20 Actually Cool Things to Do in Las Vegas This Winter

Take advantage of the season’s best events in Sin City.

There's a chill in the air, but Las Vegas is getting ready for a busy winter season with holidays, sports, entertainment, trade shows, and lots of new restaurants to check out. Unfortunately, COVID will be sticking around as well, especially with people spending more time indoors, and yes, it's sometimes hard to keep rules and regulations straight. Allegiant Stadium (home of the Raiders) requires proof of vaccination to enter, while the T-Mobile Arena (home of the Golden Knights) doesn't, opting for mask enforcement instead. As always, check on requirements in advance before attending a big event (or just get vaccinated, which gives you and others around you greater peace of mind and far less to worry about). There's a lot going on over the next few months, and you'll want to be healthy and safe to enjoy it all.

Drink your way through the holiday season

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Multiple Locations
The winter holidays have arrived with even more festive pop-up bars than usual. Old favorites like Miracle on Spring Mountain at the Sand Dollar Lounge and Merry Crimson (following a new Tinsel Town theme) at the Red Rock Resort are making welcome returns. Another familiar attraction, The Ice Rink at the Cosmopolitan, has introduced a new chalet for winter booze and bites at the rooftop Boulevard Pool deck. One of the best speakeasies in Vegas, the tequila-fueled Mas Por Favor, has taken on a Nightmare Before Christmas theme for the season. Meanwhile, themed cocktails are also being served at the Bad Elf Pop-Up Bar at the Silverton Casino's Shady Grove Lounge, the Festive Flamingo Bar (part of the Holiday Festival at the Habitat taking over the Flamingo Wildlife Habitat), and Enchant, a new Christmas-themed village inside the Las Vegas Ballpark.

lobster
Photo courtesy of Water Grill

Feast on seasonal seafood at the Forum Shops

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Forum Shops at Caesars
The Water Grill is welcoming spiny lobster season to the Forum Shops at Caesars. The wild-caught California lobsters are pulled fresh from the tank, charcoal-grilled, and served with a white wine butter sauce and coleslaw on the side. Spiny lobsters have a larger tail than Maine lobsters and carry a more flavorful meat that's easier to pull out and eat. Make a return visit to the Forum Shops and book a dinner reservation at Joe's, where Florida stone crabs are also in season. The claws are cracked open, revealing a sweet tender meat, and served with a mustard dipping sauce.

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The Strip & Downtown
See where Casino, The Hangover, Mars Attacks!, Honeymoon in Vegas, and other movies were filmed with a brand-new interactive experience. Las Vegas Movie Tours invites guests on board a 25-seat bus, decked out in video panels and high-tech effects, for a 75-minute journey through the Strip and parts of Downtown to learn about Sin City's celluloid history and get an up-close look at iconic filming locations. Your tour guides will be in character themselves while dropping knowledge and leading rounds of trivia with movie theater-style candy handed out as prizes.

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The Venetian
Plant-based dining is on the rise in Las Vegas and chefs are putting greater effort into their vegan recipes. The Venetian recently launched new meat-free menus and recipes at top restaurants like Brera Osteria (which has a four-course vegan tasting menu), Majordomo, and Matteo's, where you'll find vegana, a new plant-based pasta served with a creamy dairy-free sauce. Mott 32 is especially ambitious with vegan takes on traditional Chinese dishes like soup dumplings, stir-fried beef, and even Peking Duck. Truth and Tonic Wellness Cafe remains the only 100% plant-based restaurant on the Strip with meat-free versions of breakfast and lunch dishes, including baked frittatas and whole-grain ciabatta toasts.

stadium
Photo by Anthony Mair

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Off the Strip
Between Raiders home games and upcoming concerts by Metallica and Billy Joel, Allegiant Stadium will be a hot destination this winter. Some of the best seats are at the Wynn Field Club, which has a nightclub vibe and prime views from the north end zone, not to mention express entry via a dedicated line into the stadium. Soak in the ambiance and drop a few bucks on exclusive bites and bottle service. You can also think of a reservation at Wynn Field Club as an insider's "Plan B" for getting inside the stadium when general seating is sold out.

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The Smith Center
The Las Vegas Philharmonic sat on the sidelines for more than a year due to the pandemic, but is back with winter and spring performances at Reynolds Hall inside the Smith Center. The return was worth the wait. The Philharmonic is playing all nine Beethoven symphonies this season—one show a month through May—in honor of the composer's 250th birthday. Tickets begin at $29.

