Las Vegas is the kind of town where you can have any kind of wedding you want, although getting hitched at a drive-thru window or inside a Taco Bell requires a special level of dedication (or perhaps lack thereof). If you do decide to tie the knot somewhere else, however, you may want to keep Sin City in the running for your honeymoon destination.
The local economy is built around tourism and the idea that you can have… well, pretty much anything you want. And while winging it might be fun for a weekend getaway with the boys, you’ll want to plan carefully for a honeymoon. It’s a big deal, you know. So our Honeymoon Getaway Guide is here to make sure you don’t screw things up—which is easier to do than you might think in Las Vegas.
The Pros & Cons of Las Vegas
Vegas is notorious for its hotel surcharges. Most big hotels slap a “resort fee” on your bill that can range from $20 to $40 per night. They say it covers the gym, Wi-Fi, and some other stuff, but it’s really just a way to jack up the overall price without being obvious about it. And after going years without charging for parking on the Strip, most hotels have started to do it. The exceptions (as of this writing) are the Venetian, Palazzo, SLS Las Vegas, Tropicana, Stratosphere, Circus Circus, and Planet Hollywood (since it shares its garage with the Miracle Mile Shops). Another not-so-fun fact: some hotels have sensors in their refrigerators and will charge you just for using it, whether you drink that mini-bottle of Jose Cuervo or not.
Despite the desert environment, Vegas isn’t always hot and sunny. The winter months are annoyingly cold and you may even see a little snow. The warm weather of spring is a welcome relief—and a busy time for wine, beer and food festivals—but wind can be a problem. You’ve been warned. Summer brings plenty of heat with regular temperatures well into the triple digits. Watch out for monsoon season in July and August. Vegas doesn’t do well with water and some areas flood easily—most notoriously, the parking garage at The LINQ. (Google the videos.) That leaves fall as your safest bet. If you can get a good deal on flights in September or October… jump on it.
Gambling is entertainment, not a retirement plan. Money problems will derail a marriage before it even gets off the ground. So don’t blow a mortgage payment at the casino thinking it will balloon into a nest egg for your future. It’s not going to happen. Know exactly what you’re willing to lose in advance. Call it your “entertainment” money, because that’s exactly what it is. Settle on a figure—forty bucks, a hundred dollars, or whatever you both agree that you can afford to lose—and stick to it. Whatever you do, don’t play “just one more game” with a withdrawal from the casino ATM, which will have crazy service charge anyway. Once the entertainment fund runs dry, call it a wrap. Your spouse will thank you in 50 years. Seriously, if gambling can be considered an issue, who don’t you look here instead for an amazing honeymoon location.
Remind Me: Why Las Vegas?
The classic mystique of Las Vegas is defined by images of Frank Sinatra drinking Jack onstage, Vince Vaughn insisting “You’re money, baby!” and Elvis Presley doing karate moves in a jumpsuit. Those memories linger on, but the identity of the city had evolved over the years. It’s a magnet for celebrity chefs and has six different Cirque du Soleil shows, but it’s also a place where you can drink boozy slushies in the middle of the street without getting arrested. Long story short: Vegas is all about fun. It’s just a matter of choosing what’s fun for you. And a Vegas honeymoon really comes down to one big question: Do you want to stay on the Strip or not? Let’s run down the options.
This is what most people think of when they hear the words “Las Vegas.” The Strip is a four-mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard that runs between the Stratosphere near Sahara and the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign near Russell. It’s full of big resorts, casinos, restaurants, attractions and tons of other stuff you’re dying to check out.
Here’s the thing. You’re also in the middle of a lot of chaos. Some people like crowds, noise and excitement. They also like the idea of making hot love to their brand new spouse in front of floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook bright neon marquees. If this is you… you want to stay on the Strip.
However, some of the best-known “mega resorts” like the MGM Grand and Caesars Palace are sprawling, congested and often hard to navigate. You’re paying for location more than anything else and some of the basic rooms can feel… well, basic.
Since this is your honeymoon, upgrade your hotel suite using some of that money you saved by not flying to Fiji. The Cosmopolitan, for example, has a three-story bungalow with balconies that overlook the pool. Think of it as a cabana and penthouse rolled up in one. The Palms (technically just off the Strip) is famous for themed suites that may include their own basketball court, bowling alley or expanded shower with a stripper pole
If you prefer to keep things classy, check out the Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons or Vdara. All three feature stylish decor and a super-chill atmosphere—with quiet casino-free lobbies. For added luxury and privacy, there’s also the hotel-within-a-hotel concept, which is kind of a big deal in Vegas. These are secluded towers or floors that tend to include their own check-in lobbies, entrances and other perks. (Pass the free cookies…nom, nom.) So look into the Nobu Hotel in Caesars Palace, Sky Suites at Aria, Prestige at Palazzo, Skylofts at MGM Grand and The W at SLS Las Vegas.
Don’t want to think about it too hard? You can’t go wrong with Wynn Resorts (Wynn Las Vegas and Wynn Encore), the Venetian or Palazzo. These properties have a lot going on with restaurants and nightlife, but follow an all-suites model that’s pretty legit. In other words, every room is guaranteed to impress. (We still recommend upgrading your suite though.)
