This past weekend Audrey and I had the opportunity to explore Las Vegas. Personally, it was my first time to visit and I had serious reservations as to whether or not I would actually enjoy the experience. In many ways, I’ve always assumed Vegas was unabashedly cheesy and equally parts sleazy; essentially, nothing more than a Disneyland for adults.
5 Things That Totally Shocked Me About Las Vegas
What shocked me is that it didn’t take me long to change my mind about the place. Yes, it is a bit tacky and sleazy in some regards; however, it is an undeniably fun place to be. The energy and excitement swept me up and believe me when I say I don’t exactly need an excuse to get over-the-moon thrilled about temporarily escaping the shackles of teacher’s college.
I desperately needed a temporary escape from reality and Las Vegas provided that in spades. There are many aspects of Las Vegas that totally surprised me. Here are the top five:
Adventure playground for outdoor enthusiasts
I had absolutely no idea how many day trip opportunities exist for those seeking outdoor adventures. Red Rock Canyon, a national park that seems lifted straight from Northern Argentina, is within short driving distance. Lake Mead is only a few minutes drive from The Strip. If you’ve got a few more hours to spare the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon are quite accessible. In theory, one could come to Las Vegas and engage in absolutely none of the nightlife, gambling, eating, shopping and entertainment and still not even scratch the surface of rugged outdoors adventures over the course of a weekend (or even a full week in the city). When I return to Vegas in the future I’m definitely hoping to stay longer and use the city as a launch pad for escaping it all.
Value for all budgets
Las Vegas is a destination for people of all budgets. You can live it up like an A-lister by gormandizing at only the most posh restaurants, drinking at the most exclusive nightclubs and sipping on nothing but the finest of drinks; however, if you’re not filthy rich and/or famous it’s a place where value is everywhere. There are plenty of free shows and entertainment (the Bellagio water show being one of my favorites) and most hotels and casinos welcome you with open arms even if you’re merely people watching. You can go for a $10 buffet or gobble down a burger with single digit greenbacks. Personally, I had the opportunity to do both. I ate the $50 steak and watched the Cirque du Soleil performance and I also indulged in many free attractions and wolfed down the otherworldly tasty Shake Shack burger.
Distances are not what they seem
“It’s only five minutes on foot,” I proclaimed to Audrey gauging the distance of the hotel we wanted to visit. Five minutes later it didn’t appear to be any closer. Ten minutes later it still looked just about the same: “Okay, maybe it’ll take us over a half an hour.” This is a frequent conversation we had numerous times during our weekend in Vegas. The desert plays tricks on your eyes; nothing is what it seems. We learned, given the extreme time scarcity we had, that taking a cab wasn’t a bad idea when we wanted to jam activities into a few hours.
You can enjoy Vegas without Gambling
I remember reading recently that over 80% of people who visit Las Vegas gamble during their visit. This is obviously understandable. Vegas without gambling is like a tuna fish sandwich sans the tuna. For those adverse to gambling – or simply disinterested – it is totally feasible to enjoy your experience in Sin City without rolling dice, pulling the lever on a slot machine or placing a bet. There is simply so much one can do both on and off The Strip that gambling is entirely optional; however, you will notice people in hotels/casinos that are ONLY in Vegas to do just that. If you’re observant enough, you start to spot familiar faces in familiar places at all hours of the day.
You can rock any style and get away with it
Are you up to date with the latest fashion from New York City? Total hipster? Cowboy? Retro? Redneck? Regular? Or anything in between? Whatever it is that you do (or don’t) sport, you’ll fit right in when you come to Vegas. I saw everything from staggering cowboys from Texas to pasty white sun deprived Canadians looking like they belonged here. It doesn’t matter if you’re dressed to the nines or looking like you just went on a hunting expedition. It’s all just fine and dandy over here.
The unofficial sixth surprise is that I’d be more than willing to come back. I had a grand old time in Vegas and I tried my best to sample as many different aspects of the city and the surrounding nearby areas as I possibly could. I left wishing I had a few more days to linger when I thought initially I’d be thrilled to eventually leave. Vegas, I’m hooked – the biggest surprise of all.
10 More Unique Things About Las Vegas That May Surprise You
Las Vegas, the glittering gem of Nevada, is a city that exudes extravagance and uniqueness. The city is a masterclass in indulgence, from its iconic casinos to its flamboyant hotels and themed wedding chapels. Let’s delve deep into the most captivating and extraordinary aspects of this fascinating city.
The Strip, or Las Vegas Boulevard, is a prominent and identifiable feature of Las Vegas. It is a 4.2-mile-long stretch of road that is home to some of the world’s most luxurious and eccentric hotels, casinos, and attractions. From the enchanting fountain show at the Bellagio to the Eiffel Tower replica at Paris Las Vegas, The Strip provides visitors with a chance to experience some of the most famous landmarks in the world. Additionally, one can stroll down the street to witness replicas of the Colosseum, the Statue of Liberty, and even the canals of Venice, all situated within close proximity to each other.
For a truly unique and fascinating museum experience, the Neon Museum is a must-visit destination. The museum houses an extensive collection of retired neon signs from some of the city’s most iconic hotels and casinos, offering visitors a glimpse into the city’s illustrious past. The museum is a kaleidoscope of colorful vintage signs advertising hotels and motels, and neon lights from iconic casinos such as the Stardust and the Moulin Rouge, showcasing the city’s history in a captivating way.
