48 hours in Las Vegas
Yes, the Strip is full of fabulous eateries from celebrity chefs. Yes, you’ll pay a premium for eating Ramsay, Savoy or Flay amid the over-the-top environs of a casino resort. Or, opt to do as the locals do and dine off-Strip at Other Mama, where Morimoto vet Dan Krohmer puts his Japanese training to work on an inventive, international seafood menu. There’s sashimi, sure, but also blue crab hush puppies, tuna tartare with waffle fries and a nightly list of specials. Plus, the cocktails are bomb. Enjoy.
No trip to Vegas is complete without catching a show, and Spiegelworld’s Absinthe at Caesars Palace is like Cirque du Soleil’s naughty little sister (who maybe has a drinking problem and a thing for extremely buff guys). There are plenty of acrobatic excitements and feats of strength and flexibility, but the whole production is wrapped around the comedic delivery of raunchy ringleader the Gazillionaire. You’ll laugh, blush and inevitably cheer.
Haul your ass out of bed and make for the Venetian, where Thomas Keller’s Bouchon bistro will reward your efforts with a sun-soaked breakfast full of glorious carbohydrates. Start with your choice of caffeine and a basket of fresh pastries, then ignore the menu and order the poules et des gaufres, French for the best damn chicken and waffles of your life. Resist licking the plate.
Dead west from the Strip is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, an outdoor playground of crimson sandstone, shady canyons and dusty trails that inevitably gets mentioned when people sing the praises of Las Vegas beyond the glow of the casino corridor. Choose your own adventure on the exert-o-meter, from a leisurely drive around the scenic loop (with photo-friendly pull-offs) to casual strolls, strenuous hikes or scaling the canyon’s justifiably famous walls.
Head to the relatively new Flock & Fowl, where chef Sheridan Su serves an eclectic menu that includes laksa curry noodle soup, kaya toast and one helluva cheeseburger. The signature, however, is Hainanese chicken rice: tender, poached chicken and fatty rice with a bevy of accoutrements like pickled mustard greens, ginger scallion sauce and house-made soy. It’s the comfort food you just haven’t tried yet.
When the sun goes down, the Neon Museum lights up. In February 2018, the Las Vegas landmark unveiled Brilliant!, a 30-minute, immersive show that brings vintage neon back to life using detailed projection mapping and 80,000 lumens of light. When the soundtrack comes up, 40 long-dead signs and marquees start to dance, their individual bulbs and tubes shining in time with the music. It’s an only-in-Vegas experience not to be missed.
It’s not tomorrow yet! Rally a last burst of energy and join the masses jumping, grinding and flirting inside one of the Strip’s nightlife temples. At MGM Grand’s Hakkasan, DJs like Tiësto, Calvin Harris and Kaskade preside over a packed dance floor. When even the bass drop can’t keep your eyes open, head back to your hotel and collapse into bed. It’s been a long day after all.
It’s time for a glorious, pampering Vegas-style morning. Head to Qua Baths & Spa at Caesars Palace, where a day pass gives you access to a 50,000-square-foot buffet of relaxing spaces, including a tea lounge, Roman baths, a laconium dry sauna and the Arctic Ice room, where snow flurries are always in the forecast. Book a treatment (perhaps something from the Nobu menu of facials and scrubs), or just grab a robe and laze about feeling fancy.
The annual Life Is Beautiful festival brings a host of international street artists every fall to paint the town in wild, whimsical murals. Today, much of the area’s urban architecture is Instagram catnip, covered with bold, vibrant pieces from artists like Bicicleta Sem Freio, Zest and the Broken Fingaz crew. Wander, marvel, repeat.
At the Cosmopolitan, a host of restaurants and bars offer creative cocktails and enticing snacks. Be sure to swing by the Chandelier Bar, the casino’s epic, shimmering centerpiece which houses three levels of drinking environments amid its crystalline cascades. We’re partial to level 1.5, but there’s no bad seat here.