Just a short distance west of the Strip, the Rio Las Vegas offers a Brazilian theme and a high-flying zip line in a colorful resort packed with restaurants, bars and theaters.
Carnival in Vegas, affordable all-suite accommodations, near (but not too near) the action
Attention thrill seekers: Allow us to introduce you to the VooDoo Zip Line. Opened in 2014, this daunting ride begins on top of the Rio's 51-story Masquerade Tower. You'll be strapped in a chair (with only a lap belt) and slide for about 800 feet to the 20-story Ipanema Tower. Then you'll return again...backwards.
The Rio hosts the prestigious World Series of Poker each year. Imagine the Super Bowl, but instead of the Vince Lombardi Trophy the winner goes home with a diamond-encrusted bracelet and at least $10 million in cash. WSOP runs from May through July, with the final event held in early November.
Flair bartenders work their magic at the Rio's VooDoo Rooftop Nightclub. We enjoy watching them flip bottles and twirl tins while they prepare drinks. And we love imbibing the Witch Doctor, the club's signature rum cocktail, because it's huge and dry ice gives it a smoky effect.
Called Voodoo Beach, the Rio's pool deck features palm trees, waterfalls, three hot tubs and four swimming pools that have different vibes. There are fish- and clam-shaped pools. Kids flock to the sand-bottomed pool near the entrance while adults make tracks for the lagoon-style pool at the back.
Like space to spread out in? You'll have plenty of it at the Rio. Even the base-level rooms start at 600 square feet. Ironically the cheaper, more worn rooms are in the newer Masquerade Tower, which opened in 1997. The Samba rooms in the original Ipanema Tower are more contemporary because they were completely renovated in 2013. Plus the elevators for the Ipanema Tower are conveniently located near the pool area and front desk.
Although you'll find a Keurig coffeemaker in every room, the coffee itself isn't free. K-Cups are provided, but they're not included in the resort fee so you'll be charged if you use them. Our suggestion: Buy some K-cups at home and then pack them to bring along.
This hotel is not located on the Strip. Although you can see the Strip and it appears to be close, we don't recommend walking to it because you'll have to pass over a major interstate while crossing busy on- and off-ramps. As an alternative, the Rio offers easy Strip access via a free shuttle. It runs to and from Harrah's and Bally's about every half hour between 10 a.m. and 1 a.m.
There are three buffets at the Rio. The Village Seafood Buffet is the most expensive choice, and it's the best (unless you don't like seafood). You can load your plate with all your fishy favorites -- lobster, crab legs, shrimp and sushi. Fans of Indian food should give the lunch buffet at the Royal Indian Bistro a try. The resort's popular Carnival World Buffet -- with its more than 300 different food selections -- is so big it's almost unwieldy. There are some well-done items here, but the majority of the food is just OK.
Interested in a glimpse from on high without the VooDoo Zip Line's scare factor? Indulge in a succulent steak at VooDoo Steak or grab a cocktail at VooDoo Rooftop Nightclub. Situated on the 50th and 51st floors of the Masquerade Tower, the views from way up here are among the best in the city.
Women, indulge your feminine side by going to Flirt Lounge in the lobby of the Chippendales Theatre. It has an all-male waitstaff...and be sure to check out the ladies room. We love the circular dressing area with its purple leather couches and softly lit vanity. Dubbed "the gossip pit," this is the perfect place to debate which Chippendale dancer has the hottest bod.
You know you want to do it. So go ahead. Get a tat. The Rio is home to Count's Tattoo Company. If you're fan of the History Channel's show "Counting Cars," then we don't have to tell you who Danny "Count" Koker is. Suffice to say at his place you're sure to get a unique design worthy of showing off to your friends back home.
For an elevated drinking experience, step down into the Wine Cellar & Tasting Room. It's crammed with more than 10,000 bottles -- including one that came from Thomas Jefferson's cellar. Choose from more than 100 wines sold by the glass. Cheese plates and freshly baked breads will enhance your enjoyment too.