New Years Eve in Vegas

What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas...

Did you know that slogan is less than 20 years old? So back in the 2003 some smarty pants ad agency thought it was a good idea to label Las Vegas, Nevada the land of no consequences. For that reason people descend upon Las Vegas en mass to behave badly and basically be the worst version of themselves.

Until this year I HATED Las Vegas, but a trip to Sin City to ring in the New Year with my best friend changed everything. Find out how to do New Year's Eve in Vegas the right way below...


When I think about what I want to be doing on New Years Eve, my ideal night includes dancing, drinking champagne and then going to a decadent brunch the next day. And if I'm honest there's really no better place to do that than Las Vegas.

My best friend and her husband are full-timers as its called in the RV world. They live and work out of their 40-foot Alfa See Ya Gold RV. I was curious to see what motor home living is like and I really wanted to see the walk-in closet my friend has been bragging about...spoiler alert it lives up to the I planned to spend NYE night in the RV and then head to a luxe hotel on the strip for New Year's day.

On the RV in my travel outfit. Follow @wanderingfreerv to see move of my friends' adventures in RV living


::8:00AM:: (DCA-LAS)
There's a direct American Airlines flight from Washington, DC to Las Vegas, NV at 8am every day of the week. Most people fly the day before a holiday, but I love flying on the actual day of any holiday, because the airport is less crowded. It means you'll be up very early on NYE, but you'll arrive in Vegas before 11am and you'll have the whole day for a disco nap before the evening's festivities. Also 11am in Las Vegas might as well be 6am. No one is awake yet so you'll have the city to yourself for at least an hour or two.

PRO TIP: When flying on the actual date of a major holiday, bring a little treat for the flight crew. They are working the holiday and are away from their families; the recognition goes a long way. For New Year's Eve, a little bag of champagne gummy bears (check to make sure there is no actual alcohol included) would be a great item to bring.

::12:00PM:: (The Stove)
I typically buy a salad from Trader Joe's the night before a cross-country flight and will devour said salad about 2 hours in to the flight. So by the time I land I'm starving. You'll have the rest of the night to roam the Las Vegas Strip so why not explore some of the other parts of the area. The Las Vegas airport is located about 10 minutes from Henderson, NV - a suburb with a lot of great shopping and dining options. 

We went to The Stove - a locally owned and operated brunch themed restaurant with amazing mountain views. We tried several yummy things from the menu including a single funfetti "birthday pancake" that I'm still thinking about.  There is also a separate tea room, so if afternoon tea is your thing definitely book a table at The Stove. And since there's plenty of parking and cute decor The Stove is a great place to host an event. Their private dining room can host 45 seated guests and 75 for a cocktail party. 

PRO TIP: Don't miss the photobooth; it's tucked away but look for it between the bar and the bathrooms. 

::4:00PM:: (Las Vegas Strip)
The main streets (including Las Vegas Blvd) shut down starting at 5pm on New Year's Eve. The great thing about that is that for once you can easily criss-cross Las Vegas Blvd making it easy to hop from hotel to hotel. The bad thing is that you have to actually get to the strip hours before you need to be there because cars, Lyfts and taxis wont be able to drop you off. I don't know about you, but I'm not at all interested in hoofing it in heels. Your best bet is to arrive on the strip sometime between 3 and 4pm and just hang out there until the night is over. Choose one hotel and have dinner and drinks there.

PRO TIP: We were not staying on the Las Vegas strip (we stayed in Henderson in my friend's luxury RV on New Year's Eve) so we arrived to the strip fully dressed for the night. 

::10:00PM:: (Zappos Theater)
For New Year's Eve we decided instead of blowing our money on an overpriced prix fixe dinner we'd take that $200+ and buy tickets to a concert. There was no shortage of shows happening on New Year's Eve to choose from. In addition to all of the artists who have residencies in Las Vegas right now (Gwen Stephanie, Barry Manilow, Lady Gaga) there were some artists in town doing a show just for the night. That included Lizzo, whose show at the Cosmopolitan we seriously considered seeing, but ultimately opted for Christina Aguilera. 

