Grouse all you want about the Las Vegas Strip—too crowded, too phony—but at some point everyone gets sucked into its tractor beam. Whether you’re being dragged to a bachelorette party or yukking it up at a convention, chances are that sooner or later you’ll find yourself on Las Vegas Boulevard. And that, we’re here to tell you, is a good thing. A recent spike in visitors has paved the way for new investments and a beefed-up and, in some ways, stripped-down Strip. One with scaled-back hotels, urban parks, and more of an emphasis on dining than ding-ding-ding. So say good-bye to long taxi lines (thank you, Uber!) and watered-down Jack & Cokes, and say hello to 4.3 miles of awesome.
Picking a hotel room on the Strip can be like throwing a dart into the wind. Yeah, you’ll land somewhere, but you might wind up with a huge headache afterward. Mega-resorts have figured out a new way to lure crowd-weary guests: Build a boutique hotel inside the resort. The upside is huge—shorter check-in lines, personal service, and separate gambling-free entrances, which means no slot machines to sidestep on your way to naptime. The Four Seasons in Mandalay Bay recently renovated its Forbes Five Star Spa (from $219), and the world’s first Nobu Hotel launched at Caesars (from $159). This winter, W Las Vegas debuted its luxe tower at SLS, replete with a state-of-the-art spa, personal concierge service, and guest-only rooftop pool bar (From $189).
Eventually, you might seek out a Vegas escape hatch, a quiet spot to catch your breath. In 2013, the Strip opened High Roller, the world’s biggest observation wheel. Thirty bucks gets you 30 minutes in one of its slow-rolling glass pods, with 360° views of the city skyline and the red rock mountains beyond. Or book an hourlong Yoga in the Sky session, led by an instructor from local studio Silent Savasana. From $30.
Vegas didn’t invent the celebrity-chef restaurant—it only perfected it. Here are three top toques making inroads on the Strip this year.
Chris Santos' Beauty & Essex is serving grilled cheese and tomato soup dumplings, plus the dry-aged tomahawk rib-eye.
Visit David Chang's Momofuku & Milk Bar for ginger scallion noodles and cereal-milk ice cream.
Masaharu Morimoto's namesake Morimoto's menu features toro tartare, oyster foie gras, and a flight of Morimoto’s premium aged sake.
For every frat boy tossing back Red Bull and vodkas, there’s a more discerning drinker who knows the ins and outs of Vegas’ booming cocktail scene. Be one of them with one (or more) of these six cocktails.
Fleur's build-your-own Bloody Mary
Bound's Breakfast Martini
The Dorsey's Pencillin Cocktail
The Study's Amaro Nonino
Chandelier Bar's The Verbena
Mandarin Bar's Hardy Family cognac
The Strip is known for lots of things—drive-thru wedding chapels, faux-Italian fountains, Carrot Top. What it’s not so known for? Green space. Last spring that changed with the opening of The Park, a 3-acre ribbon at the entrance of the new T-Mobile Arena. Amid the 200 trees and public sculptures is Beerhaus, the Strip’s first legitimate beer garden, with live music, local brews from Bad Beat and Joseph James, and enough shuffleboard and ping-pong to make you forget your losing streak at the blackjack tables.