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Tipping in Greece: The Greece Tipping Guide

A vacation in Greece promises beautiful scenery, fresh and delicious food, and interactions with friendly locals. As a visitor, you’ll find yourself in plenty of situations in which you might naturally think to tip. But should you?

Tipping in Greece is customary, but is by no means obligatory. This Greece tipping guide will help you navigate when/where you can leave a little extra for great service.

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Tipping in Greece

[st_content_ad]Tipping in Greece may be expected in most places, but it is by no means an obligation. There is no set standard for how much to leave when service exceeds expectations, but there are certain times when it’s expected you’ll tip. For instance, some restaurants may round up the bill to include gratuity, so it is wise to look for this inclusion before tipping. Note that it’s also common for servers not to receive tips included on a credit card, so try to leave cash whenever possible so ensure the person you’re trying to tip actually receives the gratuity.

Want to know when to tip for other services? Read on to make sense of where, when, and how much to tip when you’re traveling in Greece.

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View of a narrow street in the old town of Thessaloniki, Greece

How To Tip In Greece

Cafe Server:

Greece doesn’t have a strong culture of tipping at cafes. But if there is a tip jar by the cash register, it’s a nice gesture to leave a couple of coins. For exceptional table service, round up to the nearest €1.

Restaurant Server:

A tip is typically expected, especially for stellar service, but some restaurants round up the bill to include gratuity. Check the bill first for these inclusions before deciding whether or not to tip. If there is no added tip, leave 5 to 10 percent, and a few coins on the table for the busser. Some restaurants may refuse gratuity for service, so if you’re unsure, you can certainly ask before tipping. There may be a “cover charge” on the bill, which covers the cost of bread and non-bottled water, but doesn’t include gratuity.


At bars, it’s not necessary to tip a bartender, as most do not expect it; but it is considerate to round to the nearest €1 for great service.

Tour Guides:

In Greece, it’s customary to tip tour guides. Tip €2 to €5 per person, per day for a group tour; and €20 per person, per day for a private tour.

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View of Greek Orthodox Church in Monastiraki Square and line of yellow cabs


A good rule of thumb is to round up to the nearest euro. This approach simplifies paying with cash, and it’s not an unusual way to tip without actually tipping. For exceptional service, or if you use a taxi driver for multiple stops, for a longer distance, or as a guide, you might add 5 to 10 percent of the final fare to your total payment.

Airport Shuttle Driver:

It is not necessary to tip your driver, but feel free to give €1 per bag if they help with your luggage.

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If a doorman assists with luggage or hailing transportation, a simple thank you is appreciated. But for exceptional service, it certainly wouldn’t be remiss to offer €1.


At hotels, feel free to tip the bellhop €1 to €2 per bag delivered to your room, but no more than €5 total. 


At hotels, or in vacation rentals that have daily cleaning services, it’s customary to leave €1 per night, especially if the cleaner is doing a great job.

Front Desk at the Astra Suites


If the concierge goes above and beyond with helping you book reservations, giving you directions, and/or providing insider recommendations, it’s considerate to tip €5 to €10. For answers to quick questions, though, you shouldn’t feel obligated.


For haircuts, shampoos, trims, and shaves, it’s considerate, but not expected, to tip 10 percent of the final bill if you’re satisfied with your new look.

Spa Service Provider:

A tip isn’t expected, but you can leave up to 10 percent for anything that goes above and beyond your expectations. Simply ask for an envelope for the tip at the front desk, and then either deliver the envelope to your provider or leave the tip at the front desk.

Beachy Jumpsuit for Greece Adventure

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13 Free Things to Do in Las Vegas

I know, I know—what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But if you’re not careful, it could be the contents of your wallet, savings account, and retirement fund that stay in Vegas, too.

The Top 13 Free Things to Do in Las Vegas

While hotels come cheap in Las Vegas, the attractions and shows do not. That’s why you should supplement your trips to the Las Vegas casinos, roller coasters, Cirque du Soleil shows, and other expensive endeavors with these free attractions. Here are 13 fun, free things to do in Las Vegas on your next trip.

Bellagio Fountains and Conservatory & Botanical Garden

bellagio fountains las vegas.

The Bellagio fountains pop up in just about every Las Vegas movie ever made, including the iconic ending to Ocean’s Eleven. Create your own crime caper or rom-com ending and catch the Fountains of Bellagio in action; the free show plays every 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the time of day, and watching it is one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas.

Thrillingly synced to pop and classical music, hundreds of separate fountains and water features shoot up into the air with the Italianate hotel facade as their stunning backdrop. When you’ve had your fountain fill, take a leisurely stroll through Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Garden, where horticulturalists maintain an ever-changing array of florals, gazebos, bridges, and ponds.

The gardens are also free for visitors and provide a nice respite from the relentless desert sun.

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Fremont Street Experience

fremont street experience las vegas.

Equal parts mall, concert venue, and light show, the Fremont Street Experience takes everything that Las Vegas is known for (glitter, lights, and gambling) and rolls it into one five-block area. The main attraction here is a barrel vault canopy aglow with 12.5 million LED lights that lead pedestrians to vintage casinos such as the Golden Nugget and the Four Queens. Guests can also enjoy free concerts from hard-rocking headliners all summer long.

Art at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

cosmopolitan las vegas lobby.

And you thought Las Vegas had no culture. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has amassed one of the most exclusive art collections in the country, providing a highbrow break from the Strip’s bare skin and penny slots.

You’ll find fascinating installations throughout The Cosmopolitan’s public spaces, including the lobby, the stairwells, and even the parking garage.

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CBS Television City Research Center at MGM Grand

cbs television city research center.

You might not be a network exec, but you can still have your voice heard. At the CBS Television City Research Center at MGM Grand, you can sample brand-new TV shows and opine on potential pilots during the hour-long screenings. It’s one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas.

Head into one of the studios to sample program offerings by CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, and other Viacom-owned channels. Register your opinion on a test monitor and consider yourself part of television history before returning to your regularly scheduled vacation.

Circus Acts at Circus Circus Las Vegas

circus circus act las vegas.

Looking for free shows in Las Vegas? The whole family will approve of the circus acts at Circus Circus. This special spot on the Strip has long entertained guests with its Carnival Midway and countless circus acts. In fact, the resort contains the largest permanent circus in the world.

A rotating cast of jugglers, acrobats, aerialists, and roller-skating stuntmen delights kids of every age (and the cash-strapped parents toting their new carnival prizes). Cap off the entertainment with a rousing show from Circus Circus’ resident clowns on the Midway’s main stage. Let the fact that all this entertainment is free assuage any lingering clown phobia.

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Downtown Container Park

praying mantis downtown container park las vegas.

A giant mechanical praying mantis welcomes visitors into this open-air park made from repurposed shipping containers. Here you’ll find shops, restaurants, bars, and a stage for free live music performances. Kids can enjoy The Treehouse, a play area with a slide and building blocks, up until 9:00 p.m. each day (when the park becomes adults only).

Wildlife Habitat at Flamingo Las Vegas

flamingos in las vegas.

You’ll likely encounter a variety of colorful creatures on the Las Vegas Strip, from partying bachelorettes with anatomically correct lollipops to celebrities on their baddest behavior. Catch a glimpse of a different kind of flamboyance at Flamingo Las Vegas, with its habitat chock-full of the pink-hued birds.

A flock (actually called a flamboyance) of Chilean flamingos is on view at the free exhibit, which also features an array of swans, ducks, koi fish, and turtles who live among the foliage and waterfalls. The habitat is located next to the pool area and is one of the great free things to do in Las Vegas for hotel guests and non-guests alike.

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Volcano at The Mirage

mirage volcano las vegas.

Well, this spot has really blown up. With a soundtrack by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and Indian table drummer Zakir Hussain, the heart-pounding audio/visual attraction at the Polynesian-themed Mirage spews fire into the air beginning at 8:00 p.m. every night, making it one of the most memorable free shows in Las Vegas.

The smoke that the volcano spouts more than 100 feet above the water is actually perfumed with a pleasant pina colada scent (to cover up the odor of natural gas). The spectacle rivals the well-known fountains at Bellagio, another free Las Vegas attraction, just a half-mile up the Strip.

Pinball Hall of Fame

pinball hall of fame.

This nonprofit please-touch museum is actually the world’s largest pinball-machine collection. In 10,000 square feet of space, you’ll find an assortment of more than 200 pinball machines and arcade games from a half-century of gaming history. And every game is playable, from a 1992 Super Mario Bros. machine to the wooden 1947 Heavy Hitter.

Admission is free, although the games are coin-operated (25 or 50 cents per play). Just arm yourself with the knowledge that all excess revenue goes to charity. Who knew doing good could feel like such good old-fashioned fun?

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Aquarium at Silverton Hotel and Casino

aquarium at silverton hotel and casino.

The only sting here is from jellyfish. Consistently ranked one of the top free things to do in Las Vegas, the massive saltwater aquarium at the Silverton Hotel and Casino will transport you from the parched desert to a vast tropical oasis. Around 117,000 gallons of saltwater house thousands of fish, sharks, stingrays, and reef plants. Interactive feeding demonstrations and a mermaid show round out the offerings.

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign

welcome to fabulous las vegas sign.

A selfie with this famous sign is a must-have for your Instagram feed, and it won’t cost you a dime. Located at 5100 S. Las Vegas Boulevard, the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign has marked the beginning of the Strip since 1959.

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Ethel M. Chocolates

factory workers at ethel m chocolates

Located in nearby Henderson is one of the Vegas area’s most delicious attractions: Ethel M. Chocolates, where you can enjoy free samples, stroll through a botanical garden filled with cacti, and take a complimentary self-guided tour through the factory to see how the staff prepares pecan brittle, caramels, and other tasty treats.

First Friday in the Arts District

first friday las vegas.

On the first Friday evening of every month, from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., the Arts District of downtown Las Vegas opens its streets for wallet- and family-friendly fun. Find a variety of artists and vendors hawking their wares, plus live music, activities for kids, and a fleet of food trucks for peckish revelers. Each month’s event features a different theme.

What to Wear in Vegas

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2013. It has been updated to reflect the most current information. Sarah Schlichter contributed to this story.

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Wynn Just Opened Its First Non-Vegas U.S. Casino in This Surprising City

Mass Vegas, anyone? If you’ve ever wanted to go to a ritzy Las Vegas casino without actually having to go all the way to The Strip, Boston’s newest nightlife behemoth—the Encore Boston Harbor—might interest you. It’s the first non-Vegas Wynn casino and resort in the United States.

