The Cool Girl's Guide To Las Vegas

Photo: Courtesy of Fremont Street Ghost Tours.
Tell me that I can’t do something, and you can bet I’m going to do it. At least, that was my mantra growing up. And, while my "do first, ask later" antics may not have gotten me far when it came to homework or making inroads with my parents, they did bode well for me at the golden, I.D.-waving age of 21.

At long last, my reckless weekend ways were welcomingly embraced by the open arms of adulthood’s eternal playground: Las Vegas. Want to drink on the street? No problem. Stay out 'till 4 a.m.? Sounds good. Why? Because no one tells you "no" in Sin City.

Only a four-hour drive from L.A., Las Vegas called to me and my college classmates like a siren song. But, we should really call those initial visits "Vegas for Dummies," because, although a rite of passage for the newly-minted cocktail crowd, the barrage of bandage dresses, sardine-packed pool parties, and wrap-around club lines gets old, fast.

Fortunately, there is an entirely different side of Vegas cleverly hidden from club-going youth, and it's just as fun and provocative as the one we've all visited — maybe even more so. Adult Vegas is peppered with hidden pizza parlors, Evian water misted cabanas, topless pools, and erotic shows. (Who needs a loud nightclub!?)

Ahead, allow us to take your Vegas game from beginner to advanced, bypassing the well-trodden paths, and opening your eyes to the lesser-known and more grown-up treasures that await you just a road trip away. 
1 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of ARIA Spa Pool.
Where To Relax: The Spa & Salon At ARIA
The first order of business? Hit the slots and slap together the $30 it costs to gain entry into this impressive 80,000 square-foot oasis. Trust us, you'll be glad you did. Once inside, take advantage of the heated Japanese Ganbanyoku stone beds (the only ones in the country, might we add) that soothe muscles and eliminate toxins (i.e. massive quantities of caffeine consumed on the drive in) from the body.
2 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Mirage.
Where To Sunbathe (Sans Top!): Bare Pool At The Mirage
Go ahead, let your bikini tops fly and embrace your inner showgirl at this intimate, European-style top-optional pool. Take a dunk in one of the two dipping pools, sprawl out on a daybed, or get some privacy in a VIP cabana if you’re suddenly feeling shy. (If that’s the case, a mimosa or Bloody Mary from the Sunday brunch menu could provide the liquid courage you need.)
3 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Brooklyn Bowl.
Where To Party: Brooklyn Bowl At The Linq
When Rolling Stone calls out a seemingly mainstream bowling alley for being "one of the most incredible places on earth," consider our attention grabbed. An offshoot of the OG New York location, this all-in-one destination bowling alley fuses 32 lanes, a huge music venue, and the renowned Blue Ribbon Restaurant, serving up American comfort food for the late-night munchies crowd.
4 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Mob Bar.
Where To Drink: Mob Bar
Located across the street from the famed Mob Museum, the bar allows patrons to soak up history and booze all in the same convenient place. The prohibition-style cocktail lounge is thematically decked with dim lighting, leather booths, and burnished wood. Wait staff further solidify the mood dapperly dressed in bow ties and flapper getups, serving bourbon and gin-heavy libations.
5 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Secret Pizza Cosmo.
Where To Eat: “Secret” Pizza Joint
There’s something about a secret slice that makes it more appealing. In fact, having to hunt down the unmarked location of this late-night cheap eats joint in the Cosmopolitan is half the fun. Oh, and the pizza is really good.
6 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Pole Fitness Class.
Where To Exercise: Pole Fitness Studio
Did you think we would let you hit the treadmill in your hotel gym? Yeah, right! After sitting through shows and partaking in general unbridled merriment, it’s only natural for you to want to jump in on the action yourself. Learn the art of lap dancing, go-go dancing, and the overarching talent of stripping with a professionally led, novice-level class sure to send you off with some back-pocket tricks of your own. Warning: It's also a serious workout!
7 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Jubilee Backstage Tour.
What To Do: Jubilee Backstage Tour
Jubilee is the longest-running strip revue in Vegas, so you know that what they’ve got behind the velvet curtain has to be good. Find out for yourself (hint: one-of-a-kind headpieces designed by Bob Mackie himself are just some of the wonders you will see) on this behind-the-scenes tour led by an authentic Jubilee showgirl herself.
8 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Slotzilla.
What To Do: Slotzilla
