Las Vegas hosts over 40 million tourists every year. Which means, if you’re reading this, you’ve probably been to Sin City before. If you haven’t, you’re in for a lot of walking around carpeted casinos and trying to find your way out of them while being completely unaware of what time it is. You’re chapped, stuffed from buffets, out of money, and you just want to go to sleep. Those rookie mistakes are fine for your first time, but you’ve got little time and money to waste (unless you win big). And, now that Nevada has legalized marijuana, there’s even more reason to visit Vegas. Here are the little ways you can avoid having a Hangover-like stay on the Strip, even with a very real hangover.
While driving to Vegas is a picturesque look at the Mojave desert, it can also entail grueling hours of sitting in two-lane bumper-to-bumper traffic if you’re heading back on a Sunday or Monday. The immediate route back has very few options to stop for gas or food before you get on major highways. Flying not only saves time, it’s often incredibly cheap as well. Check lasvegas.com for deals that include flights in the cost of your hotel for as little as $75–$95 each way.
Water, Chapstick, Lotion, Repeat
If you do not live in a desert climate, you will not be used to how dry the air feels in Vegas and how much you have to hydrate in that kind of heat. There’s also the fact that you are probably drinking and spending time in smoke-filled casinos that pump perfume in the vents to keep the air smelling “fresh.” Bring chapstick, drink water, and use the free hotel lotions liberally.
Stay at a Hotel With Spa Access
Many of Vegas’ hotels have luxurious spas that are either included in the room or can be used for a small fee if you are a hotel guest. You don’t even need to book a pricey massage or a manicure to use them. Some, like the Cosmopolitan’s Sahra Spa and Hammam, offer pools and dry saunas that are communal. Others, like the Spa at Aria offer detox beds for prime napping and a co-ed hot tub for sweating out the nasties. Many hotels offer “spa” upgrades if you ask at the desk when you are booking your reservation. Spa-ing is the perfect pre-game to any night in Vegas.
Book at Least One Meal at a Real Restaurant
Vegas is renowned for its restaurants featuring celebrity chefs, exotic cuisine, and romantic decor. Vegas also has a plethora of underwhelming and overpriced hotel buffets and chain restaurants. While a burger from Johnny Rockets and nachos at Cabo Wabo with a churro side dish might suffice for the first day, you’ll be glad if you make reservations at a real restaurant for at least one dinner. For mid-priced sushi and a pleasant on-Strip atmosphere, try Blue Ribbon at the Cosmopolitan. For above-and-beyond service and amazing Szechuan fair, I recommend Wing Lei at the Wynn.
Upgrade Your Cocktails
A majority of the bars you will encounter on the Strip and Downtown are your basic liquor+mixer casino drinks. There are exceptions, even on the Strip. If you’re already spending $12–$15 on a basic cocktail, why not step it up a notch? I recommend The Chandelier in the Cosmopolitan, 107 Skylounge for amazing views and great drinks, and Vesper Bar—also in the Cosmopolitan.
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Exit the Strip
Part of what makes Vegas great is its funky place in American history and all the things that aren’t readily available to tourists. Local bars definitely capture this feeling, and are some of the most “authentic” experiences to be had in Vegas. All are just a short Uber ride from the Strip and they offer a fun night out without having to commit to expensive EDM tickets or nightclub cover fees. I recommend Dino’s, Frankie’s Tiki Room, Atomic Liquors, and ReBAR, which doubles as an antiques store.
Explore the Surrounding Desert
If you do decide to drive to Vegas, or just rent a car while there and drive around, it’s a great way to take in the desert sights around you. The most obvious pick is the Grand Canyon, which is a little over four hours out of Vegas. If you have less time on your hands, Red Rock Canyon is a popular hiking spot just 20 minutes off the Strip. If you’re into history and infrastructure, the Hoover Dam is 40 minutes away from Vegas. The site offers a historical museum and breathtaking views.