But, full disclosure, the luxe Encore Boston Harbor isn’t actually in Boston (or Boston Harbor, for that matter). It’s in nearby Everett, Massachusetts, which is a short water-taxi ride (or 20-minute car drive) up the Mystic River from Boston’s fast-growing Seaport neighborhood. Still, it’s certainly the closest casino to Boston, hence the name. The next closest options are MGM in Western Massachusetts and Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut (both about a two-hour drive away). Meanwhile, the only other Wynn-owned casinos in the world outside of Vegas are in famously ritzy Macau.

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What to Know About the Encore Boston Harbor Casino

Encore boston harbor casino fllor

I visited the new Wynn property ahead of its official June opening to find out what Encore visitors—tourists and Bostonians alike—need to know about the property. Here’s what it’s really like inside, and how to decide if it’s worth a visit for you.

It’s Just as Ritzy as the Las Vegas Wynn

Encore boston harbor casino entrance carousel

If you’re looking for all the glam of the Wynn Las Vegas or Encore Las Vegas, its Boston sibling certainly has it. The dozen high-end restaurants, a massive casino floor of brightly lit slot machines, and 670 luxurious guest rooms starting at $650 per night are just the beginning.

A life-sized floral carousel (as in, made entirely of flowers and crystals) greets guests at the main entrance. The Wynn brand’s famous (and famously pricey) red Venetian-glass chandeliers were removed from the Las Vegas properties and sent to the Encore Boston casino. The art on display will make you feel like you’ve stepped into Ocean’s Eleven; a $28 million Jeff Koons Popeye statue is proudly displayed in the casino’s upscale shopping area. The steakhouse, Rare, will be one of only several restaurants in the U.S. offering certified Kobe beef.

Boston’s Liquor Laws Still (Partially) Apply

Memoire encore boston harbor casino club

Visitors to Boston often don’t learn until they arrive that Happy Hours and bar service that goes until 4:00 a.m. are both illegal in Massachusetts. The state outlawed Happy Hours in the 1980s and has long required that liquor stop being served by 2:00 a.m. at the latest. The Encore casino, however, is an exception. As long as you’re actively gambling, the drinks can flow until 4:00 a.m. on the casino floor—a big step away from Massachusetts’ liquor laws. The on-site club and restaurants, however, will stop serving at 2:00 a.m.

Location, Location

Like accidentally booking an airport that’s named for a city it’s nowhere near, you might not want to book the Encore Boston Harbor if you truly want to stay in Boston or Boston Harbor. While there’s no doubt that the Encore is going to be big for Boston, it’s not in Boston. Everett is a much smaller city of about 40,000 that borders historic Charlestown—but it’s an area that’s developing fast and has seen several new breweries/distilleries and high-end restaurants emerge in recent years.

The Encore is accessible from Boston’s high-end Seaport neighborhood via a $7 water taxi, but the only other way to get to the casino is on public transit (and then a free Encore shuttle from the Orange Line Wellington train stop) or by driving about 20 minutes. That’s a far cry from Boston if you’re looking to be central for an event, business, or just your vacation.

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It Could Change Boston for Good

While the liquor laws are tight and the neighborhood is certainly hard to get to, that’s not necessarily how things are going to stay—and the Encore Boston might even be the driving force that changes both of those facts. You can bet that Wynn will continue to push permission to serve liquor later into the night, if only because it would make the casino and resort a lot more money—and if that occurs, Boston’s businesses are sure to want to be able to do the same.

As for the neighborhood, nearby Somerville is already an up-and-coming pocket of greater Boston that’s getting travel attention, and the casino says it has plans to build a covered all-weather footbridge to connect Somerville and Everett across a narrow stretch of the Mystic River. Wynn Resorts also bought 11 acres of land surrounding the casino, signaling new development that will further change the area.

The corner of the Mystic River that’s long been home to just a power station and strip malls until now is starting to look like a bit of Oz emerging upriver from Boston Harbor—a towering bronze building nestled among neatly manicured lawns and gardens. And it might be just the beginning.

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Editor Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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Cheap Weekend Getaways from 9 Major U.S. Cities

[st_content_ad]Need a vacation, but don’t have much time or money? Cheap weekend getaways are the answer. Spending two or three nights away from home can provide much-needed rejuvenation and help you scratch the itch to explore a new place at times when you can’t take a longer vacation.

Below are suggested weekend getaways from nine major metro areas around the U.S. Each getaway destination is within easy driving distance of the originating city, so you don’t need to shell out for airfare or baggage fees. Each also has well-rated, affordable hotel options.

Scroll down to see all the ideas, or click on your city below to jump straight to cheap weekend getaways from that metro area.

Featured Weekend Getaways

Cheap Weekend Getaways from Atlanta

Chattanooga, Tennessee

chattanooga tennessee aerial view

The former industrial town of Chattanooga is now an ideal spot for a weekend getaway that’s just a two-hour drive from Atlanta across the Tennessee border. Great spots for strolling include the Bluff View Art District and the scenic Riverwalk. The most popular attractions include the Tennessee Aquarium (beloved by kids and adults alike) and the Hunter Museum of American Art, housed in an early-20th-century mansion. The area is also rich in Civil War history; Chickamauga Battlefield is just a 20-minute drive outside the city.

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Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville north carolina at sunset.

About three and a half hours from Atlanta is the mountain community of Asheville, known for its artsy, outdoorsy vibe. Its most famous tourist attraction is the grand Biltmore mansion, though admission is pricey; fortunately, there are plenty of other fun things to do. Chat with artists in the River Arts District, stop to smell the flowers in the North Carolina Arboretum, or join the locals for an energetic Friday evening drum circle. The nearby Blue Ridge Mountains offer countless opportunities for hiking and scenic drives.

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Cheap Weekend Getaways from Boston

Provincetown, Massachusetts

Provincetown, massachusetts beachfront

Located at the tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is best known as a summer destination, but it makes for an appealing weekend getaway year-round. Look beyond the beaches and you’ll find the vibrant shops and eateries of Commercial Street as well as the Province Lands Bike Trail, which loops for more than five miles through bogs, pine forests, and sand dunes. And don’t overlook Provincetown’s art scene, which includes galleries and the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. You can reach Provincetown via car or ferry from Boston.

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Providence, Rhode Island

Providence, rhode island riverfront.

Rhode Island’s capital city, just a quick drive or train ride from Boston, is the perfect size for exploring in a few days. One major draw is the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, which features everything from French Impressionists to a 12th-century Japanese Buddha. Not far away is the campus of Brown University, which hosts a variety of events and is a pleasant place for a stroll. Save time to wander neighborhoods like the historic downtown district and Federal Hill, also known as Little Italy.

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Cheap Weekend Getaways from Chicago

Galena, Illinois

Galena illinois street

This quaint historic town in the northwest corner of Illinois is about a three-hour drive from Chicago. Its well-preserved 19th-century buildings include the former home of President Ulysses S. Grant and a fascinating historical society and museum. It’s easy to spend a day wandering in and out of the boutiques and galleries on Main Street, where you can pick up everything from secondhand clothes to locally made jams. Enjoy breakfast or lunch at Otto’s Place, a local favorite.

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Cheap Weekend Getaways from Houston

San Antonio, Texas

san antonio, texas riverfront

Just a three-hour drive west of Houston is San Antonio, known for its vibrant history and culture. It all starts downtown, where you’ll find the city’s most famous landmark, the Alamo, and the 15-mile urban waterway known as the River Walk, lined with restaurants and shops. There are four other historical missions here, too, comprising San Antonio Missions National Historical Park—a UNESCO World Heritage site. Families will love the DoSeum, designed for kids 10 and under, and the small but fun San Antonio Zoo.

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Lake Charles, Louisiana

Lake charles, louisiana city hall
Two hours in the opposite direction is a weekend getaway destination with an entirely different flavor: Lake Charles, Louisiana. During the day you can play a round of golf, tour a Cold War-era battleship, visit the colorful Mardi Gras Museum, or drive the Creole Nature Trail in search of alligators and birds. Then top off each day with a Cajun seafood dinner and an evening at one of the area’s four casinos.

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Cheap Weekend Getaways from Los Angeles

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua tree national park, california sunset.

The starkly beautiful desert landscapes of Joshua Tree National Park offer a peaceful (and cheap) weekend getaway from the traffic and smog of Los Angeles. Looking to hike? The park has challenging trails, easy nature walks, and everything in between. You can also bike on backcountry roads, drive along the Geology Tour Road (a 4 x 4 vehicle is recommended), or stay late for a night of stargazing. Campgrounds and affordable motels offer cheap lodging inside and near the park.

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San Diego, California

San diego, california boats in the harbor.

If you’re looking for a less remote weekend getaway, drive a few hours down the coast to San Diego. This laid-back city is a favorite with families, who flock to the San Diego Zoo, kid-friendly museums like the Fleet Science Center, and nearby LEGOLAND California. (For more ideas, see San Diego with Kids.) But San Diego is also popular for adults-only getaways, with plenty of craft breweries, cultural institutions, and neighborhoods to explore; try the Gaslamp Quarter for dining and nightlife.

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Cheap Weekend Getaways from New York City

Dutchess County, New York

Hudson valley, new york bridge

Part of the Hudson Valley region that stretches some 150 miles north of New York City, Dutchess County offers both scenic landscapes and appealing attractions year-round. History buffs can tour the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Home as well as his Presidential Library and Museum, while fans of the arts should make a beeline to spots like Dia:Beacon, a modern art center housed in a former Nabisco box-printing factory. Hikers can hop onto a section of the Appalachian Trail or enjoy the views from the top of the fire tower at Ferncliff Forest.

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Princeton, New Jersey

Princeton, new jersey dusk.

Stroll among the ivy-shrouded stone halls of Princeton University, located just 50 miles from New York City. Attractions on campus include an art museum and chapel, while the town of Princeton offers plenty of shops and restaurants along Nassau Street, the main drag. Top off your cheap weekend getaway with affordable eats at restaurants like Jammin’ Crepes and Olives Deli and Bakery.

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Cheap Weekend Getaways from San Francisco

Sacramento, California

Sacramento, california bridge at night.

California’s capital, located 90 minutes from San Francisco, makes a particularly fun weekend getaway for families thanks to attractions like the Sacramento Zoo and Fairytale Town, which features play areas for little ones based on the stories of Humpty Dumpty, Cinderella, and many more. The riverfront historic district, Old Sacramento, is a must-visit for travelers of any age, with its Gold Rush-era buildings and old-timey shops. There’s also plenty of fresh farm-to-table cuisine to savor around town at a variety of price points.

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Mendocino County, California

Mendocino county coast.

