The Strip at night, Las Vegas

Three Days in Las Vegas: For First Time Visitors

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What can you realistically do with three days in Las Vegas? Absolutely tons! Though there is so much on offer in this exhilarating city, most of the key sights are close together and located on the famous Las Vegas Strip. Even sights off The Strip are easy to get to.

This Las Vegas three day itinerary is perfect for the casual to non-gambler. We’ll touch on a few tips on gambling in Las Vegas, but this guide is for those who want to see more than the casino floor.

Have more than three days in Las Vegas? We’ve added day trip suggestions at the bottom.

We are not the type of travelers who love hanging around a hotel. However, Las Vegas is completely different. More than just a place to stay, hotels on the Vegas Strip are the destination. Think of them as mini cities.

Not only do they house the casinos, they have the best restaurants, attractions, and a lot of them have more fine art than a museum. Not to mention, the amazing architecture.

Elaborately decorated, each in their own theme, it’s worth spending most of your time hotel hopping The Strip. In this guide we start on the southern half of Las Vegas Blvd. 

Las Vegas Casino Floor

Start Your Day At Mandalay Bay

Start at Mandalay Bay, on the south side of the strip, and make your way north to the Luxor, then to Excalibur. The Luxor is our favorite of the three. Not only is the outside an iconic pyramid, the inside also pays homage to Egypt. There’s a temple, sphinx, and obelisk all in the lobby. 

Don’t worry about going outside in the hot sun. These three resorts are connected via indoor walkways. If you don’t feel like walking, there is a free tram that runs between the three resorts. However, you will miss out on what the hotels have to offer.

Key sights:

  • Shark Reef Aquarium – far end of Mandalay Bay
  • Shopping Mall – Mandalay Bay
  • Bodies Exhibition – Luxor
  • Titanic Exhibition – Luxor
  • Tournament of Kings Dinner Show – Excalibur
The Sphinx at the Luxor Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas

Quick Tip On Gambling In Las Vegas

Though we’d love to provide tips on winning in Las Vegas, that definitely was not our strong suit. However, we did learn about Player Club Cards, aka casino loyalty programs, which may get you “free” stuff.

  • Sign up at the Player’s Desk on the casino floor (usually free).
  • You’ll get a card to enter into a slot machine, or give to the dealer.
  • Points accumulate as you play. The more you spend, the more “rewards” you earn.
  • Some clubs have better rewards and point systems than others. Some even count restaurant and gift shop purchases towards spend.

It’s best to pick a single club to join and stick with the hotels in that club to accumulate points.

MLife and Caesars Rewards are connected to the most hotels. However, some of the smaller programs have better reward levels. Rewards change all the time, so check the program for the hotel you want to gamble with.

We joined MLife for the MGM hotels, and the Silverton Rewards club for a casino off The Strip. We didn’t spend enough to get anything from MLife. However, with the Silverton, we got a cool key chain for signing up. Then, we earned a free buffet dinner, after about $50 of spend. Since we were playing anyway, it was a fun prize. 

Club Players Cards to the Las Vegas casinos.

Grab Some Lunch At New York-New York Or MGM Grand

When you are ready for lunch, use the elevated crosswalk from the Excalibur to get to the New York-New York Hotel. This hotel looks more like a movie set than the actual streets of New York City, but it has some great “close to authentic” food options. 

In the Village Street Eateries give Greenberg’s Deli a try. The sandwiches are a little pricey, but large enough to share. We also enjoyed Sirrico’s Pizza, just across from the deli.

New York, New York Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas

Alternatively, cross the street again for MGM Grand, where the Tap Sports Bar delivers big flavors in a casual atmosphere. Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill is also a good choice if you want something a little more refined. 

Key Sights: 

  • Big Apple Arcade & Roller Coaster – New York-New York
  • CBS Television City – MGM Grand
  • The Hunger Games Exhibit – MGM Grand
  • Showcase Mall – In front of the MGM Grand
The MGM Grand with its famous lions, Las Vegas
Boxing Ring in the lobby of the MGM Grand, Las Vegas
The Hunger Games Exhibition, MGM Grand, Las Vegas

Browse Planet Hollywood Casino And Paris Las Vegas

From the back of the MGM hotel, you can take the monorail one station to the Paris Las Vegas. Or, since this monorail charges, you can walk to the Miracle Mile Shops in the Planet Hollywood Casino.

