A Vegas Weekend: A Dream Itinerary

As many people who have been to Las Vegas will tell you, Sin City is best consumed in small doses. There’s so much to see and so much to spend money on! So it can certainly be overwhelming (and expensive) to spend too much time there. I personally find a Vegas weekend or long weekend to be the perfect amount of time to take in the City of Lights without being blinded by their brilliance.

The reason I keep coming back to Vegas is the world class shows you can find in nearly every casino. Those shows can be pricey, but they are definitely worth it. (I can give you some tips to save on tickets.) If one of your favorite artists ever has a residency in Vegas, the production value will likely better than anything that can be brought on tour. That means it is probably worth the trip. Whatever it is that draws you to Vegas, there are many things not to miss while you’re there. So I’ve compiled an itinerary of some of my favorite stops for a quick Vegas weekend.

Oh! And for our readers we have a 10% discount on Big Bus Tours in Vegas!

Lodging:

One good spot to save money when you’re booking a trip to Vegas is your hotel room. This area is home to many amazing resorts that offer lush suites. However, I find myself spending very little time in the room and favor a more cost effective option. Planet Hollywood (3667 S Las Vegas Blvd.) and Paris (3655 S Las Vegas Blvd.) offer great prices as well as a great location. Most rooms in these hotels have been renovated and are therefore pretty nice for their price point.

Make sure to ask about a discounted room upgrade at check-in, when I stayed at the Bellagio, I got a great deal on an upgrade to a suite with the comfiest bed and gorgeous wallpaper.

If you want to spend a little more, the Bellagio (3600 S Las Vegas Blvd.), Aria (3730 S Las Vegas Blvd.), and Cosmopolitan (3708 Las Vegas Blvd.) are all located across the street from Planet Hollywood. They too have very lush rooms if you’re looking to treat yourself. Regardless of whether you plan to gamble or not, I’d strongly suggest opening an MLife and Caesar’s Rewards player’s cards. Open them not just for the access they give you to discounts on show tickets but also the opportunity to get free stays! (A great excuse to come back for another Vegas weekend.) I don’t gamble much in Vegas. But I know I can always use my player’s card to get a free room (or save resort fees.)

Vegas Weekend Day One:

Explore: Bellagio – 3600 S Las Vegas Blvd.

The Fountains at the Bellagio are a must-see for anyone doing a Vegas weekend. These fountains are modeled after the ones in Rome, Paris, and Madrid. The Fountains offer a breathtaking show where their waters soar up 460 feet synchronized to a variety of familiar songs. Every show is a little different too! So, if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself watching it from many different vantage points during your visit. The Fountains of Bellagio run every half hour in the afternoon and every 15 minutes between 7pm and Midnight. 

The Bellagio Fountains seen from the top of the Eiffel Tower. This is my favorite view of the fountains, even from 46 stories, you can still hear the music from the fountain show.

The Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens located just off the lobby is another awe inspiring stop to make. (Even if you’re staying at another resort.) The immaculate and elaborate floral displays change seasonally offering a new immersive feat of botany every time you go back. Don’t miss the extravagant Chihuly glass installation either! The instillation resembles over 2,000 Italian flowers sprouting from the ceiling above the hotel lobby.

One of the five yearly themes for the Bellagio’s botanical gardens is the Chinese New Year. These are some of the floral arrangements featured in the 2017 Year of the Rooster celebration.

Eat:

LAGO by Julian Serrano (at the Bellagio) is a more spendy restaurant for a meal. But the view you have of the mesmerizing Bellagio Fountains elevates the dining experience. This is a must-stop if you’re a fan of Italian small plates. Keep in mind the menu does change over time. I still think back to my experience there when I tried pheasant for the first time. The pheasant was set in a delicious wine sauce so enticing, I nearly ordered a second portion. 

The view from an early evening dinner at Lago. This view and their small Italian plates are hard to beat.

Bāng Bar by Momofuku (at Cosmopolitan) is a more budget friendly option. Stop here for a quick and easy meal if you’re taking in the best food in Vegas without splurging. Chef David Chang provides an Asian-inspired twist on spit roasted meats you may be familiar with. I grab The U Wrap with spicy pork or chicken teriyaki while grazing my way up and down The Strip. (The wrap is a more than once in a Vegas weekend kind of treat.)

Explore:

The Forum Shops (at Caesar’s Palace) are something to behold whether you have a penchant for high end designer brands or not. The upside to Vegas being expensive is that so much has been done to curate an immersive experience. It’s not quite the same as being in the Roman Forum at the height of the Roman Empire. That said, there are gorgeous fountains, frescoed ceilings, and even a gelateria. Grab a scoop of stracciatella as you window shop and people watch.

The Grand Canal Shops at the Venetian are truly an experience, you can even hire a gondolier to give you a ride around their canals in a gondola as if you were in Venice.

The Volcano (at The Mirage) is hopefully the closest I’ll ever come to seeing a volcanic eruption firsthand. The eruption show is a theatrical feat of pyrotechnics! Volcano activity happens every hour on the hour between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. nightly. While it’s easy to stumble upon the Bellagio Fountains as you walk about The Strip, The Volcano is not. You’re likely to miss it if you aren’t on the boardwalk in front of The Mirage for the shows. 