A little farther afield are the fertile vineyards, picturesque seaside villages, and jaw-dropping redwood forests of Mendocino County, about three hours north of San Francisco. Don’t miss the rugged coastal views at Mendocino Headlands State Park or the vibrantly colored blooms at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Visit Montgomery Woods State Reserve for a hike through the redwoods, or craft your own wine-tasting tour along Highway 128.

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Cheap Weekend Getaways from Seattle

Bellingham, Washington

Bellingham, washington water

In Bellingham, a small city located about 90 minutes north of Seattle, weekend visitors can enjoy a mix of urban and natural attractions. Start with a stroll through the Fairhaven historic district, where restored Victorian-era brick buildings house art galleries, restaurants, and the beloved Village Books. Art lovers can marvel at the sculpture collections at Western Washington University and Big Rock Garden, while hikers have plenty of options, including Whatcom Falls Park and Stimpson Family Nature Preserve.

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Whidbey Island, Washington

Whidbey island coast

Accessible by car and ferry, Whidbey Island is just a short distance from Seattle, but it feels like a true escape. Outdoor attractions reign supreme, from the stunning hiking trails of Deception Pass State Park to the fragrant fields at Lavender Wind Farm (come in summertime to see them in full bloom). You can paddle through Puget Sound with Whidbey Island Kayaking, go on the hunt for sculptures along the Oak Harbor Art Trail, or taste your way through the island’s many distilleries and wineries.

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Cheap Weekend Getaways from Washington, D.C.

Frederick, Maryland

Frederick maryland street scene

This small city 45 miles northwest of D.C. makes for a laid-back weekend getaway. Stroll the historic downtown area, keeping an eye out for murals, sculptures, and other public art installations scattered around town. The National Museum of Civil War Medicine and the Monocacy National Battlefield are must-sees for travelers with interest in the Civil War, while Catoctin Mountain Park and Cunningham Falls State Park offer dozens of wooded hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts. Don’t miss the city’s many breweries and distilleries, including Flying Dog, the largest craft brewery in Maryland.

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Annapolis, Maryland

Annapolis maryland sunset.

It’s hard not to fall in love with Annapolis, with its walkable cobblestone streets and sailboats bobbing gently in the harbor. The main draw here is the historic district, with buildings dating back as far as the colonial era. The city is also home to the U.S. Naval Academy, which offers guided tours of its major landmarks as well as stories about what it’s like to be a midshipman. On a sunny day, visit the beach at Sandy Point State Park, complete with a view of the Bay Bridge.

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12 Best Hotels in Vancouver for Every Type of Traveler

Vancouver makes for a great family vacation or long-weekend getaway, but with over 12,000 rooms in the downtown area alone, knowing where to stay can be tricky. Here are the best hotels in Vancouver for every type of traveler and budget. (Not only did I look at dozens of reviews for this list, three SmarterTravel writers personally visited three of these properties, so you can trust us.)

Best Hotels in Vancouver: Luxury

Whether it’s rooftop views or entertainment options, these luxury hotels in Vancouver don’t disappoint. With the downtown Four Seasons closing in 2020, look to book one of these three properties instead.

The Fairmont Waterfront

[st_content_ad]Fantastic harbor views, the downtown location, and a rooftop pool and terrace make this an ideal option for spring, summer, and fall stays in Vancouver. It’s also within walking distance to the main cruise port.

Book it: Get prices for The Fairmont Waterfront

Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver

Reviewers rave about the exceptional service and attention to detail at the Shangri-La. The property also has a spa, and a location close to restaurants and shopping.

Book it: Get prices for Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver

PARQ Vancouver: DOUGLAS and the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver

PARQ Vancouver is a new entertainment center next to BC Place Stadium complete with two luxury hotels here—the DOUGLAS, Autograph Collection and the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver—as well as a casino and eight restaurants and lounges. The rooftop views from the complex are out of this world.

Best Hotels in Vancouver: Downtown

Vancouver is a popular cruise port come spring, summer, and fall. These hotels are all centrally located to make the most of a short trip to the city.

Rosewood Hotel Georgia

Any traveler will appreciate the historical details and decor of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia. From the prohibition-style bar in the lower level to perhaps one of the best restaurants in the city—Hawksworth—you don’t have to go far for entertainment or fantastic food. Some rooms have views of the Vancouver Art Gallery across the street.

Book it: Get prices for Rosewood Hotel Georgia

Sutton Place Hotel

With a central location near popular sights, and spacious rooms with downtown views, Sutton Place is a good option for those looking for a mid-range hotel. SmarterTravel’s Christine Sarkis notes the property carries “unusually robust Gilchrist & Soames bath products … including lip balm.” There’s also an onsite wine merchant, large fitness center, spa, indoor pool, and restaurant with a raw bar.

Book it: Get prices for Sutton Place Hotel

L’Hermitage Hotel

If you’re staying in Vancouver for an extended period, or with a group of friends or family, the suites at L’Hermitage are an economical option. Travelers rave about the exceptional service, and the outdoor saltwater pool is an added bonus.

Book it: Get prices for L’Hermitage Hotel

Best Hotels in Vancouver: Boutique

Boutique hotels are on the rise in Vancouver, and a stay at one of these more intimate properties complements the local feel of Vancouver’s neighborhoods.

OPUS Hotel

With its own personalized wellness program, onsite restaurant, a popular bar, and convenient Yaletown location, OPUS is a place you stay for the experience. Partnerships with local brands and artists make your stay here feel like you’re living like a local for a few days, as opposed to just visiting.

Book it: Get prices for OPUS Hotel

Blue Horizon Hotel

For a boutique hotel experience with a view, book a stay at Blue Horizon; all rooms are corner rooms with balconies. The hotel is located in the West End on Robson Street, near shops and restaurants. It’s larger than most boutique hotels, but reviewers still comment on the hotel’s personal service. Note that the aquatic center is undergoing renovations. While this hotel is of good value, rates drop dramatically in the fall and winter.

Book it: Get prices for Blue Horizon Hotel

The Burrard

This renovated motel has modern design details, an outdoor courtyard, and is really an urban oasis … I mean, do you see the palm trees? Reviewers note that The Burrard is less expensive than many other hotels in the area, and that it’s within walking distance to many tourist attractions, like Granville Island and local restaurants in trendy neighborhoods, like Yaletown. Insider tip: Ask for a non-street-facing room to avoid traffic noise.

Book it: Get prices for The Burrard

Best Hotels in Vancouver: Budget

If saving on accommodations is the name of your travel game, then book one of these more affordable hotels in Vancouver.

White House Bed and Breakfast

If you’re in favor of saving money over modern design and amenities, then this budget hotel is fit for your trip. Located near the airport, the White House Bed and Breakfast is an economical choice for travelers headed to Vancouver. Reviewers love the friendly and thoughtful hosts, as well as diverse breakfast selection and comfortable rooms and beds.

Book it: Get prices for White House Bed and Breakfast

Samesun Vancouver

For backpackers or hostel lovers, the Samesun Vancouver is the hostel in town. With a fully functional bar, restaurant, and ticket desk for hockey games, you’ll be fully immersed in the community. Private rooms are available. Other hostel amenities include free Wi-Fi, a movie room, kitchen and dining area, complimentary breakfast, a launderette, and lockers. Tourists sights, like Stanley Park and Granville Island, are under a 30-minute walk away.

Book it: Get prices for Samesun Vancouver

YWCA Hotel Vancouver

For a budget hotel in a convenient location, book the YWCA Hotel Vancouver—it’s located right next to the BC Place Stadium and Rogers Arena, and is about a 10-minute walk to the beach. You can choose to upgrade to a private bathroom if the shared style isn’t for you. All rooms are air-conditioned and there is a coffee shop, three kitchens, and a launderette on site.

Book it: Get prices for YWCA Hotel Vancouver

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Ashley traveled to Vancouver courtesy of Hello BC and OPUS Vancouver. Follow all of her adventures (big and small) on @ashley_stravel.

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10 Things You Can Only Do in Las Vegas

There’s no other city like Las Vegas, so it makes sense that this town is full of things you can do only in Las Vegas.

Some Things You Can Only Do in Las Vegas

Before you arrive in Las Vegas, read our list of unique experiences so that you don’t miss the chance to do something that you wouldn’t be able to do anywhere else.

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The Neon Museum

Las Vegas wouldn’t be nearly as famous as it is without the glowing gas that keeps it lit. Appropriate, then, that the city should have a museum dedicated to the stuff. The main attraction at the Neon Museum is the hourlong guided tour of the outdoor Neon Boneyard, an eerily wonderful, dreamlike place where the city’s old neon signs go to retire (and, in some cases, be restored). Needless to say, this is a popular spot for Instagram accounts and engagement photos.

Be sure to book tickets for “Brilliant,” a remarkable 30-minute light-and-music show themed around Las Vegas history. The museum’s visitors’ center is in the former La Concha Motel, a perfect example of midcentury modern architecture.

The Mob Museum

Vegas isn’t nicknamed Sin City for nothing. The town got its start when mobster Bugsy Siegel built the Flamingo; soon enough, bullies, thugs, and murderers were in charge. Only in Las Vegas would there be a whole museum about the mafia—the museum’s full name is the Mob Museum, the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, and it opened in 2012 near Fremont Street.

It’s a nonprofit dedicated to educating visitors about the city’s dark underbelly with engaging exhibits that display hundreds of artifacts, including mugshots, FBI files, and actual machine guns used for hits. There’s also an immersive forensic lab experience where visitors can learn about how crimes are solved.

The House of Blues

Okay, so there are actually 11 cities with a House of Blues. But only in Las Vegas can you catch a fantastic concert in an intimate music venue inside a famous resort and casino—that would be Mandalay Bay. Carlos Santana is a regular headliner here, making great use of this music hall’s strong emphasis on acoustics and light.

There’s original folk art, good food and service, and a VIP lounge for special occasions. Don’t miss the rollicking gospel brunch, featuring an all-you-can-eat buffet with chicken and waffles, plus soul singers that’ll get you up on you feet and clapping.

The Grand Canyon by Helicopter

If you’ve already traveled far to visit Las Vegas, it’s worthwhile (and feasible) to add the Grand Canyon to your itinerary. Truly one of the world’s great natural wonders, the canyon’s ancient topography and 6,000-foot-deep gorge make it an undeniable bucket list item. A company called Las Vegas Outdoor Adventures offers helicopter tours from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon National Park; the luxurious flight provides 180-degree views of the canyon and its Colorado River, as well as the Hoover Dam and other regional marvels.

Then your helicopter will actually descend below the Grand Canyon’s rim, an experience you’ll never forget. If you’d rather travel to the canyon via land, you can drive (270 miles) or take a train or a bus tour from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon.

