Viva Las Vegas!
It is one of those places that you either dream of going to or could think of nothing worse. As someone who doesn’t gamble and doesn’t have an urge to be married by Elvis, I would never have thought about Vegas as a holiday destination. So when two of the guys in the office said they were going for a convention and could I do some research for this for them to do that wasn’t just the casinos, I agreed and was pleasantly surprised.
Couple of things to consider before you go:
You will need comfy shoes, sun cream and sunglasses and if you are going between October and April, a jumper and some trousers as the dessert gets cold at night.
This is not something we are great at in the UK but it is really important and in Vegas, where everyone is working hard to make sure you have the best time.
Rule of thumb – 15% – 20% of the total bill should be left as a tip. If someone has helped with your bags then $1/$2 dollars per bag and $5 is you are using concierge services.
A small bet for the deal is the normal method for tipping at the tables. You also need to tip taxi drivers a $1/$2 tip for the journey.
What sites not to miss:
The hotels are sites within their own right. With dancing fountains, sprawling shopping malls and indoor rivers, and luxury spas and pools. Take a walk down the strip with your camera and you will have a great time without spending a penny.
Vegas can be very expensive but there are a lot of things you can do and see for free. For example the aquarium at the Silverton Hotel has real mermaids who swim around, dance and perform stunts. The show runs every half hour on Thursdays between 2:15pm – 8:30pm, Friday and Saturday until 9:30pm and on Sundays between 11:30am and 6:45pm. Also divers feed the stingrays at 1pm and 4:30pm every day.
Probably the most famous of Vegas sites are the fountains outside the Bellagio. They “dance” Monday – Friday 3pm – 7pm with a show every half hour and 7pm – midnight with a show every 15 minutes. You cannot go to Vegas and not see the show!
You have to make sure you get the obligatory photo of the Las Vegas sign and you under the sign etc. Before it was a bit of a perilous race across the street, avoiding the traffic to get a quick picture, now it is in a car park and easily accessible to pedestrians.
Vegas has got its fair share of rides for the roller-coaster junkies out there. These rides are incredible and are guaranteed to scare the pants off you!
Adventuredome at Circus Circus
This is America’s largest indoor theme park and has thrill rides, carnival rides, laser shooting, miniature gold, bumper cars and loads more. The key thrill rides to try out are The Sling Shot – shoots up like a rocket with 4 G force, Canyon Blaster – double loop and a corkscrew at 55mph, yes please! If you don’t mind sinning then the Disk O spins at 14 rotations a minute on a roller-coaster. Then there is the Inverter and the Chaos which put you upside down.
The Ferris wheel is a nice way to spend a date but also seats up to four people if you are with friends or the kids.
It is best to check opening times here as they vary throughout the year: http://www.adventuredome.com/general_information.aspx#allday
The most cost effective way to enjoy all the rides is to by a day pass for $27.95.
Rides at the Stratosphere
There are four rides at the Stratosphere Tower; they are the Big Shot, Insanity, SkyJump and X Scream. The most cost effective way to do the rides is to buy and all day unlimited rides ticket for $34, which includes the Tower Admission, however it doesn’t include the SkyJump which starts at $109.99.
At the extra cost you get to plummet 108 floors from the top of the Stratosphere Tower. It isn’t a bungee jump you free fall (in a controlled way) to the ground.
I am an adrenalin junky but even I would struggle with this one. You are fastened into a seat attached to a huge mechanical arm extended 64 feet over the stratosphere tower at over 900 feet. You are then spun in the air at a rate of 3 Gs before it extends out so you are facing the floor! If you can keep your eyes open then the view will be amazing. Might be worth emptying your pockets before going on this one!
This ride looks like a giant See-saw but it is 866 feet above the ground. You are propelled head first 27 feet over the edge of the tower where you then dangle weightlessly before being rocked back for it to happen all over again!
This ride is on top of the 921 foot tower and takes riders to a height of 1081 feet. It shoots you into the air at 45mph as your legs dangle over the Vegas skyline.
Everyone will expect you to go and see Cirque de soleil whilst in Vegas and there are loads of shows to choose from and they suit every budget. You can also still see Celine Dion at Caesar’s Palace. For more information on shows (as there are LOADS) you can click here.
You can walk around Vegas and it is very safe. There are plenty of highly visible security and police officers around should you need any assistance. The main problem you will probably find is your feet getting tired.
There are buses and taxis which are easily accessible and cheap. There is also the Las Vegas Monorail which runs 7am – 2am Monday to Thursday and until 3am Friday – Sunday. It is really cheap and a quick way to get to one end of the strip to the other.
Not everyone goes to Vegas to gamble but for most people this is the main part of their holiday and with pretty much all the hotels being Casino resorts it would almost be rude not to have a go. Many of the hotels offer lessons on each of the games for first timers. One of which is the Golden Nugget (also home to the shark tank water slide but we will get to that).
Packing your swimming trunks is essential in Vegas. Most of the hotels on the strip have one or more amazing pools and you can normally visit the other hotels as a guest for around $20. The opening hours of the pools vary and some are adult only so it is worth checking this before you turn up for a dip.
Here are some of the best:
The Venetian has three pool areas: The Pool Deck, the Azure and Tao beach. The Pool Deck is located on the 4th Floor and has 3 pools, a hotub, cocktail service and a café.
Mandalay Bay has sun surf and sand! There is a lazy river and they have the largest wave pool on the strip.
Golden Nugget is the known as The Tank. This pool as undergone a $30million renovation which includes a shark tank and a 3- story waterslide. You can swim next to the sharks or plunge thorough them on the slide, before drying off and going for a drink. In addition to The Tank the Golden Nugget has the hideout, which is for the over 16s and has a two storey infinity pool! http://www.goldennugget.com/LasVegas/pool_thetank.asp
Vegas is all about the buffets. All the hotels have buffets for breakfast lunch and dinner. Most of the blogs recommend that you will only need to eat too meals a day as the buffets are so huge. One of the biggest and most expensive is the one at the Bellagio which has over 500 items and includes prime ribs and lobster. You can eat cheap in Vegas, a lot of evening buffets are around the $20 mark. The buffet at circus circus has been voted one of the best for years.
The buffet hall at Green Valley Ranch looks like the food hall at Harrods, it looks incredible and come recommended. This is not surprising at breakfast is $4.99 and dinner is only $13.99. To get these prices you need the Station Casino boarding pass – but this is free to sign up for.
If you can’t face another buffet and just want a steak or good Mexican food try Carlos’ and Charlie’s. Described as “like Mexico in Spring Break” something tells me this restaurant is going to be fun!
Where to stay