The Forums Shops at Caesars
The Forums Shops resemble an ancient Roman streetscape, with immense columns and arches, two central piazzas with fountains, and a cloud-filled ceiling with a sky that changes from sunrise to sunset over the course of three hours. If you can tear yourself away from the animatronic wizardry of the mall’s two ongoing shows, you find designer shops and the old standbys. For fashionistas, there are all the hard-hitters: Christian Dior, Gucci, Fendi, Pucci, Louis Vuitton, Celine, Tod’s, and Valentino (whew!). Pick up your diamonds at Harry Winston, Bulgari, or Chopard, or go for a sparkling handbag at Judith Leiber. If your purse strings are a little tighter, there’s always the ubiquitous Gap or Abercrombie outlets. (photo, right)
Inspired by the ancient trade routes through Spain, North Africa, and India, Desert Passage Mall is one of those exotic Vegas experiences. Belly dancers perform as you walk along what could be, with a little imagination, sandy Moroccan streets. Colorful tiles top domed whitewashed buildings, and kiosks look like just-opened tents. A gentle desert thunderstorm washes in and then passes quickly through the Merchant’s Harbor. If you get tired of walking (and you will), hire a pedicab to whisk you around, or take a breather, Indian-style: drop by Desert Tattoos for a henna creation. Many of the 170 stores are at your local mall, but you still may discover a treasure here.
Fashion Outlets Las Vegas
This outlet mall is definitely worth a shopping safari to nearby Primm, about a half hour west on I–15. Here you find many of the same superstars as on the Strip but at prices slashed by as much as 75%. And you don’t often see these stores represented at an outlet mall: Burberry Factory Outlet, Williams-Sonoma Marketplace, St. John Company Store, and Versace Company Store. Last Call from Neiman Marcus stocks designer labels as well as its private labels. Besides these are the usual outlet-mall suspects: Banana Republic Factory Store, Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store, and the Gap Outlet. If you don’t want to battle the traffic, take the shuttle service that runs daily from the MGM Grand and New York–New York ($15 each way; 702/874–1400 for reservations).
The Grand Canal Shoppes are the most elegant—and fun—shopping experience on the Strip. Duck into shops like Burberry or Lladró as you amble under blue skies alongside a Vegas-ified Grand Canal. Eventually, all the quaint bridges and walkways lead you to St. Mark’s Square, which is full of little gift-shop carts and street performers. If you’re loaded down with bags, hail a gondola—it’s one of the kitschiest experiences in any of the megamalls ($15 per person). Two must-see stores are Il Prato, which sells unique Venetian collectibles, including masks, stationery sets, and pen-and-inkwell sets, and Ripa de Monti, which carries luminescent Venetian glass. (photo, right)
Gamblers General Store
There’s a big collection of gambling books, such as Craps for the Clueless, as well as poker chips, green-felt layouts, and slot and video-poker machines. Warning: the highly collectible vintage slots start at $2,000. They’ll make sure your state allows the type of slot machine you want before you buy. You can buy used casino card decks here but only after they’ve been re-sorted and repackaged by guests of the Nevada state penal system. It’s eight blocks south of the Plaza Hotel on Main Street.
Photos courtesy of the Las Vegas News Bureau