Weekend Getaway: Las Vegas, NV - Jim Flynn's BestWeekends

Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas, NV Overview

Las Vegas was founded in 1905 with the opening of the railroad that linked the city with Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. Around 1931 when work started on the Hoover Dam and brought an influx of workers, the town exploded. The Mafia began building casinos and theaters and it wasn’t until the mid-60’s when Howard Hughes came to town that the Mafia influence waned. Today the city is a family friendly destination with casinos, entertainment and luxury dining.

When To Go

Las Vegas has very little rain (4+” per year) and temperatures average @70*. That said, temps from June-September run in the high 90’s to low 100’s.

Getting There

Las Vegas is accessible from virtually anywhere via air. It is a 4 hour drive from Los Angeles.

Getting Around

Taxis, Uber and Lyft are plentiful, but much is within walking distance

Things To Do

There are over 50 golf courses within close proximity to the Strip, the best charging some of the highest greens fees in the country. Designs cut out of the desert are stunning.
Shadow Creek – Tom Fazio masterpiece. May be the best in LV. Home of Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational. Must be staying at an MGM Resorts Hotel. Limo ride to course. $500 greens fees.
Cascada – Caesar’s answer to Shadow Creek. Interesting elevations. Waterfall. $300 greens fees.
Bear’s Best Las Vegas – Nearly 7,200 yard tribute to the best holes designed by Jack Nicklaus. $255 greens fees.
Royal Links Golf Club – Get a taste of 11 British Open rotation courses. Experience the best 18 holes of the Open rotation courses. $95

Caesar’s, Bally’s and Westgate have tennis courts. There is also the Darling Tennis Center. Click here for others.

There is no better place to walk, run or bike than the Strip. People watching at its best.  Click here for bike rentals and tours.

Fountains at Bellagio8.5-acre lake has 1,214 jets that rocket streams of water 460 feet into the air, choreographed to more than 30 different songs . Best places to watch the fountains: Hyde at Bellagio, Paris Eiffel Tower and Mon Ami Gaby. 
Black Canyon Raft Adventure Tour – 3 hour tour from the base of the Hoover Dam along the Colorado River.
Frank Cullotta’s “Casino” Tour – Frank Cullotta, a former Chicago and Las Vegas Mobster, hosts a 2 hour tour of the real spots where the movie, “Casino”, took place!
Maverick Helicopters. Over the Strip or Grand Canyon. From 15 minute tours to 7 1/2 hour tours.
Sin City Club Crawl. Party bus takes you to three clubs. Complimentary drinks.
Vegas Mob Tour – Learn about Vegas’ mob history.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours. Named “Best Tour” by Las Vegas Review-Journal four years in a row: 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019! A host of tours that will let you explore the Vegas culinary scene. Check out the Ultimate Steakhouse Tour for $799.00 per person!

Clark County Museum The museum consists of two parts: A vast outdoor area with historic homes, a “ghost town” and old trains and an indoor exhibit showcasing a physical timeline of Nevada from ancient times to present.
Erotic Heritage Museum – museum dedicated to the history of erotica.
Hollywood Cars Museum – Over 100 cars from famous movies, TV shows and celebrities
Mob Museum -If you are fascinated by the “mob”. this is the museum for you.
Titanic Artifact Exhibition -Over 300 artifacts recovered from the ship.
Madame Tussauds – Celebrity wax museum. This is the place for a selfie with a famous person. No one will know…

Professional Sports
The NFL’s Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas in 2020. The NHL Vegas Golden Knights began play here in 2017. WNBA has the Las Vegas Aces and USL soccer presents the Las Vegas Lights.

Auto Racing
Speed Vegas. Ever dreamed of driving an exotic car at crazy speeds. Here you can drive a Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini and more. They charge by the lap. At Exotics Racing you’ll take the wheel of one of 50 exotic cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Mercedes, Corvette, Nissan or Audi and push the limits of the car’s performance with one-on-one coaching from a professional instructor

Theater/Concerts and Shows
So much going on all the time, it’s hard to keep up. Here’s a great resource for everything live in Las Vegas. One not to miss is Absinthe. Vegas.com says, “It’s quite possibly the funniest, most unexpected, wildest and raunchiest variety show in town and it sums up Las Vegas in a perfect presentation. The cast of acrobats, singers, comedians and dancers transport you into a whimsical world of imagination, seduction, thrill and bewilderment all while you’re laughing, gasping, gawking and experiencing all the other good feels.”