The Paris is the perfect example of a Las Vegas hotel. Everything is way over the top, and if you squint just a little, you could easily forget you are in the Nevada desert. Wander through the sweet Paris boutiques, or head up to the Eiffel Tower Viewing Deck for heart stopping views.

"Sin City Sindy", stands in front of the Showgirl Bar, Miracle Mile Shops, Las Vegas
Looking up at the replica Eiffel Tower at Night, Las Vegas
The replica Eiffel Tower with the Bellagio Hotel in the background, Las Vegas

With tons of fine dinning options all around the hotel, the Paris is a great place to grab dinner. We tried HEX kitchen + bar, which not only had great food, but the patio gives great views of the Bellagio Fountain. 

See A Las Vegas Show

It’s Vegas, so don’t even think about tucking in for the evening. We recommend taking in at least one of the Vegas shows. Just about every hotel on The Strip has a show on offer. From comedy, to singing, dancing, magic… really anything you want can be found in Vegas. 

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
KA by Cirque du Soleil, MGM Grand, Las Vegas

Day 2, Las Vegas For First Time Visitors

Brunch At The Peppermill

Quirky restaurants go hand-in-hand with Las Vegas. The Peppermill was definitely a memorable spot for brunch. Located on the northern end of The Strip, we grabbed some signature drinks around the blue flame pit before sitting down for a massive brunch.

Drinks at the Peppermill, Las Vegas

Test Your Game At The Pinball Hall Of Fame

Instead of heading to the casinos, we detoured to the Pinball Hall of Fame. Jeremy is a huge arcade and pinball fan, and this place did not disappoint. It’s 10,000 square feet of back to back pinball. With games from the 1950’s right up to the 1990’s. 

The best part is, there’s no admission fee and game play is 50 cents, with some of the older models 25 cents per play. We had so much fun here.

Pinball Hall of Fame, Las Vegas
Line of antique pinball machines at the Pinball Hall of Fame, Las Vegas

Get A Little Play Time At Container Park

After a late afternoon of lounging at the pool, we headed to the older side of Vegas, known as Downtown Las Vegas (DTLV).  

Before browsing through the casinos, we popped into Container Park, a shopping and entertainment complex on Fremont Street. You can’t miss it, just look for the fire shooting praying mantis at the entrance. 

This quirky complex has so much on offer. Shopping, restaurants, and a live stage. Plus, after 9 pm the large playground opens for adults only. Indulge your inner child.

Giant Praying Mantis, Container Park, Downtown Las Vegas

Go Old School On Freemont Street

The highlight of Downtown Las Vegas is the Fremont Street Experience. An adult entertainment mecca, this is where old school Vegas still lives on. 

The barrage of neon lights, and loud music beckons visitors into the bars and casinos. Thrill seekers zoom past overhead from a giant slot machine. Half naked “street performers” gather crowds. It’s a complete assault on the senses, but probably the area of Vegas we loved most. 

View of bars at the Fremont Street Experience, Downtown Las Vegas
Slotzilla Zipline Fremont Street, Downtown Las Vegas
"Vegas Vic" neon cowboy outside The Pioneer Club, Fremont Street, Las Vegas

Just like The Strip, each casino seemed to have their own theme. However, none quite as over the top as the Golden Nugget, with their giant gold nuggets and aquarium lounges. It’s a sight to be seen. 

Fremont Street Casino Lights, Las Vegas
Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino Frontage lights, Fremont Street, Las Vegas
Lounge chairs at "The Tank," Golden Nugget, Fremont Street, Las Vegas
Hand of Faith golden nugget, Fremont Street, Las Vegas

However, we had a mission in Downtown Las Vegas. Find a real one arm bandit; a quarter slot machine. If it’s been a while since your last casino trip, most have fully transitioned over to digital machines. Which just doesn’t feel the same as dropping in that quarter and pulling the lever.  

