Foxwoods, like Mohegan Sun and many of the other “resort-casinos” that have been sprouting up in recent years, may have a reputation for being a place where you can gamble, eat dinner, fall asleep, wake up, and do it again. But in reality, these casinos offer a lot more than just eating and gambling, and Foxwoods might just offer the most of all. We had the opportunity to visit the property at the invitation of the resort recently, and were stunned by the sheer amount of things to do.
If you’ve never visited Foxwoods, you might have the impression that it’s just a big building with a casino, a hotel, some restaurants, and a theater. While you’re in the ballpark, if you spend a weekend there, you’ll most likely leave with a completely different impression of it than you had going in.
First of all, Foxwoods is huge
. It’s the largest resort-casino in North America, with 340,000 square feet of gaming space (more than twice that of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas) and 2,230 guest rooms and suites across four hotels, two of which are AAA 4-Diamond Award recipients. The six casinos, two spas, 30-plus places to eat, two theaters, bowling alley, six nightclubs, loads of meetings and convention space, retail boutiques, and a Tanger Outlets outpost all add up to a complex that’s more than 9 million square feet. Oh, and there are two 18-hole golf courses, and the world’s largest Native American-owned museum, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, just up the road.
If this all seems a little overwhelming, well, it is and it isn’t. With a good map and a decent pair of walking shoes, you should be able to get your bearings pretty easily, as each section of the resort is separated by sunlight-filled walkways and shops, with arrows and signs leading the way. If you’re planning on visiting, we recommend you spend a little time getting acquainted with this map, but you won’t really get a sense of the property until you walk through it.
Foxwoods actually got its start in the 1980s as a bingo hall, and over the years, dozens of expansions turned it into what it is today. The décor is fun and playful, and it changes with each space, but it never comes across as tacky or dingy, and the Native American motif is more subtle than at Mohegan Sun . Even though it was built piecemeal it still has a real flow; getting from one side to the other doesn’t feel like a trek because there’s so much to see and do along the way.
If you’re planning on visiting, you should arrive early in the day to take advantage of the ample tables and slots, which were taken over by crowds as the day went on. We suggest you stop by the recently opened CAKE by Franck in the food court section for French pastries, because it’s stunningly high-end; it’s run by pastry chef Franck Iglesias and is up there with any of the country’s best cake shops (there’s no seating inside, but plenty nearby). For lunch, Cedars is a smart bet; the sunny room affords great views and the lunch menu is reasonably priced and varied. It’s also a good place to grab a cocktail. If you’re looking for an upscale and romantic dinner, we can’t recommend Vue 24 (above) highly enough; the refined space is hidden away 24 stories above the Grand Pequot Tower, and the menu of classic high-end French fare, like foie gras terrine, coquille St. Jacques, boeuf Bourguignon, duck a l’orange, and trout Brenobloise is almost daring because so few straight-ahead fine dining restaurants remain and they pull it off with aplomb. This one is a gem. But if you’re looking for Italian, Alta Strada and Al Dente will definitely satisfy, Red Lantern offers upscale Asian fare, and David Burke Prime is as good a steakhouse as you’ll find anywhere.
You’ve gambled, you’ve eaten, you’ve strolled through the Tanger Outlets… what more is there to do, you may ask? Plenty: Get a treatment at one of the resort’s two spas, go bowling in the High Rollers Luxury Lanes, which could easily be a destination in and of itself (seriously, it looks like it could be Versailles’ bowling alley); reconnect with your inner child at the Tree House Arcade, and after dinner take in a show. There are two theaters, the 1,400-seat Fox Theater and the 4,000-seat Grand Theater, and the lineup is certainly impressive: Upcoming shows include Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples, Maxwell, Jim Gaffigan, Jerry Seinfeld, Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy, Steven Wright, Lady Antebellum, and Anthony Bourdain. And if you still feel like staying up, party to the wee hours at The Scorpion Bar, Halo Bar, or the main nightclub, Shrine. And on Sundays throughout the summer, there’s an all-day pool party.
If it’s not already clear, Foxwoods really has something for everyone. Whether you’re a group celebrating a bachelorette party with bowling and a ‘90s throwback show; a high-roller looking to gamble in style at the elite Stargazer Casino atop the Grand Pequot Tower; a family looking to divide time between the spas, golf courses, arcade, and outlets; or just a couple looking for some excitement, you’ll find whatever you’re looking for at Foxwoods.