Beat’s guide to Las Vegas

Beat’s guide to Las Vegas

Words by Tobias Handke

There’s much more to Vegas than casinos.

Sin City is one destination that’s high on most people’s bucket lists. A neon paradise where street drinking is legal and nightclubs never seem to close, there’s a reason why they say, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

Along with the exciting nightlife, Vegas offers a number of activities that don’t involve gambling, drinking or late night strip club visits. Step away from the insanity of the Strip and you’ll find a city with incredible art, food, culture and a rich history unlike any other American city.

To make sure you’re not missing out on what the true Las Vegas has to offer, here are some musts for your next trip to the Strip.

Take a tour of the historic Neon Museum

What happens to all the neon signs and displays when they break down? They get sent to the Neon Boneyard where they are put on display for all to see. Over 200 different signs are on show, from a massive skull that used to be part of Treasure Island casino to a fully functional neon guitar that once signalled the Hard Rock Café. A number of handy plaques provide a history of the most well-known signs while the museum staff are on hand to answer any questions you might have.


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Rock out at America’s most underrated music festival

Vegas has moved on from the crooners of the ’60s and now hosts some of the biggest names in the music industry throughout the year. While the likes of Lady Gaga and Barry Manilow have residencies throughout the year, Vegas also plays host to one of the most underrated festivals in the country. Held in Downtown Vegas, Life Is Beautiful Music & Art Festival hosts three days of incredible music and unique art and cultural displays. Last year Chance The Rapper, The Black Keys and Post Malone headlined, while over 50 of Vegas’ top restaurants put on a culinary feast. Hands down one of the best festivals around.


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Dine out at a celebrity chef restaurant

Celebrity chefs are still a thing, so if you’re a fan of Gordan Ramsey or Guy Fieri then Las Vegas will take care of your tastebuds. While there are hundreds of different eateries along the Strip and in each hotel, the ones owned by celebrity chefs are the most in-demand. Where to dine depends on your palate. If you fancy French, then you can’t go past Joel Robuchon’s L’atelier De Joël Robuchon, fast food lovers should try a burger at Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen and Bar while Gordan Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen resembles the set of his famous TV show and has a traditional menu with dishes such as beef Wellington, lobster risotto and sticky toffee pudding. If you’d rather keep things simple, try Denny’s. Cheap, nasty and fulfilling, this is the true American diner experience.


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Discover the rejuvenated Downtown

After Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh invested US$350 million of his own hard-earned dollars into revitalising downtown Las Vegas, the once derelict area is now as popular as the actual Strip. Dozens of new bars, clubs and restaurants have been built and the 777-room luxury Circa resort and casino is set to open later this year. While there, enjoy a stroll down the famous Fremont Street, take a ride on the SlotZilla Zip Line and visit The Mob Museum to learn about Vegas’ shady past before stopping for a bite to eat at Carson Kitchen and a Moscow mule at dive bar Corduroy.


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Take a chopper ride to the Grand Canyon

Get away from Vegas and explore the surrounding environment by visiting the Grand Canyon. This incredible natural landmark stretches 446km through the Arizona wild and has to be seen to be believed. While it only takes four hours to drive there, if you really want to absorb the sheer size of the canyon, it’s worth taking a chopper tour. Most companies offer flights over the canyon lasting close to two hours, with some even landing so you can have a quick look around. Expect to pay between US$300 – US$600.


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See a cirque show

While there are plenty of music and comedy shows to keep you entertained, you can’t really visit Vegas without catching a Cirque du Soleil performance. There are seven different shows to choose from, with The Beatles LOVE a must for music fans. Michael Jackson ONE is for those who want to remember the disgraced singer before Leaving Neverland, while Mystère offers an acrobatic original show, involves levitation and O features underwater choreography. Zumanity is for the adults due to a fair bit of nudity while the latest production R.U.N. is like an action movie on steroids.


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Art, art and more art

Unbeknown to most, Vegas is home to a massive collection of art scattered throughout the city. The hotels under the MGM Resorts banner (including Bellagio, ARIA, Excalibur and Luxor) have a huge collection of artworks on display, including a stunning light display from James Turrell and Japanese art and sculptures from the Jōmon Period to the present. Outside of the hotels, the Centaur Art Gallery is the oldest in Vegas, with a large collection of 19th and 20th century pieces from the likes of Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt and Salvador Dali, while The Arts Factory includes over 20 galleries showcasing work from local artists.


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