What's there to do in the Vegas area?
August 3, 2007 12:27 AM   Subscribe

So we're eloping to Vegas; what shouldn't we miss while there?

As a follow up to this question, The Dark Princess and I have now planned to get hitched in Vegas in September.

We're currently planning to see the Grand Canyon and perhaps Hoover Dam but what else can you folks recommend that we do while out there? We intend to be in the area for almost a week, with The Big Day smack in the middle to insure we're over the jetlag.

While in Vegas we're going to see a couple of shows and just walk/gawk about the strip. We can gamble in London if we were inclined so we're looking for tips on how to best use our time doing things we can't do in Europe.

We're not interested in taking internal US flights (hassle factor, in fact we're flying direct to Vegas from London to avoid as much TSA BS as possible), so hopping over to LA / SF isn't really an option, especially so as we've got limited time and want to minimise driving. But recommendations for anything in the general vicinity of Vegas would be welcome.

Many thanks for your help!!
posted by Mutant to Travel & Transportation around Las Vegas, NV (28 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There is a lot of great information about things to do in Vegas, and about Vegas in general in the LasVegas tag of MeFi.

Might be worth looking through.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 12:43 AM on August 3, 2007

Best answer: We ate at Thomas Keller's Bouchon the last time we were in Las Vegas and it was the kind of food that makes you think that the $200 bill at the end is a bargain. Oh, man.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:53 AM on August 3, 2007

Best answer: Rent a car and drive out to the China Ranch date farm From Las Vegas Take Interstate 15 South to highway 160. Go west (toward Pahrump) to Old Spanish Trail Highway. Go west on Old Spanish Trail Highway to Furnace Creek Road, turn left. Follow the signs to China Ranch.
posted by hortense at 2:07 AM on August 3, 2007

Best answer: Cheesy as hell, but I really enjoyed the Star Trek experience at the Hilton.

Having seen no Star Trek whatsoever since the original Capt Kirk TV series, I really did not fancy the idea of looking at (yawn) costumes and props, but I went along because my friend really, really loves all things Star Trek. The costumes, etc. form only a small part of it and the two 'rides' (simulators) made the $18 ticket worthwhile. Huge fun. But do not eat before going on it as the first simulator in particular shakes you around a bit.
posted by essexjan at 2:40 AM on August 3, 2007

Best answer: Fremont St Experience. It is insane, something right out of a William Gibson book. There's also a really nice Irish-style pub towards the end called "Hennessy's Tavern" that does really nice sandwiches, big fat chips, good beer (according to the boyfriend) and if I remember rightly, are open quite late. They also do fish and chips, but I didn't get a chance to try them. I can also recommend Tony Roma's steak/rib/seafood place at the bottom of the Fremont Hotel, but beware - they are extremely popular, and you'll probably have to visit an hour before you want eat and book a table. The food is worth it, especially if you've not tried ranch dressing before. It's cracksauce, I swear.

We went to Hoover Dam while we were there - the gift shop is worth a visit, I walked out with a t-shirt and a little souvenir pseudo-Native American rug for about £10. I don't think it's the most amazing tourist destination, but we didn't bother taking the tour because it was just too crowded - even on a weekday. Great for pictures if you're into photography, and one side of the dam is just teeming with chipmunks.
posted by saturnine at 3:39 AM on August 3, 2007

Best answer: I always go to the Red Rock Canyon -- just a few miles outside of town on a map but millions of miles away in the mind.

And considering what you are going to Vegas for, you shouldn't miss the Cirque show "Love" based on the Beatles work.

And then of course there's the roller coaster on top of the Stratosphere!
posted by peace_love_hope at 4:04 AM on August 3, 2007

If you like vintage things, go to The Attic. It is in a very shady neighborhood, not at all near the strip, but it is a cool store.
posted by dnthomps at 4:46 AM on August 3, 2007

Best answer: Seconding Red Rock Canyon. It's a lovely national conservation area and very different than what you'll see in the urban areas of the Las Vegas valley. You'll probably need a rental car to get there. You can either just do the drive (there's a 13-mile loop road -- be kind to the bikers who go slowly up the steep hills) or you can get out and do a bit of light hiking. Bring water and a hat!

