the ultimate guide to sin city - part one
Updated: Mar 27
Planning a trip to Vegas? Congrats, I'm jealous. Surprisingly one of my favorite stops on our cross-country trip, Las Vegas has so much to offer. Whether your going for a girl's trip, bachelor party, or long weekend, Vegas can be as classy (or not) as you want it to be.
where to stay
I've stayed at quite a few hotels on the strip and my favorite of them was The Delano. Here are my reasons why: it's on the few hotels on the strip that doesn't make you feel like you're figuring out a maze to get to your room. Vegas hotels are huuuggeeee, like 6,800 in a single hotel huge! The Delano is also one of the calmer hotels on the strip (but not lacking in the party vibe either) which has to do with the fact that they do not have a casino. But, you're not completely missing out if you want a casino lobby level - The Delano is adjacent to Mandalay Bay (they're in the same complex but different towers) and has the largest casino on the strip. Staying at The Delano means you get exclusive access to Delano Beach Club and also get access to all of the Mandalay Bay Pools. The Delano also has a bar on the top floor which was closed during our stay (covid) but according to my research on social media is one of the most sought after places to get a reservation for cocktails.
The room pictured in the "Delano Scenic Suite" and it was 110% worth the higher rate than the standard rooms. What the scenic suite gives you that the standard doesn't is: floor to ceiling windows, amazing views, large living room & beautiful bathroom. The service is also the best at The Delano when compared to other Vegas hotel stays.
Sometimes in the more popular hotels, you feel more like a guest on a 30,000 passenger cruise ship than a hotel guest. Which I get, they're accommodating far more people than a usual hotel at any given time...but at The Delano you don't experience this. Whenever we needed something whether it be extra towels, room service, or a simple question from the front desk answered, they were immediately on it. I didn't experience this during other stays.
Other recommendations: The Cosmopolitan more center-strip and lively than The Delano, is another great option for young couples, or girl trips/bachelorette parties. Lots of the most "in" restaurants within The Cosmo, and one of the few hotels on the strip that have balcony rooms. Definitely want to stay here in the future to see if it's worth all the hype it gets! The Bellagio we enjoyed our stay here, but it was only 1 night, so I need to come back before I can fully compare it to other Vegas hotels! One of the more elegant properties, high end restaurants and shopping, more of a traditional crowd. The Aria - this is one I want to stay at ASAP. Dark, sleek & modern, The Aria is the perfect hotel for a couple who was a hotel that is lively but not "rowdy". High stakes tables, luxury restaurants, and beautiful sky suites - The Aria is not for the budget traveler. The Wynn - another wishlist hotel for me, The Wynn has the most beautiful lobby on the strip. Think of a newer Bellagio and that's what The Wynn is!
where to dine (and wine)
I'm not sure if I've been living under a rock, but I assumed all Vegas restaurants were trying to be luxurious but leaned more gimmick-y...or buffets. I was very mistaken. Vegas has a lot of world-class restaurants. Want to go to a Michelin Star restaurant? They've got it. One of the most exclusive Italian eateries in the country? It's here! Seriously, if food is an important part of you travel experience, you're going to want to save a tad (a lot) more for your Vegas trip! My list of recommendations in no specific order:
R E S T A U R A N T S
⭑ Bavette's Steakhouse (Park MGM) $$$
Catch (Aria) - Seafood $$$
Cipriani - Italian (Shops at Encore) $$$
Rao's - Italian (Caesar's Palace) $$$
Nobu - Japanese (Caesar's Palace) $$$$
⭑ Water Grill - Seafood (Caesar's Palace) $$$
Momofuku (The Cosmopolitan) $$$
STK - Steakhouse (The Cosmopolitan) $$$
Sinatra - Italian (Encore at Wynn) $$$$
Bardot Brasserie - French (Aria) $$$
Stripsteak - Steakhouse (Mandalay Bay) $$$$
Mastro's Ocean Club - Seafood (Shops at Aria) $$$
Mizumi - Japanese (The Wynn) $$$$
Peppermill Lounge $$
Beauty & Essex (The Cosmopolitan) $$$
⭑ The Mayfair Supper Club (Bellagio) $$$$
B A R S / L O U N G E S
⭑ Vanderpump Cocktail Garden (Caesar's Palace) $$
⭑ Chandelier Bar (The Cosmopolitan) $$
The Dorsey (The Venetian) $$
Rosina Cocktail Lounge (The Venetian) $$
Lobby Bar (Caesar's Palace) $$
⭑ Skybar (Waldorf Astoria) $$$
⭑ = exceptional food/drinks/service
There are soooo many places to get great drinks and food on the strip so I'll constantly be editing my recommendations!
what to see: off the strip
Vegas has a lot to do besides hanging out in casinos, if you want to explore more than just the strip I recommend seeing Valley of Fire for the day. You can rent ATVs and go on a tour, or rent a car for the day and see it on your own. It's about an hour from the strip so not too bad, and it's full of easy hikes. For only $10 you and your whole group can spend the day in one of Nevada's most beautiful state parks...what's not to like?
Seven magic mountains, one of the most instagrammed things when people go to Vegas, is only a short drive from the strip. We didn't go, but maybe next time!
The Hoover Dam, such a cool place to checkout (especially if your headed towards the Grand Canyon after Vegas)! You can walk the entire top of the dam and walk around and get amazing pictures of Lake Mead and the enormous dam wall. When my parents suggested stopping there I wasn't necessarily looking forward to it but it ended up being such a cool stop. If you're an Art Deco lover - you'll love seeing the statues here!
Area 15, right off the strip is a unique venue with immersive art experiences, a cocktail bar, arcade, etc. I'm not doing it justice with this description...check out the website. They're constantly rotating what events are happening. (Meow Wolf is here).
what to see: on the strip
If you're looking to stay on the strip, one of our favorite things was just starting at one end of the strip and walking into every single hotel's lobby and casino area. The thing about Vegas is everyone is trying to out do each other with extravagent displays, flashing lights, a volcano...you name it, someone on the strip's got it. No matter how cheesy, or upscale, it's so fun to checkout what's going on in each venue. For more specific on strip places to checkout, if shopping is your things, the Forum Shops and Caesar's and the shops at The Venetian both have a plethora of high end boutiques, designers, and restaurants. They're both themed too, so it's not your typical shopping center.
For a more relaxing activity, Vegas is home to some of the most luxurious spas in the country. The Spa at Encore is one of the most exclusive (and expensive), checkout their website and admire how beautiful the spa is. The spas at Vdara and Delano are also a great option for a luxury experience with a (slightly) smaller budget.
If you take anything away from this article, I hope it's that there's a million ways to spend your time and money in Las Vegas, and you really can't go wrong. I'll be back in a few days with the second part of my guide, which will focus on more budget friendly recommendations!
Till next time,