Editors Note: This post was updated Feb 2022 to reflect various restaurants that were listed that have since closed. We are working on updating this list with some new options.
People are fascinating to watch.
At airports, I try to guess their life stories. I wonder where they’re going; what far-off exotic destination are they traveling to or returning from? Who’s waiting for them when they get there? At the gate, I try to guess who has a first class ticket and who’ll be sitting in economy. (This is much harder than you might think.) I wonder who will be a hero in a crisis and who’s likely to create one. I also spend a lot of time coveting cute shoes and leather luggage.
People watching on the Las Vegas Strip is like nowhere else in the world. Party-loving tourists in Sin City have clearly bought into the ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ fallacy, shedding their inhibitions and putting on a free show that’s more entertaining than the Bellagio Fountains (especially late at night and early in the morning). While the wild ones are fun to watch, the well-behaved can be inspiring. They know they’re on display so they tend to dress up and show off their sense of style. Vegas is also a great place to spot celebrities. (I once saw Mario Lopez shooting a segment for Extra in front of Planet Hollywood. His dimples are even cuter in the flesh!)
Here are my picks for the best places on the Strip to eat, drink and people watch.
Mon Ami Gabi
Parisians perfected the art of people watching, sitting in picturesque cafes with their chairs turned towards the city’s Grand Boulevards and charming side streets. No surprise then that Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Las Vegas makes my list. The food is classic French Bistro (and delicious!) but it’s the patio that puts the experience over the top. In true French fashion, you can sit for hours eating Steak Frites, sipping Champagne, and watching the world go by. Added bonus: the sidewalk here is prime real estate for buskers.
Insider’s Tip: This place is always packed but unless you’re absolutely ravenous it’s worth the wait. Restaurant staff will give you a disk that vibrates to alert you when your table is ready so you’re free to pass the time wandering the casino floor while trying your luck at the slots.
Located on the 23rd floor of the ultra-luxe Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the Mandarin Bar may not seem an obvious choice for people watching. With floor-to-ceiling windows on three walls, it’s almost impossible to take your eyes off the stunning view of the Strip. The ambiance is sophisticated, the setting is fabulous, and the guests are well-heeled. (The Mandarin Oriental is also a popular choice for LGBT travelers.) Plan to arrive just after the sun goes down. Order one of their signature cocktails, admire the beautiful people and indulge in a little innocent eavesdropping before heading out on the town.
Insider’s Tip: Order The Golden Leaf, a blend of Hendricks gin, Aperol, muddled mandarin oranges, pineapple juice, fresh lime juice and house-made simple syrup. Cocktails aren’t cheap here ($18) but the view alone is worth the price.
Looking for more people watching hot spots? Check out the pedestrian-only zone on legendary Fremont Street.
This post is in partnership with Expedia Canada & Food Bloggers of Canada
Editor’s Note: OTTO is no longer at The Venetian and is permanently closed.