Postcard 8: Las Vegas, Nevada


Photo courtesy: whinendine

Between classes and homework, I somehow manage to find time to watch TV. If I’m not watching Glee or the X-Factor, I’m watching the Travel Channel. And lately, I’ve been catching a lot of shows about Las Vegas… which made me reminiscent.

I’ve been to Vegas about five times in my life and the majority of my trips to Vegas consisted of shows, arcade games and kiddie rides at Circus Circus. That was because I hadn’t reached the glorified age of 21. Some people would ask: why even go to Vegas if you can’t gamble and you can’t drink? But every year, I shamelessly begged my parents if we could go on a trip to Vegas. There was something about the vibe that was intriguing to me.

I finally took my first trip as a legal adult in March 2010. No parents, no siblings, just me and my friend Lauren. Lauren I aren’t crazy party animals by any means so no strip clubs or wild nights that we couldn’t remember, but we found that there was still a lot to do to have fun.

There are two parts to Vegas: Downtown and the strip. Most of my experiences in Vegas were on the strip, so that’s what this post will cover.

Gambling

You know you’re in Vegas when… you walk into one of the casinos and the first thing you smell is cigarette smoke.

My 2010 trip was the very first time I actually pulled a handle of a slot machine. As gambling novices, Lauren and I really had no idea where to even begin. All we knew was that we needed to get a Players Club Card, a card that tracks how much you gamble and spend. You can redeem your points for special rates on rooms, food and shows. The casino where you get your Players Club Card at will determine which casinos you can use it at to get points.

Lodging

As two recent college graduates, clearly we were on a budget, so we decided to say at the Imperial Palace for an extremely affordable price of about $40 a night (divide that by two). But you get what you pay for. Clogged sinks, broken lights, and sinking beds were what I remember most about the hotel. So if there’s one thing I learned from that, it’s that it’s worth it to spring an extra $30 or so to book a room at a hotel that’s comfortable and nice… like the Venetian, Aria and even the Luxor (which doesn’t cost much more than the Imperial Palace).

Food

The Bellagio Buffet. Photo courtesy: The Bellagio.

If you go to Vegas, I highly recommend that you go to a buffet. And if you can, I highly recommend the one at the Bellagio hotel. I’m not gonna lie, I wouldn’t say it’s cheap, but I promise that you’ll be extremely satisfied by your dining experience. Their menu consists of diverse options of Japanese, Italian, American, Chinese, seafood and more. My stomach is churning just thinking about their food!

Shows

Cirque du Soleil’s LOVE at the Mirage. Photo courtesy: LOVE.

The choices of shows are endless. From Cirque du Soleil to Jersey Boys, you really can’t go wrong with the one you end up seeing. Lauren and I were open to seeing any show as long as it was within our budget. We woke up early one morning to to purchase tickets at one of the Tix 4 Tonight booths on the strip. Tix4Tonight sells last-minute show tickets at reasonable prices. My first choice was LOVE. Lauren’s was The Lion King, but taking into account the seats and price, we ended up seeing LOVE. And we were both glad that we did. The show took us into a whole different world of bright lights, colorful costumes and brilliant dancing and acrobatics all set to Beatles music. I can say with the utmost confidence that this was the best show I’ve seen in my entire life.

Drinks

minus5 ice bar. Photo courtesy: Woman’s Day.

Lauren suggested we go to a bar in the Mandalay Bay called minus5. It’s called minus5 because they literally keep the temperature at negative 5 degrees… which means that almost everything in there is made out of ice! The walls, the cups, you name it. Your cover charge includes coat and glove rentals and one alcoholic beverage of your choice. It really is a cool experience! No pun intended.

Shopping

Fashion Show mall. Photo courtesy: Destination 360.

There are places to shop no matter where on the strip you go. If you’re looking for upscale designer stores, City Center will have those. For a wider variety of shops, you can browse through The Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace and The Shoppes at the Palazzo. And if you’re looking for shopping malls, I recommend Miracle Mile and Fashion Show malls.

Attractions

The New York New York roller coaster.

As a kid, what I mostly looked forward during our trips to Vegas was when my parents would drop my brother and I off at the Circus Circus Adventuredome Theme Park. Rollercoasters, arcades, and other shows… if you have children (or if you are a big kid at heart), this park will keep them occupied while you spend a few hours having fun in the casino.

If you’re a little older and are still in for some thrills, the Stratosphere has some rides that will get your heart racing. I was brave enough to conquer the Big Shot, the ride at the very top of the hotel that shoots you up 160 feet at 45 mph. Tip: keep your head up, literally, so that the pressure doesn’t pull your head down while you’re lifted up. That could be painful.

And finally, if you’re walking down the strip, I urge you to ride the New York New York roller coaster. Lauren hates roller coasters, but as a thrill seeker myself, I insisted we at least try it. Despite being distracted by the sound of my own scream, I really enjoyed the ride.

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Las Vegas, also known as “Sin City,” is often viewed as just place to get hitched, drink a whole lot or gamble until your eyes dry out. But in all honesty, there’s more to it than that. There are many things to do and see for the entire family, not just the adults. And every story I hear from friends about their trips to Vegas are all unique. I’m curious to hear yours.

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