Advice needed: Vegas for couple getting away from kids and cold
January 8, 2014 2:52 PM   Subscribe

Mrs. and I are able to get away from the kiddos and wretched cold of Minnesota for a long weekend in Vegas the last weekend of February, first time for both of us. Please help us enjoy our rare getaway!

Vegas: far warmer than Minnesota, easy and cheap to get to, lots to do. Help!

I've scanned the Ask MeFi archives and various sites, including the (questionable?) $20 Vegas Sandwich hotel trick. I'll probably try it because if it works, awesome, if not, first Vegas bet lost, wouldn't expect anything else.

Here's what we're after in order of importance:

1. Quiet, comfy sleep in a nice room with an enjoyable view
2. Fun hikes in interesting terrain followed by a good spell at a brewpub or similar
3. Offbeat museums and destinations, good art and history museums
4. People watching, fountains and shit, Vegas-type stuff
5. Gambling advice - not usually our thing but may as well do a tiny bit since it might be our only trip to Vegas

We'll be there from Wednesday through Sunday, no big conventions in town according to my searches so maybe the hotel options will be better. We'll rent a car for as long as we need, and we don't mind staying in different places for different experiences. Emphasis on maximizing happy vacation time during our scant time away from our lovely, adorable children.

Do you recommend staying a few days on the strip and a few days near natural areas, or just picking one place as a base? We walk around in general so we'd love to be in a ped friendly area for at least some of the time.

Prefer a low-pressure environment, hoping not to deal with timeshare hucksters, but we will be happy to brush them off if the place is otherwise what we want.

Budget: finally past our college budget, but not going nuts here. Aiming for less than $200/night at the hotel. We're both vegetarian so (insert joke here) we don't go nuts at meals aside from interesting booze. Veggie friendly restaurant and brewpub/distillery recommendations are very welcome!

Thanks in advance!
posted by look busy to Travel & Transportation around Las Vegas, NV (22 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Ok, i have no help on most of this, BUT the best vegetarian meal I have perhaps ever had was at the wynn, i don't remember which restaurant, but it was down stairs and they had a whole seafood cart and our view was of their back lake. Gorgeous. Each restaurant is supposed to have a vegan menu, and it was delicious.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 3:23 PM on January 8, 2014

Best answer: I love (LOVE) Vegas, even though I seem like the kind of person who should probably hate it. Here are my favorite things:

--The Hoover Dam is incredible. So worth doing - and the newer bridge there as well. There are tons of tour bus companies that can take you out there.

--The Chandelier Bar in the Cosmopolitan is aces - all Vegas cocktails are overpriced, and most are crap. A couple years ago, my Mom really wanted a specialty cocktail while we were at the bar there. We found out our bartender regularly goes to New Orleans' Tales of the Cocktail, and so it was no surprise that her drink was actually good.

--Restaurants in LV can be hit or miss, but Mon Ami Gabi in Paris is pretty great.

--If you want to gamble a bit, sign up for the Casino's Players Card, even if you won't ever use it again. You'll usually get some free credits for the slot machines.

--Fremont is a hoot and worth checking out for a few hours, but be aware that taxis between the Strip and Fremont are pricey

--There's not a lot of chintzy old Vegas left on the strip. His old home appears to be under remodeling, but Big Elvis still seems to be performing and he is incredible.

--Shop around for good hotel deals - I am always really shocked by how cheap Vegas packages are. My mom and stepdad just went and got a flight + hotel package for something like $500 for both of them.

--I haven't found it yet, but I've heard there is a pinball museum somewhere in Vegas where you can actually play all the machines.

--In my opinion, the best way to enjoy Vegas is if you set aside any expectations about intellectual growth. Just be OK with the fact it's Disney World for adults, and you'll have a great time.
posted by mostly vowels at 3:42 PM on January 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Visit the Atomic Testing Museum! A fascinating little gem not too far off-strip. They used to offer visits to the actual test sites but not sure how far in advance you need to book.
posted by killy willy at 4:04 PM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I haven't found it yet, but I've heard there is a pinball museum somewhere in Vegas where you can actually play all the machines.

