On the Run in Las Vegas: 24 Hours in Sin City

Casinos, breakfast buffets, pool parties and OTT hotels, how will you see it all? 

With my advice, that's how. If you’ve only got 24 hours to explore Las Vegas you need to do a bit of planning to get the most out of it, and here you'll find the creme de la crop of all the best things to do in Vegas.

The thing that surprises most first time visitors is just how big Las Vegas is. If you add to that how crazy it is too then you’ll understand it can be more difficult than you’d think to move around.

In Las Vegas the casinos have no clocks, and seemingly no exits, the party scene never ends and there’s enough to do to keep you busy for weeks, yet no one would really want to stay that long. Las Vegas is all about going hard and then going home, broken. 

The strip is a four-mile walk, but the main attractions are along two miles of pedestrian friendly Flamingo Avenue. Two glorious miles filled with fun... 

Bellagio in Las Vegas

Las Vegas hotels 

Arrive and dump your stuff at your hotel. There are more than 350 hotels in Vegas with thousands of rooms to choose from. My top tips include the kitsch Circus Circus, the great value Stratosphere and the almighty Bellagio. You may be surprised at how cheap hotels in Las Vegas are - a room in one of the top ones starts from £15 and goes up to thousands. 

Brunch in Vegas

There's no chance you'll be able to manage the whole three meals a day thing in Las Vegas - the portions here are huge. There are some incredible buffet breakfasts in Vegas, and wow, if you stay too long you will get fat on them. A friend of mine said that when he did the helicopter tour the two Americans in the helicopter with him spent the whole eight minutes getting the pilot to point out the hotels with the biggest breakfasts for them to gorge on. Vegas breakfasts are just that famous. The buffet at The Wynn looks incredible and tastes it too, or if you’re really on a budget it’s cheapest at the Tropicana. Fill up and it covers your lunch expenses too. 

Breakfast in Vegas

Hash House a Go Go is cool. The pancakes are the size of pizzas and the special eggs Benedict bigger than anything you could ever consume. Have a go on the Smores mocha coffee too – it’s served with Graham Crackers and charred marshmallow. 

Afternoon fun to fill the hours before your next feed 

A walking tour around the Neon Museum in downtown Vegas will enlighten your mind with a graveyard of old neon signs. Go on an hour-long tour and you'll learn the history behind them all.  

You can go around the world in 24 hours in Las Vegas. Climb the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas Hotel, float down the Venice canals at the Venetian Hotel and Casino or check out Egypt’s pyramids at The Luxor. 

Waterways in Venice in Las Vegas

The Big Apple Coaster at the New York-New York Hotel actually goes through the hotel – scream if you want to go faster as you pass customers checking in at the front desk. Give them a wave as you enjoy the best way to see Las Vegas. Also, rollercoaster aficionados will love the Canyon Blaster at Adventure Dome at the Circus Circus Hotel too. It’s the world’s only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew rollercoaster and you can even get married on it for just $600.

Speaking of marriage, the Little White Wedding Chapel, where Frank Sinatra married Mia Farrow, and more recently Britney Spears married her highschool sweetheart, is the top choice for a quickie wedding. Or, try the Viva Las Vegas Chapel and you’ll be married by a real life Elvis (lookalike). 

Little White Chapel in Las Vegas

Ride the USA’s fastest elevators to reach the top of the Stratosphere, over 100 stories high. And once you’re up there, you can be dangled over the edge of a building 1000 feet above the ground, spun around and plummeted to the ground at a force of 3Gs. If you like. 

Rides on top of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas

The Gun Store on Tropicana Avenue is one of the most popular things to do in SIn City. It sounds horrendous but with just a driver’s license you can spend the day shooting Tommy Guns, AK-47s, SAWs, Uzis and a whole range of guns that mean nothing to me. 

If you have time, check out the flamingos at the Flamingo Hotel – you can also see pheasants, swans and grackles too. 

If you’ve been practicing your diving before you arrive in Vegas any certified dive masters can practice their craft in the 1.3 million, 22 feet deep Shipwrck exhibit. You’ll be surrounded by sharks, rays, sawfish, green sea turtles and schools of fish too. 

The Atomic Testing Museum looks pretty cool – haven’t been myself but you’ll get a terrifying insight into the goings on at the Nevada Test Site. 

So. Much. To. Do!

Dinner time!

Le Village Buffet at the Paris Resort and Casino – designed throughout to look like an idyllic, French town square and you can choose from all the French dishes you could ever imagine. Beef bourgignon here you come. 

Paris tower in Las Vegas

Evening entertainment 

The Bellagio Fountains are legendary, notorious, infamous and all the other words that mean the same sort of thing. Every 30 minutes the 8.5-acre lake explodes with 1,214 spritzers shooting 460 feet into the air all perfectly timed to some carefully selected music. 

The best way to see the whole strip if you’re in a rush is to try the 12-minute helicopter ride over the Las Vegas Strip. You’ll be in the air for about ten minutes, but when you’re that high up it’s all you need to get the idea. For £55 they’ll pick you up, drop you off and start you off with a glass of Champagne to really get that rock star feeling while you’re up in the air. You can choose to travel from 6-11pm. 

Las Vegas strip

The fiery pyrotechnics at the Mirage faux-Polynesian volcano is perfectly timed to music by the Grateful Dead – not to be missed. 

Hit the casino, although with a backpacker’s budget you’ll be stuck on the one arm bandits and slot machines, although the good news is you still get free drinks. Just make sure to tip your server. Ceasars Palace is the best for atmosphere while Casino Royale is the top choice for anyone on a budget – the stakes are low. 

Harrah’s Carnaval Court is the number one spot for anyone wanting a mixologist show – and you can even sample the produce, so long as you pay, of course. 

Las Vegas 24 hours

Partying, Vegas style  

To use a well-meaning cliche, the party never stops in Vegas. Going to a day time pool party in Vegas is just as essential as checking out the gambling situation. The Rehab party on Saturdays and Sundays at Hard Rock is pretty crazy and has the likes of P Diddy and Flo Rida DJing. The Encore Beach Club at Wynn is another incredible experience, again only at weekends. Wet Republic at MGM, Bare at Mirage (topless encouraged), Ditch Fridays at Palms and Marquee Day Club at the Cosmopolitan are also worth checking out if you’re around at the weekend.  

Pool party in Las Vegas

If you want to hit up the clubs of an eve you'll need to dress the part. Clubbing in Las Vegas is an art and the club du jour changes so much it’ll be totally different by the time I publish this post. The Bank at the Bellagio is really popular and check out 50 Cent’s club The Bank in the Bellagio. If you want to see some celebs check out LAX club at The Luxor, it’s part owned by Christina Aguilera, TAO but you’ll need to sneak in, and The Palms for Playboy bunny girls. If that’s what you’re into. 

If you’re a group of lads you should split up to get into clubs – girls you can sail on in. Make sure you have some decent clothes – Havianas and Daisy Dukes just won’t cut it here. 

Top tips for surviving Las Vegas

  • It’s illegal to hail a taxi in the street in Vegas.
  • You must be 21 to drink in Vegas – carry your ID at all times.
  • You must be 19 to smoke tobacco.
  • Don’t do more than one thing in each hotel – toilets, drinking, gambling, sleeping – to make sure you get around and get to see as many as possible. 

Gapyear.com in no way condones gambling and strongly advises you to be careful of the drinks when you’re in the casinos. Do not gamble your mum’s house away, she’ll be angry.