I’ve visited Las Vegas several times over the years, but always for quick 24 or 48 hour stints. Basically, long enough to shop, see a show, enjoy the pool and dine at a couple of restaurants. On recent trips to Vegas, I’ve come to appreciate the endless day trip opportunities that are possible from Nevada’s most famous city, and now I always stay for four to five days when I visit. From the colorful Seven Magic Mountains art installation to hiking the incredible Valley of Fire, it’s a destination with diverse options that truly offer something for everyone. Below is a rundown of all my Vegas favorites – hotels, restaurants and things to do, as well as a complete five day itinerary at the bottom. This post contains affiliate links.
Seven Magic Mountains is a colorful art installation that sits in the middle of the desert, a 30-minute drive from the Las Vegas strip.
Make a wish at the Cesar’s Palace Trevi Fountain.
The Valley of Fire is my favorite day trip from Las Vegas.
For visitors with no plans to leave The Strip, then two days is plenty of time. If you’re feeling ambitious and want to venture out for hikes and day trips, then I suggest four to five full days in Las Vegas to have enough time to explore a few gems from this list: Valley of Fire, Red Rock Canyon, Zion National Park and Death Valley National Park.
There’s usually a line for the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, but we visited at 8 AM and there were only a couple people. OUTFIT DETAILS: Free People dress linked here.
Obsessed with the new Lotus of Siam location inside the Red Rock Casino and Resort.
MARCH, APRIL AND OCTOBER. The best months to visit Las Vegas are March, April and October when temperatures a comfortable, and stepping outside isn’t unbearable. Also, try to visit during the week. Hotel and flight price sometimes double if you visit on a weekend.
There are so many corners around The Venetian that look just like Venice.
All those Italia details.
Snap a photo here and you’ll fool everyone into thinking you’re in Venice. OUTFIT DETAILS: Lulu’s dress linked here.
BELLAGIO CONSERVATORY & BOTANICAL GARDEN
This bright and airy botanical garden is located just past the lobby inside the Bellagio. Let your nose guide you to it – you’ll be able to smell the thousands of flowers from the moment you step into the hotel. The 14,000-square foot garden changes seasonally to the themes of Lunar New Year, Spring Celebration, Summer Garden, Harvest and Holiday. The Botanical Garden is free to visit and open 24 hours.
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL
Las Vegas might as well be the Cirque du Soleil capital of the world. This modern day contemporary circus hosts a variety of shows at the biggest hotels on the strip – three of the best are Ka at the MGM Grand, O at the Bellagio and Mystère at Treasure Island.
DEATH VALLEY (DAY TRIP)
It’s a long day trip, but if you start early it’s possible to spent a full day exploring Death Valley. Some of my favorite stops include the Artist’s Palette, Zabriskie Point, Mesquite Dunes, Gold Canyon and Badwater Basin.
FOUNTAINS OF BELLAGIO
A fixture on The Strip for more than 20 years, the Fountains of Bellagio dazzle spectators with an elaborate water show that occurs daily. The show takes place every 30 minutes from 3 PM to 8 PM Monday through Friday, and every 15 minutes from 8 PM to midnight. Weekend is a similar schedule with a few extra shows.
GRAND CANAL SHOPPES AT THE VENETIAN
Inside the Grand Canal Shoppes you’ll find a stunning recreation of Venice, Italy. Even if you’re not in the mood to shop, it’s worth a visit to see the beautifully designed Venetian facades, canal bridges and gondolas floating through the canals.
Home to the world’s tallest observation wheel, the High Roller offers passengers spectacular 360-degree views from 550-ft. above The Strip. 28 spacious cabins hang from the Wheel, and the ride is 30 minutes long. The High Roller is located at The Linq.
RED ROCK CANYON (DAY TRIP)
One of the easiest day trips in Las Vegas is to Red Rock Canyon. It’s a place that feels a world away with its otherworldly rock colors and formations. The prettiest stops in Red Rock Canyon are Calico Hills I and II, make sure to include it as part of your visit.
SEVEN MAGIC MOUNTAINS
The colorful desert oasis is an art installation comprised of seven stacked boulder totems located 30 minutes from The Strip. Visit in the early morning to avoid crowds of people, or midday to see more vibrant colors in the boulders. I did both – at 7 AM there were 2 people, at 11 AM there were 50 people.
