A few months ago Mr C and I embarked on a pilgrimage around some of the better known cities of the US. Las Vegas was our second to last stop. My expectations were pretty low. I mean, I’ve seen The Hangover, pictures from friend’s stopovers and though how much more exiting can it be? Turns out, not much more.
Getting to the city from the airport – for those staying at one of the main hotels on the strip you have three options getting to your hotel. Option one is a shuttle bus – around ten bucks per person. For groups of two or more it costs around the same per person to catch a taxi (option 2) and then for the high rollers, there is a limo service (flash option 3)!
Hotels – the biggest money makers in Vegas are casinos, Therefore you can get a very good deal on accommodation if you avoid the busiest period, which is New Years. We stayed at one of the mid-range hotels, New York New York, for around 70 dollars per night, including all taxes and resort fees. NYNY is a four star hotels, and seriously, we were pretty happy with the service and overall facilities AND there was a rollercoaster on the side of the building.
Don’t be fooled – the Strip looks about 100 m long on a typical map. In reality it will take you over an hour to get from one side to the other. One side (NY NY, Aria, Treasure Island) resembles an obstacle course, with endless flights of stairs that you can’t avoid. A few main roads merge into the Strip, and instead of traffic lights you have lots and lots of stairs and walkways above the main road. Sticking to the side of Paris Las Vegas, Tropicana, MGM hotels is a much better idea, if you are walking. Oh and downtown of Las Vegas is just sad, don’t even bother.
A typical hotel includes a few hundred rooms, a casino, spa, a night club or two, shopping alley, valet carpark, performance theater, a handful of restaurants and even a roller coaster or a canal with its fleet of gondolas! If you have time to spare, walk along the strip and check out some of the better known places. All free of charge and fascinating!
Must do experiences – a visit to a strip club/cabaret show, buffet breakfast, try gherkin fries (delicious) and visit the Canyon.
Time share presentations – you can also call it a must do experience if you have extra five hours to spare. Here is the thing about time share. They lure you in presenting it as a luxury experience, ie you’ll get picked up in a limo, fed, shown around a new resort and taken back to your hotel. The reality is slightly different, so don’t expect special treatment or food. We got a sandwich, some water and a horrendous presentation about some time share apartment. You buy part of the title of the new resort quite far from the city centre. Why would anyone willingly waste five hours of their time? For me, it was getting two front row tickets to a Cirque de Solei show for 30 dollars (usually 130 each). No kidding. If you do go along, be patient and keep saying no to whatever they are trying to sell you. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
If you are not a party animal and ended up in Vegas, there are plenty of shows to see every day. In fact, most hotels have a performance theatre or two with daily performances. As I said before, one of the shows we saw was Cirque de Solei which was spectacular. Custom built stage with some of the best performers.
Looking back now, my absolute favourite memory of Las Vegas was visiting the canyons. We only had time for a couple – The Grand Canyon and Red Canyon.
Red Canyon is a short (20 minute) drive away from the city. You can do a loop around a dedicated road (small charge applies for cars to drive in), and stop at observation points. Seeing sunrise at a place like this is just amazing. While you are there, you can go for a hike in the mountains, just don’t forget to grab some water and snacks. Gates close around 6pm, so if you don’t want to leave your car inside, bring a watch as well.
The Grand Canyon is in a league of its own. It will take you around four hours driving to get there from Las Vegas, so it is pretty much a daytrip experience. If you are short for time and have a couple hundred dollars to spare, helicopter tours are the way to go. After much research and looking at various options we went with Maverick helicopters. No complains, highly recommended. 🙂
Until next time…