Now that we live in Orange County, Las Vegas is a quick 45-minute plane ride away, and we took full advantage of it this past weekend. We’ve been a few times before, but never during the holidays and I was thrilled to see The Strip decked out in its festive best. On a fun, unrelated note, our weekend coincided with the National Final Rodeo, and an unexpected delight was seeing cowboys, young and old strolling around town. If you’re thinking of coming for the holidays, I would definitely recommend checking out Christmas in Las Vegas if you want to see a different side of this city.
What To See and Do During Christmas In Las Vegas
The highlight for me were the Christmas decorations in various hotels on The Strip. Not all hotels had Christmas decorations, but when they did, they were quite impressive.
The Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden was the one that I was looking forward to the most. Each season the Conservatory puts on impressive floral displays, and Christmas is no exception. I would say out of all the holiday displays we saw, this one was by far the most elaborate with its giant horse and carriage. It was also one of the most crowded, and I would recommend getting there early in the morning or later at night, since midday was a little overwhelming. The holiday decorations run from December 7, 2019-January 4, 2020 and are located next to the hotel lobby.
While you’re at the Bellagio make sure to check out the holiday-themed Fountains at the Bellagio, which feature classic holiday tunes. Check the schedule here. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see them due to high winds, but it’s just an excuse to come back!
Although the Bellagio was impressive, I have to say that my favorite was the Chrismas displays at the Wynn hotel. The were two illuminated tree canopy walkways, complete with lit-up miniature villages inspired by Gulliver’s Travels. I’m a sucker for holiday light displays and this one surprised me in the best of ways. It is a perfect backdrop for photos and is located in the main atrium right next to the equally enchanting Parasol Down bar, which is known for its dancing parasols and views of the Lake of Dreams and a 40-foot waterfall.
The life-sized gingerbread house in the lobby is hard to miss with cotton candy smoke billowing from the chimney. The house is suppose to resemble a bakery, and actually sells holiday treats including peppermint bark, hand-decorated cookies, and hot chocolate. The house features over 400 pounds of gingerbread and took over 3 weeks to construct. You can smell the gingerbread house the moment you step into the hotel lobby, and it definitely made my gingerbread-loving heart swell. The gingerbread display is up through January 6, 2020.
Transport yourself to Christmas time in ancient Rome, where you can wander around the Forum Shops and see the hotel decked out for the holidays. The decorations are spread out throughout the property, and the multiple storied mall area in the front was my favorite with the lit-up columns amid Greek statues. Also, we found out from a very expensive breakfast sandwich that not all Starbucks are created equal on The Strip, and the one located in the Forum Shops (located on the lower floor of the storied mall, not the food court) takes stars and best of all is regularly priced.
Honest talk: I was not expecting Las Vegas to get so cold. I guess I thought since it was a desert and it was always pretty hot when I visited previously, so it couldn’t be that chilly. I was sorely mistaken. Luckily, though that means you can do festive things like outdoor ice skating. The Cosmopolitan (one of my favorite hotels on The Strip), has an outdoor skating rink in place of the rooftop pool. There’s frequent fake snow, as well fire pits you can reserve in advance and sip on hot chocolate, as well as seasonal small bites.
The Palazzo Waterfall Atrium and Gardens has a festive winter display, with a massive waterfall cascading from the second floor and decorations surrounding the colorful LOVE installation by artist Laura Kimpton. There are also decorations around the hotel property, including a holiday-themed gondola. One thing that I didn’t get to try was the seasonal treats at the Bouchon Bakery, that we couldn’t find until we passed by it in our Uber going to our hotel (but now know it’s located next to the Walgreens out front in The Venetian).
The LINQ Promenade
Under the glow of the High Roller, the promenade is a great place to shop and experience holiday cheer at the Winter PARQ. This entertainment district is transformed into a Winter Wonderland, where you can get into the spirit with holiday shows at the Fountain Stage (every hour), decorations, music and snow. Hourly from 6:30-10:30pm, the Lights at the LINQ, is a light show that incorporates the High Roller and the LINQ fountains. If you want to take it all in from above, there is a zipline that goes above it all.
As one of the newest entertainment districts on The Strip, this outdoor space between the T-Mobile Arena, New York-New York, and Park MGM Las Vegas, has giant holiday light installations, food and drink selections, and seasonal entertainment. Santa makes a special guest appearance during Vegas Golden Knight home games up until Christmas. The decorations are up until December 31, 2019.
Other Christmas In Las Vegas Activities
The Strip is not the only place where you can find noteworthy holiday decorations. From other locations in the city to neighboring cities, here’s alternative things to see and do during this season.
- Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolate Factory – for a true desert Christmas, head over to this chocolate factory that features three acres of cacti with over a million twinkling lights. Runs until January 5, 2020, dusk-10pm, with special holiday hours. Admission is free and includes a factory tour.
- Mystic Falls Winter Wonderland – witness the holiday transformation of the beloved indoor park at Sam’s Town, where you will see snow-covered trees and get to peek into Santa’s workshop. There is also an impressive nine-minute laser show that is accompanied by classic Christmas carols.
- Fremont Street Experience -located in downtown, I found this area a great place to take a break from The Strip, but still experience a little bit of neon. Snap a pic with the 50-foot decorated Christmas tree and stay for the seasonal free concerts.
Weather During Christmas In Las Vegas
As mentioned above, I was surprised how cold it was during our visit. It was low 50s during the day, but factor in the wind chill and it felt much colder. During the nighttime it can easily get into the 40s or even the 30s. Make sure to bring a warm jacket, since you will be going inside and outside on The Strip. A warm hat and gloves is not a bad idea either. Also, warm, and comfortable shoes are a must since you will most likely be walking a lot (we walked 20,000 steps the first day!).
What Is Open On Christmas Day in Vegas?
All the hotels are open, as well as their restaurants, buffets, bars and casinos. Christmas in Las Vegas draws major crowds, so it’s not for the crowd-adverse. If you are planning to eat at restaurants, especially popular ones, make sure to make reservations beforehand. Hotel buffets usually increase their prices, since they feature a special Christmas dinner and usually have long-than-usual lines.
How To Get Around Las Vegas
We got around this trip using a mix of Uber/Lyft from the airport (a quick ride to The Strip), and Las Vegas Monorail to and from our hotel. Rideshare options are plentiful, and there are designated areas in each hotel. It was my first time taking the Monorail, and if you’re staying near a stop it’s a more inexpensive option since you can buy daily passes. We have also rented a car in the past when we stayed off The Strip, but wouldn’t recommend it, especially if you’re mostly going to hang out on the Strip for the holiday festivities.
Where To Stay In Las Vegas
If you prefer to be off the Strip, this hotel is great for providing an impressive amount of amenities, while not having to deal with the sensory-overload that come with being on Vegas’ most famous street. It’s nice to come back to the relative quiet every night, but still be a part of the city.
This hotel on the strip boasts high-tech rooms and plenty to do onsite, including several restaurants/cafes, spa, casino, and pool area. This is a great resort to choose if you want a lot of options onsite and not have to worry about schlepping around the Strip.
If you want to go all out, this is the hotel to book on the strip. This iconic property with the Fountains of Bellagio show out front is where you want to stay if you want to treat yourself to a classic Vegas trip, especially if you are celebrating a special occasion. On site there are top-notch restaurants, Cirque du Soleil performance, and pool and cabanas.