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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips. 

Vegas is nonstop, even during a global pandemic. True, there was a short period in spring 2020 when the Strip went silent, but for the better part of the last year the cranes have still been plenty active. In fact, you may not even recognize the skyline thanks to the addition of three new high-profile resorts in 2021, a gargantuan new entertainment complex, plus one shiny new football stadium. Ready to bet on Vegas again? Here’s what’s new in 2021.

RELATED: 10 things every Vegas visitor should do at least once.

Resorts

Virgin Hotels Las Vegas

We like Virgin hotels because they make you feel like you’re part of a stylish members-only club (though all are welcome). There’s much to like about the Vegas addition. Restaurant newcomers include LA imports Afters Ice Cream and beloved Thai joint Night + Market, plus bustling Mexican cantina Casa Calavera (see below) which opens onto the swimming pool and Events Lawn. The Commons Bar is pure Vegas lounge vibes (including an ivory tickler) and is already hopping as is the adjacent Shag Room whose tented areas boast a chic (or should we say Sheikh?) Arabian energy. Dip into the photo booth for a free digital download with your entire crew.
PRO TIP If you’re a LGBTQIA traveler, the Virgin is located just one block from the so-called “Fruit Loop” a strip of LGBTQIA-owned bars and businesses including QUADZ, Freezone and Piranha Nightclub.

Book the New Virgin Hotels Las Vegas here!

Circa


We hung out at Circa on a weeknight in sleepy February and the joint was downright slammin’. And why shouldn’t it be? The first ground-up development to hit Downtown Las Vegas in decades opened in winter in the beating heart of Fremont Street and is the new epicenter of DTLV’s energetic scene. It boasts all the Vegas requisites like steakhouse Barry’s Downtown Prime, casual and yummy Asian eatery 8 East and outdoor food truck Project BBQ. Its most braggy feature though is Stadium Swim, a year-round series of six pools that are tiered just like at a sporting arena, includes a staff of 115 and is open until 11pm nightly (a rarity in Vegas).
PRO TIP Parking in DTLV just got a whole lot easier thanks to Circa’s mega parking facility Garage Mahal. You’ll pay a few extra bucks, but it’s hundie percent worth it thanks to the central location, squeaky clean digs, and ample spaces.

Resorts World Las Vegas

This one’s so huge that even though it doesn’t swing open its doors until June 24, we just have to mention it. Occupying a long-vacant 88-acre lot next to Circus-Circus and kitty corner to the Wynn, Asian-themed Resorts World Las Vegas will feature 3,500 guestrooms, 24,000-square foot food hall Famous Foods Street Eats, bubbly bar Gatsby’s Cocktail Lounge, Ayu Dayclub and Zouk Nightclub, Chinese eatery RedTail, and numerous different Hilton hotel towers including a Conrad and super-swank Crockfords.
PRO TIP Resorts World is landing right across the street from Peppermill, a legendary old-school joint that is open 24 hours and famous for its vintage vibe and tropical drinks. Don’t miss it!

 

Things to do

Allegiant Stadium

Photo: Jason Heidemann

Ready to pledge allegiance to Allegiant Stadium? You will once you hear the crowd roar at this 65,000+ seat stunner that is the new home to the Las Vegas Raiders (Sorry, Oakland). Garth Brooks will kick things off in July at this architectural eye-popper near Mandalay Bay and featuring fabulous Strip views, a retractable natural turf field, and the giant Al Davis Memorial Torch.
PRO TIP Book a stadium tour. This 75-minute, peek-a-boo look at the new stadium offers hungry fans everything they want including the chance to hang in the locker rooms of both the players and the Raiderettes, podium selfies in the press room, a chance to run around on the field, and so much more. Worth every penny.

AREA15

Photo: Courtesy of AREA15

An inversion of Area51, the highly classified Nevada air force facility and supposed home to UFOs and aliens, this mega-sized entertainment complex offers 200,000-square-feet of 4D experiences, immersive art, arcade games, a full-service restaurant, and so much more. Sante Fe-based art collective Meow Wolf has already opened its interactive playground-within-a-playground Omega Mart, plus there’s mind-bending Wink World, flight simulator Birdly, hang-glide and free-fall hybrid Haley’s Comet, vintage video game and pinball thrills at Emporium Arcade Bar, live DJs, a weekly drag extravaganza and honestly, tons more.
PRO TIP You’ll probably want to spend a few hours here and the only savory food option is full-service Beast by Todd English. Either arrive with a full stomach or make advance reservation at Beast.

Restaurants and bars

BRERA Osteria

Photo: Courtesy of the Venetian


We thought this new addition to St. Mark’s Square at the Venetian was going to cost an arm and a leg; instead it’s offers simple and unfussy Northern Italian cuisine like excellent wood-fired pizzas, a crunchy and delicious charred cauliflower, and an oft-ordered tiramisu. It will strike a familiar note for visiting Californians familiar with sister eatery Brera Ristorante in Downtown Los Angeles.
PRO TIP Couples should ask to be sat at one of the Parisian-style bistro tables where the chairs are arranged to overlook the Square.

The SIlver Stamp
We love this newly opened Arts District beer bar which looks like something straight out of That ’70’ Show including wood-paneled walls, Christmas lights, and wall of beer cans. It’s strictly beer, wine and canned cocktails (which are pretty great) including about two dozen beers on tap and beer flights. Also, if you’re wondering where the city’s entrepreneurial and creative class hangs out, this is it.
PRO TIP Order the deviled egg. It’s a Midwest classic and tastes better than it sounds, we promise! Also, arrive early on weekends.

Main Street Provisions

Photo: Jason Heidemann

If you’re not spending at least one night in the Arts District (located right between downtown and the Strip) you’re not doing Vegas right. This winsome newcomer opened just before the pandemic’s dreadful winter wave. But with summer in sight, it’s now open both indoors and out and features New American eats, locally sourced artwork on the walls, an innovative composting program with a local farm, and bartenders who will happily whisper in your ear all the best places to go in the ‘hood.
PRO TIP Visit on the first Friday of the month when galleries stay open late and all of Main Street becomes a rowdy street party. Also, order the pop ‘n’ cherry semifreddo pie for desert. Dang.

Casa Calavera

Free-flowing margaritas, cheap and cheerful Mexican staples and a Mariachi-version of the Abbey Road medley… seriously, what’s not to love? We predict this all-day hangout and cantina is going to become a centerpiece of the new Virgin Hotels. It doesn’t hurt that the restaurant’s patio spills right onto the pool or that its chips and salsa are completely crave-worthy
PRO TIP Come 3-6pm daily for Mi Casa Su Casa happy hour. Even on a Monday, the joint was jammed!

 

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Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is a Lead Content Specialist for Expedia Group, and manages content initiatives across numerous Expedia-owned brands. His work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Time Out, the Huffington Post, Chicago Magazine, Passport and many others.

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