12 Things You Absolutely Must Do in Las Vegas

There’s so much to see and do in Las Vegas, how can you ever hope to do it all? You can’t. Get real. You’re not omnipresent, probably, so you’re going to have to narrow down your list of things to do. Or, just let us do it.

Here, then, are 12 things you absolutely have to do when you’re in Las Vegas. And not the usual stuff like dancing fountains and erupting volcanoes. Vital stuff, in addition to that other vital stuff. It’s confusing, so let’s just move it along, shall we?

1. Play Craps at Binion’s

When you play craps at Binion’s, you’re not just playing craps at Binion’s. You’re taking part in a ritual that virtually defines the Las Vegas experience. Binion’s is the home of epic craps rolls and fortunes won and lost. Even if you can’t play at Binion’s, learn and play craps. But play at Binion’s. At least once.

Binion's casino

Oh, and if you’re bored, try and beat our record for the Most Photos Taken With a Million Dollars.

2. Have BBQ at Ellis Island

It’s a dinky little casino, not too far from The Strip, and the table games don’t even open until 3:00 p.m. But who cares? The BBQ alone is worth a visit, and the beer (brewed on site) is the stuff of legend.

Ellis Island barbeque

This should also answer the age-old question, “Where can I see the best rack in Las Vegas?”

3. Hit Happy Hour at Stratosphere

The happy hour deals at Level 107 Lounge at Stratosphere are great, but the views are truly spectacular. Keep in mind that while the Top of the World Restaurant revolves 360-degrees every 80 minutes, the Level 107 Lounge doesn’t, so you’ll have to stroll around to get the full effect. A definite must-do in Las Vegas.

Level 107 Lounge

As the name implies, Level 107 is 107 floors up. That’s 749 in dog floors, whatever those might be.

4. Visit the Neon Museum

The Neon Museum is a walk through Las Vegas history, with dozens of vintage signs on display across six acres. The Neon Museum’s visitor center alone is worth the price of admission. It’s the restored lobby of the iconic La Concha Motel.

Neon Museum

A sign from the Moulin Rouge, the first integrated hotel-casino in the United States.

5. See “Absinthe”

Abandon your inner prude at the door, because you’re in for a wild ride. Part adult carnival, part variety show, part raunchy stand-up and part WTF, this hilarious, occasionally heart-stopping show at Caesars Palace is about as entertaining as it gets on The Strip. Add this to your “Must-Do in Las Vegas” list, already.

Melody Sweets

And, yeah, this photo we took of burlesque singer Melody Sweets of “Absinthe.” Being a Las Vegas blog can be a rough gig.

6. Buffet It at M Resort

You’re going to buffet while you’re in Vegas, it’s the law. Here’s the one you have to try: Studio B Buffet at M Resort. Sure, it’s a little out of the way (about 10 minutes south of The Strip), but it’s so good, you won’t mind much.

M Resort buffet

Because M Resort is a locals casino, the values are exceptional, and the savings on your buffet might even pay for a cab ride.

7. Shop at the Zombie Apocalypse Store

It’s weird and funny and borderline nuts, but the Zombie Apocalypse Store is a no-brainer (see what we did there?) when you’re in Las Vegas. From survival gear to novelty items, this place is so fun, if you’re not already a zombie fan, you’re sure to turn. Into one. You know what we mean.

Zombie Apocalypse Store

Just something to chew on.

8. Drink and Dine at Triple George

Triple George is our favorite restaurant in downtown Las Vegas, an area with a vibrant (and much cheaper than The Strip) dining scene. The cocktails are sexy and the menu is teeming with temptations. Visit twice and chances are the bartenders will know your name. Triple George is a have-to-do if ever there were one.

Triple George dessert

And don’t get us started on the desserts.

9. Play With A Go-Go Dealer at The D or Golden Gate

Downtown does a lot of things right, but dealers who also go-go dance? That’s Vegas at its finest. The young women at The D and Golden Gate, downtown, are personable and charming, and even know how to deal (not always the case in some Vegas party pits).

Go-go dealer

It’s blackjack or bust at Golden Gate.

10. See the High Roller Ferris Wheel

If you’ve visited this blog before, you may have heard a thing or two about the High Roller. It’s the tallest observation wheel in the world, and if it were a person, we would send it flowers and take it on a romantic gondola ride, if you get our drift. This is the grandaddy of must-do things in Las Vegas.

High Roller observation wheel

We might have mentioned the High Roller wheel a time or two.

