Vegas, again.
September 8, 2010 9:14 AM   Subscribe

Vegas, again. Please help me with some ideas for a rapidly approaching Vegas trip.

The girlfriend and I are heading to Vegas for Sept 20 - 24 and we are looking for some ideas for things to do, preferably recommended by folks who've done them. I have checked out previous questions tagged for vegas but of course need to provide our details...

I have been to Vegas once, when 13, so essentially I've never been. the missus has been a few times but not for a few years.

We were wanting to see Penn and Teller, but it looks like they are not playing the week we'll be going there. We want to try and find something that will fill that spot, with the emphasis being on comedy rather than on magic.

We'd also like to find some sort of burlesque or adult type show that can be enjoyed as a couple. Nothing too boyzone (or girlzone).

We want to find some real deal, locals favorite foods. And also some more of the touristy stuff. Any greasy spoons that can't be missed? Any upper scale places that we need to experience?

We drink, and wish to do so, perhaps to excess. We may do some gambling, though that will likely be a way to spend a time while being fed free drinks (is that still possible? where to do this?). I'd also love to sit down at a poker table, somewhere not terribly intimidating, to just play a few hands for funsies.

We are also both gamers / nerdy types. I was disappointed to learn that Quark's bar is no longer :/

We will not be renting a car. We are staying at the Tropicana. We are not opposed to some walking / public transit / taxis.

How can I make this trip awesome for both of us? Thanks folks.
posted by utsutsu to Travel & Transportation around Las Vegas, NV (17 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I have two words for you: Purple Reign
posted by elsietheeel at 9:19 AM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Haven't been, but first on my to-do list as a gamer/nerdy typo is the Pinball Hall of Fame and Museum. ALL PLAYABLE.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:29 AM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You can ride the Deuce bus line up and down the Strip for a reasonable fee, but it's difficult to get around Vegas to the locals' places without a car or paying a lot for a taxi (and running the risk of being "taken for a ride" to jack up your fare). Don't walk north of the Wynn/Encore at night, the neighborhood between there and downtown is pretty sketchy.

As a Las Vegas local, here are a few of my favorite "locals' places":

One area that both locals and tourists agree on is downtown, on and around Fremont Street. There are some great deals there for drinks, food, etc. and it's got that tacky old-school Vegas vibe. I believe the Deuce will take you all the way there.

Ellis Island is a local brewery/casino right behind Bally's. Beer is like $1 or $1.50, and in the restaurant ask for the "steak and beer special" and you will get an off-menu "secret" special of a pretty good steak dinner with a pint of beer for $7. You can walk here from the Strip, but be mindful at night.

If you really like beer, visit the Freakin Frog on Maryland (between Tropicana and Flamingo -- take a cab). They have something like 400+ different varieties of beer. Order the "crack and cheese" or some "freakin fries" to snack on with your beer.

Lotus of Siam ( is a favorite of both locals and tourists who figured out. Again, take a cab.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:30 AM on September 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

For classy titillation, there's a Cirque du Soleil show called Zumanity.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:37 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have a soft spot for the Startosphere, because it's so tall, is seedy without being icky, and has $5 blackjack (play a lot, get free drinks, without losing your shirt). I'm also a big fan of late night bowling at the Gold Coast (off the strip, open 24/7), but that might be better with a bigger group.
posted by that's candlepin at 9:42 AM on September 8, 2010

It's off the Strip, but if you're comic book nerds, it's worth the detour to Alternate Reality. It's probably the best shop in a 200 mile radius.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:43 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

You must, you must, you must eat the Peppermill. I am still dreaming of the meal I had at the Peppermill.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:10 AM on September 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: We may do some gambling, though that will likely be a way to spend a time while being fed free drinks (is that still possible? where to do this?).

Sit down at any table game and waitresses come by eventually. The free drinks you get will be half strength well liquor or cheap-ass beer/wine.

I'd also love to sit down at a poker table, somewhere not terribly intimidating, to just play a few hands for funsies.

The Excalibur used to have what they called a "friendly game" which was 1-3 limit hold 'em designed specifically for newbs. Don't know if it's still there. There was also somewhere mid-strip that did a 1-5 limit game. Maybe O'Shea's? Ask around, someone will know of one.

We'd also like to find some sort of burlesque or adult type show that can be enjoyed as a couple.

The aforementioned Zumanity is good. Another possibility is Crazy horse at MGM Grand.
posted by dzot at 10:21 AM on September 8, 2010

Best answer: Yes, free drinks usually still come with gambling, even at penny slots at some places. So with tips, you're paying $1-$2 per drink. Pretty much everywhere i have been does this although speed of service varies. I know for video poker at bars, most casinos will limit the number of drinks depending on how much you are playing. OTOH, a good initial tip or being a regular can get these rules bent a bit. (Playing video poker while people watching at a bar is a favorite Vegas past time).
For Poker, it depends on what experience you want. "Low rent" places like Bill's or O'Sheas on the strip are cheap, have a diverse crowd of locals, frat boys, etc and are non-serious. Low limits and low buyins. If you want a bit more upscale, Bellagio is good but the poker room is often crowded. A lot of my friends like Hard Rock. Venetian has an awesome poker room and a reputation for having good players , but I have done well there (I'm strictly a 1/2NL girl there though). I know poker players who will tell you it is more fun, and just as profitable to play better players than crazy drunks. (such as the ones that show up at the .50/1.00 MGM game, not that I am bitter.) ;)
Have fun! I <3 Vegas.
posted by pointystick at 10:27 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

e may do some gambling, though that will likely be a way to spend a time while being fed free drinks (is that still possible? where to do this?).