Take flight with a thrilling ride on this $11-million zip line, slot-machine-themed attraction (just a mere 11 stories high). As one might expect of a human slot machine, every time a brazen rider leaves the platform, the giant arm pulls down, spinning the reels and igniting a blinding beacon of light. Because adults need a little G-rated fun, too.
9 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Vegas Off Road Tours.
What To Do: Vegas Off Road Tours
Turbulent twists and turns and stomach-churning ups and downs await, and no, we’re not just talking about life on the strip. Grab your goggles, helmet, and badass attitude for an ATV tour through the wide-open desert. Insider tip: Grab a post-excursion drink at the Pioneer Saloon meeting point, which happens to be the oldest continuously running bar in southern Nevada.
10 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Haunted Vegas Ghost Hunt.
What To Do: Haunted Vegas Ghost Hunt
Just like laser tag, but better. On this real-life ghost hunt, you’ll be armed with EMF meters and other official ghost-busting gear. Guided tours will lead you to haunted hoods (Fremont Street being one) frequented by the spirits of Elvis Presley, Bugsy Siegel, Liberace, and other old-school Vegas characters.
11 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Thunder from Down Under.
What To Watch: Thunder From Down Under
In a world of “look but don’t touch” naysayers, indulge all your senses at this Australian-originated live show chock-full of come-hither male strippers. Enjoy the themed routines (cough, fantasy firemen, cough), but most of all, let your inhibitions run free, as looking (and petting) is highly encouraged.
12 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of The Springs Preserve.
What To Do: Las Vegas Springs Preserve
Bid farewell to day clubs in your wiser years, and spend your sunlight hours recharging and prepping for another night out at this serene outdoor site. Laden with botanical gardens, nature trails, and a number of museum exhibits (butterfly habitat, anyone?), it's a perfect daytime escape.
13 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Monte Carlo The Pub.
What To Do: Monte Carlo’s Mixology Training & Tasting Class
If you're rolling into town knowing little more than how to throw back a double, it’s time to wrangle the gang and finesse your skills with this four-person, master mixology course. You and your friends will learn the ins and outs of tasting and mixing, so you can head home that much wiser about how to sling your favorite spirits.
14 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Simon Restaurant.
Where To Brunch: Simon Restaurant’s PJ Brunch
Breakfast buffets are overplayed, but when your hair of the dog Bloody Mary comes accompanied with a childhood-inspired junk-food platter, you may find yourself reconsidering the occasion. We’re sold on the menu's familiar delights like cotton candy, homemade Hostess-style cupcakes, Sno Balls, cookies, chocolate caramel popcorn, and other kitschy classics — and, now that we're adults, we can eat whatever we damn well please.
15 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Caesar's Spa.
Where To Relax: Qua Baths & Spa In Caesars Palace
When at Caesar’s, do as the Romans do and unwind at the palace’s throwback spa, intended to mimic the Old Roman public houses. In addition to three different temperature-controlled pools, escape the desert heat at the spa’s can’t-miss Arctic Ice room, chilled to 55°F and complete with actual falling snow.
16 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of The Forum.
Where To Shop: The Forum Shops At Caesar's
There are dozens of great shopping destinations in Vegas, but there’s a reason why the Forum Shops are considered an oldie but a goodie: They marry high-end window shopping with stores you may actually buy something in. That is, you’ll find Balenciaga, Christian Louboutin, and Gucci next to Marc by Marc Jacobs, Scoop NYC, and Sandro. (Plus, spots like H&M and Sephora to pick up any basics you forgot at home!)
17 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of Bardot Brasserie.
Where To Eat: Bardot Brasserie
Steak frites, amazing cocktails, and an oversized macaron for dessert? Count us in! After all, you’ll want to spend at least one evening getting your foodie on, and Aria’s new French brasserie from Michael Mina is your best bet for new, cool, and delicious. Take your cocktail buzz to the slot machines after, but don't plan on going out dancing — you'll be too full.

18 of 18
Photo: Courtesy of The Bourbon Room.
Where To Dance: The Bourbon Room At The Venetian
Waiting in line for over an hour to get into a packed nightclub may not be your idea of fun, but you probably still want to bust a move in Sin City. Enter The Bourbon Room, an '80s themed dance-y bar where you can knock back a few drinks and groove to throwback tunes. Hint: Call ahead and check on their show schedule, as they have live '80s cover bands on some nights!

More from Los Angeles


R29 Original Series