Las Vegas is the urban spin on Lady Gaga—always changing, always figuring out new ways to titillate and entertain the rest of us. Over the first four months of 2014, Sin City has welcomed a host of new attractions and destination into the mix. Here, in no particular order, is a rundown of some of the latest and greatest places to explore.
The LINQ, a sprawling open-air shopping and entertainment complex between the Flamingo Las Vegas and The Quad Resort & Casino in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip, opened gradually over the course of the first few months of the year, revealing itself to visitors like the dancer in a burlesque show.
By April 1, the attraction was open in its entirety. The big star: the 550-foot-tall High Roller, the largest Observation Wheel in the world.
Think of this attraction like a Ferris wheel on steroids. To put into perspective how big it really is, consider this: The London Eye, arguably the world’s most famous Observation Wheel, is almost 100 feet smaller. The High Roller also dwarfs the Singapore Flyer and the Star of Nanchang.
To ride, visitors climb aboard one of 28 pod-like cabins, each of which can fit up to 40 people at a time. One full revolution takes about 30 minutes, and in that time you’re treated to stupendous, one-of-a-kind views of the Strip and the rest of the Vegas Valley.
There are other spots worth visiting in the Linq, as well. Brooklyn Bowl, for instance, brings together a concert hall, bowling alley, dive bar and kick-ass comfort food (from the same chefs behind Blue Ribbon Sushi) under one roof. BLVD. Cocktail Company serves up terrific hand-crafted cocktails, and sports a player piano that pulls in music from a piano that actually is being played in New York. Chayo Mexican Kitchen + Tequila Bar blends high-end Tex-Mex with mechanical bull-riding (yes, really).
Then, of course, there’s Purple Zebra, which takes the self-serve yogurt store concept and applies it to yard-long frozen alcoholic drinks.
The High Roller, at night
Center Strip isn’t the only part of town buzzing with excitement; Downtown, where revitalization has been commonplace for the better part of two years, continues to evolve, as well.
The newest addition in Old Vegas is PICNIC, an open-air, day-use recreation area at the Downtown Grand, which reopened in late 2013 after a former life as the Lady Luck.
In this hip and happening outdoor space, visitors can swim in a pool, sunbathe on a (manmade) grassy knoll or, at night, grab some drinks and gather around a cozy fire pit. In summer, there also will be a number of games for guests to play, including ping-pong, foosball and more.
Also worth visiting: Downtown Container Park, a self-contained, open-air shopping mall with vendors operating out of converted shipping containers and a giant tree house with a four-story slide (yes, really); and Bier Garten, a no-frills, outdoor/indoor sausage-and-beer joint near the Plaza Hotel and Casino, on the far west end of the Fremont Street Experience.
Eventually, visitors also will be able to zipline down Fremont Street from Slotzilla, the world’s largest slot machine. This was supposed to open in February; at last check it was expected to launch by summer.
Viewfinder Tip: For an affordable experience at Rose.Rabbit.Lie., hit the bar around 11 p.m., and they’ll let you into the midnight Canto for free.
Other hotels and resort companies in Las Vegas have debuted a handful of other worthwhile attractions in recent months, too.
No. 1 on this list: Rose.Rabbit.Lie., a new dining and entertainment experience at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. This venue has everything: Hand-crafted cocktails, restaurant, circus acts, and more. Nights revolve around “Cantos,” or circus-style performances that play out on a small stage in the back corner of the space. Still, because performers move from room to room throughout the night, you don’t have to pony up big bucks for a “canto” to get the full experience.
Another can’t miss hotspot: Fizz Las Vegas Bar & Lounge, a new cheetah-print decorated champagne lounge inside Caesars Palace. In addition to serving 20 different types of bubbly from the namesake region of France, this swanky bar pours cocktails using spirits such as Sailor Jerry’s, Hendricks, Tullamore Dew and others.
If you win big at the tables, spring for the Fizz Deluze, a twist on a French 75 made with Grand Marnier Quintessence, Richard Hennessy cognac, fresh lemon juice, Monin Rose syrup, egg whites, Dom Perignon rose, and finished with a rose petal dusted with real 24-karat gold flakes.
Finally, for a completely different experience, check out El Loco, the new roller coaster inside The Adventuredome at Circus Circus Hotel & Casino.
Over the course of the 75-second ride, you’ll ascend 90 feet before dropping over and under to experience a 1.5 vertical-G. Because the cars are smaller than most (these only seat four), you’ll feel like you’re flying the entire time. Which means it’s perfectly acceptable to scream like a banshee, even if you’re a grown-up.
What sorts of adventures do you seek out when you travel to Las Vegas?