They say everyone needs to travel to Las Vegas....
Everyone has an opinion about Las Vegas. There are those that are passionate about it, try to build every special occasion around it, need to get their yearly Vegas fix. And there are those who say “once was enough” and swear never again.
I fall somewhere in the middle. I’d absolutely go again, and as Vegas is a fairly short and inexpensive plane ride away, it has great potential to be a sunny long weekend destination in the future. However, there are many places I want to see and discover for the first time - other places I’d rather spend my travel budget. So what did I love about Vegas– and what fell short?
The Great Outdoors
For such an artificial city, Vegas is surrounded by some amazing natural wonders. It’s not just the Grand Canyon - you can visit incredible parks just an hour or two away. Valley of Fire State Park, Red Rock Canyon, Death Valley National Park are all wonderful destinations. I think no trip to Vegas would be complete without exploring the surrounding geology, topography, plant, and animal life.
Off the Strip Food
There’s great food on the strip, but don’t limit yourself to just a few blocks to enjoy the best culinary treats in Vegas. In the least commercial parts of the city, we discovered Luv-it’s Frozen Custard, Tiffany’s Café, and Capriotti’s sandwiches. Now, these places were not exactly undiscovered gems, but they were delicious, fairly priced, and had more locals in the queue than tourists.
It’s show time! Without a doubt, my favourite thing about Vegas is the entertainment factor. Just thinking of all the incredible performances is enough to make me want to book a plane ticket.
We enjoyed some incredible shows, like Cirque’s Ka, but there was also plenty of round the clock, free entertainment. The beautiful Bellagio Fountains, and the gondoliers singing as they walked through the Venetian to start their morning shift were two of my favourites. Heck, just looking at the crazy crowds was entertainment enough!
I secretly believed I was going to meet the cast of CSI. And become their best friend!
I carefully studied the behavior of every suspicious person I met, just in case the team needed me to testify later. Everyone comes to Vegas with a fantasy. This was mine.
We renewed our wedding vows in Vegas. With Elvis. In a strip mall. With stained ceiling tiles. Our wedding song was Suspicious Minds. The receptionist looked superbly bored and way too cool to be there. Pre-Elvis renewal ceremony, we spoke a few words with the licensed minister who takes care of the actual weddings. He was kind, he was encouraging, he had just celebrated his own 25th anniversary. The whole experience was a combination of the kind of supreme cheesiness that you secretly desire in Vegas, with the feel good, warm heartedness that makes me want to go back again.
I hate lines. Can’t really imagine anything worth lining up for. Certainly not the so-so rental car that required an hour long lineup. Definitely not a buffet. And absolutely not a hotel. It took an hour to check into one of our hotels – not what you’d expect in an service industry town.
I have no concerns with gambling and I can appreciate why others find it entertaining and exciting. My plan was to nurse $20 at the slot machines, enjoying the free drinks I heard so much about. I never anticipated winning – in fact, I expected to eventually lose –but I figured it would be an easy way to kill an hour or two. To the surprise of no one, I have the absolute worst statistical luck of anyone on the planet when it comes to slot machines!! Shamefully, shockingly bad. I gave up after two nights.
This seems to be a prevailing trend on my “hate” list (see Ireland!) Las Vegas is one of the last smokers’ havens in North America. The pervasive smell was awful, it triggered asthma attacks, and eventually I started getting nose bleeds. Those with serious health concerns should come prepared and well organized to Vegas.
Have you been to Vegas? Where did you go and what do you do? Share your highs (and lows!) with us!
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