The ultimate guide to Las Vegas

las vegas sign

Zoe Macfarlane

Posted March 23, 2023

Glitzy, gaudy, bright, bold, and very, very fun, Las Vegas is a destination that has something for everyone (even children), and is more diverse than most first-time visitors imagine, with a plethora of outdoor, cultural and dining experiences to enjoy.

“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” may be the famous catchphrase for travellers drawn to the vibrant atmosphere and nightlife that Las Vegas is traditionally known for, however there's much more to this desert city and its surrounds than meets the eye. Discover more in our ultimate guide to getting the most out of your Las Vegas holiday.

If you’re planning to drive while you’re overseas, you may need an International Driving Permit. You can apply online but check the country you’re visiting requires one before you travel and allow time for processing. 

The Strip in Las Vegas

It’s only fitting to start with the Las Vegas popularised in movies and on TV. The Las Vegas where someone gets lost in the bright neon lights, catches an Elvis tribute show or meets other travellers by a lavish pool and spa. These are all possible if you so wish!

Lined with everything luxe, a visit to a famous hotel on The Strip is a part of many travellers’ Vegas vacation. More like mini cities, these hotels allow you to eat a feast, go shopping, see a show, dance the night away and rest and rejuvenate.

The most impressive Las Vegas hotels are Bellagio, famous for its choreographed fountain, The Cosmopolitan for its style, and The Venetian for its sheer ambition at recreating the canals of Venice, Italy in a hotel! If you’d like to stay on the Strip, but not in a hotel with gaming, the Vdara is a top pick.

Allocate a day to wander the bright lights of the Strip without an agenda. That gives you the freedom to say yes to a theatre or comedy show, pop into the big-name boutiques, and even take a ride on the Big Apple rollercoaster in New York-New York hotel! Another fun Strip activity is people watching; Cabo Wabo at Planet Hollywood is perfect for this.


fireworks at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Caesars Palace is one of Las Vegas's most impressive hotels. Image: Supplied

Arts and culture in Las Vegas

You may not think there are too many cultural experiences in Las Vegas, but that’s the surprising thing about a destination nicknamed Sin City: it’s full of surprises!

Take a trip to the Las Vegas Arts District, an 18-block area downtown where you visit a range of art galleries, see a performance at the Vegas Theatre Company, and check out the Burlesque Hall of Fame. If you’re there on the first Friday of the month, it comes alive with arts and crafts stalls, food trucks, and vibrant local art galleries.

For something unique to Vegas, stop by the Neon Museum (dusk is best). Rescuing neon signs for posterity, this not-for-profit organisation offers visitors a chance to see the evolution of Vegas, one brightly lit sign at a time.

Of course, there are plenty of opportunities to catch a glitzy show while visiting Las Vegas. Whether it’s catching one of the six Cirque du Soleil shows, witnessing David Copperfield defy logic at the MGM Grand, or watching a big-name singer belt your favourite tunes, expect productions that blow your mind.


cirque du soleil

Make sure to catch a Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas. Image: Supplied

Get outdoors in Las Vegas

So many Vegas visitors fly in and out without experiencing the incredible scenery that lies a short drive from The Strip. Only 30 minutes away, Red Rocks Canyon has 19 hiking trails, including the popular Calico Tanks Trail that offers views back to Las Vegas’s most famous boulevard. There is also a 20-kilometre scenic loop if you’d prefer to drive.

Another great spot, reached in under an hour from a hotel on The Strip, is the Valley of Fire State Park, with its impressive Aztec sandstone rock formations. Experience the park’s other-worldly atmosphere on the Fire Wave Trail.

Keen to cool down a few degrees? A hike up Mt Charleston offers a reprieve from the Las Vegas heat, though you may break a sweat as you climb among the 3,000-year-old bristlecone pines. Mt Charleston is stunning in autumn, and you can join a snowshoe tour in winter.


two women in a car driving with the Las Vegas sign in the background

There's plenty of outdoor experiences just a short drive from Las Vegas. Image: Supplied

Dining out in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a food-focused destination that caters to every kind of palate. With 10 Michelin-star restaurants, it’s easy to find a place to splurge on dining, including Nobu, Picasso, and Joël Robuchon. For imaginative dishes that impress, book a table at Twist by Pierre Gagnaire: every plate is a work of art. Delilah offers throwback vibes to old-school Vegas coupled with its modern surf-and-turf menu.

Big all-you-can-eat buffets are a big thing in this city, with Wynn as Vegas a standout. With 120 dishes and 15 live cooking stations, this is not the place you come to when you are peckish – it's a veritable feast! For dessert lovers, head to the Wicked Spoon at The Cosmopolitan: you’ll love the eye-popping array of treats!

For a quick, cheap bite filled with flavour, the Earl of Sandwich, found in Planet Hollywood, is particularly delicious.


las vegan downtown district

There's plenty of shows and shopping to catch in Las Vegas. Image: Supplied

Relaxation and shopping in Las Vegas

A good Las Vegas holiday is all about balance, so whether you’re spending your time at the hotel and shows or the trails and galleries, a little R&R is in order in between.

The spa scene in Las Vegas is as impressive as the buildings are grand. Aria Resort’s Spa & Salon treatments and the hotel’s sauna, steam room, Jacuzzis, soothing salt room and heated Japanese stone ganbanyoku bed will have you feeling relaxed and refreshed in no time.

A visit to the Qua Bath and Spa at Caesar's Palace wows with its Arctic ice room (with snow inside!) and Signature Mojave Rain rebalancing treatment.

For a different kind of therapy, hit the countless Vegas retail outlets. Australian visitors particularly love the Las Vegas North Premium Outlets, where 175 designer stores offer clothing, shoes, and accessories as heavily discounted prices. If you’d prefer to stay local to your Strip hotel, Fashion Show is a mall filled with well-known retail stores.


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