Art
Meow Wolf’s Guide to Las Vegas
From eats to arts, this is your ultimate guide to Vegas
BY
Krista Diamond
November 10, 2021

Casinos beckon you to indulge in the neon pleasures of the Strip. Supposedly hip insiders warn you to stay away. So who is right? The answer is both. If you want to truly experience Las Vegas, you must embrace its cliches (gambling, showgirls, champagne) along with its lesser-celebrated assets (nature, art, history). Here’s how to do just that:

Eats

an illustration of thick yellow pasta in a turquoise bowl. Some pasta hangs from a fork and “Eats” is written in large bold letters under the bowl.


Other Mama

Hidden in a strip mall (like many great things in Las Vegas), this vaguely nautical hideout on the west side of town serves shareable small plates with a focus on seafood. Get the spicy tuna tartare and waffle fries—a combination you did not realize has been missing from your life.


Esther’s Kitchen

An image of a dark wood wall with “Esther’s Kitchen” written in glowing neon letters.
Photo of Esther’s Kitchen courtesy of Flickr


When people talk about good food in the Arts District, they’re usually talking about Esther’s Kitchen. Make  reservation at this minimalist Italian restaurant and get ready for homemade pasta, sourdough pizza, and charcuterie.


Gabi

Hidden behind an unmarked door in Chinatown, Gabi is a fairytale-like Korean coffee shop with fittingly colorful desserts, tea service, and decor that would make Alice in Wonderland jealous.


PublicUs

An image of a bright, open coffee shop. 2 baristas in the foreground make coffee while some patrons stand in line and others sit at tables talking. This photo was taken pre-COVID-19 so staff and patrons are unmasked
Photo of PublicUs courtesy of Flickr

Venture east on Fremont Street (yep, just a little bit further) and you’ll find the coolest coffee shop in Las Vegas. The scene is lively and sun-soaked, and the menu—which includes chimichurri steak and eggs, shakshuka, and spicy bourbon fried chicken—is the real deal.


Best Friend

Roy Choi’s spot at Park MGM brings the best of Los Angeles to Las Vegas. The neon-soaked, plant-filled dining room is extremely cool. Order something from the LA Sh*t menu, which includes elote, short rib tacos, and charred carrots.


Mayfair Supper Club

An image of a lit stage with an African American singer sitting in the center. She’s sitting on a table with her legs crossed, her mouth open, mid-song. She’s wearing a silver sparkly silver dress, with large shoulder pads and fringes hanging down her arms. Her silver boots alone shine in the dark orange light. Behind her is a band, with one person sitting in a chair on stage while another plays guitar
Photo of Mayfair Supper Club courtesy of Flickr

From the musicians and dancers to tableside prime rib carving and mignardises served in music boxes, everything at Mayfair Supper Club is a production in the best way. The immersive dining experience is worth the hefty price tag—and the view of the Bellagio Fountains doesn’t hurt.  



Drinks

an illustration of a brown and tan tiki-themed cup. A slice of pineapple, a green leaf and an umbrella stick out from the top of the cup. “Drinks” is written in large bold letters under the cup.


Golden Tiki

An image of various wooden signs and crates inside of the Golden Tiki. Some directional signs pointing to the left of the image read “Golden Tiki,” “Pirates Lair,” “Skull Island,” and “Diamond Fall” while artifacts and empty alcohol bottles are stacked on the boxes that touch the ceiling.
Photo of Golden Tiki courtesy of Flickr

Set sail at this otherworldly Chinatown tiki bar, where the ceiling is made of twinkling stars,  cocktails are served in pineapples, and foul-mouthed animatronic parrots provide commentary.


Rosina

This Gatsby-esque art deco cocktail lounge at the Palazzo is where you want to be if you’re looking for old-fashioned cocktails like Airmails and Gimlets. There’s also a champagne call button, which is kind of the most Vegas thing ever.


Ghost Donkey

Ghost Donkey is a string light-adorned mezcal speakeasy at the Cosmopolitan. Look for the green door with the donkey on it, and you’re in.


