Area15, Las Vegas' immersive events and entertainment district, is reason enough to plan a visit — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark
Las Vegas has long been one of the most popular travel destinations on the planet and, after two years of staying home, visitors are happily flocking back, eager for top-notch food and entertainment. Don’t worry – the city is ready, with lots of new restaurants, shows and attractions.
Here are the latest experiences that prove you don’t have to be a gambler to win big in Las Vegas.
FlyOver Las Vegas
Take the ride of your life at FlyOver Las Vegas — Photo courtesy of In Color Studios
Las Vegas’ newest attraction, FlyOver, puts you in the middle of some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world without having to leave the Strip. Legendary Iceland takes you to the land of fire and ice, bringing you up close and personal with volcanoes and glaciers, while The Real Wild West lets you visit 17 of the most iconic destinations in the American West.
Buy the package to experience both, then buckle up and take flight. You’ll feel the wind and smell the scents of nature as you glide, dip, swoop and turn through mountains and over oceans and deserts. You’ll swear you’re really in those locations! After your ride, saddle up to The Lost Cactus, the lobby bar, for a refreshing cocktail to toast your travels.
Nellie’s Southern Kitchen
Chicken and waffles at Nellie's Southern Kitchen — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark
If you’ve ever wanted to know what it feels like to eat dinner with the Jonas Brothers, this new restaurant at MGM Grand may be the closest you get. Paying homage to the Jonas family matriarch – Nick, Joe and Kevin’s (and Frankie’s!) late great-grandma Nellie – the cozy venue brings some down-home Southern hospitality to glitzy Las Vegas.
Live music naturally has a role (sorry, there are no plans to include the brothers themselves yet), but it’s the food, inspired by Nellie’s recipes, that’s the real star of the show. All the signature dishes are classics, from "chicken and dumplins" to shrimp and grits to fried green tomatoes. The chicken and waffles, dripping with cinnamon honey butter, will make you feel like singing.
Area15 is full of eye-popping sights and attractions — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark
Area15 is all about sensory overload in the best ways possible. This neon paradise of art, music and food is home to some of the most original offerings in the city, including Wink World, a psychedelic extravaganza of infinity mirror rooms from one of the creators of Blue Man Group.
Area15’s food options are just as innovative, and you’ll want to fill your belly in The Beast; just let your nose lead you there. It features an I’ll-take-one-of-everything kind of menu crafted by four-time James Beard Award winner, Todd English, including pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, sliced brisket and so much more. Do yourself a favor and order the sampler so you don’t have to decide between them.
Meow Wolf's Omega Mart looks like a supermarket but ... — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark
Meow Wolf’s second permanent installation is appropriately located within Area15 but deserves its own mention because it truly is one (okay, two) of a kind. While their New Mexico location is designed to look like a house, Omega Mart looks, upon first glance, like a regular supermarket. Once you start paying attention, though, you’ll realize it contains an entire hidden world that you can find by carefully picking up on clues.
You’ll be delighted to discover secret stairs to climb and tunnels to crawl through, leading you to new rooms where you can put together the entire story behind it. Or you can just appreciate the art and have fun testing doors and looking beyond what’s right in front of you. It’s all about opening your mind – and blowing it.
Where to soak in the 10 best immersive art experiences in the US
Where to soak in the 10 best immersive art experiences in the US
Mad Apple by Cirque du Soleil
Mad Apple takes Cirque du Soleil to a whole new level — Photo courtesy of Matt Beard
Geared towards a younger, hipper audience, this whirlwind production at New York-New York Hotel & Casino is different than any other Cirque du Soleil show you’ve ever seen. More like a variety show, it features the breathtaking acrobats you expect from the brand along with singing, rapping and the unexpected edge and attitude of New York City.
The biggest surprise, though, is the comedy. Three comedians are interspersed between the rest of the acts and, although they’re often hilarious, their raunchy material won’t be for everyone. Like the Big Apple to which it plays tribute, the show is fast-paced, high-energy and impossible to sleep through.
The Garden Table at Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
The best seat in town is at The Garden Table at Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens — Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International
The Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is one of Las Vegas’ most beautiful and iconic spots. And you can now relax and have a pre-fixe multi-course feast served to your own private table in a gazebo, surrounded by the stunning floral designs that incorporate almost 10,000 plants and flowers.
Opt for dinner from MICHAEL MINA Bellagio or brunch from Sadelle’s Café, both award winning and both perfect culinary complements to the beauty all around you. This is a truly an experience to delight all five senses.
The Underground at The Mob Museum
The secret password will get you into The Underground Speakeasy at The Mob Museum — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark
The Mob Museum is a must-visit, filled with fascinating history about the shady characters who helped build Las Vegas. It’s interactive and loaded with interesting facts and artifacts.
The most interactive exhibit, though – the one you’ll literally want to savor – takes place in the basement, where you’re suddenly back in the Prohibition era. You’ll need the password (hint: look on their website) to enter the Speakeasy, which offers an eclectic selection of hand-crafted cocktails like Giggle Water, Bee’s Knees and Bathtub Fizz, which is served in a miniature bathtub!
Perception Las Vegas
Perception offers a new way of looking at Leonardo da Vinci and his work — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark
The Strip’s first permanent digital art museum, Perception Las Vegas offers an innovative way to appreciate the master behind the Mona Lisa. "Leonardo: The Universal Man" is an immersive experience that uses state-of-the-art light and sound to help you get to know da Vinci, not just as a painter and sculptor, but through the lens of his other areas of expertise, including architecture, engineering, philosophy, chemistry and anatomy.
You’ll also be able to see the "Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper" from totally new surprising perspectives that will make you wonder what da Vinci would have created if only he'd had access to modern technology.
Toscana Ristorante & Bar by Eataly
Get a taste of the Tuscan countryside at Toscana Ristorante & Bar by Eataly — Photo courtesy of Eataly at Park MGM
Get an authentic taste of the Tuscan countryside at Eataly Las Vegas’ newest restaurant, where they’re serving up generous portions of classic Italian dishes, including possibly the best lasagna you’ve ever tasted. Tucked away in a corner of the marketplace in Park MGM, the restaurant is full of life – and happy people treating their taste buds.
Splurge on the three-course menu for two – paired with a curated bottle of wine from Tuscany – for a chef’s kiss of a meal.
The Hunger Games: The Exhibition
Catch up on The Hunger Games Exhibition before the next movie comes out — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark
Paying tribute to the hit series, this fan favorite transforms MGM Grand into Panem, where you can join District 12’s Katniss Everdeen in her rebellion against the Capitol. There are lots of great photo opportunities as you pose in immediately recognizable places like the Hall of Justice, the train or at President Snow’s desk.
You’ll get to see actual costumes worn in the movies, play a trivia game, explore the 13 districts and star in your own propaganda commercial. Best of all, you’ll be able to try your hand at archery to see if you can become the next Mockingjay. This will come in handy when "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" hits theaters next year. May the odds be ever in your favor.