How exciting! It’s your first trip to Las Vegas, but what are you going to do? With so much on offer, Las Vegas can feel a little overwhelming for first time visitors. However, this short list will get you started in the right direction.
If you’re looking for a more detailed itinerary for Las Vegas, check out our post Three Days In Las Vegas for First Time Visitors. There you’ll find a full detailed guide. But if you’re looking for just the quick and dirty of it – here we go.
1. Sign Up for a Players Club Card
If you plan on doing any gambling in Las Vegas at all, sign up for a Players Club card on your first trip. Each casino brand has their own loyalty program and not all programs work the same way.
Generally, the more you spend, the more rewards you get. However, some brands include any hotel spend, such as shopping or dining.
Loyalty programs like Caesars Rewards or MGM’s MLife include several casinos in their program. Though, we found the reward tiers easier to reach on some of the smaller casino programs.
2. Explore Extravagant Hotels
From a half-sized Eiffel Tower to a life size replica of Venice’s St. Mark’s Campanile bell tower, Las Vegas hotels go to extraordinary lengths to bring the world to you. Extravagant, luxurious, and finely detailed, walking through a Las Vegas hotel is an experience in its own right and a must for any first trip.
Each hotel has its own theme, but also many have their own free defining features. For example, the Bellagio has its Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, where fresh flowers create breathtaking scenes seasonally.
A few must see hotels for a first trip to Las Vegas include:
- Caesars Palace
- The Paris
- The Venetian
- The Wynn
3. Discover Your Love for the Arts
Attention art lovers! As you wander through the elaborately decorated hotels, you’ll see fine and modern art pieces everywhere. It’s easy to think of Vegas as a giant museum.
Art installations constantly change, but we found the ARIA and the Wynn to have some of the most exceptional pieces on The Strip. It’s also worth noting the Bellagio houses a fine art museum, though there is a charge for visiting.
4. See A Show
Beyond gambling and the elaborate hotels, Las Vegas is famous for its shows. Shows range from the risqué to the family friendly. No matter what you are into there’s a show for you.
Some of the most popular shows include:
- KA by Cirque du Soleil
- MINDFREAK by Criss Angel
- Australia’s Thunder from Down Under
- Barry Manilow: The Hits Come Home
- Blue Man Group
5) Be Mesmerized by the Bellagio Fountain
In my opinion, the Bellagio Fountain is the best free show in Las Vegas, and I’m definitely not alone on this one. Putting on a mesmerizing show every 15 – 30 minutes nightly, the fountain wows watchers with its coordinated dance to music.
6. Please Your Palate
Add gluttony to the list of sins you can practice in the famous Sin City. Las Vegas is a foodie’s mecca. Whether you’re looking for something weird but wonderful to try, like Hash House A Go Go’s Sage Fried Chicken, or fine dining like Hell’s Kitchen’s Beef Wellington, Vegas has it.
You’ll also find brunch isn’t reserved for the weekends here. Hmmm, brunch.
If you’re looking for a more detailed guide on what to eat in Las Vegas, check out these books on Amazon.
7. Sip Cocktails in World Class Bars
Not only does Las Vegas have amazing places to grab a bite, the bars are just as spectacular. Nothing screams Las Vegas more than having drinks from inside North America’s largest chandelier at The Chandelier in the Cosmopolitan.
Other notable bars include:
- The Peppermill – At the north end of The Strip
- minus5º – Ice bar in the Venetian
- Frank’s Tiki Room – off The Strip
8. Go Old School on Fremont Street
As much as I love The Strip, “Old Vegas” has my heart. In 1906, Las Vegas started with the Golden Gate Hotel. Today, this area is known as the Fremont Street Experience and it’s still thriving.
With a giant street party feel, the pedestrianized area holds concerts while zip-liners fly over the crowd’s heads. On each side of the street, old school casinos beckon in visitors with dazzling neon lights and drink specials.
Just like the main Vegas strip, some of these hotels are elaborate, especially the Golden Nugget.
9. Get Your Souvenir Photo
Funny enough, the most famous attraction in Las Vegas is a little out of the way, but definitely a must do for your first trip.
To get that iconic photo, head south on the strip. You’ll find the welcome sign about a half-mile beyond Mandalay Bay, in the median. No matter what time you go, expect a line of folks waiting to get their photo.
10. Let Your Inner Kid Have Some Fun
Really close to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign is our favorite spot in Vegas and a great place to indulge your inner child, The Pinball Hall of Fame. With 25,000 square feet and games from the 1950’s right up to the 1990’s, it’s a must play attraction.
Entrance is free, and most games cost $0.25 – $0.50 per game. It’s a bargain!
11. Embrace the Quirkiness of Las Vegas
For your first trip to Las Vegas, I recommend keeping an open mind and embracing the weird, wacky, and wonderful. There are so many quirky things in Vegas, I’m not sure where to even start.
Some of our favorite finds included:
- Art-o-mat converted cigarette machine that dispensed miniature art pieces,
- Airstream caravan in the Silverton Casino converted into a bowling alley, and
- After-hours adult playground at Container Park near Fremont Street.
What will you find?
12. Look Down on the City Lights
Finally, don’t leave Las Vegas without a view of the city at night. You can head up to the viewing platform at the Paris’ Eiffel Tower, or take a ride on the world’s formerly tallest Ferris wheel, The High Roller. Just look at that view!
Where to Stay on a First Trip to Las Vegas
The best place to stay is on The Strip along Las Vegas Blvd. It’s a little pricier, but you’ll be right in the action.
- The closer you get to the Bellagio, the more convenient you’ll find your location.
- Jeremy has stayed at the Aria and the Paris. Both lived up to the expectations of Vegas with restaurants and entertainment close by.
- Only a few hotels on The Strip have free parking, like The Wynn and The Venetian.
If you have a car, and are staying more than three days, you may find better value staying off The Strip.
- We stayed at the Cancun Resort Las Vegas on our first trip. This was a nice break from all the craziness of the casinos, plus free parking.
Books on Las Vegas
- Fodor’s Las Vegas Full Color Travel Guide – Provides a thorough guide for those visiting Las Vegas.
Las Vegas is a Foodie’s mecca with so many amazing places to try. We’ve included a few yummy places, but if you want a more comprehensive view check out these books.