Guide to Las Vegas

The Non-Gambler’s Guide to Las Vegas

If you read my previous post on 5 reasons to love fabulous Las Vegas you can probably tell just how much I loved the city.  There is so much to keep anyone entertained and I don’t just mean whiling away the hours gambling.  We did spend a bit of time in the casinos where I will admit that I had absolutely no clue what I was doing.  Playing a game of Snap is about as far as my card skills go!  After a while of watching others in a state of utter confusion, Mr Ayla eventually taught me how to play Blackjack and I actually found myself having some fun!  I was very happy with my $5 winnings thank you very much.

But I was surprised at how much there is to do in Las Vegas for the non-gamblers who, like me, want to spend more time seeing the city rather than being stuck inside a bright, smoky casino with no idea what time of day or night it is, and these were the things that made me and the city such fabulous but unexpected friends.

What to do in Las Vegas

♥  What to do in Las Vegas  ♥

The Welcome to Las Vegas sign had to be our first stop as soon as we arrived in the city and clearly everyone had the same idea judging by the long queue.  There was an official city photographer to hand taking everyone’s photos – for free! – and he made sure he took plenty of everyone in lots of different poses.

What to do in Las Vegas

After getting some suitably cheesy photos, we had a wander along the Strip popping in and out of all the themed hotels which are some of the main and biggest sights in Vegas.  The hotels are so huge that you could spend the entire holiday inside without ever needing to venture out into the real world.  Or as real as Las Vegas can get that is.

What to do in Las VegasWhat to do in Las Vegas

The Venetian, Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, New York New York, Cosmopolitan, Luxor, Paris, MGM Grand…the magnitude and wow-factor of each is completely overwhelming, each with their own swimming pools, spas, shopping mall, shows, enough restaurants and bars to leave your head spinning, as well as some of the most over the top yet photogenic settings, both inside and out.

What to do in Las Vegas

There is so much to see in Vegas from amazing shows to the free entertainment all along the Strip.  We saw Mystere, one of the many Cirque du Soleil shows that Vegas hosts, and it was absolutely incredible.  If we’d have been there for longer I would have worked my way through a different show every night!

What to do in Las Vegas

There is also a whole host of free entertainment on the Strip from a Volcano show at the Mirage to the infamous Bellagio Fountains which are a must see.

What to do in Las Vegas

To get away from the wilder side of Vegas, we soaked up some interesting and fun history at the Neon Museum and Mob Museum, the perfect places to spend the day in Downtown Las Vegas.  The Neon Museum holds a collection of old and restored signs in a neon graveyard and the Mob Museum outlines the rise and fall of the crime world in Las Vegas.

What to do in Las Vegas

Afterwards we headed to Fremont Street which provides a ton of evening entertainment in the old classic Downtown Las Vegas scene.  The casinos and bars are all a little cheaper and seedier, and the people on the street are a little more naked quirky.  We watched the Fremont Street Experience, a light display of 12.5 million LED lamps that run along the entire street above your heads; saw people screeching as they zip lined above the crowds; danced along to the DJs and live bands; and was thoroughly entertained by all the people dressed up in outrageous costumes.

What to do in Las Vegas

♥  Where to eat in Las Vegas  ♥

Vegas is a food lover’s dream.  From Michelin star restaurants to 24 hour American diners, there is something to satisfy any food craving in this city.

On our first morning we headed straight to Grand Lux Cafe because I’d heard they had red velvet pancakes on the menu and I was getting some of those bad boys!  They were just as delicious as I had imagined in my dreams and the gigantic size of them set us up for the rest of the huge food portions we would be greeted to while we were in the US.

Where to eat in Las Vegas

Another place with ridiculously huge yet delicious plates of food is Peppermill Fireside Lounge and Restaurant.  Slightly off the Strip and often with a bit of a queue, this place is worth it for the Rat Pack type vide with neon lighting, a cool cocktail lounge, 24 hour breakfasts and milkshakes twice the size of your head.

You can’t go to Las Vegas and not try out at least one of the buffets.  We opted for the Wicked Spoon Buffet, a lovely big restaurant in the Cosmopolitan Hotel, as I liked the sound of the small individual portion sizes you got instead of just piling a whole load of food on your plate.  We went for brunch so that we could have the best of both worlds with a combination of breakfast and lunch and it was Ahh-Mazing.  Sausage on a bed of mash, poached egg and bacon on a toasted muffin, mini portions of chicken and chips, and the most delicious little bowls of macaroni and cheese (I may have had more than one but it’s a buffet so you’re allowed).  The list of foods was endless and the dessert section even more limitless.

Where to eat in Las Vegas

And I can’t not mention Sprinkles Cupcakes.  All I really need to say to make you want to go here is….Cupcake ATM!!!

