48 hours in Las Vegas: The perfect two-day itinerary

Dazzling neon lights, a bustling Strip, high stakes casinos, and entertainment from the biggest stars in the world have all rightfully earned Las Vegas more than a few nicknames. But sheer indulgence is the reason behind its most famous moniker, “Sin City.” Dive into this sensory overload for yourself while also experiencing the jaw-dropping natural beauty of Nevada, with this two-day itinerary showcasing all that Vegas has to offer.

  1. Day 1

    1. Morning

      See the magnificent Hoover Dam and Lake Mead (4 hours)


      Kick off with stunning scenery and a brush with history at the Hoover Dam. Built across the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, this 726-foot tall concrete dam is impossible to fully appreciate until you see its awe-inspiring scale in person. Do just that by taking a tour that stops at two of the most popular viewpoints so you can snap photos of the man-made marvel and Lake Mead. You might not want to leave the city so early in your trip, but you’ll avoid the high afternoon temperatures in the desert and be back in Vegas in time for brunch.

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    2. Morning

      Refuel with a brunch buffet (1 hour)


      Unlimited gourmet buffets, prepared by the world’s finest chefs (without the five-star price tag), are a must when in Vegas. The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas is not to be missed, where no less than 16 food stations and bottomless cocktails await. But the good news is you never have to leave where you’re staying to indulge, as most hotels have great buffets throughout the day, so check out the restaurant at yours. On the way to your next adventure, stop into the Flamingo Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel, which has free entry seven days a week. In this calm oasis, find pink Chilean flamingos, waterfalls, turtles, and four acres of gardens that are the perfect refuge from the Strip.

    3. Go underwater at Shark Reef Aquarium (1 hour)


      At the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, over 2,000 sea creatures and a submerged shipwreck await you. Go face-to-face with sharks, rays, and sea turtles as you make your way through the iconic Shark Reef tunnel. Because this popular spot gets busy, you’re wise to book advance tickets to save time and skip the line.

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    4. Evening

      Watch the sunset like a High Roller (30 minutes)


      No matter how many times you’ve seen the Vegas skyline in the movies, nothing compares to witnessing it with your own eyes 550 feet above the ground. Watch the sun dip behind Sin City from the top of the LINQ High Roller Observation Wheel, all from the comforts of an air-conditioned pod. You won’t be the only one wanting to watch the sunset from here, so book in advance to secure your spot. Not a fan of heights? See more of the magic of The LINQ Promenade below, watching the free choreographed light show that runs every night.

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    5. Catch a show on the Strip (1.5 hours)

      The glitz and spectacle of a Las Vegas show are almost guaranteed to outshine any other you've been to around the world. Take your pick among showbiz’s biggest names, like Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil, Channing Tatum Presents Magic Mike, and David Copperfield, just to name a few. Be sure to reserve tickets in advance — a month or more is usually a must for the most in-demand shows.
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  2. Day 2

    1. Morning

      Adventure through Red Rock Canyon (3 hours)


      Make the most of the cooler mornings outdoors with a thrilling off-road adventure into Red Rock Canyon. Feel like a true explorer and glimpse some of Nevada's natural wonders on a 13-mile open-top 4x4 tour. For those that want to get physical, a kayak tour of Black Canyon is an unforgettable experience; you’ll visit Emerald Cave to observe wildlife like bald eagles and bighorn sheep in their natural habitat. You’ll also learn the history of the area while paddling through the creek’s refreshingly cool waters.

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    2. Afternoon

      Take a bite of the Big Apple (1 hour)


      Back in the city, at the New York-New York Hotel, the fittingly-named Big Apple Coaster is the first ride in the world with a complete 180-degree twist. With speeds that reach almost 70 MPH, a scream or two is warranted as you fly through the many drops and turns of this exhilarating roller coaster. You can buy tickets spontaneously when you’ve plucked up the courage, but you’ll avoid the lines by booking ahead.

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    3. Take in Bellagio Conservatory’s sensory experience (1 hour)


      Each season at the stunning Bellagio Conservatory, 120 expert horticulturalists transform the hotel’s 14,000-square-foot Botanical Gardens into a sensory celebration of light, scent, color, and theatrics, with a special focus on the Lunar New Year. A true example of Las Vegas grandeur, this year-round spectacle is free to view 24 hours a day. For a tasty treat right after, customize your own souvenir candy at the first ever M&M’s World just steps away from the Bellagio.

    4. Have your Hollywood moment at the Bellagio Fountain (30 minutes)


      If you’ve seen Ocean’s Eleven, your lasting memory is no doubt the iconic Bellagio Fountain closing scene. Just as Daniel Ocean and his ragtag team of thieves reflected on their eventful night gazing out over the mesmerizing Bellagio Water Show, relive this moment for yourself while ticking off another quintessential Las Vegas moment.

    5. Visit Venice from a gondola cruise (1 hour)


      As well known as the waxwork faces it houses the world over, what makes Madame Tussauds’ Las Vegas outpost unique is that your ticket includes a relaxing gondola ride through Venice. Located at the Venetian Hotel and Casino, the replica waterways are as convincing as some of the famous faces you’ve snapped selfies with inside. Next, be sure to stop by the nearby Mirage Volcano for an explosive display.

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    6. Evening

      Take in the town from the Eiffel Tower (1 hour)

      As the golden hour arrives on your final day in Vegas, watch the city light up against the darkening desert sky from the most untypical of US landmarks — the Eiffel Tower. The half-scale replica of the Parisian icon features a light show every thirty minutes after sunset, and you can skip the line to the observation deck to view the Strip and the Bellagio Fountains from a new angle. But the sights aren’t over yet.
    7. See a new side of old Vegas at Fremont Street (2 hours)

      Round off your trip in the historic heart of the city: Fremont Street. The downtown neighborhood is the real, original Vegas, where casinos stood before the Strip was even realized (you’ll find their original signs at the Neon Museum). It’s rough around the edges, sure, but that has been polished up at the Fremont Street Experience. This entertainment complex on the second most famous street in Vegas spans five full blocks, featuring everything from free nightly concerts and countless dinner stops to casinos and The Mob Museum. You can’t miss the free hourly Viva Vision Light Show, with a different music-themed show projected across the arched promenade every hour after dark. It’s a supercharged, over-the-top end to two days of excess.
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