24 Hours in Vegas: A Game Plan

If you’ve only got 24 hours to spend in Vegas, your plane had better be arriving early. Once you land, grab a cab and, if it’s Sunday, tell your driver to take you straight to Palms—you’re going to brunch at Simon. It’s all you can eat of everything from sushi to crepes to lobster Benedict. Don’t forget to have cotton candy for dessert!

If it’s not Sunday, you’re going to the legendary Peppermill. Peppermill has enormous portions of all your favorite diner food, and drinks are cheap so you can start your party early. This place is old-school Vegas, and it turns into a swanky lounge at night. Next door to Peppermill is a half-price ticket booth. Stop there before or after you eat and see which Cirque shows you can see that night for a discount. You’ll be happy with any Cirque show except for Zumanity or Believe. Those shows are terrible—try and see O, Ka, or Mystere.

Normally on a trip to Vegas I’d insist that you get out off the Strip and explore all the fantastic outdoor activities at Mt. Charleston and Lake Mead, but with only one day to play, you just don’t have time. So once you’ve eaten your full, take a Grand Canyon helicopter tour. Tours last several hours, and you’ll see amazing views of the Grand Canyon’s south rim. You can find tour providers online, and many have booths on the Strip.

When you get back, head over to Pink Taco at Hard Rock or In-and-Out Burger for lunch. I offer this choice because if you live in a city that doesn’t have In-and-Out, you have to go. You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten one of their delicious burgers. Don’t go to the location near the Strip; it’s always crammed with tourists. Head for the one just off the Strip on West Sahara.

It’s time to hit up a world-class Las Vegas pool. The best pools are at Palms and Hard Rock. Lounge in the sun and have a daiquiri or three while you relax. Afternoons at the pool are the best times to meet cool people to hang out with later.

After you’ve had enough sun, head indoors for drinks and gambling before dinner. You can casino hop if you want to see as much of the Strip as possible, but be warned that the lines for cabs get longer and longer as the day goes on. My favorite casinos for gambling are Caesars Palace, Luxor, and Venetian. If you’d rather gamble off the Strip, head out to Red Rock on Vegas’s west side. While you gamble, drinks will be free, so don’t make the mistake of overpaying for a beer at the casino bars. Wait for a cocktail waitress to come by, and be sure to tip her at least a dollar for each drink.

For dinner, head over to T&T at Luxor. T&T has delicious Mexican food and you usually don’t need a reservation. You can sit at a normal table, or sit at a bar overlooking the Luxor’s casino floor. Order the nachos for an appetizer and the enchiladas for your main course. If you want to try a local Vegas favorite, try the Naked Fish instead. It’s a hole-in-the-wall sushi joint about 15 minutes away from the Strip.

It’s time for Cirque du Soleil. Get to the show with plenty of time to spare—you don’t want to be that guy who walks in ten minutes late. Everyone hates that guy. After the show you can hit up the champagne bar at Venetian or head straight for the club. My faves are Lavo at Palazzo, Bank at Bellagio, and Pure at Caesars. Celebrities often make appearances at these clubs, so check online before you go to see who you might run into.

Here’s a rundown of your Vegas in 24 Plan:

  • Hit up Simon or Peppermill for brunch
  • Make friends at the Hard Rock or Palms pool
  • Grab some drinks and gamble before dinner
  • Have dinner at Luxor’s T&T or the Naked Fish