When most people think of a classic Vegas trip, they likely imagine plenty of debauchery and late nights spent passing hordes of cash back-and-forth across a felt table. To be fair, the adrenaline rush of the casino is a rite of passage for most visitors to Sin City. But for many of us, a whole night spent in a windowless card room isn’t exactly alluring.
Even if you’ve lost your taste for placing your hard-earned money on the Pass Line, you’re in luck: Vegas has so much more to offer than craps tables and sometimes not-so-cheap thrills. From live entertainment to award-winning food to breathtaking natural beauty just outside the Strip, the area is a treasure trove. And now that the blistering desert heat has cooled down a bit, it’s the perfect time to visit. To get inspired for your next trip, read on for our non-gambler’s guide to Las Vegas.
Where to Stay
Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas: While Vegas has no shortage of glitzy accommodations, we think it’s time to step up your game to something truly classy—and a stay at the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas is a great way to do it. It has all the sophistication that you’d expect from a Waldorf hotel, and it’s located right in the heart of the Strip. Better yet, the hotel is about to emerge from a two-year, property-wide renovation. It’s the perfect home base for sampling the Vegas scene, but it offers the option to retreat into a luxury oasis anytime the noise and crowds start to get overwhelming.
This resort is as good as it gets: The location is prime, the amenities are top-shelf, and guests are treated to a truly luxurious experience. The hotel has superb dining onsite at the Zen Kitchen, Zen Café, and the Skybar (more on that below), it features the iconic Tea Lounge on the 23rd floor, and if you want to really relax, head over to one of the poolside cabanas or book a treatment at the award-winning spa.
What to Do
Visit Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area: If you love a good sunset, then you need to catch the mind-blowing twilight in Red Rock Canyon. Located only 15 miles west of Las Vegas, the park features a gorgeous, one-way, 13-mile scenic drive along with several amazing hiking trails, campsites, horseback riding, and epic views of the area’s fiery red sandstone peaks. Some walls reach up to 3,000 feet high; La Madre Mountain, the park’s highest point, towers above the landscape at 8,154 feet. If you have an appreciation for stunning natural landscapes, this area is absolutely worth a visit.
Ski and Snowboard at Lee Canyon: Located only 35 miles from the Strip, Lee Canyon is one of the best ways to spend a day outdoors during the winter months in Vegas. Add this destination to your itinerary, and you can be wined-and-dined on the Strip one night and then traverse epic groomers on your skis or snowboard the following morning. The summit of Lee Peak sits at 11,289 feet, and the snow conditions can be excellent if you time your trip right. With 195 acres of lift-accessed terrain, 26 trails, and an average annual snowfall of 126 inches, this ski resort is one of the best hidden gems in all of Nevada.
Check Out Absinthe at Caesar’s Palace: A trip to Las Vegas isn’t complete without catching a show, and if you only see one, make it the Absinthe variety show at Caesar’s. With acts that range from burlesque to acrobatics, it has something for everyone, and all of it is worth seeing: The show has been named the “#1 greatest show in Las Vegas history” by Las Vegas Weekly.
While there are plenty of good acts to see in Vegas, Absinthe is a safe bet for great entertainment any night. Check the show’s website for the latest COVID-19 protocols, and be sure to book your tickets well in advance of your trip.
Explore the Fremont Street Experience: This historic street (the first paved road in Las Vegas) is an homage to the city’s colorful past—both in terms of gambling and signage. This street provides a glimpse at what Vegas was like before the Strip came along, and with its kaleidoscope of lights and signs, the pedestrian mall is the epitome of “Instagram worthy.” Take your picture with Vegas Vic (the iconic neon sign that was originally commissioned by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce in 1947), watch the many themed light shows that fire up after dusk, and check out Viva Vision (the world’s largest video screen). You can also take a peek at the 200,000-gallon shark aquarium at the Golden Nugget, and if you really want to dive into some classic Americana, be sure to pay a visit to the Neon Museum, where you can view some of the most iconic Vegas signage of all time.
Where to Eat and Drink
Dinner at Zen Kitchen and Drinks at Skybar: Both of these destinations are located at the Waldorf Astoria. Whether you opt for room service or take a table in the dining room, Zen Kitchen’s food is superb. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and its menu of seasonal American cuisine includes everything from charred octopus to braised lamb pappardelle (as well as classic steaks, artisanal salads, and sandwiches). Our advice? You can’t go wrong with the ribeye, and the duck fat fries are amazing. Once you’ve had your fill, be sure to head up to Skybar for craft cocktails and a panoramic view of the Strip.
Lotus of Siam: Foodies likely already know about the award-winning northern Thai cuisine at Lotus of Siam (if not, put it on your hit list). The food is world-class, and its list of accolades proves it. The menu is full of unique dishes, so bring a group and order a few entrees and apps to share. We highly recommend the khao soi (crispy duck served on a bed of egg noodles in a curry sauce) and any of the fried rice options. Just make your reservation well in advance—this place is a hotspot.
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