There are a ton of things to do in Las Vegas, so you may want to come up with a plan of attack. The following itineraries will help you fit in the many attractions of Vegas, from entertaining shows and nature exhibits to art museums and unique architectural landmarks.
1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Special Events & Attractions in Las Vegas
From wild rides to exotic animal displays, Las Vegas has more special events and attractions than you've likely seen anywhere. Here are some suggested itineraries that will enable you to experience many of the must-see attractions in Las Vegas:
1 day: You can spend the day on Las Vegas Boulevard visiting the attractions at the various hotels along The Strip. Check out the more than 5,000 exotic fishes, sharks, and sting rays living at The Aquarium at the Mobil Two-Star Silverton Hotel (3333 Blue Diamond Rd). This 117,000-gallon saltwater aquarium isn't your typical exhibit. Then admire the gold leaf linens, masks, and other treasures of King Tutankhamun's Tomb & Museum at the Mobil Three-Star Luxor Hotel (3900 Las Vegas Blvd).
Step over to watch the tigers through a glass wall at the Mobil Three-Star MGM Grand Hotel's Lion Habitat (3799 Las Vegas Blvd), then admire the flamingos, turtle, koi fish, and penguins living in a tropical setting at The Wildlife Habitat in the Mobil Three-Star Flamingo Las Vegas (3555 Las Vegas Blvd).
Test your nerves and limits by stepping on Speed, a rollercoaster ride at the Mobil Two-Star Sahara Hotel (2535 Las Vegas Blvd). Speed is different from other roller coasters because it explodes out of the starting gate. If your stomach can actually be hungry afterward, you'll find six serving stations, and little or no waiting, at the Sahara Buffet.
Stop by the Moroccan-themed Sahara and sample the fare of all six stations: seafood, pizza, pasta, Asian, barbecue, omelette, and the carving board. The Sahara Buffet is known around town for its good value, and that means delicious food at a fair price.
The Imperial Palace (3535 Las Vegas Blvd) has a popular attraction, especially for those nostalgic for stars gone by. You can play blackjack against Dolly Parton, Elvis, Ricky Martin, Rod Stewart, Janet Jackson, Dolly Parton, and other celebrity impersonators. They're known as "Dealertainers," and they make 21 more fun than ever.
As the sun sets over the city, head over to The Fountains at the Mobil Four-Star Bellagio (3600 Las Vegas Blvd) to watch 1,200 nozzles shoot water on cue while songs play and lights flash every 15 minutes between 8 pm and midnight. Then visit the Vocano at the Mobil Three-Star Mirage (3400 Las Vegas Blvd), which erupts every hour from 8 pm to midnight.
2 days: Spend the day at the Las Vegas Mini Grand Prix (1401 N Rainbow Blvd). This theme park has something for kids of all ages, including an extensive arcade, large slides, mini rollercoaster, and kart racing on four tracks.
If you're looking for another option, you can find dozens of rides for all levels of thrill seekers at The Adventuredome (2880 Las Vegas Blvd), a 51/2-acre indoor theme park at the Circus Circus Hotel. Among The Adventuredome's 24 rides and attractions are the Canyon Blaster roller coaster, Rim Runner water chute adventure, Sling Shot tower ride, Inverter Counter-rotation Ride, and the incomparable Chaos. Best part? Admission to The Adventuredome is free, and you can buy tickets to different rides as you choose.
GameWorks (3769 Las Vegas Blvd) is a special entertainment environment that allows adults and children to experience more than 200 video game scenarios or interactive attractions in life-size fashion. You can digitally compete in skateboarding or motorcycle riding and climb into animated tanks for battle. The fun includes a 75-foot-tall climbing structure. GameWorks has a full-service restaurant with casual decor and a bar serving specialty martinis and cocktails for adults.
3 days: Skydiving without ever leaving the ground? What will they think of next? Don't want to spend the money, or the risk of heart failure, jumping from an airplane? At Flyaway Indoor Skydiving of Las Vegas (200 Convention Center Dr), you can experience the exhilaration of parachute jumping without getting in a plane. A wind tunnel and supervised "flight" are part of the $60 package.
Brazil's Carnivale comes alive at the Rio's free Carnival Show In The Sky seven times daily in the Masquerade Village (3700 W Flamingo Rd, casino wing of the Mobil Three-Star Rio Hotel). Floats make figure eights across the Masquerade Village ceiling as gamblers on the casino floor gaze up to see the pageantry. Visitors can also watch from a second-floor balcony. Beads are thrown and little souvenirs, so it's great for picking up free stuff.
Four world-class thrill rides can be found just above the observation deck level of the Stratosphere Tower (2000 Las Vegas Blvd, Stratosphere Hotel). Gather up your courage and ride the Big Shot, The High Roller, XScream, and Insanity.
