Las Vegas recommendations?

I’m planning a trip to Las Vegas with a couple of friends for this summer. Whee! I know we’ve had several of these threads in the past, but the most recent one I could find is already a couple of years old, and Vegas seems to re-do itself pretty frequently, so if it’s OK, I’d like to ask again:

[li]good places to eat?[/li]
[li]fun places to gamble? we’ll mostly be focusing on blackjack, but I’m not above sitting in front of the penny slots for a while and going, “Oooooh shiny! Lookit the pretty lights!”[/li]
[li]fun places to do non-gambling stuff?[/li]
[li]can’t-miss people-watching destinations?[/li][/ul]
Background: one of us is a frequent gambler and apparently knows enough people there to get us the hookups on room upgrades etc. The rest of us are total n00bs and still refer to the little strategy card while playing blackjack. But we’re learning! :smiley:

So the one who’s been there/done that many times has already warned us about wearing comfortable walking shoes. She also mentioned one place that has glass flowers (she said not Dave Chihuly but similar) and another one that has impressive aquariums. Anyone know details about either of those?

Anything else I should know about or investigate?

That already makes you better than 99% of blackjack players.

If you’re planning to stay on the Strip, keep in mind that blackjack games can get expensive, often with $25 minimums on the weekend at the fancier places. Stick to the Excalibur-MGM-Luxor complex for cheap (for the Strip) blackjack.

Oh, and I shouldn’t have to say this, but immediately walk away from any table that pays 6:5 on a blackjack. (It’ll be written on the felt.) That shit should be illegal.

Fremont street is fun.

It actually is Chihuly. It’s the reception area at the Bellagio and it’s beautiful and well worth seeing. The gardens there are also worth a few minutes of gawking. They change seasonally and are always interesting.

The aquariums are likely those at the Mandalay Bay. Shark Reef Aquarium is neat and if you’re truly adventurous you can swim with them.

If you want a complete down day I highly recommend the cabana’s at Mandalay Bay. Depending on location it’s quiet or a party but I love laying around and it’s really nice to have the option of shade when you’re a pale skinned northerner like me. They’re pricey but wonderful.

Unless you’re trying to sleep in a nearby hotel anytime before midnight. That loud bad band music should be illegal too.

The only tip I have is that since you’re going in the summer and it going to be HOT!! is to try to stay somewhere centrally located to where you’re going to be spending most of your time.
The Mandalay Bay has aquariums but they’re not that impressive and pretty far off the beaten path.
If I had my choice of where to stay I’d probably pick the Paris. If I was on a budget probably Harrahs. Both are in the heart of the strip.

Fremont Street for cheap Black Jack. And they’re usually pretty laid back and more willing to ‘teach’ n00bs.

Fremont Street for best people watching venue. After about 5 minutes, you feel like you’re partying with 1000 of your newest friends.

Comfortable walking shoes are a definite, but you can also get a 24 hr bus pass for like $7. The hotels are big enough, don’t walk between the behemoths too.

You’re going to get the stupid escort card popped at you - make it a game. She who comes home with the most varied hooker cards wins…

<cracks knuckles>

  1. Don’t play blackjack on the Strip. Ever.
  2. You can find world-class food everywhere in Vegas. Check the list below for suggestions.
  3. Non-gambling ideas: The Pinball Museum, the Atomic Museum, the Conservatory at Bellagio, the Shark tank at Mandalay Bay
  4. Check the half-price booths for cheap show tickets.
  5. Linq will be open by then, so ride the wheel, see a concert and do some shopping.

We are going to be in town next weekend, so if you want us to specifically check something out, let us know.

Peppermill, Grand Lux(Venetian), Society Cafe(Encore), Margaritaville(Flamingo). In the name of all that you hold holy, don’t eat at Hash House a GoGo.

Virtually every hotel has some excellent choices. We are partial to Sinatra(Encore), CUT(Palazzo), Lotus of Siam (on Sahara)

Downtown LV is much smaller than the strip. But the casinos are much better IMO.

They include the Golden Nugget, the Horseshoe and two others on that same corner that I forget their names.

Prices are better and the buffets are better. There are smaller lines and I find my experience in LV is much better when I stay downtown than when I stay on the strip.

That would be Golden Nugget, Binion’s, Fremont and Four Queens. Prices are better but the buffets suck. You can’t beat Studio B(M Resort), Bacchanal(Caesars) or Wicked Spoon(Cosmopolitan) for buffets.

What do you mean by this? The right locations on the Strip have the most liberal blackjack rules anywhere in Nevada. Even most of the locals casinos have poorer rules. But you have to find the right tables. Typically they put the idiot tables near the doors for drunk people to plop down at. (These will be your 6:5, H17 games and carnival stuff like Blackjack Switch.) Find the real tables and you will see some excellent games.

