I visited Las Vegas in late October 2019 for a conference Downtown, but while I was there, I had to walk The Strip. Infamous as the center of Sin City, it certainly delivered in terms of excess. It was bonkers … but fun bonkers! A homage to American decadence and a theme park of entertainment in all its forms. I enjoyed The Strip for what it was and then left for the quieter parts of town! Here are some of my pictures and thoughts as I walked.
You can get Ubers easily and quickly from any part of the city, so I got one to the MGM Grand as a starting point for my walk. I went up onto the overpass to take a picture of New York, New York. Apparently, there are a lot of traffic accidents along the Strip — a combination of drunken pedestrians and drivers looking at the sights, so make sure to use the overpasses to cross the road.
I love architecture and The Strip is like a theme park in terms of its brilliant — but fake — buildings. There are some gorgeous aspects — like the upmarket shops at City Center …
The Bellagio lake and dancing fountains …
The Chihuly glass inside The Bellagio lobby …
Paris with its mini Eiffel Tower …
The imperial excess of Caesar’s …
And the surprisingly spiritual shrine to the Four-faced Brahma, where incense wafts through the air amid the scent of marigolds. It’s just in front of Caesar’s if you go looking.
In terms of Sin City, I would say the biggest sin is gluttony.
You can eat a hell of a lot! There are some incredible restaurants on The Strip, many by world-renowned chefs. There are also unlimited buffets of top quality food as well as some down-market options. There are options for every taste and preference, so definitely budget for eating well. I ate at Hell’s Kitchen by British chef, Gordon Ramsey, somewhere I would never normally eat in the UK! It was excellent.
There were also some questionable items …
Just FYI, Americans. You would never get these in a real British pub!
This sign was in the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian, which really was spectacular. I’ve been to Venice a number of times, and love the architecture of St Mark’s Square. Nothing beats the original, of course, but they did a great job of replicating the look.
Once you’re inside, you can walk under fake skies beside a fake lagoon and hear the fake gondoliers sing … It’s actually pretty cool if you just let it be what it is. Don’t compare to La Serenissima!
Of course, Vegas is not just about The Strip. It is surrounded by incredible National Parks, the edge of which you can see from The High Roller.
I didn’t think I had too much of an issue with heights, but I did get a bit sweaty at the top of the wheel! It’s only 30 minutes though, and well worth it for the views. I definitely plan to go back and get out of town into the desert and do some hiking, but there wasn’t time on this trip.
Vegas is famous for casinos, but I don’t gamble, so I walked through a number of them out of interest but didn’t even spend a dollar on the machines. Cannabis is legal so you walk through clouds of weed smoke now and then, but that was less offensive than the smoking on the casino floors, which gets into your clothes if you stay in some hotels, even on a non-smoking floor.
As I was jetlagged, I only walked in the daytime. I felt safe at all times, although of course, I kept an eye on my wallet. I saw plenty of police and security. The main danger turned out to be dehydration! It’s not very far to walk the main sites if you wear comfortable shoes and you like to walk (and the temperature isn’t too high) but the humidity is so low your body dries out.
Stay hydrated. This means drinking lots of water but also applying moisturizer, eye drops, and nasal spray. I didn’t take this seriously enough and by the end of day 1, my skin was raw, my eyes stung and I got a nosebleed as my nose was so dry. I also kept getting electric shocks from everything, so watch for clothes with static and don’t scuff your feet on the carpets.
You can buy cheap bottles of water from Walgreens — there are several on The Strip, and you can find water fountains near the various toilets as well. In terms of toilet facilities, you can use the restrooms in any Casino and also, Walgreens has toilets for customers, too.
I will be going back to Vegas for another conference, but next time, I will start with hiking in the National Parks to work up an appetite and get over jet lag, and then spend a couple of hedonistic days and nights eating and doing the shows. I missed out on Lady Gaga and Guns N’Roses … Next time!
Do you have any thoughts or tips for Las Vegas? Please leave a comment and join the conversation.
This is a little gem about the history of Vegas, the ethics of Vegas, the experience of Vegas. I recommend it highly and for your next trip it will give you a background to the place.
It’s called Literary Las Vegas and it really deserves a place as the thinking person’s guide to Vegas.
Wonderful pictures. I always enjoy going to Las Vegas. I went for an author event in December 2015 so saw the Bellagio Christmas display, which was spectacular. We booked a trip to the Grand Canyon at the MGM Grand, stopping off at Hoover Dam and a lion sanctuary on our way. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day out but don’t attempt it mid-summer!
The milkshakes in the “British” pub – LOL!! As an American living in the UK for 25 years, this made me laugh on so many levels.
Jo Frances Penn
Exactly! I can’t imagine where they got the idea!
You must visit Fremont street after dark best time to arrive is just before dark. This is a must see in person
Jo Frances Penn
I was staying at the Golden Nugget so I saw Fremont Street after dark – and in fact, through the night and into the early hours. It was pretty scary stuff 🙂
I’m glad you enjoyed your trip. I didn’t know they had ‘British’ milkshakes there.
Elyce de Reefe
Dear Ms. Penn,
What a fabulous trip through Vegas via photos. Really the best job I’ve seen capturing a place – usually there are just not enough pictures! I’ve never been to Las Vegas but now I’m really hoping to go. Thanks for your excellent coverage of the spot and looking forward to your report on the business conference (the writing side of business – yes?) Can’t wait! Actually just joined 20booksto50K myself. Can’t wait to hear what was covered in the conference!
Ooops – meant to say the business side of writing. But I guess, writing comes first, so… Yeah, we’ll just go with that.
Jo Frances Penn
I wasn’t at 20BooksVegas – I was at a smaller Business Masterclass 🙂 But I’m sure you’ll hear info about the 20Books conference in the group! Glad you liked the pics.
Chad V. Holtkamp
Hey Joanna – it was great to finally meet you! And thanks for all the pics of The Strip since I never made it down there. Next time I’ll come in a day early and do more sightseeing. The gallon jugs of spring water at Walgreens were lifesavers — I downed two of them a day!
Jo Frances Penn
I saw your big bottles, thought they were a little extreme at the beginning – but then I understood 🙂