You didn’t come to Las Vegas just for the industry events. There are, of course, plenty of worthy diversions (which can often be justified as work-related research for those in real estate, if you need an excuse) for discerning New Yorkers. Here are seven of the best.
1. Hang out Downtown. Zappos boss Tony Hsieh’s transformation of Downtown Vegas hasn’t been the smoothest ride, but the neighborhood is fun to hang out in for an afternoon or evening. The Ogden, the residential building whose developers include New York’s Dune Real Estate Partners, is where Mr. Hsieh has an apartment and where you can visit the new Itsy Bitsy ramen and whiskey lounge. While you’re in the area, you could also pop by Gold Spike, a Hsieh-owned watering hole/party spot/shared workspace for the community if you need really good Wi-Fi or just want a beer. And/or check out Seth Schorr’s new Downtown Grand casino-hotel down the block.
2. Go to Downtown Summerlin. This new mega-development, in a planned community with many million-dollar homes and many empty million-dollar lots, is the city’s latest retail hotness. It’s more than 20 minutes from the Strip, but the stylish Andiron Steak & Sea from Elizabeth Blau (the restaurant mogul Tishman Speyer hired for the recent re-launch of New York’s Rainbow Room) should have you feeling right at home.
3. See world-famous DJs. Bottle-buying in Vegas could actually be a money-saver when you realize that you can cancel your summer trip to Ibiza or St. Tropez. Steve Wynn’s XS nightclub at Encore has superstar Zedd on May 17 while Caesar Palace’s new Omnia counters with Krewella that night. Or sneak away for the daytime David Guetta party at Encore Beach Club that Sunday. Marquee at the Cosmopolitan hosts Audien on May 18.
4. Have the ultimate burger taste test. Look, thanks to Vegas, there’s an easy way to settle one of the most heated debates of our time. There’s a new Shake Shack on Las Vegas Boulevard. It’s less than a mile away from an In-N-Out burger. You know what to do. We guess we should also tell you that there’s a new White Castle on the Strip, in case that information might also be useful.
5. Eat a meal you can’t eat anywhere else. Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare at Wynn is still the most special of the city’s baller dining destinations. Chef Paul Bartolotta flies in seafood, including his legendary langoustines, from a secret network of fishermen. Get a tasting menu if you have a few hours and a big appetite or just order a bowl of spaghetti bottarga at the bar if you’re in a hurry. Another dining option that surpasses what you get in New York is Vegas’ diverse Chinatown on Spring Mountain Road just west of the Strip. There’s one complex in particular, with the izakaya food and late-night menu at Raku, the sushi at Kabuto, the ramen at Monta, the pork chops at Big Wong and the desserts at Sweets Raku, that’s as transporting as anything else in Vegas.
6. Shop at the Linq. This new shopping/dining/entertainment complex is where you’ll find that 550-foot-tall High Roller Ferris wheel (sorry, “observation wheel”) and a gargantuan Brooklyn Bowl, but with Kitson and rapper Nas’ 12AM Run sneaker/streetwear boutique, it’s also a hip retail alternative to all the traditional luxury brands you’ll find in casino malls. You probably don’t need to eat or drink here, but it’s a decent spot to stroll.
7. Play poker. The best poker rooms, with the sharpest staffs, the finest mix of games and the biggest opportunities to see celebrity card sharks, are at Bellagio and Aria. Don’t bother going to the Rio even though the World Series of Poker starts there at the end of the month. There’s no reason to visit that down-market hotel the rest of the year.