Thomas J. Story
FUN ON THE STRIP
Don't-miss classics, for Vegas newbies or longtimers.
Bellagio. Our favorite place to drop, er, we mean win, a few bucks. It's one of the Strip's fanciest. Outside, illuminated streams of water, choreographed to music, shoot like clockwork, from Lake Bellagio. Sounds tacky ― until you start swooning over Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" as the fountains dance, ever so gracefully. Every half-hour until 6 p.m., every 15 minutes 8 p.m.-midnight; free; 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; www.bellagio.com
Fashion Show mall. Best shopping on the Strip. A get-lost-in-it emporium with more than 250 stores, including all the big names: Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdale's Home. 3200 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (across from the Wynn); 702/369-8382.
Jet. The nightclub has three rooms, each with a different sound ― hip-hop/top 40, rock, and house. Fri, Sat, and Mon; cover $30 for men, $20 for women; the Mirage, lobby level, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; www.jetlv.com or 702/693-8300.
Love. Beatles fans will love Las Vegas's newest Cirque du Soleil show. 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Thu-Mon; from $69; at the Mirage, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; www.cirquedusoleil.com or 800/963-9634.
Mix Lounge. Fantastic views of the Strip. $$$; at Thehotel at Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702/632-9500.
WHERE TO EAT
World-renowned chefs are turning Sin City into one giant, glitzy, expensive food court for gourmands. Eat your heart out at some of our favorites.
Bradley Ogden. Four years old and still at the top of the Vegas food chain ― with Ogden's signature farm-country cooking and flown-in-fresh ingredients. $$$$; Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 877/346-4642.
Burger Bar. Pull up a stool at celeb chef Hubert Keller's casual carnivorous eatery, where burgers range from basic ($8) to foie gras- and truffle-topped Kobe beef ($60). $$; Mandalay Place at Mandalay Bay Resort, 3930 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702/632-9364.
Como's. The beloved Joseph Keller restaurant at MonteLago Village packs 'em in. A refreshingly low-key scene enhanced by high-quality dishes, such as Nebraska rib-eye and crispy-skin salmon. $$$$; Lake Las Vegas, 10 Via Brianza, Ste. 100, Henderson, NV; 702/567-9950.
Daniel Boulud Brasserie. NYC's James Beard-winning chef brings a bit of France to town with this bustling brasserie. $$$$; Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702/770-9966.
Joël Robuchon at the Mansion. The famed French chef came out of retirement to open his only formal fine-dining restaurant Stateside. Choose from a 6- or 16-course tasting menu ($225 and $360 per person, respectively). $$$$; MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702/891-7925. (For a less lavish, and less pricey, experience, go next door to L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, where you can sample signature dishes à la carte. $$$$; 702/891-7358.)
Olives. Grab lunch on the patio of Todd English's outpost for a grilled turkey Ruben panini with jalapeño slaw and fried pickles, paired with a prime view of Lake Bellagio's dancing fountains. $$$$; Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 877/234-6358.
Salt Lick Bar B-Q. Sticky, slow-cooked spareribs and tender barbecue chicken ― straight out of Driftwood, Texas. Long picnic tables make this crazy-popular place casual and communal. $; Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa, 11011 W. Charleston Blvd., 702/797-7535.
WHERE TO STAY, OFF THE STRIP
Get a good night's sleep off the Strip ― for a calmer stay and easier access to desert parks.
Green Valley Ranch Resort, Spa, Casino. The first off-Strip luxury resort to cater to the locals. Decor is Mediterranean-style timeless as opposed to up-to-the-minute trendy, and the pool, with its private cabanas and sandy beach, is as hopping as any you'll find on the Strip. From $189; www.greenvalleyranchresort.com or 866/782-9487.
The Platinum Hotel and Spa. A new ― gasp ― nongaming hotel opened in October off the Strip, by a block and a half. 255 suites come with full kitchens, plus two pools and a 17th-floor rooftop terrace with telescopes. From $189; 211 E. Flamingo Rd.; www.theplatinumhotel.com or 877/211-9211.
Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa. Dripping in more than three million crystals and walled in mahogany, wenge wood, and splashes of real red sandstone mined from the nearby canyon, Red Rock is the first billion-dollar hotel to be built off the Strip. No crazy lines at check-in and a separate casino entrance ― one with windows, no less! ― make the place quieter, and lighter, than your typical Vegas high-rise. From $209; 11011 W. Charleston Blvd.; www.redrocklasvegas.com or 866/767-7773.
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Las Vegas. For real R&R, Vegas-style, head 17 miles east of town to Lake Las Vegas Resort ― a collection of golf courses, hotels, restaurants, shops, and gated communities centered around a 320-acre manicured lake. Of the three hotels here, the Ritz is our favorite for its lush gardens and outstanding service. From $329; 1610 Lake Las Vegas Pkwy., Henderson, NV; www.ritzcarlton.com or 702/567-4700.