Cover: “The Strip” Las Vegas Blvd at night, Las Vegas, Nevada
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures @Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull
If ever there was a city designed to make only 24 hours for a visit not only doable but also enjoyable, it’s Las Vegas.
With 15 of the world’s largest 25 hotels located on the 4 miles of Las Vegas Boulevard known as the Strip, a vast array of restaurants, casinos, shopping, and entertainment options are available for non-stop amusement.
While the average visitor to Sin City stays about three days, sometimes one night in the city where the party never ends is all the schedule allows, requiring some prioritization to make the most of the adventure. How would we spend our time between touchdown and wheels up – almost exactly 24 hours in Las Vegas? We turned to some tried and true favorites from our many previous visits, while still working in some time for our favorite activity in any city – wandering.
Here’s how it went…
1:00 pm Lunch at Mon Ami Gabi
After a quick cab ride to the hotel, we checked in and dropped our bags in the room. Most hotels have a 4:00pm check in time in Vegas, but hotels will either hold your bags in storage or some offer an early check-in option for a fee, which ours offered. We decided we didn’t want to have to worry about coming back to the hotel to deal with checking in later and opted for early check-in.
Bags settled in the room, we were hungry and headed out for lunch at one of our favorite patios, Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Las Vegas. A great spot for people watching and viewing the fountains across the street at Bellagio, Mon Ami Gabi also delivers some fine French bistro fare.
2:30 pm Shopping at Bellagio
Deciding we needed to do some walking to work off lunch, we headed over to Bellagio for a stroll.
Built in 1998 at an original cost of $1.6 billion, Bellagio is an exquisite hotel inspired by Italy’s village of Bellagio near Lake Como. Elegance abounds at the resort with art collections and stunning décor throughout, including over 2,000 hand blown glass flowers by Dale Chihuly that cover the ceiling of the lobby.
On the north side of the hotel, Bellagio offers the finest in shopping with elaborate hallways lined with luxury brands such as Tiffany, Valentino, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, and many more.
After some intense decision making (black or brown?), we left with a new bag in tow, then headed to Caesar’s for a spin around the casino.
3:30 A visit to Caesars Palace
A classic that continues to update itself, Caesars has been located on the corner of Flamingo and Las Vegas Blvd in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip since 1966. Built by Jay Sarno, who wanted to have guests experience life as Caesar would have, the hotel is complete with palaces, statues, and opulence.
Having stayed at Caesars multiple times over the years, one of our favorite memories was staying in one of the round room suites in the old Roman Tower just before it was remodeled. Complete with a round bed and lots of red velvet, we jokingly checked the room to make sure the ghost of Elvis wasn’t hiding in one of the closets.
Still one of our favorite hotels in Las Vegas, Caesars has grown to a massive resort with nearly 4,000 rooms and suites in six towers, a wide variety of restaurants and bars, a 166,000 square foot casino, The Coliseum at Caesars Palace, and The Forum Shops. All that shopping and walking left us parched, and it was 5:00, so that meant… cocktail time.
5:00 pm Martinis at Gordon Ramsay’s Steak
Vegas has no shortage of beautiful bars offering delightful libations. With only one night in town, selection of our happy hour destination deserved careful consideration. Should we unwind at the captivating Seahorse Bar at Caesars, which boasts actual sea horses in their aquarium?
Mesa Grill, Bobby Flay’s first restaurant outside of New York which opened in 2004, has a beautiful bar and serves up some incredible southwestern cuisine.
Or, perhaps some chill time at the sleek bar at Martorano’s?
So many tantalizing options, but the winner tonight – the lounge at Gordon Ramsay’s Steak at Paris.
Sipping lemon drop martinis under the neon-lit ceiling adorned with a rendition of the Union Jack Flag brought back fond memories of celebrating a milestone birthday with the tasting menu in the restaurant a few years earlier, just after it had opened.
Ramsay’s chic London invasion of Vegas in Paris specializes in Ramsay’s classics, including the legendary Sticky Toffee Pudding.
6:30 pm A twilight stroll down the Strip
Heading toward the south end of The Strip just as the sun began to set, we joined the crowds taking in the sights and sounds on the wide sidewalks lining the boulevard. Magicians entertained, singers performed, and thousands of people roamed between the casinos, shops, restaurants, and bars.
While the Las Vegas mega-resorts are impressive against the brilliant blue Nevada skies of the day, Vegas doesn’t really come alive until those millions of lights begin to twinkle. As we approached the Monte Carlo, which has occupied its place on Las Vegas Boulevard since 1996, the sun quietly disappeared leaving a brilliant blue hue in its wake.
Like many of the hotels, which have expanded their presence in front of the hotels toward the Strip in recent years, Monte Carlo added BLVD Plaza in 2014, with multiple casual restaurant and bars.
Next door, New York New York recreates the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the CBS Building, and nine other of New York City’s most famous skyscrapers, with each hotel tower reaching a height approximately one-third the size of its inspiration. A replica of the Brooklyn Bridge leads into the hotel, casino, and shops.
