Our new series on weekend road trips aims to inspire you for what's to come as we slowly return to travel.
Covid-19 Disclaimer: Make sure to check the status of the states, regions, and establishments in which you’re planning to visit prior to travel. Many regions continue to see high infection rates and deaths, while many states and counties remain under varying stay-at-home orders. Those traveling from areas with high rates of Covid-19 should consider avoiding travel for now in order to reduce spread.
You need a break but not just any break—a wacky, fun, party kind of break. That’s exactly why I’m sending you to straight to Vegas, baby. We’re talkin’ a real RAGER of a weekend—just kidding, that sounds horrible, assuming you’re over the age of 25. Anyways, it’s entirely possible to do Vegas right as a respectable adult and still have a good, alcohol-filled time—you just gotta add a lot more hydration (and a few naps).
You’re in for about a four-hour drive, so in order to make the most of your weekend, it’ll be important to leave early in the day (10 a.m. at the latest). From Los Angeles, it’s around a four-hour drive to Las Vegas, via I-15 N, or about a five-hour drive via CA 14 N and I-15 N. For a scenic route, we recommend taking the I-15 and exiting at 153a near D Street and taking Route 66 up from Victorville to Barstow. There are a bunch of old diners, antique shops, and, of course, the Bottletree Ranch (a good pit stop idea). It will add about a half-hour to your drive (plus whatever time you spend should you decide to get out and visit the town).
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Ideally, you will arrive in Vegas around 2-3 p.m. if keeping to the schedule. But who needs a clock because every time is now party time, my friend. After checking into your accommodations (our strip hotel of choice is the Cosmopolitan), grab a Lyft and head out to happy hour at the Golden Tiki, one of Vegas’s best (and under-the-radar) tiki bars, a few minutes from the strip (another option is Frankie’s Tiki Room, located downtown and run by the same owners).
After a strong tiki drink, you’ll most likely be hungry, so grab another Lyft and head to Battista’s Hole in the Wall for an authentic Italian dinner with an eclectic yet relaxed atmosphere (plus free house wine with every meal!). After dinner, grab another Lyft and head to J Karaoke Bar for karaoke followed by drinks at Commonwealth (and see if you can get into the bar’s special speakeasy, The Laundry Room). Or, if you’d rather head back to the strip to get your drink on, head to Rhumbar at the Mirage for a cocktail before heading to The Cosmopolitan for a fancy time at the Chandelier Bar followed by late-night eats at The Henry diner.
Are you hungover? That’s okay—good, even, because if there’s any place that has your hangover breakfast covered, it’s Vegas. We’re leaving the strip again (for the last time this trip), and heading on over to Peppermill’s Fireside Lounge, a swanky yet delicately trashy bar and lounge with an incredible breakfast menu. But if you don’t feel like leaving the strip? Proceed directly to Eggslut at The Cosmopolitan for egg sandwich options sure to soak up last night’s drinks.
After breakfast, head to the outlets at Fashion Show Mall for some early afternoon shopping followed by lunch at El Segundo Sol, located right outside the mall area. Or head back to the strip for burgers and beers in a sports bar atmosphere at The Palace Station Hotel & Casino.
After lunch, head to the Neon Museum for a tour of what Las Vegas is known for: flashy, iconic signage. The Main Collection in the affectionately named Neon Boneyard contains over 200 classic, old-Vegas signs. Once you’re finished staring at a bunch of huge, old signs, there’s a chance you can squeeze in some time at your hotel pool or even a brief nap—but make it brief, because it’s happy hour time. Get over to Canonita, a stylish eatery at The Venetian, for a daily happy hour, from 3 p.m.-6 p.m., with $3 drafts, $5 margaritas, and $5 cocktails and wines. After all, nothing quite screams “VEGAS!” like sitting amongst The Venetian canals while eating…tacos. The prime people-watching area combined with a good deal AND a very confusing combination of genres makes this the perfect light dinner and drink establishment for your pre-Saturday night festivities.
Speaking of which, next we’re heading on over to the Bellagio for the 7 p.m. showing of Cirque du Soleil’s “O,” a celebration of surrealism and the beauty of theater, inspired by “the concept of infinity and the elegance of water” where you’ll watch synchronized swimmers and acrobats do things with their bodies that make your brain fold in half. After the show, head back across the street to Beer Park at Paris Las Vegas, a glassed-in rooftop beer bar and grill where there are over 100 beers on tap and a perfect view of the Bellagio Fountains, for when they do their nightly dances.
You’ll likely want to keep moving after a few hours since it’s Vegas and there’s so much to see and do, but don’t worry—you needn’t go too far. For a change of scenery as the night goes on, head to Bally’s Born and Raised Craft Pub for more beer, or Margaritaville’s Bird Bar for a casual, kitschy atmosphere (there are birdcages hanging everywhere) and fun bird-themed cocktails; for example, the Pink Flamingo is made up of rose, peach vodka, and soda. Or, if you’re in more of a clubby kind of mood, Chateau at the Paris Las Vegas is in the same building as Beer Park, or you can head to Voodoo Rooftop Nightclub at the Rio for a swanky dance party, DJs, and drinks 51 stories above the city.
Oof. How are you feeling? Good? You good, man? Either way—we’ll get you there. Hopefully you kept hydrated yesterday. This morning calls for something fancy and pretty, just like you. We’re gonna keep it light, leave town early to get you back at a decent hour, and go easy on the alcohol (well, easier, anyway). Head to the Wynn Hotel for breakfast—Terrace Point Cafe is a bright and lively spot for breakfast (or brunch), with sweeping views of the gorgeous Wynn pool and gardens (patio seating is available as well, weather permitting). Choose from brioche toast, chicken and waffles, and other brunch staples. Keep in mind that the dress code is resort casual, so no dining in bathing suits or tank tops. We’re keepin’ it REAL classy this morning.
INSIDER TIPFor an even fancier time, Tableau (also at the Wynn) serves market-fresh breakfast options and is located steps away from the private Wynn Tower Suites elevator.
After breakfast, it’s time to get pampered, because the fancy train’s not stopping yet, no sir. Proceed to the Sahra Spa, Salon & Hamman at The Cosmopolitan (make a reservation beforehand) for a luxury facial, massage, or body treatment, and a soak in one of their baths.
At this point, it’s about noon-ish, so we’ve got time for a few last-minute activities, as long as they’re nearby the hotel. If you are staying at The Cosmopolitan, bop across the street to the shops at Planet Hollywood for any last-minute shopping needs (or just to get a walk-in), and grab a quick bite (if you’re hungry) at the Taco Bell Cantina. If Taco Bell isn’t your style, head on over to The Venetian down the way, and grab lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe, an upscale chain with a VERY widespread American-dining menu.
WHERE TO STAY
Our strip hotel of choice is The Cosmopolitan, followed closely by the Aria and the Vdara—you’ll have quick access to the strip, and a classy hotel to luxuriate in, without too intense of prices. If you want even more luxury, the Wynn or the Waldorf Astoria are certainly Vegas’s fanciest options, but just know that—even with deals—you’ll be spending some serious dough.
WHEN TO GO
The best time to go as far as crowds and deals is September through November—right before the holidays. Vegas can seem like a ghost town at times, but you’ll save some money and the crowds will be lighter. Spring and summer are obviously popular and better for pool lounging, but expect big crowds if you choose to go then. Also, Vegas is in the desert—the summer gets REAL hot (but is cool at night). Avoid July and August unless you want to be walking around drunk and miserable.