The Las Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame Museum. Worth it.

They used to offer visits to the actual [nuclear] test sites but not sure how far in advance you need to book.

I looked into this about a year ago, and they were booked solid for 6+ months.

Now, my own advice:

Red Rocks (about 45 minutes west of town) has some pretty amazing hiking.

Gambling downtown (i.e. Freemont Street) is cheaper than gambling on the strip.

Quiet sleep is unlikely.

Hotels are further away than they look. You'll look down the street and see your destination, not realizing that it's two miles away. Parking is readily available all over the strip, and they've done some good work on moving pedestrians off the ground, making traffic flow relatively smoothly most of the time.

Tickets-for-tonight and similar outfits sometimes have good deals, and sometimes offer nothing better than the coupons in the "Las Vegas" magazine in your hotel room. If you're thinking of going to a show - especially if you're flexible on what you want to see - it's worth it to find one and watch their screens for a few minutes.

Seconding Freemont street as a great place to people-watch, especially in the evening. Time it so you can be there during one of the ceiling shows (usually every other hour on the hour or so).
posted by Hatashran at 4:11 PM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If your top activity is hiking, you will definitely want to spend time at Red Rock Canyon.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 4:13 PM on January 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah, IIRC the Wynn and its sister resort Encore have both gone out of their way to offer good vegan/vegetarian menu options in each of their restaurants ever since Steve Wynn became a vegan a few years ago.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:40 PM on January 8, 2014

Best answer: Long time resident here. Here are a few local secrets.

1. For something outside the typical Vegas hotel room and all the associated walking, parking and crowd issues, you might consider this spa hotel.

I've stayed there several times. Each room is a small suite with spa-tubs, and the views are tropical. Think Palm Springs as opposed to Vegas.

2. If you stay at that hotel, you're much closer to the Red Rock / Calico Basin area that has terrific walks and scenery.

3. Yep, The Pinball Hall of Fame Museum is absolutely a blast. Hoover Dam is amazing, but will require a couple hours total drive time. If you do go to Hoover Dam, stop by Boulder City which is on the way and poke around the shops and restaurants.

4. Fremont Street will give you a lot of people-watching time with much less walking around. There are a lot of fun things to do there. Neon museum, Container Park, etc.

5. Keep your gambling fun with a minimum amount of brain-power / chances to screw up. Roulette is a good game that really makes no difference how you bet. Your odds are always the same. This lets you have fun without worrying about making stupid mistakes. Another option is to play craps, sticking to the pass / don't pass line. Just don't do any of the proposition bets.
posted by nedpwolf at 4:42 PM on January 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Any hotel on the strip is going to be good. We've stayed at the Stratosphere (at the end of the strip, bordering on sleezy), Treasure Island (AHOY MATEY!) and Paris. We also stayed at Sam's Town out in the boondocks and that was FANTASTIC! Especially at $32.00 per night.

My former boss likes staying at (forgive me) the Trump International Hotel. There's no casino there, so it's quiet and the rooms are suites. Looks like you can get a room for $159 per night. It's across the street from Planet Hollywood, so you're close to a casino.

Renting a car in vegas is pretty cheap and it makes it nice if you want to get to Hoover Dam, or the Atomic Museum or any other place. Nthing that walking from one place to another on the strip can be a real schlep. Getting off the property at Caesars Palace is about a mile! There's tons of free self-parking or Valet for the price of a $5 tip.

Luv-It Frozen Custard is worth a visit, even in winter. YUM! (Down the street from the Stratosphere)

I'd check out that Marriott Property nedpwolf suggested, looks nice! Just get a car.

If you're flying out on Delta, go for one of their packages, I'm serious!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:50 PM on January 8, 2014

Don't miss the "Beatle LOVE" show at the Mirage.
posted by KneeDeep at 4:55 PM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Purple Reign is great fun.

