"You up for karaoke at Bill's Gamblin' Hall?" asked Stuart, a complete stranger I had connected with over the poor luck we were both having at the bar-top computerized blackjack money-stealing machines. My cards weren't great, but Stuart was making horrid moves and I wasn't convinced he even knew how to play the game. As he continued to throw his money away, we chatted and learned that we shared a strong love for karaoke, Elvis impersonators and the "Dealertainers" (Celebrity impersonators who also perform while dealing you your cards) at The Imperial Palace. Vegas was the perfect place for our budding friendship (More on Stuart later).
When my husband and I landed in Las Vegas, we grabbed a cab and the driver asked if we'd like to take the scenic route. Excited to be in a new city we said "Sure," not realizing it was double the price and that we would walk this "scenic route," AKA The Strip, our entire stay. Save yourselves and say no to the scenic route. This experience did foreshadow the outcome of my trip: people in Vegas like to take all of my money.
I arrived with a plan, but never seemed to quite accomplish anything. I guess what made the trip so great was that I would intend to do something, but either end up doing it way later or getting distracted by something completely different. For example, I had planned to walk to the New York, New York Hotel to ride the roller coaster, but for some reason ended up being photographed on a motorcycle, participating in a street magic show involving a corbra and then distracted by a giant fish tank.
I did eventually make it to the New York, New York roller coaster, but I'll get to that later. I've organized this post into things you can attempt to do in Vegas, before you become dead broke or completely distracted by something else. The topics I will cover are Things to See, Things to Do, Food and Drink, and How to Gamble for Free Drinks When You Have No Idea What You're Doing.
my favourite things to see
1. The Hotels: All of the strip's hotels are something to see. I think my favourites were Paris, The Luxor, New York and Caesar's Palace. We tried to do one thing at each casino to make sure we saw them all (For example, we checked out the flamingos at The Flamingo and did some underground shopping at Caesar's forum shops; somehow this led us to another distraction: We watched a really weird, but free "Fall of Atlantis" water fountain show). At the time, Excalibur was my worst nightmare because it was full of screaming children, but as I'm writing this now (Mom of 2 kids...and both scream), I suppose that's where I'd have to stay if I went back.
2. The Bellagio Fountains: Every half hour between 3-8PM, there is an amazing water show in front of the Bellagio.
3. Conservatory and Botanical Gardens at Bellagio: While you're in the area, stop in to see the Botanical Gardens. I didn't think I'd care much for this since I'm not a gardener (I've killed 2 cactuses), but I quite enjoyed the experience. If you've ever wanted to see an over the top garden, this would your chance.
4. Old Vegas I know you should never hop in the car with a stranger, but for some reason, I threw this rule out the window in Vegas. After an incredibly successful night of karaoke at Bill's Gamblin' Hall with Stuart (The fastest friend I've ever made) he offered to drive myself and my husband to Old Vegas the next night.* We hopped in his car for a great night on Freemont Street. My wallet would tell you differently but; apparently, the gambling odds were way better over here.
*Disclaimer: If, like us, you don't have a car in Vegas, taking an Uber might be the wiser choice.
5. The Impersonators
things to do
1. The New York, New York Roller Coaster: This bad boy can be found inside the hotel. A ride costs $14 or $25 for a day pass which might not be a bad idea. And if you're up for it, they'll also marry you here.
2. The Eiffel Tower Experience: Depending on your age and time of day, prices range from $10.50-$16.50 and you can ride to the top of the tower for a great view of the strip (Dang! I just realized I was suckered into paying once again for another scenic view of the strip...seriously, it was great though).
3. Catch a Cirque du Soleil Show
4. Shop: Like everything in Vegas, shopping is over the top and we did a lot of it, both on and off the strip. We really liked the Las Vegas North Premium Outlets and if you decide to go, you will pass the famous Vegas sign. It was a great chance to grab a pic.
5. Hit the Clubs
6. Hang Out Poolside: We spent some time every day hanging out by the pool. Drinks were pricey, but you can always make a deal with your bartender. The pools were well-kept, swanky and relaxing.
food and drink
This article, The Single Best Restaurant in Every Casino on the Strip, by Rob Kachelriess outlines some great eats and drinks. But, if you're on a budget, here is my list:
1. Jimmy Buffett's Margarittaville
2. Nine Fine Fishermen This pub is in New York-New York and they pour a mean Guinness
3. Buffet of Buffets: a 24 hour buffet pass can be used at Caesar's Palace, The Flamingo, Harrah's, Planet Hollywood and Rio. During the week, a pass costs $59.99 and $74.99 on the weekend, plus tax, per person. We pretty much used the buffets throughout our stay. Having so many different hotels we could eat at made it a great way to see more of them. We would start them around 7 or 8 PM and eat a late dinner. This way, we could have an early dinner the next day and get 4 delicious meals in.
WARNING: THIS LIST IS ABOUT TO GET PATHETIC
4. Convenience Stores: Snacks are way cheaper here and heck! You're allowed to drink on the streets! Grab a cocktail and get to the Bellagio fountain show!
5. Ellis Island Casino and Brewery: Once I hit rock bottom, I went to this little gem off the strip for a $3.99 steak and egg breakfast. While I waited for my breakfast, I took the opportunity to win it all back.
how to gamble for free drinks when you have no idea what you're doing
1. First of all, nothing in Vegas is free and don't ever forget it.
2. Be a female.
3. I played a few penny slot machines for a free drink, but found I received way better service at the roulette and black jack tables and the bar top computerized machines. At the bar top machines, I would put $10 in and play 50 cent rounds... I likely paid a lot of money for all of my drinks.
4. Even though the only luck I had gambling in Vegas was the odd free drink, it sure was fun. Check out this website for the 101 on gambling.
dedication to stuart and the dealertainers
Hubby and I spent our entire stay in Vegas with Stuart. Sadly, we lost touch and have since learned that the Dealertainers and our favourite Vegas karaoke venue (Bill's Gamblin' Hall) are no more. We will always have Elvis.
There is something for everyone here, so please share your tips, tricks and favourite distractions in the comment section to help others enjoy this hilarious and amazing city!
My name is Sara and I love finding new things to do in a new city. This website is an attempt to share the things that excite me in a new place through stories, photos, lists, travel tips and tricks.