Visiting Las Vegas is surreal. It’s a cray-cray little desert town; just what you’d expect from the movies. Surprisingly budget-friendly – good fun to just let your hair down, shake those inhibitions and indulge in guilty pleasure foods.
Sometimes, it’s good to get out of your comfort zone a little, or in this case – a LOT.
With all of its bright lights, glitz and glamour, it was the final big city stop on our US trip last year. Three days to gallivant this famous Nevada city thanks to the low hotel prices. We stayed at Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, right opposite the High Roller (reminded me of the Cascades in Sun City).
It was the most exquisite hotel I’ve ever stayed in.
Each hotel in Vegas is like a mini city with its own casinos, food courts, spas, curio stores, restaurants, pools and other tourist attractions.
Like the “Under The Sea” display (for the summer) at the Bellagio Hotel.
Hotel hopping in 40-degree heat
Living in Cape Town, you forget what crazy heat is like. Try living in Namibia, or stopping at the border when it’s 45 degrees. Vegas is HOT. So hot, that everywhere you turn, people are selling water bottles.
When you’re on a budget and want to see as much as possible on one trip, hotel hopping’s the way to go.
We weaved in and out of hotels along the Las Vegas Strip Mall like it was nobody’s business. It was a sweet escape into air-conditioned heaven. That, and Starbucks frappuccino mochas.
You kind of forget all about calories when you feel like your face is melting off.
A very rare occasion for swopping good old fashioned jeans for a dress.
Las Vegas food
Every which way you turn, there are famous restaurants of culinary masters like Gordon Ramsey, Guy Fierri and Giada de laurentiis. At those extravagant prices though, we stuck with take-out throughout our stay. Which, for us, was still pretty mind boggling.
Every hotel has a food court – shopping mall food courts here don’t hold a candle to these eateries.
I think it’s safe to say that this is where healthy-ish holiday eating officially went out the window.
- Watermelon sorbet, cheesecake, tart and pistachio with peanut butter sauce
- Subway sandwiches
- Pink lemonade
- Frozen coffees with cream
- Grilled cheese vegetarian burger with caramalised onions
- Rocky road ice cream
- Bagels with cream cheese
- Strawberry cheesecake
- Chinese tofu and eggplant stir-fry
- Macaroni cheese
And then I wondered where those extra five or six kilograms came from when we got back home.
What sweet bliss walking those streets at night was. Still hot, but not unbearable. The vibe is something else – not New York energy vibe, but completely different to daytime.
The strangest of strange come out at night. Not to mention every kind of salesman trying to sway you towards their girls of the night.
And then there are the lights.
The lights of the hotels, the strip mall, and the view from the High Roller. WOW, wow, wow. I’ve never seen anything like it. You just feel like you’re on another planet, nevermind another continent or city.
Only in Vegas
Coming from sunny, conservative South Africa, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Half naked women walking around handing out club pamphlets? Yip. Old guys handing out business cards of their team of exotic dancers, strippers and the like. Not so much.
Grow your own girlfriend or boyfriend toy thingies? NOPE!
Extravagant 5-star hotels with jaw-dropping bathrooms. Yes, yes, yes!
Casinos EVERYWHERE – even at the airport. There were just too many hotels to explore. (I’m happy to say we managed to see a decent amount of them during those two full days). So, gambling or playing the slots wasn’t on the top of our list. We played one slot machine on our last night though – had to.
That same night, friends took us to Hofbräuhaus. What a place! Just what you’d expect from a traditional German beer hall: wooden benches, waitrons in awesome outfits and good old fashioned comfort grub. We ordered the fan favourite mac ‘n cheese and a table of beers.
I wasn’t prepared for all the bum smacking though.
Here’s how it works: if you’re caught holding your drink with the wrong hand, you need to get up, bend over at your table, and take a couple of tooshie whacks by a bar maid with a gigantic wooden plank.
All in good fun of course. I just made damn sure I never forgot to switch hands!
On our walk back to the hotel, we came across this awesome KISS car. What a cool night to end off an unforgettable Las Vegas experience!
Budget-friendly things to do in Las Vegas
- Enjoy a wide range of take-out foods
- Explore as many hotels as you can along the strip by foot
- Eat pizza in your king-size hotel bed with a view of the Las Vegas skyline
- Visit curio shops and buy weird but wonderful souvenirs (like candy “bacon”)
- Ride the High Roller – $30 a pop; it’s worth it
- Walk through the lush hotel gardens and pretend you’re in an Amazon jungle
Things to save up for if you want to experience more Vegas
- Breakfast buffets at your hotel (ouch!)
- Comedy, musical or dance shows
- Eating at one or more fancy shmancy restaurants
- A day trip to the Grand Canyon
- Spa pampering