For someone who has been to Las Vegas on three separate occasions, I truly have no interest in gambling. The brightly lit machines are pretty and that’s about the extent of my awareness of the casino floor.
There is, however, a reason that I keep returning to the city; its abundance of shopping, dining, entertainment and nightlife activities are endless and ever changing. In the three times I’ve been to this city, I don’t think I’ve ever done the same thing twice.
On my most recent visit, I made my way over to Fremont in downtown Las Vegas. It’s a little ways away from the main strip so I had never seen it before, but I loved all the neon and the exposed bulbs on the buildings. This area is actually older than the Las Vegas Strip itself and is home to many famous hotels such as the Golden Nugget, Four Queens and the Pioneer Club. I ducked inside a few of these hotels to check them out and while they were kept very clean and neat, they were definitely showing their age. The new kid on the block (the first hotel built in Old Vegas in 40 years!), Circa Resort & Casino has been making waves, so to speak, with its stadium themed rooftop pool complex displaying live sport betting odds on a massive screen overlooking the pools. I was also very impressed- and a little overwhelmed- with their wall to wall live sports screens taking up one whole side of the casino.
These days, the biggest draw to the area is the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian mall covered by a huge LED light canopy spanning four blocks of Old Vegas and displaying colorful digital art. Zipliners zoom over the crowds of people and three separate stages play music throughout the day. It was an adventure to walk through the crowds and people watch, though I’d definitely hesitate before returning to the area at night.
Back on the Las Vegas Strip proper, the streets are lined with hotel after hotel all with different perks and attractions doing their very best to get you through the door long enough to distract you with their casinos. The New York New York hotel has a rollercoaster, Mandalay Bay has an aquarium, but the one thing I think is truly un-missable is the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian Hotel and Casino. The mall itself holds nearly 200 shops and restaurants over a stretch Venetian themed walkways with illuminated sky ceilings and a quarter mile long canal running through the area. Guests can even take gondola rides on the canal. It’s incredible to explore these shops- my brain always gets confused thinking that I’m outside in Italy when I know I’m indoors in Vegas. Definitely bring your walking shoes here- you’ll be getting your steps in.
Come night time, there are even more options to choose from. There are several Cirque du Soleil shows that are permanently housed in Las Vegas. I have seen Ka and Mystere and of the two, I highly recommend Ka. Though the Cirque is always incredible as a baseline, I felt that the huge custom stage that hosts the show at the MGM Grand really made the experience irreplicable.
Most hotels on the strip also have both night and day clubs attached to the resort so there’s always some sort of party to attend. It’s a good idea to check to see who is in residence for your stay- I always end up seeing some of my favorite DJs when I visit! I particularly liked Omnia Nightclub at Caesar’s Palace- they’ve got a huge kinetic chandelier that rotates over the crowd and absolutely blew my mind.
If all else fails, I tend to hang out by the pool. These hotels all have different pool set ups to help guests beat the heat while enjoying some sunshine- you can’t be inside all day. Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand and Resorts World Las Vegas all have excellent pools, but surprisingly few umbrellas, so make sure to bring sunscreen!
If nothing else, Las Vegas has something to cater to people of all ages and interests. Though gambling is what the city is known for, it’s not the end all be all of the city.