Xtina is currently in residence at the Zappos Theater inside of Planet Hollywood so we arrived at the hotel several hours before the show and walked around until we found a place to eat dinner. We picked a random restaurant that wouldn't have been our first choice, but there were three open seats at the bar and no wait. We split a bottle of cheap champagne, ate classic bar food and cheered as we watched coverage of the ball dropped in Times Square at 9pm Vegas time. Because of the time difference we got to toast to the new year twice! 

PRO TIP: The ushers and ticket takers work these same shows several nights in a row so they know EVERYTHING. If you want to arrive right when the artists hits the stage, just ask them when that will be. They know if an artist is chronically late and exactly how long the show will run.


::10:00AM:: There are many theories on why black-eyed peas and collard greens are considered good luck to eat on New Year's Day, but I don't argue with anyone cooking me food...I just enjoy. My best friend's husband is from Arkansas and spent all morning in the kitchen soaking the beans and baking cornbread. To give him some space in the kitchen, my friend and I nursed hangovers at a nearby bar/restaurant that made us homemade egg sandwiches and mimosas (hair of the dog right).

PRO TIP:  The rooms, even at the worst hotels on and off the strip, are going to run you $400-500 for New Year's eve night. New Year's Day however, the prices go down by at least $200 a night. Do whatever you can do to avoid staying in a hotel on NYE. Hotel prices go down a little more each day after NYE. 

::3:00PM:: (The Vdara Hotel & Spa) After securing our 2020 luck with a hearty brunch of black-eyed peas and collards we packed up and left the RV to head on to the Las Vegas strip. We were checking in to the Vdara Hotel & Spa  - the only smoke-free hotel on the Vegas strip. I loved that this property has no casino. I'm not a gambler and the lights and noise on the casino floor is not exactly an ideal for someone nursing a hangover. Also I've stayed at MANY of the other hotels on the Las Vegas strip (Bally's, Paris, Caesars, Planet Hollywood etc) and I don't think that they do a great job filtering out the smell of cigarette smoke. When I lay my head down on the pillow at one of the casino hotels it feels like I'm inhaling second-hand smoke. The Vdara was a breath of fresh air, literally.

::7:00PM:: (Jean George Steakhouse)
Don't be like us and wait until the moment you feel hungry to try to make a reservation for dinner on New Year's Day. Many locals and regular Vegas visitors are hip to the sh*tshow that is NYE dinner in Las Vegas so they wait until the next day to go out to dinner. I'm talking people in full sequin jumpsuits celebrating the New Year a day late. We called literally every restaurant in Aria to try to get a reservation and were DENIED. 

We finally decided to walk over to Carbone and try to charm our way in...FAIL. We were put on the 3 hour long waitlist and promised a reservation at 10pm. We drowned our sorrows in $24 martinis at Jean George Steakhouse located next door. 

PRO TIP: The bartenders at Jean George Steakhouse on New Year's Day looked like they'd rather slit their wrists than be serving us or anyone for that matter. Don't expect them to keep you company while you kill time.

::9:00PM:: (Carbone)
Initially I didn't mind the 10pm reservation. Even though I was still on East Coast time, which meant I'd be having dinner at what my body thought was 1am! However the bartenders at Jean George Steakhouse were so underwhelming we couldn't wait any longer so went back to Carbone to try our chances scoring a seat at the bar. The bar seats are first come, first serve but we found out if you are friendly with the bartenders they will hold seats for you. Not fair at all, but hey...favor ain't fair right? We batted our eyelashes long enough to catch the attention of one of the bartenders who squeezed us in. 

PRO TIP: Order the Caesar salad - its really as good as the reviews say. I also ordered the Ribeye Dianne and this combo made great leftovers as a steak salad the next day. I'd definitely eat at Carbone again, but I'd make a reservation (even for the bar) well in advance.


::10:00AM:: (Vdara Club Lounge)
Since we'd saved so much money by not staying on the strip on New Year's Eve, we decided to upgrade to a room with access to the Vdara Club Lounge. Breakfast is served in the Vdara Club Lounge from 7am to 11am and includes eggs, pototoes, fresh meats, cheeses and fruit. As well as cereal, fresh juices and on one occasion a donut tree. 

