I've Lived in Las Vegas for 8 Years — Here's My Ultimate Guide to Sin City

I've Lived in Las Vegas for 8 Years — Here's My Ultimate Guide to Sin City

From luxury resorts and fine-dining restaurants to relaxing spas and outdoor activities, Las Vegas today is far more than the world’s gambling mecca.

Billed as the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas truly has something for everyone. There are dozens of hotels dotting the 4.2-mile Strip and the wider Las Vegas Valley boasts well over 150,000 rooms, providing visitors with an exceptional amount of choice — be it at an unapologetically luxe experience at Wynn or a trip to Piazza San Marco at The Venetian.

And Las Vegas Raiders president Sandra Douglass Morgan and James Beard-nominated restaurateur Elizabeth Blau couldn’t agree more. Morgan tells Travel + Leisure, “I grew up here and we've always been the entertainment capital of the world, and that now includes sports. [In Vegas], you've always had access to the best restaurants, shopping, and outdoor activities, but now you can go to a [Vegas Golden] Knights game, an Aces [WNBA] game, and end at a Raiders game all in one weekend. This city is ever-evolving.”

While you could spend a month in Vegas and only scratch the surface of all there is to see and do in this neon playground, we’ve broken down the essentials and laid out where to start.

<p>NeoPhoto/Getty Images</p>

NeoPhoto/Getty Images

Las Vegas

  • Wynn Las Vegas is proof of what a hotel can achieve when impeccable taste is combined with an unlimited budget and superlative service.

  • Resorts World’s Awana Spa is a restorative oasis.

  • The Shops at Crystals may be the world’s most luxe mall.

  • Voltaire beckons visitors to dance the night away as iconic headliners perform.

  • Carbone’s spicy rigatoni has won the hearts of Drake and Adele — and for good reason.

Best Hotels and Resorts

<p>Courtesy of Fontainebleau Las Vegas</p>

Courtesy of Fontainebleau Las Vegas

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Since Jay-Z, Beyonce, Coldplay, Rihanna, and all of their friends helped open The Cosmopolitan in 2010, this fountain-side property has exuded a hip, sexy vibe. Guests love the cantilevered Boulevard Pool; the new riviera-inspired eatery, LPM; and the fact that the majority of rooms feature working balconies.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas

This $3.7-billion resort was named one of the best new hotels in 2024 by T+L editors. Inside, you’ll find 36 restaurants and bars, seven pools, a private club, and an entertainment district by Miami nightlife czar David Grutman. And should you need to recharge, the cutting-edge spa boasts the city’s largest thermal experience.

Resorts World Las Vegas

With more than 40 bars and eateries, a 5.5-acre pool deck, and a privately gated Crockfords tower with $15,000-a-night “palaces” there's much to explore within this Vegas playground. Morgan particularly loves its Famous Foods street market, which is “filled with hawker stands offering so many different dining options.”

The Venetian Resort Las Vegas

Twenty-five years in and this Italian-themed resort is completing a $1.5-billion refurbishment. The iconic canals and generously sized rooms remain, but the property's impressive culinary portfolio is continuing to grow — expect the arrival of Michelin-starred Korean steakhouse Cote and L.A. darling Gjelina to join Thomas Keller, Tetsuya Wakuda, and Wolfgang Puck within the next year.

Wynn Las Vegas

Wynn Las Vegas has been voted the number one hotel in Las Vegas year after year by T+L readers — and it’s easy to see why. Its recently refreshed rooms are a master class in taste and its service is top-notch. Blau particularly loves “the energy and freneticism” of Wynn, as well as its innovative and interactive culinary and beverage programming where guests “can attend collaborative dinners with the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards chefs” and experience intimate wine dinners with Will and Amanda Harlan during F1.

Best Things to Do

<p>Tayfun Coskun/Getty Images</p>

Tayfun Coskun/Getty Images

Awana Spa

This place exudes tranquility right down to its footprint, which features curvilinear walls in the shape of a recumbent Buddha. “Everyone is always buzzing about Awana,” says Morgan, adding that people love their coed Fountain of Youth serenity room. Here, you’ll find an Aufguss performance sauna, vibrating stone loungers, a laconicum, and a series of hot and cold plunge pools.

Cirque du Soleil

Avant-garde and super-human acrobatic feats, combined with eight-figure production budgets, have created some of the most impressive and iconic shows in the world. For Blau, who has "had the amazing fortune to open the Bellagio and probably seen "O" 25 times, it's just one of those magical wonders that everyone who comes to Las Vegas should see. It's timeless, as is 'Mystere' and '.'"