Where to eat in Las Vegas

♥  Where to drink in Las Vegas  ♥

Don’t Tell Mama is a cool little open-mic piano bar on Fremont Street where we found ourselves after we’d been all crazied out at the Fremont Street Experience.  It has a lovely chilled atmosphere where the bar staff occasionally hopped up on stage to join in with the singing.

Where to drink in Las Vegas

We did some bar hopping along the Strip one evening and we loved Chandelier Lounge, a beautiful bar at the Cosmopolitan that’s set inside a giant glittering chandelier.  And the giant stilettoes dotted around the hotel are enough to make any girl fall in love with the place.

What to do in Las Vegas

Our favourite bar was definitely the Mandarin Bar, a chic cocktail bar found on the 23rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.  The cocktails were the most creative and delicious I tried in all of Vegas (and I tried a LOT of cocktails), the bar snacks were super tasty but the glittering view up and down the Strip is the main draw.  We got ourselves a seat by the floor to ceiling windows and sat and watched, sipping on our cocktails, as the sun set and the city started to light up at night.

Where to drink in Las Vegas

♥  Where to stay in Las Vegas  ♥

The Venetian and Palazzo were by far my favourite hotels to wander around, with equal amounts of Vegas tackiness and sophistication. I am so glad this is where we stayed and it made us feel like we were back in Italy. Even their most standard rooms are impressively huge suites so you can lap up the luxury of having a humungous bed, a separate lounge area, a bathroom with two sinks, a panoramic view of the Strip, and so many TV’s that you can even watch one while soaking in the tub.

Where to stay in Las Vegas

Where to stay in Las Vegas

♥  How to get around in Las Vegas  ♥

Vegas is a bit of a pain to get around.  Taxis aren’t allowed to stop on the street – only in the official hotel taxi ranks – and walking can take forever as all the buildings are so huge that you don’t realise quite how far apart they actually are.  We did do a fair bit of walking between the hotels though and you see some extremely entertaining things on the Strip so don’t miss out on a bit of walking!

We found the easiest way to get around was on the buses.  We bought a 3 day RTC ticket and these buses took us everywhere we could possibly want to go up and down the 4 mile long Strip.

Guide to Las Vegas

There are so many other things I could still mention such as giant aquariums, the views and crazy rides from the top of the Stratosphere, gondola rides at The Venetian making you think you’re in Venice, rollercoasters that whizz you past the Statue of Liberty, but I think I’ve made my point that Las Vegas is so much more than simply the casinos.  Also, the live Magic Mike show opens this month so, you know, if nothing else takes your fancy then I’m sure that will.

Have you ever been to Las Vegas or do you dream of going?  What’s your favourite thing to do in the city?  Let me know in the comments below or at:

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18 thoughts on “The Non-Gambler’s Guide to Las Vegas

  1. Ngaire Ackerley says:

    Las Vegas has always seemed to be a place on steroids to me, but reading this gives it another light, it’s probably a doable spot to experience more than just the gambling etc. – love the shows and food ideas!

  2. Planes & Champagne says:

    Vegas is so much fun and you’re right, it does have an incredible amount to offer non-gamblers too. I must say I totally missed the ‘Welcome to Vegas’ sign so I definitely need to add that to my list for my next visit. I would love to stay at the Venetian next time round too as I’ve heard wonderful things

  3. Jaime @angloyankophile says:

    Okay, this is ALL so good to know because I’ve been debating whether to swing down for a quick trip to Vegas every time I’m back home in Seattle! I feel like it’s one of those bucketlist type destinations to tick off, but I’ve never been too sure about whether I would actually enjoy it or not. This looks like so much fun though!

  4. carolann says:

    Oh I love this post! I was just telling my friend about all the things to do in Vegas that aren’t gambling, I will have to send this post to her! When I was there I saw Mystere and I loved it! It was so much fun to wander around the hotels, go to the bars, and eat all of the amazing food. It’s been so long since I’ve been there though… your post has me thinking that I need to go back!

  5. thegrownupgapyear says:

    I totally agree with you Ayla. I wasn’t really that bothered about going to Vegas and then ended up totally loving it! It was a shame we only had one day and night there. We did try to pack a lot in, but reading this makes me realise all of the cool places we missed out on! Maybe next time 😉

  6. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) says:

    Ayla, this post made me remember all the things I loved about Vegas even though I was so unwell whilst there! I’m so impressed that there was a city photographer taking photos from free by the sign – such a nice touch!! And those red velvet pancakes sound divine but if I return one day, I’ll definitely take your tip about the rooftop bar because that night time view is toooo gorgeous!

  7. the Curious Pixie says:

    Loved reading this Ayla. You’re so right there is so much more to it than gambling. One of my stand out experiences was the Neon Boneyard. I love anywhere with a sense of history and those vintage signs look just as good today as they would have done in their heyday.

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