Las Vegas is renowned for its many wedding chapels, offering couples a quick and effortless way to tie the knot. These chapels offer themed weddings, some of which include the Elvis Presley-themed ceremony, complete with an Elvis impersonator, and Star Trek-themed weddings, where couples can exchange vows in front of a replica of the Starship Enterprise. Las Vegas has a wedding chapel to cater to every taste, whether traditional or unconventional.
The city is famous for its ubiquitous slot machines, providing visitors with an opportunity to test their luck and potentially hit the jackpot. With over 200,000 slot machines scattered throughout the city, they can be found in hotels, casinos, and even grocery stores, providing visitors with ample opportunities to win big.
The High Roller is an attraction not to be missed, providing a bird’s-eye view of the city. The colossal Ferris wheel stands at a towering height of 550 feet, making it the tallest observation wheel globally, offering incredible views of the city and the surrounding desert landscape. The High Roller provides a unique experience for visitors, offering private cabin rentals for a romantic night out or a party with friends.
Although not situated in Las Vegas, the enigmatic military base known as Area 51 is located just a few hours away. This secretive and heavily guarded base has long been associated with UFO sightings and conspiracy theories, drawing in UFO enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists to the nearby town of Rachel, Nevada.
Las Vegas is famous for its all-you-can-eat buffets, offering a wide range of cuisines, often featuring unlimited food and drinks. From sumptuous seafood and juicy steaks to tantalizing sushi and decadent desserts, the buffets cater to all palates. Although the quality of food may differ from one buffet to the next, they offer a unique dining experience that is not to be missed.
For those interested in the city’s history of organized crime, the Mob Museum is a must-visit attraction. Situated in downtown Las Vegas, the museum tells the story of organized crime in the United States, with a particular focus on the city’s history of mob activity. The museum features exhibits on infamous mobsters, their lives and crimes, providing visitors with an in-depth and captivating look at the dark side of Las Vegas’s past.
10 Strange Facts About Nevada
As a state full of eccentricities and offbeat attractions, Nevada is a fascinating destination for travelers who want to explore the weird and wonderful. Here are 10 of the strangest things about Nevada that every traveler should experience.
- The Extraterrestrial Highway – Located in the middle of the Nevada desert, this highway is a must-visit for UFO enthusiasts who are searching for signs of alien life. Along the way, visitors can stop at the small town of Rachel, which has a few quirky attractions related to the topic.
- Area 51 – Known for its mysterious past and alleged government secrets, Area 51 is a restricted area in the Nevada desert that has fascinated conspiracy theorists and sci-fi fans for decades.
- The Neon Museum – Located in Las Vegas, this museum is home to a collection of vintage neon signs that once adorned the city’s casinos and hotels. It’s a fascinating look at the city’s history and the evolution of the famous Las Vegas strip.
- The Clown Motel – This motel, located in the small town of Tonopah, is famous for its clown-themed decor and creepy atmosphere. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s a must-visit for those who want a truly unique experience.
- The International Car Forest of the Last Church – This bizarre art installation, located in the middle of the Nevada desert, features dozens of abandoned cars that have been stacked and spray-painted to create a surreal landscape.
- The Goldwell Open Air Museum – This outdoor sculpture park, located in the ghost town of Rhyolite, features a collection of eclectic and whimsical sculptures that are unlike anything else you’ll see in Nevada.
- The Haunted Virginia City – This old mining town, located just outside of Reno, is rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of its former residents. Visitors can take a ghost tour of the town and experience the paranormal for themselves.
- The Basque Quarter – Located in Reno, this neighborhood is a tribute to the Basque immigrants who settled in the area in the late 19th century. Visitors can enjoy traditional Basque cuisine, music, and culture in this unique and charming neighborhood.
- The Fly Geyser – This geothermal geyser, located on private property near Gerlach, is a stunning natural wonder that looks like it belongs on another planet. It’s only visible from a distance, but it’s worth the trip to see this strange and beautiful formation.
- The Alien Cathouse – This brothel, located in the middle of the Nevada desert, is one of the few legal brothels in the state. But what sets it apart is its sci-fi theme, which includes spaceship decor and alien-themed rooms.
- The International Banana Museum – Located in the small town of Mecca, this museum boasts the world’s largest collection of banana-related items, including banana-themed art, toys, and even a banana-shaped car.
- The Leaning Tower of Niles – This replica of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa is located in the town of Niles, near Reno. It’s a strange and unexpected sight in the middle of the Nevada desert.
- The Mizpah Hotel – Located in the historic mining town of Tonopah, this hotel is rumored to be haunted by several ghosts. It’s also home to the “Lady in Red,” a ghostly apparition that has been seen by many guests over the years.
- The International UFO Museum and Research Center – This museum, located in the town of Roswell, is dedicated to the infamous Roswell incident of 1947, in which a supposed UFO crashed in the area. It’s a fascinating look at the history and culture of UFO sightings and alien encounters.
- The Liberace Museum – Located in Las Vegas, this museum is dedicated to the flamboyant pianist and entertainer Liberace. It features a collection of his costumes, jewelry, and other memorabilia, as well as a replica of his famous piano-shaped pool.
With a shadow of doubt, Nevada is a state full of quirky and offbeat attractions that are sure to fascinate and intrigue travelers who are looking for something different. Whether you’re interested in aliens, ghosts, art, or just plain weirdness, Nevada has something for everyone. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the strange and wonderful world of Nevada.
More to come of our weekend trip to Las Vegas with Expedia Canada.