With Golf/Gambling Buddies
129 East Fremont, Las Vegas, NV; 800-634-3454. Rooms: $59-$119.
It's downtown, but nonetheless one of the best upscale hotels in town. Check out the 61-pound pure-gold nugget inside and the dazzling Fremont Street Experience light show outside at night. The Golden Nugget is among a handful of hotels to be awarded four diamonds by AAA, putting it in the same class as Bellagio on the Strip. The upscale Stefano's restaurant serves Northern Italian fare, while Lillie Langtry's offers traditional Szechuan and Cantonese dishes.
The Regent Las Vegas
221 North Rampart Blvd., Las Vegas, NV; 877-869-8777. Rooms: $159 and up; Suites: $500 and up.
If you want to get away from the hubbub of the Strip, this north Vegas hotel is adjacent to four of the city's most popular golf courses (the TPCs at The Canyons and Summerlin, and the Angel Park municipal tracks). One of its towers, known as The Palm, has a European feel; the other, known as The Spa, has a California motif. Other hotel amenities include data ports, Web TV, Jacuzzis, the Aquae Sulis Spa, an Irish pub with fixtures imported from Dublin, and Ceres, a gourmet seafood restaurant.
Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino
3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas, NV; 877-632-7000. Rooms: $149 and up.
Mom and Dad can get down and go retro in the House of Blues concert hall and restaurant—or rack up in a room in the House of Blues Wing—while the kids swim in an eleven-acre tropical lagoon or tour the marine aquarium, where dorsal-finned monsters swim in overhead tanks and stingrays glide around a petting pool. More than a dozen restaurants include Wolfgang Puck's Trattoria del Lupo, Border Grill (owned by Lifestyle Food Network's Too Hot Tamales hosts, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Fenniger) and Miami import Red Square.
3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas, NV; 800-646-7787. Rooms: $80-$650.
MGM Grand is the world's largest hotel, with 5,005 rooms. The décor recalls the eponymous studio's Hollywood glory days, starting with the Yellow Brick Road from the Wizard of Oz. Watch a pair of lions dash around the Lion Habitat just off the casino area, eat at the kid-friendly Rainforest Café or Emeril's New Orleans Fish House (owned by renowned television star chef Emeril Lagasse), and visit the amusement park's Sky Screamer, which is billed as the world's tallest Skycoaster thrill ride.
Rio All-Suite Casino Resort
3700 West Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV; 800-752-9746. Suites: $65-$500.
Dad can check out the best-dressed (or is that "least dressed"?) cocktail waitresses in town as the rest of the family watches a suspended mini-Mardi Gras parade traipse by overhead in the Masquerade Village. There's also a rooftop nightclub and observation deck that offer spectacular views of the city and surrounding mountains, and Ipanema Beach, where all the girls go walking and all the boys go, "Ahhh." Rio guests also have access to Rio Secco Golf Club, home of the Butch Harmon School of Golf.