Vegas baby, Vegas
March 8, 2010 12:25 PM   Subscribe

Where can a couple of people from the east coast get the "true Vegas experience?"

What are some cool things to do in Vegas for the non gambler types?

Does anyone have any reviews of the spa suites at the Luxor?

In December, my wife and I (and mother in law) will be staying at the Luxor (one of the spa suites) in Vegas. She's going to be running the Vegas half marathon. we fly in, on December 3rd and will be flying back out on the 8th. Aside from the race on Sunday, we'll be playing tourists. We don't drink a lot, or gamble.

When we do go out, we slip in to the part of tourist very easy, and don't mind going to the tourist spots, but I would like to go to some places that are not necessary touristy.

Sorry for all the questions, I'm googling as we talk, I just want to get as much first hand information and knowledge that I can get. I'm a planner, most of the time, and my wife lives and dies by an itinerary.
posted by edmcbride to Travel & Transportation around Las Vegas, NV (25 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
do you like to hike? I loved red rock canyon, it's really beautiful to look at or walk/hike in. It's about a 20 minute drive from the strip, so you can drive there if you have a car or take one of the bus tours. If you go in the late afternoon, most of the tourist buses have left and it can be very quiet and peaceful.

The hoover damn is also well worth an afternoon. I think it takes about an hour to drive there. It's very touristy of course, but deservedly so.

Death Valley is nice during the winter, it's an all day trip.
posted by bluejayk at 12:48 PM on March 8, 2010

Do you dine? There's a Thai restaurant in a strip mall a couple blocks off the Strip, Lotus of Siam, that has a reputation for being the best Thai food in the country.

Also, Golden Steer steakhouse (link not working at the moment) is a fantastic steak, and as an added bonus, was one of the favorite hangouts of Frank, Sammy, Dino, and the rest of those swingin' cats...
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 12:49 PM on March 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Head out to Red Rock Canyon. It's only a half hour or so outside of Las Vegas and a beautiful drive for a glimpse of the wild west.
posted by HeyAllie at 12:49 PM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do not miss the Pinball Hall of Fame. Hundreds of pinball machines, spanning the 20th century, all lovingly restored and in perfect working condition for you to play. I see they've even moved to a larger site since the time I visited.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:58 PM on March 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

The Liberace Museum.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:59 PM on March 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Valley of Fire State Park is also close by Las Vegas.

I'm not much of a gambler either. But I went to Vegas for a few days; I'd been on a solo road trip where I'd set out to find kitsch. Towards that end, I found that the casinos themselves were utterly fascinating anthropological and sociological studies in and of themselves, just from the sheer weird factor. The people watching in the casino floors especially; the glazed-over look the people at the slots had, the precise rituals the people at the craps table used on their dice. The rest of the casinos also had some eye-bending sights (the FAO Schwarz outlet in the Caesar's Palace shopping forum had an animatronic display of gladiator teddy bears).

I read about, but did not get to see, a Liberace Museum somewhere in Las Vegas. There are also museums devoted to atomic testing, and Houdini, and there's one spot where you can see scraps of the Berlin Wall -- enshrined above each of the urinals in the mens' room.

Also, you may not want to write off gambling entirely. I think I did it right - I spent a month before I left setting aside all my loose change at the end of each day, and put that all into a bag -- that bag of change was my gambling money, which I exclusively used in slot machines. As I wandered around Vegas, every so often I'd fish a couple nickels or dimes out of the bag, drop a couple in a slot machine, and see what happened. If I won, I'd cash out and move on. If I lost, I'd just move on. I think I had only about seven dollars in change on me, but on my last quarter, I got lucky and made about fifteen dollars. I immediately cashed it out and treated myself to a breakfast at one of the buffets the next day.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:04 PM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was just about to recommend Lotus of Siam, also. Trust all the recommendations and not your eyes when you see it; it looks like a typical strip mall Thai joint, but is just fantastic.

I don't know if a Vegas local would recommend it, but I just loved Hash House a Go Go. Bring a camera with a wide-angle lens to capture the portion sizes (especially the comically large pancakes). It looks like they just opened a location at the Imperial Palace, so you don't have to schlep all the way out West Sahara Avenue for it.

I think most people get Vagas-ed out after about two days, so don't hesitate to plan for a few day trips outside the city.
posted by arco at 1:06 PM on March 8, 2010

Oh! For a really eye-opening experience, try having any male members of your party take a walk on the strip alone; it doesn't matter what time of day. You will be amazed how many fliers he will be handed which offer to introduce him to lovely young ladies. (I crashed with a male friend in Vegas -- he was a reporter covering some convention, and I timed my stay to mooch the other half of his hotel room. He would come back from the other hotels and convention halls with pockets FULL of little cards and fliers soliciting female companionship.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:11 PM on March 8, 2010

(Mind you, I'm not suggesting as such that you avail yourself of those services -- we just thought the fliers themselves were a hoot, and were amazed how many he would collect on just a ten-minute walk down the strip.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:12 PM on March 8, 2010

Atomic Testing Museum
Las Vegas Springs Preserve
December 3rd is a First Friday
The Las Vegas Wranglers are the local hockey team.
posted by bgrebs at 1:23 PM on March 8, 2010

Brain-freeze from date-shakes, neat little hike,amazing cactus-nursery, China Ranch 90 minutes from the strip, red rock park is on the way there.
posted by hortense at 1:48 PM on March 8, 2010

Certainly walk the strip if it isn't too cool at night. You'll never see such a cross section of people anywhere else.

Besides excellent dining on and off strip, there are the various theater shows such as Cirque.
posted by mmascolino at 1:49 PM on March 8, 2010

The flyer poppers the EmpressCallipygos are a long standing strip tradition. But you should walk the Strip after dark, the visuals are astounding.

