Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to this 24 hours in Las Vegas itinerary. Many people who come to Las Vegas wish to forget their troubles. They could perhaps spend their 24 hours in Las Vegas gambling away a small fortune. Or perhaps they would rather attempt to romance a showboy or showgirl.
But we are none of these people! Our 24 hours in Las Vegas itinerary will be spent learning about science, dining on fine British cuisine, and getting lost in a neon jungle. I can’t wait, can you?
24 Hours in Las Vegas Itinerary
Where to Stay?
Sometimes I recommend hotels that are a little obscure or off the beaten track. Today is not that day. Today, I recommend you choose the world-famous Bellagio Hotel for your 24 hours in Las Vegas itinerary. It has the perfect location on the Strip, there’s tons of gorgeous artwork, and it has crazy fountains that light up at night. (If they’re good enough for George Clooney and Brad Pitt in Ocean’s Eleven, they’re good enough for you.)
24 Hours in Las Vegas Itinerary
What to Pack?
You’ll need comfy shoes for all the walking we’re going to do today. If it’s summertime, I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. They come in every shade, and I always get compliments on my electric magenta shoes.
Vegas can get very hot, so don’t forget the sunscreen. My favorite is the Neutrogena spray bottle because it’s so easy to apply. And as a solo traveler, I can actually use it myself on my own back. I just put it in my purse and re-apply throughout the day.
Finally, since we’re going to be out all day, you’ll want a battery for your cell phone. I always use the Anker charger. It’s light enough to fit in even a small purse. Plus the Anker lasts for several full charges of a phone, so I’ll never run out of juice!
24 Hours in Las Vegas Itinerary
Morning: Las Vegas Natural History Museum
I’m sure it is at this point that some of my fair readers are going to turn to another page. “UGH!” you are thinking. “Why would anyone try a 24 Hours in Las Vegas Itinerary to learn about anything! It’s Sin City, not Science City!” Well, that might be true for some folks, but I’m sure it’s not true of the discerning followers of this blog. Also, many people come to Las Vegas with their kids now, and I’m sure they’d like to find an activity that doesn’t involve day drinking.
That’s where the Las Vegas Natural History Museum comes in so handy. As a bonus, it’s not located on the Strip, so you’ll easily be able to avoid the crowds. You’ll also be able to learn at least…
three fun facts: las vegas natural history museum
1) what’s so las vegas about dinosaurs?
The most amusing thing about the Las Vegas Museum of Natural History is that basically everything inside the museum has a connection to the casinos of Vegas. For example, take this dinosaur pictured above. Just your average featured prehistoric creature, right? But what else in Las Vegas doesn’t wear many clothes and is covered in feathers instead? That’s right! It’s the Las Vegas showgirl! That’s why this beauty is sometimes referred to as the Showgirl Dinosaur. Only in Las Vegas, amirite?
2) What’s so las vegas about Egypt?
My favorite exhibit at the Las Vegas Museum of Natural History is Treasures of Egypt. This exhibit is dedicated to the many dazzling artifacts that were uncovered when King Tut’s tomb was excavated back in the 1920s. The excavation led to a craze for Egyptian-flavored design all around the world. When King Tut’s treasures toured the United States back in the 1970s, the boy king became all the rage again. (Steve Martin’s famous King Tut parody song gently mocked this trend.)
But what’s the Las Vegas connection, you might ask? Well, Egyptian-themed design is just as popular in Las Vegas as it is everywhere else. In fact, one of the biggest casinos in Vegas, the Luxor, was modeled after King Tut’s tomb. So perhaps this exhibit is just subliminally trying to get you to fritter away all your funds at the slot machines of the Luxor. Don’t fall for it!
3) what’s so las vegas about taxidermy?
One of the most striking exhibits at the Las Vegas Museum of Natural History is the section on animals of the African Savannah. If you enjoy looking at dead animals that have been stuffed to look like they are alive and about to bite you, you’ll love this exhibit. But what’s the connection to Las Vegas?
Well, I assume you’ve heard of Siegfried and Roy, no? They were famous for their public acts with wildcats. That is until one day a tiger got super cranky and mauled Siegfried. (Or was it Roy?) But don’t worry! I’m pretty sure all the animals in the Las Vegas Museum of Natural History are safely dead. So no harm will come to you here.
Also, these bears are meant to represent Joe Pesci and Robert DeNiro’s characters in the Martin Scorcese film Casino. The shorter bear is supposed to be Mr. Pesci.