The Fremont Street Experience

Only in Las Vegas can you see the world’s largest video screen, comprised of more than 12 million LEDs. Viva Vision, suspended and stretched 90 feet above the Fremont Street Experience, is 1,500 feet long and puts on a nightly light and sound show, much to the delight of the pedestrians on the promenade below.

In addition to being immersed in this nightly spectacle, visitors to this entertainment district can shop, eat, gamble, ride SlotZilla (an 850-foot-long zipline) or experience Fear the Walking Dead Survival, an immersive zombie-themed attraction.


If you’ve ever longed to race a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, or McLaren, head to Speedvegas for its 1.5-mile Formula One-inspired track. This dream driving experience starts off with a driving lesson, and then your coach occupies the copilot seat as you take on this state-of-the-art track.

In addition to a half-mile straightaway, it’s got 12 sweeping turns, 15-degree banked turns, and 60 feet of elevation change. Designed to be comparable to world’s top circuits, Speedvegas is housed within a $30 million, 20,000-square-foot complex that also encompasses a bilevel welcome center, indoor and outdoor observation decks, and a satisfying cafe.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Nature’s simple wonders are always superior to even man’s brightest, most sparkling spectacles. This, of course, holds as true in Las Vegas as it does anywhere else. Drive 17 miles from the big, bold strip to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area to be rewarded with sweeping views, exhilarating wildlife sightings, and immersion into one of the world’s most arid landscapes—the Mojave Desert. Dozens of well-maintained trails ensure that every level of hiker is accommodated. Keep an eye out for ancient petroglyphs.

Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.

The Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. in Treasure Island is part whole-body, multi-room video game, part memorabilia museum relevant to anything having to do with the Avengers. The displays here are all originals, and include Captain America’s uniform and shield, Black Widow’s armor and weapons, Ant-Man’s helmet, Iron Man’s suit, Bruce Banner’s laboratory, and more.

The premise is that you train to be an agent via access to a mobile training device, intelligence files, and other clues. It’s an immersive, high-tech experience, and you’ll walk away with more of a backstory on your favorite characters, with a science-infused twist.

Mount Charleston

You didn’t think you could ski in Las Vegas? Think again. Mount Charleston, known also as Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, gets a decent amount of snow each winter, enough to turn this lovely swath of Toiyabe National Forest into a resort area packed with skiers, snowboarders, sledders, and snowshoers.

A great way to join the freezing fun is to stay overnight at the Resort on Mount Charleston (  convert to OT), a mountain retreat 40 miles from the Las Vegas Strip—each of its guest rooms has a view of the snowy peaks, as does it restaurant and chalet-style bar. Mount Charleston is worth a summer visit, too. There are plenty of hiking trails, picnic areas, and campgrounds from whence to enjoy the wilderness.

Human Cadavers

Only in Las Vegas would there be two competing attractions showcasing real human bodies expertly sliced and preserved for their educational and entertainment value. Real Bodies at Bally’s displays unskinned cadavers frozen in motion, via a process called plastination, so that visitors can see every little capillary and organ up close. The museum-like space also explores the effect of things like love and fitness on our bodies, has a section on babies and fetal development, and embraces the morbid aspect of being human—the topic of death isn’t ignored.

Over at Luxor, Bodies . . . The Exhibition has fewer specimens and is more straightforwardly educational, but is just as fascinating. Both of these powerful exhibits have the strong potential to inspire young visitors to become doctors or scientists.

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–Original reporting by Avital Andrews. Follow her on Twitter @avitalb.

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10 Must-See Las Vegas Attractions

In Las Vegas, the whole city is essentially an attraction, especially on the Strip and Fremont Street. Beyond that, it can be tough to narrow down exactly what to see and experience.

Must-See Las Vegas Attractions

When you’re in Las Vegas, however, there are a few key things that you really shouldn’t miss. Read on to find out which.

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Las vegas attractions

Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

[st_content_ad]Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is a fairytale wonderland. In a huge skylit atrium just off the resort’s lobby, tens of thousands of blooming flowers come together to create a vibrant spectacle that’s worth exploring in minute detail. It’s one of the most fascinating and dynamic Las Vegas attractions—you can come often and always be newly impressed, since the whimsical displays change with the seasons. Often, they include live butterflies and koi ponds. Before or after, head outside to be dazzled by the famous Fountains of Bellagiowater show.

Las vegas attractions

Fremont Street Experience

In contrast to the car-heavy Strip, the Fremont Street Experience offers a five-block pedestrian-only promenade. This lively entertainment district is one of the more historic Las Vegas attractions, drawing large crowds (especially on the first Friday of each month), street performers, and copious food vendors. The open-air lane also has plenty of stores, restaurants, and casinos, plus live shows on three stages.

The main attraction here, though, is the 1,500-foot-long video screen—it’s the world’s biggest—arching 90 feet above and over the width of the street. Called Viva Vision, it puts on a spectacular nightly light show with its 12.5 million LEDs. Other fun things to do on Fremont Street include SlotZilla, an 850-foot-long, 12-story-high zipline; as well as Fear the Walking Dead Survival, a zombie-themed attraction with rides, mazes, and video games.

Las vegas attractions

Venetian Canals and Gondola Rides

The whole of the Venetian is an amusement-park version of Italy, but especially its canals. Authentic, elaborate gondolas glide atop clear waters piloted by singing gondoliers. And yes, you can most definitely take a ride. Choose the indoor route if you’d like to go past cafes and boutiques, outdoor if you’d rather go under bridges and sky. Either way, this is not an attraction to forego.

Las vegas attractions

High Roller Observation Wheel

The High Roller Observation Wheel opened in 2014 to become the world’s tallest observation wheel—at 550 feet, it presides over Las Vegas Boulevard and has become a key part of the famous skyline. To ride, you board one of 28 glass-enclosed cabins (each fits 40 people) and strap in for the 30 minutes it takes to complete a full revolution. That time starts with music and an interactive video that eventually fades away so that you can focus on the spectacular 360-degree views of the Strip and beyond. This prominent attraction anchors the Linq Promenade, a lively open-air shopping, dining and entertainment district.

Las vegas attractions

Cirque du Soleil

You’d be remiss to come to Las Vegas and not see at least one Cirque du Soleil show. These spectacular artistic productions feature world-class athletes and dancers, riveting music, impressive sets, and quirky costumes. Though the company is based in Montreal, Canada, it runs seven resident shows on the Las Vegas Strip, each with its own whimsical theme, stunning choreography, and jaw-dropping feats.

Though most travelers to Las Vegas know about the shows, most don’t know that you can get a free behind-the-scenes look at a few of them; KÀ 360 allows an up-close look at how stagehands create the $165 million-dollar production. Likewise, the Beatles Love Magical Technical Tour showcases the technology, set pieces, and opening number that come together to make the show great. And Mystère hosts open rehearsals, allowing the public to watch acrobatic performers rehearse.

Las vegas attractions

Hoover Dam

Not all of the places to visit in Las Vegas are on the Strip. Hoover Dam, 35 miles east of Las Vegas Boulevard, is a massive engineering marvel that is very much worth seeing. Built in the 1930s, it sits 726 feet tall and 1,244 feet wide. This hydrological force is open for tours, and they’re given by Bureau of Reclamation employees, who show you around the power plant and tell you everything you’d want to know about this National Historic Landmark.

The Hoover Dam visitors’ center is rich with fascinating information, and its viewing platform is a great place to take it all in. Drive out there yourself, or let Papillon fly you over in a helicopter.

Las vegas attractions

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Nature lovers looking for places to visit in Las Vegas can take a 17-mile drive from the Strip to arrive at stunning Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The dozens of hiking trails here offer something for everyone. Beginners can start on the easy quarter-mile Lost Creek trail to see Mars-red earth, little animals darting around, a small waterfall, and—for those with eagle eyes—ancient petroglyphs. The Red Rock visitors’ center is worth seeing, but try to spend most of your time outdoors, where Joshua trees spike the landscape, wide-open views restore the soul, and sunsets are simply spectacular.

Las vegas attractions

Springs Preserve

Springs Preserve, less than eight miles off the Strip, is one of the most delightful but least known Las Vegas attractions. It’s a nonprofit center themed around the Mojave Desert’s natural riches. Start with the open-air train ride showing off the desert landscape, then explore the grounds to enjoy botanical gardens, animal shows, an imaginative playground, and a daily story time for kids. The preserve also presents history-themed museum exhibits, live animal enclosures, educational films, and engaging science activities. There’s easily enough to do to spend a full day here.

Las vegas attractions

The Las Vegas Skyline

Yes, the Las Vegas skyline is an attraction unto itself. Make sure to see it however you are able: If you’re not lucky enough to have booked a top-floor hotel room, worry not. You can still get that iconic view from various places atop town—try the Stratosphere’s observation deck, Rio’s VooDoo Rooftop Nightclub, or Moon at the Palms.

Las vegas attractions

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign

No Instagram account would be complete without a shot of this most iconic of Las Vegas attractions. Betty Willis designed the Googie-style landmark in 1959 and gifted it to the city of Las Vegas, which mounted it atop 25-foot-tall poles. Neon, kitschy, and flashy, this sign is synonymous with Las Vegas. You’ll see it all over souvenirs and films, and it’s on the National Register of Historic Places, too.

A small parking lot affords photo opportunities, but be prepared to wait in line to pose with this cheerful beauty. A couple of fun facts to know before you go: The sign is technically in the city of Paradise (not Las Vegas) and its flip side says “Drive carefully come back soon.”

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–Original reporting by Avital Andrews. Follow her on Twitter @avitalb.

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10 Fun Things to Do in Las Vegas

Your conundrum won’t be trying to find fun things to do in Las Vegas—it’ll be narrowing down your options.

Fun Things to Do in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is basically Disneyland for adults, so it’s helpful to come prepared with your list of must-dos. Here are our recommendations

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Fun things to do in las vegas

Hit the Nightclubs

[st_content_ad]Las Vegas is much more alive by night than by day, so focus on nightlife when you’re planning things to do in Las Vegas. The nightclubs here, each in their respective resort, are among the world’s best. Deejays come from all over the world to spin for Vegas’s party-loving crowds.

Dress in your sexy best and prepare to dance and drink the night away in some truly impressive spaces. Your options include exclusive Hyde Bellagio, with its view of the famous fountains; opulent Jewel at Aria; celebrity-magnet 1 of a Kind (1OAK) at the Mirage; massive Marquee at the Cosmopolitan, and many more.

Fun things to do in las vegas

See a Show

When it comes to the performing arts, Las Vegas is an embarrassment of riches. There are dozens of extremely high-caliber productions here, drawing some of the world’s best talent. Cirque du Soleil runs seven permanent shows (Mystère, O, Michael Jackson One, Zumanity, Ka, The Beatles Love, and Mindfreak Live) on the Las Vegas Strip, each showcasing Olympic-level acrobats, gorgeous costuming, and exhilarating music.