Many wonderful spas in this town, but Forbes has given its highest rating, 5 stars, to these spas: The Spa at Aria, The Spa at Encore, The Spa at Vdara, The Spa at Wynn,

Art Galleries
Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts – Ever changing display of world class art.
Art of Richard MacDonald – Bronze sculptures inspired by Cirque du Soleil

From off-price to designer, you’ll find the full spectrum of choices. Here are some options: The Forum Shops at Caesar’s The Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, Via Bellagio, Esplanade at Wynn, Town Square, The Shops at Crystals.

Great Festival of Beer – April. 100 breweries, 500 beers.
Uncork’d – May. Sponsored by Bon Appetit Magazine. 80 chefs and 25 events.
IHeart Radio Music Festival. September. 30 of the biggest names in music perform at this two day event.

Dont Miss

The Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam
A helicopter ride over Las Vegas
An “in residence” show with a superstar
A “Lip Smacking Foodie Tour”
Playing one of the great Vegas golf courses
One dinner at a 5 Star Restaurant with a Wine Spectator Grand Award wine list
(Joël Robuchon (MGM Grand) Picasso (Bellagio) Restaurant Guy Savoy (Caesars Palace)
An authentic Venetian gondola ride at The Venetian Hotel with a singing gondolier.

The Best Of...

Every hotel has breakfast dining options, but we wanted to show you the best of what we found.
Bouchon – Thomas Keller’s wonderful bistro. Breakfast and brunch. Try the Hachis de Merguez; house-made merguez sausage hash served with two eggs any style & whole wheat toast
Eggslut – Grab & Go at the Cosmopolitan. Amazing egg sandwiches.
Peppermill -A Las Vegas legend. Great atmosphere. Cocktails!

Wynn Lakeside with Jazz Brunch. Sundays. One of the town’s most beautiful venues. Dixieland Jazz and Blues. canoe filled with seafood delicacies.
Bardot Brasserie. Weekend. Stunning French cafe. Bottomless Rose. Champagne cart. Try the French toast!
Sterling Brunch at BLT at Bally’s. Sundays. Legendary in LV for 30 years. Endless pours of Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne, Alaskan king crab legs, lamb, lobster tails, prime rib, sushi and fresh-shucked oysters and more.
Eiffel Tower. Weekends. Best view in LV. Celebrity chef. Excellent food.

So many choices…I love the Eiffel Tower for lunch. Amazing views, celebrity chef in Chef Joho from Everest in Chicago and great food. K   n

Keeping with the French theme, Mon Ami Gabi, also in the Paris Hotel, is a classic French bistro with tables topped with butcher paper, fresh baguettes in the oven and an outdoor patio. At Bouchon you get a chance to taste Thomas Keller’s food without the hefty price tag of The French Laundry. Yardbird Southern Table and Bar makes a mean fried chicken sandwich along with a host of other Southern treats.

Everyone in LV has a burger and there are some really good ones. Here’s what we liked best:
Burger Brasserie. .Try the Paris burger, Brie, caramelized onions, and smoked bacon
Gordon Ramsey Burger.  Beef patties are cooked over an open flame fueled by hard woods
Burger Bar. Try the Hangover Burger.
Old Homestead. 10-ounce dry-aged Pat LaFrieda patty is pan-seared, topped with aged Tillamook Cheddar and caramelized onions, and placed between a brioche bun toasted with foie gras butter.

Virtually every resort has a steakhouse, but my choice is Delmonico’s by Emeril Lagasse for three reasons; creative menu for a steakhouse, a warm and intimate space and the only steakhouse with a Wine Spectator Grand Award. Honorable mention: Gordon Ramsay Steak for its IPad wine list, table side steak presentation and Beef Wellington.

Wine Bar
81 winners of Wine Spectator awards including 5 Grand Award winners; Aureole, Delmonico, Joel Rubicon, Picasso and Restaurant Guy Savoy. Try Morels Steakhouse at the Palazzo offering 400 varieties of French and California selections and 60 wines by the glass. Best wine bars: Wine Cellar and Tasting Room at Rio offers over 3,000 bottles and 100 wines by the glass. Cozy and comfortable. La Cave at Wynn, stunning indoor/outdoor space to enjoy small plates and an exceptional wine list.

Afternoon Delight
A little snack before that afternoon nap? Morels Steakhouse has over 60 wines by the glass, an iced seafood bar and a cheese and charcuterie bar with more than 60 farmhouse and artisan cheeses from around the world with handmade salamis and meats.

