Las Vegas is well-known as a place for wild, spur-of-the-moment weddings. But it's also rated among the top honeymoon spots, with good reason: Thanks to the money spent by gamblers, Las Vegas room rates and food prices are kept relatively low in relation to the city's high quality of accommodations and dining.
If you're not big on glitz and crowds, with a rental car you can drive to places of quiet repose. Twenty miles west of town, Red Rocks is a 13-mile drive through scenic vistas of incredible beauty. Not so long ago, wild burros would graze alongside the highway.
You can park at the Red Rocks Visitors Center and learn about the desert environment, then enjoy a picnic lunch at designated spots and do some hiking.
Depending on the time of year you go, Las Vegas weather can be very hot.
To escape the broiling temperatures, hie to the Mount Charleston ski resort area. I'm not sure if it still operates, but it's a beautiful drive up to the timber line. When we got married in Las Vegas in May 1996, it was 100 degrees on the Strip -- and 60 degrees atop Mt. Charleston.
The Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard) is a crowded, happy, raucous, and safe place. Volcanoes explode before your eyes outside the Mirage Hotel, and waters perform an original ballet at Bellagio. In addition, there's the fun of people-watching and many free attractions nearby.
If you like nightlife, there's no better bet. From the gravity-defying Cirque du Soleil performances (Zumanity is the sexiest) to top-name stars and the Jubilee extravaganza at Bally's to free lounge acts all over town, you'll be entertained to your heart's content. Play for a little while at a table or even the slots, and it's likely you'll be offered a free drink.
Where are the best hotel values? And which ones have rooms for you? Generally, the further you go from the Strip, the cheaper the rooms. Since this is your honeymoon, you'll want to stay in a decent place, though.
These are a few hotels I recommend:
- Golden Nugget - set amidst the flash and swirl of neon in the Fremont Street Experience, the Nugget is downtown Las Vegas' finest casino hotel and a winner of the AAA Four-Diamond Award.
- The Venetian - Features some of the largest guest rooms in town, and nice baths, too.
- Rio - Right off the strip and home to the very comfortable Penn & Jillette theater, the all-suite Rio has long been a favorite of locals.
- Caesars Palace - Yes, it's gaudy and yes, staying here can be expensive. But Caesars has recently added a lot of new rooms. Caesars also contains an Omnimax theater, the tony Forum Shops area, and inexpensive (as well as pricey) dining facilities.
Places I Wouldn't Send Friends To
- Circus Circus - It is a circus here, attracting hordes of downscale families with kids.
- Excalibur - Rooms are inexpensive and the Middle Ages theme is cheesy at this enormous place on the far end of the Strip.
A city of vast buffets as well as high-priced restaurants, Las Vegas puts out an abundant spread for visitors. On a night you want to splurge, I recommend these:
- Pamplemousse - elegant country French, right off the Strip.
- Michael Mina's SEABLUE at the MGM Grand - exquisite seafood.
- Wolfgang Puck's Spago at Caesars - your chance to sample Hollywood's favorite smoked salmon pizza.
The Bottom Line
Will you be happy with a Las Vegas honeymoon? If you like to swim outdoors in warm weather, golf, play tennis, gamble, be entertained, laugh at the goofiness of it all together, dine well, and not spend a lot of money doing it, the answer is yes.