There are like nine-hundred different Cirque du Soliels, with "O" at the Bellagio as the flagship.

In the big casinos the food is pretty amazing, if extremely overpriced.

The Christmas display at Bellagio should be up by then.

Fremont street downtown is kitschier than the Strip and can be fun.

It would be an all day trip - but you could hit the highlights of Death Valley.

A nightcap at Parasol Down at Wynn and watch the waterfall.

blah blah Volcano blah blah Pirates.

Treat your wife to a post-race massage at the Encore Spa (it's remarkable).

Oh, the suites at Luxor are considered average for Vegas, but they would be gems in just about any other setting.
posted by dzot at 1:50 PM on March 8, 2010

Renew your vows at the drive thru chapel, check out the Freemont Experience, ride the NYNY roller coaster or the ride at the top of the Stratosphere, walk the strip and take advantage of the free offers (like a free spin on the slot machine, free beverage, etc) that people are hawking outside of the small strip casinos, pay $5 for an all day Vegas city bus pass and get off the strip (or just use it to shuttle yourself up and down the strip; you meet the most interesting people at bus stops...), maybe check out a show (everything from free lounge shows in the casinos to the big names), collect a $1 chip from each casino you go to, etc.
posted by MsKim at 2:21 PM on March 8, 2010

Wow thanks for all the great idea's! I'm totally going to pass this on to my wife.

I don't think she'll want to be doing any hiking or anything like that (other than some walking) after her half marathon, i was totally thinking about the Liberace Museum. sometimes a forum like this is way better than anything can come up with.

Thanks again!
posted by edmcbride at 2:36 PM on March 8, 2010

I did forget to add in the original post, that this will be our first time in Vegas.
posted by edmcbride at 2:42 PM on March 8, 2010

Ghost Bar at the Palms is nice, as long as you ignore the fake tan, perfect-body girls who insist that they just got dumped by their boyfriends for being "too fat." uh-huh, I know where this goes and I bet I would end up out about $750.00.

The views are just awesome from there though.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:30 PM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, the suites at Luxor are considered average for Vegas, but they would be gems in just about any other setting.

MGM Grand SkyLofts are very good. Yeah, I was once in Vegas for a case, showed up late at 11:30 at night in a suit from a prior thing. I was checking in and they asked me if my ID had the right address on it. I said, "uh no." The woman checking me in got on the phone and I started to get my game face on. However, instead of hassling me about the ID issue, she told me I had an upgrade and that I would be pleased. A concierge came and I took one look at him and said "hospitality school" to myself. We went past a guy with an ear piece and got into an elevator. There was only one button. We went to the top floor, all black marble and lights. The staff were simply the nicest people in the world. As we get to the door to the room, the concierge tells me that Run DMC had this room last night.

And it was amazing. A three bedroom suite, two floors, with an incredible atrium area that was 2 stories high. You could plug your iPod into it. TVs in every bedroom and in the bathrooms, along with a phone in the wall next to the toilet. All the toiletries were Bulgari. I handed the guy everything I had in my wallet and said thanks. The showers were 10 x 10 (there were three gigantic bathrooms) and the mini bar was all top shelf. There were several lounge areas. Plus I met somebody earlier that night on the plane. . .

it was just one of those nights.

So if you can, I'd see what deals they have for the MGM Grand SkySuites. They were amazing. I doubt you'll get them for $163.00 like I did though.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:42 PM on March 8, 2010

Sorry SkyLofts. Technically, its a separate hotel.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:44 PM on March 8, 2010

I stayed in a pyramid spa suite a few months ago - it was huge! The one I stayed in was not updated and it was really dark even during the day + all the lights turned on. We never used the spa (got the room for the extra space). We only used the sitting area to store luggage, but it had a pretty comfy couch & a standard hotel-ish chair. Compared to other places I've stayed on the Strip (Caesar's Forum Tower, Mirage standard room) the decor was dated...kitschy "Egyptian" styling. The bathroom was huge as well, but only had a single vanity. Shower was huge, no tub. I don't know if that's standard for those rooms though. The room was really convenient as it was right by the "inclinators". But the price was right (spa suite for less than the rack rate for a regular room!)
posted by ellebee at 4:38 PM on March 8, 2010

You can see Penn & Teller's show, if you're into that sort of thing.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:44 PM on March 8, 2010

watch some shows.
There are coupons at Bally's to get 2 tickets for Jubilee for $70. Zumanity is not bad but I heard KA and Mystre are better. Tickets for Fantasy can be bought from Tix4Less for around $28.

If you like sushi try makino (
posted by WizKid at 9:14 PM on March 8, 2010

I always enjoy "old Vegas" near Fremont Street — it was the first paves street inLV (it's on the east side of the "strip") and is home to some of the oldest still-standing hotels in Vegas. It is not exactly fancy. It's a bit worn down, but still Vegas-y in the vintage way. Not toooo tourist, at least not as touristy as the huge new fancy places like the Bellagio.

Liberacé's house is so awesome.
posted by Brittanie at 9:31 PM on March 8, 2010

For me, the only reason to go to Las Vegas is The Peppermill - a cheesy neon paradise with curved booths surrounded by fake plants. There's a back lounge with a round fireplace that's fairly popular in the evenings, but I usually just go for the over-the-top breakfast waffles.
posted by Gortuk at 9:56 AM on March 9, 2010

I always enjoyed Sam's Town for the quarter roulette tables. You can feel like James Bond and play for quite a while on not very much money. That was a long time ago, though, and they may not have quarter roulette any more.
posted by chazlarson at 1:07 PM on March 9, 2010

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