107 Sky Lounge. Sunset or late night, this place has amazing views, great cocktails and apps from the Top of the World restaurant. Happy Hour starts at 4pm.
Skybar. 23rd floor of Waldorf Astoria. Fantastic views. Check out the Luxurious Experiences.
Skyfall Lounge. 63rd floor of Delano Hotel. Outdoor patio. Unique cocktails.
Rosini. Old school vibe with Art Deco decor. Romantic, ideal “date night”. Music soundtrack  is a mix of soul, R&B, reggae, and jazz.
Herbs & Rye. Award winning lounge. Speakeasy feel. Classic cocktails.
Velveteen Rabbit. Local’s favorite. Owned by two sisters. Space features local art, boutique spirits, vintage furniture, and an outdoor patio area with a stage for entertainment.

After Dinner Fun
Visit vegas.com/shows for the latest listing of shows.
Tons of night clubs and dance parties. Good source is lasvegasnighclubs.com.
Cool alternative to doing it yourself is to hook up with vegascrawl.com which gets you in to 5 top clubs in one night.
Wine Bars
See above for the best places to drink wine.
Piano Bars
Don’t Tell Mama, the NYC transplant is one of the best. Open mic every night.
Big Bang Dueling Pianos. Music, comedy and audience participation. Great fun.


Special Things

Las Vegas is a town with an extraordinary collection of 4-5 star restaurants, many of them exceptionally good. But if I was going to have one off-the-charts experience, it would be Picasso, a Forbes Five star and AAA Five Diamond restaurant with a Wine Spectator Grand Award wine list. The main dining room is gorgeous (with stunning artwork, as you can imagine by the name), but the patio overlooking the Bellagio Fountains is nothing short of magical. The menus are innovative and creative, but approachable, you will recognize just about everything and pricing is surprisingly reasonable for this type of experience. An fantastic evening.

Where To Stay

Encore at Wynn

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OVERVIEW of Encore at Wynn

Wynn and Encore are sister properties in Las Vegas. They sit next to each other on the Strip and are, in many ways, interchangeable. Here are the differences; Encore is slightly newer, debuting about 3 years after Wynn opened, it is slightly smaller in terms of number…

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Four Seasons Las Vegas

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OVERVIEW of Four Seasons Las Vegas

Four Seasons hotels are among the finest in the country. Their design, service level and amenities are matched by few other hotel chains. While the hotels can be very expensive in places like NYC, sometimes, like in Las Vegas, you get an incredible value for this…

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The Palazzo at the The Venetian

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OVERVIEW of The Palazzo at the The Venetian

This is another instance, like Wynn and Encore, where there are two sister hotels, side by side, that share a lot of features. There are a few design differences, but The Venetian and The Palazzo are very similar. This is a huge resort,…

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Trump International Hotel

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OVERVIEW of Trump International Hotel

Its gold façade glistening in the desert sun, Trump sits on the edge of the Strip, close enough to walk anywhere, yet seemingly far away from the bustling crowds. If you want luxury and proximity without the hordes tramping through a…

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Waldorf Astoria

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OVERVIEW of Waldorf Astoria

Located within the bustling City Center, right on the Strip, the Waldorf Astoria (formally the Mandarin Oriental) is close to all the major attractions and casinos, but thankfully does not have one itself. Guests arrive on the ground floor and are…

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Where To Eat

Bouchon LV

Bouchon is the Las Vegas iteration of Thomas Keller's wildly successful French bistro in Napa. Keller, the Chef/Owner of the world renowned French Laundry, also in Napa, has created a near perfect restaurant where guests can enjoy breakfast, brunch or dinner, inside or on the patio. Located in the Venetian Hotel on the 10th floor…

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Hugo’s Cellar

Hugo's Cellar is a somewhat unlikely choice for dinner. It doesn't show up on any "lists" of the best restaurants in town, it has been around forever and it is located underneath the Four Queens Hotel, a decidedly down market casino on Fremont. This is "old school" Vegas. It's dark with cozy booths, candles, artwork…

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Lakeside Wynn

I am kind of a stickler when it comes to seafood. If it has been frozen, I can tell with the first bite and I am done with it. That makes Lakeside at Wynn the perfect seafood restaurant for me. Lakeside serves Hawaiian seafood, line-caught by family fishermen in Hana and flown daily, directly to…

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Las Vegas is less than 10% the size of NYC, yet it has only one less Five Star restaurant than the Big Apple. This is a foodie town! The point is, there are lots of choices for an over-the-top meal, but Picasso is my favorite for a host of reasons. The gorgeous dining room is…

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Rao's was opened in 1896 in East Harlem, NY and is, today, one of the oldest family owned and operated restaurants in the country. Its 10 seat NY restaurant is the hardest reservation to get in town. In fact, unless you have "table rights" (a standing reservation for a particular night) or are invited to…

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