Atomic Liquors

An image of Atomic Liquors, with the name written on the side of the building in large white letters. A brightly lit sign reads “Liquor and Cocktails.”
Photo of Atomic Liquors courtesy of Flickr

True story: In the 50’s, people used to climb on the roof of this Downtown watering hole and watch atomic bombs explode in the desert. These days, it’s popping off inside, where craft beer and cocktails are always in style.


ReBAR

Part antique shop, part bar, ReBAR is your Arts District destination for craft cocktails and your next great vintage find.


Sand Dollar Lounge

This blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bar just so happens to be one of the best live music venues in Vegas. The setting is no-frills but the cocktails are surprisingly fancy, as is the pizza.


Arts

an illustration of a rectangle divided into 6 pieces, each containing different line drawings, some straight and square, others edgy and incomplete. In the top, far-right square, there is a small shape containing orange, yellow, green, blue and purple streaks. In the center, a thick letter “Z” that resembles a lightning bolt is shaded in with turquoise, pink and white.  “Arts” is written in large bold letters under the illustration


Arts Factory Las Vegas

Step inside this rainbow building in the Arts District and see artists at work in their studios plus live theater events. First Friday is the best evening to visit, but Preview Thursday the night prior offers a less crowded experience.


Street Art

Take a self-guided tour of Downtown and the Arts District and see murals and installations. One highlight is Felipe Pantone’s 3D mural on 7th Street and Ogden Avenue, which uses a prismatic lightning strike to thrilling effect.


Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art

An image of a wide art gallery space. Art is hung on the walls on the far left side of the image and guests roam the room. In the center, there is a wall that reads “89 XXX Hibition” in large black print. Underneath the name of the exhibition, it reads “A Reconnaissance into Las Vegas Community"
Photo of Majorie Barrick Museum of Art courtesy of Flickr


Just east of the Strip at UNLV, this underrated art museum offers free admission and a rotating collection of pieces with a Southern Nevada focus.


Akhob James Turrell Installation

Available only by appointment (slots book super early, FYI), this secret immersive light installation is hidden above the Louis Vuitton store at City Center on the Strip.


Seven Magic Mountains

An image of 7 tall towers made of large, colorful rocks. The sky is dark blue as the sun sets behind the mountains.
Photo courtesy of Seven Magic Mountains

In the no man’s land desert 10 miles south of Vegas, towering stacks of technicolor boulders appear off of I-15. This is Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains, a once-temporary installation that has become a road trip landmark.


Stays

an illustration of a light tan hotel that reads “El Cortez” on both sides with a large sign on top of the build that also reads “El Cortez” in cursive and “Hotel” just below it. Next to that, there’s a large directional sign that reads “Gambling” and “Stays” is written in large bold letters under the illustration.


El Cortez

Stay among Downtown Las Vegas history at the El Cortez, the longest-running hotel in the city. From the smoky casino to the 24-hour restaurant where you can order shrimp cocktail at 3 a.m., El Cortez is quintessential retro Vegas.

Palace Station

Located less than a mile from AREA15 and Meow Wolf, Palace Station is a locally-loved hotel and casino. Don’t miss the tiny Oyster Bar on the casino floor, which is known for its late-night $1 oyster specials.


Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

A ground view image of the looming Cosmopolitan Hotel that glows brightly in the night. An advertisement for Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub takes up the large, purple LED screen the spans the entire side of the hotel.
Photo of The Cosmopolitan courtesy of Flickr

Sparkling, seductive, and just a little bit weird, the Cosmopolitan has sky-high rooms with outdoor terraces plus tons of art throughout the resort. Look for digital displays in the lobby and vintage cigarette machines turned into art dispensers.


Adventures

an illustration of a brown tree with lush green foliage sprouting from the top. The tree is surrounded by light pink and green bushes. “Adventures” is written in large bold letters under the illustration.


Red Rock Canyon

An image of an expansive landscape with Red Rock mountains in the distance. Thick white and gray clouds take up the majority of the sky.
Photo of Red Rock Mountains courtesy of Flickr

Explore a world of Aztec sandstone just a half-hour from the Strip at Red Rock Canyon. This national conservation area offers a 13-mile scenic drive, hiking trails, and some of the best rock climbing in the country.


