The most glorious of them is the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace, which swept the

local dining awards in 2013, thanks to the nine Michelinstarred chefs behind the 500-plus dishes. It’s no $9.99-allyou-can-eat pig out, but for the quality of the food, the price ($34 per person for brunch at Wicked Spoon; $40.99 per person for brunch at Bacchanal) is a bargain.

And it’s not just buffet dining that’s been kicked up a notch here. Las Vegas may not have joined the locavore movement – surrounded as it is by desert, it likely never will – but more and more restaurants are serving exceptional artisanal ingredients, and the quality is at times astonishing.

That’s true whether it’s the contemporary American cuisine at Sage in ARIA or the fresh-as-can-be sushi in the MOzen Bistro at the Mandarin Oriental or the flavourful Mediterranean-inspired and winepaired dishes at La Cave in the Wynn Las Vegas.

It helps that every major chef in North America and, increasingly, the world is either already cooking here or plans to be soon. Las Vegas is now home to more Michelin-starred chefs than anywhere on earth, and few experiences can beat Joel Robuchon’s extraordinary, three-starred French fare at the MGM Grand.

The shopping

Across the Strip from the new Shops at Crystals at CityCenter, a small crowd has formed. “What is that thing?” demands one gent in Hawaiian shirt, shorts and sandals, worn, of course, with white tube socks. “It’s weird,” pipes up his permed and frosted wife. The crowd murmurs its agreement.

Well, it must be admitted that this magnificent building, all soaring points and reflective surfaces designed by the legendary architect Daniel Libeskind, is a far cry from the rollercoasters, pirate ships, dancing fountains and fake Eiffel Towers you’re more likely to find along the Strip. And that’s a good thing.

It’s a sign of the direction that Vegas is heading – away from the cheesy pastiche of the past and toward a more elegant, sophisticated future. More importantly, at least in my view, it houses some of the highest of the city’s high-end shopping, including North America’s flagship Louis Vuitton store.

I confess: If there were no other reason to visit Las Vegas, the shopping alone would bring me back. I love the bargains at the outlet malls and discount stores almost as much as I love the opulence of the designer labels at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, a.k.a. “The Shopping Wonder of the World.”

Oh, yeah: You may want to clear lots of room on your credit cards before you visit, or hope you win at the craps table.

The action

I’m in David Bauman Rare Books in the Palazzo, sipping an exceptional white Burgundy that has been “paired” with a first edition of Ian Fleming’s From Russia with Love.

Apparently, more and more big winners like to come here after they hit the jackpot to pick up a first edition of their favourite childhood book or a signed copy of Bill Clinton’s autobiography.

Is that a sign that Vegas is growing up? Maybe just a little.