24 Hours in Las Vegas Itinerary
Afternoon: Secret Food Tours Las Vegas
Some people might think that the idea of a Secret Food Tour in Las Vegas sounds nuts. After all, Las Vegas’ secrets are supposed to be about what Bradley Cooper and his buddies did at their bachelor party. They’re not supposed to be about finding cool restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip.
But the Las Vegas Secret Food Tour I took with Leslie really helped me separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to Las Vegas restaurants. After all, Las Vegas is a city where it’s possible to eat extremely well or extremely poorly, depending on how much research you’re able to do. So allow me to help you avoid some tragically bad meals with…
approximately top 5: secret food tours las vegas
1) Gordon Ramsay pub and grill
Many celebrity chefs have embraced the excess of Las Vegas. But perhaps no other celebrity chef has gotten more into Sin City than crankypanks Gordon Ramsay. He has at least 5 restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip. Probably he’s adding more as I type this. But our first stop was at his pub, the Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill.
British food sometimes gets a bad rap, but I blame French propaganda for this. Pub grub is surely one of the most satisfying types of cuisine that there is. On the food tour, I snacked on a scotch egg and pigs in a blanket. Scotch eggs are boiled eggs encased in a swaddling of ground meat. I don’t know exactly what is Scotch about them. They don’t play the bagpipes or anything.
The next “course” was the pigs in a blanket, aka sausages wrapped in dough. Leslie says they use the American name on the menu. But Brits are more likely to call this dish “toad in the hole”. This confused me because I always thought “toad in the hole” was a fried egg cooked in a piece of toast with a hole cut out of the middle. Oh, Britain! Will we ever speak the same language?
Anyway, the must-pair ingredient with both of these dishes is the marvelous HP Sauce. I really don’t want to know exactly what goes into this treat. Knowledge will spoil the magic. All I know is that the sauce is very brown, and it tastes like vinegar. Now I wonder what it would taste like with American Toad in the Hole…
2) Two hot tamales
Our next celebrity chef was actually two celebrities. I was stoked to find that we’d be going to Border Grill, located in Mandalay Bay. This restaurant is run by the notorious Two Hot Tamales: Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. I was so excited because I grew up watching them on the Food Network.
There weren’t as many female chefs on television back then. Watching them made me feel like I could have a career in food someday. (Although I guess I ended up having a career eating food instead of making it. Which is even better! Thanks, Two Hot Tamales!)
Leslie very helpfully had asked the kitchen to put together a sampler plate of their specialties. Of course, the tamales were obligatory, but we also tried some of their other favorites, like the plantain empanadas. These had just the perfect mix of spice and sweetness. Also, Leslie had some boxed wine hidden in her purse that I got to try, which made the lunch just that much more enjoyable.
We started the day in the United Kingdom, and then we’d moved to Latin America. Now it was time to head to the South with Yardbird. As the daughter of two Southerners, I should have been surprised to find an award-winning Southern restaurant out here in the desert. But I’d been in Las Vegas long enough not to be surprised by anything, including wine in somebody’s purse.
Our snack here was the fried green tomato BLT. It’s served with pork belly, which means it’s fancy. Also, there was a healthy schmear of one of my VERY FAVORITE Southern food of all time: pimento cheese. (Pronounce it “pimenno”.) There are other Southern foods, like grits or barbecue, that I love more, but pimento cheese is very hard to get up north.
Leslie then blew my mind by telling me that fried green tomatoes aren’t really a Southern food. They are originally from the Midwest, and they didn’t start appearing on Southern menus until Fannie Flagg’s book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe came out in the 1980s. Please nobody tell the restaurants of Georgia that this is the case. I think that every restaurant in Savannah is legally required to have fried green tomatoes on their menu.
4) Royce chocolate
Now, what’s a trip to Vegas without a little luxury shopping? Maybe I can’t afford to buy luxury bags, shoes, jewelry, etc… But I certainly can afford a little luxury chocolate. So I was pleased that one of our stops was at the Royce Chocolate store. On our International Food Tour of the Las Vegas Strip, this would be the Japanese stop.
Royce Chocolate comes from Hokkaido, which is in the north of Japan. Royce claims that the cold weather of Hokkaido creates a perfect environment for making chocolate. Their specialty is “Nama” chocolate. This treat is a combination of chocolate and cream. It’s as smooth as the dulcet tones of Mr. Barry White. Tragically, you need to refrigerate it, so I couldn’t buy a box to take with me on my travels. I consoled myself with a box of their green tea chocolates instead. Poor me!
5) Bouchon bakery
Of course, it can’t be a proper Fake International Food Tour of the Las Vegas Strip without a stop in France. So our last destination was the Bouchon Bakery, run by legendary chef Thomas Keller. Keller is one of the most decorated American chefs in history. In fact, he is the only American chef to ever have two Michelin three-star restaurants at the same time (Per Se and The French Laundry).
