It will come as no surprise to hear that Las Vegas is one of the most popular travel destinations in the United States. With all the flash and flare, kitschy attractions, live shows, clubs, casinos, culinary delights, museums and more, Las Vegas really has something for everyone. If you’re short on time or just looking to pop into Sin City while in the area, here’s how you should spend one day in Las Vegas!
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
One Day in Las Vegas Itinerary
One could easily spend a week in the city and still not be able to do it all, so you’ll only be scratching the surface with just one day in Las Vegas. In all honesty, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about Vegas as I’m not much of one for partying and gambling. Now that I’ve visited, I can say without a doubt that Las Vegas is certainly more than that! Trust me when I say this mix of iconic attractions and lesser-known spots will have you planning a return visit before the day is done.
Start the Day Right with Breakfast
There is no shortage of incredible restaurants in Las Vegas, though thinking about breakfast might come as a surprise to many. Since we’re here to make the most of a day in Vegas – we have to start it off right with some good eats!
The top of my list has to be Salt & Ivy. It has one of the largest breakfast menus I’ve seen at any restaurant in Las Vegas with plenty of options for every diet. Opt for delicious comfort foods like chicken and waffles or opt for a healthier option of the house salmon and lox. What caught my eye though was their Dutch baby pancakes as I can’t remember the last time I saw them on a menu! Though if I’m going to order anything, it’s certainly their lobster toast. Check out the full menu here.
Another fantastic option is Mon Ami Gabi. Located in the Paris Hotel & Casino, you’ll find classic French bistro fare along with their spins on your classic breakfast eats. Open daily at 7:00 am sharp, feast on dishes like a classic eggs benedict or sample the crêpe du jour until 11:00 am daily. Saturdays and Sundays feature their weekend brunch menu where you may want to try their avocado and green bean toast or their smoked salmon platter. Whatever you choose, it’ll feel as though you’ve found a corner of France right off the Vegas Strip and yes, it includes some great people watching.
Snap a Photo with the Welcome to Las Vegas Sign
Have you been to Vegas if you haven’t snapped a selfie or snagged a video with this iconic sign? Located about a 20 minute walk south of Mandalay Bay, it’s been a staple sight since it was erected in 1959. It’s considered to be the unofficial end of the Las Vegas Strip.
Depending on when you visit, there may be a line to take the head-on angle. However if you’re not one to care about perfect framing, you can easily get away with a selfie slightly to the side, bypassing the wait to continue on with your day. Time is of the essence when you only have a day to explore!
INSIDER TIP: There is a parking lot which makes this easily accessible by car. If Las Vegas is part of a larger road trip, I’d recommend stopping on your way out of town. Or if you’re planning on taking a cab or Uber to the airport, it may be worth asking the cab to quickly wait so you can pop out, snag a photo, and then continue on your way.
Meander the Las Vegas Strip
Let’s be honest, this will be the majority of your day in Las Vegas. With almost 7 kilometres (4.2 miles) to explore and complex after complex, there’s no shortage of things to do. I honestly recommend starting at one end and just seeing where the day takes you. You’ll be entertained by how easily you’ll get turned around, at least I know I was. This is the best example of a choose your own adventure book come to life!
However many of you are like me and prefer a game plan than throwing caution to the wind. For those folks, take a deep breath – I got you – and keep reading.
INSIDER TIP: I highly recommend starting in the middle of The Strip and split the day into exploring the southern half and the northern half. If your hotel is located somewhere near the middle, this is especially helpful as it’ll allow you to pop by your room and rest your feet a bit before carrying on to explore.
Take a Guided Tour of the Las Vegas Strip
If you’d rather leave the route to a pro, take a guided tour of The Strip with Las Vegas local Jonathan Hernandez. Strap on your comfy sneakers as you tackle just over 3 kilometres (almost 2 miles) of this iconic area.
Along the way, Jonathan will give you insider details including hidden gems, happy hours, kitschy sights and more. This is a great way to get your bearings and then decide where you’d like to spend your time. To make the most of your one day in Las Vegas, I’d recommend booking the 8:00 am tour though there are additional times at 9:00 am, 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm. Book your Las Vegas guided tour here.
