Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Local Guide To Las Vegas

Updated November 2017

Okay, it's the "Kinda Local's Guide to Las Vegas" since I moved away (now) 9.5 years ago! Las Vegas has changed so much in those 20 years that I spent living there. I LOVE visiting and ALWAYS run into the problem of trying to do EVERYTHING while seeing old spots with family and friends. The lack of sleep is worth it every time!

In 2016, 42.9 MILLION people visited this city. The best part of being in the chaos is people watching. You really see its diversity of locals and all walks of life that come to visit.

-Parking is free in some places, but check out this list of free places to park. I recommend renting a car, so you can get outside of The Strip aka. Las Vegas Boulevard. But if you're drinking, walk, get a cab or car service!
-If you're big on gambling or gaming, drinks are mostly free with a tip. (Sure you've seen The Hangover and want to keep up with what happens in Vegas, but people live there 365 days a year too. Remember, somebody else will have to clean up your mess.)

Anyway, I've put together a list with links and tips for some of my favorite spots/places I still have yet to see! Enjoy and have fun.

Sights/Fun Places 

Bellagio Water Fountain - The classiest dancing water fountain I've ever seen. Go see it at nighttime! It runs every 15 minutes from 8 p.m. to midnight.

Indoor Botanical Gardens - Go see it at the Bellagio (Dale Chihuly's art installations are nearby in the lobby).

The High Roller at the Linq - Take a joy ride on the big ferris wheel!

Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino - If you love modern design, go walk around this extravagant creation. There's also a "hidden" pizza place. Go on a hunt and explore. Photo by

Hard Rock Casino - I've been to so many great concerts here. There's a fancy pool too!

Stratosphere Observation Deck - For me, this is a MUST SEE! I recommend going during the day, so you can see how vast this city is.

Pinball Hall of Fame - I love watching pinball enthusiasts marvel at all different themes. Photo by Chris Ainsworth


Go see a show! There's several Cirque du Soleil shows. Blue Man Group, etc. etc. My personal favorite is Elton John's live show. His visual elements were designed by photographer and director David LaChapelle, and I can only imagine his latest show is extraordinary. (The previous Red Piano show and films blew me away! I need to get a DVD copy.) Photo by


If you're a foodie, Vegas will treat you well. There are so many fine-dining options at most casinos.
The MGM Grand has over 20 restaurants, and 12 are specialty dining.

Check out Bardot Brasserie at the ARIA resort!

My favorite local deli is Capriottis. Try the vegetarian turkey! And if you're not vege, there's plenty of meat there too! There are over 20 locations in the city.

Luv-It Frozen Custard, Babystacks, Eat (breakfast/lunch near Container Park), Chinatown, etc... The list could go on and on.

Click through for more!


Forum Shops at Caesars Palace - From Anthropologie, Marc Jacobs to Versace, there are over 160 shops here. Photo by Paul Gokin

Premium Outlets - Banana Republic, Burberry, J Crew, Tory Burch, and more! You'll walk away with a good deal. There's also bus services from The Strip to the outlets. More info. provided in that link!

Fashion Show - I call it the mall of malls located on the Las Vegas strip! You'll see that gigantic space disk just above it. It's hard to miss. Attn: There's a Topshop and Zara!


Wanna get away from the city?

Red Rock Canyon -  It's located 15 miles west of Las Vegas and a popular climbing and hiking destination. There are 19 marked trails!

Hoover Dam - It's located half an hour outside of Las Vegas on the border of Arizona and Nevada, in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River.

Lake Mead - It's just outside of Boulder City about 24 miles away from the Las Vegas strip (also sort of on the way to Hoover Dam). Photo by Doc Searls

Boulder City -  It's a cute town with shops, a brewery, diner, and more located about 25 miles away from the Las Vegas strip. I love visiting the candy shop! Photo by

Mount Charleston -  Hiking, skiing, snowboarding, picnics, sledding, etc. I have fond memories visiting the snow as a child. It's about 42 miles away from Las Vegas Boulevard.

Pioneer Saloon - This old wild, wild west themed saloon is located 45 miles away in Goodsprings, Nevada. "This is the saloon that Clark Gable drank in after he received word of the death of his beautiful wife, Carole Lombard." Note, it's in the middle of nowhere without anything around it. There's a little exhibit featuring the saloon's history and Clark Gable's time spent there. I had a wonderful time exploring this place! Photo by Stan Shebs. Here are more Nevada ghost towns if you're interested!


I always like going downtown to Fremont East. There's a ton of fun random bars/restaurants you can pop in and out of. Fridays and Saturdays are always crazy busy, so try a weeknight. Or just go a lot earlier on the weekend around 9 p.m.

Commonwealth - As pictured above, there're usually DJs and dancing on the rooftop.

While you're around Fremont East check out Beauty Bar, Griffin, and Don't Tell Mama (a piano karaoke bar).
Click here for more info. about Fremont East

Champagne's Cafe - Brocade velvet wallpaper seen in Martin Scorcese's "Casino." The Ratpack also hung out here.

Golden Tiki - A tiki bar that serves delicious Dole whip!

Velveteen Rabbit - If you're into craft cocktails, beer, music, art, this is a place to check out. Photo by Recess Las Vegas

Fireside Lounge - It's an iconic part of Vegas and was featured in the movie Casino and that other film with Jessie from Saved By The Bell. :) Great cocktails! The lounge is located in the back of the Peppermill Diner.

Crown and Anchor - This British pub (the Tropicana location) is one of my favorites. A pint, chips, Morrissey and The Stone Roses on the jukebox, and I'm a happy gal. You can watch all the rugby and soccer games here. Photo by Trip Advisor

If you're into clubs, I enjoy Tryst at the Wynn, Surrender at Encore, and Tao at The Venetian.


First Friday arts festival - It happens each First Friday of the month! Art, vendors, food, entertainment, etc. Even if it isn't First Friday, there are tons of places to check out in the arts district.

Neon Museum - a neon graveyard for old, iconic Las Vegas signs. They offer tours! Photo by the Neon Museum

James Turrell’s AKHOB exhibit - (suggested by my pal Hank) "a series of rooms designed to cause peripheral and visual disarray through the intensity of 900 color-changing LED lights. With no apparent edges to walls or ceilings, the exhibit eliminates one’s ability to comprehend depth, providing a mystifying sense of infinity."

Check out the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art and National Atomic Testing Museum.

Downtown Container Park  - "an open-air shopping center filled with boutique retail shops, unique restaurants, and live entertainment." Photo by Container Park

For Kids

Wet N' Wild - a water park with more than 25 slides and attractions!

Springs Preserve - a 180 acre cultural institution... "The premier place in Las Vegas to explore the valley's vibrant history through interactive science and nature exhibits, botanical gardens, hiking, trails, and live animal shows." Photo by Springs Preserve

Also check out:
Discovery Children's Museum
M and M's World
Adventuredome Theme Park


UNLV Runnin' Rebels - I recommend checking out a UNLV Runnin' Rebels basketball game. I'm a Runnin' Rebel for life! Photo by Rebel Reign

There's likely tons more to add to this list. Have any other suggestions? Enjoy Vegas! Feel free to write me in the comments if you have any questions.

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