The Ultimate Las Vegas Bucketlist
Vegas Baby! A whirlwind of bright lights, outrageous hotels, big spenders and extravagant shows, Sin City is like Disneyland for grownups. We spent a fabulous 3 days there at the start of our honeymoon and certainly crammed a lot in, but there is loads more to tick off!
Whether you're there for a mad long weekend or a 2 week extravaganza, here is our ultimate bucket list for what you should do in Vegas:
Stay in a themed Strip hotel
Vegas' hotels are legendary. Excessive, massive, luxurious and eccentric, now is not the time to book a Travelodge! Not that there's anything wrong with a Travelodge, we love them - it's just you know, when in Vegas... stay somewhere outrageous.
If you have the budget, somewhere like the Wynn or the Bellagio are classic. The Venetian only has suites, and the Mandalay Bay's pool is like a Disneyland waterpark. If you'd prefer to stay somewhere more budget friendly and save those dollars for the slots and buffets, we'd recommend still looking centre Strip. Sure, you can save money by staying off Strip, but you'll easily spend the difference if not more on taxis. Plus the Strip is 4 miles long - you don't want to be walking for hours just to get to the main sights.
When choosing a hotel, it's worth remembering that most of the amenities (bars, restaurants, shows, casinos etc) are open to the public, not just guests. This means you can still play a hand of blackjack at the Bellagio or Caesar's Palace, or drink at the Cosmopolitan's Chandelier Bar, without the expense of staying there. Pools are usually only for hotel guests, so if this important to you, pick a hotel with a good one!
We chose to stay at the New York New York. It was affordable (mid range in price), had a fun quirky theme (you can walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, gaze up at the Statue of Liberty and ride a rollercoaster through the New York skyline), and a nice pool. Plus it was bang in the centre of the Strip, only about a 20-30 minute walk from everything we wanted to see, which is plenty in the Nevada heat!
Get a limo from the airport
Start your trip in style! Have your uniformed chauffer meet you in airport arrivals, pop the champagne and cruise down the Strip to your hotel in a shiny black stretch limo.
We booked with Presidential Limousine and our driver included a stop at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign and a nice little tour of the Strip on the way to our hotel.
Eat at a buffet
The stuff of legends... Las Vegas' all you can eat buffets will allow you to indulge in a week's worth of calories in a couple of hours. Like everything else in this crazy city, Vegas buffets are fabulous. Dozens of live cooking stations where you can have a plethora of meats sliced and cooked to your liking, mini cheese burger sliders, gourmet pasta salads, chicken wings, ribs as big as your mobile phone, sweet snow crab legs, juicy shrimp... and the dessert station alone is as big as most buffets back home.
For a major treat, head to Caesars for the Bacchanal Buffet, often listed as the best buffet in the world. It's expensive, but you probably won't eat for the rest of the day if you get your money's worth!
We really enjoyed the Bellagio's lunchtime buffet. The restaurant is stunning - Italian elegance at its finest, and truly gourmet. Steak, sushi, caviar blinis, fried chicken served in a tiny basket and mini burgers with a Bellagio branded skewers holding them together, everything was exceptional. Find out how you can get a 2for1 deal at the Bellagio in our other Vegas blog Las Vegas on a budget .
We also tried the Mirage's dinner buffet - all you can drink wine and beer was a massive plus, and the food was hearty and varied, if not as flamboyant as Caesar's or the Bellagio.
Take a photo at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign
This iconic red, white, yellow and blue sign has been a Las Vegas landmark since 1959. Sitting in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard South, it marks the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip. In 2008 the city build a carpark for the sign which makes it much easier and safer to pull over and take a photo with the sign.
See a Cirque du Soleil show
These circus spectaculars are as synonymous with Vegas as slot machines, and should be high on your Vegas bucket list. As massive Beatles fans we'd recommend Love, but water extravaganza O is also amazing.
