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Las Vegas… people either love it or hate it. I am part of the group that LOVES this city that never sleeps (I know many people think NYC is the city that never sleeps, but I’m positive it is Vegas). I travel to Vegas at least once a year for work and fall more in love with it each time. Everything about this oasis in the desert speaks to your senses from the flashing neon lights to the sound of the slot machines to the amazing food. Just outside the city, you’ll find the Hoover Dam and breathtaking national park areas. Here are some of my tips for Vegas:
There are so many hotel options on the Strip, and it can become overwhelming trying to find the best one in the best area. My favorite hotel is hands down The Cosmopolitan. Not only is the hotel gorgeous with modern amenities and fantastic restaurants, the location is also convenient. I highly suggest booking a terrace room with a view of the Bellagio fountains so you can enjoy the fountain show from the comfort of your own room.
Many people think you need to be a gambler to enjoy Vegas, but nothing can be further from the truth. In addition to walking up and down the Strip and seeing the inside of the iconic hotels such as The Venetian and Caesar’s Palace, you can also take this time to see your favorite musicians in concert. A variety of artists will have residencies at different times in different venues including Gwen Stefani, Backstreet Boys, Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez, Steve Aoki, Calvin Harris, and Lady Gaga among so many others.
Other shows that are entertaining include magic shows (Criss Angel Mindfreak and Penn & Teller), Cirque du Soleil, and Magic Mike. Food tours are also a great way to taste dishes from celebrity chefs at a more affordable price.
If you are in Vegas for more than a weekend, then you may find yourself looking for something to do outside of the Strip. One of my favorite activities is to head out and see the desert surroundings outside of Vegas. You can make a reservation with Sunbuggy and tour the Valley of Fire on a dune buggy, or you can go Mad Max style and do a desert chase on a dune buggy!
The Hoover Dam is about 30-40 minutes away from the Strip and is worth the short trip. You can either rent a car or book a tour with a local company.
The Grand Canyon is also accessible from Vegas, but it will typically be a long day. You can do a helicopter tour, book with a local tour company, or drive on your own. I would suggest doing this with a tour company so you can make the most of your day.
Food and drinks tend to be VERY expensive on the Strip (think $15-$20 for a standard cocktail). Going out about two blocks from the Strip will help you cut costs by about 50%. If you are gambling, you’ll usually be able to score free drinks that way since they are taking your money through another avenue.
Resort fees – Almost every hotel on the Strip will charge a daily resort fee which can be as high as $45 + tax per day and charged at the hotel. Make sure you factor this expense into your budgeting.
Ventilation – Older casinos tend to be smoky in their casinos because of their older ventilation systems (but they tend to have the lowest minimums required to play a hand). Make sure you take a break from breathing in the smoky air. Your lungs will thank you!
Dry air – If you live in a humid place such as Florida, you’ll feel the effects of the dry desert air almost immediately on your skin. Make sure you bring good moisturizer to prevent your skin from flaking and cracking and drink plenty of water.
There is no shortage of things to do, see, and eat in Vegas. After a few days in this fabulous city, you’ll understand why people from all over the world visit this unique destination!
-by Theresa Chu-Bermudez