48 Hours in Las Vegas: The Ultimate Itinerary

Las Vegas
Elena Papadopolis / EyeEm / Getty Images
  • 01 of 06

    Day 1: Morning

    Cosmopolitan Terrace Suite
    Courtesy of Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

    Las Vegas is easily one of the most underappreciated and misunderstood cities in the world. But if you look past all of the debauchery that led it to its Sin City moniker, you’ll find a destination teeming with world-class dining, astounding art, and one-of-a-kind entertainment. To help you make the most of your weekend, we’ve compiled the spots you must check out in the town right now. From the best in restaurants to the most exhilarating clubs, here’s how to have an unforgettable 48 hours in Vegas:

    10 a.m.: As soon as you land at McCarren International Airport, head over to your hotel and see if you’ve lucked out with early check-in. For the quintessential Las Vegas experience, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is the coolest resort on the Strip that offers everything from stellar dining venues to energetic nightlife. Plus, it’s the only property that offers balconies with majority of its accommodations. Book a room facing the Bellagio fountains and you’ll have an extraordinary view of the water show and the glittering lights after sunset.

    11 a.m.: Once you’ve freshened up, or if you don’t have access to your room just yet, grab a quick bite at one of the eateries on the second floor. There are a few options to choose from, but at the new Block 16 Urban Food Hall you’ll find District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew., a New Orleans favorite that makes everything from scratch. As the name suggests, pick up one of their delicious confections and a coffee for the road. But if you’re in the mood for something savory, they have you covered with their homemade biscuits. Afterward, take a stroll around the hotel so that you can get the lay of the land and know where you’re going later on.

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  • 02 of 06

    Day 1: Afternoon

    Flock & Fowl
    Courtesy of Flock & Fowl

    2 p.m.: Your first afternoon will probably be the only time you’ll be able to muster up enough energy to head off-Strip for lunch, so take this opportunity to experience one of the local Asian restaurants away from the bustling, casino-lined road. Just a stone’s throw away is Lotus of Siam, arguably the best Thai restaurant in town. Northern dishes are the name of the game here with favorites such as khao soi (egg noodles in a curry-based broth) and sai oua (a pork sausage mixed with herbs and spices), but there are also several Isaan-style items on the menu that will tantalize your taste buds. If you want to venture downtown, make your way over to Flock & Fowl. The wings are a hot commodity, but it’s the Hainan chicken that you definitely can’t skip out on. And if you’re craving pho, drive a little past Chinatown to District One. This fusion restaurant serves one of the most dramatic bowls using a whole Maine lobster or you can also get it with a large helping of bone marrow. The indulgent oxtail fried rice is also a home runner.

    4 p.m.: After you’ve had your fill, head back to the Strip and explore. Meander your way through the old-school themed resorts or do a bit of spending at the Shops at Crystals. For any fans of James Turrell, look out for his installation at the entrance closest to Aria or see if you can get an appointment for the artist’s hidden space within the Louis Vuitton store.

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  • 03 of 06

    Day 1: Evening

    Unknown at the Palms
    Courtesy of Palms

    7 p.m.: While Las Vegas is constantly evolving and welcoming new players, the biggest transformation is the revamped Palms Casino Resort. After a $690 million renovation, the hotel has a jaw-dropping mix of blue chip and street art that’s rarely ever seen under one roof and it’s worth spending an entire night out there. First, grab an aperitif at Unknown, a bar that has been designed by Damien Hirst featuring his famous spot paintings and a 13-foot-long tiger shark that has been separated into three tanks of formaldehyde.

    8:30 p.m.: Once you’re ready for dinner, there are several delicious options to choose from. For a more laid-back, refined meal, head up to the 56th floor and grab a table at Vetri Cucina to savor some delectable handmade pastas. But if you want an ambience that will really get you pumped for the night ahead, make your way over to Scotch 80 Prime. At this modern steakhouse the thumping music sets the tone for a fun evening out and the bites are ridiculously delicious. Top picks include the mesquite-fired seafood tower, ribeye ravioli perched atop roasted bone marrow, and the A5 Japanese Kobe beef. If you’ve come with a large group, book the private dining room by the bar and enjoy your meal in the presence of original Basquiats and Warhols.