11. Have a Steak at Old Homestead

Think of the best steakhouse in your hometown. Now, multiply that by infinity, and you have Old Homestead Steakhouse at Caesars Palace. This places knows steak! In fact, its sister restaurant, the original Old Homestead in New York City, opened in 1868. That makes it one of the longest continually-serving restaurants in America, and it shows.

Old Homestead steak

Old Homestead gets its meat from a specialty butcher on the East Coast, making the butcher one of this blog’s BFFs.

12. Cozy Up to Lion

Before or after you enjoy the M Resort’s buffet, make sure to visit the Lion Habitat Ranch about a minute away. This is where all those MGM Grand lions went when they retired. It’s a clean, welcoming environment, and the keepers treat the lions (including cubs) like family.

Lion Habitat Ranch

Yep, you get this close.

All right, we’re pretty sure you have things on your “Things You Have to Do When You’re in Las Vegas” list, so let’s hear them.

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  • Busta Nuts

    Come on there MUST be a better buffet

    • Atomicbear

      There is. The Wynn buffet is by far the best.

    • Ezekiel 25:17

      That’s a very astute comment. My Vegas experience started in 1961 but my mom forgets I was 1 years old and she asks, “Did you like Vegas as a kid?” Honestly, there are some dejavue moments in Vegas mostly in older properties. I have recurring dreams about the Tropicana. My deceased dad is there. My memorable moments in Vegas began in 1998. Wow, the drive across the Hoover dam was a nightmare. Big trucks held up traffic for about 10 miles. 9/11 made it where big trucks had to go through Laughlin. The drive to the dam became wonderful with them gone. Ok, you mentioned buffets. Holy cow, how great was the Luxor? I thought I had reached heaven and that is how they fed you. This was well ahead of the big chef union strike. Luxor had a huge line at ever mealtime. We learned to get there at 10AM, pay breakfast price, then wait out arrival of lunch items at 10:45. I kind of do that still. Luxor now is like a bit ahead of Golden Coral. The sister buffet, Excalibur is about the same, as they both went with self serve drinks. I do like that, the glasses are tiny. Aria is good but pricey. MGM is ok. Planet Hollywood is fine as is Paris. Harrahs has a 24 hour deal for eating on one price. Bellagio was overrated in my opinion. I remember the big lines in early 2000’s and I thought “I guess that’s where rich people eat.” When I finally got to go, the biggest deal going was the cold cut station. Oh, don’t do a buffet on Sunday. Its a real down day for resorts and they set the meal prices at $35 but you don’t get anything extra. Just eat at a restaurant or food court on Sunday. The buffets on Fremont are OK. Golden Nugget is one of the best. The off strip resorts tend to cater to the locals and regulars so the are a couple notches above Golden Coral. Ok, what is the best? By far, the Rio. I think when the chef strike was over, and most resorts eliminated that position, they all went to the Rio. Yes, its pricey but you will be pleased.

    • NHBill603

      Buffets go up and down.
      The M is getting raves from just about everyone these days.

  • hoohoolianFUCLA

    Worst item on this list:

    Have BBQ at Ellis Island? Yeah, if your benchmark for BBQ is the McRib and if your benchmark for service is the US Congress. Waitress wasn’t smart enought to know what color wine was ordered. Pinot Noir isn’t white? I was shocked that they had Pinot Noir. Ellis was one of the worst dining experiences I have had in Vegas, with Hank’s and “the buffet” at Aria.

    Note: American BBQ and German food are probably the two cuisines that are most lacking in Las Vegas. You’re more likely to enjoy English food (Steak & Kidney pie or Pasty) in Vegas than Schwein Schnitzle or a smokey rack of ribs.

    Also:

    Craps at Binions — since there are so few people who know how to play craps, this is not a “must do.” I’d say most people who put money on a craps table don’t even know how to play; all they know is what Hollywood has taught them, like shaking the dice and emoting like a stripper on meth. They look at winning on 7 the way I look at hitting a hopping hard eight.

    Old Homestead is a fine steakhouse, but there are so many other steakhouses that singling-out this one is suspect on a top 12 list of general things to do. It may make the top 12 steakhouses in Vegas, but who’s going to eat at 12 steakhouses during one visit? (Note: when I rate steakhouses on a scale of 1-100, the top 20 may only be 2 points apart, e.g., 96-98 points. Few people would know the difference and personal taste in meat, atmosphere, etc., would also vary.)

