We love Las Vegas! In fact it’s one of our favorite destinations in the world.
We love the Las Vegas Strip, the neon lights, restaurants, shows and high-end hotels. Considering we don’t gamble, this may seem an odd selection of a favorite destination, but I hope this article will help explain our love of Sin City.
Several years back Las Vegas attempted to market itself as a family destination, an effort with which I didn’t agree. The prominent ads for strip clubs alone make me want to declare the strip an “adults only” venue. However, the things to do in Vegas for couples is endless and can make for a wonderfully romantic weekend. I’ll share how we make the most of our visits here including one of our favorite day trips from Las Vegas.
Vegas can be a very pricey destination, so I’ll also share some of our strategies for enjoying the luxuries of the city for much less money. And if this is your first time in the city, be sure to research where to stay in Vegas because there are always deals to be had.
Hiking Near Las Vegas
You might be thinking that ‘hiking’ and ‘Las Vegas’ are a strange combination, but let me explain. Just thirty minutes Northwest of the Strip is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, a 200,000 acre park full of colorful sandstone formations. We have been hiking here for at least ten years, and still haven’t explored every trail. Compared to the crowds at most national parks, this place is almost empty--especially once you get on the trail. While our lives at home can be pretty hectic, on the trail Jason and I enjoy a few hours of uninterrupted time together.
But if hiking isn’t your style, there are other options. For anyone traveling with kids or grandkids, Red Rock offers a very informative and hands-on Visitors Center. There is also a 13-mile scenic drive with several viewpoints perfect for photos.
While I really do love the glitz and glamour of Vegas, I equally enjoy a natural wonder like Red Rock. For half a day it’s nice to take a break from all the bright lights of the Strip.
The entrance fee is $15 per car and the park opens every day of the year at 6 a.m.
Love to hike? Read about the Best Hikes in California.
Spend the afternoon at a Las Vegas spa
So after we spend a few hours hiking, we tell ourselves we deserve a trip to a Las Vegas spa. Afterall, we are sore from all that trekking and rock scrambling. Over the years we’ve visited several spas including Reliquary Spa at the Hard Rock Hotel, Drift Spa at Palms Place, and The Spa at Aria. All three are lovely.
Spas can be very expensive, especially for a couple, so each time we go we select one based on the discounts available through TravelZoo. This site offers dozens of Las Vegas spa deals with up to a 50% discount on services like massages and facials. Typically if you purchase a spa treatment then a day pass to the spa is included. Most spas offer hot tubs, saunas, and steam rooms. Some may offer complimentary juice and fruit. Parts of the facility may be co-ed which is a nice way to enjoy the experience as a couple.
Check out the art in Las Vegas
First I suggest hiking, and now art. I bet you are wondering if I’ve lost my mind. But believe it or not, the art in Las Vegas is impressive.
The best place to enjoy several prominent artists in one place is the Bellagio, starting in their lobby. Look up at the ceiling and you’ll see the Fiori di Como installation from one of the top glass artists in the world, Dale Chihuly. I’m a big fan of his, and could go on for days, but I’ll have to save that for another article. This is Chihuly’s interpretation of Italian flowers in the Spring.
Located in the Promenade Shops is the Bellagio Fine Arts Gallery which is currently showing one of Kusama’s infinity mirrored rooms and another installation of her’s called Narcissus Garden. Check their website for admission prices, hours and exhibitions.
During our last visit to Vegas, we stayed at the recently renovated Cosmopolitan which offers a large collection of contemporary art. Just walking around the hotel is like exploring an art museum--but for free, making this one of the cheap things to do in vegas. There are photographs, paintings and sculptures everywhere. Check out this page to learn more about the art at the Cosmo. If you appreciate art at all, take some time to explore this hotel. (It doesn’t hurt that there are several terrific restaurants and bars to check-out simultaneously making it even better than an art museum.)
Even Starbucks at the Cosmo includes a contemporary art installation! French artist and photographer, George Rousse created his first permanent, public installation here which is geometric and colorful, and quite different than the normal Starbucks interior. Each morning of our stay I made a beeline to Starbucks to enjoy my morning coffee and this cool decor.
Enjoy a romantic dinner in Las Vegas
When it comes to a list of romantic things to do in Las Vegas, dining is at the top. From the decor to the food to the wine, this city does romance while eating really well. We’ve eaten at many great restaurants in Vegas and I'll share a few of our favorites.