    11 p.m.: Once you’ve cleaned your plate, find out what Sin City’s nightlife is all about. The newest hotspot in town is KAOS, a megaclub that just opened boasting the most pools of any resort in North America, the largest LED wall in Vegas, and a 60-foot-tall sculpture of a headless demon by Hirst. And with residencies like Cardi B, G-Eazy, Marshmello, Kaskade, and many other incredible artists, this is the place to party. If something low-key is more your speed, there’s Mr. Coco at the Palms, an elegant piano bar mixing up exciting craft cocktails; the intimate and sultry Rosina at the Palazzo, which focuses on classic drinks and champagne; and the Dorsey lounge at the Venetian. Later on, if you’re in need of a late-night slice, Side Piece at the Palms and Secret Pizza at the Cosmopolitan will satisfy your cravings.

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  • 04 of 06

    Day 2: Morning

    Eggslut breakfast sandwich
    Courtesy of Eggslut

    10:30 a.m.: Let’s be honest, after a boisterous evening you’re most likely taking this time to sleep in. But if you somehow manage to wake up before noon, order some room service while you laze around in bed or grab a quick breakfast at either Eggslut or the Juice Standard. The former’s egg sandwiches are perfect for soaking up all of the alcohol from the night before while the latter is ideal for anyone who needs a healthier start to the day after hours of imbibing. If you need some extra help to bounce back, IV hydration companies like Reviv can give you a boost and there happens to be an outpost on the second floor of the Cosmopolitan right next to Drybar.

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  • 05 of 06

    Day 2: Afternoon

    Encore Beach Club
    Courtesy of Wynn

    2 p.m.: If you’re here on the weekend from late spring to early fall, pool party season is in full swing. KAOS is a great option, but if you want a change from last night, Encore Beach Club and Marquee are also exemplary dayclub options. Check to see who’s spinning at each to decide which act you want to see the most. And if you’ve booked a table, use part of your tab on lunch while dancing away in the sun.

    Otherwise, grab brunch at Herringbone and spoil yourself with their endless Moët & Chandon Rosé package (only available on Saturday and Sunday); enjoy artisanal pastries and French fare at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon; or pick up a variety of bites from the vendors at Block 16 Urban Food Hall. Afterward, lounge by the pool at the hotel, test your luck at the tables, take a spin on the High Roller observation wheel, or pamper yourself at the spa. The ones at the Cosmopolitan, Wynn, Encore, and Waldorf Astoria are some of the finest on the Strip, with a promising addition arriving at the Palms later this summer.

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  • 06 of 06

    Day 2: Evening

    Nomad Las Vegas
    Benoit Linero

    6 p.m.: Grab an early dinner tonight so that you can catch a show afterward. One of the most anticipated openings of the past few months is the NoMad Restaurant at the namesake hotel. Conceived by chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara, the masterminds behind highly acclaimed Eleven Madison Park, the two have finally introduced their interpretation of upscale American cuisine to Las Vegas. If you prefer something more casual, Roy Choi has finally brought his Los Angeles–inspired Korean fare to Park MGM with his latest restaurant, Best Friend.

    8 p.m.: Now it’s time to take in the theatrical side of Sin City. Every year some of the biggest names in music are brought in to perform in much more intimate venues than the typical concert hall. The most talked-about act in town right now is Lady Gaga at Park Theater. But if you can’t catch the award-winning superstar while she’s in town, check out the other headliners at Park Theater, Zappos Theater, the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, and Pearl Theater. But if acrobatics are more your thing, book a ticket to Absinthe. The raunchy production combines shocking tricks with adult humor and is the best non-musical show in Vegas.

    11 p.m.: Afterward, continue the fun with night two out on the town. For EDM lovers, Omnia and Hakkasan are home to highly sought-after DJs like Calvin Harris, Tiësto, Zedd, and Steve Aoki. The former features one of the most impressive club installations in the world courtesy of a 22,000-pound kinetic chandelier with thousands of lights that are individually programmable. The latter will debut a 30-foot, 3D printed grid featuring pixel-mapping and color-mixing technologies this summer, proving that nightlife is not just about the music, but also the experience. But if you need to take it easy, hop over to Juniper Cocktail Lounge at Park MGM for some gin libations or head back to the Cosmopolitan where you can choose from mezcal and tequila bar Ghost Donkey, the swanky Chandelier lounge, or the whiskey-focused speakeasy at the Barbershop.