Las Vegas Raiders

Between the Stanley Cup-winning Golden Knights, WNBA champion Aces, and the Raiders, there's no denying Las Vegas is a sports city. And there's no hotter ticket here than a football game. Morgan says, “We pride ourselves on being fan- and customer-friendly within the stadium. [In terms of culinary offerings], Allegiant Stadium has everything from lobsters to hot dogs, but I really love our sushi.” Her biggest tip, however, is to “download the Know Before You Go app.”

Liv Beach

Miami nightlife impresario David Grutman may be known for his white-hot Liv Nightclub and Papi Steak and Komodo eateries (outposts of which can be found within the Fontainebleau), but his foray into daytime entertainment has taken the city by storm. At Liv Beach, expect a stadium-like amphitheater with performances by the likes of Calvin Harris, John Summit, and Tiesto.


As the largest spherical structure in the world, the Sphere has reshaped the city’s skyline. Rooms with a view of its impressive exoskeleton are also in demand, but you’ll definitely want a peek inside. Blau, who saw U2 with Alice Cooper, notes, “The Sphere a wonder.”

Best Shopping

<p>George Rose/Getty Images</p>

George Rose/Getty Images

The Shops at Crystals

Strolling through this high-end retail collective is akin to rambling down Madison Avenue — albeit in a climate-controlled, art-infused environment. Locals seek out the secret spa cabins found within the Sisley Paris Boutique for the city’s best facial.

Fashion Show Las Vegas

This is not your average shopping emporium. With more than 250 retailers and 30-plus outlets, this mall is massive and filled with celebrities like Jared Leto and in-the know locals who frequent the Signature Salon by Claude Baruk. Fun fact: The steel cloud installation suspended outside the plaza weighs 1.1 million pounds.

Las Vegas North Premium Outlets

This 685,000-square-foot outdoor promenade is located a few minutes north of the Strip and features every designer, from Abercrombie to Zadig & Voltaire, all at significant markdowns. Blau says, “If you know where to shop, you can find some amazing things from Etro, Vilebrequin, and Dolce & Gabbana.”

Best Nightlife

<p>Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Wynn Las Vegas</p>

Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Wynn Las Vegas

Drai’s Nightclub

The sweeping Strip vistas from Drai’s penthouse perch at The Cromwell may be gobsmacking, but it’s the impressive roster of hip-hop acts that have guests lining up to experience the nightly concerts. Everyone from The Weeknd to Cardi B’s has performed here.

The Vault

Given its collection of bottled liquid history, it makes sense The Vault is tucked behind the Bellagio’s casino cage. Here, Craig Schoettler, the mastermind behind Chicago’s Aviary and now MGM Resorts’ executive director of beverage, proffers some of the city’s most exquisite libations inside an utterly beautiful room.


This intimate, Parisian-inspired showroom provides guests with an up-close experience featuring headliners like Kylie Minogue, Christina Aguilera, and Jason Derulo in a stunning, service-driven environment. While the menu largely focuses on Champagne and bottle service, don’t miss the boozy ice cream, caviar service, and Casa Dragones-infused espresso martinis. Blau says, “It’s a groundbreaking room, and Kylie Minogue brings it to a whole other level.”

XS Nightclub

Everyone from Drake to Justin Bieber has performed at this iconic nightclub built for A-listers. Buying a ticket in advance or reserving a table is a must to skip the lengthy queue.

Zouk Nightclub

After the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, Zouk was Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift's first stop. Artists like Travis Scott, Post Malone, and Jack Harlow have helped put this mothership-inspired space on the map, and today, it features a stable of resident headliners like Illenium, Deadmau5, and Kaskade.

Related: 11 Best Shows in Las Vegas Right Now — From Jaw-dropping Acrobatics to Mind-blowing Magic Performances

Best Restaurants

<p>Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Barcelona Enterprise</p>

Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Barcelona Enterprise

Bazaar Meat

This whimsical steakhouse by chef José Andrés is set inside the Sahara. Start with some snacks like foie gras cotton candy and a modern riff on a Philly cheesesteak made with a cheese-filled, wagyu-crowned air bread, before progressing to a series of tartares (the beefsteak tomato is a must) and a variety of more primal cuts.


“Go hungry,” says Morgan of Carbone. “The portions are generous and the food is incredible.” Plus, everyone from Drake to Adele seems to agree this is the world’s best red sauce haunt. The entire Ken Fulk-designed space is stunning, but regulars request a table in the red room under the floor-ceiling Murano chandelier, originally commissioned for a 1960s Ferrari showroom.


