• Stripping in Las Vegas: A Beginner’s Guide

    Not too long ago, walking the Strip was considered lunacy; the size of the casinos deceived people into believing a hike down Las Vegas Boulevard would be just a brisk stroll—forget the 100+ degree heat and traffic. Locals always warned against it, but tourists did it anyway—so much so, that Vegas built walkways over every major intersection and almost literally turned their resorts inside-out to feature Strip-side drinking and dining spots. Crazy? Maybe. But crazy is Las Vegas’ middle name. So, if you’re going to walk the Strip (and you are going to), you might as well have a guide to what you should be checking out.

    The “Welcome to Las Vegas” Sign

    Okay, you’re not really going to walk here, but the famous sign now has its own parking lot so folks can get out and do their selfies safely. Other than that, there isn’t too much you’ll want to walk to outside the casinos south of Tropicana Blvd.

    New York–New York 9/11 Tribute

    It’s hard to fully appreciate the wacky detail of this theme casino’s exterior Manhattan tableau, but after 9/11, its faux Statue of Liberty and twin towers (still part of the design) became an impromptu Western tribute spot to the fallen of September 11, 2001. It’s worth seeing this, and all the exterior of NY–NY, up close. Corny, but cool.

    The Park

    The north side of New York–New York abuts the new Park, Vegas’ most recent embrace of outdoor living, with a few cool eateries, a statue from Burning Man, and actual greenery. If you’re hungry or thirsty at this point, check out Shake Shake at NY–NY or Yusho at Monte Carlo (soon to be renamed Park Place).

    City Center

    It might be tempting to take the free tram from Monte Carlo straight to Bellagio here, but it’s better to stop at Aria and walk around to check out the synchronized WET fountain outside the front entrance and lots of cool art installations throughout—even the Jenny Holtzer piece at the North Valet. Yes, I got you off the street for a minute, but trust me: If you’re in a more touristy mood, the other side of the Strip here offers the Hawaiian Marketplace, the Fatburger Fat Bar, and other fun stuff. #nojudging

    Bellagio Fountains

    The most famous icon of Vegas at this point, the Bellagio fountains need no introduction or explanation, except to let you know that they “perform” only intermittently during the day (mostly testing). It’s at night when you see the full performances, a few times an hour, set to music ranging from Sinatra to Tiësto. In recent years, the sidewalk here has turned into a magnet for costumed performers who pose with you for tips (and might actually even perform something). For eats and drinks here, it’s probably easiest to cross the Boulevard to Planet Hollywood or Paris, Las Vegas, where you can get something quick and easy at Pink’s Hot Dogs or Pin Up Pizza, or sit down at Cabo Wabo, Mon Ami Gabi, Hexx, or the second-level Beer Park. Next door in front of Bally’s are the Grand Bazaar Shops, which feature a Superdry store and a few other interesting things; but that’s still a bit too random to recommend.

    Caesars Palace Roman Plaza

    This area in front of Caesars, once a parking lot—okay, it was all once parking lots—gets overlooked by folks driving by, but there’s a lot going on here, from replica Roman fountains and Spanish steps to a fascinating Brahma shrine. (There’s an explanation on it; go check it out.) There’s also an open-air bar out here, the tent for Absinthe—a show you really should see—and Serendipity 3’s shaded patio for grubbing.

    The Linq and High Roller

    Across the Boulevard, between the Flamingo and the hotel renamed to match it, the Linq is the most straight-up outdoors part of the Strip. It’s mostly a bunch of shops and eateries leading up to the world’s largest observation wheel—which is totally worth doing, by the way, especially if you get in on the happy hour bar car deal. Within the Linq, maybe the coolest part is Brooklyn Bowl, where you can see a show, do some bowling, or just eat Blue Ribbon fried chicken. There’s Haute Doggery, Sprinkles, and a walk-up pizza window at Flour & Barley for something faster. Or, by the time you read this, the Strip’s first In-N-Out Burger may be open, in which case, line up.

    Carnaval Court

    Between the Linq and Harrah’s is the “famous” Carnaval Court, an outdoor “flair” bar where spring break never ends. I think that’s all I need to say about that.

    Mirage Volcano

    Back across the street, one of the first Strip-side attractions, the Mirage volcano, was redone a few years back to be bigger and badder, with a soundtrack by the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart. Kind of cool. Again, this goes off only at night—and then it really goes off. Turn around, and you get a good look at the insane detail of the Venetian, which you’re likely to miss driving by. You also might want to check out the huge brass statue of Siegfried and Roy because… well, because. Oh, and FYI, Treasure Island next door no longer does the goofy pirate show, so don’t stand around waiting for Jack Sparrow and friends.

    …And Further North

    There isn’t a lot that’s pedestrian-friendly, to be honest. But if you insist, you’ll eventually hit the corner of Convention Center Drive, where Tacos El Gordo is a great place to stop for a bite (get the asadero). After that stop into the Peppermill, there’s a chunk of vintage Vegas where you should reward yourself with a girly cocktail by the firepit—or at least a stack of pancakes.