I am not a fast-paced party person, don’t love gambling, don’t stay out late, and get over-stimulated and overwhelmed easily. Still, I’d never been to Las Vegas, and although it took some convincing, I eventually came around to the idea that “The Entertainment Capital of the World” had enough to offer even me to make it worth an extended weekend trip.
I did stay on the Las Vegas Strip, at The Cosmopolitan, a newer and smaller casino property originally built to be condominiums, but in 2008 after the housing market crash, was converted to hotel rooms. It’s not a timeshare itself, but offers an elegantly modern hotel stay experience with fabulous amenities and is centrally located in the middle of the strip. My room offered as all the balcony rooms do, a spectacular view of the Belagio’s fountains and the north strip.
In the effort to avoid the “typical” Vegas experience, I devised an Alternative plan for experiencing the city. Since it was my first time visiting, I did manage to squeeze in a few mainstream activities, like a show-girl cabaret, as well as New York New York’s rollercoaster and The Cosmopolitan’s eclectic and unconventional but highly praised all-you-can-eat buffet.
However, with my “Alt” plan for the weekend, I managed a relaxing and low-key weekend in Sin City. Here’s how I did it.
- Hotel Spa: Las Vegas has innumerable spa options at the multitudes of resort-casinos and hotels, and most are pretty pricey. My tip? I searched on Groupon.com for discounts before the trip, and snagged a 50 minute facial and 50 minute Swedish Massage for only $109. Most spas also have elaborate facilities that usually include a soaking pool, steam sauna, dry sauna, showers, reading rooms, and every toiletry you could conceivably need, offering all-day access with the purchase of a spa service. It afforded me an incredibly relaxing and low-key afternoon away from the hubbub and neon lights.
- Waking Early: The streets of the strip and downtown both are surprisingly clean and peaceful from about 7am until 2pm, while still offering full-service in food, drink, shopping, and sights. Being out early means avoiding big crowds and rowdy vacationers as well as the loud music that blares from storefronts and bars after dark. I also chose the morning, and downtown to try my hand at Blackjack. Before noon, it’s easy to find $3 tables, and the dealers are friendly, slower-paced, and helpful at many of the older downtown casinos
- Getting off the Beaten Path: Most vacationers stay on the strip, or in and around Fremont street downtown. While the strip showcases opportunities for spending your money on couture clothes and bags, phenomenal food and drink, or “games of chance;” and Fremont street will sell you anything from zip-lining and fortune telling to 44oz frozen Daiquiris right on the sidewalk, (not to mention more gambling opportunities), there’s more to be seen outside of the main activity centers, such as pawn Shops: Made popular by the show Pawn Stars, the Las Vegas pawn experience is fun and different. Most of the merchandise in pawn shops are electronics and jewelry, and the store from the show will most likely have a line around the block for entry, but spending part of an afternoon perusing the trinkets that gamblers sell for more cash to play with can be interesting, occasionally with a great find. Museums are another great way to escape the loud or overwhelming Las Vegas activity. The city has a great selection of museums, most of which offer the typical “museum” experience of informative (and quiet) observation of exhibits. Take your pick from the Atomic Testing Museum, the automaker Carroll-Shelby Museum, Neon Gallery, Erotic Heritage Museum, Las Vegas Natural History Museum, Aviation History, Children’s Museum, and more. Don’t forget about art galleries, antique shops, quilt shops, up-scale resale stores, craft fairs, and other unconventional Vegas niche opportunities to explore too!
- Enjoying Down Time: I think with all that Las Vegas has to offer, it’s hard not to get caught up in the myriad opportunities to play, but I found that coming back to the sanctuary of the hotel room helped me unwind after intense evening outings navigating the crowds. Room service, although it can be pricey, is a great way to enjoy the experience of being on vacation while avoiding the overstimulation of walking around Las Vegas at night.
And of course, the many and exotic pools are a great way to soak up vacation-rays in a quiet and serene setting. The pools are another place that are relatively empty before ten or eleven o’clock in the morning, especially in late Autumn, when I went, so you can have your pick of pool-side real-estate.
I was impressed with my very first weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada. My travel partner had been several times, and when I asked what the comeback appeal was, the reply made perfect sense: Las Vegas is a place where anyone can find anything they’re interested in at any time, and without having to worry about what’s appropriate to wear, or adhering to a regional or restrictive social code. Everything is easy in Vegas, even for a homebody like me.
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