Travel Guide: Las Vegas
I have decided to start a series of travel guides, and this will be the first installment! Keep an eye out for one in New York in the future, as we’re planning on heading out there sometime this summer. Let’s start with Las Vegas.
I was graciously invited to accompany Adrian’s family on their trip to Vegas and we all had a great time. All of the accommodations were booked, as well as a rental car they got to take a day-trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I will discuss this, because it was ah-mazing, but obviously your trip to Vegas doesn’t have to include this. I think it would be fun as it’s own trip!
WHERE TO STAY
Adrian’s parents had booked us two rooms at The Linq, which is conveniently a Caesars Hotel. It is in the middle of the action, across from Caesars Palace, and is the hotel my brother likes to stay at, as well. The rooms are newly renovated and have great views of the rest of the buildings on strip. You’ll get super comfy beds, complimentary Wi-FI (because we all know this is make or break), and some pretty great attractions right at your fingertips.
In between The Linq and Harrah’s is The Linq Promenade; full of food, shopping, and entertainment. Ride The High Roller (pictured below), the world’s tallest observation wheel, or zip across the LINQ Promenade on the FLY LINQ Zipline. Obviously these are only a few of the fun and exciting things to do in Vegas, but it was great to have so many options right outside our door.
Pretty much every hotel in Vegas has a casino, so when you’re booking accommodation, be sure to keep this in mind. You’re not going to Vegas to go to bed early, that much I can tell you. If you do want a bit more quiet, try staying further down towards one end of the strip, or even along Fremont Street - Old Town Vegas (more on this in a second). If you’re down to stay on the strip, though, you can also check out the many themed hotels like Paris, Excalibur, or The Venetian for some pretty awesome decor and architecture.
One note I have for young adults looking to stay at The Linq: If your IDs are from Canada, be prepared to have a second piece of ID or an extra minute to get your ID verified by a manager. I guess they don’t recognize Canadian IDs as easily, which was a bit frustrating to be honest.
PLACES TO PLAY
As I mentioned, pretty much every hotel in Vegas has a casino. The first night that we went out, my observation was that Vegas is a similar vibe to a cruise ship. Everything is open late, you can get drinks and food while you gamble, and everything on the strip is ‘within walking distance’. The reason I put that in quotes is because buildings may seem really close together or even next door, but because the buildings are so spectacularly large here, you better be prepared to walk for a while. That being said, luckily you don’t have to go very far to find something you haven’t already seen.
Some of my favourite things to do on the strip were checking out Madame Tussauds wax museum, seeing the fountain show at The Bellagio, and watching the gondola boats go by at The Venetian. However, the one thing I recommend anyone do when they go to Vegas is to see a show - specifically Absinthe at Caesars Palace - but any of the shows will be killer. Listen, I’ve seen a ton of Cirque du Soleil style shows in my life, and nothing compared to this one. It combines circus, burlesque, and vaudeville for one of the most entertaining shows I’ve ever seen. It was hilarious, awe-inspiring, and super guttural, so I wouldn’t suggest it for the faint-of-heart. Otherwise, completely worth the money!
I also previously mentioned that Adrian’s parents rented a car, which made it easy for us to make our way to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. On our way there, we ‘got our kicks’ along Route 66, which added some time to our journey but was really fun to see. There are some great places to stop for food, shopping, and local history along the way. Naturally, if you’re moving from state-to-state, it can take a while. However, if you go to the north end of the Canyon, it’ll only eat up about 3.5 hours of your day. The only downside to that is that side is less developed, so you’re settling for bare bones hotels and restaurants. Otherwise, your driving about 5 hours to the south rim of the Canyon, which is equally as beautiful, just more built up.
Notable mention: Check out the Fremont District for some old-style casinos and hotels, and for some pretty educational museums and historical sites. This area is stunning at night, due to the neon signage all the way down the middle of the street. We really enjoyed the Mob Museum, which was all about Las Vegas’s roots with the Mafia and organized crime. My only quibble with this neighbourhood was that it is the OG Las Vegas strip, so things were pretty run down and the tone was a bit grungier than the new strip seemed to be. Otherwise, very rich and full of history!
WHAT TO EAT
The information that I know you’ve all been looking for is where to eat in Vegas. Let me start by saying, if you’re on the West Coast and you DON’T eat at In-N-Out, you’re wrong. Simple as that. Order the animal style burger and fries because there is no other way to eat fast food. Moving on..
The great part about staying in the middle of the strip is that we had easy access to all the best food in Vegas. Right outside our door was my favourite part of the whole trip (don’t judge me), the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM. If you’ve never had a Sprinkles cupcake, fix that ASAP. It was especially ideal at 3am because the ATM functions 24/7.. Petition to bring the Cupcake ATM to Toronto, who’s with me? Also worth noting at The Linq Promenade is Chayo Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar. Get the watermelon margarita, trust me, you won’t regret it. Honourable mention for late-night eats inside The Linq is Hash House A Go Go. They’re also open 24hrs, and have some pretty monstrous menu items. Our favourite, though, was the Vegas classic: “O’Hare of the Dog” - a 25 oz can of Budweiser (inside a brown paper bag) with 5 slices of bacon for $11.99… Talk about party fuel.
Vegas is really cool because it’s home to a ton of celebrity chef restaurants. I’m talking Emeril Lagasse, Gordon Ramsay, Guy Fieri, among others. We checked out Giada De Laurentiis’ Italian restaurant at The Cromwell. Be sure to make a reservation, at Giada’s or any of the celeb chef hotspots, because they fill up super fast. We tried to have lunch at Hell’s Kitchen and they had no tables until 2am… If you’re heading to Giada’s, it’s worth it to grab a bunch of dishes and serve them family style so that everyone gets a taste of everything. We really enjoyed the charcuterie and cheese options, as well as the Cacio e Pepe Bucatini for two. It’s served inside a wheel of warm Pecorino Toscano, so you can’t really go wrong with this one. One tip here: ask to be seated at a circle/square table. The semi-circle tables are great if you intend on watching the fountain show at The Bellagio from here, but they aren’t ideal for this family-style meal.
Of course, there are SO MANY places to eat in Vegas. This barely scratches the surface. We also loved Carlo’s Bakery in The Venetian, the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace, and the Prohibition style speak-easy inside the Mob Museum on Fremont Street.
If you are going to take the trip to the Grand Canyon, I definitely recommend renting a car. There are loads of tours that will take you out there and show you around, but I think we all really liked moving at our own pace and making pit stops along the way. We stopped off at a few places along Route 66 which were super cool, and may not have been on the itinerary otherwise!
Be sure to stop off at one of the Caesars Resorts and pick up a Caesars Rewards Card. They’ve got locations across the U.S. and one in Windsor, Ontario. With the Rewards Card, you can earn points towards future stays, special gaming offers, restaurant and bar discounts, and shopping benefits. Signing up is completely free and the benefits are more than worth it!
If you’re going to see Absinthe, our waiter at Giada’s gave us a hot tip: request a table so that you have somewhere to put your drink during the show. Only downside to this is that most of the tables are stage-side, so if you don’t like being part of the show stick with the regular seats. They all have a clear view of the show!
April is a great time to hit Vegas as the weather is less aggressive. I had never really been to the desert (other than in Israel), so the dryness was a bit of a shock. However, the days weren’t too hot and the nights weren’t too cold. I’d advise packing a light jacket or a few sweaters as it can get kinda cold inside the hotels and casinos.
Do you like this kind of post? Should I continue these travel guides? And have you ever been to Vegas before? Maybe the Grand Canyon? What are your highlights? Share with me in the comments so I know what to check out next time I’m there!