Las Vegas/Vegas Weekend
I'll be in Vegas Dec 28-31 for the UFC fight. I'll be staying at the Hard Rock Hotel. We don't gamble & have a Hoover dam tour booked Saturday morning. We won't have a car either. Can you suggest some things to do and places to eat? Were not fussy. Just good food at a reasonable price. Every city has that great little restaurant that visitors don't know about
Hard Rock is off the strip by about a mile to the East. It is nice and close to the airport, and has easy access to events at the Thomas and Mack Center at UNLV for shows and events. But you'll since you don't have a car, you'll need to get a cab just about anywhere you'd go. Not a big deal, cabs are everywhere. But you'll want to plan your travels a little bit or else you'll be forking over $20 every time you walk out the door.
So here are some thoughts. First off, the Hard Rock itself actually has some good restaurants and venues if you like the vibe of the place. Some people think it is pretentious and some people think its cheesy. But if you can just enjoy their style of rock, then you don't even need to leave your hotel for good eats and entertainment. They just put in a new gastropub called Culinary Dropout and it is pretty cool. I was skeptical the first time I went in there, but its a fun place with good beer and clever food. There is also a new bar called Ainsworth which has lots of sports on TV and a pretty cool atmosphere. They just opened a small stage venue called Vinyl that has local and traveling rock acts play just about every night. And I have to mention the happy hour specials at Pink Taco - from 4-7 every day you can get great Mexican food like tacos, nachos, queso and flautas for $5 each. Margaritas are $5 as well.
For restaurants outside the hotel, I just discovered a little sushi joint across the street from Hard Rock called Kaizen. Nothing fancy, but the sushi was good. They're open really late too, which can help after a night of partying. There's also a Thai restaurant not too far up the road called Lotus of Siam - it is not well known to the average tourist because it is off the beaten path, but it does get written up in foodie magazines all the time for having the best Thai food in the country. I'd also recommend Gordon Biersch, a brewpub just up the street from Hard Rock. Its not on the strip so it doesn't get the tourist traffic as much, but the food and beer are great. There's a new casual Italian place that just opened a little south of the strip called Meatball Spot that looks pretty good and is getting good reviews, although I haven't been there. And I know you are looking for hidden gems, but I have to mention two places worth checking out: First Food and Bar in the Palazzo, and Todd English PUB in the Crystals Mall. Check them out and you won't be disappointed.
For stuff to do, I'd say you might have fun just walking the strip to see the sights. Even if you don't gamble, there is plenty to gawk at in every hotel, from the Bellagio fountains to the Paris Eiffel Tower, Gondolas at Venetian and Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay. If you're looking for some off-the-strip adventure, I like to recommend Sun Buggy off-road dune buggy trips. You really drive a dune buggy out in the desert. Or, if you prefer something a little less intense, check out Casa Fuente at Caesars Palace where you can get a stiff drink and a cigar to relax with. Downtown Vegas (a.k.a. "old school" vegas) has a carnival atmosphere where you can walk around under the neon canopy and see everything from street performers to showgirls to an overhead zipline. The hotels are much smaller and more manageable in downtown Vegas, and you can duck in and out of each one in a fairly short amount of time.
So there is a lot to see and do all over town. Its hard to recommend any one thing without knowing your personal interests. I'd recommend checking out the new lasvegas.com to take a look at all the shows and attractions to see if anything interests you. And feel free to reply to this message with more questions or more specific things you'd like to do, and I will be glad to help narrow it down. But its hard NOT to have fun in Vegas.