Top 10 things to do in Las Vegas
Synonymous with opulence, Las Vegas is a shimmering and sprawling desert metropolis packed with iconic hotels, no-expense-spared casinos, glamorous star-chef restaurants and glitzy nightclubs - all bigger and brighter than anywhere else on the planet. We discover the top 10 fabulously offbeat experiences in the infamous Sin City.
Sip cocktails in a giant chandelier
Where: At The Cosmopolitan, 3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South.
What: The sparkling runway hit of The Cosmopolitan resort is the dazzling ‘The Chandelier’, a crystal-encrusted ‘venue’ that houses three unique Las Vegas bars. Located within the casino, this glimmering tri-level watering hole seats 500 guests and was created with two million octagon-shaped crystal beads that hang on shimmering strands that surround the 65-foot tall structure.
Highlights: Each level of The Chandelier presents three distinct bar experiences in crystalline surroundings and a DJ on each floor spins the hottest beats to impress trendy Vegas-goers. The Bottom of The Chandelier is a high-energy party playground that transcends the notion of the classic casino bar; Inside The Chandelier is a chic and sophisticated haven for cocktail connoisseurs whilst the Top of The Chandelier is an inviting kick-back lounge. There is even an on-site mixologist who pushes the cocktail envelope with over 150 one-of-a-kind potions. Try the signature Verbena made with tequila, Yuzu sour, ginger syrup, lemon verbena leaves and garnished with a Szechuan button (an edible flower that makes your mouth salivate) - or simply stick with the Cosmo.
Relive gangster history at the Mob Museum
Where: Located in the heart of downtown at 300 Stewart Avenue, two blocks north of Fremont Street.
What: Once known as the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, the Mob Museum is housed in a former 1930’s federal courthouse and US Post Office. This multi-million dollar venture opened on 14 February 2012, the 83rd anniversary of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre when seven men from the Bugs Moran gang were murdered by Al Capone’s South Side gang.
Highlights: Presenting an authentic view of the mob’s impact on Las Vegas history, this sprawling 41,000-square-feet museum is dedicated to scandal, secrecy and intrigue. True stories of mob history are brought to life through three floors of engaging exhibits; from audio visual displays to iconic artifacts that showcase both sides of the notorious battle played between mobsters and the US legal system. Learn about Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel, Meyer Lansky and other notable mobsters and take a seat in the actual courtroom used in the Kefauver hearings - the first mob-related trial to be televised in 1950. Admission is £13 for adults; £9 for children aged 5-17.
Play classic arcade games at The Pinball Hall Of Fame
Where: At 1610 East Tropicana, across the street from the now-closed Liberace Museum.
What: Just a five-minute drive east of The Strip, this little-known pleasure palace is a 10,000 square-feet cinder-block building housing over 250 vintage pinball machines from the 1950's to the 1990's. Considered to be the largest collection of historic pinball machines operating in America, this quirky not-for-profit museum-cum-attraction was founded by members of the Las Vegas Pinball Collectors Club with a mission to donate any excess revenue to charity. Also known as the Las Vegas Pinball Museum, every machine is owned by pinball wizard and museum director Tim Arnold.
Highlights: Whilst there is no entry charge, you will need plenty of coins to play; newer machines cost 75 cents, intermediate machines cost 50 cents and vintage games cost 25 cents (a quarter). The machines on display change regularly; the rest are kept in a warehouse behind the main building just off the Vegas strip. All machines are playable; from the earliest to the latest high-tech creations. Most thrilling are the pinball machines dating back to 1933 and the classic 1980's and 1990's arcade games Donkey Kong, Pacman, Asteroids, Super Mario Brothers and Jurassic Park. The museum is open Sunday to Thursday, 11am to 11pm; Friday and Saturday, 11am to midnight.
Savour a French-style breakfast at Payard
Where: At Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Boulevard South, on The Strip.
What: Famed for serving ‘one of the best French breakfasts outside of Paris’, the intimate Payard Patisserie Bistro at Caesars Palace is a sumptuous dining experience complete with a chocolate and pastry shop. The chic Parisian-inspired dining room is beautifully designed, accented with dark mahogany tables, creamy white leather banquettes and ornate crystal chandeliers. The restaurant is overseen by world-acclaimed Nice-born pastry chef François Payard.
Highlights: The Continental Breakfast Buffet (£14 per person) is offered from 6.30am to 11.30am and includes an exquisitely presented assortment of almost-too-gorgeous-to-eat pastries, bagels, croissants, muffins, yoghurts, cured meats, cereals, juices, tea, coffee and more. Those with a sweet tooth should order the sumptuous Payard Chocolate Waffle with Nutella and Sautéed Banana Compote or the Vanilla Waffle with Sautéed Berries and Whipped Cream - both priced at £9. To whet your appetite further, there is even a 13-foot floor-to-ceiling sinfully sweet chocolate clock that randomly dispenses free truffles to guests.
Discover the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay
Where: At Mandalay Bay Resort located at 3950 Las Vegas Boulevard South.
What: Shark Reef gets the full Vegas treatment by showcasing over 2,000 animals in 1.6 million gallons of seawater. Owned by the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, this 95,000 square-feet public aquarium presents rare golden crocodiles, spiny lionfish, sawfish, giant rays, endangered green sea turtles, piranhas and 15 species of sharks.
Highlights: Embark on a weird and wonderful aquatic adventure through 14 breathtaking exhibits that are devoted to dangerous sea predators. The most impressive is the 1.3 million gallon shipwreck where visitors experience an almost 360-degree view of sharks and fish through an acrylic tunnel. Enjoy the Touch Pool Experience by ‘touching’ a collection of sharks, rays or horseshoe crabs with the top of your finger, and also walk through the tunnel exhibits to get a diver's perspective of the underwater world. The sharks are the star attraction; from the Epaulette and Zebra sharks to the Sand Tiger, there are around 100 to keep your distance from. Admission costs £12 for adults; £8 for children aged 5-12.