Watch the Bellagio fountains
Ocean's Eleven fans will recognise these enormous fountains. Set within an 8.5 acre 'Lake Como', this stunning water display sways and leaps in time to music every 30 minutes from 3pm (every 15 minutes from 8pm, and beginning at 12pm on weekends), shooting jets 460 feet into the air. Unbelievably romantic, the music changes frequently - you could see repertoire from Glenn Miller to BTS, but the most popular show is set to Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman's Time to Say Goodbye. This song was the one playing when visited on day one of our honeymoon - jetlagged and exhausted from the lead up to our wedding we looked at each other and burst into tears! "It's just... so... beautiful!!!"
See the flamingos at the Flamingo
Flamingos are Emma's faves, so we had to seek out the long legged critters at their namesake hotel. Walk through the casino and emerge into a tropical oasis where you can stroll over bridges, past waterfalls and beneath palm trees to see exotic ducks, pelicans, swans, turtles, koi and catfish, and of course, flamingos! The wildlife habitat is free to visit and you can even watch the pelicans be fed twice a day at 8:30am and 2pm.
Ride the Big Apple rollercoaster at NYNY
Whizzing through the NYC skyline at 67mph, the Big Apple rollercoaster wraps itself around the outside of the New York New York hotel with twists, loops and drops. The carriages look like yellow taxi cabs, and in true Vegas style, you can even get married on the rollercoaster! "I doooooooooooooooooo...!"
Look up in the Bellagio lobby
As you enter the reception area of the Bellagio hotel, look up at the ceiling and marvel at the astonishing installation of 2000 colourful hand blown glass flowers by renowned glass sculptor, Dale Chihuly. Covering 2000 square feet, what else would you expect from this opulent, glamourous hotel?
Walk the Strip when it's all lit up
Put some comfy shoes on and take a walk down the Strip once the sun goes down. The flashing lights and neon signs on the casinos and hotels hearken back to 1960s Vegas, and towards the end of the strip the Luxor pyramid send an enormous beam up light up into the sky.
Ride a gondola
The Venetian hotel was one of our favourites to explore because of its really well done small scale recreations of Venice. You can walk past St Mark's Campanile over the Rialto Bridge, and you're in St Mark's Square! Eat gelato, watch the living statues and street performers and make your way over to the Grand Canal where striped shirt wearing, opera singing gondoliers wait to take you out in a sleek black gondola. To save money you can share a gondola with other tourists or splash out and take a private ride under the bridges.
Hit up the designer outlets
While the hotels on the Strip are dripping with designer boutiques, save some pennies by catching a taxi to the huge outlet stores just out of the centre.
Cocktails at the Chandelier bar
Think pink in this sparkly lounge at the Cosmopolitan. Strings of crystals hang all around the outside of the bar in shimmering curtains giving the illusion that you are sitting inside a Chandelier.
Once you've cricked your neck gawping at the glass flower installation in the lobby, head through to the Bellagio Conservatory where 5 acres of blooms await. 1200 varieties of exotic plants, trees, shrubs and fantastical statues are updated frequently into different seasonal displays, reflecting themes from Christmas to Independence Day
Chill by the pool
After walking the Strip, shopping 'til you drop and sampling some serious food, you'll need a lie down. Many of the hotel resorts have fabulous swimming pools and its something to take into account when considering where to stay in las Vegas. At New York New York you can watch the rollercoaster rattle over head, while the Mandalay Bay has a spectacular pool area complete with sandy beach, lazy river and an enormous wave pool.
Vegas is also famous for its pool parties - head to Wet Republic at MGM Grand or Tao Beach at the Venetian for DJ beats and beautiful people.
Drinks with a view up the Stratosphere Tower
Head to the far north end of the Strip to the iconic Stratosphere Tower - visible from all over the city (and from the airport runway), the 350.2 m observation tower is the tallest in the USA and is topped by a revolving bar and restaurant. Take the lift up to the 108 Drinks bar and grab a seat by the window for amazing views of the Strip and mountains. Try to time your visit around sunset and watch the neon lights come on across the city.
