The 15 best Las Vegas hotels
When it comes to Sin City, hotels are much more than a mere collection of rentable rooms. In fact, the best Las Vegas hotels (which happen to be some of the best Las Vegas casinos as well) are shopping malls, dining destinations and nightlife meccas all rolled into one. Believe it or not, even the best Las Vegas shows call these hotels their stage. And if indoor activities are proving to be a bit claustrophobic, feel free to take a stroll around the best Las Vegas parks at any point during your staycation or vacation. Looking for more options? Check out our pick of the coolest Airbnb Las Vegas rentals.
The 10 best Las Vegas shows
It’s up there with trying your luck at the best Las Vegas casinos or ogling the over-the-top sights on the Las Vegas Strip. Seeing at least one spectacular production is among the best things to do in Las Vegas, but with more than 100 Sin City shows vying for your attention on any given day, which should you choose? We waded through the whole program, from comedy shows and magic to Broadway musicals and the entire Cirque canon, to select the best Las Vegas shows, ranked in order of necessity.
Christmas events in Las Vegas
The fact that Las Vegas is smack in the middle of the desert—and perpetually illuminated—might lead you to believe the holidays are no big deal. But Sin City goes all out (Santas run riot downtown, cacti transform into Christmas trees). While there’s no shortage of essential things to do and the best Las Vegas shows can be seen all year-round, celebrate the season with festive spectacles, ice-skating and other fun Christmas events, then get a little merry at some of the best Las Vegas bars and lounges. RECOMMENDED: Christmas in Las Vegas guide
The best Las Vegas attractions
When it comes to finding things to do in Las Vegas, attractions and general fun, you don’t have to look far. The city is a smorgasbord of entertainment, and not just thanks to all that music, the famous Las Vegas shows and those all-star-chef-stuffed Las Vegas restaurants. Vegas is a city you can experience and ogle beyond the casinos. Sightseeing and adventurous activities await you, whether you’re just spending the weekend or you plan on staying longer. For the best Las Vegas attractions, don’t look any further.
The Las Vegas restaurants open on Christmas Day and Eve
You’ve decked the halls, sleuthed out the perfect gifts at the city’s best shops and learned that Christmas songs don’t have to suck. Next on the agenda: planning the holiday feast. By which we mean making reservations at one of these restaurants open on Christmas Day and Eve. From a carnivore’s dream dinner to a new Thai tradition, there’s a meal for every type of celebration. RECOMMENDED: See the full Christmas in Las Vegas guide
The best Las Vegas casinos
There’s this little activity that many visitors to Las Vegas (and plenty of locals too) like to do: It’s called gambling. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Since the momentous legalization of the Las Vegas casino almost 85 years ago, wagering money on machines, table games and, later on, sports has been the backbone of this city. Which, of course, explains all the casinos in Las Vegas. Return visitors often find a particular casino they like and come back time after time. But for the first-time guest, choosing a casino in Las Vegas can be daunting when there are so many options available. For a segway tour of all the great casinos in Las Vegas and more, click here.
Las Vegas restaurants open on Thanksgiving
Whether you’re a cooking-averse local or a holiday visitor hitting the casinos and catching a few Las Vegas shows, you certainly won’t lack options when it comes to restaurants open on Thanksgiving (though reservations are strongly recommended). Our list includes several of the best Las Vegas restaurants. Once you’ve had your fill, sprawl on the sofa to binge on Thanksgiving movies—and revel in the fact that someone else is doing the dishes. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Thanksgiving in Las Vegas
The best movie theaters in Las Vegas
Are you a dyed-in-the-wool movie buff? If so, you won’t have to travel far to find a movie theater in Las Vegas. The city is teeming with cinemas, and many off-Strip hotels have theaters inside them. Most theaters in Las Vegas feature the current crop of big-studio releases, so finding independent or offbeat films can be a bit of a challenge. A couple of movie houses, however, deviate from the usual program, including Regal Village Square Stadium 18 on the west side of town. The Brenden Theater inside the Palms also occasionally sprinkles its lineup with lesser known films; alternatively, you can simply head to its IMAX Theater to see a larger-than-life new release. But if you want to watch a movie in true style—and with a brew in hand—head straight to the Galaxy Luxury+ in the southern end of town. Galaxy’s oversized reclining chairs are comfier than your living room, and the screens are gigantic. Plus, the fact that you can buy beer or wine to wash down your popcorn makes this the go-to theater in Las Vegas.
Listings and reviews (10)
Million Dollar Quartet
There’s a symbolic junction in Las Vegas where rock & roll, country & western and rhythm & blues intersect—and it currently resides in Harrah’s main showroom. Million Dollar Quartet tells the story of a musical meeting in the literal sense: On December 4, 1956, four masters of these genres— Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins—ended up in a recording studio for a one-off session that changed the course of modern music. That pivotal evening at Sun Records in Memphis plays out onstage through classics including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Great Balls of Fire.” You don’t have to be a hard-core fan of any of the styles to agree that this show totally rocks.