Utilize the Las Vegas Monorail & Tram System
Whatever you choose to do, trust me when I say you’ll want to save your feet as much as possible. We’ve got a LOT of ground to cover! If you’re staying in the north like I was, hop on the Las Vegas Monorail for $6 and head to the southern terminus at the MGM Grand. Or if you plan on bopping around the strip, snag a day pass as it pays for itself after 3 rides. It also gives you some great views of The Strip as you zip above street level from one stop to the next.
Las Vegas also has three free trams for traversing the southern area of The Strip. First is the Mirage-Treasure Island Tram which typically runs every 15 minutes. While hours can change, this tram operates Sunday through Thursday from noon until 9:00 pm as well as Fridays and Saturdays from noon until 2:00 am.
Next is the Bellagio-CityCenter-Park MGM Tram which also runs approximately every 15 minutes. Also known as the Aria Express Tram, it operates from 8:00 am until 2:00 am daily with stops at the Bellagio, Vdara, Park MGM, The Shops at Crystals and Aria.
The last and furthest south tram is the Excalibur-Mandalay Bay Tram. This route will also take you to the iconic Luxor property. Mandalay Bay is the southernmost stop and you can catch these trams approximately every 5-10 minutes between 8:00 am and midnight on weekdays and 10:00 am and midnight on Saturdays & Sundays.
“Travel” the World in Vegas
The sights and sounds of Las Vegas aren’t limited to the chord of C Major and incandescent lights. You can get a taste of several popular travel destinations along the Las Vegas Strip!
Transport yourself to Italy as you step into Ancient Rome at Caesars Palace. Massive columns, domes and arches emulate the elegance of this classical architecture. The canals of Venice will call to you at The Venetian featuring both indoor and outdoor gondola rides.
As you wander The Strip, you can’t miss the replica of France’s Iron Lady. Head across the street from the Bellagio fountains for a slice of French paradise. Get a great view of The Strip from the Eiffel Tower Viewing Deck and then head around the corner for a replica L’Arc de Triomphe.
I’d be amiss not to mention a visit to the New York, New York complex will give you a taste of the city that never sleeps. Catch a glimpse of the Empire State Building replica, wave at Lady Liberty, and take a ride on the Big Apple Coaster and experience the world’s first 180-degree “heartline” twist followed by a ~62 metre (203 foot) drop!
Catch Some of the Free Las Vegas Attractions
Las Vegas has a reputation for being expensive and while it’s easy to rack up a tab, you can also experience Sin City on a budget. One easy way to do this is by planning to check out some of the free things to do in Las Vegas! Many of these are also iconic Vegas experiences so you’ll be keeping your bank account happy without missing out.
Circus Performances at Circus Circus – Watch in awe as talented performers execute trapeze acts, juggle and more at the world’s largest permanent circus! Head to the centre stage at the Carnival Midway for the hour-long free show at Circus Circus. Performances start at 1:30 pm Monday through Thursday and 11:30 am Friday through Sunday.
Fountains of Bellagio – Arguably the most famous of the free attractions in Las Vegas, the Bellagio fountain show features 1200 nozzles that shoot water into the air for an impressive aquatic display. Synchronized to a variety of musical numbers, the fountains come to life every half hour starting at 3:00 pm on weekdays and noon on weekends and holidays. Shows then start every 15 minutes after 7:00 pm until midnight. It will certainly be a highlight of your one day in Las Vegas!
Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden – Five times every year, this 14,000 square foot botanical garden showcases stunning displays of sights, sounds and colours. Each season is featured along with a unique display for the Lunar New Year. When it comes time to switch out the displays, the horticulture and engineering teams repurpose as many of the plants as they can!
Flamingo Hotel’s Wildlife Habitat – Take a moment to relax in this four-acre natural oasis at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino. Listen as tropical parrots call one another, brown pelicans meander about and of course, admire the flock of Chilean flamingos. Keepers share more about the space and the wildlife within it at daily talks beginning at 8:30 am and 2:00 pm.
