Las Vegas! Everything is big there, the lights, the shows, the hotels and the casinos. It sucks you in and you lose all sense of time. Everything is available 24hours a day in this oasis in the desert. It is beautiful and wonderful, tacky and seedy, luxurious and over the top. It is full of stereo types, the one place where I saw the cliché American tourist, shorts, sandals, big camera and a bum bag! Here are some tips and places to visit, including a list of free things to do!
1. Look at mid range hotels- You can stay in Vegas for almost nothing in the budget hotels, but keep an eye out for the nicer mid range hotels on the strip (if that is the experience you are after) They are much cheaper then a nice hotel here in Australia and you can end up with something stunning. I stayed at Planet Hollywood in a double double room (there were 3 of us) that was Dirty Dancing themed, had a strip view and a huge, beautiful bathroom. We paid about $150 a night between us. That was less then the local backpackers! Another option is Harrahs, the rooms are basic but large and the price is easily accessible.
2. Budget the gambling- American money seems like play money sometimes and all the notes look the same! Set a gambling limit for each day, even if you don’t usually gamble, and don’t go over it. Almost every hotel, restaurant, attraction, show or bar is accessed through the casino floor. You will be tempted and you will have a flutter. Don’t spend more then you can afford in the hopes to win money. Only play what you are willing to lose!
3. Carry Id at all times- You will be carded at every establishment. The general rule for most hotels is to card anyone who looks under 40 as they have very strict laws and regulations. My latest trip I was in my late 20’s and still got carded at almost every bar and gaming table. You will be asked to leave the gaming floor or bar if you cannot produce Id.
4. See a show- the shows are amazing! See a magic act ( I recommend Penn & Teller at the Rio) or a Cirque Du Soleil (there are 6+ different ones to see in Vegas) or some showgirls. Look for deals, however keep to reputable websites as there are scams out there. Or better yet, ask your travel agent. Otherwise your concierge at the hotel can usually get you a very good price. Don’t forget to tip your concierge!
5. Don’t miss Fremont street- This is away from the strip, and it’s the Vegas that you would remember from films such as National Lampoons Vacation. Neon lights, Dime machines, $1.99 Prawn cocktails and celebrity impersonators. It has been updated with a ‘roof’ over the street made of Led screens that play everything from light shows to advertisements. There is loud music, bright lights and a zipline right down the middle! Remember that the impersonators expect payment for the privilege of a photo.
6. Check out the free things!- Bellagio fountain, the thunderstorm that happens in the mall every hour, the volcano at the Mirage, and the light show in Fremont street. There is often free live music and little shows and things to watch, anything to draw you into that bar or casino and keep you there.
7. Ride the High Roller- This is the tallest observation wheel in the world and gives a wonderful view of the whole of Vegas. The ride takes about 30 minutes, see if you can time it with the show at the Bellagio fountain!
8. Visit the Neon Museum- This is where all of the neon lights from days gone by, from casinos, bars and stores, get a second lease on life. They are viewed by tour only, each tour takes about 1 hour and costs $18USD/Adult. Book a couple days in advance, as they do sell out. The tour is brilliant and gives good insight on the history of Vegas, from the first gambling halls, to the rat pack era to the modern day.
9. Go to a themed bar or restaurant- Vegas is full of 50’s diners, western and honky tonk bars (try Gilley’s at Treasure Island, they have western saddles as bar stools) or for family fun, try the Rainforest Café at the Mirage.
10. Have fun!- embrace the bright lights and tackiness of Vegas and live the high life on a budget!