Shopping in Las Vegas: a mall guide

by Julia Buckley

A breakdown of the many malls that Las Vegas has to offer.

Via Bellagio

3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 888 987 6667,

Even grander than the Bellagio casino, despite the fact that the shops here are situated on the walkway between the Bellagio and Caesars Palace. These are all designer shops: Armani, Bottega Veneta, Dior, Chanel, and the rest. Luckily, it’s not as intimidating to shop here as it can be in designer districts in Europe – although some salespeople can take some warming up, they won’t turn their noses up at you if you go there in shorts. Or, at least, once you convince them you’re a potential buyer they won’t. Always look for the sale racks – most stores have them most of the year round.

Town Square

6605 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 702 269 5000,

Thanks to its easy parking and location right off the two main freeways, this is where the locals go to shop, and if you fancy the ride (it’s about three miles down Las Vegas Boulevard from Tropicana Avenue – you can get there on the Deuce bus) it’s a very pleasant experience. High street labels (Express, American Eagle, Gap, Old Navy) are arranged around a pretty square and surrounding streets with restaurants and bars in between (Blue Martini is probably the most popular locals’ bar in Vegas). There’s also the high-end beauty supermarket Sephora (sign up for the loyalty scheme here, it’s generous on earning points) and an Apple Store, which is usually gloriously un-busy. Before you leave Town Square, make sure you check out what deals the Tix4Tonight booth has for shows for that evening.


3720 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 702 590 9299,

The newest and flashiest mall in Vegas, Crystals technically opened in December 2009 with the rest of the CityCenter complex, but its stores have taken a long time to fill – the Prada only opened this October. Everything’s designer, but the architecture makes it worth a visit even if you’re not feeling flush – it’s a fantastic space with sculptures and art installations in between the shops, restaurants and even a nightclub (Eve, owned by actress Eva Longoria).

Miracle Mile

3663 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 702 866 0703,

Miracle Mile has a confusing layout – it’s basically a semicircle around Planet Hollywood, but everything looks so similar it’s hard to tell which side you’re on – and mobile phone reception is sketchy. Despite its flaws (it’s also always heaving with people), it’s one of my favourite places to go. There’s a great range of things to do, from restaurants and bars (like the Las Vegas Brewing Company, which makes its own beers, or the Stripper Bar, where waitresses pole dance in between serving drinks) to theatres and nightclubs – Vegas’ most popular gay club, Krave, is situated here, as well as the V Theater, which has a huge amount of shows and the new Saxe Theater, which is home to one of my favourite productions, Vegas! The Show.

In between all those, of course, are the shops. Although there’s nothing too high-end, there’s a good mix of high street and individual boutiques, such as the quirky Bettie Page, which stocks 50s-style dresses designed locally. There are some good, cheap souvenir shops too.

The Forum Shops

3570 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 702 731 7110,

Whether or not you like shopping, you can’t leave Vegas without a trip to the Forum Shops, attached to Caesars Palace (enter through the casino or via their separate entrance). The mall is splendidly ridiculous in its design – all faux marble corridors with classical(ish) statues at every turn, including some that perform a water show on the hour. And if that doesn’t get you going, the mix of attractions will do – from souvenir shops through high street (the largest US branch of H&M is due to open before the year is out) to high-end labels such as DKNY. Ladies, there’s also a good MAC store here for all your makeup needs, as well as some good restaurants.

The Grand Canal Shoppes

3377 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 702 414 4500,

As the name suggests, the Grand Canal Shoppes are part of the Venetian – they actually link the hotel to the Palazzo next door. They’re absolutely glorious to meander through – “Venetian” streets, lit by fake sunlight and complete with canals and gondolas – but I still find them incredibly confusing to navigate, so make sure you know where you’re going first.

The shops are mainly high-end – the Barney’s here makes a great one stop shop for designer and upscale threads – but the atmosphere makes it perfect for window shopping. There are also a couple of great independent shops – Bauman Rare Books, which sells pricey first editions – and Annie Creamcheese, which has a fab selection of vintage clothes at reasonable prices on the Palazzo side.

But the best thing about the Grand Canal Shops is the relaxation potential. When you get tired, you can either grab a gelato in the fake St Mark’s Square or hop into a gondola to take the weight off your feet. This is definitely one of those “only in Vegas” experiences.

Fashion Show Mall

3200 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 702 369 8382,

Another mall that’s popular with locals, I find it fairly boring because it’s laid out as a standard mall, with none of the craziness of the Forum Shops or the Grand Canal Shoppes. However, there are superb shopping opportunities for the high-to-mid-range budget, with a big Macy’s, Nordstrom, French Connection (which has a seemingly permanent sale rack), Zara and Gap. It's also home to a new, huge store of my favourite cheap US brand, Forever 21. There are some nice bars outside, too – I like the margaritas at Mexican joint El Segundo Sol.

Wynn Esplanade

3131 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 702 321 9966,

More high end shops, this time courtesy of the Wynn, where they’re situated. Labels run the gamut from Jimmy Choo to Alexander McQueen, but what’s nice about them is that they work together on marketing offers and special deals which means they often come up with pretty sweet offers. Last summer, for instance, all the shops collaborated on a mammonth Wynn Esplanade sale, which had unbelievable bargains, and they’ll often team up for shopping events and special occasions (they had great deals across the board for the release of Sex and the City 2).

