Whoever said that ANYTHING ever stayed in Vegas totally lied. But for me, that’s okay. I love Vegas. Seems kind of funny for a girl who isn’t a big drinker, partier, gambler, or pretty much any of the other things Vegas is known for, but some of the best times of my life have happened in the LV. Being a popular haunt with UCLA student groups (just a 4.5 hour drive and you’re free to wander around on the street until 8am with booze in your hand! HOORAY!), I made seven trips to Vegas during my junior and senior years of college. It’s become a Memorial Day tradition of sorts, one that I will have to miss for the second consecutive year now (that whole Africa thing gets in the way…), which pains me to no end. Last year I even looked up airfare, you know, hypothetically. This year I am blogging instead. Healthier. Next year, God willing, I will get my Vegas fill once again.
Going as a broke college student who didn’t really have any interest in waiting 4 hours to get into Tao or Pure, or planting myself at the blackjack table, or finding a random stranger to make bad decisions with, nor having any money to explore the fabulous culinary scene, my favorite Vegas memories are a little funny. But I still think they merit being shared.
Without further ado, I present my “10 favorite things for poor young people who don’t love gambling, clubbing, or getting sloppy drunk to do in Sin City.”
10. Buy Fat Tuesday’s and wander the Vegas strip.
Simple enough. Buy booze and walk around and check out the lights and the passing scene. Fatty T’s will always remind me of college—the huge reusable mug with the sippy straw, filled with what seemed like liters of the Cat 5 Hurricane (rum punch, with an extra shot of 151 or Everclear, please!). I started getting “too old” for Fat Tuesday’s towards the end there, literally getting sick my last two trips from the pure sugar—here I was, thinking I would NEVER in my life say something was “too sweet”! But regardless, it’s just something you have to do.
9. …Until McDonald’s changes to its breakfast menu. Eat breakfast. THEN you can go to sleep.
Simple too. Walk around til 5:30 in the morning. Hit Mickey D’s on the center strip. Buy something greasy and delicious. (I’m thinking McGriddle.) Perfect way to end the evening, and greet the new day!
8. Take in all of Vegas’ completely free tourist attractions.
My personal favorite: the Bellagio lobby, with the blown Venetian glass ceiling. The amazing gardens, mini fountains, oh and the biggest chocolate fountain ever… or one of them.
Check out the lions at MGM grand; feel really bad for them; still kind of be glad that they are there. Watch the volcano explode at the Mirage. Wander through the Flamingos at the hotel with the same name.
6. Grab a seat at the penny slots with a friend or two.
Load about five bucks. Play very slowly. One line per roll. Meaning there is pretty much no way you are going to win any money. But if you sit there through two or three complimentary gin & tonics, you’ve made money. This is how I take the house in Vegas.
5. Eat until you hate yourself, at the Bellagio’s champagne brunch (if you like the classic, old-money brunch feel) or at Planet Hollywood’s Spice Market Buffet (if you like cuisine from all around the world). God, if only they had doggie bags.
4. See a stupid show with your friends.
Vegas is jam packed with entertainment, and it ranges from the classy (Cirque do Soleil) to the trashy (strip shows of all kinds) to the absurd (Pet Theatre?!). Find something cheap. Go with a group. Preferably a little under the influence. May I recommend a magic show? Dirk Arthur will forever live in infamy.
3. Spend an evening at Nine Fine Irishmen.
Many Vegas establishments are super overpriced, super trashy or way too classy (as in, if you aren’t getting $200 bottle service, don’t bother). Nine Fine Irishmen, an Irish pub in the amazing New York New York, kicks them all to the curb. Instead of pulsing rap, you have a live band (every night but Tuesday) playing awesome Irish rock until a little after midnight, then they take a break and come back and play covers of popular songs. It’s light inside, loud and lively but easy to carry on conversations, and there is cider on tap. I could go to Vegas and only step into this one bar and be very satisfied.
2. See Love at the Mirage.
Okay, since the cheapest tickets are a little over $100 I couldn’t make this my number one thing to do in Vegas (being a “cheap” list and all…), but otherwise it would have been. This Beatles-themed Cirque do Soleil show was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my life. There are no words. I listen to the soundtrack all the time. You don’t have to be a Beatles fanatic either—I would be shocked to meet anyone who saw this show and didn’t fall in love with it. I have considered going to Vegas for a night to see this show and then going home again. It is that good.
1. Hang out in front of the Bellagio fountains and watch the show.
This is such a cliché Vegas thing, but the Bellagio fountains rank in the top few spots of my favorite places in the world. Catch the fountain shows every 15 minutes or so at night. Not as spectacular during the day, but sometimes you can practically be alone there, especially in the morning when everyone else is just getting to bed, which is a great experience. I love the fountains. Especially God bless the USA. And I´m proud to be an American…
For any of my friends reading this who are going to be there this weekend—I’m 10,000 miles away, but I am there in spirit. Grab a Fat Tuesdays (but don’t get sick) and toast the fountains for me. Can’t wait for next Memorial Day… I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
Viva Las Vegas!
Have you ever been to Vegas? What was your favorite thing that you did? Have you done any of these things on this list?