After popping into several casinos, we finally found an old timer that knew his stuff and pointed us to El Cortez Casino just off Fremont Street.

FINALLY! We found them. Tucked away in the back corner. After going through a bucket of quarters, we realized why these machines are no longer popular. Our hands were filthy, but we had fun! 

Playing the quarter slots in El Cortez, Fremont Street, Downtown Las Vegas

Day 3, Las Vegas For First Time Visitors

Brunch At LINQ's Hash House A Go Go

After lounging around the pool in the morning, we started day three in Las Vegas with another brunch. We found the Hash House A Go Go at The LINQ. If gluttony was a place, this would be it. The portions were insane, but admittedly, I happily enjoyed my tower of chicken and waffles.   

Hash House A Go Go, giant pancake.
Hash House A Go Go, Chicken and Waffles.

Sample Italy At The Venetian

After brunch, we needed to do some walking. We started in The Venetian, a gorgeous casino, and definitely one of our favorites. The Venetian is the perfect mini Venice.

Take a walk through the shopping area, or grab a ride on a gondola.

Canal Boats outside The Venetian, Las Vegas
Ornate Hallway in The Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas
Replica of St. Mark's Tower and Rialto Bridge at the The Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas

Elegance At The Wynn

Though all hotels in Vegas are pretty spectacular, the Wynn is something special. Somehow it feels less tacky. You’re greeted outside by elegant dancing fountains. Inside treats you to a grand artificial botanical display. Mosaic tiles decorate the floors and lavish chandeliers hang throughout.

Merry Go Round of Flowers in the Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas
Hot Air Balloon Flowers in the Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas
Asian Chandeliers in the Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas

Evening Of Day Three At The Cosmopolitan

We started our third evening in Las Vegas in The Chandelier at The Cosmopolitan. As it sounds, this bar literally sits inside a massive chandelier. You have to see it to believe it. 

The Chandelier Bar, Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas

Enjoy The Best Show In Town At The Bellagio

No trip to Vegas is complete without visiting the famed Bellagio dancing fountain. The fountain typically runs every 30 minutes during the day and 15 minutes in the evenings. 

It’s also well worth a visit into the hotel for a walk through the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. You’ll need to go during the day to view the Gallery of Fine Art.

The Bellagio Fountain at night, Las Vegas

Caesars Palace

Next door, to the elegant Bellagio is Caesars Palace. The Forum shopping mall is worth a wander. Larger than life statues, spiral staircases, and elaborately painted ceilings.  It’s easy to get turned around with the sheer scale of it, but be sure to see the exact replica of Michelangelo’s David.  

Fountain at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Get Above It All On The High Roller

End the evening on a high note, and you really can’t get higher than the High Roller. Does it even remotely surprise you the world’s highest observation wheel is in Las Vegas? Just look at that view.

View from the top of the High Roller Observation Wheel at night, Las Vegas
View of Las Vegas lit up at night from the High Roller Observation Wheel.
Looking up at the High Roller observation wheel, Las Vegas

With A Little Extra Time

If seeing the famous Welcome to Las Vegas sign is on your must do list, then you’ll need to head south from The Strip. You’ll find it in the center median near the Harley Davidson shop. There is a small but free parking lot. It does get busy, so you may have to wait for photo-ops.   

Welcome to Las Vegas Sign

Where to Stay In Las Vegas

If you can afford the luxury, or find a great deal, the best place to stay is on The Strip along Las Vegas Blvd. The closer you get to the Bellagio, the more convenient you’ll find your location. However, these are typically the pricier hotels.

If you have a car with you, or plan on renting a car for day trips, you may find better value staying off The Strip. As long as there is free parking at the hotel. However, you may find a few hotels, like The Wynn and The Venetian, with free parking on The Strip.

We stayed off The Strip, at Cancun Resort Las Vegas on our first trip to Las Vegas. We found this a nice break from all the craziness of the casinos.

Jeremy has since been to Vegas twice, staying at the Aria, and the Paris. Both live up to the expectations of Vegas.

If you have more time in Las Vegas, consider taking a day trip or two. 

Planning to visit Las Vegas? Bookmark or pin this guide to find us later. 

Travel Resources

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