Help two Atlantic Canadians enjoy the hell out of Vegas in September
May 29, 2013 6:51 AM   Subscribe

The honeymoon is booked! We'll be in Las Vegas in mid September for a week (Arrive sunday night, fly out saturday morning) and aside from "look at the pretty lights" we have no flipping clue what to expect or what to do while we're there. Suggestions!?

We're booked in to the Bellagio (Deluxe Fountain View room! yay!). We have five full days at our disposal. We know we'll have no trouble filling those days but we don't want to miss out on anything that we really should take in. Neither of us have been to Las Vegas before so we really have no clue what we should be looking for or doing. The only thing we know we want to do is do a bus trip to the Grand Canyon one of those days. What sort of weather/temperatures should we be expecting?

Help us make the absolute most of this!

I'm looking for suggestions of:
- incredible restaurants (both cheap and fancy pants)
- shows/events we should see
- things we should do
- places we should visit
- things to avoid
- anything else you think might help us to have the most ridiculously amazing Vegas honeymoon evah. We are seriously open to anything.

sidenote - We are not going to be renting a car. Yes we are expecting to do a lot of walking.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Travel & Transportation around Las Vegas, NV (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: And yes, I know that there are places like tripadvisor etc. for travel suggestions, but I guess I'm looking to supplement those with maybe some more first hand experiences and suggestions, as well as maybe some things off the beaten path, things that a lot of tourists there don't see or do but should.

Also looking for recommendations for particular services/companies to go through for activities like our Grand Canyon visit.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 6:59 AM on May 29, 2013

AskMe has a wealth of Vegas stuff from old questions but here are a few of my favorites:

The Cirque show O: we stayed in Bellagio and did same day tickets through the hotel concierge. There was a discount but it was still expensive but OMG worth it. Gorgeous.
Absinthe (the show) at Caesar's: not for everyone but I laughed my mascara off and the acts were amazing. Very blue humor and very un politically correct so YMMV. I thought I'd hate it but it was great.
I like the Cosmopolitan (next door to Bellagio). The bars are good, the decor is fun (I like the art tucked in the hallways between the casino and buffet), and Jaleo - a Jose Andres restaurant) is my favorite restaurant in Vegas and one of my favorites anywhere. Please go to Jaleo and have tapas for me.
If you do buffets, Cosmopolitan is my favorite. The food is actually quite good.
Lotus of Siam (Thai restaurant) - Off strip so taxi ride but damn tasty. Supposedly one of the best in the west.
Since Vegas is a party town and people are up late, I like to get up early when it is cool and the sun is low. Bellagio has a gorgeous pool area which is great early in the morning (and iirc usually opened before the stated opening time) but doing some walking around the city or taking the bus somewhere even if it was just to walk around the pretty landscaping at Mandalay Bay or somewhere was nice and quiet and cool.
When I don't rent a car there I get a pass and road the Deuce bus a lot to go up and down the strip and to downtown (where I I love DuPar's for awesome, awesome breakfasts). The bus gets crowded but beats walking from downtown to the south strip.

I love the spas in Vegas and Cosmopolitan and Vdara are my favorite ones for services or just chilling out with Aria getting an honorable mention. (Bath House is very good too but may be open to hotel guests at TheHotel at Mandalay).
posted by pointystick at 7:15 AM on May 29, 2013

Obviously walk the strip. I mean, that's what you do!

When I visited, I really enjoyed the food at Ping Pang Pong, which apparently was voted the best Asian restaurant in Las Vegas. I just like that the food was good and spicy.
posted by jillithd at 7:16 AM on May 29, 2013

Ah Vegas. One thing you do not say that is pertinent info: What's your gambling tolerance? Set that expectation before you go: What's the maximum amount either of you is allowed to lose a day? $100? $1000? $0? Talk about it. Even if you're not that interested you'll find yourself drawn in. But hey, it's fun! Play Pai-gow Poker if it's available... you tie 70% of the time and lose money slower than most other games. Go to the cheap-o casinos on the Strip for gamble-time, you still get the amazing people watching and free drinks but at half the price.

You're probably going to want to be inside--even in Mid-Sept it is super hot in Vegas. How about indoor skydiving? Pretty awesome stuff.

I love dumb games, so watching the Price Is Right live show at Bally's was one of the best things I've ever done. Most other shows in Vegas aren't my thing, but if they are: Cirque is famous for a reason. Don't save money and go to a show that LOOKS like Cirque but isn't. You will be bummed. Especially decent is the Beatles show LOVE at the Mirage.

Not renting a car is fine but that means you should plan around either taking very pricey cab rides OR limiting yourself to stuff on the main downtown strip or near the Monorail. Even crossing the street can take 20 minutes in the blinding heat of mid-day.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:17 AM on May 29, 2013

The Laundry Room is a terrific, cozy place to get away from the the crowds (it only accommodates about 10 people!). Perfect place for a recharge before heading out on Fremont Street.
posted by activitystory at 7:20 AM on May 29, 2013

We did our honemoon in Vegas! So fun.