Most people love the blissfully semiconscious state between waking and sleeping and the absurd thoughts that accompany it—hence the appeal of the notoriously potent green liquor, thought to induce a similar haze. Add a dash of uninhibited libido to that dreamlike feeling and you get Absinthe. This 18-and-over show is set apart by the intimacy of its spiegeltent theater, its bawdy, in-your-face attitude and the gasp-worthy stunts that play out on a nine-foot-diameter round stage just a few feet from the audience. Hosted by emcee-provocateur the Gazillionaire—a greasy-haired, mustachioed carnival barker plucked straight out of the 1970s—and his assistant Joy Jenkins, he plies audiences with dirty jokes and double entendres between cabaret and circus-style acts like flipping strongmen, tap-dancing twins and scantily clad acrobats that are the stuff of very flexible fantasies. It’s like Cirque du Soleil’s naughty little sister and well worth your entertainment dollars.
The Broadway blockbuster charts the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, with Valli’s sky-high falsetto helping to spawn more than a dozen ’60s hits including “Sherry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “Walk Like a Man.” The narrative of the group’s trajectory is familiar, but compelling: backstabbing, personal conflicts, bad choices and criminal elements, all woven together with a timeless and instantly recognizable musical score (try to not hum as you leave the theater). The fact that the first musical number doesn’t happen until nearly 30 minutes into the production only heightens its status as an original and thrilling piece of musical theater.
The Beatles LOVE
There are currently seven resident Cirque du Soleil shows to choose from in Vegas, but we’d slap down our bucks for The Beatles LOVE, because, well: the Beatles. Combining the original pop-rock quartet with Cirque’s artistic imagery was a masterstroke of brilliance on the part of the famed production company, but the show doesn’t just string together a roster of the Fab Four’s greatest hits. LOVE uses a range of tunes—nearly 30 in all—from the group’s catalogue to frame a mini-history of their rise to stardom and subsequent breakup. The Grammy-winning show underwent an extensive redesign in honor of its 10th anniversary in 2016, so now is the perfect time to fall under the spell of Beatlemania once again.
The second entrant, in 1998, into Cirque’s Las Vegas empire, O still manages to astound in large part due to its unrivaled star: a spectacularly designed aquatic stage that transforms from solid ground to liquid often before the audience even notices. O makes the most of this defining feature with skits combining comedy, derring-do and whimsy that play out above, on and in the 1.5 million-gallon tank. Ships roll on temporary waves, divers plunge 60 feet into the waters, acrobats twirl and contort high above the stage below with the show’s abstract narrative weaving O into more than just the sum of its parts.
Carrot Top’s high-energy, prop-fueled comedy (and suspiciously bulging muscles) can often make him a punchline among cultural commentators. The burly redheaded comedian isn’t taken seriously because he’s just so damn goofy, but that’s a mistake you shouldn’t make when you visit Vegas. Carrot Top—aka Scott Thompson—has been a staple on the Las Vegas Strip for almost 20 years, which, given the city’s rapidly changing entertainment scene, would be a lifetime anywhere else. The main thing that keeps the show fresh and relevant for Las Vegas audiences is Thompson’s work ethic, which extends to his unquenchable thirst for new material. The other underlying factor is that he just goes with the flow. “It’s just me up there having fun and I don’t really know what I’m gonna do next,” he says.
Blue Man Group
Is three really a crowd? Blue Man Group’s enduring show, in Las Vegas and other cities, certainly suggests as much. The BMG trio—there are three blue men because three is the smallest group you can have in which one person can be an outsider—explores universal human concerns like rejection, loneliness and alienation, set to a funky, percussion-heavy soundtrack. Since Blue Man opened on the Strip in 1999, the hit show has evolved to include references to technology, fresh acts and new sets. Throw in a little gastrointestinal humor for good measure, and you have yourself a Vegas classic.
Le Rêve—The Dream
An aquatic stage, amazing performers, glorious music and stunning direction: We must be talking about another Cirque du Soleil show, right? Not exactly. We’re talking about Le Rêve by former Cirque director Franco Dragone, a show that doesn’t do anything by half-measures. And even though it took Le Rêve a few years to come into its own as a production, the wait was worthwhile. There’s a reason this show is called “the dream”: If you’re looking for a strictly linear story that connects the dots, this may not be for you. But if you’re able to immerse yourself in its pageantry and beauty, it will make you feel utterly buoyant.
Penn & Teller
Magic is a sham, but that doesn’t make watching it any less entertaining. That’s the big takeaway from a Penn & Teller performance. These longtime partners—the diminutive, mute Teller and tall, boisterous Penn—revel in their seamless ability to amuse and amaze audiences with tricks that range from sleight-of-hand to seemingly foolhardy acts. In the dazzling show closer, for example, the pair fire pistols at each other through panes of glass and each ends up catching the other’s bullet between his teeth. Along the way, the duo expose how some of the tricks are performed, turning the old adage that magicians never reveal their secrets on its head.
Britney: Piece of Me
As far as second (or is that third?) careers go, Britney has made a helluva comeback. Although her core audience is made up of people who remember her initial rise to success, followed by the up-again-down-again pattern of failed relationships, emotional breakdowns and performance flubs, the former teen idol has settled in ever-forgiving Vegas to reinvent herself once more. And she has done a bang-up job. Piece of Me isn’t a concert; it’s an opportunity for Spears to reenact her greatest hits with a gaggle of dancers and some high-end stage sets: “Look, there’s Britney in a ring of fire”; “Here’s Britney floating above the stage.” Some of the credit goes to Planet Hollywood, whose redesign of the phenomenal Axis Theater specifically for Spears has afforded her a brilliant platform from which to begin her new trajectory, but the achievement mostly belongs to Spears. She’s an older, sexier, more stable version of her younger self, with all the charisma she started out with.