Goldstar has discounted tickets for shows and events.

Lotus of Siam has been called one of the best Thai restaurants in the US.
posted by mogget at 5:06 PM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yup, Pinball Hall of Fame, and yup, Red Rock Canyon (take the Calico trails, but don't follow them, just scramble around the marshmallow-shaped rocks like billy-goats). The Springs Preserve doesn't see all that many tourists, but it's a well-designed indoor/outdoor museum with hiking trails to boot.

Go to Frankie's Tiki Lounge for a funky atmosphere and drinks that'll getcha -- it's 24/7, so I like to go at bizarre times when it's mostly empty. The Erotic Heritage Museum is a fun stop, especially as a couple -- it's a museum, but about old sex stuff. For people watching, Fremont Street is the place, 'cause everyone is drunk and embarrassing there. (I think there's also a bar with an arcade down the block from it, but I've never been.)

If you wanna see a show, I'd say Ka is the most technically impressive of the Cirque du Soleil bunch. (Don't waste your time on Zumanity, despite it's titillating promises.) But, my top Vegas favourite after having seen almost all of them many times over has gotta be Absinthe: the sets are jaw-dropping, the setup is flirty, and it's just plain the most fun.

As a last note, though: it ain't no Minnesota, but sometimes folks who visit don't realize that Vegas does get cold this time of year, too. Don't leave all your warm things at home!
posted by Pwoink at 5:24 PM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I love Vegas and have stayed at a lot of the Casinos - I usually end up at any place on the Strip that has a deal (and the packages often seem to have the best deal) - the Stratosphere is cheap, but is pretty out of the way, especially if you're out late at night on the strip; last time I was at the Tropicana and the rooms were quite nice and we had a fabulous and terrifying view of the giant David Copperfield sign (I swear his eyes glow demonically). I stayed at Paris once and got one of the rooms overlooking the Eiffel Tower which was quite fun. The great thing about Vegas is that it's all excellent people watching, no matter where you go.

I liked Fremont and the Neon Museum (the signs all around) and if you're budget conscious you get free micro-brewery beer one of the Casinos there (Main Street, I think), if you're playing. There's a decent cocktail bar down there - the Downtown Cocktail Room. I had the most amazing jalapeno infused vodka cocktail at a casino on Fremont, but damned if I can remember where it was. :( If you get the bus down there it's cheap, but go to the bathroom before you on it to go back as it takes a hell of a long time to go anywhere.

Mon Ami Gabi is not good for vegetarians in my memory, but maybe they've changed the menu. I found the Bellagio good for vegetarian food for a range of prices. For cheap and filling and not terrible the pho restaurant in TI is hard to beat if you're there and just want to rest your feet.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:12 PM on January 8, 2014

My advice for Vegas. Don't pack any toiletries...instead pack liquor/wine bottles and/or smokes.
First day, first thing in the morning... spend the $25.00 per person per day fee for daily access to Hotel Spa. They give away everything that you would have packed-and you are able to take them back to your room with you-not to mention a nice peaceful place to hang out. It's worth it to me. Spend the day by the pool the first day getting sun, relaxing, reading a book, passing love notes to each other, or stealing kisses, and every time you need to use the bathroom, use the spa instead, and when lunch comes around, go into the spa for nice healthy treats like bananas, apples, other mixed fruit, chopped or whole nuts, and cheese. Then go out and have a great awesome show night.
That's how I spend day one in Vegas. The liquor/wine comes in handy too..(liquor is not cheat there. I walked into a bar that I thought was equal to my neighborhood martini bar, in dress code and environment, that I love, ordered a round of drinks-meaning four..and the total was like $90.00)...especially since walking anywhere at any time is a total pain. DO ride the bus. DON'T really think that "walking places" is a thing there. You instead ride the bus to where you want to go on the strip, then "walk" through it, or multiple buildings. I had a blast walking through casino's, malls and such. But don't try to walk along the street. You will end up mad.

