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Bucket List for Your First Trip to Las Vegas

By: Kiersten Rich.

You might be surprised to know that the “Las Vegas” most of us think of is only about 4 miles long — the Strip! But there’s so much to see in such a small area.

I’ve had some epic girlfriends’ getaways there and even rang in the New Year in the City of Lights. Every trip has made me more in love with this crazy, non-stop destination. Ready to have some crazy adventures yourself?

A trip to Las Vegas is one of those quintessential American experiences. From the bright lights of the Strip to the world-class museums, this little Nevada city is everything you’d expect it to be and so much more.

Welcome to Las Vegas

Of course, your first stop has to be the Welcome to Las Vegas sign; it’s the ultimate selfie op! But you won’t be the only one with this idea. Crowds form here as the day goes on, and you’ll want get there as early as you can.

There’s usually a guy there to help take your photo, which means you can get the whole group in one shot. He does it for free too, so leave that selfie stick at home.

Once you’re ready to start exploring, order a yard of your favorite drink and wander the strip! Yard drinks are everywhere in Vegas, and you have to try to sip your way through at least one.

Where to Stay on the Strip

By far the most exciting area to stay in Las Vegas is the Strip. While there are other nice spots around town, I highly recommend that newbies stay in the heart of the action.

  • ARIA Resort and Casino: With luxury suites offering an incredible view of the Strip, this casino resort is the ultimate five-star experience. Featuring a 150,000-square-foot casino, sixteen restaurants, and on-site entertainment, you could spend your entire trip checking this place out.

  • The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas: This chic hotel was made for longer visits and group adventures. It has everything from one- to three-bedroom suites, and each has a kitchenette, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for a hip, urban apartment vibe.

  • Encore at Wynn: Named the best hotel in Las Vegas by Condé Nast Traveler, the Encore at Wynn lives up to its reputations as one of the city’s finest luxe spots.

Visiting the Casinos in Las Vegas

Whether you are a high roller or you just want to toss a few nickels in the slot, you can’t go to Las Vegas with trying your odds. Wow your friends with a tale of how you won it all—and then lost it —on one magical night in the city.

You won’t usually find me at the card tables, but I love to play my odds at the slot machines. There are a million spots to throw your change, and you’ll want to sit down at least once to partake in the most Vegas of Vegas sports.

Boozy Brunch in Las Vegas

After your first wild night out in Vegas, start the day with a boozy brunch. While Vegas is often associated with less-than-enticing casino buffets, it actually has some incredible foodie hot spots.

  • Bellagio Buffet: Hate buffets? You won’t after you’ve tried the Bellagio Buffet. Forget about overcooked, bland dishes, and think international haute cuisine.

  • Giada at The Cromwell: This chic spot, owned by Giada De Laurentiis, has top-notch Italian food, and it’s one of the hottest brunch spots in town.

  • La Cave Wine and Food Hideaway at Wynn Las Vegas: This place is famous for its tableside butler-style brunch and classic American dishes.

  • Eggslut at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas: The egg sandwiches here will knock your socks off! It doesn’t serve booze, but it’s open late night for after da club.

  • EAT: One of the trendiest eateries in downtown Las Vegas, EAT does all your fave comfort foods with a focus on sustainable and organic ingredients.

  • Bloody Marys at Yardbird: If you love bloody marys, you’ll die and go to heaven at Yardbird. It’s also the best spot for classic Southern grub.

Shopping in Las Vegas

My Vegas motto is to cheap out at the casinos and then splurge at the mall. There are some seriously amazing shops and outlets here that have it all.

  • Las Vegas North Premium Outlets: Brand crazy? Make a beeline for this outlet! Armani, Bose, Coach, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, and so much more are all at rock-bottom prices here.

  • Caesars Palace Forum Shops: Known as the Shopping Wonder of the World, this place has all of the top international brands and great restaurants. It even has the world’s largest privately-owned art gallery, which has an entire wall of Andy Warhol pieces.

  • Planet Hollywood Shops: Also known as the Miracle Mile Shops, Planet Hollywood Shops houses 170 stores, fifteen restaurants, and live entertainment venues.

Hit the Beach (Club) in Las Vegas

While Las Vegas may not be coastal, you’ll still want to bring your bikini! Clubbing here is all about finding the best pool parties.

  • Encore Beach Club: Swim, dance, and check out some of the world’s best DJs. This indoor/outdoor hot spot is perfect for lounging or partying the night away.

  • Tao Beach: These 60,000 square feet are basically a mini Asian town; Tao Beach has its own much-loved restaurant, lounge, club, and beach.

  • Wet Republic: This is another place for a poppin’ pool party. Every show is different here, and it’s always worth coming back.

  • Marquee Dayclub: This trendy spot, with a casino club, high-tech effects, and multiple dance floors, is a must-see.

  • DAYLIGHT Beach Club: Who says clubbing is for nighttime? The non-stop DAYLIGHT has an all-day pool party and all-night dance floor.

Take a Trip to Downtown Las Vegas

Now, more than ever, Las Vegas is way more than just the Strip. The hippest new spot to check out is downtown.

  • Neon Museum: This massive six-acre space is a beautiful and bizarre graveyard for countless vintage Vegas signs. Tons of photo ops here!

  • Fremont Street: For the ultimate Vegas experience, get to this five-block entertainment district. Take the famous SlotZilla Zip Line from the world’s largest slot machine to the world’s largest video screen for an epic (and free!) light show.

  • Mob Museum: This is not your average museum. You can get a look into the dark side of Las Vegas history at this fascinating place.

  • The Las Vegas Art District (Also Known as 18b): This is the local art scene, and it’s the place to come to see a whole different side of Vegas.

See Las Vegas from the Sky

My breathtaking trip with Sundance Helicopters is easily one of my best memories from Vegas! I flew to the Grand Canyon, which was indescribably beautiful.

Sundance Helicopters also does shorter trips over the Vegas Strip, which I highly recommend.

Life is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas

You have to get to this cool festival of music, culinary, art, and learning. It happens in late September, and it is one of America’s greatest.

See a Show in Las Vegas

Of course! You can’t go to Vegas without hitting at least one show. There’s such an incredibly diverse array of options here with so many shows that you won’t find anywhere else.

  • Bellagio Fountains: The sound and light show at the Bellagio is essential. It happens every fifteen or thirty minutes, depending on the day and time of year, so it’s easy to find time for it.

  • Absinthe at Caesars Palace: This is my all-time favorite! Absinthe is such a fun and inventive You definitely don’t want to miss this one.

  • The Beatles LOVE: Whether you love or meh The Beatles, this Cirque du Soleil is stunning.

Grab a Craft Cocktail

While there are some amazing clubs and bars in Vegas, you still have to watch out for not-so-great cocktails. Hang on to this list of places to get consistently good ones.

  • Happy Half Hour at the High Roller: See the city from above at Las Vegas’s newest attraction: the 550-foot-tall Ferris wheel with an open bar.

  • Chandelier Bar in The Cosmopolitan: A playground, art exhibit, and cocktail haven, this is one good-looking bar.

  • The Dorsey: Set inside the Venetian, this place defines swanky and has tasty drinks.

  • Velveteen Rabbit: The drinks here are among the best I’ve ever had, and you have to love a Velveteen Rabbit theme!

Dance the Night Away in Las Vegas

Vegas has some of the world’s best nightlife, and you have to bring your dancing shoes.

  • Marquee: I always love the atmosphere here, and the party never stops!

  • XS: This Wynn Encore club has first-class DJs and an expansive indoor/outdoor dance floor.

  • Encore Beach Club: As if you need another excuse to hit up this club; it has nighttime pool parties now!


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