Lake of Dreams at the Wynn Las Vegas – Feast your eyes on brilliant projections across the 20,000 square feet of lake surface. With state-of-the-art sound and lighting, watch as colourful characters come to life alongside 5500 twinkling LED lights, 1500 pine trees and the stunning 90-foot waterfall as the centrepiece. Revamped in 2020, the shows occur every half hour beginning at dusk.
The Volcano at The Mirage – While there was talk of The Volcano becoming dormant, this iconic Las Vegas attraction is more lively than ever with taller eruptions, numerous fireballs and a fantastic soundtrack featuring The Grateful Day’s Mickey Hart.
Enjoy Some Retail Therapy
Chances are you can’t afford the top luxury brands that you’ll find at a number of these indoor malls (at least I can’t anyway) but it’s worth doing some window shopping during a day in Las Vegas.
One of the top spots to shop along The Strip are The Forum Shops. Located within the Caesars Palace complex, it’s stunning on its own as marble columns and statues adorn the hallways. Make sure to look up at the barrel-vaulted ceiling as it changes colour to emulate the sky. You’ll also want to make note of the Fall of Atlantis show which happens every hour daily beginning at 11:00 am.
Another great option is The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. The grandiose architecture of the complex continues along the hallways with Renaissance-inspired artwork adorning the ceilings, impressive fountains and a variety of sculptures sprinkled throughout. Right next door are The Palazzo Shops so you can easily visit both in the same go.
Let’s not forget the LINQ Promenade where you can stroll past numerous restaurants and shops. Here you can step into wild 3D murals for unique photo opportunities, enjoy free live entertainment most evenings and enjoy the dazzling light show highlighting a number of the prominent features along the LINQ. This is also where you’ll find the iconic Vegas attraction, the High Roller.
Honestly, you never know what you’ll find by just wandering through the complexes. There are so many public art pieces and intricate displays within each… plus the people-watching is always spectacular.
Ride the High Roller
Go for a spin on the largest Ferris wheel in the United States! Take a seat in one of the globes and slowly ascend 550 feet into the air for some spectacular views as far as your eye can see.
INSIDER TIP: Open from noon until midnight, you can save a few bucks by booking the daytime option and riding between noon and 4:59 pm. Book your tickets online here.
Did you know the High Roller offers a “happy half hour?” That’s right, for $60 plus taxes and fees, you can enjoy an open bar as you spin right around this iconic Las Vegas attraction! This is a great way to enjoy a few cocktails during golden hour and kick off a wild night in Vegas. Book your happy half hour tickets here.
Drinks with a View at the Foundation Room
If it wasn’t for some aimless wandering, I never would have found out about the Foundation Room and it’s one of the reasons why I always say to leave room for some random adventuring.
The Foundation Room is located on the 63rd floor within the Mandalay Bay complex. This upscale restaurant and lounge combo offers a unique ambiance with decor that’s Romanesque with a Southeast Asian twist. While they have floor-to-ceiling windows, step out onto the terrace for some of the best views of the Las Vegas Strip. Enjoy a new twist on classic cocktails like the Aperol Spritz or the Ginza Fashioned.
While the drinks are on the pricier side even by Vegas standards, the view alone makes it worthwhile. It’s the perfect setting to enjoy a nightcap before heading back to your hotel or kicking off a wild night in Sin City!
Take Dinner to the Next Level
To say that Las Vegas is a bit extra is an understatement. This goes for all the flashing lights, live shows and even your meals. Here are some ideas of restaurants in Las Vegas that will make your meal unforgettable.
Mizumi is a Japanese restaurant located in the Wynn Las Vegas complex. Enjoy your meal in a variety of settings which embody the individuality of various Japanese cuisine styles. One such experience is dining while surrounded by lush forest complete with a waterfall! You can even enjoy Sansui dining at a floating table atop a tranquil koi pond under the starry sky.
Atop the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower is where you’ll find the Top of the World. Here you will be dining 800 feet off the ground as the restaurant rotates a full 360 degrees in three hours. The unmatched views alongside their New York Strip and Prime Tomahawk Chop steaks will certainly elevate your dinner experience.