As far as a which hotel is "better" I don't much think it matters. Think real-estate when booking hotel. Look for deals. Book early. Don't think you can see everything on one trip. You can't. Do one thing that scares you. My SO and I would have made it the roller-coaster on that one rooftop-New York, New York-I think- but he was too scardy.

As for the taxi's. The only time you HAVE to take a taxi legally is when you leave the airport. You HAVE to load in a waiting taxi...and there will be one waiting...and take it to your hotel. Some of the drivers will try to cheat you, taking the extremely long way around to get you to your hotel. I don't know enough about street lay outs-but I know that it is a thing there-Smart Travels know to say to the driver "Take ________ Expressway!" or some such line to guarantee the more direct path. I am sure someone else here can help with that part of it.

I always stay at the MGM. I like it. It isn't the best. GREAT!-cheap rooms. Bad part of strip. Not much of a view...unless you like airpanes. Spa and Pool wonderful. Great shows at times.

Good Luck. Have fun.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 6:13 PM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

You don't exactly have to take a taxi out of McCarran. There are group shuttle busses you can use. You can buy a ticket right there at baggage claim or book online.

Downside is that you're going to stop at other hotels before you get to yours, but if you can stand the extra 30 minutes of wait you'll save a few bucks.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:30 PM on January 8, 2014

I've stayed in a bunch of strip hotels-I'm not much of a gambler so I really go for the nice hotel. My favorite so far is the Cosmopolitan-rooms were supposed to be time share units so are large and are the only ones on the strip with balconies (and yes, several people have jumped to their deaths). The pool is nice and you don't have to walk through the casino to get everywhere. Their buffet restaurant, The Wicked Spoon, is great. Runner up for me is Mandalay Bay, which is lovely and has a gorgeous pool area, but is much farther down the strip.
posted by purenitrous at 7:59 PM on January 8, 2014

Best answer: 1. Quiet, comfy sleep in a nice room with an enjoyable view

Stay on the Strip. THE HOTEL at Mandalay Bay has the nicest rooms - they are suite-like and have the most comfy beds ever. The beds at The Wynn are also amazing.

2. Fun hikes in interesting terrain followed by a good spell at a brewpub or similar

Nthing Red Rock Canyon. Then back to your hotel on The Strip, then to the Irish pub in New York New York. It's what every McMansion owner wishes s/he had in her basement, and I mean that in the best way possible. Like Vegas itself, you should hate it but you won't. Try to go when there's live music. The dueling pianos bar in NY NY would also be fun.

Try the amazing fried chicken at Central - Michel Richard's restaurant in Caesar's Palace (just like the one in DC).

3. Offbeat museums and destinations, good art and history museums

You've gotten some great suggestions on this point already. I'll add take a walk through the Bellagio for free, see the Chihuly sculptures on the ceiling of the lobby, and walk into the atrium that is always seasonally decorated with plants. Free. Watch the newer version of Oceans 11 first.

4. People watching, fountains and shit, Vegas-type stuff

The fountains of Bellagio, Paris (nthing Mon Ami Gabi for brunch, sit outside). Go see the flamingos at The Flamingo. Walk through The Luxor, see the bodies exhibit if that's still running. You must see a show. Terry Fator's ventriloquist show is really great. Cirque du Soleil is great (nthing skip Zumanity), O is my top fave, followed closely by The Beatles/LOVE, and Ka. Since you won't have the kids along, go to Rehab at Hard Rock Hotel for naked party people-watching by the pool.

5. Gambling advice - not usually our thing but may as well do a tiny bit since it might be our only trip to Vegas

Don't do it. The house always wins… If you must, play a couple of slot machines (not the ones at the airport). Play the ones closest to an entrance, I'm told the house wants someone to hit the jackpot where she can be seen.
posted by hush at 9:29 PM on January 8, 2014

Best answer: Yay! Vegas! Oh, I'm so jealous, you will definitely have fun.