VALLEY OF FIRE (DAY TRIP)
They call it a geologic wonderland in the Mojave Desert, and it’s pretty clear why from the moment you pull into the park. The red sandstone formations are spectacular. My favorite hikes and viewpoints (all of which can be done in a single day) include Mouse’s Tank Road, the Fire Wave, White Domes, Petroglyph Canyon and Pink Canyon. It’s about an hour to get to the park entrance from Las Vegas, and another 20-30 minutes to get to the trails inside the park. Also, if you want to be there for sunrise, you can still drive into the park, even if the park entrance isn’t open (you just park via an envelope, instead of at the ranger kiosk).
WELCOME TO LAS VEGAS SIGN
Yes, it’s touristy, but it’s the most iconic photo to take in Las Vegas. The sign is located at the start of The Strip, there’s a small parking lot for cars and ride share drop offs. Best time to visit is sunset when the sky is colorful and the lights turn on, but be prepared to wait in a long line. If you’d rather visit without the crowds, the sign is pretty empty at 7 AM.
ZION NATIONAL PARK (DAY TRIP)
That’s right! If you’re feeling ambitious, Zion National Park is less than three hours driving from Las Vegas. Early risers can be inside the park at sunrise, spend the day hiking Angel’s Landing and then be back on The Strip in time for an early dinner.
The Calico Hills in Red Rock Canyon are absolutely surreal.
Red Rock Canyon is a one-way 13-mile drive with stops along the way for hiking and viewpoints.
Many consider the Bellagio to be the crème de la crème of Las Vegas. The Bellagio has been around for more than 20 years, but she has aged well. It’s one of the most popular luxury stays on The Strip, home to beautiful suites, fabulous restaurants, an incredible indoor Conservatory & Botanical Garden and the iconic Cirque du Soleil O Show.
I’ve stayed at The Cosmopolitan on my last few trips to Las Vegas – it’s modern, it’s clean and it’s central location on The Strip is ideal for bouncing around to nearby hotels. For room type, I recommend the Terrace One Bedroom with a fountain view.
The Four Seasons is always a solid choice, no matter what city or country you are in. The Las Vegas location is no different – a luxurious, upscale oasis that occupies floors 35-39 of the Mandalay Bay
Guests looking for something a bit more luxurious than Park MGM might consider The Nomad. It’s located on the same property, and in the same building, in fact. The Nomad occupies the upper floors, and Park MGM sits on the lower floors of the former Monte Carlo Resort, but the guest experience is completely unique to each property. The Nomad has its own lobby, casino, pool and rooms.
This is the first ground-up resort to open on The Strip in more than 10 years. The mega resort houses three Hilton properties, each with a separate entrance and lobby – Las Vegas Hilton, Conrad Las Vegas and Crockfords Las Vegas. Guests are treated to the largest pool deck in the city, a 27,000-square foot spa and more than 40 food + drink options including a hawker inspired food court.
The Italy-inspired design is unparalleled by anything else on The Strip, recreating the most iconic places in Venice including the Rialto Bridge, the Campanile, canal gondola rides and St. Mark’s Square. The Venetian also houses a shopping mall, nightclub and some of the best restaurants on The Strip. If you can’t get a room at The Venetian, its sister property The Palazzo is just next door.
Plunge Pool Cabana on the main pool deck of The Venetian.
Lunch feast at our private plunge pool.
BLOCK 9 THAI STREET EATS
Cheap and delicious Thai food option on the drive out to Red Rock Canyon. They serve up all the classic Thai dishes, making it a great stop for lunch before or after hiking.
Cut is high-end steakhouse located inside The Palazzo, and it might be Wolfgang Puck’s best restaurant in Vegas. Menu includes chilled shellfish, fresh seafood, salads and fixin’s, but it’s the steaks and sirloins cooked over burning coals and glowing embers of hard white oak and mesquite wood that make the restaurant so famous.
A fun speakeasy that sits tucked away in the back of the Block 16 Urban Food Hall of the The Cosmopolitan. The door to the bar looks like an emergency exit door, except there is an image of a donkey plastered on it. Step inside and you’ll find a boisterous little bar lit by pink lights and good vibes.
GORDON RAMSAY FISH & CHIPS
A tasty fish & chips spot on The Linq Promenade. This place is a quick stop – nothing fancy, but absolutely delicious.
