The typical reaction to hearing that I have been to Las Vegas several times is “why; you’re not even 21?” based on the common misunderstanding that Vegas is only fun when you’re drunk. In reality Vegas has something for everyone, from families with small kids to the golden girls. This article outlines some of my favourite things to do and places to go along the Strip for those under the magic age of 21 in America’s nightlife capital (or those over 21 but not into the whole gambling/drinking scene).
The most obvious activity is to check out the various themed resorts lining the strip; each one is worthy of an article all to itself, each a self-contained world with enough entertainment, shopping, and food to last you a whole vacation. In fact, my favourite way to waste a day in Vegas is to just wander the strip, checking out each resort along the way. Each is spectacular and worth exploring; the pyramid of the Luxor, the castle of Excalibur, the money of MGM, the fountains of the Bellagio, and the list goes on. However I am going to focus on three that are unique for transporting you to another city, giving your vacation a 2-for-1 feel; New York New York, Paris, and The Venetian.
New York New York
On my last trip to Vegas we stayed in New York New York, and it has everything you would expect: street pizza, hotdog vendors, delis, shopping, an arcade, and even a roller coaster that goes around a replica statue of liberty. The outside looks like the skyline come to life in one block, and the interior is meant to resemble a New York Street, with cobblestone and the façade of brick houses and apartment buildings for the restaurants. The selection of food is fantastic, there is a whole area of several connecting streets lined with whatever food you want; giant pretzels, Ben&Jerries Ice Cream, or Mexican cuisine. Of course, if you’ve ever been to New York City, this might disappoint in comparison, but as a taste of New York in the heart of Vegas, it’s worth a few hours of fun.
It’s hard to miss this resort with the Eiffel Tower “towering” over the strip, next to the iconic blue balloon. Again, the exterior condenses a whole city to a few iconic landmarks, and the interior is made to resemble the winding candle-lit streets of Paris. Their half size tower is even functional – you can take a ride to the top for some amazing views of the strip. Inside the ceiling is painted a clear blue sky, which combined with the street façade transports you to the streets of France, complete with high-end shopping and dining, as well as more picturesque cafes than you thought possible for a Las Vegas resort.
The Venetian is spectacular, capturing the charm and glamour of Italy’s canal ridden city. It is complete with a river running throughout the resort (inside and outside) that offers gondola rides. The Venetian again features the false-sky ceiling to put you in the streets of Venice, with restaurants and shopping to fill every craving, and live music to add to the ambience. A favourite addition of mine is the new location of a Carlo’s Bakery from the TLC show Cake Boss in the Venetian. If you’re a fan of the show, and the line isn’t too long, it is definitely worth visiting this bakery for an afternoon treat. The Venetian also houses what every tourist destination is incomplete without: a Madame Tussauds. This chain of wax figure museums admittedly get old after a few trips, and if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all, but it’s still a great way to waste a few hours, entertain kids, and if you’ve never been it’s one of those things you just have to do.
Go see a show:
Seriously, Vegas is entertainment central – there is a reason the winner of America’s Got Talent gets a show in Vegas: Vegas is all about the shows. Whether you want to see retired stars who traded tours for the Vegas stage, magic, comedy, burlesque, cirque-du-soleil, the Blue Man Group, or Broadway musicals, Vegas has it all, and for every budget. Myself, I’ve been to a Cirque-du-Soleil show, a magician whose name escapes me (forgive me, I was 10 at the time, I didn’t really care), and on our most recent trip Chris Angel. I loved watching Chris Angel’s Mind Freak show on TV, so to see him live was quite a treat, and while he’s not getting bulldozed on a bed of nails, the show nonetheless doesn’t disappoint.
Other highlights along the strip:
The strip is also full of free entertainment; the pirate show outside Treasure Island, the fountain display outside the Bellagio, street performers, Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile, people in costumes of famous characters, and girls in feather costumes wandering around. If you travel a bit further along the strip you can visit CircusCircus for a day with its impressive indoor amusement park. Or go scout out the classic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. Or do a self-guided walking tour of locations used in famous movies and TV shows. There are literally endless options of things to do in Las Vegas, this article has touch on only a few, plus there’s all the options for day trips to the surrounding natural wonders of Nevada.
Day Trips to Grand Canyon:
In all my visits to Las Vegas I have still yet to see the Grand Canyon; nonetheless I feel the need to include it in this crash guide because it is definitely worth the trip, and the next time I find myself in Vegas it is the first thing I’m doing. First of all, you can easily find a guided day trip under $100 US (or you can rent a car), and there’s a wide variety of trips depending on what you’re looking for; rafting, hiking, helicopter, or just pull over at the top of the canyon. It’s a great way to get out of the city, and see one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World! Especially if you’re travelling a long way to get to Las Vegas, you might as well take advantage of the fantastic landscapes surrounding you.
That’s all folks, but again, there is more to see and do in Las Vegas than could ever be coherently captured in a single article, so go discover it for yourself.