What’s Happening Now In Las Vegas

By Meryl Pearlstein

Las Vegas is on a roll. And I’m not just talking about the roll of the dice. Sin City hits the jackpot with new developments in attractions, hotels, restaurants, and things to keep you motivated and moving as you navigate the Strip and beyond. And, yes, the casinos are alive if you’re feeling the gambling vibe. Here are some exciting happenings recently opened or planned this year.

Reserve a table at these new dining spots to sample some of the country’s finest restaurants by the most celebrated chefs.

Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino is hot, hot, hot with new restaurants. Retro by Voltaggio is a culinary residency by celebrity chefs Michael and Bryan Voltaggio. Channeling the vibes of the 80s and 90s—decades now considered retro (!)—the menu dances around dishes anchored in the past like VoltaggiOs, the chefs’ fun takes on a childhood pasta fave and chicken pot pie fritters. Music is appropriately flashback so you can sing along to prom night favorites like Blondie, the Cars and Mariah Carey as you dine.

Steak is a thing in Las Vegas. Also, at Mandalay Bay, Chef Michael Mina adds to his empire with a casual version of the steakhouse. StripSteak’s menu features modern takes and Asian fusions resulting in dishes like Duck Fat Prime Rib with a blue cheese popover. Ocean Prime balances the steakhouse concept at the new 63 Las Vegas complex, presenting a seafood and sushi menu. With glorious views from its rooftop perch, you can sip a gin beverage from the roaming gin cart at brunch, lunch, and dinner. Highly anticipated, New York’s famous Peter Luger is opening in Caesars’s Palace, accepting reservations and OMG (!) credit cards. The restaurant represents Peter Luger’s first foray outside of Brooklyn and takes over the space formerly occupied by New York’s Rao’s. Even if you think you know the restaurant, this one will offer something you can’t find on the NYC menu: a chilled seafood tower. Also at Caesar’s, New York’s Stanton Social morphs into Stanton Social Prime, a steakhouse with an art deco flair.

For something vegetarian, Eyal Shani brings his Modern Israeli finesse to the Venetian in The Palazzo Tower with HaSalon, a high-spirited interactive gourmet dining experience, and Miznon for fast-casual Mediterranean favorites like whole-roasted cauliflower, stuffed pitas with hummus and falafel, plus a ribeye steak and lamb kebabs for the carnivores.

If you still can’t decide where to go and want to hedge your bets, you can opt for a sampler from the best. Lip Smacking Foodie Tours meets at the Venetian, where you’ll do a “Culinary Afternoon Adventures” stroll to the likes of Estiatorio Milos, Cipriani, Sugarcane and Chica, ending at the Wynn Plaza Shops. Food, drink and Las Vegas history are included.

Food halls continue to be a big deal in Las Vegas. With a mashup of one-off restaurants and unusual imports from the US and abroad, these hotel-based options are a contemporary version of Vegas’s standard buffet (although buffets are still available if that’s your preference). ARIA Resort & Casino takes you on an only-in-Vegas tour of 12 global food options at Proper Eats. I’m particularly fond of the temaki rolls at Temaki Bar, the fried chicken sandwiches from London’s Seoul Bird, and the spiced cauliflower bowl from Portland’s Shalom Y’all. An urban version of a food court, Famous Foods Street Eats at Resorts World Las Vegas takes its inspiration from street foods in Southeast Asia and focuses on pan-Asian quick eats. If you still want the buffet experience, The Buffet at Wynn has updated its menu. It has a gorgeously redone atrium space to enjoy over 90 delicious breakfast, brunch, and dinner dishes.

Bourbon St. Parade is a new, high-energy bar experience about free-spirited New Orleans. Located at the Grand Bazaar Shops in front of Horseshoe Las Vegas, the bar is the go-to for cocktails with NOLA flair and live music to encourage you to create your second-line parade.

Las Vegas ups the ante in lodging choices with a prominent renovation, three new properties, and a wellness program.

MGM Resorts International’s Bellagio Resort & Casino’s Spa Tower is getting a shiny $110 million makeover, renovating all rooms and suites with elegant white marble in bathrooms, cushy sleeping spaces, and high-tech lights. The resort’s Italian vibe has been refreshed with cream-colored headboards and accents, offsetting the Strip’s colors. This follows the renovation of the hotel’s 2500 rooms and suites in its main tower. 

