The Las Vegas First-Timer Bucket List
Preparing for your first Las Vegas trip? If you’re a Las Vegas first-timer, there are some must-dos for your big debut in Sin City.
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, Vegas has a lot to offer.
As you’re planning your first trip to Vegas, make sure these things are on your list:
1: See a show.
It’s not a Las Vegas trip without a show. There’s something to suit every style and taste, from huge, flashy productions, to tasteful trickery, to bawdy humor and topless revues. Here are a few of our top picks:
- For pure Vegas production value: Beatles LOVE at The Mirage
- For laugh-’til-your-sides-hurt comedy: Carrot Top at Luxor
- For a true Las Vegas magic show: Penn & Teller at Rio All-Suite
- For an adults-only experience: Thunder From Down Under, at Excalibur
2: Experience an extravagant Vegas buffet.
There are buffets, and then there are Las Vegas buffets. Your heat-lamped chain buffets back home aren’t anywhere near in the same league as a Vegas all-you-can-eat experience. Trust us – you haven’t done buffets until you’ve done Vegas buffets.
Here are some of our favorites:
- For trendy and delectable bites: The Wicked Spoon at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas
- For an opulent weekend morning: The Unlimited Champagne Brunch served up at The Buffet at Bellagio
- For a taste of all things fresh: The Studio B Buffet at M Resort
3: Go to a Vegas pool party.
Pool season in Las Vegas runs from March through October, though there are a few climate-controlled indoor pools that operate all year. The best thing about pool season, though, isn’t the waves; it’s the parties.
Vegas pool parties are often hosted by dayclubs, so you can expect a big name DJ, a horde of hot girls in matching bikinis, and premium prices for drinks. If that’s not your thing, there are some pool parties with a more laid-back, social focus, and several choices for 21+ toptional pools where bikini tops aren’t required.
Check out these Vegas pools:
- For free entry and a fun, social atmosphere: Citrus Grand Pool Deck at Downtown Grand
- For the hottest day club: Drai’s Beachclub at The Cromwell
- For toptional sunbathing: Tao Beach at The Venetian
4: Take advantage of photo ops with street performers.
What happens in Vegas gets posted on Instagram.
If you take a photo with a Las Vegas street performer, the etiquette is to tip them between $1 and $5. Taking pictures of them from a distance can be considered rude, and some of the more aggressive performers will ask you for a tip because you took their picture. The best strategy is to think of them like mall kiosk salesmen, and if you’re not going to stop, pose, and tip, just keep walking.
Las Vegas street performers tend to fall into 2 categories: the Strip type, and the Fremont Street Experience type.
Along the Las Vegas Strip, you’ll see classic Vegas showgirls, Batman, impressive light-up Transformer costumes, breakdancers, street magicians, and pretty much the same types of costumed performers you’d see in places like Times Square. Some of them are even family-friendly, like Mickey Mouse and Olaf.
Under the electric sky at Fremont Street Experience, though, things get a little more wild. You’ll still be able to find the occasional Elvis impersonator and feathery showgirl, but also expect to see dominatrixes, older gentlemen wearing nothing but socks in interesting places, people who have embraced and exaggerated their most unattractive features to pose for shock value, and probably a few things that will make you blush and avoid eye contact.
5: Do some serious shopping.
Like most things in Vegas, shopping here is a different experience than shopping at your local mall. We’re sure your mall is very nice, but if it doesn’t have a canal running through it with singing gondoliers, it’s just not Vegas enough.
Outside of Fifth Avenue, you’d have a hard time finding the kind of selection, diversity, and quality of stores you see in Las Vegas. Along the strip, most casinos have their own shopping districts, and there are a few Vegas-y malls interspersed between resorts such as Miracle Mile and The Shops at Crystals.
For a look at our favorites, take a stroll through one of these:
- For the absolute splendor and atmosphere: The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian
- For local flair and its giant flaming insect: Downtown Container Park
- For a slightly less touristy feel and great dining options: Town Square Las Vegas
6: Have a romantic dinner with someone special.
Las Vegas may be Sin City, but did you know that there are more than 115,000 weddings in Las Vegas every year? Lots of people come to Vegas from all over the world with love in their hearts, and if you’re visiting with someone special, you’d be remiss without taking them to dinner at one of the most romantic restaurants in the country.
To dial up the romance, we recommend an evening at one of these delectable dining establishments:
- For old-Vegas class and atmosphere: Hugo’s Cellar at Four Queens
- For a juicy steak as big as your heart: Andiamo at The D
- For the best view in town: Picasso at Bellagio
7: Do something ridiculously over-the-top.
Vegas is a city that thrives on offering experiences that are hard to find anywhere else. Sure, you can ride ziplines, play paintball games, race go-karts, and base jump in other places, but in Las Vegas, you can do all of that in a single afternoon and still have time for dinner and a show.
When you’re ready for a thrill, here are our top choices:
- For the adrenaline rush of your life: Skyjump at The Strat
- For a thrill with a side of wonderment: Slotzilla Zoomline at Fremont Street Experience
- For a chance to prove your survival skills: Zombie Apocalypse Experience at Combat Zone
According to recent surveys, visitors to Las Vegas are increasingly coming for the overall experience rather than making the trip primarily to gamble. That doesn’t mean that people aren’t gambling – they are – it just means that it’s only one part of the big Vegas picture.
If you’ve never gambled before, slot machines are one of the easiest places to start. From there, you can move up to simple table games like Roulette, more social table games like craps, and perhaps you’ll feel confident enough to try a few hands of blackjack.
The truth is that no casino game is so complicated that it will take you more than 15 or 20 minutes to get the gist of it – they’re designed to be fun, not to be exercises in complex mathematics. At most tables, other players will gladly help you learn, and if perchance there’s someone who seems irritated or impatient with your questions, it’s simple just to move to another table and find friendlier people.
Vegas veterans, what are your top picks for Las Vegas first-timer must-dos? Share in the comments!