It may be easier to get into an ivy league university than score a 9 p.m. weekend reservation at Delilah. If you're one of the lucky ones, try their grown-up chicken nuggets, beef Wellington, and savory carrot soufflé. The space is transportive, reminiscent of an opulent 1920s supperclub. “You never know who's going to show up and hop on stage,” says Blau. “I’ve seen everyone from Andra Day to Justin Bieber perform [here], and I love their gorgeous chef’s table, [which is set in a] room complete with a private bar.”


As impressive as it is to select your own sea creatures flown in daily from a fish market, don’t skip the Milos Special here, composed of paper-thin and lightly fried eggplant and zucchini (naturally served with halloumi cheese and tzatziki) and crisp Greek salad. “Their $45 prix-fixe lunch is one the city’s best deals,” says Morgan.

Red Plate

This tiny jewel box within The Cosmopolitan curates some of the country’s best Cantonese cuisine. Naturally, the restaurant's whole Peking duck carved by a team of former high-roller butlers is a must, but pros preorder their exceptional hot pot service at least 24 hours in advance, as it takes a dedicated chef eight hours to prepare.

Best Time to Visit

<p>Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images</p>

Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While there's no bad time to visit Las Vegas, plan for more indoor and poolside pursuits when the Valley heats up from June to September. Spring and fall represent relative value and afford more pleasant weather, should you plan to visit the Grand Canyon or the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Rates do rise on busy holiday weekends and when conventions like January’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show) are in town. If you find yourself visiting during hockey (October to June) or football (September to February) season, a trip to the T-Mobile Arena or Allegiant Stadium, respectively, should be on your agenda. Sports fans will also want to block their calendars for March Madness and the National Finals Rodeo (December).

Those looking to experience the city’s extraordinary Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix  in late November should plan well in advance, as the famed Boulevard turns into an actual racetrack, and do note the automotive festivities begin much earlier in the month with Wynn’s annual Concours exhibition. Foodies, meanwhile, should also earmark Wynn’s early summer Revelry festival that comes shortly after EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival).

How to Get There

<p>Alessandra Amodio/Travel + Leisure</p>

Alessandra Amodio/Travel + Leisure

Las Vegas draws more than 40 million visitors each year, most of whom arrive into Harry Reid International Airport, which sits on the southeastern edge of the famed Boulevard and is about a 15- to 20-minute taxi or ride-share trip from all Strip and downtown hotels. Those driving in from Southern California should expect a four-hour drive from Los Angeles or a six- to seven-hour commute from San Diego without traffic.

Neighborhoods to Visit

<p>Grant Faint/Getty Images</p>

Grant Faint/Getty Images


“We have one of the best Chinatown’s in the country,” says Blau, who loves the coffee shop Gäbi, which "is packed even at 5 p.m. on a Thursday,"the incredible Korean barbecue and sushi offerings, and 00 Pie & Pub, which serves some of the best pizza in the entire Valley.

Downtown and the Arts District

While strolling down Fremont Street’s neon corridor should be on everyone’s list, don’t miss the city’s burgeoning and charming Arts District. Here, you’ll find a bustling art fest on the first Friday of every month; coffee collectives like Vesta, which have garnered a cult-like following; craft cocktail bars; and solid eateries.

Summerlin and Vegas’ Southwest

The arrival of UnCommons and Durango Casino & Resort has ushered in a culinary renaissance in Vegas' southwest. Don’t miss outposts of Florentine sandwich shop All'Antico Vinaio and Marc Vetri’s beloved Philly pasta bar, Fiorella, in these respective developments.

How to Get Around

<p>tunart/Getty Images</p>

tunart/Getty Images

Ride-share Services: Uber and Lyft are readily available throughout the Valley. From the airport, order your car as you head out of baggage claim and follow the signs to passenger pickup in the adjacent garage. All Strip resorts have designated pickup zones.

Taxis: Vegas is one city where taxis remain ever-present within the tourist corridor and are lined up as you exit the airport or any Strip resort. Taxi tariffs are often a bit steeper than a ride-share service, but when traffic is congested, they are more readily available. Note that you cannot hail a cab on the street in Las Vegas, as they are required to pick up passengers at a physical address or taxi line.

Rental Car: Having a car is a great option if you plan to visit the city’s surrounding areas, but it's often easier (and cheaper, given parking fees) to take a taxi, use a ride-share service, or even walk between properties. Should you require a vehicle, you can pick one up at the airport’s rental center or on site at most resorts.

Public Transportation: The Las Vegas Monorail runs along the east side of the Strip, from MGM Grand to the Sahara, with tickets starting at $13.75 per day. The RTCSNV (Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada) publishes a bus schedule, and their Strip-focused Deuce bus runs 24/7 down the Boulevard (a single ride costs $4, a two-hour pass is $6, a 24-hour pass is $8, and a three-day pass is $20). Tickets are available at select vending machines, on board, or online.

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