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

Don’t have time to read this full three-day itinerary right now? Bookmark this page for later, and check out our short post, 12 Things To Do on You First Trip to Las Vegas.

Have more than three days? Consider one or more of these seven day trips from Las Vegas.

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

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, but they also have the best restaurants, attractions, and a lot of them have more fine art than a museum. Not to mention, the amazing architecture. These hotels are an experience in their own right!

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 at Mandalay Bay

We started our Las Vegas adventure at Mandalay Bay, on the south side of the strip. From there, it was easy to make our way to the Luxor, then Excalibur.

The Luxor was our favorite of the three. Not only is the outside an iconic pyramid, the inside also pays homage to Egypt. With a temple, sphinx, and obelisk all in the lobby, it was a sight to see. 

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, take the free tram that runs between the three resorts.

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

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 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. No surprise, we found it challenging to spend enough to get anything from MLife.

However, with the Silverton, we got a cool casino chip keychain just for signing up. Then, we earned a “free” buffet dinner. Okay, so we had to gamble about $50, but since we were going to spend that anyways it was a fun prize. 

Club Players Cards to the Las Vegas casinos.

Grab Lunch at New York-New York or MGM Grand

When we were ready for lunch, we used the elevated crosswalk from the Excalibur to get to the New York-New York Hotel. It looked more like a movie set than a hotel or the streets of New York City, but it has some great food options. 

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

New York, New York Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas

Alternatively, you can cross the street for the 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. Alternately, you can walk through the Miracle Mile Shops in the Planet Hollywood Casino.

"Sin City Sindy", stands in front of the Showgirl Bar, Miracle Mile Shops, Las Vegas

We loved the Paris hotel. It’s the perfect example of a Las Vegas hotel. Everything was way over the top, and if we squinted just a little, it was easy to forget we were in the Nevada desert.

Wander through the sweet Paris boutiques, or head up to the Eiffel Tower Viewing Deck for heart stopping views.

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

Looking up at the replica Eiffel Tower at Night, Las Vegas
The replica Eiffel Tower with the Bellagio Hotel in the background, Las Vegas

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, or 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 again, we detoured to the Pinball Hall of Fame.

Jeremy is a huge arcade and pinball fan, and this place did not disappoint. It was 25,000 square feet of back-to-back pinball, with games from the 1950’s right up to the 1990’s. 

The best part was, no admission fee. Game play was fifty cents and some of the older models twenty five 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 in a Little Play Time at Container Park

After a late afternoon of lounging at the hotel 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 was a complete assault on the senses, but 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

So, we had a mission in Downtown Las Vegas; find a real one arm bandit quarter slot machine.

If it’s been a while since your last casino trip, most have fully transitioned over to digital machines. This just didn’t feel the same as dropping in a 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 there were just a few machines left. 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 hotel 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. Oh my, it was good!  

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

Sample Italy at The Venetian

After brunch, we REALLY needed to do some walking. We started in The Venetian, a gorgeous casino and definitely one of our favorites. A perfect mini-Venice, we were amazed by all the details. You can take a walk through the shopping area or grab a ride on a gondola.

Other key sights:

  • Madame Tussauds – Wax museum
  • minus5º Ice Experience – Ice bar
  • Virtual Room Las Vegas – Team based virtual reality adventure
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 were pretty spectacular, the Wynn was something special. Somehow it felt less tacky. We were greeted outside by elegant dancing fountains. Inside treated us to a grand artificial botanical display. Mosaic tiles decorated the floors and lavish chandeliers hung throughout.

Key sights:

  • Free nightly Lake of Dreams show – Multi-media experience 
  • Wynn Golf Course
  • Cooking master classes – Learn from best as these classes often feature five-star and celebrity chefs
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. It was even the world’s tallest observation wheel until 2021, when the Ain Dubai overtook it. But 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 manage to 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.
  • Jeremy has stayed at the Aria and the Paris. Both lived up to the expectations of Vegas with restaurants and entertainment close by.
  • If you have a car, only a few hotels on The Strip have free parking, like The Wynn and The Venetian.
  • You may find better value staying off The Strip, especially if you have a car. 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

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.

Travel Resources

We recommend and use these companies to arrange our travel plans; they make travel planning easy and affordable. If you have questions on our experiences, feel free to ask us!

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