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What to Do with Two Days in Las Vegas

If there’s any doubt in your mind that you won’t be able to fill two days in Las Vegas, think again. The challenge isn’t figuring out what to do, but how to fit it all in.

A long weekend in Sin City can be tailored based on the kind of traveler you are. Are you coming for a girl’s weekend or bachelor party? Will you have the family in tow? Do you and your special someone have plans for a romantic getaway?

Because every traveler is different, we’ve devised a two-day Las Vegas plan for people who are new to the city. It hits the highlights while still leaving plenty of room for new opportunities when you choose to visit again.

Regardless of why you are visiting Las Vegas, one thing is certain: The easy part is getting here. There are several flights into the city each day and several bus companies run routes between Las Vegas and other major cities, particularly in California.

>>More information on transportation to Las Vegas and within the city.

General Tips

Before jumping in with what you should do with 48 hours, there are a couple things you need to consider to maximize your trip.

If you have two days to spend in the city, plan to arrive the night before or early in the morning on your first full day in order to make the most of your time.

Also, when you make your hotel reservations, choose to stay in one that both meets your budgetary requirements and fits in with your visitation plans. First-time visitors are advised to stay in a resort that is centrally located on the Strip so that they can easily access several properties and get the full bright lights / bustling action Las Vegas experience. If you don’t plan on spending a lot of time in your hotel room, opt for a mid-range-priced hotel, such as Imperial Palace, Bally’s or Planet Hollywood. If your budget allows, consider splurging for a stay at Bellagio or Caesars Palace.

Don’t be afraid to drive into the city. There is plenty of free parking on the Strip (though parking in a downtown parking garage usually comes at a price). Find out in advance whether the parking garage is located off of Las Vegas Boulevard or behind your hotel. If you don’t drive, don’t fret. There are countless taxis and a low cost public bus system that can shuttle you wherever you please.

As a new visitor to Las Vegas, you’re going to want to take everything in but that is simply impossible so don’t even try. Instead, use your first visit to survey Las Vegas’ highlights and note what you’d like to do next time.

Take your time to see the sights, poke around the themed resorts, watch the curious people you’ll encounter and take pictures. However, don’t spend too much time in any one place. The Strip is deceivingly long and it’s been explored on foot. Wear comfortable shoes because you’re going to walk … a lot.

Don’t spend all of your time gambling. There is so much to do in Las Vegas and so many other places around the country to try your hand at blackjack or roulette. If you want to gamble, set a time limit for each casino and then move on.

Plan your day around what your nighttime activities are. If you have tickets for a particular show, hold off on exploring that particular resort and the ones right around it until the evening. Popping back and forth around Las Vegas Boulevard is a waste of time.

Day One

Start your morning with breakfast somewhere mid-Strip. We recommend Hash House A Go Go in Imperial Palace, La Creperie in Paris or the Grand Lux at The Venetian, though there are many places to get breakfast in and near your hotel.

Spend your morning making your way north on the eastern side of the Strip. In the Venetian, watch the gondoliers push the boats down the canals while they sing and poke through the shops on your way to The Palazzo, which has a fascinating used bookstore on the top floor. You’ll also want to check out the area with the waterfall, which is tastefully decorated according to the season.

Continue north and wander through the Wynn and Encore, two of the classiest resorts on the Strip. Highlights include window shopping and admiring the elegance of this upscale resort.

Cross the street and head south to Caesars Palace and fuel up for the afternoon. If you only need a quick snack, stop by Serendipity 3 for a frozen hot chocolate or a light lunch. The cafe offers the one-n-only Las Vegas buffet sandwich, a mix of flavors on one bun.

If you want to squeeze in a bit of shopping, spend time browsing the Forum Shoppes at Caesars Palace before heading south down the Strip on the western side. In the Bellagio, set aside at least a half hour to check out the botanical gardens, which are decorated in hundreds of thousands of different flowers for each season.

Beyond the Bellagio, visit Las Vegas’ City Center, a fun place to window shop and browse through galleries.

New York New York is a busy, interesting place to people watch. Wander the streets of Greenwich Village and pick up a refueling snack if you need it as there are several small cafes and eateries here. Thrill seekers might want to take the time to ride the resort’s roller coaster, which hits speeds up to 67 miles per hour.

Across the street, check out the free lion exhibit at MGM Grand, then head to the Showcase Mall for a quick shopping excursion at M&M’s World and a bit of fun at GameWorks.

Once you’ve wrapped up your daytime activities, it’s time to head back to your hotel room to drop off your goodies and prep for the evening’s activities. Though they can be a bit pricey, we recommend you buy show tickets in advance so that you don’t have to spend valuable time standing in line for discounted tickets. This also ensures that you get to see what you want.

Hop in a cab to reach your show in time. For first timers, we recommend Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere, O or KA, The Lion King or Blue Man Group. There are usually two shows for each performance. Buy tickets for the first show so that you have plenty of time for dinner afterward.

Have a classy dinner with a stellar view of the Strip either atop the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Koi at Planet Hollywood.

If you’re still going strong after dinner, the night is young. Catch the Fountains of the Bellagio in action until midnight every day of the week. Many nightclubs open around 10:00 p.m. Find one near your hotel so you don’t have far to travel once you’re ready to call it a night.

Day Two

On your second day, start with a classic buffet breakfast. Those at Mandalay Bay, The Wynn and Paris are highly recommended. Eat up … there’s still a lot for you to see and do!

If you weren’t able to squeeze everything into your first day, backtrack to where you left off, hitting the highlights. Spend the rest of the morning and afternoon indulging in that which interests you most. If you like to shop, consider browsing the Miracle Mile in Planet Hollywood or the Fashion Show mall, which is located next to Treasure Island. Bargain hunters will want to take a cab to the Las Vegas Premium Outlets for truly discounted prices on name-brand items.

Those who are looking for fun might want to head to the Midway at Excalibur or down to Circus Circus for rides and arcade games. The true thrill seeker should check out the heart-stopping rides atop Stratosphere.

There are also several exhibits on Las Vegas Strip which are worthy of your time. Among the most popular are Titanic: The Exhibit and BODIES at Luxor, CSI: The Experience at MGM Grand, The Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay and Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage.

Late in the afternoon, stop back by your hotel room to drop off excess baggage and change for an evening out. You can keep it a little more casual because tonight you won’t be heading for a show. Instead, take The Deuce or a cab to Fremont Street, where you can experience classic Las Vegas.

Once there, grab dinner then spend the evening wandering through the old casinos and enjoying the free entertainment on the pedestrian mall. Street painters and entertainers are often found here, and there are frequently free concerts. The Fremont Street Experience, which consists of more than 12.5 million LED lights, plays on the biggest screen in the world, 90 feet above the Fremont Street pedestrian mall. Catch a few performances before making your way back to the Strip. Feel free to enjoy one more late night at the clubs, otherwise tuck yourself in for your early departure the next morning.

Photo credit: Amyn Kassam (Las Vegas sign), Str1ke (gondolier), DisneyKrazie (poker chips), mtbjohn (Bellagio Fountains)