$1 Blackjack at the Sahara! Just be sure to tip your dealer and your waitress!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:27 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes, Peppermill. It's literally the only reason I would ever want to go back to Vegas.
posted by Gortuk at 10:39 AM on September 8, 2010

You want the $2 craps or $1 blackjack at Slots-A-Fun. When we were there, there was even an Elvis impersonator in the back. Just tacky enough, and the Deuce stops right out front.

We also had more fun than we should have at the $2 craps table at Casino Royale.

You can't walk in Vegas. You can, but it's not fun. The Deuce was actually better for us than taxis. You have the advantage of being not that far from a Deuce stop. I was warned against the bus, but it just got to be ridiculous to spend all that money on taxis.

In terms of upscale places, it depends on your budget. How upscale?
posted by micawber at 10:46 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

2nding Peppermill, which is on the strip. And look up some of the hotel buffets. Google vegas buffet and you'll find lots of opinions on which are the best.
I, too, thought I could just walk around on the strip (stayed at the Wynn), but the blocks are freakin' huge. Expect it to take 5-10 minutes to get to the next hotel over. I didn't see any shows (didn't care), didn't play anything more than video poker, though that did net me a free beer eventually.
After a day and a half or so, the strip starts to affect your brain. $7 beer, sure! I just got mine at a convenience store in the fashion mall.
Do yourself a favor and take a taxi to funky Freemont St. for part of an evening. It's low-rent and weird, but they will definitely get you a drink, and the experience is nothing like the more glitzy strip. Probably avoid the food, as the whole place smells of old fryer grease.
Vegas is a completely different town to locals than it is to tourists, but you're not going to change that. Turn off the part of your brain that has a problem with over-tipping, with over-consuming, and with over-spending, and you'll have a fabulous time.
posted by Gilbert at 11:39 AM on September 8, 2010

Have you ever been to one of those Medieval shows, where they joust and put on a cheesy show and feed you turkey legs while you sit in the stadium stands?

Well, Excalibur has one, and Vegas being Vegas, it isn't the same kind of cheesy show you'll see in, say, the midwest. It's that, plus awesome pyrotechnics, higher production values, and (at least when we went) a scene that seemed to exist solely to justify bringing out a dozen well-built topless guys for folks to ogle at. If you like cheesy and stupid, but ever moreso when it's over-the-top, give that a shot.
posted by davejay at 12:13 PM on September 8, 2010

Best answer: I went to Vegas last March.

We saw three shows: Jubilee (adult/burlesque), Mystere (Cirque du Soleil), and Anthony Cools (hypnotist).
Jubilee was cheesy, feathery, sequined, singing-and-dancing (and topless) awesomeness. Totally loved it.
Mystere was alright - maybe we're just hard to impress? I thought the acts in Jubilee were better.
Anthony Cools was so funny we nearly peed our seats.

Before the trip I checked out a Frommer's guide from the public library which probably makes me a huge dork but it turned out to be really valuable. There are hidden free things all over the place. We tried to find every aquarium, zoo and animal conservatory on the strip.

We ate at many a buffet. Our favorites were in the Bellagio (lunch), Treasure Island (dinner) and The Hilton on Paradise Road (champagne brunch). We also had dinner at the Eiffel Tower restaurant one night which was quite good. Quark's Bar still exists - it's just not called that. I can vouch that as of March all the decor was still up.

We used the monorail for our main mode of transportation.
posted by geekchic at 12:21 PM on September 8, 2010

Best answer: Peppermill is cool, but save it for a very late night. Enjoy drinks by the fire pits, then breakfast in the diner.

The Alternate Reality comic store and the Freakin' Frog are right near each other, so you can consolidate that trip.

One other thing to add (on the same day, since it's right near both those places): the Double Down Saloon -- probably the shittiest dive bar you'll ever visit, and a Vegas locals institution. I recommend the Ass Juice, washed down with a Boddington's. I do NOT recommend the Bacon Martini. Go during the day and it'll likely be empty. Go at night for live music and wall-to-graffiti-covered-wall people.

Since this itinerary seems to have a "locals" theme, you might as well round out the day by getting tattooed by Dirk Vermin at Pussykat Tattoos (also right near there), but make an appointment beforehand.

If you go downtown, the Griffin is great until about 11:00, when it gets too crowded. Downtown Lounge isn't as nice, but people seem to like it. Both are primarily locals hangouts.

Bite in the Stratosphere used to be one of my favorite shows for nekkid girls, vampires, and classic rock cheese, and it's more of a date show than many of the other "burlesques." I don't know how it is now that they've replaced the main vampire, though.
posted by coolguymichael at 1:17 PM on September 8, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the replies. Hopefully I'll get a chance to go over some of the suggestions in detail today.
posted by utsutsu at 7:07 AM on September 9, 2010

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