1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Arts & Culture in Las Vegas
The arts and culture scene of Las Vegas includes such treasures as the offbeat Liberace Museum to the refined Guggenheim Hermitage Museum. The following suggested itineraries are designed to help you see as much of Las Vegas' arts and culture as possible.
1 day: Visit the beautiful landscapes and portraits of America all in one convenient spot at Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art (3600 Las Vegas Blvd).
Then step on board and learn about the historic oceanliner that sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. "Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit" has a long-standing display at The Tropicana Hotel (3801 S Las Vegas Blvd). The 25,000-square-foot exhibit includes such items as a suitcase, felt bowler hat, ship's whistles, and a large part of the ship itself. You can also walk through authentic replicas of first-class and third-class passenger rooms.
Settle in for some seriously good food at Mobil Two-Star Pietro's Restaurant on the mezzanine level of The Tropicana. You can dine on fresh pasta served tableside or simply order a few tasty appetizers, such as the Pate de Maison served en croute with a tangy lingonberry sauce or the delectable Escargots a la Bourguignonne in herbed garlic butter. Or, from the master himself, try Pietro's roasted rack of lamb or the famous Chateaubriand for Two, expertly flamed tableside to mouth-watering perfection.
In the evening, take a stroll through Las Vegas of the past with a tour of the Liberace Museum (1775 E Tropicana Ave). His talented piano concerts were a treat, and his diamond-dressed fingers and rhinestone-studded elaborate costumes were a show unto themselves.
2 days: Spend the morning at the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum (3355 Las Vegas Blvd), which offers an unprecedented opportunity to view some of the world's finest art and special exhibitions.
You'll also find international art gems and some local talent during an afternoon at The Las Vegas Art Museum (9600 W Sahara Ave). You can mix up your itinerary with some appreciation for pop culture with a visit to the Valentino's Zoot Suit Collection (906 S 6th St, 702-383-9555). The facility displays clothing from the 1940s and '50s, including Zoot Suits, men's fedoras, and women's pumps from that era.
3 days: For a very local flavor of fine art, folk art, and sculptures, browse through the 3,600-square-foot building of Left of Center Art Gallery and Studio (2207 W Gowan Rd North, 702-647-7378). You can even check the schedule for artists hosting discussions, classes, or workshops.
Check out the entertainment list for the University of Nevada's Performing Arts Center (4505 S Maryland Parkway). This venue might seem small since it's located on a college campus, but it has attracted some big names over the years, including Yo-Yo Ma and the Shanghi Ballet, and lecturers/authors like Cokie Roberts and John Irving. Afterward, enjoy a thick steak or catch of the day at Alan Albert's (3763 Las Vegas Blvd South).
1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Architecture & Landmarks in Las Vegas
Vegas features many unique landmarks, such as the Old Vegas Mormon State Historic Park and the Las Vegas Academy of Performing. Even better, many of these sights are architectural treasures as well. Visit some of the best by following these itineraries:
1 day: Take a tour of downtown Las Vegas and marvel at many of the older buildings and its history. Visit the old Mormon Adobe Fort at the Old Vegas Mormon State Historic Park (500 E Washington St). Stop by the Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts (315 S Seventh St), which is an art deco-style building that once housed Las Vegas High School.
Stop by El Cortez Hotel and Casino (600 Fremont St), which was once owned by gangster Bugsy Siegel. Then cruise past the Huntridge Theatre (1208 E Charleston Blvd) to look at the modern-style exterior that was once a beloved movie house and then music venue.
When you get hungry, try the Triple George Grill, a classic seafood and steakhouse (201 N 3rd St). Some popular menu items include George's chopped salad or broiled salmon Caesar.
2 days: Spend the day at Clark County Heritage Museum (1820 S Boulder Hwy, Henderson), which is a Cold War Museum. It includes tree-lined streets of homes that were architecturally significant to Las Vegas through the 1930s to '60s. For dinner, grab a table for a hearty burger or sandwich at Carl's Jr (758 S Boulder Hwy).
3 days: Not more than an hour's drive from the city, Tule Springs features Floyd Lamb State Park (9200 Tule Springs Rd), a 1940s ranch that includes a mish-mash of 23 well-kept buildings. This was originally a dude ranch for those who wanted to get quick residency status to obtain an even quicker divorce. Of some significance, the buildings are the best example of a divorce ranch remaining in the United States, since the integrity of the buildings hasn't been modified for upgrades or aesthetic enhancements.
