Las Vegas is an amazing city. Yes, it's a mecca for gamblers. And if you play poker like we do, Las Vegas is a must-visit vacation destination. But Las Vegas is also a wonderful place to visit even if you never intend to drop so much as a penny into an airport slot machine. The city and its surrounding area offer everything a traveler could want.
Las Vegas has incredible restaurants. The city has everything from top of the line eateries with menus planned by celebrity chefs to some of the best tacos you've ever bought in a parking lot. Food is one of the many areas where Las Vegas offers a little something for everyone. We've only visited Las Vegas four times (but we will be back!), so we have many meals yet to eat. In the meantime, here are some of our favorites:
Mon Ami Gabi is a fabulous french restaurant in the Paris Las Vegas hotel. We visit for lunch/brunch every time we go to Vegas. If you have a chance and the weather is not too inclement, definitely opt for a table on the terrace. Stand heaters and water misters make the terrace comfortable for almost any Las Vegas weather. Dinner prices are a bit hefty, but they are just right at brunch. Our favorite lunch items are the croque monsieur and the prime steak sandwich. The french fries are also some of the best I've had outside of France.
Yardbird can be found in the Venetian and offers the best Southern fried chicken we have had west of New Orleans. We also recommend the corn bread, buttermilk biscuits, and grits. My mouth is watering just thinking about this amazing restaurant.
This "restaurant" is basically a pick up window in the parking lot of a strip mall. However, people swear by these tacos. I've heard many a Las Vegas repeat visitor swear that they went to Tacos El Gordo straight from the airport. You'll find the Vegas strip location just past the Encore casino. The line is generally long, and there is little inside seating. However, there are a number of picnic tables nearby. So if you can't wait to eat these delectable tacos, you can have them right there. At $2.00 a taco, this may be one of your cheapest meals in Vegas. It is certainly the best value you will find.
You can't beat Las Vegas for luxury. Whether you like swanky hotels, exclusive clubs, or pampering spas, you'll find it all here. Our favorite Las Vegas hotel is the Palazzo, but the Bellagio, Aria, and Wynn all offer luxury in spades. Most of these hotels have high-end spas where all of your pampering wishes will come true. If you're the clubbing type, Las Vegas offers exclusive clubs with famous DJs, bottle service, and all of the trappings. Places like Omnia, Light, and Marquee are sought out by visiting millennials.
Las Vegas offers top quality experiences, from the Hoover Dam to the Mob Museum on the strip. Las Vegas will definitely entertain you.
Who knew that hydroelectrics could be so fascinating? A mere 45 minutes outside Las Vegas stands the imposing Hoover Dam. The view of the dam and power museum alone are worth the trip. However, I would definitely pony up for a tour of the Power Plant.
If you are a fan of aquariums, you'll enjoy the Shark Reef aquarium housed inside the Mandalay Bay resort. The aquarium hosts fourteen exhibits devoted to dangerous aquatic predators. The largest exhibit is the 1.3 million gallon shipwreck where visitors can experience an almost 360-degree view replete with sharks and fish. More than 2,000 animals are displayed at Shark Reef Aquarium, with over 100 different species including 15 species of sharks.
The Venetian Resort does its best to bring you a true Venetian experience. They offer everything from a replica of St. Mark's Square to the grand hotel and gondola rides. The personal gondola rides (complete with singing gondolier) are pricey, but many feel they are worth the money. And if you can't get enough of the gondolas, now you can spend a day at Gondola University, learning how to pilot a boat yourself.
Fremont Street offers a full sensory experience. Just a few miles from the Strip, Fremont Street is the home of old Las Vegas. Casinos such as Binions and the Golden Nugget bring you back to the old days of a seedier Las Vegas. The Fremont Street Experience offers an amazing light show, zip-lining, and traveling entertainers. While Fremont was not our cup of tea, many Vegas travelers revel in the sight and sound extravaganza.
The Las Vegas Mob Museum is our favorite attraction that we haven't gotten to yet. The museum explores Mob history through interactive exhibits and organized crime and law enforcement artifacts. Founded inside a restored former courthouse and post office, it's located just minutes from Fremont Street. The Mob Museum is well reviewed, and we're definitely going to catch this one on our next trip to Vegas.
Everyone knows that Las Vegas is the place to go to see a show. Vegas has them all, from star-studded extravaganzas to residencies by artists such as Celine Dion and Donny and Marie, to burlesque shows and a variety of magicians. Alas, we are not "show" people, so we have yet to take in any of these delights. But someday we might break down and go to one.
It seems that every resort has it's own Cirque du Soleil production. The MGM Grand has Ka. The Mirage has The Beatles - Love. Treasure Island has Mystere. And Bellagio has O, an aquatic production, if you can believe it. You can go to Vegas and watch a different flavor of Cirque du Soleil every night for a week if you so desire.
At Caesar's Palace, Absinthe has been getting a lot of buzz. It's been described as the raunchiest show in Vegas. But in an upscale kind of way.
If you like magic, Penn & Teller have the show for you. They have been headlining in Vegas forever, and are considered to be the best magic show in Vegas. They are funny and their illusions will impress.
A mere 20 minutes from the Vegas Strip, Red Rock Canyon offers hiking, biking, camping, and immense natural beauty. This stunning western landscape is definitely worth a visit. If you are not the athletic type, you may simply drive through the park on the loop road. However, there are plenty of hikes, from easy to difficult, if you are inclined to get out and enjoy nature up close.
The Grand Canyon is several hours from Las Vegas, but many vacationers will combine the two. It is, of course, one of America's greatest natural features, and a bucket list item for many. If you are short on time and long on money you can turn the visit into a day trip, traveling by private plane or helicopter.
Las Vegas is a wonderful town for people watching. One of our favorite people watching spots is the terrace at Mon Ami Gabi (see above). The terrace looks out over the strip in front of the Paris hotel and across from the Bellaggio. From here you can watch people from all walks of life flow by. If you sit for a couple of hours nursing a coffee or chocolat chaud, you will see tourists from Dubuque to Dubai, drag queens, exhausted gamblers on their third day without sleep, and marketers offering free tickets to a show. The people watching on the Vegas strip can not be beat.
Gambler or not, if you're planning your next trip, we recommend that you give Las Vegas a try.