I just came back from Las Vegas. I went there as a so-called “Vegas-Virgin” (first-timer), ready to be deflowered by this city full of expectations. I stayed four nights at the incredible Venetian Palazzo Hotel and got to see Las Vegas as I imagined it to be; luxury hotels with grand shows and entertainment, endless casinos filled with fortune hunters day and night, sunbathing and careless living at the pools, limos everywhere (raising the question “who is inside”) and an ocean of people with stars in their eyes.
“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”?
I always thought “it can`t be that crazy”. But I was wrong. It can. For me, Las Vegas is more an amusement park for grown-ups then a normal city. I discovered a distinct gambling gene in me (probably a heritage from my grandmother, with the difference, that she always won). I gambled $40. I also lost my $40. But as my shuttle driver advised me: “don`t play to win, play to have fun”.
The really good thing about my trip, was discovering special attractions and areas outside of the famous “Strip” (The Las Vegas Boulevard, known as “The Strip” – is where all the great hotels are situated). As soon as you leave the Strip, you can find casinos and restaurants with decent prices (the Strip is expensive) and a whole different atmosphere. My TOP 3 are:
The Fremont District
This area, the Fremont Street, is the “original” Las Vegas, situated downtown in the Fremont District. Here, you will find the “Golden Nugget” (The Golden Gate Hotel), which houses the oldest casino in Las Vegas (and one of the biggest golden nuggets in the world with its 61 pounds). In the Fremont Street, you see girls dancing on the bar counters, live music everywhere, people with original costumes waiting to have their pictures taken for tips, and various hotels and casinos full of history. The ceiling of the Fremont Street is covered by a huge screen, illuminating the whole street with different colors and music. A new attraction on Fremont Street is the zip line experience, Slotzilla!
My special tip: visit The Mob Museum, just a short walk from the Fremont Street, and learn more about the formation of Las Vegas and the beginning of this huge adventure, initiated by the mob.
Ellis Island Casino & Brewery
One of my first thoughts after a day in Las Vegas (visited by around 40 million tourists yearly) was: “where are the locals in this city”? Las Vegas and its surroundings has ca. 2 million inhabitants, but you will not find them on the Strip. A friend of mine took me to Ellis Island Casino & Brewery to show me one of the best places to go outside the Strip. Here, the locals meet to gamble, have dinner and sing karaoke! No luxury – but the real stuff!
My special tip: if you want to try gambling, do it here. In most hotels on the Strip you will have a minimum bet of $10 or $15 dollars, here you can play even with $5 dollars and the drinks are for free for the gamblers (make sure to tip the waiter).
Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam excursions
If you visit Las Vegas, make sure to do a day trip to the Grand Canyon, the Red Rock or the Hoover Dam. I took a 7-hour tour to the Grand Canyon (I booked it through the tour operator Viator, but there are various providers that offer nice tours), including a helicopter ride, and it was truly amazing. Make sure to read the next post coming up on Charlotteontheroad about this wonderful experience!
Watch out: you easily find affordable hotels in Las Vegas online, but watch out for the resort fee, mostly added to the price on-site (just to avoid the surprise)!
When I came home from Las Vegas, my first thought at home was: “was it a dream or did I visit a different planet”? One thing is for sure, I liked the planet and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Viva Las Vegas!
Dare to make your dreams come true – the journey starts with a single step!
– Charlotte –