Don't pay too much for a hotel room. If you've already checked the convention calendar, you are ahead of the game. I like to book somewhere that looks decent, and keep an eye on SmarterVegas and other deal sites before I leave - cancelling and rebooking can save you a lot of money, as can switching hotels halfway through. Don't do that more than once, but it's a fun way to experience more than one. I have a soft spot for the Flamingo's renovated "Go" rooms with a view of the courtyard/bird preserve. I think the megacasinos are more hit-or-miss on quality.

Everyone else has Red Rock Canyon covered, but you may also want to consider Valley of Fire. It's slightly farther out of town, but not bad.

Everyone else has also covered the Pinball Hall of Fame. DEFINITELY go to the Neon Museum. Book a tour in advance, and go enjoy the views and the history. It's one of the neatest museums I've ever visited (and I've been visiting since before they had their building), and the people there love what they do.

And eat at the Peppermill. It experience. And right across the street from Circus Circus, if you feel like assaulting your senses even more.

Also, don't bother gambling on the Strip - you'll burn through your budget (set a budget! Don't exceed it no matter what!). Wait until you're on Fremont. The casinos are cheaper and I find the people watching to be much more entertaining (wait until you've gotten life advice over quarter craps from a cowboy in the El Cortez...). If you're not gamblers, though, don't be surprised if you get bored really fast. It's fine to go find other things to do. There's plenty.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 5:43 AM on January 9, 2014

Best answer: I just stayed Downtown at the Golden Nugget on Fremont Street for 4 days before Christmas and I can hands down say that it was 100% more fun than when I have stayed on the strip.

Everything is cheaper (gambling, food, booze), closer (you can walk from casino to casino in no time at all - it won't take you 20 minutes to cross the road), fabulous light show in ths sky starting at 8pm, there are epic opportunities for people watching on Fremont Street all day and all night, there's a cheap bus that takes you to the Strip in 30 mins so you won't miss out there... the characters that work in the casinos are hilarious.....

I don't know, I just highly recommend it!
posted by JenThePro at 7:56 AM on January 9, 2014

Best answer: 1. Quiet, comfy sleep in a nice room with an enjoyable view

I'm a semi-professional poker player, so I consider myself something of a Vegas expert. In terms of a nice view, I'd say that the coolest views (and coincidently, the most central location) are of the Bellagio fountains. In your price range, I'd say that Paris is probably the best bet. They have some rooms (25% of the hotel) that overlook the fountains and it isn't that much of an "upgrade" so the $20 trick should secure one for you. Hotel rates are much cheaper weeknights, so you could even stay AT the Bellagio for less than $200 for two nights, but you'll never get under that for weekends. I think Paris is a great compromise, with nice quiet rooms with incredible views. If you are the kind of person who thinks money spent on hotel rooms is a waste because you are never there, consider the Flamingo Go rooms. They are usually quite cheap and the location is perfectly mid-strip. I've also heard that people have good results with securing Venetian via Priceline, although I'm not especially expert in how that works.

2. Fun hikes in interesting terrain followed by a good spell at a brewpub or similar

As mentioned several times, Red Rock is the overwhelming choice for hiking. It is miles and miles better than the next best option. If you were staying longer, there are some cool parks that are within a few hours drive, but I think Red Rock Canyon is the bomb. Hoover Dam isn't really a hiking destination, but its pretty cool.

As far as brewpubs go, Vegas isn't really a brewpub mecca. If you wanted cool cocktail lounges, I could name a dozen. If you are willing to get away from the strip and go to a local, I like Aces and Ales. There are at least two of them, I favor the one on Nellis. On the strip, its kinda ugly. I guess Venetian is the best with Sin City (a tiny place with local micros on tap) and Public House (a big place with food and tons of micros, though no actual local brews that I can remember). There is one at Monte Carlo that all I remember about is that it is overpriced. It really is kind of a brew pub dessert. On the plus side, essentially every bar in town serves at least a few quality microbrews.