Blue Man Group, for its part, is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas—it’ll leave you with your jaw dropped, and goosebumps all over. There’s also the wonderfully whimsical Absinthe variety show at Caesars Palace, magical Le Reve at Wynn, Channing Tatum’s sexy Magic Mike Live at the Hard Rock Hotel, and Inferno, a new fire spectacular at Paris Las Vegas. Plus the many famous magic shows; remember, Las Vegas is home turf for David Copperfield, Siegfried and Roy, Penn and Teller, Criss Angel, and Mat Franco.

Fun things to do in las vegas

Try Your Luck at the Casinos

In Vegas, almost every hotel has a casino, and almost every adult who travels here plays at least a hand. Gambling is one of the most popular things to do in Las Vegas, thanks in part to this city’s loose slots, endless poker and blackjack tables, spinning roulette wheels, 24-hour availability, free drinks as long as you’re playing, and surroundings designed to keep you alert and engaged late into the night.

The most famous casino here is probably Bellagio’s, thanks to Oceans 11. But really, you’ll have a similar experience almost anywhere you play—tension on the seat as a fast-playing dealer either whisks away chips or pushes more toward you. Be warned, though: that “house always wins” refrain isn’t always true—but usually it is. So play what you’re willing to play, then walk away.

Fun things to do in las vegas

Go for a Hike

With so many manufactured indoor environments in Las Vegas, many travelers forget that just outside is one of the world’s most spectacular outdoor environments—the Mojave Desert, offering its rare and wonderful Southwestern scenery. Red Rock Canyon, a national conservation area, is the best place to take a hike locally, and we’d go so far as to say that a visit there is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas.

Its more than two dozen trails range from super easy to super extreme. Whichever one you choose, you’ll take in fresh arid air, wide expanses of earthen tones meeting sky, smatterings of Joshua trees, and a twinkling nighttime spectacle just away from the city lights.

Fun things to do in las vegas

Admire Art

Seeing world-class art by famous masters might not come to mind first when you’re brainstorming things to do in Las Vegas. But if you know where to look, you can have fine-art experiences here almost on par with the great cities of Europe. Start at Bellagio, whose entrance showcases a glass masterpiece by Dale Chihuly. The hotel’s small Gallery of Fine Art has rotating exhibits that have featured works by Monet, Warhol, Van Gogh, and Degas. In Picasso, the Bellagio’s fine-dining venue, peruse the many hanging originals painted by the restaurant’s namesake artist.

The city’s other worthwhile art attractions include Centaur Art Gallery, where you can buy Rembrandts, Renoirs, and Chagalls; the Art of Richard MacDonald, where masterful sculptures evoke the energy and emotion of Cirque du Soleil; the modern-focused Metropolitan Gallery Las Vegas; and the vibrant Arts Factory.

Fun things to do in las vegas

Meet Animals

Animal lovers will find plenty of fun things to do in Las Vegas. There’s the massive Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, flamingos at the Flamingo’s Wildlife Habitat, and dolphins, lions, and tropical birds at Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat.

Perhaps the most authentic animal experience in Las Vegas, however, is off the Strip at Springs Preserve, where the resident animals—gila monsters, gray foxes, cottontail rabbits—are native to the surrounding Mojave Desert, and there’s a beautiful seasonal butterfly habitat.

Fun things to do in las vegas

Party Poolside

Hanging out by a pool is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas. That’s not because other options are boring—they’re not. It’s because Las Vegas pools are way more exciting than anywhere else in the world. Sure, you can find relaxing pools around town, but most are eager party scenes big on music, cocktails, food, cabanas, and people-watching. Wear your most stylish swim gear and don’t forget the SPF—the Mojave sun is nothing to mess with.

Fun things to do in las vegas

Get a Spa Treatment

Let’s face it, Las Vegas isn’t exactly the most relaxing of destinations. It’s full of nonstop stimulation, noise, and lights. When you find that you need a break from the flashy scenery and pulsing music, retreat into one of the city’s dozens of resort spas—almost every hotel has one.

Las Vegas has perfected the art of creating spaces where people can go to recharge and be pampered. Book a massage, a facial, or an indulgent mani-pedi. Many Vegas spas use organic or locally sourced ingredients, and some will also do body art for when you’re ready to jump back into the poolside or nightlife scene.

Fun things to do in las vegas

Play Golf

Tee off at Topgolf Las Vegas, an eight-acre golf-themed playground just behind the MGM Grand—it’s got 107 climate-controlled hitting bays featuring interactive golf games for all ages, lounge-style seating, and high-definition TVs. Topgolf’s balls are microchipped, which means you can track your hits’ distance and accuracy. The four-level venue also offers VIP suites, two pools with cabanas, five bars, a concert venue, a Callaway Fitting Studio, and a retail shop. For a more traditional golfing experience, head to Bali Hai Golf Club on the Strip just south of Mandalay Bay.

Fun things to do in las vegas

Take Flight

Vegas visitors looking to catch some air can head to Vegas Indoor Skydiving, where you gear up in a jumpsuit and step into a cylindrical chamber where 120-mile-per-hour winds push you upward, letting you experience the free-falling sensation of jumping out of a plane. For those who’d rather experience actual skydiving over the Strip, Las Vegas Outdoor Adventures will teach you how to jump out of a helicopter. If you’d prefer to propel your own body into the air, head to Xplozone Trampoline Park instead.

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–Original reporting by Avital Andrews. Follow her on Twitter @avitalb.

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10 Best Las Vegas Hotel Pools

You’ve heard of nightlife. Welcome to daylife. Many of the hotel pools in Las Vegas are not your average hotel pools. They’re splashy, sunny party scenes where high-energy deejays, full-service cabanas, craft cocktails, and even hired dancers have become standard.

The Best Las Vegas Hotel Pools

Though a few of the Las Vegas hotel pools on this list are on the more relaxed side, most are for people looking for an unapologetically Vegas experience in a swimsuit.

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Drai’s Beachclub at the Cromwell

[st_content_ad]When you’re looking for Las Vegas hotel pools, head to Drai’s Beachclub at the Cromwell for 30,000 square feet of waterside partying. This rooftop venue, providing 11th-floor views above the Strip, includes seven different swimming pools, 30 cabanas and bungalows, 40 daybeds, two cocktail bars, Drai’s Cafe, and palm trees galore. Day or night, this is a super lively scene, with deejays, dancers, and the city’s most fashionable patrons.

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Wet Republic at MGM Grand

For hotels in Vegas with pools, you could do worse than MGM Grand—its Wet Republic is a 54,500-square-foot venue packed full of scantily clad bodies swaying to a deejay’s thumping music. With a wild atmosphere, ritzy drinks, dipping pools, daybeds, and party cabanas, Wet Republic provides your authentic Vegas pool party experience.

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The Pool at the Palazzo

The Palazzo offers one of the better Las Vegas hotel pools—it’s cozier and more relaxed than the others, with plenty of lounge chairs and daybeds. Cabanas come with ceiling fans, DVD players, air conditioning, and refrigerators. While deejays spin, attentive servers bring you towels and fancy drinks, along with snacks by Wolfgang Puck. There’s an onsite retail shop in case you forget your SPF or sunnies.

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Palms Place Pool

The Palms’ sixth-floor resort pool area encompasses 50,000 square feet but has a calm ambiance, thanks to waterfalls, stone gardens, and lovely tropical-themed landscaping. There’s also a hot tub near a fireplace, an onsite bar, and plenty of shaded areas. Cabanas come with bottle service, a personal attendant, sofas, and a flat-screen TV. If you’re looking for hotels in Vegas with pools, the Palms Place Pool may just convince you to book a room at the Palms.

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Mandalay Bay Beach

Mandalay Bay Beach is one of the most famous and popular Las Vegas hotel pools, and for good reason. This is about as close to the beach as you can get in Nevada, with 2,700 tons of sand touching the water and a 1.6-million-gallon wave pool. In case you prefer a river experience, you can also float an inner tube down the quarter-mile, kid-friendly Lazy River.

This is also the site of big-name concerts, and it’s a memorable open-air entertainment experience. Mandalay Bay Beach also offers two cocktail bars and one grill, two retail shops, as well as 100 cabanas, day beds, bungalows, and villas—order food, get a massage, and inform your cabana host of anything else you need.

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Rehab Beach Club at Hard Rock Hotel

Rehab claims to have originated the Vegas daylife party scene when it opened back in early 2003. It’s a plausible assertion—this edgy venue is an old pro at creating a rowdy and flirty scene, drenched in booze and rock ‘n’ roll. Its five lagoonlike acres include sandy beaches, swim-up blackjack tables, cabanas, daybeds, banquettes—and a massive pool. Deejays are a big deal here, and frequently, major artists like Flo Rida perform.

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Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan

The Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Pool commands great views of the Strip, day and night. By day, sun lovers flock to soak in the rays and take a dip in the large pool. They occupy lounge chairs and daybeds up and down this multilevel venue. While music plays, vacationers play pool foosball or watch whatever movie is being projected on the Marquee screen. By night, the place transforms into an al fresco concert venue. (Another pool option at Cosmo is the vibrant Marquee Dayclub, a hard-partying extension of the resort’s dreamlike Marquee Nightclub.)

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Liquid Pool Lounge at Aria

If you’re looking for a secluded pool with great ambience and plenty of palm trees, head to Liquid Pool Lounge at Aria Resort and Casino. This inviting adults-only venue specializes in providing VIP service and fancy poolside snacks to anyone occupying its many daybeds, banquettes, and high-tech cabanas. There are several small pools around the main one; you can book your own, if you like. Music is the main attraction—deejays travel from all over the world to spin their pulsing beats here, and their poolside audience revels in appreciation.

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Tao Beach at Venetian

Tao Beach is one of the Las Vegas hotel pools where the beautiful people come to party. The clientele here sport toned bodies, designer shades, and the latest trends in swimwear—they show a lot of skin and not a lot of inhibition. And this 18,000-square-foot party zone is fully supportive of that. A 30-foot bar shakes up fresh cocktails, international deejays crank up the volume, and at night, two 14-foot fire columns flare.

The large pool deck features pops of orange and Asian design elements (Buddha sculptures, stone pots), and the snack and sushi menu is pan-Asian too. You can spring for amenities like bottle service, massage, and sunglass cleaning, or book one of 12 air-conditioned cabanas which come equipped with gaming consoles.

