Las Vegas Weekend Guide: Neon Signs, Red-Rock Hikes, and Tiki Cocktails

Despite the setbacks of 2020, Las Vegas is a city that can’t sit still. Nevada remains one of the fastest growing states in America, and an influx of creative newcomers is changing the city with a plethora of new galleries, bars, and restaurants. After the downtown Circa Resort & Casino opened late last year, the highly anticipated Virgin Hotels Las Vegas follow in the spring, and Santa Fe-based art collective Meow Wolf expanded to Vegas in February with a new experience, Omega Mart. Suffice it to say, there is a lot to get upset about. Here’s how to make the most of a long weekend in the still booming Sin City.

day 1

Wake up at NoMad Las Vegas, a hotel within a hotel in Park MGM. With its sleek dark woods and gem-hued velvet – a tasteful take on the glitz the city is known for – it’s one of the Strip’s newest getaways.

Your first day in town, however, is devoted to off-strip exploration: take a 10-minute cab ride to the downtown Arts District and first stock up on a café con leche and short-ribed arepa benedict on the Makers & Finder’s terrace . Walk a few blocks north to the Arts Factory, a converted warehouse with galleries, boutiques, and studios where you can buy works by local artists like skater-slash painter David A. Soto. Back on Main Street, browse vintage stores, including Retro Vegas for mid-century modern furniture and Modern Mantiques for old signs and phonographs.

Makers & Finders, a Latin American-inspired café in the Arts District

Adrianne Lopez / Courtesy Makers & Finders

The Neon Museum, which has more than 200 restored neon signs

Jarmila Kostliva / Alamy

For lunch, take a cab to Vegas Test Kitchen, where changing chefs are throwing pop-ups with new concepts like Bulgarian pastries and sourdough pizza. Next, delve into the long history of American organized crime at the Mob Museum. You’ll need a timed entry ticket, and a Deluxe Pass or Premier Pass gives you access to an interactive forensic crime lab or prohibition burner tour.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to go back to the Strip to find a decadent dinner. For proof, enjoy the 7-course tasting menu at Chinatown’s Partage, where Chef Yuri Szarzewski (who has cooked in Michelin-starred restaurants across France) modernizes French classics with dishes like mahi-mahi confit and fried foie gras – Carpaccio.

Book a ticket to the Neon Museum to learn the story of the city’s rise as the American entertainment capital through over 200 restored neon signs. End the night with a rum and pineapple tiki bandit in Frankie’s tiki room, a perfectly cheesy tropical getaway in the desert.

day 2

No trip to Vegas is complete without a visit to the Hoover Dam, the impressive feat of Depression-era engineering that harnessed the power of the Colorado River. On the 30-minute drive from Vegas, stop at Henderson’s Weiss Deli and enjoy popular breakfast rolls like The Best, a combination of corned beef hash, eggs, and cheese.

While tour of the dam is currently paused, you can still stroll over the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge – the world’s tallest concrete arch bridge at 880 feet – for spectacular views of the dam and Black Canyon. Nearby, take a stroll on the Historic Railroad Trail, which runs along the shores of man-made Lake Mead and then goes through a series of tunnels carved into the mountainside.

The Hoover Dam, an architectural marvel from the 1930s

bluejayphoto / Getty

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