With Las Vegas being a perpetually popular travel destination, and its famous casino resorts now having reopened after COVID-19 shutdowns, Las Vegas tourism has been booming –– to the tune of just over 3.3 million visitors just this past March. Most tourists (and even people that have never visited the city) can recognize the postcard attractions: the Bellagio Fountains, the glittering resorts lining the “Strip,” larger-than-life stage shows, and decadent meals created by more than a few celebrity chefs in town.
But in between these famous highlights, how should you actually spend a trip? Of course, that’s up to you and your preferences! But for our two cents, these are some of the activities you simply must try during a stay in Sin City.
Of course, Las Vegas has a legendary, roaring nightlife –– and that primarily revolves around the Strip and its famous resorts. If you’re looking for some of the most renowned options (the kinds of places you’ll be proud to show off visiting on Instagram), one to start with is XS Las Vegas at The Wynn –– an indoor/outdoor spot known for its multiple bars, its late-night pool parties, and for housing DJs as big as The Chainsmokers. Another very famous option is Hakkasan at the MGM Grand, an establishment known for its insane EDM dance parties (Calvin Harris and Steve Aoki have presided over these) and for its garden area and Asian-themed bar. Finally, if you’re looking for something slightly more intimate, a recent Las Vegas Weekly profile of On The Record described this club as “the closest thing to an underground nightclub” on the Strip. Essentially a speakeasy attached to the Park MGM, it reopened after pandemic shutdowns with a new focus on after parties following Dolby Live concerts –– and has become all the more fun as a result.
Shopping isn’t always the first thing you read or hear about with regard to Las Vegas. But for those who like to shop on vacation, it should absolutely be mentioned among the highlights. Indeed, with more options popping up seemingly all the time, you should definitely save some of that bankroll for the shops.
First and foremost, there are shopping centers like the Forum Shops, home to designer boutiques Fendi, which has been highlighted of late for the custom-made bags at its Peekaboo Bar. Said bar allows shoppers to order custom handbags “tailored specifically to their desires,” making for an interactive accessory design experience. Even beyond unique experiences like this however, the Vegas shopping scene is about as good as it gets. The Miracle Mile Shops comprise a retail complex with 200 different stores and restaurants (along with evening performances). Inside, you can also enjoy a fountain show and simulated rainstorm. Alternatively, for a particularly high-end shopping experience, The Shops at Crystals at the Aria make for a sprawling but elegant shopping mall featuring outlets for dozens of luxury brands –– such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Hermes.
While the idea of sitting down for poker may almost feel cliché to some, it’s still a major part of the experience. Furthermore, you don’t have to dress to the nines and sit down in one of the high-end poker rooms at the Bellagio or the Aria to enjoy said experience! The South Point (off-Strip) is a more casual, low-stakes option that is still considered to be one of the top Las Vegas poker rooms due to its busy atmosphere and welcoming (if cheaper) games. Then again, if you want to get into something a little more quintessentially Vegas, you can also head to The Venetian, which has the biggest card room in town at more than 35 tables. With the right timing, you might even have some fun working your way into the monthly “DeepStack” tournament –– a series featuring six-figure guarantee events.
If you find poker a little too intimidating for your taste, or you’re just looking for something a little less interactive, you can also try the slot games offered by virtually every casino in Las Vegas. The Aria and the Bellagio (once again) are near the top of the list for a lot of gamers here, in part because both resorts offer more than 2,000 slot machines for visitors to enjoy. If you enjoy this sort of entertainment at all, let’s just say it will be easy to find something to like at one of these establishments. Meanwhile, the newly reopened Palms Las Vegas resort will also be worth a look moving forward. It was one of only a few casinos not to reopen following its COVID shutdown, and has been redesigned in many respects (including with a whole new slot area).
After a whole day (or week) of shopping, playing poker, and visiting nightclubs, you’ll need a pick-me-up. And what better way to rest up than to visit a spa in a city that’s known worldwide for them? First and foremost, we’d direct you to the ESPA spa at the Vdara Hotel, which offers a special treatment called the “Desert Rose.” This treatment focuses on exfoliation with a salt scrub, and moisturizing with body butter. If you’re more the sort for steam and water treatments meanwhile, then the Spa Bellagio is your best bet, with its numerous hot tubs, pools, and therapist-guided water experiences. The Spa at Wynn, Sahra Spa at The Cosmopolitan, and the Spa at Aria also come highly recommended for a variety of deeply soothing experiences.
Of course, there’s a great deal to do in Vegas beyond all of this. One of the true wonders of the city is that each visitor can truly make it their own. If you’re really looking to focus on the experiences that make Las Vegas though, the ones we’ve outlined here make for a great start. And who knows –– maybe you’ll win some chips along the way to top off all the fun!