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Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis at Caesars Palace

Continuing with the heavy Roman theme from inside the resort, the Garden of the Gods Oasis at Caesars Palace is surrounded by Romanesque architecture, and each of the seven bathing areas carries a look and name to match: you can play blackjack in (yes, in) the Fortuna pool, enjoy the views from the Temple Pool, swim laps in the large Neptune Pool, bask in the sun beside the Apollo Pool, or partake in Bacchus Pool’s VIP services. Throughout, there are cabanas and private loungers, and roving masseuses and body artists.

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–Original reporting by Avital Andrews. Follow her on Twitter @avitalb.

Arts & Culture Booking Strategy Budget Travel Cities Weekend Getaways

10 Best Cheap Hotels in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is one of the most affordable and easiest cities to visit. Come midweek during off season, and you can easily get a hotel room for less than it would cost to book a campsite. Even during peak travel season, there’s always a fantastic deal to be found.

The Best Cheap Las Vegas Hotels

Las Vegas has more than 150,000 hotel rooms, so the goal is to fill them with people who will drop their cash in the casinos, shops, and restaurants. Still, there are some cheap hotels in Las Vegas that are better than others. Read on to find out which.

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Hard Rock Hotel and Casino

[st_content_ad]Even though the Hard Rock is off the Strip, it’s an incredibly happening place to be. Its music venues and nightlife scene frequently see the likes of the Rolling Stones, Kiss, and Mötley Crüe. For surprisingly affordable rates, you can stay overnight at this veritable rock history museum, amid more than $4 million in rare memorabilia.

Three towers house 1,500 big, modern rooms with plush beds, elegant bathrooms, and rock-themed art. Five acres of lushly landscaped pools are part of the experience here, including the constant party at Rehab Beach Club. The Hard Rock Hotel is also home to trendy shops, including a Hard Rock store, Channing Tatum’s cheeky Magic Mike Live revue, and many satisfying restaurants, including Nobu and Pink Taco.

Amenities: 60,000-square-foot casino, Reliquary Spa, Kelly Cardenas beauty salon, room service, free parking, fitness center, business center, dry cleaning service, concierge service, and a free shuttle to the Fashion Mall.

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New York-New York Hotel and Casino

To stay in the Big Apple in Sin City, book at the New York-New York resort complex, which really does run like a small city. Just like its namesake town, it’s lively and bustling, with plenty to do even when the rest of the world is sleeping. After the stately Statue of Liberty replica, you’ll notice the thrilling Big Apple roller coaster and perhaps the two-story Hershey’s Chocolate World attraction.

For being one of the cheap hotels in Las Vegas, it’s got a ton to offer and is plenty of fun for kids as well. The comfortable guest rooms and suites come in sizes to suit everyone, and have lots of art on their walls.

Amenities: Pillow-top mattress and bedding, marble bathroom, 40-inch flat-screen TV, elaborate onsite arcade, spa and fitness center, beauty salon, military discount program, swimming pools and cabanas, room service, free Wi-Fi, business center, dry cleaning service, concierge service, large casino, mobile check-in, golf course access, and many eateries including an authentic Irish pub, Shake Shack, and the late-night New York Pizzeria.

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Stratosphere Hotel, Casino and Tower

More than just one of the many cheap hotels in Las Vegas, the Stratosphere is an attraction unto itself. Its iconic tower presides over the skyline, just off the Strip. Atop it are four heart-thumping thrill rides, including bungee jumping from 829 feet. Those not seeking a daredevil experience but who still want to take in the spectacular city from the top can head to the tower’s Observation Deck, where the 360-degree views are spectacular from 1,149 feet.

Guest rooms are basic but comfortable—they’re well-priced and well-equipped. The resort has a traditional Vegas feel and isn’t fancy, but does provide affordability, lots to do and see, plus those exhilarating views.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, free parking, full casino, room service, thrill rides, Top of the World restaurant and 107 SkyLounge, swimming pools, cocktail bars, many live shows, 30 retail shops, high-altitude wedding chapel, spa, fitness center, business center, dry cleaning and laundry service, and concierge service.

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Westin Las Vegas Hotel & Spa

This comfortable Westin is right off the Strip, with prices to match. Still, guests staying here can easily get around the city sans car. The 826-room property has no casino, no smoking, polite service and a signature restaurant called Jake & Eli, serving American comfort food and cocktails.

Guest rooms are contemporary, ample, and decently appointed, with a distinct Vegas feel. The hallways are quiet and the spaces are clean. Request a room on an upper floor for a calmer experience and a better view.

Amenities: Westin Heavenly Bed, Heavenly bath products, in-room Starbucks coffee, Hibiscus Spa and Salon, 24-hour fitness studio, swimming pool, pet-friendly policies, free Wi-Fi, free parking, room service, business center, and dry cleaning and laundry service.

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Luxor Hotel and Casino

Luxor’s pyramid is a defining feature of the Las Vegas skyline—it lights up at night, shooting a consistent beam of light upward. The theme here is ancient Egypt, and there’s also a large Sphinx replica, as well as an obelisk. This 4,405-room resort is on the older side now, so it has turned into one of the cheap Vegas hotels. The affordably priced rooms (some of their walls are slanted to accommodate the triangular architecture) are adequate for budget travelers, though there’s the option to book in the Premium Tower Suite for better views, a buffet, accent lighting, and art that reflects the surrounding Mojave Desert.

Downstairs, there’s a great casino, a pool complex with islands and cabanas, plus fantastic entertainment from the Blue Man Group, Criss Angel, and Carrot Top. Nightlife rocks at LAX Nightclub, and is more mellow at the Flight cocktail bar. Museum-caliber exhibits include Bodies and Titanic, while a diverse collection of restaurants cater to every taste. The Shoppes at Mandalay Place, a worthwhile collection of boutiques and eateries, connect Luxor to Mandalay Bay.

Amenities: In addition to those listed above, the hotel offers a military discount, wedding chapel, fitness center, room service, Nurture spa, beauty salon, airport transit, dry cleaning service, and concierge service.

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MGM Grand Hotel & Casino

As far as budget hotels in Las Vegas go, the MGM Grand is one of the best. It’s got an exciting grand lobby, huge grounds, courteous staff, and a full casino. Guest rooms got treated to a $160 million remodel in 2012, so they’re now modern with pops of color and big, thick beds. Choose a room in the Grand Tower for more luxury.

The resort’s extraordinary restaurants include those by celebrity chefs Joël Robuchon, Wolfgang Puck, Michael Mina, and Tom Colicchio. There’s also the Rainforest Cafe—great for kids—and Hakkasan for upscale dining mixed with nightlife. The 14,000-seat MGM Grand Garden Arena hosts big-name concerts and championship sporting events, though it’s not remotely the only onsite entertainment option: There’s also KÀ by Cirque du Soleil, the high-energy Jabbawockeez dance show, and magician David Copperfield.

Amenities: In addition to those listed above, a 6.5-acre swimming complex with four pools, three whirlpools, waterfalls, and a lazy river; Level Up game room; spa and salon; fitness center; room service; free Wi-Fi; business center; concierge service; dry cleaning service; and airport transportation.

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The Mirage

If you’re looking for budget hotels in Las Vegas with a center-of-the-Strip location and friendly employees, consider the Mirage. Despite its affordability, it’s a AAA Four Diamond property with clean, modern rooms that are stocked with big beds and nice workstations.

Within this traditional Vegas hotel is the celebrity-favorite 1 OAK Nightclub, notable restaurants (including one by Tom Colicchio), the remarkable Beatles-themed Love show by Cirque du Soleil, and a long-term Boyz II Men residency. Meet exotic animals in Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, watch as the volcano show erupts with light, and ogle the 20,000-gallon lobby aquarium.

Amenities: In addition to those listed above, spa and salon, pool, fitness center, free Wi-Fi, business center, room service, dry cleaning and laundry service, concierge service, and full casino.

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Treasure Island Hotel & Casino

Treasure Island Hotel & Casino is a huge resort offering great value and a good location right on the Strip—it’s a fantastic choice for those looking for cheap Vegas hotels. Service is good-natured, and these affordable rooms are contemporary, comfortable, and clean, providing plenty of space to relax.

Treasure Island’s many restaurants include Senor Frog’s fun Mexican cuisine (and its uproarious weekend drag brunch). This is also the home of Cirque du Soleil’s exquisite Mystere show, as well as the immersive Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. for superhero fans of all ages. Request a room with a view of the Wynn fountains.

Amenities: Easy check-in, pillow-top beds, marble-floored bathrooms, whirlpool tubs in some suites, Oleksandra Spa and Salon, swimming pools, fitness center, room service, free parking, business center, dry cleaning and laundry service, full casino, and tram connection to the Mirage.

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Excalibur Hotel & Casino

Excalibur is one of the kid-friendlier cheap hotels in Las Vegas, starting with its colorful castle exterior and continuing on in with the Fun Dungeon, an expansive arcade featuring more than 150 games for families. Its 3,981 guest rooms are older but well-priced and have comfortable beds; you can also upgrade to the Royal Tower if you prefer fancier digs.

The many restaurants here include a popular buffet, as well as the Camelot Steakhouse, and a food court with fast-food staples. There’s also adult-only entertainment, including the raucous Thunder From Down Under, the Australian Bee Gees disco show, and the deejayed Octane nightclub.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, room service, spa, fitness center, business center, children’s activities, kid-friendly policies, dry cleaning service, concierge service, swimming pool, full casino and sports book.

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Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino

Planet Hollywood, as its name would imply, is all about celebrity culture and L.A.’s little moviemaking habit. Throughout the hotel, there are photo ops with movie props. In the Axis, a performing venue par excellence, the resident headliners are huge stars—Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull, and the Backstreet Boys. The resort is in the middle of the Strip, and its 2,567 modern rooms have great views, spacious bathrooms, and fame-themed art.

Planet Hollywood is surprisingly affordable, especially considering what the property has to offer: five bars and lounges, a 100,000-square-foot casino, blazing nightlife, and 20 restaurants including Koi, Spice Market Buffet, Pink’s, and Gordon Ramsay’s BurGR. The surrounding Miracle Mile Shops operate more than 170 retailers.

Amenities: Everything listed above, plus Pleasure Pool with cabanas, FlowRider surfing ride, children’s pool, wedding chapel, Planet Hollywood Spa by Mandara, beauty salon, free Wi-Fi, dog-friendly policies, room service, fitness center, business center, dry cleaning and laundry service, concierge service, and express check-in.

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–Original reporting by Avital Andrews. Follow her on Twitter @avitalb.

Arts & Culture Cities Luxury Travel Weekend Getaways

10 Best Hotels in Las Vegas

Hotels and resorts are a big deal in Las Vegas. There’s always a new hotel being built, and plenty of competition between the old mainstays.

