9am: Brunch to the Maxie
You’re waking up in Vegas, so it’s best to start your day with some added sparkle. Freshly opened Maxie’s, located in the heart of the infamous Strip, is already the hottest breakfast joint in town, with interiors based on Monopoly boards and menus inspired by sugar-popped American cereals. Their French toast with Fruity Pebbles blue cheese is a feast for the eyes – and Instagram.
How: maxieslv.com; from $10/€9
12pm; Hit the Neon Museum
Yes, Las Vegas has got culture. And it’s quirky. For perhaps the city’s most underrated attractions, visit the Neon Museum, an open-air homage to Vegas’s most celebrated artwork: the iconic neon sign. Dozens of retired pieces straddle two acres of eclectic neon boneyard, where visitors wander between retro motel kitsch to legendary Hard Rock guitars.
How: neonmuseum.org; $22/€19
2pm: Lunch with a spectacle
While dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants tend to make your MasterCard water, lunch at his Spago outfit in Vegas is one of the best deals in town. Why? Because the restaurant, located in the billion-dollar Bellagio resort, boasts balcony seating over the world’s largest fountain display, which audio-syncs to Vegas classics (think Sinatra and Cher) throughout the day. Amid the fanfare, order Spago’s phenomenal burger for $25/€21.
How: wolfgangpuck.com/dining; mains from $19/€17
4pm: Zip-line through downtown
Looking for an adrenaline rush on a budget? Zip- lining over Vegas’s popular Fremont Street should do it. Built as a giant casino monster, the aptly named SlotZilla spits thrillseekers 80ft into the skies before flying them at 35mph high above blocks of bustling downtown arcade. The $25/€21 ticket means you won’t need to hit any jackpots to play, either.
7pm: Food tour heaven
Sin City’s dining scene has become so super-sized in recent years, it now rivals gambling as the biggest industry in town. For a VIP flavour of the city, Lip Smacking Foodie Tours offer slick culinary journeys through Vegas’s top eateries, from fine dining on the Strip to the trending locales of the downtown district. Save room for designer cocktails.
How: vegasfoodietour.com; from $125/€110
9pm: Vegas by night
What better way to tick two items off a bucket list than experiencing Las Vegas at night – in a chopper! Maverick Helicopters have a fleet of aircraft which loft visitors across the Strip, wowing with bird’s-eye views of Vegas razzle-dazzle, from Trump Tower to the Eiffel Tower. Generous rations of complimentary prosecco make the perfect toast to the city.
How: maverickhelicopter.com; $104/€95
Three to try
The pool party
Fancy some of the infamous day-clubbing? Las Vegas’s pool-party scene is the real-life Fyre Festival that won’t let you down. Most hotels on the Strip host their own wet ‘n’ wild summer bashes; for one of the hottest, try Liquid, an adults-only lounge at the Aria, where you can enjoy electronic beats by the pool. aria.com
Whether it’s Celine Dion or Cirque du Soleil, catching a show is as quintessential a Vegas activity as playing three-card poker. This summer sees residencies from J-Lo (above) and Aerosmith while The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil is the troupe’s entry-level spectacle, with tickets from $79/€70. cirquedusoleil.com
The thrill ride
Heading for adventure? Speed Vegas allows you to race exotic muscle cars including Porsches, Lamborghinis and Ferraris around a pro track just outside the city limits. For more Mad Max feels, blaze a trophy truck through lonesome desert tracks for the ultimate off-road experience. From $69/€62. speedvegas.com
Las Vegas can tease budgets but the average hotel rates here are actually $130/€116 – that’s half what you’d spend in Boston or NYC. The colossal Park MGM (mgmresorts.com) has surprisingly boutique rooms from $140/€125 per night, while suites at the Venetian (venetian.com) start at $247/€220, including resort fees.
Getting out! Las Vegas and its manmade bombast is perhaps best appreciated in the context of its eerie desert hinterland. Try to combine your stay with a visit to the likes of Hoover Dam or Sloan Canyon just outside the city.
While there are currently no direct flights from Ireland to Las Vegas, United (united.com) offers flights from Dublin via Chicago from a decent €504 return. Thomas was a guest of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
For more, see visitlasvegas.com.
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