LOTUS OF SIAM
Hands-down the most popular Thai restaurant in Las Vegas, and they just opened up a beautiful new location at Red Rock Casino and Resort. The deep fried garlic prawns are a must.
OYSTER BAR AT PALACE STATION
Oyster Bar is a must for foodies visiting Las Vegas. This unassuming bar sits in the middle of the Palace Station casino. It’s open 24 hours a day, and there is always a wait (one hour if you’re lucky, usually longer). The menu is one for seafood lovers, filled with steamers, chowders, cioppino and shellfish pasta. But it’s the signature pan roasts, a creamy tomato seafood stew with a hint of brandy, that makes Oyster Bar so famous.
Raku is on almost all Las Vegas foodie lists. It’s a tiny place that sits in a strip mall, but this izakaya serves up the best Japanese small plates in town. Reservations are a must.
New Italian restaurant that opened in The Form Shops at Caesar’s Palace. The fresh pastas and sauces are delicious, particularly the buccatini pomodoro. It’s my favorite Italian restaurant in Las Vegas.
For years Scarpetta was one of my favorite Italian spots in Manhattan, and then Scott Contant opened a Las Vegas location inside The Cosmopolitan. Menu includes fresh signature pastas, crisp salads, seafood and steaks.
SPARROW + WOLF
A gem of a restaurant located off The Strip, Sparrow + Wolf serves up delicious cocktails, as well as a variety of Asian-inspired dishes including Albacore sunomono with marinated cucumbers, crispy garlic and tosazu; King crab dumplings with xo butter, chive & lemon; Japanese sweet potato in umeboshi creme fraiche, lap cheong and scallions; and Shitake crusted Alaskan halibut with sugar snap peas and hon-shimeji mushroom. Good vibes, good drinks and good food here.
TACOS EL GORDO
Popular spot for cheap, delicious tacos. The location on South Las Vegas Boulevard is difficult to access (not easy to park, and a long walk from the main hotels on The Strip), but the other locations have drive thru’s and plenty of strip mall parking.
Seven Magic Mountains is a very popular tourist attraction. Best to visit on a weekday, before 9 AM to avoid crowds of visitors.
This desert art installation is completely free to visit.
Absolutely love the colorful boulder totems.
The 4.2-mile Las Vegas Strip is home to all the big hotels, casinos, shops, restaurants and tourist activities. If you’re in town for a quick visit, then it’s easy enough to get around on foot and by Uber. All the big hotels have ride share pick up zones, and the airport is less than 15-minutes from The Strip. For visitors with more ambitious plans to explore greater Las Vegas and the surrounding region, I recommend a rental car. All rental car companies are located in a hub close to the airport – there are buses that shuttle everyone over free of charge.
Most visitors will arrive via the Harry Reid International Airport, located just three miles from the start of the Las Vegas Strip. The airport connects Las Vegas to dozens of cities across the country, as well as a handful of international destinations.
The hotel’s decorative Sphynx is actually the walkway to the tram.
Woke up early to chase the sunrise along Mouse’s Tank Road in the Valley of Fire. OUTFIT DETAILS: Free People dress linked here.
This rock was the perfect spot to watch the valley light up at sunrise.
The best time to visit the Valley of Fire is a weekday, and start exploring at sunrise.
This scenic trail leads hikers to the Fire Wave.
The Fire Wave is my favorite spot in the park – the rock formations and colors are incredible.
If you can’t get permits to The Wave in Arizona, this spot in the Valley of Fire is a beautiful alternative.
Welcome to Las Vegas Sign (sightseeing)
Seven Magic Mountains (sightseeing)
Caesar’s Palace + Forum Shops (sightseeing / shopping)
Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden (sightseeing)
Bellagio Water Show (sightseeing)
Ghost Donkey (drinks)
Red Rock Canyon (hiking)
Block 8 Thai Street Eats (lunch)
The Venetian (sightseeing)
Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian (sightseeing)
Ka at MGM Grand (show)
Valley of Fire (hiking)
Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips (lunch)
Lotus of Siam (dinner)
Pool Cabana at The Venetian (r&r)
The Linq Promenade + High Roller (sightseeing)
RPM Italian (lunch)
Zion National Park or Death Valley (day trip)
Dinner at Palace Station (food)