    Lion Habitat Ranch IS Pretty Cool.

    Experiencing the top of the Strat is a good choice. beyond the unique rotating restaurant, Craps there can also be “crapless.”

    Absinthe is a blast, but it is very similar to Zoomanity, so I don’t understand rating it on this list. 100 people could see one or the other and 80-90 might respond exactly the same in a generic interview. (BTW: All of these types of shows change some things regularly, so no harm in seeing them each twice in a year.)

    • Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, no matter how wrong they are.

      Ellis Island is awesome. Although, I have to say, if you know what Pinot Noir is, what in the HELL are you doing at Ellis Island?

      Craps at Binion’s is a must whether one knows how to play or not. It’s the quintessential Vegas thing.

      Old Homestead is the best steakhouse in Las Vegas, bar none.

      “Absinthe” has nothing in common with “Zumanity.” “Absinthe” is arguably the best show in Las Vegas, and “Zumanity” is one of the worst.

      We do appreciate hearing alternative viewpoints, so thanks for your comment!

      • hoohoolianFUCLA

        Wow. What a moderator. Somebody missed his Oprah today.

        So you admit that your “must” recommendation is for people who don’t know what Pinot Noir is, or do you simply make other assumptions when you write?

        I don’t know how someone can call a restaurant a “must” and then ask why someone would go there if they happen to be aware of the specific grape variety that the wine they ordered is made from or if they are bothered by the basic fact that a red wine was ordered and a white wine was delivered. It’s ON THE MENU! If the restaurant offers a product, the server ought to at least know what it looks like.

        Further, the wine is offered BTG, which means they hope to sell more than one glass a day. Someone ought to be aware of what color each wine should be. You presume to tell people to go eat at a place if they don’t know what the things on the menu are? Brilliant!

        Did you work at that Thai place next to Golden Steer? Maybe train the waiter who brought me Singapore noodles when I ordered chow fun? His response to my query reminds me of yours: “That’s how WE make chow fun.” Do YOU even know the difference here, or am I wasting more time?

        I stand by what I wrote about EI. On my visit, their service was awful
        from the start: at 9:30pm, they made us wait TWENTY minutes, the tables
        90% empty, yet still sat us at a dirty table. Their food was nothing
        close to being special or a value. The green beans were fresh, al dente
        and bright green, good job. The rest wasn’t worth the the effort put
        forth to get it from the plate to my mouth.

        Maybe when one orders beef ribs and get pork ribs, one should keep one’s mouth shut before Scott Roeben tries to be a bully with “…if you know difference between beef ribs and pork ribs, what in the HELL are you doing out in public?” So you think EI is a must, unless you know anything about wine, is that it?

        “…if you know difference between a clean table and a dirty table, what in the HELL are you doing at Ellis Island?”

        “…if you know difference between Singapore noodles and chow fun, what in the HELL are you doing in a restaurant?”

        Peppermill is more the Las Vegas experience.

        I do know what pinot noir is and I judge all restaurants (except fast food) at all quality levels for all types of people. When lots of people like you rave about any restaurant, I don’t look down on it and say “I know what pinot noir is; I would never step foot into Ellis Island!” Is that the kind of food bigot you think wine drinkers are?

        One of my favorite rib shacks is 1 block from where Reginald Denny had his head caved in for being white. I’ve seen people shot in the neighborhoods where I get food. I drink wine with that food like any other.

        “…if you know what Pinot Noir is, what in the HELL are you doing at Ellis Island?” What a remark to put in writing!

        Are you calling Harry Reid right now to take me down to room 101? What restaurants AM I allowed to eat in with this burden of knowing about pinot noir? Please, I so want to march in lock-step with someone like you. Tell me how many fingers you want me to say and I’ll say it!! Do it to Julia!!!!

        ++++++++++

        The main two characters of Absinthe and Zumanity are VERY similar, for a start; they could switch shows and few would notice. I’ve seen Absinthe 3 times, but not in the last year. (I say in a smoke-damaged gravelly voice, leering and raising my eyebrows while nudging the person next to me in the ribs: “Huuuuh? You know what I mean, No???” I finish with some sexual inuendo toward any audience member I think looks vulnerable.)

        I won’t argue Homestead; as I said the differences between the top steakhouses in Las Vegas are negligible and fall to personal taste. However, i suggest to readers not to accept restaurant ratings from someone who equates Homestead with Ellis Island (which is what placing them both on the same “must” list does.) Eating at Homestead is world class, and Ellis Island for people who don’t know Ice cream from frozen yogurt.

