Las Vegas Essentials

Check out these famous landmarks and quirky local hot spots in Las Vegas, Nevada.

By: Kate Silver

Entertainment Essentials: Best Places to ...

ENJOY THE OUTDOORS

Red Rock National Conservation Area, 1000 Scenic Drive
Brilliant red sandstone formations offer ample hiking and climbing opportunities. Go during the week if possible. Weekends get crowded.

HAVE FUN FOR FREE

Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South
This maze of fresh flowers, fountains and displays makes for fine horticultural art and changes with the seasons. Step outside and take in the Bellagio Fountains, a romantic aquatic ballet, and you’ve discovered the best free date in town.

Photo By: Photographer: Alina Solovyova-Vincent

Photographer: Alina Solovyova-Vincent

GAMBLE WITH THE LOCALS

Red Rock Casino Resort Spa, 11011 Charleston Blvd.
Red Rock has the glitz and glam of the Strip with the convenience of the ‘burbs. Aside from gaming, they also have a movie theater, bowling and a variety of good restaurants.

MEET NEW PEOPLE

Downtown Cocktail Room, 111 Las Vegas Blvd. South
This speakeasy-style lounge is a hot spot for 20-, 30-, and 40-somethings who want an urban scene. Stop in Thursday nights for LoPro, a local professionals mixer from 5 p.m. until 8 pm

TAKE A SIGNIFICANT OTHER

Peppermill Fireside Lounge, 2985 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Between the firepool, the cushy circular seats, elegant servers and ever-present mirrors, this IS Las Vegas circa 1970. Avoid on weekends when it’s packed with tourists.  

ENJOY GREAT VIEWS OF THE CITY

Mix at Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Altitude and violet martinis make for a great combo at Mix Las Vegas, located on the 64th floor of Mandalay Bay. Be sure and take a look at the bathrooms, which also have stunning views, thanks to their floor-to-ceiling windows.

TAKE THE KIDS

Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd.
This ecological world of fun pays tribute to the birthplace of Las Vegas while keeping its eye on sustaining the future. Kids love the playground and interactive displays. Enjoy the Thursday afternoon farmers market when the weather’s nice.

TAKE FIDO

Mount Charleston, off 95 North at State Route 157
At 12,000 feet, Mount Charleston is the Kilimanjaro of Las Vegas. It’s 30 degrees cooler than Las Vegas and the ideal wooded summer spot for a canine workout. Pack a picnic and make a day of it.

TAKE A DAY TRIP

Hoover Dam, 35 miles from Las Vegas just past Boulder City
It’s no surprise Hoover Dam was named one of the Top 10 Construction Achievements of the 20th century. Take the Dam Tour and visit the bowels of the massive structure while learning about the dam’s impact on hydrating the Southwest.

Shopping Essentials: Best Places to ...

GET A "VEGAS-Y" DEAL

The 99-cent shrimp cocktail at the Golden Gate, One Fremont Street
Golden Gate has served more than 30 million shrimp cocktails since 1959, and at less than a dollar, it’s easy to see why. Even better, it’s available 24 hours a day.

BUY GROCERIES

Fresh and Easy, multiple locations
Fresh and Easy is ideal for light grocery shopping, specifically fresh fruits and vegetables and prepared foods. But it’s strictly self-checkout, so if you have a heavier load, head to Trader Joes.

BUY WINE

Khoury’s Fine Wine and Spirits, 9915 South Eastern Ave., Suite 110, Henderson, and 7150 S. Durango Drive
This family-owned wine shop has an impressive selection of hard-to-find wines and a knowledgeable staff. Stop in for their free weekly wine tastings from 6 pm until 8 pmon Wednesdays (Las Vegas store) and Thursdays (Henderson store).

WINDOW SHOP

Town Square, 6605 Las Vegas Blvd. South
With its inspired store facades (Spanish mission, Art Deco style and more), this 117-acre outdoor shopping mall is as interesting architecturally as it is on a consumer level. See the concierge for store discounts.

