Looking for a quick, romantic getaway? With its sparkling lights, posh dining and worthy sites galore, Las Vegas is a sure bet for romance – especially if you want to tie the knot or renew your vows. In fact, Navdeep and I got married there (before the big, fat Desi wedding), so for us, it’s a super-special weekend honeymoon destination.
Friday 1 p.m. Settling In
Considering that United did not bother feeding us on the eight-hour trip west, we were famished when we got to Sin City’s McCarran airport. However, we restrained ourselves from diving into the nearest Burger King.
Instead, we checked into our lovely room ($110 per night, plus tax) at the Egyptian-themed Luxor, complete with a view of the Sphinx’s bum. The room was in the grand pyramid of the Luxor, which sits primly on the North end of the iconic Vegas Strip. Not as posh as some of the grander hotels – the Bellagio and the Venetian will set you back $250 or more – it was a comfortable, if slightly outdated space.
2 p.m. Fueling Up
After settling in, we were famished. We decided to grab a snack while hitting some of the Sin City sites, so we nabbed bargain-priced 24-hour pass ($10 for two) for the Deuce bus, a double-decker monster that runs up and down the Strip every ten minutes or so. We hopped on and rode over to Caesar’s Palace, where we plopped ourselves down for a leisurely coffee break at Bobby Flay’s understated-yet-colorful Mesa Grill. Sipping (skim!) cappuccino, we devoured a divine chocolate espresso layer cake complemented by crunchy pieces of toffee and a rich caramel sauce ($22.50). The caffeine and chocolate were just what we need to get us through the afternoon – especially because shopping was on the agenda!
3 p.m. Forum Fun (Or Not)
Post-snack, we strolled through the Caesar’s Forum Shops, stopping to watch the talking statues, which were reminiscent of those rockin’ animals at Chuck-E-Cheese that always scare the little kids. Creepy!
After hitting the Houdini store (uber-creepy!), we made brief pit stops at Juicy Couture, Anthropologie and Intermix before Navdeep got really bored, so we decided to head out for a long walk up to the South Strip.
4 p.m. Sky High
We stopped briefly to admire the Stratosphere, which floats above the strip skyline like a spaceship paused to ponder before making its landing.
Across from the Strat is the Hollywood Wedding Chapel, where Navdeep and I tied the knot three years ago. We didn’t go inside, but instead admired it from afar as we recalled our first big adventure in Vegas.
6 p.m. Ultra-Lux
For dinner, we skipped the Cheesecake Factory and instead headed to the Venetian, on a mission to find Cheesecake’s slightly more upscale cousin, The Grand Lux Café, which my sister Meena had been raving about for months.
Once there, we ravaged the warm sourdough and pumpernickel bread, then settled in for hearty (read: bigger-than-our-heads!) portions of chicken marsala and chicken pot pie. Dessert was a light, flaky strawberry shortcake topped with a dollop of pillowy whipped cream ($60 for two).
8 p.m. Getting Into the Spirit
After polishing off that meal, we could hardly move. Lucky for us, we didn’t have far to go. We scored prime seats – row D! – at the Venetian’s rendition of the Phantom of the Opera ($180 for two – search online for discount deals), complete with giant falling chandelier. This is definitely a date musical – there’s all the jumpy cuddliness caused by the horrifying theatrics, but it’s also quite a weeper. The play’s anti-hero, the aforementioned Phantom, is truly a tragic character, and his sorrow leaves you reeling just a bit at the end.
On the walk back, we strolled hand-in-hand through St. Mark’s Square at the Venetian, where it was still a balmy, blue-skied Italian afternoon, despite being way past midnight PST.
Saturday 8 a.m. Love and (Hot) Chocolate
The next morning, we arose bright and early and went on an early morning walk down the strip to the Venetian, where we fueled up on coffee cake and hot cocoa ($10) at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf – one of only two I’ve ever seen outside of California. The other, which we also visited, is at the Miracle Mile Mall, which is nestled into the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino. Coffee Bean, FYI, kicks Starbucks’ ass.
9 a.m. Charge!
We hopped the Deuce again to head to the Premium Outlet Mall, located 20 minutes off the Strip. Save cab cash (the more to shop with!) and transfer from the Deuce to the108 bus (you can use your Deuce pass), which stops right in front of the outlets! The Must List: Juicy Couture, Dooney & Bourke, and D&G, where we nearly scored some couture trousers for Navdeep for $30. Alas, they were too big. But I picked up a lovely pink Juicy bowler bag for 70 percent off. We also got Navdeep some wool fancy pants for $40 at the Banana Republic outlet.
1 p.m. Fat Saturday
After a killer morning of browsing and shopping – Navdeep enjoyed the Bose store and free samples at Godiva – it was time to get our buffet on! We decided to hit the ravishing Rio ($26 each), which has long been heralded as the best in Vegas. And it lives up to its rep, with an expansive selection of freshly prepped, piping hot pizza, burgers, seafood and a dessert case out of my dreams, complete with miniature crème brulee and chocolate mousse.
3 p.m. A Romantic Stroll
Stuffed, we waddled back to our hotel, strolling on the way through the colorful botanical gardens at the Bellagio, where we also caught the hourly dancing fountains show. We also hit MGM, where we watched caregivers massage the caged lions, and as the sunset, paused to ponder the lovely half-scale Eiffel Tower at Paris, Paris.
6 p.m. Italian Rendezvous
Back at the Luxor, we plunked down a few dollars at the slots, then got gussied up to go check out a few Vegas hotspots. First up, dinner at Canaletto’s, refined Italian set on the canals of the Venetian – and uber-romantic. We watched couples float by in their gondolas as we shared the bruschetta calda, followed by Fegato alla Venetzia (calf’s liver!) for Navdeep and a tamer risotto con secoe e funghi for me. ($65 for two, no wine.)
9 p.m. Drinking and Dancing
We stopped for a quick jello shot – with whipped cream – at Fat Tuesday’s. Then we headed to Mandalay Bay’s Minus Five, the only ice chamber club in the United States – where the eerie blue-lit room is set a literal minus-five degrees, prime vodka-consuming weather. But as we sipped our vodka cranberries and martinis, we were decked out in club-provided thermal coats and gloves, which made balancing our spirits quite precarious.
Post-drinks, we headed to the posh-but-squishy, ultra-exclusive Bank, a club at the Bellagio that is frequented by celeb-types, although we didn’t see any that evening. We danced for a few hours, but the music is not up to par here – we’d probably have had a better time at good ole’ Polyester’s on the other side of the strip.
Sunday 1 a.m. Cheap Date
Hungry again post-clubbing, we found a 24-hour Mickey D’s at our hotel and celebrated our last night in Vegas with some chicken nuggets, fries and a Big Mac. Dessert was Swensen’s ice cream – Rocky Road for Navdeep, and chocolate chip with sprinkles for me.
5:30 a.m. Egyptian Sunrise
Bright and early the next morning, Navdeep and I watched the sunrise from the picture window in our room, then played a few more slots for good luck. And we used the $12 bucks we won to pay for the cab ride back to McCarran airport. All in all, Vegas is a sure bet for romance.
Bargains abound when you’re headed to Sin City. Non-stop flights from New York start at $300 and most major airlines can get you gambling in about five hours.
Where to Stay
Weekdays in Sin City mean hotel steals, with even smack-dab-on-the-Strip properties available under $60 a night – try Bally’s or Planet Hollywood, which is home to the expansive Spice Market Buffet, for mid-level comfort. Feeling flush? Aim high at the Venetian (starting at $150) or the Bellagio ($200 and up). Note that weekend stays will mean higher prices all around.