If you can’t choose, why not do a little restaurant hopping? There’s no better way than with the Vegas walking food tour hosted by Secret Food Tours. You’ll visit restaurants owned by famous chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Giada De Laurentiis and try some of their signature dishes while learning more about the history of Las Vegas, its culture and how it intertwines with the culinary scene. If you’re looking to use this as an excuse to explore past The Strip, their downtown Las Vegas walking food tour is a great option that’ll allow you to see some of the other sights in this guide during your day in Las Vegas.
Experience Fremont Street
Fremont Street is certainly a sight to see and not to be missed when you have one day in Las Vegas. First built in 1905, it has been a vibrant destination within Las Vegas for over a century.
Just walking along the five covered blocks of the open-air complex is an experience all on its own. Neon lights galore flash and twinkle as the ceiling circulates through a myriad of displays from abstract space scenes to advertisements of local shows. There is no shortage of street performers ranging from folks in giant gorilla costumes to dominatrixes ready for you to pose with their whips and chains.
If you’re looking to gamble with no consequences, get your free spin outside Binion’s and Four Queens. You may score even more free plays or other perks! Don’t forget to stop in at the iconic Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino for a glimpse at the Hand of Faith, the largest nuggets of gold in existence weighing in at 61 lbs!
The Fremont Street experience is not to be missed during your one day in Las Vegas.
More Things to Do in Las Vegas
As you can imagine, there’s no shortage of things to do in Las Vegas. If you’re looking for more ideas of what to check out or planning on staying longer than a day, here are more ideas of what to see in Sin City.
Wander Through the Downtown Container Park – If you do visit Fremont Street during your one day in Las Vegas, the Downtown Containe Park is just a few blocks away and worth a visit. Crafted with recycled shipping containers, this multi-level open-air complex features local businesses, restaurants and bars to show you a new side of Vegas. With free concerts and a playground at the heart of it, the Downtown Container Park is a great spot for visitors of all ages.
Catch a Show at the Laugh Factory – One of the most iconic comedy venues in the United States, you never know who will walk on stage. Big names like Jim Belushi, Rob Schneider, Harry Basil and Matt Rife have all performed at the Las Vegas Location. Whether you check out the line-up ahead of time or go in with no expectations, you’re bound to laugh until it hurts.
Admire the Murals in Downtown Las Vegas – Clustered around south 7th Street, treat your eyes to over 30 dynamic murals including the world’s first fully solar-powered mural! Not only does it illuminate at night but it also helps create power for the city of Las Vegas! You can find this stunning piece of art here.
Immerse Yourself in Art at Meow Wolf Omega Mart – Head to AREA15 as you enter the eclectic world of Omega Mart. Explore unexpected landscapes, uncover secret portals and absorb the unique art that surrounds you. It’s certainly unlike any supermarket you’ve ever been to before! Purchase your tickets in advance online to avoid any entrance lines.
Check Out The Neon Museum – Where old neon signs from Las Vegas casinos and hotels go to die, this outdoor museum saves them from destruction to create a unique take on the city’s vivacious history. Admire over 200 vintage signs that were once an iconic piece of Sin City’s skyline.
Take a Helicopter Tour of Las Vegas – There’s no better way to see a city than from a bird’s eye view so why not take your visit to new heights with a helicopter tour? Fly over iconic sights like the Bellagio, The Mirage, Fremont Street and even zip by the Stratosphere. Click here to book your tour online.
Great Las Vegas Hotels
To say there are more hotels in Las Vegas than you can shake a stick at is an understatement. I know I found it overwhelming trying to find a hotel that was right for me and I was travelling in the off-season! Here are a few things to look out for when booking your Las Vegas hotel.
- Watch for Resort Fees – Not all travel sites strictly say if resort fees are included or extra. I personally love how Expedia breaks it down so you know exactly what the resort fees are as well as whether you pay in advance or upon arrival. Whatever platform you choose to book on, make sure you double-check on the hotel’s website to avoid any surprises.
- Many Hotels Offer Free Parking – If you’re road tripping or planning on renting a car while in Las Vegas, several hotels along The Strip offer “free” parking as it’s included in your resort fee. Some hotels like The Palazzo and The Mirage charge daily for parking so double check this before booking your hotel in Las Vegas.
