Most Surprising Things About Las Vegas From a New Yorker

  • As a New Yorker visiting Las Vegas for the first time, there were many things that surprised me.
  • There are so many activities to enjoy, like incredible circus performances and magic shows.
  • The elaborate food is an experience and thrilling outdoor adventures are worth it.

Las Vegas is known for its casinos, but there’s so much more to the city.

As a New Yorker visiting the bright lights of Vegas for the first time, here are the things that surprised me:

The hotels are an experience, not just a place to crash

Bellagio hotel exterior and interior.


Both the exterior and interior of the Bellagio are grand.

Jessica Kelly

It seems like every hotel has an intense theme, but for my first time in Vegas, I stayed at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino, known for its famous fountain show.

During the pandemic, various sections of the hotel were renovated. The rooms were comfortable with astonishing views.

The resort had huge pools centered around towering fountains where I could rent a chair, grab an iced coffee or a cocktail, and cool off. Across from the pool, there was an art gallery and shops to explore.

Bellagio atrium with flower-filled sculpture.


The Bellagio is home to beautiful sculptures.

Jessica Kelly

I felt like I was in Tulum rather than Nevada. The lobby even had colorful blown glass all over the ceiling in front of the atrium filled with gorgeous flowers and statues.

I always thought you had to be a gambler to enjoy Vegas, but the shows are amazing

Shin Lim in Las Vegas.


Shin Lim has a new show along the Vegas Strip.

Jessica Kelly

There were so many live-entertainment options in Vegas.

The Jabbawockeez from NBC’s America’s Got Talent” and MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew” have their own exciting performance on the Strip.

Cirque du Soleil is apparently also iconic in the world of Vegas entertainment and one of their newest shows “O,” takes place right in the Bellagio on a stage full of water.

I was also shocked by Shin Lim’s card show — it made me want to go buy a magic kit on Amazon.

The Las Vegas food scene is really impressive and the special dining experiences are worth it 

Brunch at Sadelle's and The Mayfair Supper CLub.


From brunch at Sadelle’s to dining at the Mayfair Supper Club, the food options were worth every trip.

Jessica Kelly

Las Vegas isn’t necessarily known for its food, but I was totally blown away by what I ate.

At Sadelle’s, everything is made from scratch, including delicious cream-cheese danishes, sticky buns, strawberry cakes, bagels, house-smoked salmon, and more.

Drinks and desserts at the Mayfair.


Enjoy drinks and desserts like chocolate cigars at the Mayfair Supper Club.

Jessica Kelly

The Mayfair Supper Club has a stage in the middle of the dining room with phenomenal live performers. From edible gold leaf and caviar on Wagyu rolls to chocolate cigars with pear and hazelnut, the food was extravagant.

Dumplings at Din Tai Fung.


The dumplings at Din Tai Fung are made by hand.

Jessica Kelly

At the new Taiwanese restaurant Din Tai Fung at ARIA, I watched dumplings be made by hand through a window. And the eatery’s unbelievable chocolate dumplings and steam buns have been stuck in my head for months.

Renting a car is totally worth it for a day even though a lot of people told me it wouldn’t be 

Fountain at Bellagio Hotel Pool.


Renting a cat at the Bellagio was worth every penny.

Jessica Kelly

I was in town for a few days and after a few price-inflated $30 Ubers on the Vegas Strip, I was scared to see what it would cost to get to some farther destinations.

But, much to my surprise, renting a car only cost me $75 for a day and I got to visit so many cool destinations, like the Hoover Dam and Red Rocks.

I got to do so much more than I would’ve for way less and parking was a breeze when necessary.

The famous welcome sign is even cooler and less crowded during the day

The "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign at night.


The famous sign looks even better at golden hour.

Jessica Kelly

The sign is located at the end of the Vegas Strip, so it’s a bit difficult to walk to especially if the weather soars above 100° Fahrenheit.

Luckily, you can take a drive or ride-share to capture some photos with the famous Las Vegas sign.

Of course, it’s beautifully lit up at night, but crowds swarm around it. You’ll get better photos during the day or — even better — at golden hour.

The Seven Magic Mountains are worth visiting and are even more impressive in real life

Freelancer jessica kelly at the seven magic mountains.


Try visiting the rocks at sunset.

Jessica Kelly

I wasn’t sure if the drive out to see the Seven Magic Mountains art installation would be worth it, but I quickly found out it was. It’s also very easy to get to right off the road.

This desert art installation features seven large colorful, painted rock stacks towering around 35 feet. The artist, Ugo Rondinone, did a fabulous job bringing these rocks to life with vibrant colors.

I definitely recommend going at sunset.

Downtown Container Park is actually full of music, art, food, and boutique vendors, not cheesy gift shops and tourist traps

The praying mantis sculpture at Downtown Container Park.


The sculpture at Downtown Container Park is larger than life.

Jessica Kelly

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw a giant sculpture of a praying mantis outside of the Downtown Container Park.

To my surprise, the open-air center is filled with boutique shops and eateries. Definitely check it out to do a bit of shopping and to support local businesses.

There’s much more to do in Vegas than I thought

Views from the strip.


Vegas has more to offer than gambling, like views from the Strip.

Jessica Kelly

Vegas has always been on my list but I was never sure I’d have fun since I’m not a huge drinker or gambler.

Of course, if you do enjoy those things, there is plenty to do all throughout this trip, but it’s completely possible to have a great time full of nature, adventure, and unique experiences in Las Vegas, minus the killer hangover.

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