During our most recent visit to Vegas we checked out the Top of the World Restaurant at The Strat (formerly known as The Stratosphere). What a spectacular view! Located 800 feet above The Strip, there is no better place to see the city and the surrounding area. What's even better is that the restaurant actually rotates. If you are here for at least 80 minutes you'll make one complete rotation. We booked a table right before sunset and enjoyed watching the chaning colors over Red Rocks while also seeing the lights come up on The Strip. The food is very pricey, but you are paying for the experience. A less expensive alternative is to grab a drink in the lounge below. While I wouldn't eat here every visit to Vegas, it's ideal for a special occasion.
BLT Steak, located in Bally’s Hotel, is a great combination of well executed steakhouse food, nicely crafted cocktails and friendly service. The dim lighting and simple decor make for a lovely evening. In place of the usual breadbasket they serve steaming hot popovers. Oh. My. Goodness. It was hard not to make an entire meal of these, but I did manage to restrain myself so I could eat the salad and steak. We found a nice discount for BLT through TravelZoo.
We were able to snag a table for lunch at Giada’s, the restaurant named for celebrity chef Giada DeLaurentis, during its opening month a few years ago. We liked it so much we came back for dinner the next day. The location of this restaurant on the second floor of the Cromwell Hotel, across the street from Caesar’s Palace, allows for a great view of the Strip, day or night. The food is Italian and delicious. Now that the buzz of a new opening is gone, I’ve seen discounts available through TravelZoo.
But my vote for most romantic restaurant in Las Vegas is Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris Hotel. We make a point to enjoy lunch or dinner here every single visit to Vegas. We always make a reservation and request a table on the patio. While the French bistro styled food is delicious, what makes this place so special--and romantic--is the view of the Bellagio Fountains across the street. (The fountain schedule varies according to the day and time of year, so to make this work, check the Bellagio’s website.)
It would be a shame not to point out a few hotels that offer multiple options for excellent dining in one location. The first is the Aria Resort and Casino which has a couple dozen gourmet dining spots on site--we highly recommend Lemon Grass serving Thai food. The next is Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and it's new food hall that includes Pok Pok Wing, Hattie B's Hot Chicken, and Eggslut. Every year the big resorts of Vegas keep offering better food!
Watch a Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show
The options for shows in Las Vegas are endless, and many are top rated, but our personal favorites are those produced by Cirque du Soleil. I love the range of entertainment from clowns to trapeze artists to acrobats. I always recommend arriving early since the clowns begin performing about fifteen minutes before the official start time.
Of the six current Cirque shows in Vegas, we’ve seen four. Our favorite is O, which we splurged on for an anniversary trip and was worth every cent. Most recently we saw The Beatles Love, which we enjoyed, but wouldn’t put at the top of the list.
For many Vegas shows, including some of those by Cirque du Soleil, there are ways to save money. There are several shops on the Strip that offer discounted tickets for shows on the same day. While the discounts are good, these lines can be very long. I prefer to purchase discounted tickets in advance online and skip the waits. As mentioned many times above, we like to take advantage of the discounts offered by TravelZoo.
Explore Eataly Las Vegas
How can I claim that exploring Eataly Las Vegas is romantic? Because in my opinion everything Italian is romantic. If you've never been to an Eataly before, it's a collection of Italian restaurants, cafes and markets all under one roof. This is the fourth one we've visited, and they are all great.
The Las Vegas location can be found inside the new Park MGM. It has been open for less than a year and already it's a big hit, so expect crowds. On a hot summer day this is a great place to duck inside for some gelato or iced coffee drink. But if you're hungry, it's also the ideal spot for an Italian meal of pizza or pasta. Definitely set aside time to browse the market which offers an endless selection of Italian meats, cheeses, sauces and of course wines.
Ride the Las Vegas High Roller
I definitely put the High Roller amongst the top ten things to do in Las Vegas. The 550 foot observation wheel gives guests a great opportunity to view the entire city, not just the Strip. Each cabin can accommodate up to 40 people! 30 minute rides can be purchased with or without a bar inside the cabin. We opted for their Happy Half Hour ride which includes an open bar. I’ve now enjoyed the High Roller twice and would recommend it to anyone.
Once again, discounted tickets can be purchased through several websites including TravelZoo and Groupon.
Things to do in Vegas for couples
A few final thoughts about making your trip to Vegas affordable. First, be flexible with your dates. Hotel prices can vary wildly depending on the time of year and which conferences are in town. Second, be open to the hotel you select. There are so many hotels here that there are always a dozen offering deep discounts, even those at the high end. Finally, do your research. Las Vegas attractions are plentiful, but so are the discounts.