The Best Hotels in Las Vegas

With each one always trying to best the other, how can you ever know which are the best hotels in Las Vegas? Just refer to our list below.

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[st_content_ad]Bellagio is on pretty much every list of the best hotels in Las Vegas, and for good reason: It’s got everything you’d want in an upscale casino resort. Good looks, fairytale attractions, world-class restaurants, and a comfort level that gets it just right. Its famous fountains dance to Rachmaninov, there’s impressive art in the grand lobby, and Bellagio’s indoor Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is painstakingly decorated, down to each petalled detail, for every season.

There are swimming pools, Cirque du Soleil shows, shops galore, and guest rooms that can make anyone feel at home. As for the elegant casino, you’ll recognize it from Ocean’s 11. Stay in the main tower for extra privacy and panoramic views, or get a fountain-view room and crank up the accompanying music in your room for full effect.

Amenities: Italian marble bathrooms, soaking tub, 40-inch flat-screen HDTV, auto drapery controls, luxe linens and robes, Eucalyptus wood furnishings, organic carpeting, Bellagio Cashmere Super Pillow top mattress, many restaurants par excellence (including acclaimed Le Cirque), swimming pools with cabanas, spa, salon, and extensive concierge services.

Book it: Get prices for Bellagio and other Las Vegas hotels

Four Seasons

One of the top luxury hotels in Las Vegas, the Four Seasons offers a quieter, more relaxed Las Vegas experience; it has no casino and manages to be centrally located but still far enough away from the Strip’s commotion. Certainly one of the best hotels in Las Vegas, this luxury property emanates understated elegance. Its lobby is classic with dynamic artwork and its staff is gracious and hands-on, providing guests with typical Four Seasons service and comfort.

Rooms are stylish with Art Deco touches; choose from a view over the Strip or over the Red Rock National Conservation Area and its magnificent sunsets and sunrises. If you crave more excite during a stay at the Four Seasons, you’ll have direct access to the Mandalay Bay’s casino and entertainment options.

Amenities: Marble-floored bathroom, soaking tub, backlit mirror, frameless shower, down pillows and duvets, terry cloth bathrobes, pet-friendly policies, business services, fitness center, award-winning spa, and Veranda restaurant for authentic Italian cuisine.

Book it: Get prices for the Four Seasons Las Vegas and other Las Vegas hotels


One of the newer properties on the Strip—it opened in 2014—the all-suite Delano has already taken its place among the best hotels in Vegas. It’s modern and elegant, and one of the city’s rare no-smoking hotels. Featuring calm elegance throughout, rotating fine art installations, gracious service, and a location within the Mandalay Bay complex, the Delano’s suites are cushy and pretty, done in contemporary style and natural materials—think sheer drapes and oversized tufted headboards.

These rooms are spacious and comfortable, and their neutral tones nicely reflect their desert environs. Ask for a Strip or mountain view from one of the top floors.

Amenities: Spa-style bathrooms with soaking tubs, in-suite living room, 46-inch TV in bedroom, 55-inch TV in living room, media hub, pet-friendly policies, the Bathhouse gym and spa (treatments incorporate locally sourced ingredients), fine dining at Rivea restaurant, Skyfall nightclub, plus a swimming pool and cabanas at Delano Beach Club.

Book it: Get prices for Delano and other Las Vegas hotels


In 2013, chef Nobu Matsuhisa and actor Robert De Niro opened a hotel version of their beloved restaurant chain inside Caesars Palace that many now hail as one of the most romantic hotels in Las Vegas. While this might sound like an odd concept, it actually works beautifully, especially thanks to enthusiastic staffers and designer David Rockwell’s ability to create sleek yet tranquil spaces.

The experience starts with a highly personalized check-in process, then a ride up an elevator with no buttons. Then you enter your spacious room and enjoy your welcome amenity of tea and a rice cracker. Japanophiles will delight in the serene decor, and foodies will enjoy the elaborate in-room dining menu. Try the green-tea waffle for breakfast, and request a city view.

Amenities: Bathrooms with gray stone floors, black-tile shower, Lynova microcotton towels, Natura Bisse toiletries, Fili D’oro bed linens and down pillows, 55-inch flat-screen TV, herbal sleep oil and teas, roomy closet, bathrobes, take-home slippers, Sharper Image alarm clock, double-paned windows, 24-hour room service, onsite Nobu restaurant, business lounge, fitness center, Qua spa, and extended checkout time available upon request.

Book it: Get prices for Nobu Hotel and other Las Vegas hotels


Talk about your grand entrance. Big, bold, and sparkly, the Cosmopolitan is all about excitement. It’s unapologetically Vegas, right on the Strip, and yet despite its flash and grandeur, it manages to provide service that makes it one of the best hotels in Las Vegas.

This is where stylish young travelers come to see and be seen—Cosmopolitan is the home of raucous nightlife, high-stakes gaming, big-name concerts, and flirty lounges. Guest rooms are just as bold and modern as the rest of the resort. Request yours with a view.

Amenities: Marble-floored bathrooms, C.O. Bigelow toiletries, double-head showers, Japanese soaking tubs, balconies on some rooms, 100,000-square-foot casino, Marquee dayclub and nightclub, three swimming pools, two fitness centers, tennis courts, Sahra Spa, room service, concierge service, business center, dog-friendly policies, and a large collection of restaurants including two by chef Jose Andres.

Book it: Get prices for the Cosmopolitan and other Las Vegas hotels

Mandarin Oriental

The Mandarin Oriental is one of the very best hotels in Las Vegas, and the city’s only independent hotel with five stars from Forbes. That’s thanks to the brand’s legendary hospitality—service here is welcoming, sophisticated, and very accommodating—as well as the property’s beautiful LEED-certified architecture and interior design, an elegant modern take on Asian themes.

There’s no casino and no smoke, making for a more relaxing stay than other hotels on the Strip, and that’s despite the Mandarin Oriental’s enviable location at the entrance of CityCenter. Friendly Pepper the Robot greets you in the 23rd-floor lobby before you arrive at your stunning suite, which will have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Strip.

Amenities: Luxury bath salts, large HDTV, afternoon tea service, fitness center, full-service spa, the excellent Twist by Pierre Gagnaire restaurant, and the Mandarin Bar with giant windows overlooking the Strip.

Book it: Get prices for the Mandarin Oriental and other Las Vegas hotels

Wynn and Encore

These two identical curved towers are sister properties, and are both among the best hotels in Vegas. Between them, they’ve got 4,750 luxurious guest rooms and suites, 189,000 square feet of gaming, 24 restaurants including a few by celebrity chefs, two spas, 11 bars, a beach club, an 18-hole golf course, and three nightclubs that bring in big-name performers.

At Wynn, Japanese gardens surround a koi pond and a 90-foot waterfall, and a dreamlike show called Le Reve captivates. Both hotels offer tower suites—a super-luxury overnight experience. Hotelier Steve Wynn may be a controversial figure, but there’s no question his classic properties are beautiful places to stay.

Amenities: Everything listed above, plus beauty salons, business services, many retail shops, a fitness center, and comprehensive concierge services.

Book it: Get prices for Encore and Wynn and other Las Vegas hotels

The Venetian and Palazzo

These landmark Las Vegas Strip hotels are sister properties, connected to each other via a beautiful indoor walkway. Both are all-suite properties, and the Venetian’s standard rooms are almost twice the size of your average Las Vegas hotel digs. This resort conjures Italy through and through, from the dramatic Italianate exterior featuring real-life gondola rides and columns galore to interiors that replicate some of Italy’s most famous sites.

Under a ceiling painted like sky are the Grand Canal Shoppes, where you can buy the latest in designer fashion, or have dinner concocted by a celebrity chef—this is the home of Wolfgang Puck’s Cut, Thomas Keller’s Bouchon, and Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico. Those grand rooms are luxuriously appointed, and stylish Tao Beach rocks both day and night.

Amenities: In addition to those listed above, comfort beds, excellent concierge service, a 120,000-square-foot casino, the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, an onsite Barneys New York, the Aquatic Club pool experience, plus an additional five-acre pool and garden deck.

Book it: Get prices for the Venetian and the Palazzo

Mandalay Bay

Mandalay Bay offers the complete Las Vegas resort experience in style and comfort. Its 3,211 spacious rooms, done in clean lines, are splashed with color and art. Staffers are genuine, creating a refined but fun stay. This resort spans 120 acres, so there’s a lot here: a huge casino, big-name entertainment venues, rockin’ nightlife, award-winning restaurants, plenty of shopping, and Mandalay Bay Beach, a tropical-themed pool with cabanas and real sand. There’s also the Shark Reef Aquarium, with more than 2,000 deep-sea creatures to see. All of this also makes it one of the most kid-friendly hotels in Las Vegas.

Amenities: In addition to those listed above, large in-room TVs, in-room Jacuzzi tubs, Spa Mandalay, fitness center, swimming pools, room service, free Wi-Fi, business center, kid-friendly policies, dry cleaning services, and concierge services.

Book it: Get prices for Mandalay Bay and other Las Vegas hotels


As you search for Las Vegas Strip hotels, look just west of Las Vegas Boulevard to find the hip Palms Casino Resort, which opened in 2001 and immediately became a celebrity magnet. There are plenty of happening bars and restaurants within its three tall towers, plus a 95,000-square-foot casino and the Pearl Concert Theater, where the many of the world’s greatest talents have performed. Rooms are sleek and modern with bright colors.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, free parking, a 14-screen movie theater, three swimming pool environments, Drift Spa and Hammam, food buffet, fitness center, Rojo cocktail lounge, fine dining and amazing views at Nove Italiano restaurant, room service, airport transportation, dry cleaning and laundry service, in-room refrigerator, and free shuttle service to the Strip.

Book it: Get prices for the Palms Casino Resort and other Las Vegas hotels

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–Original reporting by Avital Andrews. Follow her on Twitter @avitalb.

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10 Best Day Trips from Denver

The mountains are calling, and you must go. When you visit Denver, do as the locals do and get out of town for the day. Experience the unique character of neighboring communities by taking day trips from Denver—you’ll satisfy the taste for adventure that brought you to the Mile High City in the first place.

 10 Best Day Trips from Denver

Whether you’re looking for thrills, small-town breweries, or art exhibits, there’s an easy Denver day trip for you.


day trips from denver

[st_content_ad]Evergreen is a favorite local day trip from Denver because it’s close to the city (about 30 miles west) but feels like it’s deep in the mountains. Stroll along Main Street to peruse the various art galleries and try the wine at Creekside Cellars. In the winter, ice skate outside, surrounded by pine-covered mountains, at 8.5-acre Evergreen Lake. The hills surrounding Evergreen are rife with trails ready to be explored in the warmer months; Maxwell Falls, Alderfer / Three Sisters Park, and Lair o’ the Bear Park are popular spots. Cheers to successful day trips from Denver with a beer at the Little Bear Saloon, an authentic Western live music venue and watering hole.

