A Day in Vegas: The Un-Vegas Guide to One Day in Las Vegas
Are you thinking about spending a day in Vegas? Keep reading for the best alternative guide to Las Vegas to plan your perfect day trip.
Las Vegas. The desert city that’s known for its debauchery, partying, gambling and crazy nights out. It’s one of the most popular destinations in the US for spontaneous weddings, bridal showers and bachelor parties. However deep down, underneath all the casinos and the neon lights of the strip, there are a few gems waiting to be found.
Las Vegas is changing. It’s now not just about the parties and the casinos. It’s becoming a well-rounded destination for dining, entertainment and much more.
Las Vegas is a place of wonder, fun and a place of indulgence. Whatever your interests, you’ll find many things to do there. From checking out the strip to the best day spas, you are pretty much guaranteed a fun day in Vegas.
Welcome to the more wholesome and alternative guide to Las Vegas. In this guide, we’ve included everything you need to know about to have a more low-key and sustainable yet fun one day in Vegas.
If you prefer to skip the all-night gambling and crazy parties, this guide is for you as I’ll dive deeper into all the best dining options, spas and best things to do in Las Vegas outside the casino.
For anyone wanting a Vegas experience without regret and without needing to use the phrase ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’, keep reading.
*This ‘a day in Vegas’ guide contains affiliate links meaning I might make a small profit if you choose to book at no extra cost to you. This helps me to keep providing you with top-quality content for free.
Note: Even if you’re not a fan of all the gambling, 1 day in las Vegas isn’t really enough. If you have time, I’d extend a stay in Vegas to two days just so you can take things slowly.
Also, I personally think the best of Vegas is actually what’s outside Vegas. There are several amazing State Parks and Recreational Areas just outside the city so it’s highly worth extending your trip and doing a few day trips.
Best Time to Visit Las Vegas
Given Nevada’s hot desert climate, the best time to visit Las Vegas coincides with avoiding the worst of the heat.
For this reason, the best time to visit Las Vegas is during the shoulder seasons of spring (March to May) and fall (September to November). During these periods, the weather is pleasantly mild, with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit.
If you’re planning to also spend some time in the wonderful parks surrounding this city then visiting at this time is perfect.
Visiting during the shoulder season will also allow you to escape the peak tourist crowds which flock to the city on major holidays. You’ll just need to be aware of Spring Break and Labour Day which does bring in a spike in crowds during the spring and fall.
During this time you’ll also be able to grab some spectacular deals on accommodation and free room upgrades.
If you don’t mind the cooler nights then winter is also a good time to visit. We visited in early January (after New Years) and even though the nights were cool, exploring during the day was perfect.
If you’re spending a day in Vegas then you probably have a car and are doing a road trip to the surrounding area. If that’s the case you’ll can use your car to get around Vegas too.
Places like the ‘Welcome to Vegas’ sign, downtown and Seven Magic Mountain you need a car to get to.
If you’re staying 24 hours in Vegas, make sure to book a hotel with parking- most of the large hotels on the strip have parking.
If you’re flying in to Vegas for just a day, you’ll probably just be better off taking taxis or Uber to get around the city. Distances aren’t that big and while there are some public transport options available, they probably aren’t worth working out if you’re just staying for the day.
If you want to visit all the spots on this day in Vegas guide then it might be worth looking into renting a car for the day as Ubers tend to add up quickly.
Alternative Things to Do in Las Vegas
Walk down the Strip
Let’s begin with the not so alternative.
If you’ve never been to Las Vegas then this is a must thing to do, simply because there’s no other place just like it in the world.
The Strip, as it’s informally known, is the Central Section of Las Vegas Boulevard. It’s lined with entertainment venues, casinos, luxury hotels and some of the city’s major entertainment-type sights.
I still remember my first impressions of the Strip when we rolled into Las Vegas after dark on a very cool January evening. I was, quite honestly stunned- I’d never seen such a huge street full of neon, towering signs, fanciful buildings and fountain shows. It really is a sight to behold.
By taking some time to walk down the strip, you’ll also pass and be able to see most of the Vegas Strip highlights. This includes the Bellagio Fountain- make sure to wait around for the fountain show- the Venetian Hotel, the Eiffel Tower Experience and the High Roller Observation Wheel.
