio, Palms, Orleans, or Gold Coast. Off-Strip and Downtown hotels usually have better odds and lower table minimums, and they are more popular with the locals.
• Priority: Budget
If you’re concerned about budget, consider staying off the Strip. Generally speaking, hotels located on the Strip are more expensive. If you’ve saved enough money for your Las Vegas trip, staying in a hotel on the Strip will take you closer to where the action is. But if you want to cut down on costs, downtown Las Vegas is a great budget-friendly alternative.
Just remember that aside from the regular room rate, every hotel also charges resort fees. These fees are for services such as Wi-Fi and amenities (fees vary, around $30 per night).
• Priority: Location
If you want to be where the action is, consider staying at a hotel on the Strip. The Strip is a good choice for first-time visitors because of its proximity to the main tourist attractions while still allowing access to spots in Downtown Las Vegas and/or excursions beyond the city limits.
But if you are more interested in exploring the historical and cultural side of Las Vegas, the Downtown offers a more relaxed atmosphere plus it’s only a few miles north of the Strip. Also, it is home to many unique restaurants and attractions, including the Fremont Street Experience.
• Priority: Family
If you have kids traveling with you, choosing a hotel may be a bit tricky. Before you book a hotel room, make sure you do your research. Choose a hotel that has more to offer than just casinos or other adult-only entertainment.
Popular choices for families include:
Mandalay Bay – This hotel has a multi-pool complex complete with a wave pool, lazy river, and sandy beach. The shark reef is popular with kids. Also, the rooms can be accessed without the need to cross the casino floor.
Circus Circus – This resort offers family-friendly activities, including a live circus performance everyday (11 am till midnight). It is located right next to Adventuredome, a huge 5-acre indoor theme park.
Orleans – Technically speaking, Orleans is located off the Strip. It has a supervised play zone, arcade, bowling alley, and movie theatre.
• Priority: Exploring and Activities
There is no shortage of things to do in Las Vegas. From day clubs and lounging poolside to shopping and world-class shows, there’s something for everyone.
Shopping – Some hotels in Las Vegas such as Caesar’s Palace and the Venetian have interconnected shopping malls if you are looking to splurge on a shopping spree.
Shows – Most hotels have a show to offer. If there’s a particular one you want to see, book a room at that hotel. If you’re lucky, you can get a discount on show tickets.
Exploring – Guided day tours from the Strip are available to many wonderful tourist spots such as the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, and the Red Rock Canyon. Perhaps you want to try the West Rim Skywalk on a Grand Canyon tour, experience the rugged North Rim, or fly to the South Rim in a helicopter.
Things to Do in Las Vegas
See the amazing Bellagio fountains
With a combination of water, music, and light, the Bellagio fountains deliver a spectacular audiovisual performance. Catch sight of the fountains shooting water 500 feet into the air, with accompanying music from Frank Sinatra or Tiesto. Shows run every half hour during the day and every 15 minutes at night, offering an ambiance of class and romance to your sightseeing experience. It’s totally free, so don’t forget to include this on your to-do list. For more information on the Bellagio fountains, click here.
Hit golf balls at Topgolf
While there are other Topgolf locations around the country, the one in Las Vegas is definitely one of the best. Drive golf balls while staring at the Strip skyline, which by the way looks great day or night. Hang out in your very own private bay while ordering food like the Pretzel Board, which is similar to a fruit and charcuterie plate served inside a giant soft pretzel. To learn more about Topgolf Las Vegas, click here.
Enjoy a ride on the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, the High Roller
If there's one touristy thing every tourist should do in Las Vegas, it is a spin on the High Roller. The High Roller is a 550-foot tall Ferris wheel on the Las Vegas Strip. Currently, it is the world’s tallest Ferris wheel. A daytime ride ticket costs $25, while a night ride ticket costs $37 (starts at 6 pm). For young people ages 7 to 17, a daytime ride is $10 while a night ride is $20. Children 6 years old and under are free.
One rotation of this giant Ferris wheel takes about 30 minutes. Each of the 28 passenger cabins (capsules) can accommodate up to 40 people. You can even throw out a private party in a cabin if you book in advance, complete with a bar and bartender if you so desire. At the highest point, you'll enjoy magnificent views of the Strip, the surrounding valley, and the whole of Las Vegas. If you want to book a ride on the High Roller, click here.
Watch a Cirque du Soleil Performance
Las Vegas is sometimes touted as the Entertainment Capital of the World. So it’s not surprising that a world-renowned act like the Cirque du Soleil chose to perform there. Cirque du Soleil (literal translation, “Circus of the Sun”) is known for incredible acrobatic feats, performed with a high level of artistry.
