BY SARAH FELDBERG
Las Vegas has a long history of blowing up the past to make way for the future, rigging aging resorts with explosives and reworks and relinquishing them to our memories with a bubbly toast, a mighty boom, and a cloud of smoke.
But the latest developments on the chameleonic Strip aren’t thanks to implosions. Rather, they’re riding a wave of makeovers and renovations that has revived older properties and brought grand restaurants modeled after Portuguese libraries, ziplines that send riders flying, and ever lusher poolside dayclubs, where DJs spin records under a headless, 65-foot-tall Damien Hirst demon.
If you think you know Vegas, it’s time for another look.
SPEND THE DAY
The reward for getting out of bed at a reasonable hour are the Strip’s ample daytime enticements, less about hours spent at the slots or tables and more about fresh shopping centers packed with designer names and quirky markets sporting storied neon.
At the Wynn Plaza, the fashion set browses boutiques from Loewe and Stella McCartney, before working up a sweat at Las Vegas’ rst SoulCycle studio, where a desert-inspired mural curated by Colossal — a visual art, design, and culture collective — reminds arrivals this isn’t your average gym.
Just down the boulevard, brave souls get their hearts racing at Fly LINQ, a 1,121-foot zipline that debuted in November 2018 above the LINQ Promenade. Riders launch from a 114-foot tower and zoom seated or superhero-style above the visitors gawking below.
Those interested in local lore, should heed the call of the Neon Museum in downtown Las Vegas. Here, the outdoor “Boneyard” is full of vintage treasures, and on-site guides recount the city’s neon history, from its early days to a recent acquisition: the 80-foot Hard Rock Café guitar that arrived in January 2019.
GRAB A BITE
If dining out is your favorite extracurricular, Las Vegas is a veritable buffet of options. At the Venetian, Hong Kong-import Mott 32 debuted in December with a menu of vibrant Cantonese dishes and a signature 48-hour Peking duck that must be ordered in advance.
Another reservation-worthy dining excursion is the NoMad Restaurant, where Chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara dial up the glamour, courtesy of a dining room lined with 20,000 books and throwback touches like Champagne carts and table-side tartare.
For a more casual night out, Park MGM’s Best Friend pays homage to Los Angeles, with eclectic dishes like kimchi fried rice and hoisin-chili ribs, while Mabel’s at the Palms serves James Beard Award-winner Michael Symon’s house-smoked brisket and pork belly. It also hides Sara’s, an under-the-radar supper club for those in the know, with bow-tied waiters and an Old Vegas vibe.
LIVE THE NIGHT
The city known for not having last call truly comes alive after dark, when lights and electricity injects the air. Get a positive charge at On the Record at the Park MGM, a fresh, delightfully unpretentious club where pop-up performances surprise throughout the night and bartenders sling drinks from a double-decker bus. Cocktail lovers will nd a trio of crawl-worthy lounges at the Venetian and Palazzo, while the Cosmopolitan is home to Ghost Donkey, a sparkly tequila speakeasy behind a secret door.
Finally, in the ultimate reinvention of the city’s past, an army of A-list musicians once again ll casino showrooms, harkening back to the days when the Rat Pack ruled the Strip. Catch a show from Diana Ross, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, or Celine Dion, all following in a rich Las Vegas tradition and making the old, very new again.
BOOK A ROOM
The new kids on the Strip aren’t new builds but reinventions of familiar resorts, now barely recognizable when you walk in the door. The Monte Carlo has been reinvented as Park MGM, where the European decor was replaced with a whimsical update, a massive Eataly market serves as the Strip-side entrance, and Lady Gaga performs in the house theater. The resort’s top floors are now home to the NoMad Hotel, an outpost of Sydell Group’s chic New York brand, that also has a dedicated lobby, restaurant, bar and pool.
At the Palms Casino Resort, a $690-million renovation has filled the space with new restaurants by chefs like Marc Vetri and Michael Symon, and fine art from blue chip names and emerging talents that show up at the porte-cochere, on the casino floor, even in the bathroom. Kaos, the Palms’ bid for party supremacy, boasts residencies from G-Eazy, Skrillex, and Cardi B.