Visit Fremont Street
Leave the polished Strip and take a taxi back in time to Fremont Street, old Las Vegas. Here you can visit vintage casinos like the Golden Nugget, people watch, enjoy live music and wacky street performers and even take a flight on SlotZilla, an 11 storey slot machine themed zipline that whizzes you face first through the air the length of 5 blocks.
Vivaaaaaaaaaaa Las Vegas... what are the first things that come to mind when you think about Sin City? Gambling, showgirls and of course: the King, complete with white sparkly jumpsuit and huge side burns. Between July 1969 and December 1976, Elvis played 636 shows at the International Hotel (Now the Westgate Las Vegas), often playing 2 shows a night, 7 shows a week.
Today, Las Vegas and Elvis Presley are still very much intertwined, from more merch than you can shake your hips at to street performers and live shows. Don't miss the All Shook Up tribute show at Alexis Park resort - backed by a live band, the impersonators that do this show are fabulous!
And if you can't help falling in love (sorry not sorry), you can even get married by an Elvis impersonator at one of the city's little wedding chapels...
Dress fancy and play a hand of blackjack
Live your best James Bond life and hit the card tables suited and booted. While the Bellagio and Caesars have swanky casino floors, they also have eyewatering minimum bets, so for a more beginner friendly price head off strip to the vintage casinos on Fremont Street. It goes without saying that this is meant to be a bit of fun, so gamble responsibly and play within your limits -set yourself a budget beforehand and stop when it's gone!
Window shop at Caesar's Palace
THE definitive Vegas shopping experience -take a stroll through the Forum Shops and the Appian Way and browse the unbelievably elegant luxury shops and arcades. Statues, fountains and columns make you feel like you're walking through ancient Rome, and the digitised sky ceiling changes colour throughout the day, from blue sky with clouds to dark and full of stars.
Treat yourself to a Michelin star meal
While Michelin hasn't released a Las Vegas guide since 2009, there are 10 restaurants in Las Vegas that have previously been given this prestigious culinary award. Joel Robuchon at the MGM Grand is the only restaurant in Vegas to have received the ultimate accolade of 3 Michelin stars, while the Bellagio is home to Picasso (2 stars), Michael Mina (1 star) and Le Cirque (1 star). Aureole (1 star) at Mandalay Bay is famous for its 4 storey, climate controlled wine cellar, and Wing Lei *1 star) at the Wynn was the first North American Chinese restaurant to receive a Michelin star.
Visit the Neon Museum
For a trip back in time, head to the Neon boneyard, an amazing collection of rescued iconic Las Vegas signs. Founded in 1996, the museum is home to signs dating from the 1930s to the present day and is a fabulous window into retro Las Vegas.
Stay out late at a nightclub
The Vegas nightlife is world renowned and a major reason for many to visit. From Omnia at Caesar's Palace with its enormous spaceship style chandelier to Hakkasan at MGM Grand (possibly the most popular club in town), this city is a party capital!
Looking for something special? XS at Encore Wynn is fancy. Opulent and glamourous with gold statues and fancy lighting, this was one of the most expensive nightclubs ever built, and Drai's at the Cromwell has sweeping views over the Strip from its 11th floor pool deck.
Ride the High Roller Ferris wheel
Rising 550 feet above the Strip, the High Roller at the Linq hotel is the highest observation wheel in North America. It takes about 30 minutes to do one rotation and was the tallest wheel in the world until 2021, when the Ain Dubai opened.
If you've had enough of the madness of Vegas and have access to a car, there are some amazing places you can visit only a short drive away:
Hoover Dam (45 mins)
Red Rock Canyon (20 mins)
Seven Magic Mountains (30 mins)
Take a helicopter ride from Las Vegas over the Grand Canyon
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