An exciting opening for Las Vegas, the 67-story Fontainebleau Las Vegas adds 3644 luxury rooms, a casino, and a collection of restaurants to the Strip by year-end. Expect Fontainebleau-style elegance à la Fontainebleau Miami Beach, done vertically.

Repeat visitors may want to check out the newest area for development in the city. Ten miles from the Strip, Southwest Las Vegas is seeing a boom in residences and dining. A new property, Durango Resort and Casino adds 15 more restaurants, a 24/7 casino, and 200 guestrooms and suites. The food hall trend continues here, too, with the playfully named Eat Your Heart Out.

Guests wishing to detox after a night of Vegas fun will want to get up early for Yoga at The Spa at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. On weekends, the hotel offers complimentary sessions to guests, mats provided. Non-guests can practice their asanas for $20 per session. Reservations are required.

Residencies remain a staple in Las Vegas, with more stars opting for multi-week or even multi-month schedules in one venue rather than tours. This year’s offerings appeal to all kinds of music fans with the showiest happening at the newest kid on the landscape, the MSG Sphere at The Venetian. This dynamic space features a 4-D experience with wind and seats that vibrate for an immersive concert event that pushes the entertainment bar even higher. Tickets and hotel packages are available for the U2: UV opening residency experience.

The new Resorts World Las Vegas complex has become an entertainment central, with superstars Luke Bryan and Carrie Underwood currently lighting up the stages at Resorts World Theatre and performances by Illusionist and stunt artist David Blane. For more country joy, singer-songwriter Lainey Wilson offers a mini-residence at The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Other headliners to book now include Rod Stewart at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Garth Brooks at The Colosseum, and Liz Phair at The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Plan for Las Vegas’s two notable music festivals, Lovers & Friends at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds in the spring and Life Is Beautiful in the fall.

Australian pop star Kylie Minogue lands her first Vegas residency at the Venetian at the new Voltaire Belle de Nuit. Voltaire is said to “blur the lines between an intimate club, concert, and non-stop entertainment venue,” creating a club, pre-gaming, and concert experience. Broadway fans might recognize design elements here: the art-deco fantasy décor was created by Emmy- and Tony Award-winner Derek McLane, the production designer behind MJ, Moulin Rouge, and the Met Gala.

Awakening has reopened at Wynn Las Vegas bringing a 360-degree theater experience with aerialists, acrobats, puppetry, comedy and dance in a re-imagined mythic story of a hero who confronts the forces of Darkness to bring Light back to the world. 

There’s much to fill your days and nights if you need a break from the lights and action of the poker tables and slot machines or have already enjoyed your share of Cirque du Soleil shows or Barry Manilow and Adele concerts.

Take a look at the new Punk Rock Museum, for instance. The never-before-seen exhibits celebrate 45 years of punk (now catching up to hip-hop). You can entertain yourself by getting a tattoo, shopping, listening to artists you might have forgotten, and perusing the vast collection of clothing, fliers, instruments, art, and music from Kurt Cobain, Devo, the B-52s, and many more. If the mood or need strikes, there’s a bar and a wedding/wake chapel.

Remembering Princess Diana, a quarter of a century after her tragic death, Princess Diana: A Tribute Exhibition walks you through Diana’s earliest years to her time as a Royal. Dresses, handwritten notes, photos, and other personal ephemera are beautifully arranged in a series of rooms on the top floor of The Shops at Crystals.

At the Area 15 entertainment complex, Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart’s adults-only evenings have gotten so popular that their “Night Shift” is now offered every Thursday night. You can enjoy cocktails as you wander the maze of crazy, immersive spaces and the psychedelic market.

For laughs, with a dose of ribaldry, the new home of Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club is the place to be. The expanded, classy space is now in a more accessible location in The District at MGM Grand. If you sit at a front table, plan to be picked on in a somewhat lascivious conversation with Garrett, who introduces comedians on a rotating schedule.

Grab a coat and a cocktail and chill at Minus5 ICEBAR at Mandalay Bay. Their new ice display attraction will cool you down with a life-size ocean wave and Nordic Viking ship. It’s the perfect antidote for those steamy Vegas days (and nights).  

For more information on Las Vegas, visit 

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