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Las Vegas is home to socially acceptable debauchery and that is why I love it. You can drink for “free” for hours if you gamble (Which I always do). Whether it is your first time, or you are a frequent visitor, this guide contains some pointers for making the most of your time. Even if you are not a gambler or a drinker, there are other things to do in Las Vegas.
If you play your cards right, Vegas is a world of adventure.
- Uber is readily available in Vegas. Also, the airport is located super close to the southern end of the strip so depending on where you’re staying a cab might not be obscenely expensive (But cabs often are). In Las Vegas, it is illegal for taxis to pick you up off the streets so if you need a cab just walk over to the nearest hotel taxi line. Another option for getting around cheaply is the bus or the tram. Both will stop at many hotels along the strip.
- Go with friends of similar mindset. If you want to party and the persons you are with do not, the trip will not meet your expectations. This has happened to myself and many other people that I know. Make sure that everyone is on the same page or that your group is big enough to balance out this effect.
- The strip is generally safe but my friend did have all of her cash and her id stolen from her purse in a Las Vegas club. Be mindful of your belongings.
- Always bring your ID with you. The casinos will require it.
- Heels are nice, but comfortable walking shoes will go a long way during the day as portions of the strip are walkable between casinos. Grasshopper shoes are my travel go-to. They are lightweight, super comfy, and slip off easily for airport security.
- If you go in the summer, it will be very hot! I went for Fourth of July weekend and the temperature hit 40 degrees celsius. Drink lots of water and do not spend too much time in direct sunlight. Heat stroke will ruin your trip!
Las Vegas presents a stellar firework show for Independence Day. Casinos rein down fireworks from their rooftops. Or so we hear, we did not hydrate and drank in the sun. Exhausted, we thought we would take a power nap in time for the fireworks. Devastatingly, we missed the entire display. I’m still not over this tragedy and it has been three years. Do better than us!
- The dehydrating effects of alcohol typically cause hangovers. Pack a water bottle with you to refill (This saves so much money and Swell bottles keep your water so cold). Alternatively, buy water from a drug store (The casino stores tend to cost more), and place this beside your bed. There are CVSs and Walgreens everywhere for basic drug store needs. If you’re going to Vegas to drink, you will need it. I have never actually drank Gatorade for a workout, its role in my life is strictly limited to drinking recovery. Chips are always a win.
Choosing a Place to Stay
- Are you going to Vegas to gamble? Maybe do other Vegas activities? Or do you want to hit up the Las Vegas clubs? These are some things to consider when picking a hotel. The more south on the strip you go, the closer you will be to some of the bigger name clubs in Vegas (Omnia in Ceasar’s Palace and Hakkasan in MGM Grand often feature bigger name DJs). I’ve heard that the closer you get to Fremont street, which is more northern strip, the gambling odds get better. I also have noticed that the hotels get a bit cheaper. Anywhere you stay there will be alcohol available and casinos.
- I’ve stayed in the Stratosphere, Monte Carlo (undergoing a name change but located next to the new T-Mobile arena) and New York New York. Personally, I like to stay somewhere different every time. The Stratosphere was an average of $10 USD Uber to both Fremont Street and New York New York. Pro Tip: Staying in the Stratosphere will get you a discount on the rides and the jump off the building. I am royally bitter that I did not take advantage of this during my stay.
- Moving a block or two off of the strip will see a drop in prices and Vegas does have hostels. Generally, I do not care where I sleep because I’m not awake when I’m there. Las Vegas is the only place that I tend to be pickier because I feel like the seedy hotels are probably extra seedy here. Read reviews and think about what you want to see.
- The number one gambling rule that everyone should follow is: Only play with what you are comfortable losing. The odds are never in your favour.
- If you double up your money, it could be a good time to walk away. Often when I gamble, if I play $20, and manage to win more than that, I will set aside $20 worth of chips and play off of winnings so that I’m never truly behind. Sadly, this doesn’t always work out but I aim to at least be even. A push is better than a loss.
- Get cash before you visit the city! The ATM fees inside casinos can be as high as $10 USD a hit. This is also why I only bring the amount of cash that I am willing to lose gambling out with me. Once my budget is lost (it almost always will be), it is HIGHLY unlikely that I will be willing to pay $10 USD to get another $60 for the night.
- It can be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the rules before your trip. I mostly only stick to blackjack because it is what I enjoy the most and am most familiar with.
- That being said, I’ve found that the dealers will help you out if you aren’t sure what to do next.
Once my friend and I played a game deceptively similar to blackjack that was not in fact blackjack. Our dealer told us what we should do and we won! Jackpot baby!!*
- Something that I’ve gotten in a habit of doing is keeping a $1 chip from all of the casinos I visit. While this does not help with my minimalist ideations, it does help with my memories of places visited.
