(Photo: Daniil Vnoutchkov)

72 Unforgettable Hours in Las Vegas

By Kellie Davenport

Whether you’re a high roller or a Vegas newbie, Sin City is more like “In City,” with trendy eateries, innovative venues and once-in-a-lifetime thrills. Try this three-day itinerary to see the best of Vegas in a weekend.

Vegas history in full colour: The best place to get a feel for the town and pay homage to its past is the Neon Museum. The 2.4-hectare boneyard of old casino signs and billboards showcases Sin City’s electric legacy, from the circa-1930 Green Shack advert to a space age Stardust sign. 

Happy half-hour: When the sun goes down, go up on the High Roller at The Linq. Rising more than 167 metres, it’s the world’s tallest observation wheel and offers epic views over the Strip and surrounding desert landscape. Book an open-bar cabin to sip cocktails during one full rotation, which takes about 30 minutes.

Italian influence: After a sky-high aperitif, satisfy your appetite at Eataly in the Park MGM. There’s truly something for everyone at this mammoth pizza and pasta emporium—hand-pulled mozzarella and fried arancini are must-eats. Or try whipping up some fresh gnocchi during a hands-on cooking class. Home chefs can also stock up on imported souvenirs like Italian pasta, olives and wine.

The High Roller at the Linq (photo: Richard Green/Alamy)

A dam fine morning: Start the day with an a.m. excursion to the desert. On a Hoover Dam tour with Pink Jeep Tours, you’ll see Lake Mead, the largest man-made reservoir in the U.S., before marvelling at the dam, an architectural wonder built in just four years during the Great Depression. The tour provides ample free time to walk along the dam itself.

Art class: Proving that there’s more to Vegas than neon-soaked casinos, some resorts have opened on-site art galleries and collections. Some past exhibits at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art featured Warhol and Picasso. And the walls of The Cosmopolitan are lined with original, contemporary paintings, photography and mixed-media works.  

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Bird’s-eye view: The best way to see the bright lights of the big city is at night, from above. Book a helicopter tour of the Strip to soar over the neon sights of Las Vegas Boulevard, from Luxor’s pyramid to the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas to The Venetian’s canals. Many tours also include pre-flight champagne. 

Michelin-Star meal: Back on the ground, treat yourself to dinner at a Michelin-recognized eatery. Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace offers ultra-fine French fare, such as artichoke and black truffle soup and grilled venison tenderloin. The more affordable but no less delicious Wing Lei was the first Chinese restaurant in North America to earn a Michelin star. Order tried-and-true mu shu pork or the more adventurous marinated jellyfish.

Showstoppers: For pop stars, the latest career goalpost is a lucrative Vegas residency. Catch a gig by some of the city’s newest residents, including Katy Perry at Resorts World, Sting at Caesars Palace, and Shania Twain at Planet Hollywood.

The Mob Museum (photo: Zuma Press Inc.)

Head downtown: Located on one of the city’s original thoroughfares, Park on Fremont provides sustenance with a side of sarcasm. Its sidewalk patio, facing the flashy Fremont Street Experience, provides stellar people watching, while a table in the leafy courtyard is a nice spot for nibbling on avocado egg rolls. Be sure to take a turn on the adult-size seesaw.

Place your bets: In per-capita gambling dollars, downtown casinos haul in more cash than their Strip counterparts. Once owned by gangsters Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky, El Cortez main-tains an authentic vintage vibe. For frills-free Vegas gaming, swing by the sports book and place a wager on who will win the Stanley Cup this year.

Go gangster: Explore the seedy under-belly of society at the Mob Museum. Officially known as the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, its exhibits and artifacts commemorate the bloody rise and fall of America’s most notorious mobsters, from Al Capone and Lucky Luciano to modern-day “made men” like Whitey Bulger.

Shop al fresco: Downtown Container Park has turned shipping containers into boutiques, bars and restaurants. It also houses community spaces, like a concert stage and lawn for yoga. Pop into Sugar Shop Candy and Gifts for retro goodies, or Oak & Ivy’s patio to sip a Moscow mule made with house-brewed ginger beer. 

Oldie but goodie: Like most things in Downtown Vegas, Atomic Liquors is chill, a bit divey and boasts a storied past. When it opened in 1945, patrons could watch Nevada’s atom bomb testing while seated in lawn chairs on the roof. Though you can’t go nuclear anymore, it’s nonetheless the perfect setting to say cheers to the new charms of Old Vegas.