Mt. Charleston

Visiting Vegas in the summer? Escape the sweltering heat at Mt. Charleston where the alpine air is cool at 7,000+ feet. Go for a hike, spot wild horses, and come back in the winter when the ski resort at Lee Canyon opens (yes, there’s really a ski resort in Las Vegas).


Lake Mead

A wide image of a blue Lake Mead surrounded by small islands of land and desert mountains in the background.
Photo of Lake Mead courtesy of Flickr

Drive east to Boulder City, and Lake Mead appears like a heavenly blue apparition. The national recreation area is perfect for kayaking, beach lounging, hiking, house boating, and bighorn sheep spotting.


Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire is a Nevada state park that lives up to its awesome name. Head here for crimson cliffs, camping, hiking, petroglyphs, and more. Don’t miss St.Thomas, a ghost town that was submerged beneath the waters of Lake Mead until a recent drought brought it back to dry land.


Attractions

an illustration of several iconic Vegas signs. The word “Hi” is written in the bottom right hand corner. A horse shoe behind it reads “casino.” A cactus sits in front of a pyramid that resembles an Egyptian pyramid. To the right of the cactus, there’s a pole with stars jutting off in every direction and a large “S” with white lights.  “Attractions” is written in large bold letters under the illustration.


Neon Museum

A bright image of the Neon graveyard. The old Vegas sign at the forefront of the image reads “Stardust” in bright orange with some of the light bulbs from each of the letters missing.
Photo of Neon Museum courtesy of Flickr

This outdoor museum serves as a final resting place for retired neon signs. Opt for a guided tour to hear the stories behind them. The after-dark Brilliant! experience projects lights onto old signs to bring them back to life.


Erotic Heritage Museum

Four words: world’s largest erotic bike. This sex-positive museum manages to be comprehensive and all-inclusive without taking itself too seriously.


Mob Museum

An image of the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement at dusk. The large square building is covered in white and purple light. Signs that read “The Mob Museum” are written on banners that stretch from the center of the building towards the top.
Photo courtesy of Mob Museum

Located in a former courthouse Downtown, the Mob Museum offers an in-depth look at all forms of organized crime. While here, slip into the basement speakeasy for live jazz and moonshine.


Burlesque Hall of Fame

An homage to feathers, tassels, and fishnets, this Arts District museum is dedicated to preserving the history of burlesque. See costumes and props—or consider taking a class.

Pinball Hall of Fame

Think of it as a nostalgic alternative to slot machines. The Pinball Hall of Fame houses a huge collection of pinball machines with some dating back to the 50’s—and yes, you can play them all.

Sin City Smash

Work through your aggression at this rage room, where you can smash stuff, splatter paint, and throw axes.

Sigma Derby

Bet on the ponies at the D Casino, where you’ll find the only remaining Sigma Derby in the city. This intricately-designed miniature version of a horse racing track allows you to bet your quarters on your favorite competitor.

Shops


an illustration of a light tan building with light green windows on the right side. In the center, there are approximately 77 small light green squares and written across them is a sign that reads “Writer’s Block Bookshop.” “Shops” is written in large bold letters under the illustration.



The Writer’s Block

A haven for bibliophiles awaits just steps away from Fremont Street at The Writer’s Block. Here you’ll find an independent bookstore/coffee shop/artificial bird sanctuary. Check the calendar for readings and book club nights.

Neon Cactus Vintage

This quirky local shop at Fergusons Downtown (a destination in its own right) sells vintage apparel and beautifully-crafted stained glass.

Antique Alley Mall

From tiki mugs to ashtrays from dearly departed casinos, you can find all sorts of treasures at this 12,000 square-foot antique mall in the Arts District.

Performances

an illustration of a light tan woman with large, pinky and curly hair. She wears a light green dress, with sleeves that hang from her outstretched arms and a large white necklace. “Performances” is written in large bold letters under the illustration.


Majestic Repertory Theatre

Immersive doesn’t even begin to describe this Arts District company. Take, for example, their holiday season performance of Krampus, which brought small audiences to a dinner party gone demonically wrong at an actual Downtown area residence. From an interactive 70’s era production of Measure for Measure to an opera about the Manson Family, Majestic Rep keeps it interesting.

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Learn more about the writer, Krista Diamond

Learn more about the illustrator, Abbie Ren

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