Vegas, Baby

I just returned from my 4th work-paid Vegas trip in about 15 months.  Prior to these visits I had never been to the Sin City. I have learned a great many things on my recent adventures and I thought I would share.  Keep in mind that these observations are that of a Midwestern mom who was there for work, not some crazy party girl there on vacation.

  1. I’ve stayed at several very nice hotels on the Strip – Paris, The Venetian, Treasure Island, and the Bellagio.  And in my opinion Venetian wins for the nicest room.  Bellagio was a close second but the Venetian is all-suite so the room was enormous and it also gets bonus points for having a fantasic sit-down vanity in the bathroom (the TV in the bathroom didn’t hurt, either). Some people don’t care as much about the room since they spend all their time gambling and drinking; but for me the room is a big part of the trip (see #6).
  2. Vegas is hella-expensive.  I have never left one of my 30-hour trips without dropping about $200 on cabs, a drink or two and dinners.  My breakfast on Friday morning was an iced coffee and blueberry muffin which cost me almost $14. Drinks are $10+, dinners are easily $40 without drinks & tip, shows are over $100 a ticket.  Yes, you can get free drinks if you are gambling, but those servers don’t come around the penny and nickel slots too often.  Water from the gift shop is $3, Diet Cokes in the vending machine are $3, too (but the machines accept credit cards – how nice!). And there is no “running to the drugstore down the street” (see #7).
  3. People-watching is free and very entertaining.  Having cruised the Strip several times I can tell you that you see everything along the way.  It’s most fun when you have someone with a similar mind-set so you can play games like “fake or real?” & “hooker or girlfriend?”.
  4. The casinos are all pretty much the same – smoky, loud and easy to get lost in.  The Bellagio gets credit for being the cleanest and least smokey and the Venetian is the stinkiest since they pump in some perfume over the smoke – not a good mix. If you are people watching on the casino floor the Bellagio is fun for all the high-rollers and wanna-bes; you can get a good laugh from some of their antics.  The Luxor seems to have the seediest clientele and is also fun for people watching.  I’ve had the best slot luck at Paris and The Venetian.
  5. I think one of the most overlooked things to do is catch a lounge act.  There are some really good and some really cheesy cover bands playing the strip and both are equally entertaining. This is also a great place to people watch.  I think Paris is one of the best for a good free show and so far shows at the Bellagio & Luxor tend to be cheesy.
  6. There is nothing like ordering room service in Vegas.  Even if you just order a snack or dessert you get 5-star treatment. And kicking back in a king-sized bed while you open your remote controlled curtains to watch the Bellagio fountain show with a key lime bar and a Diet Coke on a white-cloth covered table is heaven.
  7. Wear comfortable shoes.  Leave the platform stripper heals to the 22 year olds and strap on some flip flops because that jaunt to the next casino will take you 20 minutes by foot.  Distances are deceptive in Vegas – you can leave the Venetian, walk for 10 minutes and…still be in front of the Venetian.
  8. You get pretty used to seeing girls in their hoochie-best at all hours of the day.  Add to this the truck-billboards of strippers and call girls and the people stationed every 10 feet along the sidewalk passing out cards with nude girls selling “girls to your room in 10 minutes!” and I am always shocked to see people pushing kids in strollers around.  There is no hiding the sex industry in Vegas, it’s not really a place for children.
  9. A trip to Fremont Street (AKA the old strip or downtown Vegas) is worth it. This is where you will get your $9.99 surf & turf dinner and see the lights of Vegas like you imagined.  It’s seedy, gritty and great.  The slots here play out in real coins, not with a voucher. I hear that the Pasta Pirate serves great food, but it’s always packed.
  10. Despite what you think, things are not all 24-hours a day in Vegas.  On my first trip we went to a show that ened around 10 PM.  We figured we could hit a buffet afterwards when we would be good and hungry. We walked through 3 casinos and every buffet and restaurant was closed!  We were starving and ended up eating at the Pyramid Café in the Luxor which was like eating a Denny’s for 4x the price.

So there you have it – my take on Vegas.  As my sister will tell you I really do think the best thing about the city is it’s great hotel rooms – I tend to call her to rub it in that I have a TV in the bathroom. I head back out there in the fall and meh – there is such a thing as too much time in Las Vegas.

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