- The Las Vegas Strip is Lengthy – At 6.8 kilometres in length, The Strip is quite large and there’s a lot of ground to cover. If there’s a certain attraction or destination you’re looking to visit along it, I’d recommend booking a hotel close to that so you can utilize your time better and save yourself a few steps. You’ll be clocking some solid distances as it is!
For my first visit to Las Vegas, I opted for The Sahara Hotel & Casino. You’ll find over 1600 rooms scattered across three towers and over 50,000 square feet of slot machines and table games. This elegant complex has everything you could need with numerous restaurant options around the clock, a gorgeous spa with numerous offerings, and two fitness studios.
I absolutely loved my room in the Marra Tower with its contemporary decor, plush beds, illuminated mirrors and bright interior. Two massive mirrors adorned each side of the room, opening up the space and adding a new level of playfulness to the room. The room included a mini fridge as well as a dedicated desk and seating area so you have everything you need for a quick stay in Las Vegas. Plus the views of the Strat Tower and Las Vegas proper were pretty stellar too! See what others have to say about their experience or go ahead and see what rooms are available now.
One of the biggest reasons was that I was visiting in January and it’s the only hotel with a pool still open in the winter months. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate so we couldn’t utilize it, but at least the option was there! As I said earlier though, staying closer to the middle of The Strip is your best bet when you only have one day in Las Vegas. Next time I visit, I will be looking at properties such as Treasure Island or The Mirage. Their location combined with amenities (their pools look stellar!) would entice me to pay a little more to be in the heart of the action.
Fantastic Things to Do Near Las Vegas
While I did spend some time in Vegas for my visit, the main purpose of it was to check out some of the attractions close by. Las Vegas’ location is stellar as a home base so you can visit several iconic US destinations! Here are some of the things to do near Las Vegas if you’re looking to get away from the chaos.
Hoover Dam – Be blown away by this engineering marvel just 45 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip! This concrete arch-gravity dam harnesses the power of the Colorado River inside the Black Canyon. With a length of 379 metres (1244 feet) and an elevation of 375 metres (1232 feet), it’s one of the most iconic manmade structures in the United States. The Hoover Dam makes for an easy day trip you can do on your own or you can be chauffeured with this fantastic tour that also includes lunch!
Grand Canyon – Pop over to Arizona to see one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World! Spanning 445 kilometres (277 miles), admire the layers of red rock and the geological history of millions of years at the Grand Canyon. There are numerous viewpoints and trails you can access to see it from all angles. Of course, you can always take to the skies with a helicopter tour!
INSIDER TIP: If you’re short on time and don’t want to do the driving yourself, you can hit both the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam in one day with this epic tour with Comedy on Deck. Not only do you see both these iconic destinations but breakfast and lunch are included as well! Click here to book now.
Red Rock Canyon – Head into the heart of the Mojave Desert to appreciate the towering sandstone peaks and other stunning geological features. There is no shortage of panoramic vistas along the 21 kilometre (13 mile) scenic drive through the national conservation area. Depending on when you visit, you may even witness the seasonal waterfalls of Ice Box Canyon! Meander on your own or hop on a guided hiking tour which leaves right from Vegas.
Seven Magic Mountains – Just 30 minutes south of the Las Vegas Strip you’ll find the towering neon figures that pop against the desert landscape. This art installation by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone is a kitschy stop that’s bound to put a smile on your face and leaves plenty of room for fun photo opportunities.
Experience Las Vegas in a Day
As you can see, there are more than enough things to do in Las Vegas to keep yourself entertained for 24 hours. You’ll certainly have to pick and choose but no matter what you do, it will be a memorable adventure!
If you’re looking to avoid crowds, I highly recommend travelling in the winter months between January and March. It will save you money as numerous hotels have deals to entice you to visit and while some amenities may not be available, there is more than enough to keep you entertained despite the cooler temperatures.
Las Vegas may have a reputation for being a gambler’s paradise but that’s certainly not the only thing to do. If you’re looking for a chance of pace and
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