Las Vegas Premium Outlets

875 South Grand Central Parkway, 702 474 7500,

Ah, that staple of holiday shopping – the outlet centre. This one, north of the Strip at Charleston Blvd is always packed but there’s a good range of shops, from Calvin Klein and Lucky Brand to Ralph Lauren and Dolce & Gabbana, and discounts are always pretty good – I know someone (on a performer’s budget) who scored a $2500 D&G suit this summer for $500.

If you have a car, or if you’re considering spending so much that a taxi would be worth it, the place I always go for discount clothes is Nordstrom Rack in Henderson (9851 South Eastern Avenue, 702 948 2121). It’s a store full of cast-offs from the posh Nordstrom department store at Fashion Show Mall, and although you have to go burrowing – jeans are displayed by designer but everything else is lumped in by type of clothing, you can get some incredible discounts. My best has been an $400 Tory Burch dress for $70, but I have a friend who always boasts about a $500 outfit she scored for $15.

If you’re travelling to or from Los Angeles, there’s another pretty good outlet centre at Primm, on the Nevada-California border, about 40 minutes from the Strip. Shops are slightly lower-end, including Banana Republic, American Eagle and Coach.

And another possibility for discounted clothing is Ross – there’s one branch up on the northern Strip by the Riviera, but a more central branch opened this autumn right on the Strip, beside the Hard Rock Café, just north of MGM Grand (3001 Las Vegas Boulevard South, 702 731 3361). They sell various brands at discount prices, and although you have to sift through a lot of dross, there’s some good stuff hidden underneath – Calvin Klein dresses from $30, for example.

Where to stay

You can see my full list of recommendations here – Las Vegas Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in Las Vegas.

You can also read advice on Shopping in Las Vegas.

Julia Buckley

I edit VegasChatter, Conde Nast’s Vegas blog, and work as a freelance journalist for newspapers such as the Sunday Times, Mail on Sunday, Guardian, News of the World and various websites and magazines.

Ironically, I’d never had any interest in going to Vegas but when I took a road trip across America last summer, I thought I may as well pop by for three days. Ten days later, I forced myself back on the road, obsessed about Vegas all the way across America, and was over the moon when, somewhere in Mississippi, I found out that the newspaper that I worked for was to be closed down. Instead of looking for another job in London, I came home, packed up my stuff, and caught a plane back to Vegas to start life as a freelance.

My Vegas

Where I always grab a coffee: On the terrace at Serendipity 3. The service is great, the views of the Strip are spectacular, and if I’m tempted to grab some food, too, I have a two foot high menu to choose from.

My favourite stroll: The Moenkopi loop at Red Rock Canyon. It’s a short two mile trail from the Visitor Centre and back, across desert land and up onto a limestone bluff that was once a seabed millions of years ago. There’s hardly anyone there, the views are extraordinary, and you feel completely disconnected from the craziness of Vegas. When it’s not too hot, I’m there every day.

Fiction for inspiration: There are many, of course, but my favourite is probably Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S Thompson – it really encapsulates the spirit of the city and the freedom it unleashes in people (you don’t have to be on a shedload of drugs to relate to this!). I’m also really fond of Divas Las Vegas, by Belinda Jones – it’s a fun chicklit book, and although I’m not usually into that genre at all, I have yet to find a better introduction to the city - she used to live here and her love for the place is really infectious.

Where to be seen: Encore Beach Club – the private pool at the Encore hotel (even guests have to pay to get in) was the biggest opening this summer, and it’s still the place to be seen. If you’d rather go out at night, rather than lounge by a pool, you’ll be pleased to know that at nighttime they open up an adjacent room and turn it into a poolside nightclub called Surrender. It’s definitely where all the cool kids are going this year.

The most breathtaking view: On the way back from the Hoover Dam (or the Grand Canyon) on the 515 highway from Boulder City, there’s a point, as you swing round past Henderson (a suburb of Vegas) where the Strip, with the mountains behind it, suddenly comes into view. It makes my eyes prickle every time – and as you get closer, switching onto the 215 west, the views only get better.

The best spot for peace and quiet: The gardens at the Flamingo Las Vegas – and no, you don’t have to be a guest to enjoy them, as you can walk straight in. Lots of grass, plenty of nooks, and bright pink flamingos stalking by.

Shopaolics beware: I spend far too much time at Nordstrom Rack, the cut price outlet version of the posh department store, Nordstrom. It’s a 20 minute drive from the Strip in the suburb of Henderson, but if you buy a few things, it’s worth the taxi ride or the cost of the car hire. I’m also addicted to America’s Primark, Century 21 – the new flagship store in Fashion Show Mall is like a second home to me, and prices are so low that my credit card barely registers my presence there.

City soundtrack: So many options! To remind me of Vegas as I like it (laid back but elegant), anything by Frank Sinatra. And if you want to experience the thriving rock music scene here, you can’t do better than The Killers.

Don’t leave without… Going into the desert, and seeing a show. It doesn’t matter if you’re not sporty, or you don’t like musicals – the desert will floor you, and the shows are so infectious you can’t not love them. My favourite at the moment is Vegas! The Show at the Miracle Mile mall.