Most of us think of Vegas as one thing: a place of sin. After all, the location was founded on the still widely celebrated tagline, “What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas.”
Just a few years ago, I would have turned my nose at a trip to Las Vegas without the late night parties, clubs, and enormous amounts of alcohol. My recent trip there, however, made me open my eyes a bit more to the city’s splendor beyond the alcohol and gambling (or maybe I’m just getting old).
Coming from San Diego State University, the city of sin was only a 4-5 hour drive, making it a popular destination during my college years. Every single trip involved booze, boys, and hangovers. I even spent my 21st birthday in the penthouse suite of the MGM, strutting into the best clubs with promoters and free cover.
But here I am now as a 26 year old already thinking about how I’m going to handle a hangover this Saturday from 3 glasses of wine (sad, I know). Drinking like I did at 21 certainly does not sound appealing anymore… so what else is there to do in Vegas? Having taken my most recent trip with my mom and grandma, I found it quite easy to enjoy the city in a new light.
If you’re not set on spending your money gambling and drinking, it leaves you with a great budget to spend on other Vegas activities. Our first day included a private limo ride, check-in at the fabulous Wynn Hotel and a festive, fruity drink by the pool. We ate at Sinatra, a high-end Italian restaurant in the hotel modeled after Sinatra himself, before heading to the show Le Reve – The Dream.
I highly recommend the show; it’s similar to cirque du soleil but with water expertly intertwined into the choreography.
It felt slightly odd yet refreshing to be in bed before midnight.
On day 2 we rented an SUV and drove just 30 minutes from the strip to Mount Charleston Wilderness for some drastically different scenery. Who would have thought there would be so many outdoorsy spots so close to the strip? Without really realizing it, we reached an altitude of 8000ft and continued to ascend to a trickling ‘waterfall’ deemed Mary Jane Falls.
Having made it to nearly 10,000ft, the air was cool and patches of snow remained in shady spots.
After returning from our hike, we headed to Fremont Street – a street filled with commotion, street performers, live music, fatty foods, and gambling. Even though I have been to Vegas numerous times, I was always too busy clubbing to make it over to Fremont so this was my first experience.
Everywhere you look there are new lights, sounds, and interesting people. There’s even a zip-line strewn above the street, riders whizzing by in a ‘superman’ position up to 35mph! TIP: if you’re interested in the zip-line, book in advance! All time slots were full for us as it was a Saturday. If that weren’t enough, there are some of the most creative street performances I’ve ever seen (I couldn’t help but wonder how much $ these people take home – I’m guessing enough for a full-time cash income).
If you’re looking for anything remotely healthy to eat, Fremont is not the place. To give you an idea, one of the buffet restaurants encourages unhealthy via an enormous sign displaying the message, “Over 300lbs eats free”… sad.
Day 3 consisted mainly of pool time, followed by a sunset horseback ride outside of the strip near Red Rock Canyon.
All in all, I’m proud to say I’ve done Vegas two ways: party vs. tourist. Although my days in Vegas during my early twenties were unforgettable, I must say that it’s refreshing to leave the city of sin hangover-less. For those of you that have yet to visit, I also recommend the following:
- Bellagio fountains at night
- The Las Vegas High Roller Ferris Wheel
- A stay at The Palazzo, connected to The Venetian (I’ve found this to be the most bang for your buck on the strip)
- New York New York roller coaster