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Why I Love Vegas

I don’t gamble and seldom drink, yet I love Las Vegas. I know a lot seasoned travelers who loathe visiting Vegas. I understand their apprehension, but despite all the places I’ve been I still get a rush when I drive down the strip at night.

It has been two and a half years since I was last in Las Vegas. It was actually the place where I started my trip. As I drove down Las Vegas Boulevard last night I passed the Luxor and I thought to myself “hey, I was at the real Luxor in Egypt”. I repeated the same thing over and over as I passed other hotels: Monte Carlo, Paris, New York, Venice, and the Riviera. I had even been to the location of Caesar’s real palace in Rome! Despite having been to the actual locations of the places these casinos were modeled after, I don’t turn my nose up at the faux versions of it which line the strip. It is a totally different experience and is something which needs to be experienced for its own sake.

Vegas is a city of contradictions. It is at once the cheapest and most expensive tourist destination in America. On my last trip to Vegas I had a meal at Picasso’s in the Bellagio. It is a five star restaurant with original Picasso paintings on the walls. A meal for two people with wine was over $500. Today I’m writing this at the buffet at Circus Circus. You can eat all day long, every meal and between meals for a total of $20. There are suites here which run over $10,000/night and places off the strip which you can get for about $25/night, and if you just use a reward program card consistently at a casino, you can probably get most of your meals and rooms comped for free.

You can walk down the street and mingle with the rich and the poor. The ultra high end casinos are open to the public so it is not uncommon to see people wearing “I’m with stupid” t-shirts walking past a Gucci store. In fact there is a law in Nevada that all gaming tables must be open to the public, so no matter how rich you are you can’t hide in a private room to gamble were the hoi poli can’t see you.

As I noted above I don’t like gambling. I have no ethical issues with it, but as a someone with a degree in mathematics I have a deep seated understand of odds. If the odds are against you, the more you play, the greater your chances of losing. What I enjoy doing in Vegas is just observing how the whole thing operates. Casinos are some of the most fascinating business operations in the world. Everything from the position and sounds of the slot machines to the colors of the carpet, everything is designed to make you part with the maximum amount of money.

The streets are also great for people watching. You’ll find families, businessmen here for conventions, guys out for weekend, and girls out for a bachelorette party. You also can’t forget the people who hold the lowest position in the employment ladder: the guys who hand out the fliers for escorts. (Is there any job in the world which requires less skill?)

The energy you can experience at night in Las Vegas is probably greater than in any other city in the world. The only places which come close are Times Square, Hong Kong harbor, Ginza district in Tokyo and maybe Piccadilly Circus in London. Even Macau, which has overtaken Vegas as the biggest gambling destination in the world, can’t compete. Macau’s gambling is all business where as Vegas is all about fun.

If you have been to Vegas tell me what you think of it, and if you haven’t let me know if it is someplace you’d want to visit. I’m curious to hear what other people think about it.

  • 21 Comments... What's your take?

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Comments

  1. Adrian says:

    I have been traveling to Vegas every year for the last 22 years. I gamble for 2 hours a week and I don´t party. I go to Vegas for the feeling of being able to grasp the entire world in one moment. The shows, the tourists, the lights, the Red Canyon, the Lake Mead, the incoming airplanes, the ordinary everyday america just a few blocks away from the Strip. I love the idea of an adult city – which does not make any excuses of being adult. Truth is I bought myself a house up in the hill overlooking Vegas and I am waiting for my children to grow up and make their own life and after that they can come visit me in Vegas. Greetings from sunny Croatia.

  2. Ken says:

    I first went to Las Vegas with my brother right after Thanksgiving in 2007. Perfect time to go as Xmas decorations are everywhere as every casino try to outdo the other, not to mention the weather is a lot cooler and more comfortable. Needless to say I fell in love with it. You don’t have to like gambling to enjoy Vegas, and there are a lot of other places to visit other than the Strip. We went back after Thanksgiving in 2009. Can’t wait to go back again.

  3. Wow Amazing blog info, In what other cool places have you been to? And in what time of the year would you recommend visiting those hot places in your blog?

  4. Daniel says:

    The first time I came to LV, I absolutely hated it. I thought it was…absurd.

    Of course, I was taking my Vegas experience too seriously. The next time I came back, I just enjoyed it for what it was: a fun, expensive playground.

    Love keeping up with the City Center development project, too.

  5. I’m with you it is a fascinating town. I like to think about the project management job building one of those casinos. The buildings are so complex and enormous.

  6. Keith says:

    I’ve been to Vegas once, just over a year ago. I always thought Vegas was someplace I’d never go (don’t gamble, don’t drink, don’t really like the shows). I went with some friends and I really enjoyed myself. I’m not sure I’ll be going back anytime soon, but it was a great time. And I had the best BBQ of my life at Memphis BBQ.

  7. Traci says:

    I’ve been to Vegas dozens of times now. It started with quick stops in the early 90s traveling between school in Utah and family in Los Angeles. Later, when kids came along, it was a convenient stop to break up that trip into easier chunks. Then we moved to Tucson, and we’ve gone for pleasure a few times and at least once a year for a convention for work. We stayed in a couple of the “Station” casinos, as they were relatively cheap. Then for a few years it was the Sahara, as they were a BIG bargain during their construction ($25 a night! $28 once the swimming pool was open again, with a free breakfast buffet coupon). Later, as the kids got older, it was Excalibur or Circus Circus as they loved the atmosphere at those places (prices varied from $39 to $55 a night). Lately it has been the Venetian, as my husband and I go together and he goes to a convention. I am not sure we would pay that $199/night ourselves, glad the employer covers it!

    It’s always a spectacle, there is always something to see. You end up walking a lot, and between that and the constant lights and noise and people I get very tired at the end of the day.