This is where “Old Vegas” thrives. Continue north on Las Vegas Boulevard from the Strip and when you begin to see pawn shops, wedding chapels and bail services… that’s when you’re entering Downtown. The big draw is the Fremont Street Experience—five blocks that are now a pedestrian mall closed to traffic. It’s got a touristy Jersey Shore vibe mixed with vintage neon marquees (like the smoking cowboy that you’ve seen a zillion times), annoying street performers and casinos that are easier on your wallet than most of what you’ll find on the Strip. It also has an overhead video-screen canopy with more than 12 million LED lights.
The Fremont East district has bars, restaurants and a few oddities like an outdoor mall built from old cargo shipping containers. The Arts District—about a mile south—is worth a cab ride if you want to stop feeling like a tourist and check out restaurants (like Esther’s Kitchen) and bars (like Velveteen Rabbit) that don’t feel like they were designed by hotel executives. It’s also home to the Antique Alley collection of shops.
Overall, you definitely want to spend a night checking out Downtown. And one night will probably be enough. But If you’ve been to Vegas before and love Downtown so much you want to stay there, your best bet is the Golden Nugget. It’s easily the top hotel in the area and has a fun pool complex with a water slide that goes through the center of a shark tank.
North Las Vegas
You’re not going to North Las Vegas for your honeymoon.
Summerlin & Henderson
These two areas are nowhere near each other, but we’re lumping them together because they’re both pretty much the same thing: the suburbs of Las Vegas. Hotels like Green Valley Ranch and The M Resort (in Henderson) and the JW Marriott and Red Rock Resort (in Summerlin) offer a lot more bang for your buck than what you’ll find on the Strip—with great pool areas, spas and restaurants. Not to mention a little more space and breathing room. All four also offer free shuttles to the Strip—and some even offer free shuttles to the airport—making things easy and convenient. And if you want your honeymoon to be anything, it’s easy and convenient.
Best Restaurants in Las Vegas
This is probably the first question that comes to mind after checking into your hotel. Fortunately, Vegas has plenty of good eats that you probably won’t find back in your hometown.
Want to splurge on fine dining? (The answer is yes btw.) Las Vegas has the only U.S. restaurants by Joel Robuchon, Guy Savoy, and Pierre Gagnaire, who are all considered a pretty big deals in France. They each specialize in serving multi-course menus in elegant upscale environments. Are they expensive? Most definitely. But if there was ever a time to blow hundreds of dollars on dinner, it’s during your honeymoon.
Everyone loves a classic steakhouse experience in Las Vegas, although there aren’t too many “classic” ones around anymore. At the top of the list is Carnevino at the Palazzo with a dry-aging program that’s among the very best in the country. Need more red meat options? Jean-Georges at the Aria is an ultra-modern spot that was recently renovated while Bavette’s at the new Park MGM is a Chicago-style steakhouse where the lights are keep low for style and atmosphere. MB Steak at the Hard Rock has a fun contemporary vibe, but for a touch of Old Vegas, check out Hugo’s Cellar at the Four Queens on Fremont Street. It features classic tableside preparations and every woman who walks through the door is handed a red rose to turn the romance levels up to 11.
You’ll also want to take advantage of the scenery while you eat. Restaurants with stunning views include Rivea (and cocktail lounge Skyfall) on the 64th floor of the Delano, VooDoo Steakhouse on the 50th floor of the Rio, the Eiffel Tower Restaurant 100 feet above the Strip at Paris Las Vegas and Top of the World more than 800 feet in the sky at the Stratosphere tower. You can also get great views of the Bellagio fountains from Giada at the Cromwell, Scarpetta at the Cosmopolitan and either Lago, Picasso, Prime or Yellowtail from patios within the Bellagio itself.
Everyone thinks they need to try a buffet while in Vegas, but it’s best to resist the urge and go for one of the restaurants we’ve already told you about instead. But if you insist, The Buffet at Wynn, Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace, Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan and the new A.Y.C.E. at the Palms are among the best. All follow a model of high-quality individually-served small portions and stations in place of shoveling as much cheap slop on your plate as possible
Best Attractions and Activities in Las Vegas
With romance as a priority, take a helicopter over the Strip, above the Hoover Dam and/or to the majestic scenery of the Grand Canyon or Valley of Fire National Park. You can even take a helicopter to the Pahrump Valley Winery, shaving time off what would normally be a long drive.
Walk among the “boneyard” of vintage signs and marquees at the Neon Museum and learn about the vintage glory of Vegas. Then book a spa day at one of the big resorts. Get a couples massage and thank us later.
Out of all the shows on the Strip, check out Zumanity. It’s got a playful “erotic” theme and is the only production by Cirque du Soleil to include nudity (sold!).
Take a spin on the High Roller, the tallest observation wheel in the world. It takes 30-40 minutes for one barely-noticeable rotation, peaking at 550-feet in the air for killer 360-degree views of Vegas. Nearly as good is the top of the 540-foot Eiffel Tower replica that’s exactly half the size of the original in Paris.
Get in touch with the natural beauty that surrounds the city, including the walking trails of Red Rock Canyon, the water of Lake Mead and the ski slopes of Mt. Charleston. Yes, you can actually find snow in Las Vegas if you look hard enough. Just make sure you’ve packed properly for this adventure.
Blow on your dice and win a few dollars at the casino. That’s right, Las Vegas is known for its gambling more than anything else. But remember what we told you about budgeting your entertainment dollars.