At first, I smiled at the thought of how warm it would be in Vegas.
You see, no Montrealer in his or her right mind would refuse an offer to bask in the southwestern sun for a couple of days in January (officially the worst of all twelve months as far as I’m concerned). I could already feel the warm breeze brushing against my cheek, a welcome relief from the bone-chilling polar temperatures up north.
As you guys already know I am a featured blogger for Expedia.ca and I was very excited to collaborate with them and visit Las Vegas for the first time. But try as I might, I couldn’t help but wonder about other aspects of my trip – what exactly would a gal like me, who isn’t into nightlife nor gambling, do in Vegas – the very emblem of these two nocturnal activities? In the back of my mind I knew that despite the fact that I am by no means a gambler, I just had to visit Las Vegas. In the same way that I visit medieval cathedrals in Europe even though I’m not a religious person, there are places in the world that you have to see once in your lifetime.
You have to go up the Eiffel Tower once even though it’s somewhat overrated.
You have to give all-inclusive resorts a try.
You have to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef.
And somewhere on that bucket list is “experience the exuberant opulence of Las Vegas”.
As it turns out, there is a lot to do in Las Vegas for the odd 20-something who like going to bed early. Grandma over here enjoyed herself more than she thought she would in Sin City, indulging her favorite sin (that would be gluttony) and even throwing in a few cultural highlights.
I think Las Vegas is as good a place as any for my first ever heli ride, right? Although I was surprised at how quick it was, this bird’s eye view of the Strip at night and the city’s notoriously glitzy lights made my heart swell with excitement. Talk about a short, sweet and splendid night out over town!
Travel tip: make sure to pick a seat on the left-hand side of the helicopter (either next to or behind the pilot), otherwise you’ll be staring at suburban Las Vegas and not the main sights.
Day Trip in the Desert
It’s hard to fully comprehend just how odd Las Vegas’ location in the Nevada Desert is until you embark on a Pink Jeep tour and head to Red Rock Canyon – 20 minutes outside the city. This 65 million year old beauty is famous for its brightly coloured rocks at Calico Hills, and features ancient Native American pictographs. My guide Bob was knowledgeable and was more than happy to share everything he knew about the desert’s wildlife, history and geography. An excellent option for lazy travellers like me who are interested in nature escapades but enjoy being driven around.
Cirque du Soleil
Yet another quintessential Las Vegas thing to do – but definitely my favorite. If I had to pick one “iconic Las Vegas experience” I would pick a Cirque du Soleil show in a heartbeat. I was lucky enough to catch The Beatles LOVE and I swear there are not enough superlatives in the world to express how much I loved (pun intented) my evening. Think Cirque du Soleil ingeniosity, the best of the Beatles’ discography and Las Vegas grandeur condensed in a spectacular two hour showing. These tickets don’t come cheap but I assure you they are worth every penny.
Everything is bigger and bolder in Las Vegas it seems, including restaurants. It’s a good thing I had packed my eating pants because I overate on numerous occasions during my trip (as did my partners in crime Audrey and Samuel); I must have spent half my time in the city ordering food! I had everything from the $6 burgers at the Shick Shack to the swanky $70 steak at STRIPSTEAK at the Mandalay Bay (including their complimentary french fries cooked in duck fat) and from Cake Boss’ famous concoctions at the Venetian to the legendary brunch in the Wynn’s sunroom. There were many yums in Las Vegas and a whole lot of loose-fitting clothing!
As with everything else in the city, Las Vegas hotels are opulent, sumptuous and over the top, but visiting them shouldn’t come with a hefty bill. Visitors doing Las Vegas on a budget can nonetheless get a taste of luxury at hotel lobbies, which are completely free to visit – allowing you to save your precious bucks and treat yo’self to scrumptious dinners instead. The city obviously features several noteworthy lobbies, but my favourites were the Bellagio and the Wynn for their fabulous indoor garden, the artful and modern lobby of the Aria and the crystal-laden lobby at Planet Hollywood.
Mob & Neon Museums
Don’t let the fact that the museums are located in Las Vegas’ old downtown area fool you into thinking they’re not worth the trek! Just a taxi ride away, the Neon and Mob Museum offer invaluable insight on Sin City’s relatively young yet tumultuous history in two completely different settings. I particularly enjoyed the Mob Museum’s many interactive exhibitions.
A Small Note About Gambling in Vegas
Because it is virtually impossible to go to Vegas and not walk through / eat at / hear the beeping of casinos, I did end up gambling a bit – I spent $5 on a slot machine, won $38 in the matter of a few minutes, got greedy… and lost everything. A vivid reminder of why I disliked gambling in the first place! But hey, at least I can say that I gambled in Vegas ;-)
Where I Stayed
I was hosted at the newly-renovated Tropicana Las Vegas, on the southern end of the Strip. The hotel makes for a great base for those who would like to go on the helicopter tour since the airport is quite close (but not so much so that airplanes will keep light sleepers up all night). The famous Shake Shack is also within walking distance, which is a huge bonus if you ask me!
And with views like these, it’s hard not to enjoy a room…
Thanks to Air Canada Rouge, Expedia Canada and Tropicana Las Vegas for making this trip possible. All opinions are my own, as always.