Grandiose casinos, towering hotels, enormous buffets, larger-than-life stage productions and extreme neon are not all Las Vegas takes to excess. The swimming pools of Sin City are outrageous in their size and opulence too. And they are an often overlooked joy of travel here. After a night of gambling, partying, taking in stage shows, drinking, more gambling and whatever else you did (we don’t want to know; or, at least you don’t have to tell us) there can be nothing better than relaxing and recovering by a Vegas pool. Here, in rank order, are our top seven selections:
Two huge heated pools provide more than a quarter mile (400 meters) of swimming pleasure. Swim the whole length of it and you’ll pass six waterfalls and a dolphin habitat. The pool is open year round except for maintenance during one winter month (usually December).
BOOK A ROOM
The Tropicana might have the 6th best pool on our list, but this longstanding resort on the southern end of the Strip has the highest pool-excellence-to-room-rate-ratio of any in Vegas. There are several large pools here, some connected by narrow swimming channels. One of the pools is heated to 90 degrees F (32 C) and is open year round; another is half indoors and half out. The coolest features, however, are the summertime swim-up bar and swim-up blackjack areas.
BOOK A ROOM
#5 Golden Nugget
The pool at the Golden Nugget, in the Downtown area, falls to #5 because it is not very large. However, it does have perhaps the coolest feature of any Vegas pool: a shark tank!
No, the sharks aren’t in the pool with you. But it does sort of feel that way. A 20,000-gallon aquarium, home to five species of sharks as well as multiple fish, sits square in the middle of the Golden Nugget’s oval-shaped swimming pool. And if you want to get even closer to the sharks there’s a 3-story high water slide that runs straight through their habitat. Check out the YouTube video below, taken by some one we hope had a waterproof digital camcorder.
BOOK A ROOM
#4 Hard Rock
This is where the beautiful, young, scantily clad folks tend hang out, especially during the Sunday Rehab parties. If you manage to pry your eyes from the people you’ll see that the Hard Rock’s pool complex is rather beautiful too. There are several little sandy beach areas, a meandering river pool and lots of lush little hidden away spots grabbing some alone time with one of the pool patrons. We also like the swim-up blackjack table.
The Hard Rock pool is open to non-guests.
#3 MGM Grand
The MGM is a phenomenally huge resort and has a pool to match. Over nearly 7 acres of tropical settings the MGM plays host to three whirlpools and five large swimming pools. At our favorite of the pools there’s an extended very shallow area (eg. a few inches/centimeter’s deep) with low set lounge chairs—perfect for kicking back with a book. There’s also a “river” that meanders around the pool. Rent an inflatable inner tube and let the river current take you along.
BOOK A ROOM
#2 Flamingo Las Vegas
A 150-foot water slide that spills out into a series of terraced pools. An 80-foot (24-meter) long year-round heated pool fronted by a pink flamingo fountain. Gorgeous landscaping. Numerous waterfalls. Swim-up blackjack. The enormous 15-acre pool complex at the Flamingo has nearly everything swimming-related except for a sandy beach and wave pool (like Mandalay Bay, below). There so much here that you can find an area that’s social or secluded or kid-friendly or whatever pool-side scene fits your mood.
BOOK A ROOM
#1 Mandalay Bay
You’ll get your ID inspected more intently at the entrance to the Mandalay Bay pool complex than you will at the entrance to the secure area of the airport. That’s how great the swimming pools are here. Everyone in Vegas wants to go. But, sorry, you have to be a registered guest either at Mandalay Bay or at their neighboring creatively-capitalized boutique property, THEhotel.
The heart of the Mandalay’s pool complex is The Beach. It is an actual beach with sand and lapping waves. The sand, all 1,700 tons of it, was imported from California. The waves are machine-made; they average around 2 feet (60 cm) high but occasionally top 6 feet! The Beach is also the scene of a usually-incredible outdoor concert series (check the schedule and buy your tickets here). Got a gambling problem? You can gaze out upon the action on The Beach through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the air conditioned beach-side casino.
The swimming possibilities at Mandalay Bay extent beyond the wave pools too, including one heated pool that stays open all winter and one pool where no kids are allowed. Add to that several waterfalls and a lazy river and the pool alone will make you happy you choose to stay at the fabulous Mandalay Bay Resort. Just make sure you bring your ID.
Some honorable mentions:
Monte Carlo is an especially good pool resort for families; the swimming complex here includes a 520-square-foot kiddie pool. There’s also a wave pool.
Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa has a pool with a beach and plenty of surrounding foliage. The Green Valley is several miles from the Strip, though.
Wynn is perfect if you are looking for a quiet pool-side place to hang out. The long, thin pool here is the sort of place where you’ll find most people napping on your lounge chairs and a few swimmers in the water doing laps.
The Bellagio is a great choice if you want to stay in a classy resort on the Strip without a mega pool. The six swimming pools here are are small scale and low key in a faux-Italian garden setting.
Do you have a favorite Vegas pool we’ve left off our list? Take a dip in our comments section and let us know: