We know you’ve graduated from walking around with a boozy slushie in a souvenir plastic guitar cup, but chances are you haven’t cracked the code for getting your money’s worth out of the reverse ATM that Sin City often feels like. You don’t have to be a whale or even a high roller to be a victor in Vegas. The trick is to treat it as industry insiders do—you know, the people who profit from the whales and high rollers but still know how to have a good time on their own dime.
Catch a free show at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at the Cosmopolitan, where an over-the-top dinner comes complete with live performances in a Baz Luhrmann–like dinner-club setting (think Cirque du Soleil–level talent without the sticker shock). Head to downtown’s Container Park, a complex of shops, restaurants and bars where the city’s new creative and tech classes (e.g., Zappos wunderkinder) go to get down on weekend nights. Eat like a pro at Kabuto Edomae Sushi in Vegas’s Chinatown off Spring Mountain Road, where you’ll likely bump into a top casino chef on his night off. You’d be wise to book a room at the brand-spanking-new (read: untrashed) super-luxe SLS casino and hotel. This pleasure palace resets the bar for debauchery and dining: It’s home to three clubs (Foxtail, LiFE and the Sayers Club Las Vegas—sister to the Hollywood hot spot); everyone’s favorite, Umami Burger; and Bazaar Meat by José Andrés, a carnivore’s Valhalla. Have a classic nightcap (if you need it) at the intimate Monkey Bar.