Words Chloe Dubocq
What happens in Vegas, doesn’t have to stay in Vegas. Here are the keys to a memorable trip.
What do you think of when you hear “Las Vegas”? Images of luxurious casinos and hotels packed with slot machines and blackjack tables or images of the Vegas Strip crammed with drunk tourists and obnoxious street performers probably flood your mind. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what Vegas has to offer. From amazing cuisine and world-class shows to the outdoor adventures of Red Rock Canyon, when you go to Vegas, you hit the jackpot. What makes visiting this pot of gold even better, is the year-round sunshine.
The Strip: Las Vegas Boulevard is 2.5 miles long and lined with hotels and casinos, entertainment throughout, amazing restaurants, and plenty of shopping. If you are a tourist visiting the city, you will most likely spend the majority of your time on this one street
Old Las Vegas: The “Old Las Vegas” otherwise known as Fremont Street may not look as glamorous as Las Vegas Boulevard, but there is so much history within those streets, and it is definitely worth your visit. If there are no children in your group, I highly recommend visiting at night when the street is illuminated by endless lights and neon signs.
Lake Mead: This is the largest man-made lake in the country and while it is shrinking because of California’s previous drought and our overuse of water, it is still an amazing place to visit. There are plenty of marinas to rent boats from for day use or longer. There are also lodging areas or campgrounds if you wish to further explore the brilliant surrounding canyons, valleys and mountains.
Food (and Drinks)
While Las Vegas does not have a specific cuisine it is famous for, that is exactly it’s appeal. In fact, if Las Vegas is known for anything food-wise, it is definitely the buffets. Almost every single hotel on the Strip has a four or five star buffet to offer to its tourists. However, be prepared to drop approximately $40.00 per person, which can add up quickly if on a family vacation.
To go along with all the different types of food, Las Vegas also offers all kinds of beverages. If wandering the strip, you can’t exactly call yourself a tourist if you don’t have a three-foot neon green tube filled to the brim with a sugary slushy alcoholic beverage. These souvenir cups can vary from 50 to 100 ounces and aren’t too pricey considering the alcohol in them, ranging from $25.00 to $50.00.
Las Vegas has an intense and wild night life which comes with a rich cocktail culture. However, if enjoying an exciting night at the clubs, be cautious because you just might go through about half of the spending money you brought.
If you’re up for a different scene and exploring the much more calm suburbs of Las Vegas, I highly recommend Baby Stacks Cafe. These pancakes are to die for. You can take my word. It is right by the Desert Shores Community where I used to live. Every Sunday, I would run from my house through the running trails and around the five small man-made lakes of the community just to get to this cafe and indulge in their amazing red velvet pancakes guilt free.
Although most people who visit Sin City do one of three things: gamble, drink, or shop at overpriced stores, there is so much to the city than what it is famous for. Vegas is actually a hub for outdoor activities because of all the attractions surrounding the valley. Hoover Dam, which separates the Colorado river from Lake Mead, is a design and engineering masterpiece. There is an abundance of desert to try out your off roading skills. Red Rock Canyon is swarming with cyclists, rock climbers, and everyday hikers exploring the beauty of the scenic trails.
‘Hidden’ Cultural Gems
They may not necessarily be hidden, but they are definitely a cultural gem. Dispersed every five feet on the Strip are the infamous street performers. These street performers breathe life onto the Strip. They make walking down Las Vegas Boulevard like traveling through a time machine. You get to relive the Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe era and also see your children’s favorite disney characters.
Warning #1: There are some that aren’t exactly ‘kid-friendly,’ but they tend to come out more as the sun sets.
Warning #2: Some street performers are extremely territorial, so if Bumblebee from Transformers walks into Mario and Luigi’s territory, there’s bound to be a brawl.
Warning #3: If you take a picture with them, they WILL expect compensation.
Warning #4: Some are actually NOT street performers, but just want money.
Regardless of how strange they are, these street performers are still people just trying to make a living. They are so dedicated to their profession and often love their characters so much that they don’t mind wearing fifteen pounds of costume in the 110F degree weather.
Modern and Stylish: ARIA does not have a casino directly attached to the hotel so you don’t have to walk through the drunken and smoky haze to make it to your luxurious suite. ( 3730 Las Vegas Blvd.)
Oriental: Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas has a breathtaking view and offers its guests an asian oasis while still being conveniently located on the Strip. (3752 Las Vegas Blvd.)
Family-friendly: The Mandalay Bay on the Strip has not only a pool area just for the kiddos but also has an aquarium attraction to keep them entertained. (3950 Las Vegas Blvd.)
Off The Strip:
Celebrity and Party Scene: While The Palms is not exactly on the strip (about a mile away), it is still known for its random celebrity sightings and crazy party scene. (4321 West Flamingo Rd.)
Mellow: The Platinum Hotel is very different from the typical ‘Vegas’ scene although it is a short ten minute walk from the Strip. There is no casino attached and the entire property is non-smoking. However, this is a plus for some families. (211 East Flamingo Rd.)
The biggest goal for people visiting Las Vegas is either to hit it big or to not lose it all. However, for all those tourists hoping to leave Sin City without many regrets here are my local recommendations:
- Protect your skin: Las Vegas can reach upwards of 110F during the summer so I highly recommend (from personal experience) to either wear a hat or sunscreen to protect your exposed skin. Also don’t forget about some sunglasses for those sensitive eyes!
- Hydration: Do not forget to drink water. Trust me.
- Sleep: Lack of sleep makes for a miserable vacation. Make sure to catch up on your beauty sleep even if it means sleeping in until noon because the nightlife of Las Vegas tends to be the most memorable.
- Venture from the Strip: At the end of the day, everything on the Strip is designed for tourists and designed to draw money out of your pockets. So make sure to take advantage of everything the Strip has to offer, but also don’t let it take advantage of you. Get food and drinks at a local place. It will be cheaper and probably have more character.
- Stay away from the slots: The slots are unforgiving. Some are penny slots, others ask for dollars in exchange for a shot at the jackpot. But either way, it’s a bad idea. You will see them everywhere. They will be the first thing you see when landing at McCarran International Airport; they are in every local gas station and grocery story; and even worse, they are everywhere on the strip and in other tourist locations. If you want to leave Las Vegas with no true regrets, do not open your wallet for the slot machines.