Las Vegas was built on the idea that “average” and “normal” were adjectives that should never be used to describe the city. They don’t just build hotels here; they build the biggest hotels in the world. And then they throw a roller coaster, a volcano, a $500-per-person golf course, or a $400-per-meal restaurant into the mix. Vegas is all about extravagance, so this itinerary will help you find the biggest of the big, the wildest of the wild, and the most outrageous, over-the-top experiences the city has to offer.
You’re going to have a busy day of excess, so it’s important to start out with an ample breakfast to keep your energy level high. Room service is always an option—there’s nothing quite as extravagant as having servers bring you food without ever getting out of bed—but if you feel like getting up and out, try the sumptuous brunch buffets at Wynn Las Vegas or Caesars Palace. Both offer an almost mind-boggling number of food choices (Caesars Bacchanal Buffet claims over 500 individual dishes at any time), all of which are a cut above your standard buffet. Handmade omelets and crêpes, freshly baked breads, and heaping mounds of bacon, sausage, and even steak will go well with your unlimited mimosas. At more than $45 per person (for the weekend champagne brunch), the price will remind you that this is no pedestrian all-you-can-eat experience. The Sterling Brunch at BLT at Bally’s will set you back nearly $100 for the weekend meal, but with all-you-can-eat caviar, lobster tails, and free-flowing Perrier-Jouet champagne, it’s worth every penny.
The morning hours are the best time to schedule your outdoor activities. Not only are crowds often lighter, as a lot of people sleep in (it is a vacation, after all), but temperatures are also more moderate. This is especially true in the summer, when an afternoon stroll down the Strip can emulate a trek across the desert. So use this time to catch some rays poolside or, if you are recreationally minded, work up a moderate sweat with a round of golf. If you are a guest of any of the Caesars Palace, you can play the rony links at the Cascata for a princely sum of $295 per person (or more)
If golf isn’t your game, try a visit to a spa for some pampering and luxuriating. TheSpa at Encore offers virtually every massage, aromatherapy, skin-care treatment, and relaxation technique known to man—some of which will cost you more per 30-minute session than your hotel room. Soak in the jacuzzi or dip in and out of the hot and cold pools before heading out for the rest of the day.
Then it’s off to the shopping malls, where the true excess can really begin. The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian, The LINQ, Grand Bazaar Shops, The Shops at Crystals, Fashion Show, and the Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood are all filled with high-end retailers designed to drain your checking account and max out your credit cards. If those are a little out of your price range, consider going the completely opposite direction at the Bonanza Gift and Souvenir Shop. Billed as the largest souvenir shop in the world, this is the place where you can find pretty much anything—from tacky to, well, more tacky—emblazoned with the words “Las Vegas” on it. The kitsch factor here is off the charts.
Start your evening with a meal at Joël Robuchon, the multi-Michelin-star-winning darling of the foodie world—and with good reason. The degustation menu will only cost you a mere $445 a person (and that’s before wine) to find out why. Or if your extravagance knows no bounds, try the FleurBurger at Fleur by Hubert Keller. Made from Wagyu beef, topped with foie gras truffle, and accompanied by a bottle of 1995 Chateau Pétrus, it costs a measly $5,000.
Next, you’ll want to see a show, and you should focus on those that can only be seen here. If Mariah Carey or Celine Dionis in town, you should seize the opportunity to catch one of their concerts at Caesars Palace, because these shows are exclusive to Vegas. Or check out any of Cirque du Soleil’s Vegas-only productions, the best of which are O at Bellagio and KÀ at MGM Grand. Each is set in its own multimillion-dollar theater, with stage sets—a giant pool and an enormous revolving platform, respectively—unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Nighttime is the best time for getting the true Strip experience, so how about renting a limousine (maybe one of those superstretch Hummers, if you are feeling really crazy) and instructing the driver to just cruise Las Vegas Boulevard. Hanging out of the sunroof with a cocktail in your hand is discouraged, but people do it anyway.
An after-dark stop at the High Roller is in order to give you a bird’s-eye view of Las Vegas from the top of the world’s tallest observation wheel, and then it’s off to the party spots.
Most of the Vegas club scene starts late (11pm or midnight), so have your driver take you to one of the hip hot spots, such as XS at Encore, Light at Mandalay Bay, or Marquee at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. These are see-and-be-seen places, so dress to impress and be on the lookout for a celebrity or three hanging out in the VIP areas. You can easily drop a grand if you want to sit at a table with bottle service.
If it’s more of the classic Las Vegas vibe you’re looking for, try Peppermill’s, with its retro-'70s/'80s interior. So cheesy, it’s hip again.
Your final destination should be in the spot that makes Vegas tick, the casino. Yes, there are casinos all over the country now, but there’s nothing quite like tossing the dice at a craps table at Caesars Palace or spinning the reels in the high-limit lounge at Wynn Las Vegas.