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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Things to Splurge On In Vegas

As you know, I'll be heading back to Vegas in September after two years of absence and I'm looking forward to not just visiting family, but doing some new things that I've been waiting to travel for and trying some new food places. I'll talk about those things later, but for now, let's look at some of the things I've done and are worth the splurge.

If you're planning a cool trip to Las Vegas, here are some things I've done that are splurge-worthy.

Great food

There's nothing like great food and Vegas is full of it. They are also full of meh food, but reading reviews can usually help you root out what's worth the money and what's not. I have tried lots of restaurants in the city and can highly recommend the following:

  • Any Gordon Ramsay restaurant. I especially enjoy Pub & Grill inside Caesar's Palace. 
  • JJ's Boulangerie inside the Paris. The Paris's buffet is also worth the money, though I suggest looking for a Groupon, as they are usually available.
  • Wicked Spoon buffet brunch at the Cosmopolitan. You can get every breakfast thing you want here. It's spendy, but super worth it. Everything comes in bite-size portions, so you aren't putting a ton on your plate and wishing you saved room for something else or wasting a bunch of food if you don't like it.
  • Bardot Brasserie at the Aria. I've only been here for breakfast, but it was certainly delicious, so if you are a fan of French cuisine, I recommend checking it out for other meals.
  • Hash House A Go Go inside The Linq, where 2-3 people can split one entrée, making it actually a great deal. We ordered chicken and waffles for the two of us and still took leftovers away.
  • NoMAD at The Park MGM. Right now it's closed due to Covid, but it's gorgeous. If you aren't open to spend that much, go to NoMAD Bar and get a drink and a couple appetizers.
  • Where to save and still eat well:
    • Northside Café & Chinese Kitchen at the SLS. They're open 24/7 and have some of the best breakfasts I've had in Vegas. I highly recommend the banana pancakes.
    • Bruxie Waffles at The Park outside New York New York. They have BOGO deals once a week if you follow them on Instagram.
    • Gordon Ramsay's Fish & Chips, Maxie's, Virgil's BBQ on the Linq Promenade. 
    • Hard Rock Café. Yes, maybe this is bougie, but you always know what you're getting, are served large portions, and each location has a "local eats" menu. 
    • Happy Hour at House of Blues, where you can try a bunch of foods for the same price as two entrees.

Wayne Newton's mansion

Even if you aren't a big fan of Wayne Newton, Casa Shenandoah is an awesome, sprawling estate that's worth the visit. I learned quite a lot about him and his good works. We only chose to do the museum and plane, but you can also choose just the house or the entire estate. We were the only ones on our tour, so the guide took us over to see some of the animals. If I go back, which I probably will, I'd choose to do the entire tour. It may take half a day, but I honestly think it's worth it. This is another one where you should look for a Groupon.

Monorail tickets

While not that expensive, the LV Monorail is one of my favorite ways to get around. I generally buy a multi-day pass when I am in town for the Travel Goods Show, but I also spring for a pass when we are in town for the NBA Summer League and I don't want to pay to park in any of the garages that charge, which is almost all of them now. It's a quick way to get down the Strip and it's air conditioned. 

The Neon Museum

When hotels/casinos decommission their signs or close down, the Neon Museum tries their best to obtain the sign and then work with a volunteer group to get them refurbished. Some of their signs are positioned downtown on the street to see, but bigger signs like for the Stardust, Treasure Island, and more are held outside at the museum. At night, the ones that can be lit up (there are usually between 6 and 8), are, giving it a different vibe altogether than the daytime tour. There's not much shade, so if it's hot, try to get in on the earliest tour of the day. I've been to the museum twice, once for the daytime tour and once for the nighttime tour. Both had their pros and cons, but I recommend doing both if you can. If you can only do one, do the daytime tour, so you can see all the signs clearly.

The High Roller at The Linq

This giant ferris wheel has large cabins that can accommodate quite a few people at a time. You get awesome views of both The Strip and the mountains. A full rotation takes 30 minutes and the narrator is amusing and gives you some really cool history and facts. You can choose the daytime or nighttime ride and there's also an option to ride in a cabin with an open bar. That seems excessive to me, because not only is it more expensive, but you pay for all your drinks in there. This is another thing I'd suggest trying to do both during the day and night. Look for Groupons, some of which give you the option of two rides in a day.

Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour Bus

This is one of my favorite things to do in a new city. Las Vegas offers two different routes for their buses: The Strip and Downtown. I have taken both, and I highly suggest you take one full rotation if you like your guide. We see everything there is to see first (usually takes about an hour or so) and then we get off at stops on the second go-round. Your ticket is usually good for 24 hours, though they may break between day and night in Las Vegas. If you've already seen a lot of The Strip, do the Downtown route. It's really cool and informative. Not that The Strip one isn't. I learned a lot on that one, too. If you can afford both, it's worth it. If you can only afford one, I would do Downtown, as it's a whole different side of Vegas and there are more interesting stops. (This might be another to watch out for Groupons for.)

Springs Preserve

Though not actually that expensive, you do have to either drive or get a ride outside Vegas proper. You can easily spend half a day here and it's especially great if you have kids. Plus, if you're a member of a your local garden and it is on the Reciprocal Admissions Program, or you're a member of the American Horticultural Society, you can use your membership here. You'll learn about the Hoover Dam construction, the animals native to the area, general fun science activities, plus their are hiking trails and a tram. I really enjoyed this, even though it was a billion degrees out. I also highly suggest grabbing lunch at their café, because it was one of the best meals we had on that trip. Their gift shop has great items, too, so we brought home some awesome things for ourselves and others.

Mob Museum

Located downtown, the Mob Museum tells you the history of Las Vegas and the role the mob played in it. Spoiler, it's all of it. Through artifacts, videos, history and interactive exhibits, you'll know more about Las Vegas and Paradise than you ever knew possible. There's a speakeasy in the basement that has awesome food and really creative drinks. Plan to spend at least 4 hours here. 

Things not on this list, but I'm planning to splurge on:

Because all trips to Vegas are unique, I look for new things to do each time I visit. 

OmegaMart: This interactive museum has been on my list since before it even opened in Las Vegas. I've followed the original MeowWolf museum in New Mexico and have been dying to visit for years. Now I don't have to make a special trip, though OmegaMart is totally different.

Museum of Dream Space: Another new interactive museum that uses light to create gorgeous artscapes that you you can be part of.

Lunch or dinner at Hells Kitchen: Yes, it's a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, which I covered above, but it's new-ish and I'm excited to try it.

If you're looking for money-saving ideas, check out my other posts on budget Vegas On The Strip and Off The Strip.

Is there something you have wanted to do in Vegas but aren't sure if it's worth it? Ask me in the comments!

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