SHOP AT A FUNKY LOCAL BUSINESS

Serge’s Wigs, 953 E. Sahara A2
Due to redo your ‘do? Serge’s has been serving showgirls' and civilians' temporary hair needs for more than two decades. There’s even a wig outlet across the strip mall from Serge’s for less costly coiffs.   

Food and Drink Essentials: Best Places to ...

ENJOY AFFORDABLE FINE DINING

Bradley Ogden at Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Known for its organic, farm-fresh food, the meat and seafood fare here is creative and there’s not a loser on the menu. Keep in mind, “affordable” is relative in Las Vegas, and while Bradley Ogden is in no way IN-expensive, it’s less expensive than many fine-dining experiences in town, which can often cost you an entire paycheck.

FILL UP AT A BUFFET

The Buffet at Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Take a culinary tour of China, Japan, Italy and America. Live-action cooking stations and fresh seafood set this buffet apart from the others. The line gets extremely long on weekends so avoid peak eating times.

GRAB A BURGER

Burger Bar at Mandalay Place, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Sure you can have a Kobe beef burger topped with foie gras and lobster, but the plain old cheeseburgers are pretty darn good, too, at this upscale burger bistro.

EAT FAST FOOD

In-N-Out, multiple locations
This Western fast-food chain serves up the freshest of the fresh, from their ridiculously good Double Double burger to their fresh, made-to-order fries to the milkshakes made from real ice cream.

SIP A LATTE

Espresso Culture and Cuisine, 9555 S Eastern Ave., Suite 125
In a town of Starbucks and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaves, this homegrown shop is a welcome caffeinated jolt. They serve superior coffee (Illy) and food, and even provide comfortable lounging areas with which to enjoy their free Wi-Fi.

GRAB A LATE-NIGHT BITE

Firefly, 3900 Paradise Road, Suite A
With delicious tapas, delectable sangria and a late-night scene, Firefly is a not-so-well-kept locals’ secret. Try the bacon-wrapped dates. Open until 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 3 am on Friday and Saturday.   

Nightlife Essentials: Best Places to ...

GRAB A BEER

Town Square, Yard House, 6593 Las Vegas Blvd. South
With 137 different kinds of beer and an always ebullient bar scene, Yard House is the newest and most popular suds stop to hit Vegas. Stop in for great deals during happy hour, Monday through Friday from 3 pm to 6 pm.

SOAK IN CULTURE OVER A BEER

First Friday, downtown around the Charleston and Main Street area
Don that black turtleneck, and get artsy. Galleries stay open late, and bands play and vendors sell food at this monthly festival (offered the first Friday of each month). Go bar hopping at Dino’s, Art Bar and Downtown Cocktail Room afterward, where the after-parties are occasionally known to go until sunrise.

RIDE A BULL

Stoney’s Rockin Country Bar, 9151 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Can you last eight seconds? It’s actually possible at this quintessential country bar, where the mechanical bull operator is kind enough to slow the beast down when ladies ride. Men aren’t quite so lucky.

PEOPLE WATCH

Fremont Street Experience, 425 Fremont St.
Fremont Street is to the Strip as Dollywood is to Disney World; it's a sideshow to the main event, with down-home people-watching with the occasional freakshow twist. Expect the fanny-pack crowd mixed with the occasional drunk, vagrant and Las Vegas resident. Weeknights are slow, but on weekend nights the area is hopping.

HANG AT A DIVE BAR

Double Down Saloon, 4640 Paradise Road
You know you’ve stumbled into a dive bar when the conversational theme is off-color. Specialties here include the bacon martini, which comes complete with an oil slick on top.  

DANCE

Pure at Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South
This is where the Hilton sisters and a swarm of other celebrities come to boogie. The lines grow exponentially worse around 11 pm, so arrive early or risk waiting for hours.   

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