        Finally, don’t let Scott talk you into getting onto a busy Binion’s crap table if you don’t know how to play. Play at Binion’s, fine. But most casinos offer some lessons, “on table” or on the TV in your room. Just going down to Binion’s and throwing money on a table without any knowledge would be like joining a 5k run, mid-race while wearing swim fins. Pick a quiet time and ask the dealer for help; other than giving you chips for nothing and changing the dice, they can do quite a lot to help you play.

        • Jim Stinnett

          You my friend are a troll. It’s a BBQ place!! That’s his point. Why are you ordering wine at a BBQ joint and expecting them to be familiar with it. Enjoy trolling the Internet and bugging the hell out of anyone who has a different opinion than you do.

          • hoohoolianFUCLA

            That’s not his point. His point was that Ellis Island is a “must go” place. It isn’t!

            Are you illiterate?

            Ellis Island is not a true BBQ place. They serve BBQ — among many other things. Unless you actually see the BBQ or read it on the menu, you have no sense of BBQ at Ellis Island. No smoke inside or out. They probably slather tons of Kansas City-style sugar sauce all over the meat until you can’t tell if it’s beef or pork. You’ve never been to Ellis Island or you’d know it isn’t a true BBQ place. What A DUMBASS.

            Trolls don’t write 500 words to defend a position. Trolls make short snotty posts based in ad hominem attacks. I take the time to detail specifics as to why the place sucked and you call me a troll? Better you should just take some no-nothing’s advice as to what’s great. They can’t say WHY it’s great, it just is great because that’s the limit of the guy’s perception and vocabulary.

            A restaurant is a restaurant and if I or people with me want wine, we’ll order wine! FU for being such a fascist in saying wine doesn’t go with BBQ. (plenty of wines work with BBQ, moron). BTW: I didn’t even eat BBQ there,I had a steak. BBQ wasn’t available when I was there! Who made such a bigoted little worm like you god enough to dictate what people should want? And to dictate that my opinion is less worthy. Fvcking hypocrite.

            Note that just as many people liked my post as much as the author’s rebuttal. Next time you want to attack a troll, try not to break the mirror.

          • No name-calling permitted here. Also, while it’s not a dedicated BBQ place, Ellis Island is certainly a BBQ place, and it’s delicious!

          • Agree it’s definitely a BBQ place, and a great one at that. Let’s not reduce the disagreement to name-calling, however. Doesn’t fly here.

    • Ezekiel 25:17

      I always do video poker at EI but have never eaten there. I’ve pulled some coin out of the place and sucked down a few $1 rum and cokes. I always see them in the bbq pit that’s on the west facing side of the property. It smells good but when I’m there, its usually mid afternoon and I’m riding a rented bicycle so I’m in no shape to be eating a big meal. Maybe I’ll go later some time and try it and that’s based on how good it smells from the cooker.

  • Roxane Kersey

    Absinthe is a great show. If you’re okay with crude humor and swearing. Mc is super funny. Me and my date were picked on by the mc. There is new improve every show.

    • Agreed. That’s a great show.

    • Rebecca Kennedy

      I’ve have heard from 2 different couples who saw the show, that it is racist. Did you think so Roxane?

      • Roxane Kersey

        I don’t think it’s racist per se. They pick on everyone. Older people included. My date was black. When they picked on us it was more in sexual nature. example- he must be big because his date is white. It’s all in fun, for a joke. You can’t take it seriously.

        • Agree. It’s equal opportunity offensive, and in the best possible way.

      • Rebecca Kennedy

        Thanks for sharing that Roxane. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jack

    Find a skank and does her

  • Guy Clรฉment

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  • guy

    there is this really awesome movie theater with fold down seats ๐Ÿ™‚ dunno where it is though ๐Ÿ™

    • Must. Find.

    • Maggie Horner

      Thye have movie theatres at the Orleans hotel and casino…also bowling alleys. Its down Flamingo drive I belie
      ve about 10 minutes off the strip.

      • Bouldersteve

        Its on Tropicana and the Orleans has a great movie theater. They just upgraded the seats to the recliners. West of the strip about 1 mile

  • Jim Stinnett

    A must do in Vegas is going to the planet Hollywood mall. Awesome place! Restaurants, unique shops, and watch a good show at the V theatre for cheap!

  • Maggie Horner

    Good poker at the Aria for tournaments as well as the Venetian and Binions.