By: Adam Stanley
Although New York City already has the moniker, ‘the city that never sleeps,’ a case could easily be made for Las Vegas to usurp that crown from The Big Apple.
Las Vegas is bright, loud, exhilarating, and there’s no other city like it on earth, which is what makes it so fascinating.
But, Las Vegas has also gone through a fundamental shift over the last five years or so. No longer is it the mecca for gambling and kitschy paraphernalia – although, sure, you could still lay down $100 (or more) on a spin of a wheel or a draw of a card – but instead it has changed its focus to world-class dining, unbelievable golf, high-end shopping, unique activities, and the arrival of the NHL’s Golden Knights.
Could you find teases of the Vegas of yore if you looked hard enough? Absolutely. But this is the new Las Vegas, and it’s time to be all in.
Where to stay
Choose any hotel on the Vegas Strip and you’re bound to have a great time, but you may not spend much time in your room anyway. On the higher end of the budget scale, check out the new Nobu Hotel in Caesar’s Palace, inspired by the restaurant of the same name, and featuring tranquil Japanese décor. If you’re traveling with a group of friends, the suites at The Venetian are dubbed Vegas’ largest standard rooms and make for a great place for buddies to hang their hats if sharing a room. While The Venetian is on the southwest side of the Strip, Caesar’s Palace – after celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016 – remains in the epicentre of the most iconic street in the U.S.
What to do
It really depends on the kind of group you’re with. Somewhat under the radar, Las Vegas has some of the best golf courses in the country including Cascata (where a river runs through the clubhouse) and Wolf Creek (in Mesquite, but worth the drive. It’s like playing golf on the moon and was featured in a video game a few years ago). If you’d prefer to stay on the Strip to get your golf fix, you can at TopGolf – a combination driving range/sports bar. For shows, check out the crude Absinthe (just don’t wear flashy clothes, otherwise you will get picked on by the host – but hey, maybe you want that) or one of the fabulous Cirque Du Soleil options. The Linq is also a fun new spot that features shops, restaurants and The High Roller (a 550-foot tall giant Ferris wheel offering unparalleled views of the city below). You could also plan your trip around a UFC title fight, boxing match, or concert. There really is something for everyone.
Where to eat
If you decided to stay at Nobu, you can’t go wrong with the restaurant of the same name and its signature Asian dishes like yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno. At The Cosmopolitan – a rare hotel in Vegas that is not associated with any big conglomerate – you can dine at Rose.Rabbit.Lie, a nightclub/fine-dining spot that combines great food with a bouncing atmosphere, or EggSlut for breakfast (inappropriately named, it was a food truck in California before building a brick-and-mortar spot in Vegas). At the Mandalay Bay, they’ve just redesigned Aureole to focus more on small plate dishes. If you end up there, be sure to order a bottle of wine, as women, dubbed the ‘Wine Angels,’ scale a four-story glass tower to retrieve your selected vino. If you’re looking for something quick, there’s now an In & Out Burger to get your fix from the iconic West Coast chain at The Linq on the Strip. And speaking of chains, almost every celebrity chef on the planet has restaurants that bare their names in Vegas, so close your eyes and point, and you’ll find a good spot to nosh.
Where to drink
OK – golf, dining, shows, and shopping aside, if you’re there with a group of guys either on a bachelor party or otherwise, you’re probably going to be drinking. Watching sports is made that much more enjoyable at Lagasse’s Stadium in The Venetian (a spot to place bets is right there in the bar, and the restaurant serves up some of Emeril Lagasse’s best dishes). Over near the new NHL arena – the Vegas Golden Knights are set to begin to play this September – there’s the Beerhaus, with tons of local beers on tap along with great European-inspired fare. The club scene – either during the day or at night – is certainly what Vegas is known for, but it gets expensive and fast. On the opposite end of that spectrum, the Casino Royale (not as nice as its name suggests) continues to offer Michelob beers for just $1. For a true Vegas experience, order ‘The Verbena’ (or, ‘The Flower Drink’) at the Cosmopolitan’s Chandelier Bar. Not on the menu, it’s basically a margarita with lemon verbena and ginger garnished with a Sichuan flower. Eat the flower, and your mouth freezes (for about 10 minutes) and your taste buds get altered as you sip away. When it’s time for a nightcap, you cannot beat the Montecristo Cigar Bar, where you can enjoy a fine Cuban cigar along with a vast selection of whiskeys, or the Velveteen Rabbit, which is actually off the Strip, but a unique and artsy place where you’ll find lots of Vegas locals versus the usual touristy crowd.