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Column: More to Las Vegas than gambling

Las Vegas has expanded its entertainment offerings.

If you believe Las Vegas is all about gambling, then you are missing out.  In fact, Las Vegas has become a vacation spot where there is so much to do even if you do not gamble.  Here are some attractions that you might want to check out if you visit Las Vegas: 

The Sphere

Sphere is a music and entertainment arena that opened in late 2023.  Standing at over 360 ft. tall, Sphere is the world’s largest spherical structure.

The exterior is a programmable LED display which changes constantly and gives you indescribable motion graphics.  Inside, Sphere sometimes hosts concerts but most days, you can gain admission to an interactive lobby and then a 50-minute sensory film.

The lobby has holographic art installations, interactive robots who chat with you and a 360-degree avatar capture. The film is a fully immersive experience with seat movement, visual effects, fog, scent, and wind. You feel like you are fully immersed in the various countries and settings that are displayed on screen.

For a splurge, buy the Director’s Seat package, which allows you early entry into the lobby, a pre-show lounge with drinks & snacks, a commemorative T-shirt and the best seats in the theatre. You can view the outside LED display for free but tickets for the show will run you at least USD$80 and up.

For more information about Sphere, see their website and check out my review of my experience with the Director’s Seat package.

Arte Museum

This museum opened in Las Vegas in November 2023. It is a two-story 30,000 square foot immersive art space produced by Korean digital design company called "d'strict" for $25 million.

The museum has different rooms that engage all five senses.  My favourite rooms are the Star Raindrops, where you feel you are surrounded by luminescent raindrops and Beach Aurora, where you feel like you are on a beach with waves coming in below your feet and an aurora of light in the sky.

The museum also has a tea bar where once you put your tea on the table, digitally produced flowers surround your cup. A pro tip is to go in the morning between 10 and 11:30 a.m. (when it first opens) or at night between 8:30 and 10:00 p.m. (when it is about to close).

You get $10 off your ticket and there will be fewer people there, which makes for a more calming experience and better photos.  To see my experience there, see here.

Food scene

Vegas is now more about the food than gambling.

I love the variety of Spanish and Mexican restaurants available in Vegas.

Two of my favourite restaurants are Javier’s inside the Aria Resort, which serves upscale Mexican cuisine and a large variety of margaritas, and Jaleo by Jose Andres, which serves authentic Spanish tapas and paella with a variety of signature gin and tonic drinks.  See my review of Jaleo here

I try to stay away from Las Vegas buffets but if you have to visit a buffet, I recommend the Wicked Spoon buffet inside the Cosmopolitan Hotel.

It is a brunch buffet with a smaller yet upscale selection of food including a dim sum station, steamed snow crab, bone marrow, their Wicked Spoon fried chicken, a loaded mash potato bar and house-made gelato and sorbet. 

As for accommodations, a great hotel to stay at is the Vdara Hotel & Spa.  What makes this hotel unique is that there is no casino in the lobby of the hotel.  Just last year, a walkway that connects Vdara/Aria hotels with the Bellagio and Cosmopolitan hotels was completed so you can walk between these hotels without going outside.  There is also a complementary tram to take you from the Aria/Vdara hotel to the Park MGM hotel on the other side of the Las Vegas strip. 

Hope I have wet your appetite to visit Las Vegas.  Until next time, safe travels! 

Tony Kwan is a Richmond News columnist. Lawyer by day, and a food and wine lover by night. Kwan is an epicurean who writes about wine, food and enjoying all that life has to offer.