We will not be dining on any Michelin-starred tasting menus on this food tour, though. Instead, I got to sample one of Keller’s light-as-a-firefly macarons. These delicate French concoctions are made with almond flour, eggs, and sugar. They are as trendy in this decade as cupcakes were in the last. But macarons are more French and glamorous and a little bit less likely to get frosting all over your nose, especially after you’ve been drinking boxed wine from a stranger’s purse.
24 Hours in Las Vegas Itinerary
Late Afternoon: Stratosphere
After the food tour, I promise you’re not going to be hungry for dinner. Also, we still have some time to kill before the evening activity of our 24 Hours in Las Vegas Itinerary. (The evening’s festivities aren’t possible before dark, for reasons that will soon be clear. I promise they do not involve murdering a stripper.) So why not head to the Stratosphere for some of the best views of Las Vegas?
The Stratosphere claims to be the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States. (Are there taller observation towers that aren’t freestanding? What does that even mean?) As with most observation towers, it’s a little pricey to head to the top. But once you’re there, you can stay as long as you like and enjoy the amazing views.
I have to assume there are a lot of bodies buried in that desert out in the distance there. But maybe that’s just the purse wine talking.
24 Hours in Las Vegas Itinerary
Evening: Neon Museum
If you only see one tourist attraction in Las Vegas, let it be the Neon Museum. The museum is dedicated to housing the most gorgeous neon signs from Las Vegas’s past. If this place doesn’t help you appreciate the beauty of classic Vegas, nothing will. My recommendation is to see the museum on a guided tour. These are very in demand, so you have to purchase a timed ticket on their website. But that’s a small price to pay for a journey into the past!
Also, be warned that you have to wear close-toed shoes into the Neon Boneyard. The signs are made from glass, so no one wants your tootsies to get cut up in case you step on one by accident. Or if Joe Pesci gets mad and pushes you into one of the signs. Every sign is gorgeous and special in its own way. But I’m going to limit myself to…
three fun facts: neon museum
1) what’s the biggest sign?
That’s easy enough to prove! As of my visit, the biggest sign in the Neon Museum was the sign for the Stardust Casino. It’s so big, I could not fit it into my photo. This sign belonged to the now-defunct Stardust Resort and Casino. (PS. Everything in Vegas could be called “and Casino”.)
The Stardust was built in the late 1950s when Space Age stuff was all the rage. It also had topless French dancing girls, which are popular in every decade. Apparently the Stardust was unlucky from the start, thanks to Mob Ties and the mysterious death of its owner before the casino opened. According to the Mob Museum, the Stardust was the inspiration for the fictional Tangiers in the movie Casino. So I guess seeing this sign is as close as you’re going to get to meeting Robert DeNiro.
2) What’s the most Nevada sign?
Science has not yet developed a way to measure the number of “Nevada Particles” in a neon sign. But I’d guess that the Yucca Motel sign would qualify. After all, it has a local plant sitting on its head.
Now you might be asking why a motel would need such a flashy sign. Well, back in the heyday of Route 66, there was no Booking.com. Motorists doing the Great American Road Trip wouldn’t make hotel reservations ahead of time. They would simply stop for the night when they got tired at whatever motel struck their fancy.
3) Baby, What’s your sign?
Gemini! I should think that’s pretty obvious. But if you’re asking what my favorite neon sign in the museum was, it’s definitely the sign of the La Concha Motel. The La Concha, which no longer exists as a motel, was designed by Paul Williams. He was one of the first major African-American architects in history. (His most famous project was probably the Theme Building in the Los Angeles Airport.)
The La Concha is a notable example of Googie architecture. No, I did not misspell that! You can now officially claim that Googie is a real word in your next Scrabble match. Googie is sort of another word for mid-century modern. Googie architecture was influenced by the Space Age aesthetic. Basically, if you could see something belonging on The Jetsons, it’s probably Googie. If you’re a fan of this style of architecture, I recommend taking a detour to Palm Springs, California to get some more of it.
But what happened to the original La Concha Motel? Well, if you’re visiting the Neon Museum, you’re looking right at it! The motel lobby is now the Neon Museum Visitor Center. It’s the perfect place to end our 24 Hours in Las Vegas Itinerary.
That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Las Vegas Itinerary!
What would you do with a 24 Hours in Las Vegas Itinerary? Has Joe Pesci ever pushed you into a pile of glass? And what kind of protein goes best with boxed wine in someone’s purse? Please leave your thoughts below!
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