If you have time, it’s actually worth walking down the strip both during the day and at night as they look completely different. I personally preferred The Strip at night when all the neon competes for your attention.
Visit Las Vegas’ Themed Hotels
While you’re on The Strip exploring Las Vegas in a day, it’s also worth checking out what the city is famous for- it’s themed hotels. Many of them you’ll notice straightaway, the giant sphinx and Eiffel Tower give them away.
Some of the most iconic themed hotels in Las Vegas include the Luxor Hotel & Casino. It’s pyramid shape and sphinx outside are the most notable. There’s also Paris Hotel Resort, New York Hotel and Excalibur Hotel and Casino that have a Medieval Theme.
Probably one of the most luxurious and well-designed is the Venetian Resort. As the name suggests here you’ll be able to encounter the only Venice outside Venice, Italy.
You can take photos along their highly adorned porticos, on the replica of Rialto Bridge, and shop along the canals. In fact, one of the highlights here is to actually take a gondola ride through the resort.
Make the Most of Vegas’ Dining Scene
Vegas’ dining scene is constantly changing an evolving and the city has some spectacular places to enjoy when visiting. From local taco joints to Michelin-star cuisine, you can find almost anything your taste buds dream of in Las Vegas.
When it comes to dining, I highly recommend getting off the strip a little, getting lost downtown to sample some of the best local and international cuisine during your one day in Las Vegas.
Here are some of the best spots we tried and the ones that are still firmly on my list.
Eat– Best brunch and lunch spot in Las Vegas.
Carson’s Kitchen– Shared plates, sandwiches and mains in this health-focused, farm-to-table restaurant Downtown.
Bardot Brasserie– Fronted by celebrity chef Michael Mina, come here for contemporary versions do class French dishes. The brunch here is really popular where you can expect amazing French toast and dishes like Hunter’s Waffle with Duck confit.
Tacos El Gordo – Superior Tijuana-style tacos in Las Vegas- the line here is just a clue to how good it is.
Herbs & Rye – One of the best steakhouses and bars in Vegas. Come here for out-of-this-world cocktails and great steaks.
Bouchon– An airy and classic French bistro with a brilliant breakfast menu too.
Wing Lei– Michelin-star Chinese cuisine with incredible Peking duck and delicious cocktails.
There are some serious gems to be had when in Vegas. From vintage finds to luxury boutiques, Vegas has it’s fair share of places where you can shop unique items.
Forget the air-conditioned malls, here are our favourite stores to check out when on a day trip to Las Vegas.
Retro Vegas– Home to a wide selection of vintage homewares and mid-century antiques. Best places for art, furniture and antiques.
Bauman Rare Books– One of the most intriguing stores in Vegas, this rare book store is the only one of it’s kind in Nevada. Pop in for a browse or ask the staff to recommend something special.
Crystals at Aria– A flashy Vegas shopping experience. Head to Shops at Crystals for all the luxury brands.
The Good Wolf Lifestyle Co. – Cute clothes, homeware goods and more
11th Street Records– Great selection of records to browse and buy.
Visit the Neon Museum Las Vegas
On the northern end of Las Vegas Boulevard, you’ll find this unique Neon Museum in Vegas. The museum has a vast collection of Vegas signage and neon that dates back to the 1930s until the present day.
You can visit both during the day or at night where you’ll catch many of the signage on and working. Make sure to visit the Neon Boneyard where you’ll find a collection of iconic Las Vegas signs as well as the North Gallery adjacent to the museum.
There are many different tickets available depending on what you want to see and if you want to take a tour. Make sure to check the website here before visiting.
Other exhibits and museums in Las Vegas also worth noting are the Titanic: The Artifacts Exhibit at The Luxor, The Vegas Natural History Museum and DISCOVERY Children’s Museum.
Visit the Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden
On the outskirts of the city, you’ll find the Ethel M Chocolate Factory and beside it, the Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden. It’s one of the best places to visit on a day trip to Vegas.
Visit the chocolate factory and walk through and witness all the chocolates and brittle being made through the observation window, but the real highlight is the Botanical Cactus Garden.
This is Nevada’s largest cactus garden. It’s a three-acre gem that’s full of native and foreign plant-species, more than 300 to be exact. You can visit, walk around and experience the best of Nevada’s flora right in Las Vegas.