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Multiple Locations
There are so many dispensaries in Las Vegas right now, smoking weed almost doesn't seem like a big deal anymore. Removing the stigma from marijuana has been a major boom for the Nevada economy and if you don't know where to begin, Las Vegas Cannabis Tours is here to put the industry into perspective. The company has five packages, ranging from a tour of dispensaries to a behind-the-scenes grow house walk-through, followed by a helicopter ride over the Strip. Each experience is educational and an eye-opening way to explore the lights and sights of Vegas with a "cannabis concierge" leading the way. Prices run between $49.99 and $375 per person with customizable packages available for private groups.

la neta
La Neta Cocina y Lounge

Experience a new era of vibe dining

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Multiple Locations
Get ready to hear about "vibe dining" more often in Las Vegas. The phrase describes a growing trend of restaurants mixing dining and nightlife with a lounge-style atmosphere, typically with the lights getting dimmer and the music getting louder as the night goes on. Kassi Beach House is a perfect example, where pasta and Mediterranean spreads are best enjoyed on the patio overlooking the Virgin Hotels pool deck. FUHU, one of the new attractions at Resorts World, is a stylish party spot serving contemporary Asian dishes just outside Ahu Dayclub. La Neta Cocina is now open, serving a fresh take on Mexican cuisine (including eye-catching large-format tacos) with a sleek bar area and tall windows that open up to Downtown Summerlin. Another restaurant in the outdoor shopping complex, Jing, has only gotten better over the past year with a menu that mixes Asian and American flavors with photogenic backdrops. Book a reservation for Thursday or Friday when a special omakase menu is offered.

Lost Spirits
Photo by Wonho Frank Lee, courtesy of Lost Spirits

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Off the Strip
Lost Spirits, one of the coolest attractions at AREA15, is almost like a theme park version of a distillery. After enjoying a first sip (and a hologram performance) in a Cuban-inspired lounge, guests are whisked away by electric vehicle to tour the distillery itself, accompanied by lounges, sipping rooms, and other fun environments, including a "submarine" inspired by 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Along the way, you'll learn about Lost Spirits' groundbreaking scientific distilling process, which dramatically speeds up the aging process, and sip on house-made creations like the signature Navy Style Rum and four Vegas exclusives. Yes, there's a gift shop in case you'd like to take a bottle home with you. This is just the beginning. Lost Spirits is expanding with a dining concept and other new elements in the months ahead.

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Off the Strip
Mayfair Supper Club and Delilah are ushering in a new era for throwback supper clubs on the Strip, but there's a pair of smaller-scale alternatives to those high-price experiences. The Vegas Room, in the historic Commercial Center plaza off the Strip, is an intimate space for live cabaret music, food, and cocktails. It's almost like a group of friends hanging out in somebody's living room with musicians mingling with guests during intermission and after the show. The newer Nevada Room is a sister concept by the same owners right around the corner. It's a little larger with a piano bar and showroom. Both venues serve multi-course meals and have championed a wide variety of local entertainment throughout the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Enjoy the fresh taste of local artisanal bread

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Multiple Locations
Is there anything better than fresh-baked bread during the fall season? Cottage-industry bakeries are growing in popularity with delicious recipes straight from the kitchen. Brett Boyer and Brendon Wilharber of Desert Bread sell baked goods out of their home driveway east of the airport on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Everything is all natural and organic with fruit sourced from a local orchard. The wide selection includes sourdough bread, New York-style bagels, French-inspired croissants, and much more. Bread Day is a one-woman operation by Isabela Moraes, a former Olympic-level swimmer who performed in Le Reve. She originally sold bread to her castmates and now makes it available on Saturdays at the Tivoli Village farmers market. You'll see an appreciation of darker grains and fun stuff like a purple sweet potato ciabatta. Kris and Ryan Wilson of 5098 Bread learned the art of breadmaking while traveling in Uruguay and now sell products at Las Vegas farmers markets throughout the week. Their sourdough starter is not only used in the bread, but also a popular chocolate chip cookie. Placing orders in advance for all three businesses is highly recommended.

hockey
Photo by Sam Morris, courtesy of Las Vegas News Bureau

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The Strip
Everybody in Las Vegas knows it's hard to match the excitement and energy of seeing the Golden Knights score a goal in front of hometown fans inside the 18,000-seat T-Mobile Arena. The team is currently in something of a rebuilding phase after trading away fan favorites Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Reeves. The new version of the Knights will aim to keep the momentum going after qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs in all four previous seasons.

Lake Mead Cruises
Lake Mead Cruises

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Lake Mead
Still no word on when tours will resume at the Hoover Dam, but there's another cool way to see the giant hunk of concrete in person. Lake Mead Cruises has an afternoon Hoover Dam Sightseeing Cruise that runs seven days a week. The 90-minute tour departs from the Lake Mead National Recreation Area with food and booze served on board. Bring a lightweight jacket and hang out on the rooftop deck while snapping nonstop photos.

