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Going to Las Vegas? Here's you guide to all things Sin City. Because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right?

W hat happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? Vegas is quite the taboo destination in concept. The city itself consists of a slew of high rise casinos and resorts in the middle of the Nevada desert. Tourists from all over the world visit to try to hit it big, make bad decisions, or all of the above.

This concept in itself has never enticed me enough to make it a point to visit. I am not a gambler and I tend to think that I make an effort to choose to shy away from bad decisions. The city's reputation for infamy and regret couldn't be purely coincidental. But as if there isn't a better recipe for disaster, I somehow found myself primed to visit on New Years Eve. Here's how I survived and why I went back.

Getting to LAS VEGAS

Vegas is home to a major international airport that is one of the nicest that I've visited in the country. McCarran International Airport (LAS) is in a decently convenient location and has great options for transit to get you out and around. Additionally, the city is within a few hours of other major airports such as LAX in Los Angeles, California as well as Phoenix, Arizona.

My first visit to Vegas was part of a week long road trip that began in L.A. and continued in the direction of Utah. The city is very car friendly and driving to it is full of scenic desert-esque views of jagged rock formations for as far as you can see. There's no shortage of parking as many of the resorts and casinos provide it for free (even on New Year's Eve!) because they want to get you into their doors to spend that parking money on overpriced booze and slot machines.

The City

Vegas is commonly associated with what is known as "The Strip". The strip is the where you will find all of the major casinos, Fremont street, and other major attractions. But beyond the strip, there are even more resorts and casinos just in case the strip itself is underwhelming. There is a lot more to the city than just dice and poker chips, however. There's also large residential areas surrounding the city and beautiful state parks that you can hike and explore to your heart's desire.

Where to Stay in LAS VEGAS

Where you decide to lodge is fully dependent on what kind of experience you want to have, and how much money you are willing to spend. There are ridiculously expensive suites that can have you living like royalty in the vast selection of resorts as well as the normal cheap hotel room.

That being said, lodging is usually not terrible unless there is something special happening during the time period of which you visit. If you are looking for a room and you see a rate that is too good to be true, it probably is. Resort fees and other taxes in Vegas can drive up the cost of the room faster than you will loose it on the blackjack table.

If you elect to stay off-strip in one of the many options that are available with this route, be mindful that many of them offer free shuttles to get you directly into the action. This is probably the safest route to returning to your room after spending time on the strip. Check with your choice of lodging for availability and schedules for services such as this.

What to do in LAS VEGAS

As weird as this may sound, the main attraction to the city of Las Vegas is the strip of resorts themselves. Each of them have their own theme, things to do inside of them, and places to eat and drink. They are for the most part connected by sidewalk or covered walkways for easy access without crossing large busy Vegas intersections.

At a minimum, I would make it a point to see the following attractions:

  • The strip itself. Walk the strip and go explore as many of the casinos that you can. Even if you don't want to gamble, each of them is a different experience and you can't leave Vegas without seeing them.
  • Gamble. Ok, I know I said you don't have to if you don't want to. But you HAVE to at least put a fiver into a slot machine just to say you did it. I actually won the very first machine that I tried but then lost it all in a go with blackjack. Don't be that guy.
  • Bellagio Fountains (at night).Every hour the famous fountains performs a choreography with lights a music that is quite the spectacular sight to see.
  • Fremont Street (especially at night). Fremont is the light covered street that you see associated many times with Vegas. This is prime people watching territory. There is always live entertainment, street performers, and loads of bars if that is what you fancy. There is even an opportunity to zipline above the crowd below. A fair warning to any underage visitors. You never know what you will see on Fremont.
  • The Stratosphere Tower. There are four thrill rides hovering 1,149 feet over Las Vegas that are sure of get your blood pumping. They're pretty pricey but some say that you can't put a price on a good thrill.
  • Clubs and bars. There is always performers, special guests, and other events going on at the clubs throughout the strip such as 1Oak Vegas and Hakkasan. Be on the lookout for promoters giving out tickets to avoid paying pricey cover. But be very mindful of scams. Use your best judgement and never give any money to a stranger.
  • Hoover Dam. If you are at least a little interested in history or engineering, you have to make it a point to see one of the modern marvels of the world. Pictures simply don't do this thing justice. If you want, there are even tours that take you down to learn about how it was constructed.
  • State parks. Parks such as Red Rock Canyon offer excellent hiking opportunities through red rocks (go figure) and you get the chance to snag some excellent views of the city from afar.

Where to Eat in LAS VEGAS

  • Big Dog's Brewing Co.- Want to get off the strip? Try this place out for something a little more local. Expect good beer, good food, and even some gambling if you'd like.
  • Fukuburger-Described on their website as an “all American burger with a Japanese twist.” If you’re lucky enough, you may be able to find their truck on the strip. Otherwise, visit their brick and mortar location. You won’t regret it.
  • Tenaya Creek Brewery-This is probably my favorite brewery of all the ones we went to in Vegas. They have a solid selection of their own brews accompanied by other craft brews from the region. Their bartenders were incredibly knowledgeable and friendly. This place is definitely a must if you’re trying to get off the strip.
  • Umami Burger- You’ll find this burger bar in a few major cities around the US. In my opinion, there is only on choose of burger here, the Umami Burger(Obviously right?) Also try the truffle fries!
  • Ri Ra Irish Pub - Nestled between Mandalay Bay and Luxor in a food court is where this little gem is hidden. If you happen to end up here try the Wicklow Dip or the Reuben with a beer!
  • In-N-Out Burger- Coming from people from Florida, when we are near an In-N-Out we are going to make a point to stop. You should do the same.
  • Tacos El Gordo-Simple authentic Mexican taco: Enough said.
  • Bite Breakfast and Lunch- What better way to get over a hangover than with a great brunch? Try the Huevos Rancheros!

Prime Tips

Your resort may give you coupons or vouchers for things around the city that could entitle you to free things! Don't be so quick to throw those handouts away.

Drinks purchased from outside of the strip are going to be a lot cheaper than buying them there. Vegas is an open container (if you are of age that is) city so you can walk around with your own beverage if you so please. To fill in the gaps between drinks, stop at the convenience stores on the strip for regular priced bottles. Read up on your Clark County drinking laws here.

In the End

Once you are an ingredient to the mixture of madness, you quickly understand why Vegas is known for what it's known for. It's simply an incredibly fun place to be. You're surrounded by thousands of other people that are there for the exact same reason as you: to simply have fun.

When you realize that, there's nothing left to do but grab a drink, let loose, and enjoy life. This is probably the reason that I ended up back in the city when given the opportunity just months later. Because after all, once you leave the city you leave everything that happened during your visit as well.

Chris Fluitt
Chris Fluitt
I am an all around tech guy, a graphic designer and programmer, a car enthusiast, and a coffee and beer lover. When I'm not behind the keyboard I am probably exploring a national park.

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