The Volcano at The Mirage is sure to heat things up if you forgot your cardigan in the hotel room.

Eat:

Noodle Asia (at The Venetian) serves food all day as well as late at night. If you’re a fan of spicy peanut sauce, I highly recommend their Dan Dan Noodles. Whereas the edamame and potstickers make great appetizers to split with your table. While you’re at The Venetian be sure to check out their shops modeled after the canals and bridges of Venice.

In-N-Out Burger (at The LINQ Hotel) is another Vegas weekend staple for this Midwest native who can’t always have it. Look into their  “secret menu” to make the most of your visit if you’ve never been to an In-N-Out Burger. I usually order a double double animal style with two packets of their secret burger spread for my fries. They are open Late as well. 

 Long before the In-N-Out location by the LINQ was built, I always made sure to head off the Strip to get my animal style fix!

Entertainment:

The Beatles LOVE” by Cirque du Soleil (at The Mirage) is my favorite of the Vegas Cirque du Soleil shows. As someone who loves music, both “The Beatles Love” and “Michael Jackson ONE” (at Mandalay Bay) stand out. They’re a cut above the rest for their modern circus theatrics to the tune of musical favorites. Cirque’s “O” at Bellagio is my favorite show set to an original score with both its synchronized swimming and acrobatics. (Don’t sit in the front row if you mind getting a little wet.)

A scene from “Revolution” in “The Beatles LOVE” show by Cirque du Soleil. Photo by Matt Beard.

The Eiffel Tower Experience (at Paris) or The High Roller Observation Wheel (at The LINQ) are ways to get a miraculous aerial view of The Strip from “Old Vegas” and beyond. This is a view you’re not likely to get from even the highest of hotel rooms. The Eiffel Tower in the evening, with its open air cage, provides my favorite view of the Bellagio Fountains. From here you can still hear the music! Though can be chilly late at night in Vegas when the sun sets in the desert. Be sure to have a light jacket! You’ll be feeling the breeze from 46 stories on a half scale replica of the original Eiffel Tower in Paris.

If you’re not the biggest fan of heights, try The High Roller Observation Wheel. The enclosed ride moves imperceptibly at a one revolution per half hour. High Roller is like the world’s other staggering Observation Wheels in Dubai, London, Singapore, and Melbourne. This ride provides a Ferris Wheel-esque experience to see the City of Lights from its 550ft vantage point.

Ticket Hack

With most shows in Vegas, I would recommend waiting until the day of the show to buy tickets. Take your Player’s Card to the box office and ask about discounts for MLife or Caesar’s Rewards. If you don’t have any player’s cards, Tix4Tonight has three ticket booth locations on The Strip. They offer great discounts to fill last minute seats. (Although I usually scope out for perspective before talking to any box office about tickets.) Third party discount companies offer rates competitive with the theater’s box office too. So, I always check both to ensure I’m getting the best deal. Touring artists and limitedrun residencies may sell out, so it’s always a good idea to look into those before your Vegas weekend.   

Vegas Weekend Day Two:

Eat: Eggslut – at the Cosmopolitan

This is my favorite breakfast stop in Vegas. It’s a shame to go to Eggslut and not try their signature dish “the Slut.” “The Slut” is coddled egg and potato puree topped with chives and gray salt. They even serve it in the mason jar they’ve poached it in alongside baguette crostini for dipping. 

When I discovered the name of this eatery at the Cosmopolitan, I knew it was gonna be a favorite of mine. The eggy and
potato-y goodness of their “Slut” sealed the deal.

Explore:

Shark Reef Aquarium (at Mandalay Bay) is a massive aquarium with cage shark diving–if that’s your thing. One can spend hours admiring green sea turtles, giant rays, sharks, and a komodo dragon amidst the 2000+ animals. If you’ve never experienced the sheer majesty of having a massive ray swim over you at an aquarium, I would 10/10 recommend.

The Coca-Cola Store (near MGM Grand and Park MGM properties) is a semi-tacky tourist trap. Still, I have an undying love for it. I adore the Around the World tasting tray offering 16 beverages imported from countries all over the globe. Inca Kola from Peru is probably one of my all-time favorite sodas.

While the Around the World tasting tray offers many delicious and exotic flavors, the Beverly from Italy is something of an acquired taste.

Eat:

Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen (in the LINQ casino) is a great stop! Whether you’re a fan of the “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” or just a hearty portion size after traipsing the city. The “Trash Can Nachos” don’t disappoint. Neither does the “Bacon Mac ‘N’ Cheeseburger” topped with onion straws and Fieri’s trademarked “Donkey Sauce.” 

Guy Fieri on Dec 20, 2013. Photo By Denise Truscello.

Buffets are a staple in Vegas and nearly every casino serves one. The buffets come at a range of prices, especially when you venture to properties off of The Strip. Buffets are a great option for big families or groups with diverse palates and dietary restrictions. The Buffet at Wynn (3131 S Las Vegas Blvd.) is probably the most well-known buffet and one of the priciest. Some of my favorite Vegas buffets are Flavors at Planet Hollywood (3667 S Las Vegas Blvd.), The Buffet at The Bellagio (3600 S Las Vegas Blvd.), and Le Village Buffet at Paris Las Vegas (3655 S Las Vegas Blvd.) 