Other Things to do in Las Vegas:
- Believe it or not, there is more to Las Vegas than drinking and gambling. I know, I was shocked too.
- The super cool Neon Sign museum is worth checking out. It features signs from former casinos. If you decide to go, buy your tickets ahead of time. They will sell out. The day we went, they were out of tickets by 2:00 pm. The guided tour takes about an hour and provides some interesting Las Vegas history.
- Also, there is a Mob Museum! This is going to be one of my stops on my next trip. I looove the mob.
- There are rides for the amusement park lover. The LINQ casino boasts one of the tallest Ferris wheels in the world. And it is impressive, I checked it out at night and the view was unbelievable. The Stratosphere has some risky rides on the roof of their building. Plus, the New York New York has a roller coaster with a fantastic view of the south end of the strip.
- You can shop… The bus will take you to the North Outlet mall, which is my favourite. Or, there are The Forum shops in Caesar’s Palace, this is similar the average mall at home. Orrr, higher end casinos like the Bellagio have the next level unaffordable designer things (I love the idea of a designer handbag but I have visited other countries for less than those price tags and that fact always grounds my fantasies).
- Check out Groupon for deals on many things in Vegas (Including the High Roller at the LINQ).
- For free, you can poke your head into the “Pawn Stars,” pawnshop. I was very tempted to buy something just for the sake of having something from here. Side Note: There were a lot of wedding rings here. I do not know if it is related to the amount of Las Vegas wedding chapels but doesn’t that feel like a bad omen? Clearly, the ring is there because something did not quite work out.
- The Bellagio has a free fountain show which is kind of neat.
- There is now a NHL hockey team! My last trip to Vegas was based around my local hockey teams schedule. And it was so much fun! There was a good balance of people who shared this idea and went to support Edmonton and Las Vegas Knights fans. This made for great energy, no matter who scored or what happened there were people cheering.
- Stay tuned, the Raiders are moving to Vegas. Soon you can also cheer for your favourite NFL team.
- There are a variety of Cirque de Soleil shows in different hotels. We checked out Zumanity (The scandalous 18+ show ;)) and had an absolute blast. But if you want a show less provocative, there is also a Beatles tribute. You can find tickets online or through your hotel’s concierge.
Las Vegas Nightlife
- Gambling aside, Las Vegas has some fancy clubs. The best way to avoid cover is to watch for club promoters. Often they will just flat out approach you and inquire about your plans for the evening. But, if you see someone near a club, wearing clothing featuring the club, there is a good chance they are promoting for that club. The exchange will include giving your full name (for the guest list) and your phone number to confirm details. This is a no catch exchange. You can get your name on the list and decide not to go at no cost to you. Some guest lists end earlier than others. For example, if Tao ends at 10:00 pm but Omnia ends at 1:00 am, you could hypothetically check out both in one night. I like to go early so that the lines are shorter and the club less brimming with people. I wish I could say that clubs are like bags of chips, more air than people, but alas they are often packed.
- Beware, DRINKS IN CLUBS ARE EXCEPTIONALLY EXPENSIVE. Heed my word. Arrive drunk, if that is your goal for the night.
Things to do Outside of Las Vegas
- The Hoover Dam and West Rim of the Grand Canyon are both feasible visits from Vegas. I have successfully used a Groupon for a bus ride to the Grand Canyon with a distant glance at the Hoover. On a subsequent trip, my significant other and I rented a car for 1.5 days to drive ourselves there. This is a bit more of a tiring option as both of you can’t sleep on the bus but does allow some freedom. A friend of mine has done the bus, car rental, AND the helicopter tour. Of the three, she most recommends the helicopter tour so that will be my next way of seeing the Grand Canyon (There are Groupons for helicopter tours. I am a strong advocate of checking Groupon for deals). If you decide to self-drive to the Grand Canyon leave early as the sun will leave the Canyon later in the day making it even harder to capture great photos.
- The Hoover Dam tours can fill up, so look at going early or buying tickets ahead of time.
- We also used our rental car to check out Fire Valley, located one hour away from the city, this place was absolutely stunning. I would go again tomorrow if I could. There are a variety of hikes throughout the Valley. Go early, the park closes at sunset, and in the summer the temperature will be quite high. I did not notice anywhere to buy water so bring plenty with you. I might even bring my CamelBak M.U.L.E. if I planned to do more hiking in the summer here.
I’ve written about my love for Vegas before, and I’m sure I will again because I can almost never say no to Las Vegas. No matter what you decide to do, make the most of your time! It will fly by and casinos are designed to make you lose track of it.
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