Estes Park

day trips from denver

Estes Park, 65 miles northwest of Denver, is probably best known for the Stanley Hotel, the supposedly haunted accommodations that inspired Stephen King’s the Shining. Day trippers should stop by the Stanley for a tour (there’s a spooky Night Spirit option) and a flight at the Whiskey Bar, which has a collection of more than 1,000 bottles of the dark spirit. Estes Park is also the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. The highest-elevation national park in the country has 355 miles of hiking trails, scenic driving routes, more than 50 lakes and streams for fishing, and plenty of wildlife (keep an eye out for elk, moose, and bighorn sheep). Back in town, visitors can easily pass an entire afternoon popping in and out of the jewelry, art, and furniture stores that line Estes Park’s main drag.


day trips from denver

One of the most popular day trips from Denver is driving to Golden for a tour of Coors Brewery. After you’ve crossed that prerequisite off the list, it’s time to the rest of what Golden has to offer. In addition to shops—and even more breweries and distilleries—downtown Golden is close to a triad of great parks and a number of museums, including three definitely worth your time: Foothills Art Center, the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, and the American Mountaineering Museum. Golden is also a hot spot for climbers because of its variety of routes (even beginners will feel comfortable) and proximity to Denver. Since the town is just 15 miles from Denver, plan to stay for dinner; try the French-influenced eats at Abejas or Middle Eastern classics at Amir Grill. Golden Moon Speakeasy, a cocktail lounge that distills its own spirits, is great for a nightcap.

Fort Collins

day trips from denver

Located 65 miles north of Denver, this one-time trading and agricultural hub has grown into the state’s unofficial beer capital (Anheuser-Busch, Odell Brewing Co., and New Belgium Brewing Company are all based here, plus more than a dozen other breweries). It’s also become one of Denver’s coolest neighbors. Ginger and Baker is a gathering place with a market, bakery, restaurant, and more in a restored feed building. Old Town, a national historic district, was the inspiration behind Disneyland’s Main Street USA and has a plethora of funky boutiques, restaurants, and artisans like bean-to-bar sweet maker Nuance Chocolate. Adventurers will want to raft or tube along the Cache la Poudre River, the state’s only designated “wild and scenic” river. Animal lovers on a day trip from Denver should visit Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, home to 22 genetically pure bison (descendants of Yellowstone bison) and their calves; the best time to see them roaming the land is in summer and early fall.

Red Rocks Parks and Amphitheatre

day trips from denver

Red Rocks is a bucket-list concert venue—it’s the only naturally occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world—but the 738-acre park, with its striking jagged peaks and views of the Front Range, is worth a Denver day trip whether or not there’s a show. Pack a snack and take in the unusual formations on the short Trading Post or Geologic Overlook trails; mountain bikers can pedal along Red Rocks Trail’s six-mile loop. Nearby, Dinosaur Ridge and its two-mile trail weaves by 15 fossil and geologic sites. Some of the fossil specimens, from apatosaurus, stegosaurus, and allosaurus, date back 150 million years.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary

day trips from denver

You expect to see moose and bears in Colorado. But tigers and African lions? Colorado has those too. The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a 720-acre wildlife refuge in the Eastern Plains, 39 miles from Denver. Follow the Mile into the Wild Walkway, an elevated platform, to watch the animals as they eat, bathe, and lounge in their open habitats. More than 450 rescued animals live at the sanctuary, including leopards, wolves, and grizzly bears. Time your visit around 9 a.m. or 5 p.m. to see—and hear—the animals at their most active.

Black Hawk

day trips from denver

Las Vegas, Black Hawk is not. But the former gold rush town—miners first struck a payload in 1859—is gambling central in Colorado. Sixteen casinos sit side-by-side in the small burg 38 miles from Denver. Most of the town’s restaurants are located inside the casinos; when you need a break from the slots, head to Timberline Grill, a steak house on the main gaming floor at Ameristar Black Hawk. For fresh air, drive about 10 miles northeast to Golden Gate Canyon State Park for hiking, horseback riding, or biking. Choose a trail that heads to Panorama Point for an Instagram shot worthy of a road trip.

Garden of the Gods

day trips from denver

It’s not hard to locate Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. Slabs of sandstone rock rise from the verdant surroundings, beckoning visitors to the 480-acre park. It’s a must-see natural attraction and one that’s accessible to outdoorspeople of all abilities. There are 15 miles of trails, some as short as a half-mile long; road and mountain biking paths; and a variety of rock climbing routes. Stop by the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center to learn more about how the geological wonder formed.

St Mary’s Glacier

day trips from denver

For a short day trip from Denver with major payoff, direct your car an hour west to Idaho Springs. The just-under-a-mile moderate hike from the trailhead leads to a lake and the namesake glacier, which is typically snowcapped year-round. (It’s also known as St. Mary’s Alice because the geographic feature doesn’t technically qualify as a glacier.) A short walk around the lake and up the snowfield provides panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains. Relax on the sandy beach before heading back to the car. Refuel in Idaho Springs with a sandwich at Two Brothers Deli or a burger at Westbound & Down Brewing Company. Weather conditions can quickly change in this area, so bring appropriate layers and plenty of water.


day trips from denver

Exploring all of Boulder would take more than a few hours, but you can get a taste of the People’s Republic with a day trip from Denver. Talented buskers entertain along the pedestrian-only, four-block Pearl Street Mall, which is lined with shops, galleries, and eateries. Set against the iconic Flatirons, Boulder is a siren for adventurers. From Chautauqua Park to Eldorado CanyoLinkn to Boulder Creek, there’s no shortages of hiking, biking, tubing, and kayaking in this city 30 miles from Denver. It’s also the site of more than 20 breweries and some of the state’s best restaurants; make reservations at Frasca Food & Wine or Oak at Fourteenth.

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– Original reporting by Daliah Singer

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Recap: The Week’s Biggest Travel Stories and Best Deals

Following is our regular summary of the latest travel news and best frequent traveler promotions reviewed during the past week.

[st_content_ad]If it was a good deal—or a notably bad deal—from an airline, hotel, or car rental loyalty program, you can read all about it here, and plan your travel accordingly.

Wallet Watch: Parking Fees Rise at 12 MGM Las Vegas Hotels

For the second time in less than two years, MGM is raising parking fees at its 12 Las Vegas properties.

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Wallet Watch: Parking Fees Rise at 12 MGM Las Vegas Hotels

Less than two years after beginning what has become a wholesale change from free to paid hotel parking in Las Vegas, MGM is already charging hotel visitors even more to park.

[st_related]InterContinental Hotels Raises Prices on Popular PointBreaks Rates[/st_related]

This week, the company raised parking rates at its 12 Las Vegas properties, as follows:

  • Aria, Bellagio, Vdara – Self-parking is free for the first hour, $9 for one to two hours, $15 for two to four hours, and $18 for four to 24 hours. Valet: $21 for up to two hours, $24 for two to four hours, and $30 for four to 24 hours.
  • Circus Circus – Self-parking is free, but valet starts at $12 for up to two hours, and rises from there.
  • Delano, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, The Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York-New York – Free self-parking for the first hour, $9 for one to two hours, $12 for two to four hours, and $15 for four to 24 hours. Valet: $16 for up to two hours, $18 for two to four hours, and $24 for four to 24 hours.
  • Excalibur and Luxor – Free self-parking for the first hour, then $6 for one to two hours, $8 for two to four hours, and $10 for four to 24 hours. Valet: $12 for up to two hours, $14 for two to four hours, and $16 for four to 24 hours.

MGM also raised its parking rates in April, so this is the second increase in just two years.

Free self-parking is available to members of MGM’s M life Rewards program who achieved Pearl, Gold, Platinum, or NOIR status. Free valet is offered to Gold, Platinum, and NOIR Members.

Just as they followed MGM’s initial move into charging for parking, other area hotels can now be expected to follow MGM’s lead in pushing those fees even higher.

Reader Reality Check

At what point do these new and ever-rising fees push Las Vegas off your visit list?

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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.


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Tipping in Cyprus: The Cyprus Tipping Guide

Tipping in Cyprus can be confusing. This Cyprus tipping guide will help you navigate when/where you can leave a little extra for great service.

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Tipping in Cyprus

[st_content_ad]Tipping in Cyprus isn’t obligatory, but may be expected. Since the country is such a popular tourist destination, tipping is common. Keep in mind, however, that a good deal of hotels and restaurants include a service charge. There is a chance, however, that this may go directly to the business owner and not the staff, so be certain to always ask before deciding if/what to tip. There is no set standard on how much to leave when service isn’t included or doesn’t go to management, but it’s always a good practice to tip a few euros for great service.

Want a bit more guidance on how much to give? This Cyprus tipping guide will help you navigate how much to leave for great service. 

[st_related]Tipping: How Much to Tip Tour Guides, Taxis, Hotel Maids, and More?[/st_related]

Cyprus Tipping Guide

Cafe Server: A tip isn’t necessary.

Restaurant Server: A tip of 10 percent is sometimes included in the final bill, but not always. There is also a possibility that this added cost might go to the owner of the restaurant and not the server. Be sure to check the bill first for these inclusions and ask who receives an additional tip before deciding what to give. A tip of €2 to €3 is sufficient.

Bartender: It’s not necessary to tip a bartender, as most do not expect it and some may even refuse it.

Taxis: A tip isn’t expected, but is appreciated. A good rule of thumb is to round up to the nearest euro or give up to 5 percent of the final fare for exceptional service. 

Tour Guide: Tip your guide at least 10 percent of the total bill, and the driver at least 5 percent.

Airport Shuttle: It is not necessary to tip your driver, but feel free to give €1 per bag if they help with your luggage.

Doorman: A simple thank you is always appreciated, but feel free to offer €1 for exceptional service.

Bellhop: Most hotels include a 10 to 15 percent service charge in the final bill, but this typically goes directly to the owner. It is considerate to tip €1 per bag.

Housecleaning: Most hotels include a 10 to 15 percent service charge in the final bill, but this typically goes directly to the owner. Feel free to leave €1 to €2 per night in the room for a spotless stay.

Concierge: If the concierge goes above and beyond with helping you book reservations, giving you directions, and/or providing insider recommendations, it’s considerate to tip €1 to €2. 

Stylist: It’s considerate, but by no means an obligation, to tip 10 percent of the final bill if service is above measure.

Spa Service Provider: A tip isn’t expected, but you can leave up to 10 percent for anything that goes above and beyond your expectations.

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