1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Shopping in Las Vegas
Shopping in Vegas is a sure bet for anyone, whether your pocketbook is busting with casino winnings or you're on a limited budget. Follow these suggested itineraries for:
1 day: It's cool and relaxing at the Via Bellagio Shops at the Mobil Four-Star Bellagio Hotel (3600 Las Vegas Blvd). The upscale stores wind around Lake Bellagio, featuring The Fountains. You can take in lunch at one of the upscale restaurants, such as the Mobil Two-Star Todd English's Olives, and peruse the lighted cases of jewelry at Tiffany & Co, or pick up a Chanel bag next door. Local tip: Get your makeup done at Chanel before a glamorous night out.
The new flagship store of the national Bass Pro Shops chain can be found at the Mobil Two-Star Silverton Casino-Lodge (3333 Blue Diamond Rd). This 165,000-square-foot store has everything a sportsman (or sportswoman) could ever want, and it's become an attraction unto itself.
Then you can get a ride over to The Las Vegas Premium Outlets (875 S Grand Central Pkwy in downtown Las Vegas). More than 120 outlet stores offer savings up to 65 percent off regular retail prices.
Antique Row (1109 Western Ave) stretches about 10 blocks down Charleston to Maryland Parkway and is peppered with clusters of antique shops that specialize in various collectibles, such as clothing, furniture, jewelry, dishes, and toys. The Funk House (1228 S Casino Center Dr) features vintage memorabilia and new art by local artists.
2 days: Las Vegas Antique & Gift Mall (2330 Industrial Rd) is just one block from The Strip. The 25,000-square-foot mall specializes in American, European, Asian, and mid-century modern art as well as art deco and Victorian pieces. Antique Mall of America (9151 Las Vegas Blvd, No. 344) is huge with 43,000 square feet of space filled with antiques, including collectible items and gifts such as art, jewelry, accessories, furniture, home decor, and china.
Then grab a shuttle and head over to the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas at Primm (32100 Las Vegas Blvd), which is a 45-minute ride outside Las Vegas. You'll find anything and everything at the 100-plus shops ranging from high-end retail to outlet shops.
3 days: You should spend as long as you like walking down the tree-dotted streets and cobblestone sidewalks of the District of Green Valley Ranch (2240 Village Walk Dr, Henderson). There are 40-plus specialty retail stores and restaurants to while away the hours. For a uniquely educational experience, check out Mel Fisher's Treasures (2235 Village Walk Dr). The store displays cargo salvaged from a Spanish galleon that sunk off the coast of Florida nearly 400 years ago.
When it's time for some food, make sure to stop in at Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-b-que (2245 Village Walk Dr, Henderson) and try the tri-tip sandwich, which is Angus beef slow cooked in barbecue sauce and placed on a potato bun.
Take the monorail or a cab over to the two-story Mandalay Place inside the Mobil Three-Star Mandalay Bay Resort (3950 Las Vegas Blvd). It's a not-so-typical mall that connects the Mandalay Bay to an adjacent building. Fringe finds include Urban Outfitters, Oilily, Nike Golf, and Blank Space. Munch on the Kobe burger at Burger Bar and pick up some to-die-for confections at Chocolate Swan.
1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Nightlife & Entertainment in Las Vegas
The nightlife truly never ends in Las Vegas. The following suggested itineraries will help you get a handle on the many options.
1 day: The Empire Ballroom (3765 Las Vegas Blvd) has $2 drink specials every Friday night, truly great dance music, and occasional surprise guest DJs who have come from the latest A-list party, as well as a mixed crowd of visitors, starlets, show people, and locals. In fact, you can make an evening of visiting various nightclubs along The Strip. Dance under flashing lights and a futuristic setting at the Rain Las Vegas nightclub inside the Mobil Three-Star Palms Casino Resort (4321 W Flamingo Rd). Then, stop in for a drink and some more dance music at the trendy 1950s salon decor at The Beauty Bar (517 Freemont St).
Body English nightclub at Mobil Three-Star Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (4455 Paradise Rd) is decorated like a British rock star's pad with mirrored walls, $250,000 chandeliers, leather booths, and black walls. It's definitely a hot spot for dancing and being seen.
If you aren't too worn out from Vegas's nightlife, a Bloody Mary at Hash House A Go Go (6800 W Sahara Ave) is the perfect pick-me-up the morning after. Many show people tend to gather for breakfast there for the huge platters of specialty breakfast foods, such as Salmon Eggs Benedict and acres of French toast with fresh maple syrup. It's a bit out of the way but worth the drive to the west side of town.
2 days: You can try your luck on the casino floor in the morning or afternoon. Most casinos on The Strip or downtown Las Vegas host daily gaming tournaments, like the free daily slot tournaments from 10 am to 5:30 pm at The Plaza (1 S Main St, downtown Las Vegas). Hundreds of dollars in prizes are awarded each day. Slot tournaments are preferred over regular slot play because you can estimate what your potential losses might be, including the entry fee. Just check the tournament schedules posted at the casinos.
