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First Time in Las Vegas: Part One

If you've never been to Las Vegas, there's no city in the world like it. I've been there 5-6 times for vacation, and even lived there for about 4 months, so I occasionally get people asking me what they should do during their first time there. Granted things change in Las Vegas like a stripper changes baby daddies, and it's been a year since I've been back. Nevertheless, my friends Johnny and Deb of The Great Dane will be spending 4 days there this weekend – the perfect amount of time – so I thought I'd put together a helpful itinerary. If you ever get to Las Vegas, print this up and take it with you.

For me, the two absolute can't miss places are: 1) Carnaval Court at Harrah's, and 2) the Voodoo Lounge at The Rio.

I'm admittedly smitten by Carnaval Court because it's the Vatican City of Flair Bartending – sitting at the bar is like worshipping at the altar. The best flair bartenders in the world would give their middle nut to work here. And the best ones do work here: Mig, Ati, Christian, Flippy, and more - their truly amazing skills are second only to their amazing service. Most important to the patron: it's casual, friendly, fun, and absolutely amazing. It's one of the only outdoor places on the strip, and even when it's cold at night, they have heaters around the bar that make you forget about a cold desert night. What I love most about this bar is that it's come-as-you-are, which is tough to find in Vegas. No dress code that I know of – you'll see people in suits and people in Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops. It's open 3 pm till 3 am, and it's every bit as fun regardless of when you go. The bartenders are some of the most amazing in the world (legitimately) and are worth the trip to Vegas just for themselves. Outside of that, it's a fun dance party, as opposed to a pretentious nightclub (which is the norm in Las Vegas.) Generally, there's no cover charge, though if they do have one, it's $5-10. They usually have a live band or a good DJ, and you can dance or even play blackjack while everything is going on. Carnaval Court at Harrah's is a true Las Vegas gem. If you go to Las Vegas and miss it, you're kind of a douche.

A close second, but in a much different way, is The Voodoo Lounge, at the Rio, located just across Highway 15 on the other side of The Strip. Take a cab, it's worth the $10. The Rio is a very fun, unpretentious casino, much like Harrah's (it's owned by Harrah's Properties), and it's Voodoo Lounge is the most upscale rendition of what they have to offer. It's located on the 51st floor, with a walkout patio, which gives you a phenomenal view of Las Vegas Strip that few other venues offer. Inside it's an intimate club with great table service (and a truly worthwhile dinner if you're interested and get there before 10.) They have a house band that really rocks and can take just about any request you can throw at them. At nighttime, the view of the Las Vegas and the surrounding desert is truly breath-taking.

When I lived in Las Vegas, I spent a little too much time at Pure in Caesar's. Go there and you'll find out why. This place redefines the word nightclub. It's pretty ridiculous. Be sure to spend some time upstairs on the 2nd floor balcony. Oh, and I believe The Pussycat Dolls still perform nightly, which of course had nothing to do with my time spent there.

Tao at the Venetian is a sight to behold, if you don't mind waiting in line. Truly one of the more bizarre/impressive nightclubs I've ever been too, Tao sums up Las Vegas – though I'm pretty sure they charge a $20-40 cover, which is pretty common. I've heard Jet at The Riviera is just as good, as is Light at Bellagio. Also, MGM is a casino worth seeing – the Drop Bar was pretty cool last time I was there, but I heard they might not still be there. And there's a Hard Rock Casino in Vegas, though it's a 5 minute cab ride from the strip. It's not a necessary stop, but it is a great hangout for the 20-30 year-old jet set crowd, and they have a good bar, a decent restaurant, good gaming, and everything else worthwhile. There's also a small bar across the street that many big name bands play at, and you're likely to meet them after the show at the Circle Bar at Hard Rock (my friend played blackjack with Jamie Foxx and Steven Tyler one night for hours here...)

At all of these clubs except Carnaval and Voodoo, get used to standing. Tables are reserved for bottle service only. Your $40 cover charge and your $10 Heineken doesn't earn you the right to sit.

Read Part Two:

Reader Comments (3)

Let me say first and foremost you hit the nail on the head when you said there is no city in the world like Vegas. I couldnt agree more. Ive been only twice but have plans to go again in OCT, and man just reading this article has got me SOO pumped up I can barley hold my self togehter to type this reply. Carnival Court is the best of the best of Flair Bartenders. This is where I first saw Flair and fell in love.

Just wanted to add a tip. If you are staying at one of the Harrah's owned properties (ex. Harrah's) They have free shuttle service for all occupants to and from all thier properties, and it comes around every 15 minutes I think. So if you are staying at say Harrah's take that shuttle to Rio for free and give that $10 that you would have spent on a cab and put it towards a drink, or better yet a good tip for that bartender ;) The only downside is I think the shuttle stops at 8 so you have to get there early but that can be your gambling time.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel

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June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSingletonOfelia21

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