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Get your picture in front of the iconic “Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, designed by the equally fabulous Betty Willis.

Wanderings: Las Vegas, Nevada

From neon graveyards to bars made of ice, WA&A has the blueprint for an unforgettable weekend in Sin City

Written by Christine Phillips  
December 2013 | January 2014

Holidays in Vegas? It kind of sounds like a kitschy Elvis Christmas special. With temperatures that hover around 60 degrees in December, Sin City may be a far cry from a winter wonderland, but there are still plenty of things to do and places to see, making a weekend in Las Vegas a perfect holiday getaway. From amazing art to spectacular shows, cowboys and even a mermaid or two, discover what there is to uncover in just 48 hours.

 

Friday 3 p.m. — Master the Art of Shopping

Balenciaga, Prada, Gucci, Versace and more! The Shops at Crystals at the CityCenter mall offer high rollers an incredibly high-end shopping experience, plus an array of stunning design and contemporary art. Designed to resemble a quartz crystal, the architectural gem is also home to the galleries of renowned landscape photographer Rodney Lough Jr., figurative artist Richard MacDonald and glass sculptor Dale Chihuly, as well as an impressive public art collection. 

 

5 p.m. — Swing in to The Chandelier 

A few blocks away, tucked inside The Cosmopolitan, The Chandelier is an illuminating, inhabitable chandelier that offers a different, unique experience on every level. The three-story space is comprised of more than 2 million crystals and is connected by an elaborate glass spiral staircase. Choose from a high-energy hot spot at the bottom, a sparkling speakeasy inside its center or a relaxing lounge up top. 

 

8 p.m. — Make the Cut

Like showgirls and slot machines, the steakhouse is a tried-and-true Vegas tradition. Go old school and grab a table at the Golden Steer Steakhouse, the city’s oldest steakhouse. Or book a table at a newer, celebrity-owned establishment, such as Wolfgang Puck’s CUT at the Palazzo or Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico at the Venetian. 

 

10 p.m. — Kick Up Your Heels

Each December, thousands of rodeo enthusiasts descend on Vegas for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. But not all of the festivities take place in the arena. Drop in to the Golden Nugget for spectacular performances by iconic country greats including Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Dwight Yoakam. 

 

12 a.m. — Snuggle Up to a Different Shade of Green

Get a good night’s sleep in a guest suite at the Vdara, a plush LEED Gold-certified, smoke-free, no-gaming hotel. Adjacent to Mandalay Bay, THEhotel is another fashionably hip, game-free option.

 

Saturday 11 a.m. — Follow the Signs

Affectionately called the “boneyard,” the Neon Museum is where the Stardust, the Silver Slipper and the Golden Nugget artfully rest in peace. The 6-acre outdoor gallery, located on the outskirts of the Fremont District, features more than 400 vintage neon signs and artifacts culled from old casinos, hotels, wedding chapels and more. A great stop for photo ops, tours are available seven days a week. 

 

1 p.m. — Splash! Off the Strip

Before heading back to the Strip, take the plunge at Silverton’s Mermaid Restaurant & Lounge. Drink and dine next to a 117,000-gallon saltwater aquarium filled with 4,000 fish and … mermaids! Casual and kid-friendly, the aquatic atmosphere gives everyday pub grub a mythical, magical spin. Mermaid shows are held every three hours in the afternoon starting at 1:30.

 

3 p.m. — Chill-ax and Say Spa-h-h-h

Book an appointment with QUA Baths & Spas at Caesars Palace, and enjoy full access to one of the city’s most luxurious spas. Relax like a Roman with three distinct pools and a luxurious steam sauna. Then, retreat to the Arctic Ice Room, where “snowflakes” gently fall from the faux star-studded sky and the cool, 53-degree air provides a refreshing and invigorating welcome after a heated treatment. Don’t have time for a facial or massage? Purchase a day pass for just $45.

 

6 p.m. — Go Fish

Located at the Nobu Hotel Caesars Palace, Nobu Restaurant & Lounge is the world’s largest Nobu Restaurant and the first in the United States to offer teppanyaki-style cooking. Enjoy signature dishes such as black cod with miso, yellowtail sashimi and squid “pasta” in an exquisite, luxurious setting conceived by award-winning architect David Rockwell. 

 

10 p.m. — Celebrate the Holidays on Ice 

Still looking to keep things cool? Head down to Mandalay Bay and up to minus5° for a one-of-a-kind arctic adventure. Named for the bar’s frosty temperature of minus 5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit), everything is made of Canadian ice — even the glasses! Bundle up in the provided Eskimo-like parkas and booties to enjoy one of the bar’s famous premium vodka cocktails while relaxing on an ice couch or chair. 

 

Sunday 10 a.m. — Put on Your PJs

The Pajama Brunch at Simon Restaurant & Lounge at Palms Place is a place to see and be seen on Sundays. Here, celebrity Chef Kerry Simon serves up high quality, organic comfort food in a fun, festive atmosphere where even the waitstaff wears pajamas. The Bloody Mary bar is truly one of a kind, as are the sushi station and Simon’s fresh twist on classic dishes such as chicken and waffles.

 

12 p.m. — Spur on the Season 

Before heading home, be sure to check out the fourth annual Art of the American Cowboy fine art show and sale at the South Point Hotel. Or drop by the Cowboy Christmas Gift Show at the Convention Center, which features hundreds of vendors selling a wide array of unique Western-themed gifts. 

Only one hour from the strip, Valley of Fire is the oldest state park in Nevada.

Go for the bronze — experience the art of Richard McDonald, presented by Cirque du Soleil at The Shops at Crystals.

Order a cold one — inside minus5° at Mandalay Bay,everything is served on the rocks.

Silverton’s Mermaid Restaurant & Lounge features an incredible 117,000-gallon aquarium filled with fish — and mermaids!

The Neon Museum, aka “the boneyard,” features more than 400 vintage neon signs and artifacts.

The Cosmopolitan’s Chandelier is a three-story visual masterpiece and home to three unique bar experiences.

Constructed to resemble a quartz crystal, The Shops at Crystals is an architectural gem — inside and out.

Designed by David Rockwell, Nobu at Caesar’s Palace is the world’s largest Nobu restaurant.