Not cheaply you won’t. Pretty much everywhere on the Strip it’s either 6:5 from a shoe or $100/hand for decent odds. I’m assuming people on this board aren’t likely to be high rollers, especially if they are asking questions about Vegas. Whales just tell their host what they want. They don’t ask.

Not even remotely true. Just last month I played a $15 double-deck game at Mandalay Bay with decent rules. (Granted, that was at 3pm on a weekday.)

It’s certainly true that higher-limit places will have better rules in general, but we’re talking tenths of a percent EV here. It’s not really relevant if you’re just having fun betting the minimum.

Food: Like Silenus said, you can’t go wrong with “anywhere”. Ellis Island has a $7 steak. It’s mediocre steak but it’s dirt cheap and it’s big.

Gambling: I’m not much of a gambler but I love love love craps. BJ is too serious. People get pissed if you don’t play perfectly. People get pissed if you “take their card”. You have to pay attention if you want to play perfect BJ. It’s just not fun. Craps though. It’s almost better if you don’t know how to play. Just walk up and say to the dealer you don’t know how to play. They’ll be happy to teach you, but flip them a couple of chips after your first, second, and third big win. I know at $5 a bet (or higher) it sounds like you’ll bleed chips pretty fast but I’ve always found the money bleed pace to be pretty tolerable. Roulette is social but it’s a little too fast paced and there are a bunch of betting rules that aren’t as forgiving as a rowdy craps table.

Partying: Chip in the couple hundred for a table at a club or don’t go clubbing. You’re either going to end up paying $150-200 for a decent club experience or pay $60+ (cover + drinks) for a guaranteed terrible experience. There are plenty of non-club nightlife to enjoy. Bars, namely. You’ll probably end up spending just as much at a bar as you would at a club (no table) on drinks but you’ll have an infinitely better time.

Sportsbooks. I’ve never had a problem sitting at sportsbooks, or even drinking at sportsbooks but I do see some people hassled. I’ve sat down at MGM, Bellagio, and Mandalay Bay - no questions asked. Sometimes even with a yard drink. I think if you’re dressed nicely (collar on your shirt, no cargo pockets, and no wraparound shades) and you’re not noticeably drunk, they leave you alone.

Cocktail service without the gambling chip bleed: My friend’s tip that I’ve come to love. Cocktail waitresses don’t serve you unless you’re sitting at a table, chips in hand. However, if you go to a bar where there’s a game machine and make it look like you’re plunking down a lot of cash for video poker, the bartenders serve you gratis the same as cocktail waitresses. You’ve got to put in something like $100 into the machine so that the guy can justify serving you free (good stuff too). So stuff in a benji, play a minimum hand, then drink as much as you wan. Cash out. You’re down like $5 from the poker and whatever you feel like tipping after downing tens of dollars worth of free drinks. Hell, if you’re lucky, you’ll come out on top.

Food: lots of great restaurants at the hotels on the strip. Off-strip, a few have been mentioned but I’m the only one who remembers to mention Komol Kitchen Restaurant, which is a Thai/Indian place right near Lotus of Siam.

Non-gambling fun: rent jet-skis out at Lake Mead for a day. Do the Dam Tour. Visit the Pinball Hall of Fame. Indoor skydiving. Ride the zip line at Fremont Street. Head out to Black Canyon and ride the zip lines(!) (gonna be hot in August tho). We also have a handful of rollercoasters.

Lots to do here.

3:2 or 6:5? From the complaining that goes on on the various Vegas boards, I was under the impression that pretty much everyplace on the Strip had switched to 6:5.

[Old fart complaint] I miss the days when you could play $5 single-deck BJ with 3:2 payouts and surrender! At Caesars! With hookers! [/ofc]

Beaten to the punch, but yeah, do this.

Nope, 3:2 is still common except for single deck.

I usually stick to the MGM properties for gambling since I get some rewards back.

The Bellagio is nice but for gambling they will treat you like dirt unless you are betting very far above the minimum.

For people watching you can’t beat Fremont street. But don’t wander too far. We walked from the Las Vegas Neon Museum back to Fremont. I felt safer walking in Baghdad. I wish I was joking.

But I would recommend the Neon Museum if you want a taste of old Vegas. Book in advance it’s guided tours only.

We also enjoyed the Mob Museum which is in the old city hall. That’s also not far from Fremont.

If you like celebrity chef type restaurants it’s hard to beat MGM. They have restaurants from Joel Robuchon, Emeril, Wolfgang Puck and Tom Colicchio. But there are good restaurants in just about every casino.

If you like dance clubs I was impressed by XS in Encore. I also liked the Voodoo Lounge. But I haven’t been to either in a couple years.