If you think I didn’t plan an entire trip to Vegas for the sole purpose of seeing Céline Dion, then you clearly don’t know me well. Hi, my name is Joey Skladany and I’m a stereotypical gay who’ll travel great lengths to hear a power ballad sung by one of the world’s most celebrated divas. Nice to meet you.
Aside from a “My Heart Will Go On”-induced coma, a boy’s got to eat, sleep, drink, and find other forms of entertainment in Sin City, which is why I’ve prepared the ultimate guide to planning a long weekend in Vegas. Those who are looking to see our favorite Canadian before she bids adieu to her residency in June should absolutely consult this list of the best hotels, restaurants, and activities that The Strip has to offer. Check out all of my picks below, because whatever happens in Vegas with me, doesn’t stay in Vegas. And for that, you’re welcome.
Where to Stay in Vegas
If you’re traveling great lengths to get to Vegas, convenience is of the utmost importance. Thus, it makes entirely too much sense to stay at the hotel that hosts the queen herself. Caesars Palace is so much more than a hotel on The Strip; it’s a historical institution. The property has been host to thousands of significant events, people, and moments in Vegas’s past, including secrets that certainly will never see the light of day. In addition to above-and-beyond service, luxury shopping, and a bevy of celebrity-backed restaurants, the property underwent a $100 million Palace Tower renovation, compete with luxurious new villas offering exquisite finishes, bespoke furnishings, and a curated art program. I can attest that the modern gray bathroom tile alone eventually became iconic (and not because I found myself staring at it after long nights out). When it comes to location, you also can’t get more central. Caesars is walking distance to nearly everything you need. And their pool. Their glorious, glorious pool. You’ll feel like you once ruled an entire civilization as you stand among the gardens, statues, atriums, and sea of beautiful people.
Where to Eat Lunch in Vegas
What can top tapas? Nothing, that’s what. So imagine José Andrés-style tapas paired with various sangrias among colorful and geometric, Spanish-inspired decor. Heaven. Those searching for a respite from the hustle and bustle of slot machines and craps tables can head up to the Cosmopolitan‘s third floor for a culinary experience like no other. Their new brunch menu is a star, featuring Torrijas con Plátano Caramelizado y Espuma de Ron: sweet-soaked, gooey Spanish toast with caramelized bananas and rum whipped cream—one of the best dishes we sampled the entire trip. Offering an extensive wine and creative cocktail menu, Jaleo is also the perfect pre-show dinner spot for those catching an early evening performance.
Sometimes I have a random craving for barbecue and when that craving hits, I need it now. This makes me either demanding or pregnant—I’m not really sure. But one thing I’m sure about is Smoked Burgers & BBQ (located in Caesars’ Forum Shoppes) has some of the best brisket I’ve tasted in a while. Juicy, tender, smoked to perfection, and topped with a barbecue sauce that they should bottle and sell immediately on Amazon, this is a surprisingly delicious Southern option in an area crowded by underwhelming national chains. Order a fresh watermelon-based cocktail to wash everything down and consider today a great day.
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Where to Eat Dinner in Vegas
The attention to detail at Mott 32 is not only apparent in its stunning decor (hand-woven silk wallpaper) and statement-making furniture (wood paneling with plush upholstery and metal accents), but also its food and cocktails. Highlights include Hot and Sour Soup Dumplings and a sinfully tender Barbecue Pluma Ibérico Pork (one of their signature dishes), but I was most impressed by their inspired drink selection. The Hanami, featuring a balanced blend of Bourbon, gin, umeshu, yuzu, shiso, ginger beer, and chrysanthemum was unlike anything I’ve ever sipped, served in an oversized wine glass to accentuate its complex aroma. Needless to say, Hong Kong-based Mott 32 is an excellent addition to the swanky Palazzo, which also happens to be one of my favorite hotels on The Strip. Where else are you going to get a guaranteed suite with floor-to-ceiling windows and stunning views? Treat yo’self.
“I wish Instagram had Smell-o-Vision,” – me as I drooled over the various slabs of protein sitting on two open grills by the entrance. This SLS restaurant is so much more than a place to order food—it’s a place to engage in a cultural culinary experience. Our Magic Mojito cocktails (rum, mint, lime juice, and bitters strained over cotton candy) were some of the most unique of the trip, pairing effortlessly with bites presented in either deconstructed or unusual ways (they also have cotton candy foie gras). And while molecular gastronomy is certainly entertaining, the word “meat” is in their name, which means you won’t be leaving without your fill of beef and pork in every cut imaginable. Be sure to plan this meal around an empty stomach or you’ll have many regrets.
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It’s okay to crave consistency in quality with your cuisine (and not be super adventurous), especially when a place like Mr. Chow *always* delivers. Their pink-hued Satay Chicken is a staple, but dishes like the ultra gingery Steamed Sea Bass and delectably sweet Glazed Prawns with Walnuts became new favorites (topped with their homemade hot sauce, of course). The stark white walls paired against the royal blue carpet are also stunning, as is the motorized ceiling decor—or “moon art,” as they call it—which is essentially a minimalistic spaceship ready to take your tastebuds into orbit. Don’t miss this Caesars Palace gem that is, truly, out of this world.
What Shows to See in Vegas
Had we not been traveling to see Céline, this show alone would have been worth the trip. Think of it as a crude, X-rated Cirque du Soleil, but with more death-defying stunts in an intimate, alcohol-friendly atmosphere. Also, every performer is super attractive, which just makes them even more impressive. It’s definitely a moment where you say, “good job, God…for giving them many, many talents.” This is a Las Vegas must-see.
There are plenty of Cirque du Soleil shows to choose from, but it’s always more fun when you can relish in nostalgia and hum along to the lyrics. The artistry of The Beatles LOVE, as with all Cirque shows, is next-level, leaving you with a newfound appreciation for the music that defined a generation. While there aren’t many “omg,” sweat-inducing moments, The Mirage venue (in the round) is spectacular, providing an experience on the verge of sensory overload.
What to Do During the Day in Vegas
Keeping in line with the Céline theme, it was only necessary for us to take a trip to Luxor’s Titanic museum. Frankly, we didn’t think we’d enjoy it as much as we did, spending nearly two hours reading about artifacts and firsthand accounts from survivors. It’s mind-blowing how so many items were retrieved, especially the Big Piece: a side of the ship that went through an extensive and meticulous preservation process. We were completely engrossed by everything we saw and would actually return to check out anything we may have missed. No record of Jack Dawson though, which makes sense considering great grandma Rose told us that would be the case.
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If gambling and public intoxication doesn’t tickle your fancy, perhaps the thrill of a zipline will get your heart pumping. Fly LINQ offers an outdoor zipline (either seated or Superman-style) that sends you shooting 12 stories above its bustling promenade. Though the ride is short, it’s a cool experience that ends right at the iconic High Roller (which you should then hit up for some of the best views Vegas has to offer). Feeling thirsty? The world’s tallest observation wheel also boasts a Happy Hour ride where you can guzzle drinks while taking photographs. Just don’t lean against the glass, please.
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Header image courtesy of Denise Truscello.