Take a sip of low-intervention wines

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Multiple Locations
Do you know what's really in your wine? Most of 'em are full of additives. (Just google "mega purple" for starters.) Fortunately, low-intervention wines—which often cross over into natural and/or biodynamic wines—are taking hold in Las Vegas. You just need to know where to look. Garagiste Wine Room is a great resource for low-intervention wines in the Downtown Arts District. Enjoy a glass at the bar or take a bottle home (with a 50% discount on retail sales). Khoury's Fine Wine & Spirits is expanding its selection by the day. Just look for the white stickers on bottles to identify low-intervention options. Sample a few by the glass at the in-store bar (especially on weekends when food trucks pull up outside). Ada's at Tivoli Village is another spot that takes its wine seriously with a certified sommelier on standby to go into detail about what is (and isn't) in every bottle on the wine list.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

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Multiple Locations
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours knows how to do culinary crawls the right way, whether it's the Strip, Downtown Arts District, Fremont East, or Chinatown. The company teams up with top restaurants to offer the dishes and drinks you really want to try—all at one price without a wait for tables. The concept continues to grow. Lip Smacking Foodie Tours recently announced new crawls of Resorts World and Virgin Hotels, giving curious diners one-stop exposure to top restaurants at two of the newest resorts in Las Vegas. It could be the most delicious 2.5 hours you spend in Vegas. Make sure to add on the optional drink package. Along the way, a guide will share details about each destination plus a little bit of Vegas knowledge. The company also introduced Finger Licking Foodie Tours during the pandemic, which offers more casual, socially distant self-guided excursions with new tours recently introduced for Tivoli Village and Green Valley Ranch.

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Downtown
The Fremont Street Experience remains a must-see Downtown tourist destination, combining bright neon lights and iconic imagery (like the Vegas Vic smoking cowboy marquee) with popular attractions like the Slotzilla zipline and overhead high-def Viva Vision video canopy. At some point, grab a beer at Banger Brewing, play the penny slots at Binions, and sit down for dinner at Vic & Anthony's. The newest addition to the promenade is Circa, the largest resort in Downtown Vegas. Step inside (if you're 21 or older—no kids allowed) and check out the world's largest sportsbook, Barry's Downtown Prime steakhouse, or The Legacy Club—a rooftop lounge that's proving to be a great place to impress a date in Las Vegas. Ready to drink your way down Fremont Street? Sign up for the Royal Crawl, an app that guides participants to five different bars at three different casinos with beer, wine, or a cocktail included at each stop.

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Multiple Locations/Online
Founded by Jolene Mannina, Secret Burger is a Las Vegas success story based on a simple concept: team up with top restaurants to offer one-night-only "secret" dishes with sales made in advance online. Even when the pandemic made things complicated, Secret Burger continued to move forward with a series of take-home dinners, pop-up events, and online cooking classes with accomplished local chefs. Mannina also founded the Vegas Test Kitchen, a new kind of food hall with a series of rotating culinary concepts under one roof.

Neon Museum
Neon Museum

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Downtown
The Neon Museum packs a lot of Vegas history into one place, offering guided tours of old neon signs and marquees from casinos and other businesses long departed. The attraction is especially engaging at night. Make sure to check out "Brilliant"—a 30-minute light, video, and music display that brings some of those signs back to life without a single one being plugged in.

Meow Wolf Omega Mart
Photo courtesy of Meow Wolf Omega Mart

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Off the Strip
There's so much cool stuff constantly opening at AREA15, it's almost hard to keep track of it all. Almost. Omega Mart, a large-scale art installation by Meow Wolf, is the biggest and coolest attraction inside the warehouse-like entertainment complex. The expansive, interactive space is a trippy take on a grocery store (which doubles as the gift shop) with "portals" that open to the world of the fictional corporate entity behind it, including a factory and offices where nothing is quite as it seems. There are even a few slides to travel between levels. Think of it as dozens of art exhibits within a single cohesive environment. Give yourself at least an hour to fully appreciate the whole thing.

Feast on high-end Japanese cuisine

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Chinatown
The Las Vegas version of Chinatown is a top destination for Asian cuisine–and one of the highlights is the recent wave of elevated Japanese dining. Kabuto set the standard for omakase presentations-–carried out with precision, expertise, and fresh fish flown in daily from around the world. Eventually, Chef Gen Mizoguchi left and started Yui Edomae Sushi, which raised the bar even higher, crafting multi-course meals in a quiet, minimalist dining room. Newer additions include Sushi Kame (with a choice between omakase at a secluded private counter and a regular menu in a larger dining room) and Kaiseki Yuzu, which relocated to Chinatown from its original home in Silverado Ranch. Which one is best? Don't try too hard to figure it out. Just make a point to visit each one and enjoy a personalized meal that will be among the best you have all year. 

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Rob Kachelriess has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than seven years. His work has also appeared in Travel + Leisure, Trivago Magazine, Sophisticated Living, Modern Luxury, Leafly, Las Vegas Magazine, and other publications. He's eating chocolate as he writes this. Follow him on Twitter @rkachelriess.