If you think you might want to check out clubs, get on the list through a promoter. We did and it was nice to get in for free, especially since we're not huge club people to begin with. The rooftop clubs over at the Palms have amazing views (take a cab from the Strip, do not walk like we did).

The casinos sometimes have classes to teach you the table games, should you want to learn poker or craps in a no-risk environment.

Go eat at the Peppermill and Hash House A Go-Go.

Go to Fremont street and ride the zipline.

Brunch at the Bellagio is really good. The buffet at the Wynn is great, too. I hear the Wicked Spoon buffet at the Cosmopolitan is also great, though I haven't been.

I, too, really enjoyed "The Price is Right - Live!"; I went to an afternoon show and it was a little sober for taste, so consider going to an evening show when everyone is drunk and all worked up.

I think the "Pawn Stars" pawn shop is worth skipping.

On preview, not having a car doesn't mean you have to take pricey cabs! There's a great public bus that goes up and down the Strip 24/7. It's air-conditioned and double-decker and very affordable, particularly if you buy a daily/weekly pass.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:20 AM on May 29, 2013

Avoid: Paris and NYNY. At this point they're kinda dingy and not in a classic way like North Vegas. Are you fans of weird old rundown places and gambling history? Then head to "Downtown" Vegas anyway. If not, avoid that too. Personally I love it but the spectacle of Fremont St. is more Mardi Gras than Oceans 11.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:23 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Grand Canyon is nice, but hoo ee that's a long drive from Vegas. You might consider renting a convertible and driving around the desert. Valley of Fire, Mount Charleston, Red Rock Canyon, and Hoover Dam are all within striking distance (could do them all in one day).
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:03 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Even if the temperature is high (and in September, it probably will be), you might want travel with a sweater. The air conditioning in the casinos is mighty powerful.

Definitely plan to spend some time at the hotel pool. Few things are more relaxing than enjoying a giant tropical drink poolside. The pools get crowded in the afternoons, and are usually (disappointingly) closed in the evenings, so go early to stake out a good spot.

I'm a fan of the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay and the dolphin exhibit at the Mirage--though I haven't been to the Mirage in a few years, and I've heard it's declined a bit recently.

Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris is lovely. For a casual meal, the Terrace Point Cafe at the Wynn is nice, especially if you sit poolside. You have to do a buffet at least once to have the proper Vegas experience, but in general, I found the hotel cafes to be a better value, especially for breakfast when you just want to eat and get on with your day, not load up your plate again and again. Also, nearly all the hotels will have a Starbucks or somewhere similarly fast and cheap to grab a bagel and coffee in the morning.

If you want to shop, most of the casino stores are ludicrously, laughably expensive. But Bauman Rare Books at the Palazzo is worth a visit. The shopping areas at the Venetian and Caesars are enjoyable just for scoping out the atmosphere, and there's more-or-less normal-priced shopping at the Miracle Mile Shoppes at Planet Hollywood or the Fashion Show Mall. The outlet malls aren't that great, as most of them carry merchandise specially made for the outlets rather than discounted merchandise from the brand's main collections, but there are bus services that offer transportation.

Red Rock Canyon and the Hoover Dam are both great, and close enough to visit for the afternoon. I imagine your hotel can arrange transportation for you, but it's probably easier just to rent a car for a day or two. Also, I've heard good things about the Mob Museum.
posted by serialcomma at 8:11 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We had a Vegas honeymoon too!

Can you swing a day trip to the Grand Canyon? It's kind of a schlep, but it's so beautiful!

Hoover Dam is really interesting, rent a car for the day, or drive your rental there. They have tours.

The National Atomic Testing Musuem was a hoot. It's part of the Smithsonian so it's both educational and entertaining. It's a good morning activity.

Luvit frozen custard. Om, nom, nom. At the top of the strip, a couple blocks over from the Stratosphere.

The $7.77 steak and shrimp at Mr. Lucky's at the Hard Rock HOTEL. It's not on the menu, you have to ask for it.

Check the website. They'll tell you which shows. I like the smaller, goofy shows. Forever Plaid or the feather show at the Flamingo. I could be persuaded to do the Million Dollar Quartet at Harrahs. Or any of the Tribute Acts. C'mon, you've got to do one cheesy show or lounge act.

Enjoy your stay. We always have a good time in Vegas!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:13 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

if you want to see a REAL Vegas show: Jubilee at Bally's ...if even just for the costumes (Bob Mackie FTW!)...
posted by sexyrobot at 9:38 AM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

A Pink Jeep Tour! I have been on several and they are terrific fun and a great way to see some of the great landscape in the area. They have Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam tours -- and many others -- but my favourite is the Red Rock Canyon Signature Tour.
posted by Lescha at 9:42 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Grand Canyon is going to suck a huge amount of time out. If you're in the mood for hiking, I would prioritize Valley of Fire. It's absolutely stunning, and the one thing I refuse to miss when I visit Vegas.
posted by emkelley at 10:45 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Definitely plan to spend some time at the hotel pool. Few things are more relaxing than enjoying a giant tropical drink poolside.

