Oh Las Vegas. You crazy animal, you. We love you, but we hate you. We are pretty much done with you after three days, but you always know how to show us a good time. Now, we realize there is a ton of different ways to see Vegas. Our little guide is steering clear of the night clubs, pool parties, and over the top excess. We are pretty sure you can figure out how to get into some trouble if you choose (no judgement). Instead we are focusing on some lesser-known spots.
There are two main options when staying in Vegas. You can stay on the strip (option A), which is very large and, while walkable, will take you a while to maneuver. Staying on the strip gives you access to all of the big hotels, which are fun to stroll. You can also stay in downtown Vegas on Fremont Street (option B) , which is smaller and less crowded, but still has similar bells and whistles. We have given options for what to do in both areas.
If you are wanting to stay on the strip, we like Mandalay Bay for two reasons. One, it has an amazing pool! The pool features a lazy river where you can rent rafts and float, and it also has a tide pool complete with a beach. Another perk of this hotel is it has a bar called the Skyfall Lounge located at the top of the Delano Hotel (on the same property). Due to the nature of the hotel’s location (at the end of the strip), Skyfall Lounge boasts impressive views of the strip in all its neon glory. It’s a great place to grab a pre-dinner drink. The only con to this hotel is that because it’s at the very end of the strip, you will have a long hike to casinos located farther down the strip or you’ll have to catch a cab.
If you would rather experience Fremont Street in downtown Vegas, you can’t go wrong with the classic Golden Nugget. This hotel is affordable, located right on the Fremont Experience strip and has a shark tank pool. That’s right, the pool has a shark tank right in the middle of it, and it features a slide that zips through the tank!
The Golden Steer steakhouse is a real gem and on many Las Vegas best-of lists. It's a block from the strip at the very end by the Stratosphere and was a regular spot for Elvis, Sinatra, and Muhammad Ali. It has a definite old-school, lounge-y, dark feel to it and the food is outstanding. All of the steaks are winners, but make sure you get the house-made Caesar salad, which is made on the spot at your table with anchovies and an egg yolk.
Make sure to factor in time to grab a meal downtown at Eat. This restaurant is a must stop. Chef Natalie Young serves up delicious, high quality, soul food for breakfast and lunch at this super cute spot. We went for breakfast and had the shrimp and grits plus the truffled egg sandwich. Both were out of this world, and the coffee from Mothership Roastworks is smooth and delicious.
We also like to grab a slice of pizza at Secret Pizza at the Cosmopolitan for lunch (it gets crowded late night, so lunch is best). This place is a true secret as it literally has no name, no signage, no website, and no phone number. It takes some serious sleuthing to find it, but it’s well worth the hunt. Head to the top floor of the Cosmopolitan (not the guest rooms, the top floor lobby which is the 3rd floor) and look for the hallway with pictures lining the walls. At the end of the hallway, you'll find this tiny little pizza spot with some of the city's best slices. You have to take the slices to go (there are only a few bar stools in the actual restaurant), but there are couches just outside the hallway where you can enjoy your pie.
Sushi Roku is located in Caesar’s and offers world class sushi. Enough said. We also love the shishito peppers!
If you are looking for another off-the-beaten-path dinner option, we love Casa Di Amore. You’ll have to take a cab or drive to this place, or they do offer free shuttle service to and from your hotel if you book early enough. It's worth the travel time! This is another laid back restaurant full of Italian classics. The restaurant is covered with interesting pictures of Vegas back in the days of the Rat Pack and a lounge singer covers classic tunes while you dine.
Our favorite place for a nightcap has to be The Peppermill. This restaurant/bar is located pretty close to Circus Circus at the end of the strip. To be honest, we have never eaten in the diner. We have heard great things about it, but we always beeline straight for the Fireside Lounge, which is attached to the restaurant. The lounge has a large fire pit in the middle of the bar surrounded by couches, and the whole lounge is decorated in crazy, bright pink flowers. The bartenders have been around forever and will serve you a stiff drink while you play video poker at the bar or watch one of the TVs showcasing music videos from every era. We go every time we are in town.
After dinner, we like to head to the strip for a night of wandering and people watching. We like to watch the dancing fountains outside the Bellagio Hotel (a crowd favorite and free), and do a little bowling at Brooklyn Bowl, which is a bowling alley and concert venue! If you need a late night treat, the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM is located next to Brooklyn Bowl and a fun way to get dessert (yes, it is a essentially a cupcake vending machine, the future is here people!). Walking the strip provides endless entertainment as there is gambling around every corner, impersonators to photograph, and street musicians of every flavor.
Make a reservation for the Neon Museum during the day. This place is a museum/graveyard for all the old neon signs from Vegas' early days. It’s definitely a unique spot with plenty of photo-ops! We recommend making reservations as early as you can, as this place tends to book up quickly. You’ll have to grab a cab or drive to this location as it’s not walking distance from either downtown or the strip.
The strip is a great place to spend your afternoon and evening, but we also love the Fremont Experience. Fremont Street is like a mini strip. It’s outdoors, but it’s covered with air conditioning! It’s easily walkable (everything is much closer together than on the strip) and it has free bands, impersonators, sidewalk drinks, and, of course, gambling. They have the most spectacular light show starting at 9pm. It runs on the hour, every hour and is synced to songs from a variety of artists. They also have the Slotzilla Zip Line that runs the entire length of the Fremont Experience. There are two options: a lower, shorter zipline for $20 or a higher, longer zipline for $40. Go with the big one!
If you have a car and love art, you must drive the 10 miles into the desert to check out Ugo Rondinone’s public art installation called Seven Magic Mountain. The art features seven boulder-stacked totems painted in bright, day-glow colors. It’s beautiful and creates a shocking display against the dry desert landscape. It’s only going to be displayed for 2 years (ends May of 2018), so the time to go is now!
Container Park, a park filled with shops, restaurants and a playground for kids made entirely out of shipping containers. They have a lot of neat stores selling unique products and a crazy praying mantis sculpture out front that shoots fire from its antennas. Enough said. And if we’re on the subject of weird things, find the Berlin Wall while you are here! It's in the men's room located right inside the Main Street Station Casino. The wall behind the urinals is actual pieces of the real Berlin Wall (covered in Plexiglass to protect it from bathroom-users). It’s just one of those rare and weird things that makes Vegas so great.
Last but not least, there is always a ton of different shows to see. Our suggestion would be to catch any of the shows by Cirque du Soleil, shows so memorizing you’ll leave there in complete awe no matter which one you see!