If gambling, chain smoking and drunken debauchery aren’t your things, there are still a few ways to love Vegas.
Let me count them for you.
And heads up—because it’s me (and because it’s gluttonous Vegas) more than a few of these will either be about food or somehow related to food.
The best kept breakfast secret + Eggslut
First off, the best way to explore the Strip is to buy an all day pass on the Deuce bus, a nice, clean, air-conditioned double decker mode of transport, for $8 and hop on and off as many times as you want within 24 hours.
That said, there are two ideal options for morning eats. The first is Payard at Caesars Palace. Most go to Payard for the pastries since the chef is the famed François Payard, who used to be the pastry chef at New York’s Le Bernardin (very fancy, four-star fancy to be exact). But what many don’t do is sit down for breakfast.
In all the times I’ve been, there has never been a wait to be seated. The best thing on the menu is the brioche French toast, which you can order topped with Nutella and sautéed bananas. And frankly, it would be a little bit of a fail to order the toast any other way. I’ve also had the eggs benedict, which was the best I’ve ever had. So once, when I couldn’t decide which beauty I’d rather partake in, I ordered both and ate everything. But I would advise against that unless the only thing next on the agenda involves your head on a pillow.
Then there’s Eggslut, interesting because of its name alone. But this spot in the Cosmopolitan is doing gourmet with all things eggs. I had the Fairfax sandwich with cage-free (they are big on cage-free) soft scrambled eggs, chives, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, sriracha mayo—and I added applewood smoked bacon—on a brioche bun and it was perfection for an otherwise straightforward breakfast sandwich.
Pools on pools on pools
If you go to Vegas in the summer and have any intention of being outdoors, you should probably be in a pool. And thankfully there are many. There are quiet pools, hip pools, party pools, skeezy pools, and pools that are just about being seen (which might be the same as the skeezy pools and party pools). My favorite so far is the pool at Mirage. It’s huge, filled with waterfalls and lagoons and it’s low-key without being at all uncool. It’s kind of the best of all pool worlds. And bikini-clad waitresses walk around taking your drink orders, so you can happily have a vacay from Vegas while on your vacay in Vegas. There’s also a topless pool there, fittingly called Bare and tucked away from the non-topless folk, if that’s for you.
Kitsch from the olden days
Downtown Las Vegas, more locally known as Old Vegas, is the Vegas most of us likely picture when we think of Sin City. It was Vegas before the Strip, the Vegas of Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas” and the Vegas where you’ll get all of your best photos. Buildings come in many styles since they’ve been springing up on and off in different periods since the early 19oos, but what’s most evident are the lights, the flashing neon casino lights that give Vegas its Vegas look. *See all the pretty photos on my Instagram.
The Fremont Street Experience, a strip mall of sorts, is where most of the action happens, but there’s gems further down Freemont Street too, so take a walk. In the eve, the Freemont Street Experience area gets a little sketchy. Like plump nuns dressed in full nun garb except for the cutout where their breasts are on display in all their non-nun like glory kind of sketchy.
French fancy food that’s actually good
Sometime French food can just be fancy for no reason. But Bouchon is where it’s at when it comes to French food in Vegas.
The restaurant is inside the Venetian, and its chef, Thomas Keller, was named “America’s Best Chef” by Time mag. There are endless tasty options, but don’t skip the truffle fries or the French onion soup or the profiteroles for dessert.
It won’t be your most affordable meal, but the prices aren’t cray either. It’s good for the night you want to dress up and go for a classy dinner.
Cirque du Soleil galore (and other shows too)
Besides drunken stupors and big buffets, Vegas is known for the slew of shows you can see. I try to see the ones that are more unique to Las Vegas and Cirque du Soleil is such a staple there that that’s what I went with.
Each Cirque has it’s own theme. There’s one that’s Beatles-based, cabaret-style Zumanity, one about Michael Jackson and Kà, about coming of age. I saw Mystère, which is a theatrical whimsy one where acrobats scale metal boxes, fall from the sky, fly on silk ropes and do things with their bodies that might easily give Simone Biles a run for her medals.
There’s also a slew of other shows like the Jabbawockeez dance concert, which I haven’t seen, but people love, and newfangled twists on classic cabaret like Baz, a mashup of music and famed director Baz Luhrmann’s love stories.
*Alert: tourist spot
I don’t always go where the selfie-stick toting tourists are, but when I do, I at least get savvy about it.
The Welcome to Las Vegas sign (pictured in this post) was one such spot. After the trek there from where the Deuce left us at Mandalay (and it only felt like a trek because of the absurd 111-degree heat), we found a line of 40 or so silly people waiting for their turn to let a hustler take their money to take their photo with their own camera! Had to give it to this man for padding his pockets off of others’ stupidity, but it was a racket. If you just stand slightly off center, where I stood for the photo, there’s no line and no money required. There’s your pro tip.