With so many malls and outlet centers, Vegas is an easy option for Christmas shoppers. The Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian becomes a European Christmas Village, complete with fake snow. Enjoy shopping arcades in any weather with indoor malls like the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace. Indulge your inner child at the FAO Schwarz toyshop or wander the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. Luxury shoppers are spoiled with choices among the fine jewelry, fashion and cosmetics stores of the Shoppes at the Palazzo, Via Bellagio and the Wynn Esplanade.
Las Vegas celebrates Christmas in its usual flamboyant style. Enjoy the extravagant décor at the Bellagio or the giant trees lit up in front of Caesar's Palace. Walk under faux mistletoe, through fake snow and past smiling bargirls in Santa hats and slot machines playing holiday jingles. The streets and restaurants are less crowded at this time of year.
Although Vegas is a city of sensual indulgence at any time of year, the Christmas and New Year period takes it to the next level. Some buffets offer special extras like Christmas pudding and holiday desserts, and high-end restaurants pile oysters and champagne on to the prix fixe menus. Check for the seasonal special when reserving your table.
Many hotels and casinos in Vegas put on special performances and shows for the Christmas season. Head over to one of the handful of Tickets 4 Tonight locations to get half-priced tickets for a holiday concert. Youth orchestras perform Christmas favorites for free, while the Nevada Ballet presents their annual Nutcracker Ballet on the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus in December.
A winter vacation in Las Vegas is the best time of year to get outside and soak up the eye-popping landscape of desert and rock under a crystal-clear sky. Put on your hiking boots and climb the natural rock formations of Red Rock Canyon. The educational hike through the gardens and desert trails of the Springs Preserve can be topped off with a carriage ride, a visit to Santa or an amble among the festive lights. The Ethel M Chocolate Factory festoons its cactus garden in Christmas decorations.
If you're looking for a way to ring in the New Year in style, book a room early as Las Vegas hotels fill up quickly. For the big night, choose from dancing girls at the bar of Coyote Ugly to the more classic parties at the Mirage or the Venetian. Sometimes, the Las Vegas Strip is closed to traffic to let the festivities spill out onto the streets. There's always a party downtown at the Fremont Street Experience. It starts early with musical acts on the two stages and ends with a fireworks show.