You didn't really ask for dining suggestions, but my never-fails go-to pick that no one else seems to know about is the amazing China Poblano by Jose Andres in the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Relatively inexpensive, they serve tapas style small plates with a China / Mexico fusion theme that are absolutely amazing. I usually eat there twice a week when I'm playing and I've never taken anyone who wasn't wowed by the food. Andres is doing some of the most innovative food anywhere and this is a chance to experience some of it for a fraction of what you pay to get into e (assuming you even could, its probably the most difficult reservation anywhere).

3. Offbeat museums and destinations, good art and history museums

For serious art, the Bellagio's collection is actually first rate. The only other museum I can really reccomend is the Barrick on the UNLV campus. They rotate exhibits, but usually feature contemporary stuff. They had an amazing Ansel Adams exhibition last year, for example. There are some pretty cool galleries that you might drop in and stroll through. I particularly like the one at Caesars in the forum shops (although it is a bit snobby) and the one next to the valet at the newish Mandarin Oriental. The whole downtown arts district is interesting if you don't get to too many art districts. If you are a vet of the NYC or SF art scene, it may seem a bit provincal. For offbeat, the aforementioned Neon Museum and Pinball HoF are my favorites too.

4. People watching, fountains and shit, Vegas-type stuff

For me, people watching is the redeeming value of the strip. You might just want to take a day or two (or day and night) to just wander through the casinos that catch your eye. Casino stuff I'd make sure not to miss would include: downtown Freemont Street experience light show, Mirage Secret Garden, Bellagio's Gardens, MGM Grand's lions, the cars at whatever they call the Imperial Palace now, the birds at the Flamingo, the massive acquarium at the Silverton and the general ambiance at the Wynn and Venetian. I'm not sure I think there is anything worth a detour all the way down to Stratosphere, unless you are working the free gambling tips listed next. At the other end, Mandalay Bay is probably worth checking out. If the weather is nice, grab a seat outdoors near the strip and watch the world go by. The frequently suggested Mon Ami Gabi has outdoor seating overlooking the fountains and the strip, Fatburger and Harley Davidson Cafe also both have seating right in the heart of the strip. My wife and I sometimes play "Couple or Hook-up" or "Spot the adult entertainer" to pass the time. She kills me at both.

5. Gambling advice - not usually our thing but may as well do a tiny bit since it might be our only trip to Vegas

If you want a lark, most casinos offer special deals to new registrants in their gambling clubs. If you google "free play" or "promotional deals" you will probably be able to get a current list of them. If you can't find them, drop me a note, I have a bookmark at home. They change from time to time, but the usual deal is that they will give you a limited amount of free money or matching coupons to gamble with. Gambling with the casino's money makes things a lot more fun. If you want a couple of games to play that have relatively fair odds and slow play so that you can get more free drinks for your unit wagered, I'd suggest craps or pai gao poker. In craps, you just bet the minimum amount on the "pass line" and wait until they either double your money or take it away. It lasts a pretty good while, the atmosphere at a busy table can be fun and it requires absolutely no strategy or knowledge to do so. If you want to increase your wagers, you can duplicate the minimum bet or more by placing it immediately behind your pass bet after the person's first roll (for bonus points say "odds") and get a true miracle in a modern casino -- an actual fair wager. Odds bets return the exactly mathematical odds of the event happening with no house cut at all. They are limited for this reason.

