Las Vegas: See it Again for the First Time
Why 2017 is the year to go
New hotels. A new urban feel. And a new National Hockey League team. With increased flights set for next summer and midweek room rates as low as $50, seeing a hockey game in Sin City next season may be cheaper than the home games in Canada. It’s a year-round destination with consistent weather. It seldom gets below freezing and February averages are closer to 17 C, which is shorts weather for Canadians. There are several new hotel openings in December 2016, including a W Hotel in the booming north end of Vegas and the Lucky Dragon, an Asian-themed casino. That's on top of the already impressive 150,000 rooms in Las Vegas overall. In the past few years, Las Vegas has added two new pedestrian-friendly areas with low-rise developments, restaurants, fountains and benches where people can gather for fresh air while basking in the Nevada sun. The LINQ was built a few years ago on the east side of the Strip and has a ton of new restaurants and shops leading to the fun High Roller, an enclosed Ferris Wheel-like structure where you can take yoga classes or simply watch Vegas roll out below your feet. This year, MGM unveiled an even spiffier area called The Park, which leads from the Strip to the new arena in town, which will house the new NHL team, the Golden Knights.
What it’s known for
Vegas used to be all about gambling. Now it’s a draw for multi-generational trips, with great shows from the likes of Cirque du Soleil and Elton John and new shopping areas away from the Strip, including the spacious Downtown Summerlin complex. The best part of a trip to Vegas is the incredible food. Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis runs Giada which features delicious meatballs with orzo, an amazing arugula salad with candied lemons and other Italian dishes. When the weather is nice, the windows even open onto the Strip. Located at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, Beauty and the Essex scores amazing reviews as well. The Hawaiian-style ahi poke comes with radish and cilantro in a crunchy won ton taco. They also make a great Caesar salad on thick toast, topped with crispy chicken skin. You can’t go wrong with a burger at Gordon Ramsay’s Burgr either. There’s food for all tastes.
Best time to visit
The best deals, including with room rates as low as $50, can be found for mid-week stays. The window between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be deal-rich too. Springtime is great in Las Vegas, while October and early November are better bets and shouldn’t be too crowded.
The Strip is great, but don’t forget that glorious stretch of American desert. Red Rock Canyon is a short drive from downtown and features amazing rock formations that glow a deep orange-red in the morning and evening light. There are great hikes and a nice interpretive centre. El Dorado Canyon Mine is south of Vegas and features a cool gold mine you can explore, as well as tons of old buildings and colourful cars and trucks. And of course, the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon make for great day trips too.
Downtown Las Vegas has come a long way and is now a cool place to hang out. Old standbys, such as the Neon Museum (home to hundreds of great, old neon signs) and Mob Museum, are great for hot or rare rainy days. Better yet, the stroll around Container Park, which is fashioned out of old rail containers, is free. It also features funky jewelry stores, great coffee spots and restaurants, an outdoor playground for kids and a free concert venue.
Las Vegas is easy to reach from just about anywhere in Canada, with daily flights from every major city. It’s also about a four-hour drive from Los Angeles if flights to there are easier.