Maybe casual isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of spending the holiday weekend in Las Vegas. But anything goes in Vegas and that includes adrenaline-filled all-nighters and laid back celebrations alike. If you’re in the mood to celebrate, love the idea of Vegas this time of year, but want to keep it low key, here are a few suggestions for how to take in the New Year with just the right amount of festivity.
EXPLORE ON A DIME
The Fremont Experience (http://vegasexperience.com) is a must-do for free entertainment, people watching, and bargain eats and treats. Enjoy an outdoor light show or take in an afternoon concert. Find funky souvenirs to capture memories of your trip. In the heart of The Strip, delight your inner child at the 4,200 square foot Ice Rink at The Cosmopolitan (http://www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com/ice-rink). Skaters ages 2 and up are welcome for skating that starts at noon, daily until January 1. Tickets are required for NYE, though, so buy those soon unless you’re a Cosmopolitan hotel guest—then you enter the rink for free and only pay for drinks. More great entertainment can be found in The LINQ Promenade—an outdoor extravaganza of food, drink, shopping, and activity. The High Roller will be a happening place on NYE itself, but if you’re in town a bit early (or lingering a little late), treat yourself to Happy Half Hour—a ride around the world’s tallest observation wheel complete with open bar. Plus, until December 30, head to this prime spot for Winter Parq featuring nightly shows and festive fun, 6pm-10pm (http://www.caesars.com/linq/high-roller).
FOCUS ON FOOD
If you’ve been meaning to try the upscale Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace, there’s no better excuse than celebrating the New Year with this amazing spread of cuisine (http://www.caesars.com/caesars-palace/restaurants/bacchanal-buffet). Seasonal prices are in effect for the holiday, but this is one bet you’ll win for its delightful assortment of small plates, entrees, and desserts. If you’re looking for a sophisticated lunch, head to Sugarcane (http://www.sugarcanerawbargrill.com) for one of the latest additions to The Strip. Try the daily flatbread or steak frites. For a powerhouse dinner menu, book a table at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill (http://www.gordonramsayrestaurants.com/pub-and-grill-las-vegas) and go for steak and seafood you’ll write home about. To start, order a Mocha Martini or Bloody Mary and try Maine Lobster & Shrimp Roll Minis with lemon-garlic mayo, served on a Brioche roll. If you can’t tell night from day, stop in at B&B Burger (http://bandbburgerandbeer.com) for Mario Batali & Joe Bastianich’s take on classic burgers. The Morning After burger is great any time of day with sautéed mushrooms, fontina, sunny side egg, truffle aioli, and frisée. If it really is the middle of the night, head to Grand Lux Café, open 24-hours in The Venetian (http://www.grandluxcafe.com). Nibble on Crispy Thai Shrimp & Chicken Spring Rolls or share a rustic pizza with your friends.
CATCH A SHOW
No trip to Vegas is complete without including a night at Cirque du Soleil and NYE is a magical time to head to the theater. Center Strip, you’ll find O at Bellagio. O is a spectacular aquatic experience with high dives and synchronized swimming. The cast of acrobats, divers, and stage characters perform impressive aerial hoop features along with fire, trapeze, and contortion. Combining surrealism and romance, O offers a breathtaking night at the theater. If you enjoy the unexpected, head to MGM Grand for KÀ, an epic adventure that unfolds on a remarkable stage in continual motion. Prepare for martial arts, aerial acrobatics, archery, and fire. The 360-degree rotating stage is mesmerizing as characters glide, sail, and tumble with grace across its surface. During ‘the storm,’ an 1800-pound boat rocks as artists manipulate gravity. KÀ is unlike any theater performance I’ve seen. If, like me, you’re wowed with the technical aspects, be sure to head to MGM Grand for KÀ Theatre Spectacular, a free open house that shares insights into the performance, stage and production technology. KÀ Theatre Spectacular is free every Tuesday and Saturday at 11am and 11:30am. For theater tickets and more information, visit http://www.cirquedusoleil.com. Good to note: M Life members receive a discount for Cirque du Soleil performances at Las Vegas resorts: https://www.mlife.com/en/resorts.html
RELAX IN STYLE
Need space to stretch out and unwind as the clock counts down? Book your stay at The Venetian (http://www.venetian.com) for the largest suites on The Strip. Take advantage of a kick-butt mini-bar or order up some room service for all-night dining. Unwind in the hot tubs or enjoy a deep soaking tub in your spacious bathroom. If Vegas history is your thing, tuck yourself in at Flamingo for a centrally located classic with contemporary style and fun atmosphere (http://flamingolasvegas.com). You’ll be right next door to action at The LINQ Promenade, but still have plenty of food and beverage options on site to keep you satisfied.
Photos by CT Shier, except courtesy photos from Cirque du Soleil.