And, of course, Lady Liberty welcomes visitors from around the world at the entrance.
Near the southern end of the Strip, King Arthur holds Court at the Camelot-themed Excalibur, which glows magically each night.
Across the intersection, the MGM Grand has been attracting visitors worldwide since 1993.
The third largest hotel in the world based on the number of rooms, MGM Grand has over 5000 rooms and suites and is home to the largest casino in Clark County, the county where Las Vegas is located. Originally built with a Wizard of Oz theme, which included the yellow brick road, Dorothy and the rest of the Oz characters, the resort has evolved over the years to a more old-Hollywood, deco vibe.
Heading back toward the north, the frenzy of Las Vegas was all around us. From flips flops to stilettos, from wedding dresses to pajamas, the crowds converge in search of lady luck along the famous boulevard. To that note, Vegas is a town that is best to walk if possible – even the hotel next door is always quite a distance away – so, bring your walking shoes, stop at each hotel for a bit of rest.
Arriving back at Bellagio, we gazed at Bally’s and Paris shimmering against a sky complete with a full moon and decided we should go check out the Eiffel Tower’s observation deck.
30 minutes later Vegas was at our feet.
8:30 pm Eiffel Tour Experience
A half-scale replica of the famous Paris landmark, the Vegas version of the La Tour Eiffel offers the opportunity to see the city from a bird’s eye view, 46 stories above the Strip. Following a glass-elevator ride to the top, the Eiffel Tour Experience offers amazing 360-degree views of the city.
An open-air, caged deck, the platform has holes approximately the size of a camera lens placed at intervals around the platform for capturing stunning images of Las Vegas in all directions.
9:30 pm Dinner at Spago
Arriving back down to the casino floor, we considered a bit of blackjack, but opted for dinner instead, with pizza definitely on the evening’s agenda.
One of our favorite pizza places has long been Spago’s, so off we went to Caesars Palace. Located in the Forum Shops, we asked for a spot on the patio for some late evening people watching and mushroom pizza. As we enjoyed our Italian pie and some vino, we discussed spots we hadn’t been in a while and decided that a bit of blackjack was now definitely in order and we should pay Rio and their Carnival in the Sky a visit in the process.
11:00 pm Games of chance at Rio
Grabbing a cab, we arrived at Rio just after 11:00 pm and quickly headed over to the Masquerade Tower casino in hopes we weren’t too late to catch the last show of the night.
The Carnival in the Sky began in 1997, with Mardi Gras-style floats circulating above the casino floor hourly, as dancers would toss beads to those below and to crowds on the balconies surrounding the casino.
Arriving, it seemed oddly quiet in the casino. The tracks where the floats circulated were still on the ceiling, but that was about it. A quick Google search and – oh no! We were late – by more than a few years. The show had stopped in March 2013.
Bummer! We went back over to the more lively main casino to try our hand at a few table games, and then called it a night.
8:30 am Starbucks & a morning walk
Since we’d covered the southern end of the Strip the previous night, a hike up north was on the morning’s agenda. After grabbing a chai and muffin, we began our urban trek.
The Venetian is an all-suites hotel, with over 4,000 luxury suites in the main building and another 3,000 in the Palazzo wing of the hotel.
Complete with a replica of St Marks Tower and a restaurant and boutique-lined Grand Canal, gondoliers offer rides both inside and outside the hotel.
Further north, Wynn, Encore, the Stratosphere and the Fashion Show Mall awaited, but our time was running short.
10:00 am Last stop – The Forum Shops
Arriving back at The Forum Shops entrance, we had a choice – continue down the street or take a “shortcut” through the mall and Caesars.
Home to more 636,000 square feet/59,100 square meters) of retail shops, restaurants, and a large collection of luxury boutiques ranging from Cartier to Channel to Versace, it is reported to be the highest grossing mall in the United States – with sales per square foot exceeding Rodeo Drive and the Magnificent Mile in Chicago.
Following a couple of stops to watch the fountains and talking statues and a quick swing through the Apple store, we made our way to the hotel, retrieved the bags and grabbed a cab.
Getting to the airport early in Vegas is a must – even with TSA Pre√ the lines can be excruciating at times – and it left us enough time to stop by Sammy’s.
11:30 am Lunch at Sammy’s Beach Bar at the airport
While some may know that Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Sammy Hagar owns the Cabo Wabo Cantinas and a popular tequila company, many may have not made the connection when they walked by Sammy’s Beach Bar & Grill in Terminal C at McCarran.
With fresh, tasty food and friendly, quick service, Sammy’s is a good choice for lunch at the airport. Add in that, as the menu states, “Sammy has dedicated his profits from this restaurant to local community children’s charities. Sammy wants you to enjoy a great meal, great drink and know that together we can make a difference!”
After a beer, some fabulous nachos, and a huge salad, we grabbed our bags and walked back over to our terminal, ready for our next adventure.
Until next time – Viva Las Vegas!
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