Take a guided city bus tour
Where: Departs from Bally's box office entrance (at the bus ramp) at 3645 Las Vegas Boulevard South. What: The Las Vegas Guided Day Bus Tour is an all-encompassing four-hour extravaganza presented by All Las Vegas Tours to present the iconic attractions that make this city so unique. The hop-on hop-off tour stops at Fremont Street, downtown Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Wedding Chapel and takes in some of the classic hotels such as the Venetian, Bellagio and Cosmopolitan.
Highlights: There are plenty of fabulous photo ops at historic Mafia points, the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas, The Caesars Palace Fountain where Evil Knievel tried to jump and much more. Vegas-loving tour guides provide on-board commentary and will accompany you at each ‘stop’ to clue you up on all things historical; from tales of performing greats like Frank Sinatra and Elvis to stories about the lives of eccentric casino moguls like Howard Hughes and Steve Wynn. Knockout sights for pop culture-lovers include the filming locations of Ocean’s 11, Vegas Holiday, The Hangover and Casino as well as the sites of OJ Simpson’s demise, Brittany Spears’ annulled wedding and Tupac’s assassination. Departing at 10am, this compelling tour operates daily and costs from £36 for adults and £29.50 for children.
Enjoy the Fremont Street Experience
Where: Located between Main Street and Las Vegas Boulevard in downtown.
What: The second most famous street in the Las Vegas Valley after the Las Vegas Strip, Fremont Street was named in honour of US explorer and military hero John Charles Frémont who first mapped the Las Vegas area. Dating back to 1905, this iconic street offers visitors a glimpse of vintage Vegas - a world of legendary casinos, free entertainment and old-fashioned gambling hospitality away from the all-singing all-dancing mega-resorts that have since swallowed The Strip.
Highlights: Fremont Street, now known as the Fremont Street Experience, allures visitors with countless landmarks including the Golden Gate Casino & Hotel that dates back to 1906 (1 Fremont Street) and the historic Golden Nugget, downtown’s swankiest place to stay and play (129 Fremont Street). Yet the real ‘experience’ is the free sound and light show that kicks off every night at 7pm and continues at the top of every hour until midnight. Set beneath a sweeping canopy rising 90-feet above the street and stretching almost a third of a mile, jaw-dropping displays of super-sized animation and high resolution special effects from a $17 million digital video display system fuelled by 12.5 million LED lights dazzles the crowds.
Get the party started at LAX
Where: At the Luxor Hotel at 3900 South Las Vegas Boulevard.
What: Pronounced ‘el-eh-ex’, LAX is located inside the pyramid-style 30-storey Luxor which boasts a staggering 4,400 rooms, including 442 suites. Frequented by A-listers and the glitterati, LAX came under new ownership in late 2010 and shot to fame as one of The Strip’s hottest nightclubs. The 26,000 square-foot, two-story space is outfitted in rich red leathers and shimmering chandeliers; most impressive is the VIP area on the second floor featuring seven luxurious lofts that are seemingly suspended over the main dance floor.
Highlights: For hardcore clubbers and celebrity stalkers who don’t mind queuing for up to 90-minutes at the huge Gothic gate entryway, sharing the dancefloor with beautiful people and world-famous DJ’s is a must-do. Entry to this super-stylish club is £20 and a glamorous dress code is enforced; men must wear a collared shirt and any sort of sportswear is off-limits. The club boasts at least four bars where you can order signature drinks: beers and shots start at £4.50 whilst table service bottles begin at a whopping £279. The music policy is mainstream and hip-hop and the club is open from 10.30pm until late on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Marvel at fine art at the Bellagio
Where: At the Bellagio, 3600 South Las Vegas Boulevard.
What: Located inside the Bellagio Hotel & Casino at the intersection of Flamingo Road and The Strip, the small Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art (BGFA) showcases masterpieces from artists such as Warhol, Monet and Picasso and also gives wall space to arts from museums and private collectors. Past exhibitions have included Fabergé treasures from the Kremlin and mobiles from American sculptor Alexander Calder.
Highlights: The gallery is exhibiting Warhol Out West until 27 October 2013. In partnership with The Andy Warhol Museum, visitors are invited to enter the world of pop artist Andy Warhol to see the most extensive collection of the artist's artworks ever displayed in Vegas. The exhibition features over 60 paintings, prints, sculptures, wallpaper and film from the 1960s to 1980s. Most fascinating is the imposing Double Elvis painting and examples from Warhol's iconic Campbell's Soup can series. The museum is open daily from 10am to 8pm and last tickets are sold 30 minutes prior to closing. Admission costs £10.50 for visitors 13 years and older; children 12 years old and younger are free. An audio tour of the gallery is included in the entrance price.
Ride the High Roller at The LINQ
Where: Just outside The Linq Hotel & Casino, on the Las Vegas strip.
What: For knockout views of the Las Vegas skyline, this 520ft ferris wheel offers views that are unsurpassable to anywhere else on the strip. The wheel faces north and south parallel to the Las Vegas Boulevard, with 28 glass-enclosed cabins circling round in 30 minutes. Each cabin can hold up to 40 people, but you can book a private cabin if you fancy something more exclusive.
Highlights: Of course, a standard ride on the High Roller is an incredible way to admire Las Vegas' bright lights, grand architecture and sweeping desert landscapes. But there are plenty of great experiences that can take place in these scenic glass cabins. Fancy a bit of zen? How about a unique yoga class high up above Las Vegas' skyline? Or perhaps you could indulge in a chocolate tasting experience, tasting handcrafted Ethel M Chocolates paired with a glass of decadent wine.