20 Actually Cool Things to Do in Vegas this Fall
The coolest Sin City restaurants, attractions, events, and activities, all in one place.
Few would argue that fall is the best time of year to be in Las Vegas. You don't have the heat of summer, the chill of winter, or the unpredictable spring wind to worry about. So it's no surprise the season is full of large-scale entertainment and brand new openings to keep us busy. There are a lot of cool things to do this fall—but the coolest thing is to get vaccinated. And it may be necessary to enjoy everything the city has to offer. In the weeks ahead, big events—like Raiders games at Allegiant Stadium, concerts at Brooklyn Bowl, International CES, World Series of Poker, Life is Beautiful, and the Electric Daisy Carnival—will require proof of vaccination to enter. A few (but not all) of those examples will accept a recent negative COVID test instead, but do you really want to deal with the hassle? The CLEAR app seems to be the preferred way to show proof of vaccination (and it beats carrying your card around in a cute little protector). Always check with individual events, venues, and attractions for the latest policies and don't forget to bring a mask. Hopefully, when fall is over and we look ahead to winter, we'll have even more optimism while enjoying all the cool stuff to experience in Las Vegas. For now, appreciate the weather and stay safe.
Head outdoors for a fall festival
It's a season of festivals in Las Vegas, which only makes sense since fall has the best weather for enjoying the outdoors. After pausing during the pandemic in 2020, Life Is Beautiful returns to Downtown September 17-19 with Green Day, Megan Thee Stallion, Billie Eilish, and other headliners while the Electric Daisy Carnival (bumped up to fall from spring) becomes the world's biggest nightclub October 22-24 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway with Zedd, Kygo, and The Chainsmokers among the DJs leading the party. The RiSE Festival is a gathering in the Mojave Desert October 1-2 with participants invited to release lanterns into the sky. Foodies have the challenge of taking on two events on October 16: the USA Today Wine & Food Experience during the day at Downtown Summerlin and Vegas Unstripped at night in the Arts District. Save room for all those samples. Beer lovers may want to stick with the Downtown Brew Festival, also booked the same day. On the other hand, the Las Vegas Food & Wine Festival has the weekend of October 8-9 all to itself at Tivoli Village.
Whether or not you have a ticket to see the Raiders play their first season in front of fans at Allegiant Stadium, you can still take part in the official tailgate party, which is free and open to the general public. The Bud Light Beer Garden stretches between the Luxor and Mandalay Bay on game days with giant TV screens, live DJ performances, on-site betting stations, and food from International Smoke, Diablo's Cantina, Public House, and Beerhaus. If you come hungry, unlimited food and drink packages are $99. You can also get physical with football challenges and take turns playing jumbo-sized Jenga and chess. Just save some energy for that long walk on Hacienda to the stadium.
Experience a new era of vibe dining
Get ready to hear the phrase "vibe dining" more often here in Las Vegas. It 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 is one of the new attractions at Resorts World and the stylish party spot serves contemporary Asian dishes just outside Ahu Dayclub. La Neta Cocina is now open in the west valley, serving a fresh take on Mexican cuisine (including eye-catching large-format tacos) with a stylish 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. Blume remains the top destination in Henderson for vibe dining, with selfie stations and photogenic presentations for much of the food and cocktails. A newly revamped brunch is the perfect opportunity for day drinking on Sundays.
Off the Strip
Lost Spirits, the latest attraction 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 by the end of the year.
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
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.
Everybody loves something for free in Las Vegas—and now you can save a few bucks while toning up your body by the pool. Elia Beach Club is hosting "The Reset"—a series of morning yoga sessions through October 31. There's no charge. Just reserve a spot in advance. You'll don a headset for soothing sounds and instruction while stretching out your muscles and refocusing the mind. Acai bowls, smoothies, and other healthy snacks will be offered as well. Change into your best beachwear afterwards and stick around to enjoy the pool party with a rotating lineup of DJs.
Everybody in Las Vegas knows it's hard to match the excitement and energy of seeing the Golden Knights score a goal before their hometown fans inside the 18,000-seat T-Mobile Arena. The team kicks off the pre-season September 26 while entering 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 of its previous seasons.
Feast on restaurant-quality meals at home
Even with vaccinations on the rise, not everyone feels comfortable going out on the town right now. To help give diners more options, two Southern Highlands restaurants have introduced takeaway packages with boozy sips included. Locale has a choice of family-sized spaghetti and meatballs or rigatoni bolognese, caesar salad, mozzarella garlic bread, and a bottle of red or white wine for $55. El Luchador Mexican Kitchen has a package of 12 tacos (chicken, beef, or carnitas) with sides of rice and beans, chips and salsa, and two Luchador Margaritas for $50. Both meals are designed with four people in mind. Contact each restaurant in advance to place an order.
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
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. Every server on the floor is a certified sommelier who can go into detail about what is (and isn't) in every bottle on the wine list.
Need a good excuse to get familiar with the new Virgin Hotels property? Try drinking your way through the casino with your own boozy crawl. Start with Night + Market, where Kris Yenbamroong's SoCal spin on Thai food is complemented by a carefully selected list of natural wines. From there, head to One Steakhouse and order the Bootlegger (with Macallan 12-Year, all-natural apple syrup, and barrel-spiced bitters) to complement the restaurant's dry-aged bone-in New York Strip. If you prefer agave spirits, stop by Casa Calavera, where the jumbo-sized Lickity Split Margarita is made with añejo tequila and comes with a frozen fruit pop as garnish. Finish things off with the one-two punch of the Bar at Commons Club (an overachieving lobby bar) and the more secluded Shag Room, which has Moroccan-style tents as VIP booths. Ask for the Double Decker (bourbon topped with aperol foam) at the former and the Ziegler (with goji berry gin) at the latter.
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 latest tour is an afternoon visit to four restaurants inside the neighboring Venetian and Wynn resorts. Between Smith & Wollensky, Sugarcane, Estiatorio Milos, and Cipriani, guests enjoy more than ten dishes with the option to add on a drink package. It could be the most delicious 2.5 hours you spend in Vegas. 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 last year, which offers more casual, socially distant self-guided excursions.
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.
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.
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. If you prefer to stay home, download the official Neon Museum app (using the password NEON) to digitally explore 25 exhibits.
With recreational cannabis legal in Nevada, Las Vegas is loaded with dispensaries. Most of 'em—including favorites like Planet 13, The+Source, Acres, Thrive, Oasis, ShowGrow, and Curaleaf—now offer curbside pickup in addition to delivery services. NuWu takes the idea one step further with its own drive-thru window. And if you’re coming from out of town, Cannabis Tours can be a great resource for tracking down 420-related activities. Most hotels, however, are legally off-limits for consumption. You may have better luck with an Airbnb, but check directly with individual owners on policy.
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
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.
Adrenaline Mountain is an outdoor entertainment complex that has everything you need to go wild and crazy in the middle of the desert. Shoot machine guns, go off-roading in an ATV, get behind the wheel of a monster truck, and nail a bullseye with archery or axe throwing. Go even more extreme by blowing up a car with a sniper rifle (or crushing one with construction machinery). As you can see, the options are endless—with new ones being planned as we speak.