Also, as far as the Grand Canyon -- I assume you're taking a bus tour. Be aware that it's a very long drive from Las Vegas (although it's through pretty desert for most of the drive).

On the Strip, you should drop by the Peppermill for a drink. It's old-school, and surprisingly off the tourist path (or at least it used to be).

posted by Mock Turtle at 5:38 AM on August 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Well- Vegas is about buffets and there is nothing like the Bellagio buffet.
posted by beccaj at 5:39 AM on August 3, 2007

there is nothing like the Bellagio buffet.

Except, perhaps, the Wynn buffet.
posted by commander_cool at 6:13 AM on August 3, 2007

Best answer: Well, if you were me the thing that you would most want to see in Vegas would be the Pinball Museum, obviously.

I would also like to see that pirate show at Treasure Island, although they added scantily clad (and perhaps even topless) female pirates. ...Actually, that makes me want to see it even more.

You may want to look here, although I can't vouch for the information.
posted by jefeweiss at 6:28 AM on August 3, 2007

Cheesy as hell, but I really enjoyed the Star Trek experience at the Hilton.

I second that, and I dislike Star Trek in all its forms. It's an extremely well-done theme attraction.
posted by backupjesus at 6:31 AM on August 3, 2007

And then of course there's the roller coaster on top of the Stratosphere!

Its not there any more. There are a few other rides up there but no roller coaster.

In terms of Cirque shows, Ka has always intrigued me (the big huge robotic stages just look too bad ass to me).
posted by mmascolino at 7:11 AM on August 3, 2007

There is, obviously, a lot of magic in Vegas. The fella I always recommend is Mac King. Penn & Teller love him, and you might too. Funny, geeky, great magic....and pretty cheap for Vegas. only 25 bucks! He performs twice daily in the afternoons at Harrah's.

Speaking of Penn & Teller...they have a show at the Rio. Haven't seen it though. Its considerably more. ($75-85)
posted by Wink Ricketts at 8:02 AM on August 3, 2007

Best answer: Congrats!!!

Hoover Dam is between the Grand Canyon and Vegas (assuming the south approach and not going around the north to St. George). In fact, since they are still building the bridge bypass, you can actually drive on the dam itself. I enjoyed the tour. I am getting the impression that you are after one of those helicopter tours?

Lots has been said about Vegas here, so it's worth looking it all up. In the end, you can spend a lot of time just wandering up and down the strip looking at interesting things. Oh, and if you like tapas, be sure to sit on the deck at Cafe Babareba at the Fashion Show Mall (on the strip).
posted by ilsa at 8:34 AM on August 3, 2007

If you see one Cirque show in Vegas (and there's 5), make it KA. It stands for "kicks ass." It's not cheap though.

I liked Penn and Teller at the Rio. If you've seen them before it's pretty similar to past shows but most people haven't.
posted by ALongDecember at 8:36 AM on August 3, 2007

Most of tem have already been covered, but my favorite things I saw while I was out there for a few months earlier this year: Pinball Museum, Champagne Brunch @ Bally's, Bellagio Buffet, Peppermill, Zion/Bryce/Monument in Utah, Grand Canyon/Flagstaff/Jerome in Arizona, Red Rock Canyon/Valley of Fire in NV, Nuclear Testing Museum, Champagnes Cafe.
posted by atomly at 8:39 AM on August 3, 2007

Best answer: You can go to the Liberace museum, if you're interested in seeing some old-school over-the-top sparkly weirdness.

There's a neon graveyard, too.
posted by stefanie at 9:03 AM on August 3, 2007

Best answer: i third the Peppermill Lounge, especially after midnight.
posted by uaudio at 9:23 AM on August 3, 2007

Freemont Street is lame--the graphics are uber-cheesy.

My favorite thing is the NYNY roller coaster.

If you're a Beatles fan at all, check out Love. I was really skeptical, but it was awesome.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:26 AM on August 3, 2007

Seconding China Ranch, which is an hour's drive - to make a day trip of it, there's a nice hike to a slot canyon back behind the date farm. If you go out there and the weather's not too hot, you might check out the Tecopa Hot Springs, either at the formerly public park or one of the private resorts next to it (nude bathing only). The nearby town of Shoshone has a couple of good spots for lunch, a small museum, and a ghost town of caves that miners used to live in.

