A trip to Las Vegas can be something you remember for the rest of your life. While it’s all a little gaudy and over-the-top, there’s also no place like it. The array of entertainment and relaxation options is simply dizzying, as you might guess given the fact that there are well over a dozen resorts and casino complexes.
One thing that helps is to do a little research about the different establishments before you go, so that you know where to go for which activities. The following is not a comprehensive list by any means, but these are some of my observations about which casinos are best for which activities:
The Bellagio – For The Full Experience
It’s tough to declare any one Vegas resort as the most famous, or the most representative of the town as a whole. But the Bellagio would certainly be on the list if you had to come up with a few. A massive establishment known for the fountain show that takes place in front of it every night, it represents the general grandeur of Las Vegas without some of the typical showiness of some of the other casinos. If you’re just looking for the total experience – beauty, luxury, great gaming options, comfortable rooms, fine dining, and even a sense of history – the Bellagio is tough to beat.
Caesars Palace – For The Pools
The pools in Vegas can actually inspire a great deal of debate, because there are dozens of them and the different casinos almost seem to have been trying to one-up each other with new concepts over the years. Mandalay Bay has a pool area that feels like an artificial beach, for instance; the ARIA has pools that become clubs during the day, and the Mandarin Oriental has relaxing, elevated pools with views of the city. But all in all it’s hard to top the “Garden of the Gods” pool oasis at Caesars Palace. Spanning five acres and situated on three levels, it’s a complex with seven individual pools, several fountains, a waterfall, and mock Roman structures all over the place. It’s just an incredible place to hang out.
The ARIA – For The Shopping
I just mentioned the ARIA’s pools, and it’s worth noting that it’s one of the newer casinos on the Strip, and one of the best total experiences. But if you’re interested in the Vegas shopping scene (one of the best in the U.S. outside New York City), look no further than here. The Shops At Crystals complex attached to the ARIA offers some of the best window-shopping anywhere.
Hard Rock – For The Dealers
One thing you might not realize if you haven’t made it a habit to visit casinos is that the dealers at the card tables matter a great deal. This is something even the online industry has recognized and acted upon, in fact. “Live” casinos now provide dealers via video feed who facilitate a high quality experience and provide a sense of authenticity – as well as one of interaction. It’s easy to see how this makes online games feel more “real,” but even at real casinos the dealers can enhance your experience greatly. A rude, antisocial, or inattentive dealer can really kill the mood. Most of the major Vegas establishments get pretty good reviews in this regard, but the Hard Rock has a particularly strong reputation for friendly, helpful dealers. It’s the place to go if you want to play a few casual games of blackjack or poker.
The Cosmopolitan – For The Dining
Dining might actually be the toughest category to narrow down. Most of the major resorts have at least a couple impressive restaurants, so to some degree it just depends what you’re looking for. But The Cosmopolitan is certainly as good a pick as any. A fun article on the best restaurant in each Strip casino (incidentally a pretty cool resource to keep in mind) pointed to Estiatorio Milos as the best the Cosmopolitan has to offer, thanks to its fresh Mediterranean cuisine. But Chinese-Mexican fusion restaurant China Poblano, tapas joint Beauty & Essex, steakhouse STK, and the Japanese grill Zuma Restaurant are also noteworthy spots at the Cosmopolitan (among others).
The MGM Grand – For Clubbing
Last but not least you’ll want to consider the clubbing scene, given that Vegas is made for long nights out. Most of the main casinos have a club or two in house, but I’ll point to the MGM Grand here simply because it’s home to Hakkasan, which might just be the most famous and most high-energy club in the city.