    I don’t gamble, but I certainly enjoy the place in small doses. And I can verify that the outdoor attractions are also amazing.

    It’s worth it to look for specials and deals, because there are so many hotel rooms there, the competition for customers can be fierce. Other times, it is overbooked and good luck (New Years, the Consumer Electronics Show, etc). You can spend tons of money if you wish, or just walk around and enjoy the show.

  8. Mary Jo says:

    I enjoy Las Vegas, in small amounts of time. I can overlook much of its garishness to enjoy great entertainment, food and wine, and shopping. Sure, I could get to NYC to experience all that as well, but it’s a 2 1/2 hours flight to LV and 5 to NYC. It’s a nice little escape.

  9. Linda Lewis says:

    I loved the glitz, the lights, the creativity of the strip. The Bellagio glass flower ceiling is incredible. The fountains dancing to music in front is wonderful. The “O” Cirque de Soleil makes you proud to be of the same species as the talented folks. We had a great time.

  10. JoAnna says:

    As someone who lives in Las Vegas, I can tell you that Las Vegas has two very different sides: the tourist side and the local side. We avoid the Strip whenever possible and only make our way down there when we have comped tickets for something or we have friends in town. It is an overzealous city ~ ridculous on every level ~ and yet it has just about everything for someone who lives here. World-class food? Check. Entertainment? Check. Good weather? Check. Easy opportunities to escape the nightlife? Absolutely. The only things we lack are professional sports teams and an Ikea. It is a transient town, so everyone is welcomed because everyone is an outsider. Is there a water problem? Yes, but locals are on strict water schedules, and though the city could more to be “greener,” the people who live here and visit here also need to take responsibility to ensure that Las Vegas “works.” We all have to be responsible about our energy and water consumption, just like we should be anywhere else. Few places allow you to see the world … Las Vegas is one of those places.

  11. Dave and Deb says:

    I haven’t been to Vegas. I don’t like gambling either. I work too hard for my money:) My only problem with a place like Vegas is the amount of water it takes to keep it up and running. I can’t justify diverting water to a desert to keep a city going that shouldn’t be there. Just my little thought of the day.

  12. thegirlnerd says:

    Ahh Vegas. City that never sleeps! I had my 21st birthday there a few years back and I’ll never forget the energy of the city. It’s a really smooth blend of old and new attitudes, too. You can go to a fancy Daiquiri stand in the MGM Grand that’s all bright colors and modern design, and tip the usher at a show down the strip and sit right on the front row. I don’t gamble, but I still get the Vegas Bug every once in awhile. I’ve got to find an excuse to get back!

  13. Great post. I love to visit Vegas and I too do not go there to gamble. It’s just the energy and the people. Great post.

  14. Melissa says:

    I love going to Vegas, as I live about 4 hours away I go several times a year. I agree with the comments above that its not all about the strip, there is great dining and fun to be had off strip as well. The one thing I really love about Vegas is that you can go there and be anyone you want to be, and still fit in. There isn’t a lot of pressure to be anything or any certain way as there are in many other cities I’ve visited.

    Food tip… if you like Italian and haven’t tried Battista’s (behind what used to be Barbary Coast and Bally’s) give it a whirl. Amazing food and great memorabilia. And if you’re there on the weekend Gordy will be there with his accordion serenading each table!

  15. mdnomad says:

    I love this town. I understand how people think Vegas and think the worst. But we locals know the secret. Its not all about the strip. The surrounding Vegas area is great for hiking, biking, and rock climbing too. On your next trip check out Valley of Fire or Red Rock. The goal of any casino is to keep you from leaving the casino… Which is why most people have NO idea such places are around the strip… OH… skiing too… YES… Skiing… Check out Mt. Charleston. So the next time you come to Vegas… take a day or two to see the trails of Red Rock or the hieroglyphics at Valley of Fire… yes surprise again… Nevada has early man history too. Dont forget to watch for rattlers and drink plenty of water on or off the strip.

  16. Natalie says:

    I’ll be going for my 2nd trip to Vegas in November. I’m not a big gambler; I LOVE the shows. And really, the whole Strip is a show. Go to Vegas, and don’t be “too cool” to act like a tourist. Nearly everyone else is a tourist too. Window shop the stores you can’t afford. See the Freemont Street Experiece. Take the goofy pics posing with the costumed staff. Bring good walking shoes and a sense of humor, and you’ll have a fabulous time.

  17. Philip S. says:

    The only time I spent any time in Las Vegas was in 1953. It was very open and great fun. It felt like a a genuine successor to what I imagined Dodge City had been.

  18. Erik Smith says:

    When I finally visited in 2004, I expected to hate it, but I liked it. There are few places in the world like it. I don’t drink or gamble, either, but I agree with you that the people watching is some of the best anywhere. I would rather take pictures of ancient structures and wild areas, but the casinos make for some great photo subjects.

  19. As a native of this city I appreciate your comments — very insightful. I agree that there are many people who look down their noses at Las Vegas as though the imitations were meant to compete with the actual regions/buildings/artifacts..it’s always refreshing to hear someone talk about Vegas for what it is meant to be — a fun place.

  20. Jane C Woods says:

    I agree with your some of your Vegas comments, although it is an environmental disaster! Stayed at the Luxor which was great. It’s a weird town but there is nowhere on earth like it! Hate gambling myself but watching it was fascinating and at times, distressing.

  21. After avoiding Las Vegas for years, I decided to doing something out of character and throw a birthday party for myself here in 2002. Yes, here. Three years later, I moved to Las Vegas because it’s a creative hotbed. You just gotta know where to look. I mean, it shouldn’t even have happened. Las Vegas is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit…against all odds!

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About Gary Arndt

My name is Gary Arndt. In March 2007 I set out to travel around the world...
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