Can you have a good time in Las Vegas without gambling?
I recently spent four nights there determined to answer that burning question. You see, Las Vegas had somehow ended up on my bucket list and, ironically, I’m not a gambler.
Having descended from a long line of Southern Baptists on my mother’s side, I’m certain I was born with a genetic aversion to gambling. I’m not even tempted to play $1 scratch off cards. I can’t remember the rules to card games or how the “spread” works. And then there’s my stubbornly realistic streak that doesn’t appreciate the one in a gazillion Powerball odds. Games of luck or chance simply don’t appeal to me.
So what’s a chick like me going to do in Vegas? Well, as it turns out, a lot!
♠ Eat to her stomach’s content
Forget buffets. Vegas is for gourmand and gourmets! Pretty much everyone with a best-selling cookbook or cooking-theme show has a restaurant here. Is Gordon Ramsey’s Shepard’s Pie just another bland English dish or is it a culinary masterpiece? See for yourself as you literally eat your way through the Food Network here. And finish it off with the dessert of contradictions – Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity 3. And Jose Andres, if I return to Vegas, I’ll now have the foresight to book reservations at your restaurant three months in advance.
♣ Shop ’til her AMEX/MC/Visa Hurts
Vegas is a shopping paradise so come prepared with comfortable shoes. Yes, there are the kinds of shops that need at least one suit-jacketed security guy per 25 square feet. But for the other 99% of us, there are tons of other shops. It’s the kind of place where a Gucci store peacefully exists next door to a Swatch Watch store.
There’s something for everyone – actually there are a lot of somethings for everyone. My AMEX bears witness to this – I think I actually heard it cry “Uncle” toward the end of the trip. Just plan ahead and leave room in your suitcase for the flight home. Or do what I did and buy a new Longchamp bag to haul your booty home.
♦ Wander away from The Strip
And by this, I don’t mean head downtown to Fremont Street. No, I mean literally get out-of-town. You must leave the city limits to see Las Vegas in its proper context – as a man-made oasis in the middle of the Mojave Desert.
It’s easy to succumb to the hyper-reality of Vegas. After two days here, you’ll need an antidote to the neon, the crowds and all those sleazy sidewalk guys shilling for “Scantily Clad, Barely Legal Girls Direct to You!”. Luckily, the cure is an hour or less away from The Strip in natural wonders (Red Rock Canyon & Valley of Fire) and man-made wonders (Hoover Dam & Lake Mead.)
Venture a few hours away and you’re in Death Valley or Zion National Park. Or take an all day bus or jeep excursion to the Grand Canyon. Or for the more adventurous or time-strapped who don’t mind
a little turbulence and a possible barf, you can see the Canyon in just a half day by helicopter or small plane.
And if you can’t tear yourself away from The Strip, at least take the elevator to the top of the “Eiffel Tower” at Paris Las Vegas. Yes, a faux “Eiffel Tower” is a shamelessly cheesy abomination, but the desert panorama and mountain views at the top are beautiful, especially on a clear day.
♥ Burn some calories playing in Vegas’ backyard
Since you’ll probably be stuffing your face with Jean Philippe crepes, Tom Colicchio steaks and deep-fried oreo sundaes, you may want some exercise to counter all those calories. You can kayak, hike, cycle and believe it or not, even ski and snowboard in the Las Vegas vicinity.
If it’s summertime and the temps are in triple digits, you may want to do what we did: Cool off and wash away the seedy parts of The Strip in the mighty Colorado River.
The nice folks at Evolution Expeditions will take you on a kayaking tour through the Black Canyon of the Colorado, starting at the bottom of the Hoover Dam. The river there is wide and calm and a refreshing 54 degrees year round. You’ll be so wowed by the canyon walls, red barrel cactus, bighorn sheep and bald eagles that you’ll completely forget it’s 115 degrees! And if you ask nicely, the guide will even do a rattlesnake check on your kayak when you come back from hiking!
♠Sit back and enjoy the show
You can’t leave Vegas without seeing a show. I think it’s a law, but then I’m not licensed to practice in Nevada. And, trust me, after all the shopping, sightseeing and playing, it’s a welcome relief to plop your weary body in a dark theatre seat for a couple of hours.
There are eight Cirque du Soleil shows to pick from. Choose Zumanity if you want your Cirque cabaret-style in homage to classic, risqué Vegas. Or catch a comedy show or pay a zillion dollars to see Celine Dion. The entertainment options are truly paralyzing for the indecisive.
So, bottom-line, you don’t need to gamble to have a great time in Vegas. I guarantee you’ll have no problem spending the money that you otherwise would have lost gambling! And uhh…maybe some more!
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas?
I don’t think so….
For this chick, what happens in Vegas, ends up in a meticulously arranged 8×11 Shutterfly album!
(If you’re planning a trip to Vegas, check out my Vegas Pinterest board here.)
How about you? Are you up for Las Vegas?