Take a Hike in Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a beautiful protected park just outside Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert. As most attractions and museums don’t generally open in Vegas until the afternoon, take the early morning for a short but memorable Nevada hike.
Renowned for its striking red rock formations, sandstone cliffs, and diverse desert flora and fauna, Red Rock Canyon provides a range of recreational opportunities- a world away from the glitz of The Strip.
There are many things to do here with just one day in Vegas. There’s a very scenic drive you can do, hikes of various lengths and skill levels as well as rock climbing.
If you don’t have too much time, head to Red Rock Canyon for the drive at least. The Red Rock Scenic Drive is a 13 mile one way loop that takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in the park. There are also options to get out of the car at different points and follow the short hiking paths to viewpoints along the way.
Along the Scenic Drive there are many different hiking routes you can do from easy hikes under a mile to more strenuous 11 mile loops. One of the best hikes to consider is Calico Tanks, a 2.5 mile trail that takes you to a natural tank and offers sweeping views of the Las Vegas Valley.
A more strenuous hike is the Turtlehead Peak trail ( 5 miles) that rewards hikers with a panoramic vista of the entire region.
A Daily Pass for the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area costs $20 per private vehicle. America The Beautiful Passes are accepted.
Snap a Photo at the Las Vegas Sign
Did you even visit Vegas without taking a photo at the iconic 1950s sign?
Parking right next to the sign means that it’s an easy and quick stop as you pass it coming in or going out of the city. For no queues make sure to come early in the day.
Fly Over the Grand Canyon
So, a day in Vegas is certainly not enough time to visit the Grand Canyon but you can most certainly fly over it in a helicopter. Flights depart from Las Vegas, making this one of the most thrilling and memorable experiences during 1 day in Las Vegas.
Most helicopter flights from Vegas fly over to the West Grand Canyon where you’ll be able to see Lake Mead, Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon itself all from the sky.
Tours include pickup from your Las Vegas hotel and often include snacks and drinks. The whole experience takes about 4 hours with a 45-90 minute flight time depending on the tour you choose.
Check out this Deluxe Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour which includes a champagne toast.
This Grand Canyon West Rim Luxury Tour for a 90 minute flight.
Spend Some Time at the Spa
Vegas might be the party city but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some good spa time in. There are some superb spas and day spas in Vegas that offer a number of signature treatments and spaces to just relax.
Most of the best spas in Las Vegas are located inside some of the best hotels and resorts so if you plan on staying in Las Vegas it might be worth choosing a hotel based on their spa for the sake of saving some time.
Here are my top picks for spas in Las Vegas:
The Spa at the Waldorf Astoria– The Spa at the Waldorf Astoria focuses on personalised and unique treatments for the body, mind and soul right above the Vegas Strip. Expect many different massages, facials and body treatments too.
The Spa at ENCORE– Located within the Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, this spa offers a serene atmosphere with a range of treatments, from traditional massages to advanced skincare therapies. Expect a lot of flamboyance and gold.
Sahra Spa & Hammam at The Cosmopolitan- Combining traditional spa services with a Turkish-style hammam experience, Sahra Spa offers a unique and rejuvenating escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.
The Canyon Ranch Spa at The Venetian– This renowned spa is known for its extensive menu of treatments, wellness services, and fitness offerings. It features a variety of relaxation spaces, pools, and a full-service salon. A day spa and fitness pass is available for purchase.
Climb the Stratosphere Tower
Climbing to the top of Stratosphere Tower, the tallest, free-standing observation tower in the United States, is a great way to get picture perfect views of Las Vegas and beyond.
Head to the Observation deck on the rooftop, which lies 1,150 ft above the city. You’ll be able to enjoy 360 degree views of Las Vegas, observe The Strip from above and get some great photos.
The best time to head up the Stratosphere Tower is at sunset when the golden light dances over the city and makes the desert look like fire.
See a Show
There’s no better place in the world for a show than Las Vegas. During your 24 hours in Vegas make sure to catch a show to end the day on a high.
What makes Vegas so great for live shows and entertainment is the fact that there is so much choice.
From dazzling shows like Cirque du Soleil and David Copperfield to iconic concerts by the likes of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. There are also magic shows, DJ sets, Las Vegas Residencies and even Drag Shows for you to make the most of.
