What to do (and what not to do) in Las Vegas
So this may come as a shock to some of you, but I’m a pretty big fan of travel. And frankly, I’m not going to be one of those stuck up travelers that’s going to judge you hardcore if I’ve actually heard of the place you’ve been. No, I like traditional places to visit. For example, I spent a year of my life between high school and college as a foreign exchange student in the south of France. I’ve been all over Canada and the US, and even spent a day in Mexico (limited to one day for safety reasons). But there’s one place that I love visiting every single time I go:
That’s right; I’m IN LOVE with Sin City!
In my younger days, it was a place where I went to gamble and make some money (there may be an article on that at some point), and engage in general frivolity and amusement. But seeing as my girlfriend had yet to visit, and we were finally in a place (literally) where we could get there in a day, we decided to take our spring break from school (YAY TEACHING) and head on over to the happiest place on earth.
Wait… that’s not right… well, fuck it, you get my point.
What we did well!
First, we hacked our housing. Sort of.
This is one of those times that I really do believe that I’m ridiculously lucky. My father, who taught me pretty much everything I know when it comes to personal finance, was able to purchase a condo out there a few years back. And as a result, he’s let me use it numerous times to stay for free!
If you’re ever looking for a scary number, check out how much it costs to stay in some of the hotels on the strip. Some places you’re looking at a couple hundred bucks a night. If you can stay somewhere for cheap, and it doesn’t completely derail your vacation (i.e., you don’t have to drive 45 minutes to do anything) then try to stay somewhere for cheap.
Side note: Any tips on how to convince my dad to AirBnB his place? I’m convinced he could make the mortgage payment with just a few stays a month, but I’m sure he’s going to respond with the “I want the flexibility” argument.
We Groupon-ed the shit out of the city
Oddly enough, my girlfriend and I really weren’t that in to Groupon. But seeing as you can burn through a fair amount of cash in very little time in a place like Las Vegas, we used the site to our advantage. Here’s what our process was:
- We figured out what the heck it was that we wanted to do. But we didn’t get super specific. For example, we knew that we wanted to do the party bus tour that gets you into some of the clubs on the strip. But we weren’t specific as to what company.
- We searched it on Groupon, and we tried not to be too picky. After all, drunk busses really can’t be THAT differentiated. Or maybe I’m wrong and I haven’t been on that many drunk busses.
- We compromised. Which means if we weren’t able to afford something (or didn’t want to) we tried to find a solid 80% solution. So maybe we couldn’t afford the fancy open bar, but we did find 2-32 oz margaritas on the strip for $7 each. That’s not too shabby 🙂
We did the free stuff we actually wanted to do.
So this is the thing with free stuff: Sometimes it works out to be an awesome experience, and sometimes it works out to be absolute crap. It really depends on what you’re doing. After all, one of the best vacations of my life involved activities that were absolutely free.
So instead of doing the pool crawl (which involved dropping $$$ to be carted around to different pools on the strip) we opted to reach out to a friend and abuse her pool privileges at her apartment complex. 🙂 Instead of actually staying on the strip or staying in Fremont, we decided to, ahem, buy adult beverages and stumble around like a couple fools. (Which was AWESOME, BTW)
So when planning out your trip to Las Vegas, keep in mind the free stuff that there is to do. Between the hiking, experiences on and off the strip, and the fact that it’s trying to gear itself towards a more family friendly environment, you can get away with having a great time without spending a ton of cash.
What we didn’t do well (or, more positively…) What we’d do different next time
Plan Better… Much Better
So this comes with the territory of being two teachers that are in a relationship: we really didn’t plan out the trip that well because we’re so busy. It had been a while since I’ve been to Las Vegas, and my girlfriend had never been. Add on top of that the fact that I wasn’t really sure what she would be into (though she was pretty adamant about NOT gambling), I wasn’t sure what she’d want to do. It wasn’t until we got there and spent a day or two running around that I finally got a feel for what she’d enjoy.
