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.
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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.