How do you see Vegas in only one day? Focus on the Strip and Downtown, working your way along Las Vegas Boulevard, and you’ll see the city’s most visited areas. You’ll have to wait for a longer trip to see things farther out of town like Hoover Dam or Red Rock Canyon, but one day will give you plenty of time to gamble, see all the free shows, and buy some souvenirs.
Your general strategy: Start at the south end of the Strip and work your way north to Downtown.
Don’t worry about starting your day early, but do plan on staying up a little late. With only one day in town, you’ll want to time your trip down the Strip so that you can see the Bellagio’s fountains, the Mirage’s volcano, the sirens and pirates at the Treasure Island, and Fremont Street’s Viva Vision. Except for the fountains, all of these shows start after dark. Vegas is a town for night owls.
Tip #1: Take care of your evening plans before you do anything else.
If you want to see a show or hit some clubs later in the evening, make reservations early. Most shows and clubs have online reservation forms, or you can check with your concierge/front desk for help.
Tip #2: Wear comfortable walking shoes.
Walking is the easiest way to wander the Strip at will. You’ll want to drive or take taxis for part of your day, but no matter what you do, you’ll still be on your feet a good deal.
To get started: After you have brunch, decide if you’d rather see attractions, gamble, or shop. Bonus points for doing all three.
The south end of the Strip is full of family-friendly things to do. New York-New York has a roller coaster. Mandalay Bay has the Shark Reef. Luxor’s Titanic exhibit displays real artifacts from the doomed ship. If you’d rather see something a more grown-up, Luxor’s Bodies: The Exhibition and the Tropicana’s Mob Experience are good choices.
Of course, you could skip all the exhibits/experiences and go directly to the casino. Blackjack (a.k.a 21), gives the player some of the best odds, while roulette has some of the worst. Penny slot machines are also popular and obviously low risk—but don’t count on winning much.
Tip #3: Check out the Cosmopolitan.
Right next door to the Bellagio, you’ll find the newest Vegas hotel, the Cosmopolitan. Take some time to see the interior of this art-filled hotel and stop for a drink at the Chandelier Bar. It’s exactly what its name implies: a giant, three-story crystal chandelier.
Keep wandering north until you get to the Treasure Island.
Possible detours along the way include Caesars Forum Shops and the Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes… and the casinos, of course. At the Treasure Island, the sirens and pirates shows begin at 7 p.m. (5:30 in winter) and repeat every hour and a half.
Tip #4: If you want to see the Stratosphere, do that next. Drive or take a cab–ditto for going to…
The Viva Vision light show starts at about 8 p.m. and plays every hour until midnight. How long you decide to stay Downtown depends on your plans for later in the evening. This is the place to pick up inexpensive souvenirs–then wander from casino to casino or have your picture taken with a roaming showgirl.
Congratulations! You’ve just seen Vegas in one day.