Turns out that you’ll rarely miss on a Cirque Du Soleil show.
Also, be sure to check out the Las Vegas Pass before your trip. This is a pass that you’ll pay a somewhat pretty penny for, but if you work at it and drink enough coffee to power through the day, you can absolutely get your money back. The pass will help you either skip lines while visiting some of Las Vegas’ most famous attractions, or give you a SIGNIFICANT discount for admission.
But the overall theme is this: before you go, take a couple of hours, and check out the things you want to do. Chances are you won’t be able to get to all of them in your first trip anyway, but it’ll be worth the time. Your wallet will thank you!
If it’s your first time in Las Vegas, just stay on the strip
So this was my bad, but at the end of the day, my girlfriend and I should have just sprung for the room and stayed on the strip for a night or two. I wouldn’t suggest doing it for a week unless you can REALLY afford it, but I would imagine that it’s probably worth the few hundred bucks for the experience. Why, you might ask? Well…
- Easier access to everything – This is huge. If you’re staying on the strip, you can literally walk to whatever it is you want to do. Or, if you’re worried about walking too far in those shoes, you can always get an Uber, and since you’re not actually that far from anything, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
- There is no better sight than Las Vegas at night – ’nuff said. Also, all good advice rhymes.
- Night Life – It’s so much better to be able to get drunk and then just stumble back to your bed. As opposed to what we had to do, which was drink a bit, be VERY sure that one of us was ok to drive home, and then head back to the condo. Great that our housing was free, but it SUCKS to have to restrict your frivolity while visiting Las Vegas.
- You never know what you’re going to find – Seriously though. With the amount of shenanigans happening on the strip, you could meet up with a drunk bachelorette party, get in a fight with a black Ironman, or trip over a group of 50 year old guys still trying to relive the “Glory Days” and find yourself in the stickiest strip club you’ve ever seen. It’s just ridiculous.
Final note – DO THE MOB MUSEUM
Ok, BAR NONE, one of the best entertainment value per dollar was the Mob Museum, located in Fremont. I know what you’re probably thinking: “Why in the HELL would I visit a museum while I’m visiting one of the most famous party cities in the world?”
Frankly, I understand where you’re coming from. And maybe this is just me personally, but I get really excited learning the background of cities that have no comparison in the rest of the world. Think about it; where else on Earth can you find a place that was started by literal gangsters, is a gambling haven, and is one of the largest entertainment capitals in the world?
Yeah I know… NOWHERE!
The mob museum is actually a repurposed U.S. Post Office that is designed to take you through the history of not only Vegas, but of the mafia and gangster history of the entire United States. There are lots of interactive exhibits, and if you’re even a smidgen interested in what made Las Vegas “Las Vegas”, then you absolutely should check it out.
Plus, they’ve got awesome discounts for teachers, military, and a whole bunch of other organizations. We were able to spend hours in their for less than $30. Well worth the money!
What to do (and what not to do) in Las Vegas – The Wrap Up
Because this was one of my poorer planned vacations, Brynn and I really didn’t have as good of a time as we could have, especially when we think back to Los Angeles. With that being said, it could have been a lot worse. Here are the key takeaways and tips you should take advantage of before checking out Las Vegas:
- Hack your housing if you can, but stay on the strip at least for a day or two – This would allow you to check out most of what the strip has to offer, and still save some cash if you can. But when you’re on the strip, DEFINITELY take advantage of it.
- Groupon is your friend – This is always the case, but even more so when you’re staying in a big city like Las Vegas. Definitely check out what’s available BEFORE you spend any money; you’d be surprised what you might find.
- Free stuff is your friend – Enough said. If you think you might even slightly enjoy the free activities you can do in Las Vegas, definitely take advantage of it. You’ll be glad you did.
- MOB MUSEUM – Even if you don’t think you’re interested in history, Las Vegas is one of the most unique places in the world. Check it out when you get a chance!
Let me know if you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share below! I’m always looking for new stuff to check out!
Keep trying to crack the code,
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