Vegas is always reinventing itself, and this year has been especially exciting with a variety of new shows, attractions, music offerings and restaurants. Whether you’re interested in digital museums, virtual reality shows, or something unique from the legendary Cirque du Soleil, you won’t be disappointed.
My husband, Jason, and I made three trips to Las Vegas this year and each time we explored what’s new in the city. And in true Vegas style, they’re still big, flashy, and fun.
Portions of this trip were organized by the MGM Corporation, but all opinions are my own.
1. Crazy Apple from Cirque du Soleil
We’ve been sponsoring Cirque du Soleil shows for over 10 years, mostly in Las Vegas, and they’re always exciting. Their latest show, Mad Apple in New York New York, is no exception. However, this time the classic, death-defying acrobatic numbers are complemented by live music and dancing, sometimes as individual acts and other times as transitions.
Going into the Crazy Apple is not a typical theatrical experience. Instead of people quietly searching for their seats, many head to the stage (which doubles as a bar before the show starts) to order a drink. Along the way, several cast members engage the audience in games. It’s loud and noisy, something like a New York nightclub.
The show lasts 90 minutes and it’s non-stop entertainment. Music, comedy, acrobatics and dance take place on the stage and in the aisles. There are even VIP seats slightly behind the stage, which gives guests the feeling of being in the heart of the action.
Pro tip: Doors open 30 minutes before show time and it’s definitely worth arriving early to enjoy the pre-show antics.
2. Fly over Las Vegas
Soarin’ at Disney’s California Adventure has long been my favorite ride of all time. This virtual experience takes guests on a ride above some of the world’s greatest sites like the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. A similar attraction recently opened in Vegas called FlyOver.
Instead of a world tour, FlyOver has two options: an epic glimpse of the American West or Iceland. As we were returning from a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, Jason and I opted for the West. After being buckled, the rows of seats lift up and move towards a huge curved screen. Spectacular scenes appear at some of the western states’ most iconic sites, including the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park and the Mojave Desert. All five senses are challenged by occasional water mists and puffs of pine.
Pro tip: If you are traveling with children, especially teenagers, this would be a great way to spend a few hours. In the summer, it’s also a nice way to escape the heat for a while.
3. Perception Las Vegas
Digital art exhibitions are all the rage around the world. Never a city to be outdone, Vegas now has its own digital art museum called Perception. This 17,000 square foot space currently houses Leonardo: the universal man.
Guests begin in a small gallery adorned with six digital representations of mona-lisa, each with their own audio and video, some funny and some scary. This is followed by a larger gallery with images projected onto four walls finally ending with an oversized projection of the last supper.
The last gallery is the largest, and it is here that Leonardo’s vast amount of work and talent is told in five chapters – philosopher, painter, architect, scientist and inventor. This last gallery was intriguing; I had no idea how versatile Leonardo da Vinci was and how many fields of study he touched.
4. Meow Wolf – Omega Mart
After experiencing Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, I knew I had to go to Vegas. This immersive and interactive art experience is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Meow Wolf – Omega Mart begins in a large “grocery store”. But quickly, visitors realize that the doors and cabinets of the freezers lead to other rooms. Each room is designed by different artists and everything can be touched. There are lights, sounds, stairs, slides, benches, chairs, tunnels, video games and more. Spend as long as you like to explore.
Each Meow Wolf has an accompanying story. Visitors can choose to follow the story – a sort of mystery – or simply take the art at face value. Jason and I chose to go through the experience at our own pace.
Pro tip: It’s also a great place to take the kids to Vegas. We saw toddlers through teenagers having a great time here.
5. Eataly Las Vegas
I have now been to four Eataly restaurants in the US and the one in Las Vegas is my favorite. In my mind, it’s the Disneyland of Italian cuisine. The 40,000 square foot building houses dozens of restaurants and food stalls as well as imported groceries, wine and spirits. They even offer cooking classes and tours. If you can’t make it to Italy, you can definitely come here.
Eataly’s newest restaurant is Toscana Ristorante & Bar. Set away from the rest of the shops, Toscana is set in a warm, cozy and quiet space serving Tuscan-inspired cuisine. We were treated to their four course tasting menu paired with Italian wines. We started with a burrata and tomato salad and a selection of prosciutto and mozzarella. Next is the pasta class – rustic lasagna and spinach and ricotta ravioli. But the star of the evening was the 42-ounce porterhouse steak served rare, just like in Florence. It brought back fond memories of our week in Florence a few years ago. And in the purest Italian style, the evening ended with an ice cream.
Pro tip: Eataly opens early at 7am and serves a nice selection of breakfast pastries and sandwiches as well as great Italian coffee. It’s a good alternative to Starbucks and it’s a lot less crowded.
6. Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts
For many years I laughed at the thought of going to a museum in Vegas. I came here to eat, drink and have fun, not to be educated. But after visiting the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, everything changed.
I was first drawn to the gallery when they hosted an overflow room by Yayoi Kusama a few years ago. Earlier this year I came back for the exhibition, Ase: Immersive art exhibition on Afro frequencies. The gallery is the perfect place to spend a quiet hour away from the lights and noise of the casino while being exposed to new artists.
7. Nellie’s Southern Kitchen
It’s not easy to find live music in Vegas outside of a big concert by a big-name artist. So I was thrilled to hear about the combination of live music and comfort food at Nellie’s Southern Kitchen. Launched by Kevin Jonas Sr. — father of the famous Jonas Brothers — this restaurant is a tribute to his grandmother’s cooking.
We enjoyed a full dinner including cookies, fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and banana pudding for dessert. Everything was delicious. But if you just want to have a drink and listen to music, that’s also possible. A full bar is available, including a wide selection of whiskeys and bourbons. There was a great guitar duo playing while we ate and I understand there is music most nights of the week from 6-10pm or so.
Where to stay in Vegas
There is a huge selection of accommodations in Vegas and something for everyone’s budget and preference. Here are some of the places we have stayed in recently that we highly recommend.
Aria Sky Suites
If you want to feel like a high roller, head to the Aria Sky Suites. These newly renovated suites at the top of the Aria Hotel feature luxury airport transportation, personal concierge, private pool, private entrance, and lounge stocked with drinks and snacks. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide incredible views of the city, especially at night. I was in love with the bathroom which included a tub, two sinks and a steam shower.
We’ve stayed at the Aria several times and love it for its central location on the Strip, the great selection of on-site restaurants, and their spa.
Bellagio Las Vegas
I don’t think I’ve ever been to Las Vegas without stopping at the Bellagio. It has long been one of our favorite places to sightsee, eat and sleep. They recently remodeled their rooms and I really liked the new decor with a neutral color scheme. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much we love the Bellagio fountains and their nightly spectacle.
At the top of Park MGM is the boutique NoMad Hotel. With its own entrance, lobby and elevators, it feels like a very exclusive experience. While many modern hotels have opted for a lighter, neutral color palette, the NoMad features darker colors with jewel accents in guest rooms and public areas. My favorite piece is the large tub in the bedroom. There is also a dedicated pool at this hotel which is a little quieter than the one at Park MGM. And I really like that Eataly is located in the same building.