A few years ago, I had zero interest in visiting Las Vegas. To me, it was a party city, a gambling city, an all around place for self-indulgence. But after visiting Las Vegas twice now… I still think it’s all those things! I mean Kanye wasn’t wrong in his lyrics “crooked like Vegas”. But amidst all this, I found it to be a place where incredible strides are taken to make it a paradisal hub for everyone. Though there is a layer of “fake”, you can’t deny the effort to make it beautiful, extravagant and flawless.
Our first trip to Vegas was in February of 2019 and it was absolute fun. We stayed in the heart of the Strip with a gorgeous view of the Bellagio Fountain and each day we found ourselves amidst exuberance. Everywhere we looked there was designer item after designer item, whether slung over a girl’s shoulder or sitting on display across crystal clear glass that was most likely wiped clean every morning. I swear, I would hear angelic harmonizing every time I passed by a Louis Vuitton (I know, so basic). The numerous restaurants would also call out to us, despite some of the long lines. Needless to say, it’s hard to keep your wallets chained up in this city. You’ll also notice some places – like Starbucks – that have marked up their prices tremendously vs. where you’re from. Be financially and mentally prepared if you want to enjoy a fulfilling Vegas experience, and you’ll have a blast!
Day 1 – Exploring
The first day is the best for getting yourself acquainted with the city and walking along and within the Strip. It’s funny how Vegas’ main tourist attractions are the hotels, but when you see for yourself, you’ll know why. Every main hotel has a grand entrance with extravagant features – such as the Bellagio Fountain or its Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, The LINQ’s High Roller, The Venetian’s canals, Paris’ Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower – and almost all of them are connected to their own luxurious mall: Aria has the Shops at Crystals, Caesars Palace has the Forum Shops, The Venetian has the Grand Canal Shoppes, etc.
After walking through the indoors and more luxurious part of the Strip, be sure to get a taste of the outdoors. The crowd is different, the food, the entertainment… It’s like night and day. One place to enjoy this is the LINQ Promenade right by the High Roller. You’ll see people zip lining here, street entertainers left and right, and food shops that will give you some fighting chance to not spend a fortune on a meal. If you’re thinking of taking a ride on the High Roller, you can check out the ticket pricing here!
Day 2 – Save a Day for Buffet
Now that you’ve seen most of the Las Vegas Strip, it’s time to hit up other parts of the city that you might enjoy. Here are a few options for you for day 2, whether you prefer to shop, explore more, get instagramable photos or be entertained:
- Hit up the outlet malls
- Visit Fremont Street (what some people call Old Las Vegas)
- Head to the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, High Hat Motel, A Little White Wedding Chapel, El Cortez Hotel & Rainbow Crosswalk and Retro Vegas. East Fremont Street is also an awesome arts district with colourful murals
- Check out Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef Aquarium, Excalibur’s Ultimate 4D Experience or Madame Tussauds’ Wax Museum
As you’ll be doing less on day 2, you might as well save your buffet for this day! And yes, you need to try a buffet while you’re in Vegas. If you can’t decide between lunch and dinner, go between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. and you’ll be able to pay a lunch buffet ticket and still try the food that comes out for dinner. The lines are much shorter during that time as well. But for the freshest and most bountiful meal, it’s a better idea to come at the front end of each shift. Our first choice for restaurant is Bacchanal’s at Caesars Palace. I’ve never had a buffet so abundant in choices and strong in flavours and appearance! But a close second is Wicked Spoon at The Cosmopolitan. The Cosmopolitan is home to many other trendy eateries such as the Secret Pizza place that everyone is raving out (it was really good pizza!), Eggslut which is a must-try breakfast grab-n-go, and Beauty & Essex, a classy Speakeasy with unique gastronomy.
The world is your oyster for night activities and entertainment. I highly recommend seeing a show on your second night, especially if it’s a Cirque du Soleil performance. Bellagio’s “O” I hear is phenomenal and I wish we saw it the last time we were there! But MGM Grand’s KÀ was the best acrobatics and visual storytelling live performance I have ever experienced. If acrobatics aren’t your thing, magic shows, comedy shows and music concerts are huge in Vegas and I bet you’ll find whomever you’re looking to watch take the stage. If you like to go clubbing, OMNIA at Casesars Palace is where it’s at but those drink prices might make you squirm! And if you’re feeling bougie, you can get a ride to the STRAT (Stratosphere Hotel) at the 107th floor SkyLounge for cocktails with a gorgeous view of Vegas. Or better yet if you’re feeling extra bougie, a helicopter tour might do the trick. There are many companies that offer evening tours with jaw-dropping views of the district. Some of the best include Maverick, Sundance and 5 Star.
Day 3 – Roadtrip
Nevada has so much to offer besides the town of Las Vegas. Red Rock Canyon (on the west) and Sloan Canyon (on the south) are two of the most scenic national conservation areas of the US. When we did our first trip to Vegas, we were bummed out that we missed seeing the Grand Canyon or at least doing something outside the city. The Grand Canyon South Rim is quite a distance away from Vegas if you plan on taking the road there. Most people would spend the entire day on the tour bus, and others would spend a pretty penny to fly by helicopter to the canyon with quick but brief views of the sites. So we chose to do something a little different and more secluded. The Valley of Fire State Park was a spectacular place to spend our last full day in Nevada.
There’s much to see in a short distance. Shortly after you enter the park, you’re greeted with red rocks everywhere. The beehives were a formidable spot to get a load of these insane structures. Also, Valley of Fire seemed to be a little less known as there were barely any cars on the road late Sunday morning. So you can get these gorgeous views with very few people to disturb you!
A short few minutes drive from the beehives is the Arch Rock campground and Atlatl Rock, where the red sand was so fine and soft you can enjoy a barefoot stroll behind the rock. Atlatl Rock is also known because of its carved petroglyphs dating millennia.
After driving up and down the scenic route of Mouse’s Tank Road to White Domes Trail, you can keep heading east to loop around to find a small enclave of Lake Mead, which we did. But in all honesty, it wasn’t all that worth it and we could’ve definitely cut the trip shorter to make it back to South Las Vegas for further exploring of places like the Seven Magic Mountains which I’ve heard is a pretty cool site, so check it out if you have time!
All in all, a 3-day trip is an ideal timeframe for Las Vegas. Not too short, not too long. You’ll be able to see most of the entire city, the new and the old, you’ll get to try some fantastic food, and get a chance to take on Nevada’s natural sites. If you think this post did Vegas justice, or if you have things to add, let me know down below!
All photos are taken by Jason Meng Photography.