::12:00PM:: (Aria Spa)
The Vdara Hotel and the Aria Hotel are sister properties located side by side and little birdie told us that the Aria Spa blew the Vdara Spa out of the water. They were NOT WRONG.  For a small fee you can have access to all of the amenities with in an out privileges. The cost for a day pass at Aria is $50 (Mon-Thur) and $100 (Fri-Sun), which is only $10-20 more than the cost for a day pass at The Vdara Spa. And for that extra money you get double the amount of pools and steam rooms to enjoy. There is also an outdoor pool and lounge area at the Aria spa where you can relax in the sun.

::3:00PM:: (Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace)
My only real plans for the second day of the new year were to eat and relax and that's exactly what I did. I tore myself away from the spa after about two hours to walk over to Caesars to try to score a seat at their famous Bacchanal Buffet. The line was INSANE. I actually thought most of the visitors in town for New Years would have flown back home by January 2nd, but this year that date fell on a Thursday so people were staying in town well in to the weekend.

The wait for 3 people at Bacchanal was 4 hours and I was sure I'd starve to death in that time frame so we started researching a plan B. We were told we could pay $98 to skip the line, but would still have to pay for the cost of the buffet, which during the holidays is inflated from the normal $45 to a whopping $70! So we'd be paying $170 for a buffet lunch; and the crab legs are good but they're not THAT good. I remember reading something about the #LikeACaesar program the hotel was promoting. It required you to pay a slight premium, but came with the benefit of a set reservation time which meant no waiting, you just show up when its time for your reservation. This VIP level program also included a seafood tower and unlimited champagne and came with a price tag of $120; basically a $50 up charge but still a better deal than $170. We found a reservation for 3 people that started in 15 minutes so we booked it and paid right away.

PRO TIP: The holiday surcharge on the price of the buffet lasts until Sunday after New Years. Double check that the #LikeACaesar program is actually running during the holidays. Apparently they were NOT offering the seafood tower, which was not noted anywhere. We only found out after waiting for 20 minutes in our seats (valuable buffet grazing time wasted) being told repeatedly that the seafood tower was on its way. We complained and were ultimately refunded the $50 upcharge after some terrible customer service from their Manager on Duty. 

::6:00PM:: (Aria Spa & Vdara Lounge)
After the buffet I decided to return to the Aria Spa to finish using the amenities. I stayed there, lounging on heated stone beds and hanging out in the salt room until the spa closed at 8pm. My friend and her husband opted to relax in the Vdara Lounge. Happy Hour runs from 4-6pm, which they caught the tail end of, and includes complimentary beer, wine and champagne; along with light hors d'oeuvres. 6-7pm dessert is served.


::10:00AM:: (Vdara Lounge) 
Before checking out we had one final breakfast in the Vdara Lounge. Check out for the hotel is at 11am and breakfast ends at the same time so if you're organized enough you can bring your suitcases to the lounge and hit up the front desk to check out when you're done eating. 

::2:00PM:: (LAS-DCA)
Two full days in Vegas is really enough for me, so after spending three full days for New Years I was more than happy to head to the airport on day four. The airport is about 15 minutes away from the strip so I leisurely made my way there full of good memories to last the whole year through!

[Turban- Loza Tam via The Brown Beauty Co-OpJacket- Zara old; Flightsuit- Alex MillShoes- Adidas Stan SmithsHandbag- Dupe of the Chanel Coco Splash bag]


Alaska Air/American Air


Carbone at Aria 
I also like Fat Burger/In-N-Out - Both are located on the strip

See an artist with a musical residency on New Year's Eve
Go visit the 7 Magic Mountains
Have a spa day at The Spa at Aria 

1 comment:

  1. Wow! As I can see, you have spent such an incredible time in Vegas. I am grateful to you for posting all these photos. I am sure, that all people like to watch them.


Let me know what you think! #breaellis or #weariwent

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