Explore: 

Downtown Vegas or Fremont Street are certainly worth breaking off from the more trafficked and relatively newer Vegas Strip. The Golden Nugget (129 E Fremont St.) is home to one of the world’s largest gold nuggets. The nugget even has a name– The Hand of Faith. This whopping 875 troy ounces (60lbs) of gold is on display for all to see in the hotel’s lobby.

The Hand of Faith was purchased for over $1 Million from a man in Victoria, Australia who stumbled across it with his metal detector in 1980.

Binion’s (128 E Fremont St.) is another stop to note for their $1 million cash display. Many favor Downtown Vegas for its more walkable size. You can easily stroll past all the casinos on Fremont Street in a leisurely five to ten minutes. Whereas you would be pushing it pounding the pavement between Mandalay Bay and Treasure Island in less than an hour. Drinks, restaurants, and hotels are all generally less pricey near Fremont Street. But the older hotels and casinos are not as updated or luxurious as the more ostentatious properties of The Strip.

If you’re planning a bachelor or bachelorette party, check out The Fremont Street Experience (read more below!) At night, it’s akin to a Bourbon Street experience in New Orleans meets Times Square in New York City.

Entertainment: The Freemont Street Experience – 425 Fremont St. Suite 250

There are myriad ways to entertain just about everyone on a Vegas weekend. Street performers, live music, and DJs are scattered across the pedestrian thoroughfare vying for attention from all sides. Suspended 90 feet above Fremont Street is Viva Vision, the world’s largest digital display. It starts at the top of the hour from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. nightly. Each six to eight minute show features a visual interpretation of hit music from legendary artists. Make sure to check their lineup to catch your favorites. 

For anyone following the adage “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” Freemont also offers a plethora of adult entertainment.

The Golden Nugget Casino, originally built in 1946, was one of the first built in the city.

Vegas Weekend Day Three:

Eat: Tom’s Urban – 3790 Las Vegas Blvd. S

This foodie spot is on the esplanade in front of the New York-New York Hotel (3790 S Las Vegas Blvd.) It is a great spot for a farewell brunch on your final Vegas weekend day. Tom’s serves breakfast until 11 a.m. and bottomless mimosas until 2 p.m. daily. Hollandaise speaks to my soul, so anytime I do brunch, I don’t pass up a delicious eggs Benedict. The “Classic Benedict” at Tom’s Urban does not disappoint.

Their patio has a lovely view of The Strip and the esplanade. MGM put in the esplanade with their rebrand of Monte Carlo as the Park MGM. At the same time they put in a lovely little park between NYNY and the Park MGM. The park features fascinating sculptures as well as tables and benches if you’re looking for a place to relax. Even with the most comfortable shoes, my doggies are barking on the last day from traversing Las Vegas Boulevard.

Explore:

The Big Apple Coaster (atop the New York-New York Hotel) offers a thrilling view of The Strip. Running at 67 miles an hour, it was the world’s first coaster to include a 180-degree “heartline” twist. If you’re too full from brunch or not a fan of a 203 ft drop, there’s an arcade located nearby. Thanks to the arcade, anyone not inclined to ride the thrill coaster can still be entertained.

Photo of The Big Apple Coaster loop provided by MGM Resorts.

Big Shot (atop the STRAT) further down boulevard catapults you from its platform. You are hurdling at 921 feet to the tower’s max height 1,081 feet above The Strip. This is a must if you like big drops. The STRAT has three thrill rides from its observation deck. All great options for thrill seekers not content with just an aerial view of The Strip from behind glass. I personally prefer the views afforded from the shorter Eiffel Tower and High Roller experiences, but the STRAT is the city’s highest vantage point.

The Neon Boneyard (770 Las Vegas Blvd. N) is a fantastic stop for those that love the glitz and nostalgic feel of Downtown Vegas. The Neon Museum showcases and preserves iconic signs dating back to the 1930’s as a means of telling Vegas’ story. Some of the signs on display are still running and illuminated at all times. The museum also features 200 unrestored signs in its collection.

Eat: Eataly – at the Park MGM, 3770 S Las Vegas Blvd.

Eataly is a great option if you’re looking for another bite to eat before heading to the airport. Eataly has upscale Italian dining halls in other cities as well, but I never turn away homemade pasta. They have three different restaurants and other quick service counters to cater to a variety of palates though. I also like to stop here for a delicious dinner before a show at The Park Theater.

Hopefully these suggestions help you find your way and make the most of a Vegas weekend! Don’t forget we have a 10% discount for you to snag a Vegas tour with Big Bus Tours! You never know what’s gonna happen in Sin City, so it’s best to keep a loose schedule. I encourage all visitors to try random food you see as you’re walking or follow the sound of whatever music you hear playing, because you never know what you might stumble upon. And who knows if you’ll stumble upon it again.

The Bellagio Gardens had a stunning sculpture adorned with flowers for the 2021 Summer display.

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