Pai Gao poker is slightly more complicated. You have to set two "poker" hands - one with five cards and one with two cards. The five card hand must be a better poker hand than the two card hand. You need to know the basic ranking of poker hands full house > flush > straight > three of a kind > two pair > pair > high card. The nice thing about Pai Gao is that if you have a remotely confusing decision, you are perfectly welcome to show your cards to the dealer and ask for advice. Technically, they can only tell you what the "house way" is -- how they would set the cards if they had them, but there is no advantage to setting them a different way. DO NOT take the "bonus" bet, it is a sucker play. The cool thing about playing this game is that something like 75% of all hands end in a tie, where no one wins or loses a cent. As a result, you can play for $5 or $10 a bet for a really long time and typically only lose a handful of dollars. It lacks the excitement of craps, but it is an easy way to collect lots of free drinks and watch everyone else.

The big trap in Vegas is the "minimum bet." The exact amount you are required to bet to claim your seat varies with the fanciness of the casino and the number of customers in the place. At 10pm in the Wynn, you probably won't be able to place a bet smaller than $25 at one time. At noon in a downtown casino, you can probably bet $1 a time on a game like roulette and $5 on most everything else. As a rule, the smaller and less fancy casinos will have more free offers as well. Feel free to drop me a message if you have any other specific questions.
posted by Lame_username at 9:18 AM on January 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: You are all awesome, thank you so much.

@bowtiesarecool I used smartervegas to find a good deal at the Aria, way cheaper than any other site I looked at. Thank you!

@Lame_username thank you for the gambling tips, and everything else, very helpful and interesting. I will hit up a downtown casino at noon to have that experience and hang around and watch people until the wife makes me do something more productive. Aces and Ales is also high on my list.

@Ms Vegetable and @Jacqueline, I will absolutely go to a Wynn restaurant. Can't wait.

Thanks to all who suggested Red Rock, Death Valley, Hoover Dam, Neon Museum, Pinball Museum...all of those are happening. And the art gallery and fountains at the Bellagio will be the destination for my fist stroll down the strip.

Seriously, can't thank you all enough. I knew MeFi would deliver!

Of course, keep 'em coming if anyone has something else interesting, especially on the beer/distillery tip, which I know Vegas is not especially famous for. If I find enough interesting beers I can't get at home I might send myself a care package.
posted by look busy at 1:40 PM on January 9, 2014

especially on the beer/distillery tip
You didn't say distillery before! George Racz is a tremendous local character and has started the first (and as far as I know only) micro-distillary in Nevada called Vegas Distillery. I met him at Costco (of all places) and he is an interesting dude. I'm pretty sure he does tours of his place and I've heard he has a very beautiful antique still. I'm very interested in the idea of craft distilleries so the story of all the hurdles he had to clear was super-interesting to me. I didn't think his spirits were all that, but he did have the compulsory apple-pie moonshine and other white spirits. I'm more of a bourbon/whisk(e)y guy, but he is fascinating to talk to. I think he is out in Henderson somewhere -- so like a 15 minute drive. He is also pretty amusing on Twitter.
posted by Lame_username at 8:27 AM on January 10, 2014

Response by poster: Here is my recap. Thank you to those who responded!

The Pinball Hall of Fame was right up my alley. I told my wife I was prepared to move in. It's basically a big pinball hall. I worked through a lot of machines, had trouble with some, reported them, and the staff handled it well. This is the place to go if you have any interest in pinball.

Got some good advice about gambling. Turns out I did not gamble a penny. Can't help there.

LOVED the Hoover Dam. The Dam tour is very much worth it. The cafeteria is awful. Pack a lunch if you want to eat well. Loved everything about the dam tour. Walk across to Arizona for fun.

The brewery in Boulder Dam is entirely adequate for the beer enthusiast. We saw bad weather the day we were there but the main strip looked like a good walking excursion.

Can't recommend enough the hiking at Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon. Both worth days on their own. I had a great time at both places.

We ate in our hotel (Aria) more than we planned but it was fine for Vegas. The beer pizza place does not impress, at least to this Minneapolis beer guy.

I hated the Beatles Cirque show. It had very little to do with acrobatics. Lots of costumes and theatrics.

Had fun, may go again, great escape for the distinguishing winter midwesterner.
posted by look busy at 8:04 PM on April 9, 2014

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