I don't like buffets, I don't like gambling, but I do like drinking in/next to a swimming pool, and Vegas does that better than anywhere else.

The roving Limo situation is pretty strange, but also delightful. I think you can kind of just hail a limo, and they're not that expensive. A lot more expensive than a cab, obviously, but it's kind of a fun thing to do once.

If you don't smoke and are sensitive to cigarette smoke, avoid the casino floor. Very smoky. I enjoyed ashing all over the place, but if that's not really your thing, be prepared.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:54 PM on May 29, 2013

By a series of odd coincidences, I ended up in Vegas four times last year. Some of the highlights I experienced:

The Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar's Palace is new and tasty; definitely worth a lunch or a dinner.

Spa days interest you? I'd suggest the spa at the Encore or the Bathhouse at TheHotel (next to Mandalay Bay). You can just pay the day admission and hang out for as long as you like. Those places are amazingly relaxing, and day passes allow you to leave and return (although you're be on honeymoon and the genders are segregated--although some places have couples massages).

I heartily second the recommendations to see O at Bellagio and also a walk on the strip. If you are adventurous enough, you can make your way up and down the main drag using free monorails and interconnected passages (for example, you can get to Monte Carlo from Bellagio using the shuttle). I like to "casino watch"; that is, just wander from hotel to hotel and walk through the architecture (the canals of the Venetian, the Forum shops at Caesar's Palace, the lobby of the Cosmopolitan).

And of course, Freemont Street is a great way to experience old Vegas in a new-ish context. At night the hourly lightshow on the canopy is dazzling and there seems to be an endless supply of tribute bands and musical acts.

Congrats on the wedding!
posted by Quaversalis at 1:12 PM on May 29, 2013

Best answer: I thiiiiiink I am the first to note this, but the Neon Museum is one of my favorite places in Vegas, and the tours are such a great place to get a slice of history. Book a tour in advance and bring a fully-charged camera with plenty of memory; you will get some amazing photos.

If you are a spa person, the Qua Spa at Caesars Palace is my idea of heaven. They sell day passes for $40; you can easily fill up several hours there wandering from pool to pool and sauna/steam room to snow room, with breaks for snacks and freshly brewed tea. I have also heard good things about the spa at the Venetian, which has more coed spaces than Qua.

The Peppermill is fantastic and a lot of fun. They give enormous portions of good, fairly priced food. If you're dressed decently, the attached Fireside Lounge is also a kick.

If you like any games, any at all, and you have access to a rental car, check out the Pinball Hall of Fame. It's this enormous warehouse of restored vintage pinball machines that still take quarters. And after you're done there, stop by the In 'n' Out Burger for a bite.

Make sure you take the Deuce bus (or your rental car) downtown for at least a little while. The food and the gambling is cheaper there, and you can get a taste of seedy old-school Vegas. There's a lot going on in the street under the canopy, and there are some very cool bars opening up in the Fremont area that are worth checking out.

And make sure you give yourself plenty of time to wander and casino-hop! There are so many cool things tucked away in so many of the Strip casinos, and while the Bellagio is gorgeous, don't get stuck there. Stroll along the fake canals of Venice and listen to the gondoliers singing, walk under the fake trees in Paris, visit the flamingos in the Flamingo, and catch the volcano show in front of the Mirage.

There aren't a lot of things I would recommend specifically avoiding, but if you are interested in any of the shows, Madame Tussauds, clubs, etc., just make sure you don't pay full-price. Those tourism guides in the hotels and taxis are riddled with coupons and your hotel concierge definitely knows a guy (who knows a guy). You can stretch a dollar pretty far in Vegas, you just have to do a little research first.

Have fun! I love Vegas, and I hope you do too.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 1:50 PM on May 29, 2013

Best answer: Oh, also: tip. Tip everyone, tip well, and tip upfront if you can. Vegas runs on tips. Tipping well and being polite will make your experience so much better.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 1:53 PM on May 29, 2013

Best answer: I've made some recommendations here.
posted by herrdoktor at 5:30 PM on May 29, 2013

Check chowhound's las Vegas boards if you're a foodie at all.

Get one of the frozen dragon fruit cocktails at the chandelier bar at the Cosmo and breathe smoke at each other. Beautiful bar and we had great friendly service there.

I'd skip the grand canyon tour probably-such a loooong drive on a bus.

I'm an early riser-love leaving my sleeping friends and having breakfast on the patio restaurant across from the Bellagio, Mon Ami Gabi.

Gondola ride at night at the Venetian?
posted by purenitrous at 8:08 PM on May 29, 2013

Take the bus to MARY'S Hash House(fabulous jellies!) and the Amber Unicorn used bookstore.
posted by brujita at 9:07 PM on May 29, 2013

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