Las Vegas has got to be done once – and what better way to experience “Sin City” than with your best girlfriends? We’ve picked out the unmissable spots on a whistlestop tour of this Disneyland for adults. It won’t be cheap, but it will undoubtedly be memorable.
We didn’t quite know what to expect of Las Vegas. Of course, we’ve seen it in films more times than we can count, but what’s it actually like? Were we going to end up meeting Mike Tyson, getting married and waking up to a Bengal tiger in the bathroom à la The Hangover?
Perhaps disappointingly, none of the above happened. Despite the nickname “Sin City”, we saw little evidence of it being particularly sinful. Of course, there’s an underbelly if you know where to look, but the same can be said of many places.
WHAT TO PACK
Vegas is a kaleidoscopic assault on the senses; a dizzying fever dream that you’ll never be able to make sense of, no matter how hard you try. It’s America on steroids – and you must take it as such. There’s no point comparing it to your usual chic little Euro city break; this is a beast of its own, incomparable to anywhere else on the planet, and loudly, proudly, unashamedly itself. Here are twelve things to do on a girls’ trip to Las Vegas.
Flag Down a Gondola at The Venetian
The Venetian Resort is a sight to behold – even those who’ve been to Venice will be astounded by the likeness of its architecture to the Bridge of Sighs and the Campanile di San Marco, while inside the hotel it’s all soft cherubic frescoes and spectacular murano-style chandeliers. Make your way to St Mark’s Square, where you can take an indoor or outdoor gondola tour along the canals, steered by a singing gondolier. We opted for the indoor tour, where the skylike ceiling changes colour throughout the day. Albeit a bit naff, the realism of the experience blew our minds.
Gawp (or gamble) at Caesars Palace
Arguably Vegas’s most famous resort and casino, you’ll have seen Caesars Palace in Hollywood films such as The Hangover, Iron Man and Godzilla. But nothing will prepare you for the behemothic levels of mock-Roman glitz and glam that greets you in the form of acres of polished marble, towering nude sculptures and lashings of gilt. If you’re going to try your hand at gambling, it should be here – if not, simply go for a wander and marvel at your surroundings. The impressive pool is a buzzy place to hang out, too.
Celebrity Spot at Vanderpump Cocktail Garden
This new kid on the block has quickly become one of Vegas’s hottest spots. Owned by Lisa Vanderpump (immortalised in Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules) along with her husband and business partner, Ken Todd, expect a sultry atmosphere in a “glamorous garden oasis”, hand-crafted cocktails and small plates adorned with colourful petals.
Ride The High Roller at the LINQ
Vegas’s answer to the London Eye, book a cocktail-fuelled ride on this giant Ferris wheel offering 360-degree views of the sprawling metropolis and mountainous desert beyond. Your friendly server will keep you lubricated from the well-stocked bar while pointing out various landmarks as you rotate – it’s a lovely excursion just before sunset, getting you nicely oiled for the night ahead.
Stroll Around Arts District
The Strip is undeniably hectic with its thrumming 24/7 atmosphere, but what happens further afield? Residents are keen to emphasise that Vegas is a “totally normal” city and it’s well worth venturing beyond the bright lights to get a taste of local life. The arts district reminded us of Austin in Texas, with plenty of street art, independent stores, bars, restaurants, thrift shops, antique emporiums and fairy light-strung breweries. Great for a wander, cold brew from Makers & Finders in hand. If you’re after something more potent, make tracks to Horse Trailer Hideout, a country and western hangout complete with old-school bar games.
Check out Fremont
North of the Strip in Downtown Vegas, Fremont Street is the city’s birthplace, famous for block after block of its most iconic neon signs and marquees adorning some of the first casinos, including Binion’s Horseshoe, Eldorado Club, the Golden Nugget and the Pioneer Club. The abundance of neon signs earned the street the nickname “Glitter Gulch” – while this might not be the most flattering moniker, it’s worth a look, and you’ll likely recognise various scenes from multiple TV shows.
Elope at Graceland Wedding Chapel
Established in 1939, this is the original wedding chapel in Las Vegas and the first in the world to conduct an Elvis-themed wedding ceremony – in 1977. No trip to the city is complete without a hilarious photoshoot outside – bonus points for those who manage to get a vintage Mustang in the picture, or a real bride and groom.
Let Your Hair Down at Tao Beach Club
Pool parties in Vegas get pretty wet ‘n’ wild, but on a girls’ getaway, it’s got to be done. Located in The Venetian, Tao is among the most sophisticated of the lot with its Asian-inspired bohemian decor, lush foliage and private plunge pools. We recommend booking a cabana so you can choose whether or not to enter the fray of the main pool where revellers shimmy and sway in front of the DJ booth. Survey the scene from your cushioned retreat while sipping cocktails and nibbling sushi, closely attended to by your personal server.
This speakeasy at The Cosmopolitan is a taste of Vegas that many don’t see. Enter this drinking-den-cum-nightclub through a traditional barbers shop (those who need a trim on the way in will be happily attended to) and sip heady cocktails to the tune of live bands. It’s all very hush-hush, with staff peering through peepholes in closed doors before furtively ushering you in. If you didn’t know it was there, you’d never find it – and many people don’t.
Visit the Grand Canyon on a Helicopter Tour
Hands down one of our favourite Vegas experiences, treat yourself to a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon. Maverick Tours takes guests from the airport, flying out over the Mojave Desert, swooping over the Hoover Dam and into Arizona. There, you’ll disembark and sip champagne looking out over the Grand Canyon. Returning, it’s a zoom along the strip for a birds-eye view of this eye-watering entertainment empire. With a soundtrack playing in your ears that makes you feel like a cross between Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible and Austin Powers, even those who feel trepidatious about boarding a chopper will have their nerves soothed in no time.
Dine at The Mayfair Supper Club
One for a special occasion, prices are steep at this wonderfully OTT restaurant at The Bellagio, which reminds us of a mixture of Mayfair’s Sexy Fish and Covent Garden’s Louie. Instagrammable decor is all aquas and pinks, with shells, flowers and blown glass covering ceilings and cascading down walls. The menu offers elevated plates of foie gras, lobster, caviar and oysters alongside salads, steaks and pasta, all served with plenty of pomp and ceremony. The actual performance here, though, is the live acts – burlesque singers, dancers and trapeze artists will entertain you as you dine, serenaded by a live band.
Have Breakfast At The Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
With so much to do all day – and night – in Vegas, you’ll need some fuel. Start your day right at The Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. This whimsical 14,000-square-foot botanical garden is filled with ever-changing floral displays that tower over you in the form of carved figurines and fountains. The restaurant is beautiful and the place to come for a late breakfast or brunch featuring a tower of smoked salmon and caviar bagels, followed by eggs and buttery pastries, washed down with mimosas. This is Vegas, after all.
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