Performances are inspired by a variety of cultural and natural elements. For example, the “LOVE” show (performed at The Mirage) pays tribute to the Beatles. Meanwhile “O” (at the Bellagio) has water playing an important role in the performance. Other Cirque du Soleil performances include “Criss Angel MINDFREAK LIVE!” at the Luxor, “Michael Jackson ONE” at Mandalay Bay, “Mystère” at Treasure Island, and “KÀ” at the MGM Grand.
A Cirque du Soleil performance can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Tickets can be expensive, but most say it’s worth the price. Prices and show times vary by performance, date, and venue. To enjoy ticket discounts on KÀ by Cirque Du Soleil, please click here.
Ride a zip line between 2 hotel towers
Las Vegas has a few zip lines to offer, including one over the Fremont Street Experience and another along the hills of Bootleg Canyon. But the one that provides the most excitement is the VooDoo Zip Line at the Rio. It starts on the 50th floor of the Masquerade Tower, carrying up to two people about 800 feet down to the Ipanema Tower at speeds of up to 33 mph. While freaking out, you get stunning views of the Spring Mountains to the west and the Strip to the east. To buy tickets to the Rio Zip Line, click here.
Drive supercars at SpeedVegas
SpeedVegas will allow you to hop behind the wheel of a supercar and race around a 1.5-mile track with 12 turns and shifts in elevation to keep things interesting. Whether it's a Ferrari 488 GTB, Porsche 911 GT3 RS, or a Lamborghini Huracan, you'll surely get a speed rush that only a real supercar can provide. To drive these cars, you must be at least 18 years old and hold a valid driving license. Price is on a per lap basis. For more information about SpeedVegas, click here.
Play video games inside Esports Arena
Play video games inside the brand-new Esports Arena. This 30,000-square-foot venue is packed with giant screens, competition stations, and a broadcast center so fans can watch games online. To learn more about the Esports Arena Las Vegas, click here.
Take a Gondola Ride along the Venetian Resort Grand Canal
Get a taste of Italy right in Las Vegas. Nestled along the Strip, the Venetian replicates the best features of Venice. Visitors find the atmosphere very romantic. You can find the Venetian across the street from The Mirage at the center of the Strip. You don't have to pay to go in and walk around, but on-site attractions will cost you. For $29/person, you can take a gondola ride along the Grand Canal from 10 am to 11 pm Sunday through Thursday. During Friday and Saturday, gondola rides are available until midnight. If you want to take a gondola ride along the Venetian Grand Canal, click here.
Where to Eat in Las Vegas
This bistro serves everything from steak frites to Grand Plateau, a seafood tower packed with oysters, shrimp, mussels, clams, and crab. Don’t sleep through breakfast: Bouchon is a restaurant on the Strip that serves breakfast, featuring fresh pastries and roasted chicken with bacon-chive waffle. The cocktail features local wines selected to compliment the food. If you want a taste of French food, you can find the Bouchon inside the walls of the Venetian.
For creative comfort food and cocktails, we recommend Carson Kitchen. It is a place where you can head on a first date or meet friends for a bite (if you could get a table). Carson Kitchen is packed with locals who prefer a lively vibe and clean-your-plate cooking, including the bourbon fudge brownie and bacon jam.
Old school Las Vegas comes back to life at the Golden Steer Steakhouse, open since 1958. Some of the famous celebrities who dined here include Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Mario Andretti, Joe DiMaggio, and Muhammad Ali. Table-side carts dish out Caesar salads, and anything with red meat is a must-order.
Everyone wants to eat at a buffet (unlimited food on your plate and stomach). The Bacchanal Buffet sits at Caesars Palace with 9 show kitchens ranging from sushi and sashimi, Mexican, barbecue, pizza, and a center island dessert bar. The buffet offers at least 15 daily specials; dishes change with the seasons.
Visiting the 24-hour Peppermill restaurant is a rite of passage for any Vegas visitor. Trees draped over the booths, gaudy neon, and massive plates of diner fare are worthy reasons to visit, especially at night. Customers should have a drink at the Fireside Lounge to complete that memory. A cool atmosphere, unique drinks, amazing food and desserts – what more can you wish for?
For lush slabs of fresh fish laid across perfectly-seasoned sushi rice, go to Kabuto, located at the west of the Strip. When this restaurant opened in 2012, it was dubbed by Bon Appetit as one of the 50 best new restaurants in the country. Reserve a seat at the counter to see chefs work with both precision and art.
For a wide variety of pizzas from award winning chef Tony Gemignani, go to Pizza Rock at Downtown Las Vegas. Purists may want to order the Margherita Napoletana, while more adventurous types might prefer the Cal Italia or one of the Romana varieties (long, thin pies with 3 different sets of toppings).
Visiting Las Vegas can be one of the most fun vacations you’ll ever have. You just have to take note of these tips about Las Vegas for first timers. Hopefully, you and your family will have a memorable time in this one of a kind city. To enjoy great deals on Las Vegas shows and hotels, please click here.
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