You should spend an evening taking in a cabaret or other major professional production filled with a lot of bling. The Folies Bergere at The Tropicana Hotel and Casino (3801 Las Vegas Blvd South) debuted in 1959 and has been wowing audiences with its cabaret acts ever since. Who can resist beautiful women in revealing, dazzling costumes or other talented cast members dancing, singing, juggling, and more?
Ivan Duke's Forty Deuce show inside Mobil Three-Star Mandalay Bay Casino (3930 Las Vegas Blvd) is an elegantly appointed club decorated with plush lounge chairs, tiered seating, and cocktail table lamps with red shades. You can watch the burlesque shows or sit back and listen the DJ. You never know who you will see there because celebrities visit the club often.
Afterward, grab a table or a stool at the Rumjungle in the Mobil Three-Star Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino (3950 Las Vegas Blvd South). It's a good place to grab a late dinner, but after hours turns into a full-on nightclub with platform-top dancing girls and Latin music.
3 days: Las Vegas is also home to several major music venues that are worth visiting because of the acoustics and well-thought-out facilities. The Aladdin Theatre for The Performing Arts at the Mobil Three-Star Aladdin Hotel (3667 Las Vegas Blvd South) can seat up to 7,000 people, but the size of the audience varies depending on the type of show featured -- major concert tour, Broadway show, or dance company. The Mandalay Bay Events Center (3950 Las Vegas Blvd South) is a 12,000-seat arena that has housed a wide range of events, from championship boxing to rock 'n' roll shows.
1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Relaxing & Unwinding in Las Vegas
Take a break from the buzz of The Strip and relax and unwind at these Las Vegas attractions:
1 day: Spend part of the day getting back to nature by climbing the wall, literally, at the Powerhouse Rock Climbing Center (8201 W Charleston Blvd, 702-254-5604). The building houses 9,000 square feet of climbing surfaces. Even if you've never tried it before, instructors are available to help you learn the basics or rework some of your previous skills.
Go swimming, play horseshoes, or walk around the 320-acre site of Sunset Park (2601 E Sunset Blvd, 702-455-8200). This is a great location to pack a picnic basket and while away the afternoon.
Grab a pint and listen to stories at JC Wooloughan's Irish Pub inside the Rampart Casino (221 N Rampart Blvd) in Summerlin. The pub was built in Ireland and shipped from Dublin piece by piece to make for an authentic Irish experience.
Marche Bacchus (2620 Regatta Dr) is a revered local secret. The French owners have an extensive wine list, or you can buy your own bottle for a small corking fee from the front-end shop. Diners can sit inside or out on the shores of the Desert Lakes housing community and enjoy the stellar French fare. Pate, steak tartar, tuna carpaccio, and fresh cheese platters are among the most popular menu items.
2 days: Cool down with a 30-mile drive out to Lake Mead (601 National Highway, Boulder). Stop by Frenchman Mountain for a quick hike and interpretive tour to learn about the geology of the mountain and the valley. In case you didn't know, Lake Mead is the 16th largest man-made lake in the world and the largest man-made lake in the Western Hemisphere.
The Great Unconformity Interpretive Trail is an easy 400-meter (one-quarter of a mile) hike that flags a few interesting rock exposures and explains some of the major topographic features and geologic evolution of southern Nevada. The trail is a quick little jaunt and provides a nice view of Las Vegas from the overlook at the top. The geology of the Las Vegas Valley and surrounding landscape lends itself to some great hiking opportunities.
3 days: Golf is always a good way to spend the day in Las Vegas, even if the weather climbs above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The Red Rock Country Club Arroyo Course (2250 Red Springs Dr) is the second Arnold Palmer signature course to open in Vegas and offers desert and mountain terrain thoroughfares with amazing views of the Red Rock Canyon. Or take in the Jupiter Golf Center (70 W Craig Road) and blow off some steam at the driving range or batting cages.
If you want to fire off some rounds, check out the esteemed local rifle range at The Gun Store (2900 E Tropicana Ave). You can shoot off pistols and guns that are banned in most states but are legal in Nevada due to its liberal gun laws.
For a relaxing evening, lounge on the leather daybeds in the hip lounge at V Bar located inside the Mobil Four-Star Venetian Hotel (3355 Las Vegas Blvd). Many local singles hangout here to sit and sip their drinks, or just to be seen.
As you can see, Las Vegas has more to offer than just a bunch of casinos on The Strip. Visitors can enjoy a plethora of activities, including museums, nature exhibits, spa treatments, and, of course, entertaining shows. Visit Vegas today to explore this jewel in the desert.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kimberley McGee is a nationally published writer and columnist based in Las Vegas. She has written for Item magazine, Skyguide Go, Redbook, and The New York Post.