Already a longtime home to top-tier gaming events like the World Series of Poker, Las Vegas is now hosting more world-class sporting events than ever before — and they’re staying there.
In addition to scoring an upcoming Formula 1 race and potentially in line to nab an NBA team, Las Vegas has been home to the Golden Knights of the NHL since 2017 and welcomed NFL and the Raiders to the desert in 2020. Now, after hosting the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium for two seasons, the city is set to cement its status as a football destination by welcoming the NFL Draft (which was held in Cleveland last year) to town from April 28-30 in advance of holding Super Bowl LVIII to conclude the 2023 season.
While it’s probably a bit early to plan out an itinerary for the Super Bowl in February of 2024, now is the perfect time to start plotting a late-April pilgrimage to the desert to check out the NFL Draft.
Wanna get away? May we suggest…
A Stay at the Mandalay Bay
If taking in the NFL Draft is in the cards, Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino is where you’ll want to score a room. Located a short walk away from Allegiant Stadium, the Mandalay has become accustomed to hosting fans of the Silver and Black on game days and will be ready for action once the draft rolls around. Located on the southern end of the Strip about two miles away from McCarran International Airport, the Mandalay also has a free monorail that can transport guests north to sister casinos Excalibur and Luxor. Whatever you get up to in Sin City, a float down the lazy river in the 11-acre Mandalay Bay Beach aquatic playground is a good way to get clean.
A Tipple at the Bud Light Beer Garden
The perfect pregame spot before heading over to Allegiant Stadium, this massive beer garden is a game-day party spot that fills up early and empties out just before game time. With more than 130,000 square feet of room to roam, the beer garden is packed with picnic tables, big-screen TVs, party games and many, many bars serving up beer and cocktails. The garden also features live DJ sets and admission is usually free. Depending on the event, all-you-can-eat-and-drink packages are available.
A Nosh at NoMad Library
Located inside the smoke-free Park MGM, NoMad Library is a spectacular space that features a spiral staircase, fireplace, set of custom chandeliers and 20,000 books lining the shelves that encircle the restaurant. As for that smell of rich mahogany, it may be traced to the antique carved wood mantle imported from France. It’s all about elevated American fare here, and tableside service for dishes like tuna tartare is a nice touch. If you’re sticking around for a few days, head to NoMad on Monday for a $100 chicken dinner that includes truffled deviled eggs, a full roasted bird stuffed with foie gras, black truffles, potatoes and apple cobbler for dessert.
A Night With the Golden Knights
Whether it’s around draft time (they’re at home against the Sharks on the 24th) or on a subsequent visit back to Vegas, do yourself a favor and make sure to secure a ticket to the hottest show in town. Putting aside the fact that the Knights are a pretty damn good hockey team, and have been since they entered the NHL five seasons ago, a trip to T-Mobile Arena to take in a game is worth it for the pageantry alone. Sword fights, flames, a dance team cleaning the ice and all sorts of Knights-themed festivities occur before, during and after the puck drops in Vegas. Locals consistently pack the house too, which makes for some good people-watching.
Place a Bet at BetMGM Sportsbook
Although you can now place a bet from your phone if you live in a state where the lawmakers have half a brain, there’s still something extremely satisfying and appealing about grabbing some paper odds sheets and a pencil before sitting down at a sportsbook to examine the lines and potential wagers. With plenty of booths and bar seating, a full food and drink menu, and more TVs than a Best Buy, the BetMGM Sportsbook is a sure thing if you’re in the mood for beers and bets. Tucked away next to the sportsbook, Side Betty Grill is good for a quick, quiet bite away from all the action.
A Shopping Trip at Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart
Located in AREA15, a new immersive retail and entertainment district that opened in September 2020 and is located a short car ride away from the Strip, Omega Mart is the second permanent installation from Santa Fe-based arts and entertainment company Meow Wolf. An experience that was designed and built over the course of three years that contains 250 unique installations from more than 300 artists, Omega Mart lets visitors attempt to solve a mystery while uncovering clues spread throughout a multitude of psychedelic rooms, portals and spaces. For those who aren’t interested in the narrative, there is plenty to look at and experience that has nothing to do with the project’s plot line. The Omega Mart itself is 100% weird and shoppable.
A Pop at the Mob Museum’s Speakeasy
Located in the bowels of the Mob Museum inside a building that was originally the city’s U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, the Underground speakeasy has a full menu of Prohibition-era craft cocktails and shareable bites. In addition to cocktails, the speakeasy also has house-brewed beer on tap and moonshine that’s produced using an in-house copper-pot still that was specially made for the Underground. Entrance to the speakeasy is free, but the museum upstairs is also worth a visit on its own, before or after a trip to the basement for some libations.
Take a Shot at Viva Las Vengance
Loosely following some of the plotlines of the Vegas-based 2021 zombie outbreak film Army of the Dead, Viva Las Vengeance is a first-person shooting experience that allows you to team up with a group of mercenaries for a virtual-reality mission into the quarantine zone. To accomplish the mission, players don VR headsets and grab vibrating guns that actually kick back before hopping inside a motorized taco truck that feels like it is actually moving. After the mission is over, players can see how they shot and the zombie body count they piled up. This experience is also located in AREA15, so go ahead and pair it with a visit to the Omega Mart.
For more insider tips, including where to score some of Nashville’s famous Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, check out what Chef Concierge Angela Cooper of the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas suggested in “Concierge Confidential.”