To see what’s on and book your tickets click here.
Visit Seven Magic Mountains
Seven Magic Mountains is a large-scale public art installation located just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. Created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, the installation consists of seven towering stacks of colorful boulders, each reaching up to 30 feet in height.
You may already have seen these colorful boulders on Instagram but if you’re driving towards LA, this does make an exciting stop.
The installation is an artistic endeavor that explores the intersection of art and nature. The bright, playful colors and the monumental scale of the boulder stacks evoke a sense of wonder and joy, inviting visitors to explore the space and engage with the artwork.
A Day in Vegas- Where to Stay in Las Vegas
Staying the night is one of the iconic Vegas Hotels is a real highlight to any Vegas itinerary so, if you can, try to stay just one night to make the most of it.
Below I’ve included my favourite list of more luxury stays in Las Vegas, most of which have a low-key, laid-back vibe to them where it’s easy to tune out the noise of The Strip and relax.
Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace Las Vegas– Housed inside the Caesars Palace complex this sleek, Japanese-inspired hotel is the place to escape and unwind.
It’s the first Nobu Hotel and it’s done perfectly, I love the contemporary meets Japanese design. You can also order room service from Nobu Matsuhisa downstairs. It doesn’t get better than that. Check availability and book here.
The Venetian Resort– When it comes to the big, themed resort, you can’t beat the Venetian. Expect grand and classic rooms, two great spas, superior service and easy access to the Venetian’s shops, casino and more.
Waldorf Astoria– An exclusive and luxury hotel offering lavish accommodations, personalized service, and relaxed atmosphere, Waldorf Astoria provides a secluded haven yet within easy reach of the Strip. Book here.
NoMad at Park MGM– A sophisticated and stylish boutique hotel located within the Park MGM resort in Las Vegas, bringing a touch of New York’s upscale elegance to the Strip.
With its refined design, curated artwork, and exceptional dining experiences, NoMad offers a distinct blend of luxury and culture for guests seeking a more intimate and elevated stay in the vibrant Las Vegas atmosphere. Book here.
The M Resort Spa Casino– A contemporary and upscale resort located just off the Las Vegas Strip, offering a more relaxed and serene atmosphere combined with modern amenities and entertainment options.
It’s the perfect stay for those looking for a bit of Vegas action but not too much. Book your stay here.
Got More Time?
I’d highly recommend extending your trip by at least a day to take in more of Las Vegas’ amazing sights and attractions.
Here are some other great places to add to your one day in Las Vegas itinerary if you do have more time. Alternatively, make sure to save them for any future trips to Sin City.
The Mob Museum– A museum dedicated to the history of Vegas. The mob actually used to run Vegas which might be why it was so successful. Find out more at this small but insightful museum.
Visit the Grand Canyon– The West Rim is just 2 hours driving from Las Vegas. Here you can visit the Skywalk and witness the most stunning views over the Grand Canyon.
Hike in Valley of Fire State Park– This is probably one of my favourite parks close to Vegas, it has many scenic drives, easy and more challenging hiking paths and some truly beautiful scenery to make the most of.
Hit a Casino– This might be first on many people’s lists when visiting Vegas. I personally don’t find losing money thrilling but a short casino stint in Vegas just has to be done.
Downtown Container Park– A small shopping complex built entirely of shipping containers. It’s a good place for a stroll, a bite to eat and some shopping.
Fremont Street Experience– The Fremont Street Experience is a dynamic and iconic attraction in downtown Las Vegas, known for its vibrant LED canopy, live entertainment, and historic casinos, offering a nostalgic glimpse into the city’s past.
With its dazzling light shows, bustling street performances, and diverse dining and shopping options, Fremont Street encapsulates the lively spirit and energetic atmosphere that defines the heart of Las Vegas.
Visit Zion National Park– Zion might be quite a bit away from Las Vegas but it’s worth the trip. This stunning National Park in Utah is known for its unique landscapes and thrilling hikes.
Ready to spend a day in Vegas the alternative way? Have any questions or comments about your trip? Let me know in the box below.
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Planning a trip right now? These are just some of my favourite websites I use to book everything from hotels to rental cars!
Rentalcars.com for quick and easy car rentals worldwide
Booking.com for great deals on hotels
Agoda also for great deals on hotels
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