In the opposite direction, consider Valley of Fire as a spot to take some spectacular photos, examine petroglyphs and enjoy the dramatic red sandstone.

In town, the Atomic Testing Museum atomly mentioned is quite an experience!
posted by zepheria at 9:41 AM on August 3, 2007

Just returned from LV. The two things I'd single out have been mentioned but worth a second vote: Cirque du Soleil (although we saw Mystere at Treasure Island and it was one of the best shows we've ever seen!) and the Liberace Museum. There are shuttles to the museum from various hotels if you don't have a car. It's a couple miles away from the Strip (in a strip mall of course).

My wife and I **love** kitsch souvenirs (so bad they're good) and the Liberace Museum fit the bill!
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 10:25 AM on August 3, 2007

You should really, really, really go eat a Lotus of Siam. It's off the strip, and my friends were skeptical since it was in a strip mall, but seriously, holy christ, the food is amazing. Make reservations, because there was a wait otherwise when we went (Monday Night).

If someone who writes for some fancy magazine says a place is the best place to get X in Country Y, you should definitely do it.
posted by mckenney at 11:40 AM on August 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: How about a visit to the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest? We went for a hike there and enjoyed it immensely; it's nice to get away from the hustle and bustle - and the heat - of Las Vegas.

Seconding Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon; we visited them in 1999 and 2005, respectively, and liked them a lot.

I've also heard good things about the Las Vegas Springs Preserve, but haven't been there myself.

For us, it was important to get out of the city during the day to get away from the hectic strip, but YMMV.
posted by amf at 12:00 PM on August 3, 2007

P.S.: Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! My husband and I eloped as well (not to Las Vegas though) and have never regretted it.
posted by amf at 12:01 PM on August 3, 2007

Most of the stuff I'll mention was already mentioned, but I'll give a thumbs-up or -down.

In general, food in Vegas is a great, worthwhile indulgence. Think about it: lots of the world's best chefs have outposts there. You don't have to splurge on every meal, but do take some time to enjoy it.
Lotus of Siam is supposed to be awesome; a MeFite/Chowhound friend of mine (hey there, Jacqs!) reports that when she told her cabbie to take her there, he said, "Oh, that's the best we've got." He was not mistaken.
Another vote for the Bellagio buffet, which was perfect for our large group who wanted to dress up but not spend hours trying to decide on a single eatery. GREAT food.
I Love Sushi in Henderson (just outside of town) is wonderful. Best of our spread: the Tastes Like My Ex-Girlfriend roll (no, seriously!).

The Liberace museum is wonderful but cheesetastic. It's totally worth it, though, if only for the stories you can tell your friends.

Thumbs down:
The pirate show at Treasure Island (now known as sirens of TI) was LAME, LAME, LAME. I wanted my hour of waiting back. It was basically a Pussycat Dolls knockoff with a lot of flamethrowing and stupid faux-ethnic crap.

Other recommendations:
If you can see a sort of classic Vegas act, whether a residential one or a short engagement, do it. I saw Tom Jones at the MGM Grand and it was AWESOME.

Renting a house or a place off of the strip can be really handy and quite relaxing. We had so much fun, and we could still go down there very easily. You can probably get a better place for less money.

The conservatory at the Bellagio is amazing. Hell, the whole Bellagio is amazing. My rec, though, is to not go there until you've been to some of the other places, because if you go to the Bellagio first, everything else will look cheap :)

Remember that the city blocks along the strip are LOOOOOOOONG! Things are pretty far apart, and to compound it the parking/driving is abominable. Take the monorail if you can; cab lines can be over an hour at peak times.

Good luck, and congratulations!
posted by Madamina at 12:21 PM on August 3, 2007

I can't say enough good things about Mac King, having seen him twice at Abbott's. Very funny in a cute/geeky sort of way.
posted by dagnyscott at 1:10 PM on August 3, 2007

Maybe this is just so obvious that nobody else is brave enough to say it, but the dancing fountains at the Bellagio are awesome, especially at night and be sure to go inside the lobby and see the glass flowers on the ceiling.
posted by rcavett at 4:50 PM on August 3, 2007

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