My trip to Vegas in February was my very first visit and boy was it an eye-opener. For all you Vegas virgins I’ve put together some things to know before you go.
Drinking In The Streets
As someone who lives in London, where we are partial to a cider in the park come summer, this is not so much of a big deal but my friends from the US and Oz were so excited by this phenomenon I felt I should put it in. The Las Vegas liquor laws allow you to consume alcohol in public, which means you can buy a drink from one casino and quite casually stroll out with it down the road to the next place (providing you are not doing a runner with their glass.) This rule has also led to the bizarre practise of people consuming 1 yard of frozen cocktail as they parade down the Strip. Whilst I wouldn’t want to deprive you of this Vegas rite of passage I do feel it is my duty as someone who learnt the hard way to inform you that these drinks are absolutely foul. The swirling machines of pastel coloured concoctions may look cute but they taste like puke! Consume at your own peril.
Free drinks – those magic two words that every holidaymaker longs to hear. Before I visited Vegas I had no idea that drinks in the casinos are technically free as long as you are placing bets. (Just remember to tip the server if you ever want them to come back.) After testing this theory in several big name joints my findings are as follows:
>People (especially blokes) who play the tables get served faster than those who place $1 bets on the slots
>However those on the slots are just as entitled to these ‘free drinks’ as the high rollers
>A tip from our taxi driver was to play the gaming machines which many of the casino bars have embedded in the tabletop. Not only does this mean your drinks are free but you don’t have to wait long to get served as the barman is right in front of you. Unfortunately when testing this theory out at Paris casino we found out they do not follow this rule – we lost $25 on 2 drinks and several dollars in the poker machine! Watch around for what the locals are doing to get a better idea of the individual casino’s practises.
I wrote a whole post expounding what I love about Downtown Las Vegas, from the Neon Boneyard to the Container Park, and according to signs dotted around the area the Downtown Casinos have better odds of winning than those on the Strip. I also enjoyed the fusty, faded bling of the Downtown Casinos like Golden Nugget more than I did the over-aromatic, monoliths on the Strip.
Divas Las Vegas
Whitney is alive and well and presently performing live on the Strip – in the body of a bloke! Frank Marino is Vegas’ longest running headliner and his Divas show at the Quad brings you performances of the likes of Britney, Diana Ross and Cher from an incredibly convincing group of female impersonators. Tickets for the 75-minute show start from $54.99, which is far less than you would pay to see Celine or Elton at Caesar’s but just as camp.
Queue-Jumping At The Clubs
Unless you have thousands of dollars to lay down on VIP reservations at the Vegas clubs you will have to queue and pay door entry like regular plebs. But there is another way. Nite Tours run VIP Club Crawls where you get complimentary VIP access to 3 clubs plus transport in-between venues on a party bus with free bar. The clubs vary depending on what night of the week you are partying but include big names like Pure at Caesar’s Palace and Hyde at Bellagio. Tickets cost $89 which is a fair price to pay to escape queues and cover charges.
Vegas is an adult’s playground so you have to get involved in a thrill-ride or two. My favourite was the Big Apple coaster on the top of New York New York. The roller coaster takes you all around the hotel and offers fantastic views of the Strip, if you have your eyes open! At Circus Circus you will find two indoor roller coasters including the world’s only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew ride. Then for something completely different you have the Gun Garage, which is like an adrenaline rush and panic attack combined (if you’re as wimpy as me!) Under expert guidance you can learn to shoot AK’s, Uzi’s and Glock’s. For me this was a once in a lifetime experience (i.e. I don’t think I will ever do it again) but I shall certainly never forget the experience.
Lots Of Eating
Vegas is the land of the never-ending buffet so it would be rude not to try one when in town. We sampled the buffet at Le Village Paris where the desserts where the main draw, but also appreciated that for an extra $12 we could enjoy bottomless drinks including champagne. For a dining experience with a difference you can visit the Heart Attack Grill. Here they serve up mammoth burgers with gross names like the Double or Triple Bypass and then, rather weirdly, if you don’t finish it all the staff (dressed as nurses) spank you with a paddle. (Yes you did read that right!) Our group each ordered the smallest meal we could for fear of a slap. Also, rather crudely, HAG offers free meals to customers who weigh over 350llb – there is a scale in the restaurant and when one large man got on it and was over the limit the restaurant applauded him. Heart Attack Grill is a bizarre experience but the burgers are rather good. Alternatively you could head to In-N-Out Burger and enjoy a meal for less than $10 with no spanking threats.
My final word of advice would be to get off-Strip. Vegas is even more impressive when viewed within the context of its position. By driving into the desert to see the Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon and Grand Canyon (each staggering in their own right), the contrast when coming back to the Strip was even more jaw dropping.
Do you have any tips to add for Vegas first timers?