Well, Las Vegas is a town that I never thought I would enjoy visiting, because I don’t really gamble at all. Much to my surprise, there is so much to do in this small town, that I left with a laundry list of things I wanted to do, and never got around to doing.
I booked everything online using Travelocity.com They seemed to have this particular flight and hotel deal for the cheapest, I never had any problems with them. We flew out of Kansas City on Frontier Airlines. I had never flown with them, but again, no complaints, they were on time getting us to Vegas. On the way home, however, we got stuck in Denver for hours due to mechanical problems on our flight, and we ended up flying home on US Airways, which turned out to be better. Their seats are a little wider and they lean back a bit more than Frontier.
We arrived at The Stratosphere Hotel and Casino by cab from the airport. Make sure you tell them to avoid the tunnel and your fee will be half as much by going straight down the strip. I chose the Stratosphere because they had one of the bigger pools in the bunch, and it was cheaper. The reason is because it is a little further from all of the action. The rooms were nice and the beds were comfortable, and they have so many choices for food and fun. They have three thrill rides on top of the Stratosphere Tower that won’t disappoint. It wasn’t very crowded in the hotel, which is good and their floor plan is easy to navigate after a quick lap around.
It will cost you an arm and a leg to take a cab everywhere, but luckily, there is a $3 bus that stops in front of The Stratosphere and many other hotels along The Strip about every fifteen minutes. It goes all the way down to the bottom of the strip and as far north as Fremont street. Make sure you have exact change, and allow enough time for plenty of stopping along the way.
Walking the strip just sucks, lets just come out and say it. It’s crowded, and dark and they are constantly building around you, so you have to walk around construction sites as well as mobs of people and avoid piles of sand or being hit by a bus or cab. The sidewalk is a normal size sidewalk, packed with a thousand people per block. If you are walking, ladies, bring a big purse and stash your good shoes in there and walk in sandals, guys might want to do this too, if they have nice shoes. I chose to walk through a lot of the casinos to catch a break from the crowds and car exhaust and feel some nice A/C for a bit. Its also a good way to see all of the casinos and decide if you want to stay there next time.
While walking The Strip, you will encounter a number of men and women offering you cards for escorts or strip clubs and what not. Just ignore them, you don’t have to take the cards they are offering, you would end up with a whole stack afterward. There are a few people outside of clubs and bars offering cards for free shots inside or free entry to a bar, do take those. And anything being handed out inside of casinos is legit, usually free entry to clubs or coupons for drinks or free shots, take those too.
If you want a great view of the Strip from above, there are plenty of options. Staying in the Stratosphere allows you to go up the tower for free, which is the highest viewing point in Las Vegas. There is also the famous Eiffel Tower, but the lines for this are too long and it costs too much to wait. You can instead head to MIX, a bar inside of THEhotel located next to Mandalay Bay. If you get there before 10 pm, its free to get in. You can also head to the Palms hotel and go up to the 55th floor to GhostBar and check out a really amazing view. The Palms is a couple of blocks from the strip, so you can literally see The Strip from beginning to end there. I recommend getting there just before 10 pm, it will only be $10 to get in and very few people there, so you can get some great shots of the town. Order a Ghost Martini, their special green martini. If you want a very relaxed club to visit, this is it, they only let in so many people at a time, and its not really a dancing kind of place. To get to the hotel on the cheap, take the $3 shuttle down to the stop that announces the free shuttle to the Rio. Take the shuttle and then you only have to walk 5 minutes to get there.
Next, I would recommend visiting Fremont Street. Its a throw back to the way Vegas used to look and just got me in the mood to watch Robert DeNiro in Casino. Make sure you get there between 8pm and midnight. I missed the awesome light show that the screen covering the street projects. One of my biggest disappointments and it was on my last night there. By the way, food and drinks are so much cheaper here than on the strip. Make sure you spend some time here, it was still fun, even though I missed the lights.
A few more tips for you would be to bring Visine and some nasal spray. The air is so dry here, that your nose may bleed and you will look hungover just from rubbing your eyes too much. Bring a lot of cash too. There are ATMs here, but it will cost you at least $3.75 each time you visit it. Use the FunBook given to you by your hotel. There will be so many coupons for food, drinks and shopping in there, that you may not want to leave your hotel, and that’s the point. Ask for freebies and upgrades everywhere, the worst they do is say no. Check out your hotel’s Happy Hour special. It’s a good way to be buzzed before you hit the strip, and cheaper. You can also pack liquor into your checked luggage and have some shots in your room before going out. Just make sure you leave the alcohol in the room. No matter how drunk you get, remember to put out your ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign before going to bed in the morning, the maids will still come in two or three times before your ready to get up and do it all over again. You live and you learn and you come home broke, that’s Vegas for you.
I give Vegas 3.5 “REALLY expensive cocktails” out of 5.
by Angela Davis