I have been to Las Vegas twice before in my life before going in May at age 23: the first was when I was 7 years old with my family, where the craziest thing I did was manage to convince my mother to buy me a toy from the gift shop, and the second was for my third full marathon, where the craziest thing I did was, well, run 26.2 miles straight. Neither time did I have the true Vegas experience. You all know what I'm talking about here. Classic Vegas.The city of sin was definitely a bucket-list item for me, and being so close in Arizona I couldn't pass up the opportunity to go with some friends from work for a couple of days. I loved it, but was more than ready to go home when Sunday rolled around. This place is insane.

Here are some of the personal lessons I learned while in Vegas for the weekend that I think could be useful tips to anyone timidly venturing to the city for their first time, visions of the magic that awaits them swirling around in their curious mind:

  1. Find the good deals. People say it is expensive to stay on The Strip and that staying downtown is the smart move, but you actually can stay on The Strip for cheap if you know where to look. Hotwire Mystery Deals is a incredible way to find great deals -- prior to booking, you can see where the hotel is, how many stars it is, and the discounted rate (often up to 70% off!), but don't know what the actual hotel is until you've booked. Hence MYSTERY DEAL. This is the way to go if you want to stay on The Strip; we ended up getting Paris, which was close to everything, complete with a large gym for getting your run in, and nicer than most of the cheaper things we would have gotten off The Strip, so we were completely satisfied with the reveal!
  2. Bring sunscreen. Vegas is the damn desert, people. It is hot as Hades. My smooth, healthy, baby skin will thank me later for remembering this important essential.
  3. Bring an ID to the casinos. Especially if you look like this. They will see you at a machine and be alarmed that a child is on the loose and gambling away her parents' money, and then they will also card your friend just because they feel bad only carding you.IMG_1253If you don't look like this, GOOD NEWS! Vegas offers comps, meaning if you sit on the floor to gamble, you will eventually see cocktail waitresses walking around. They're there to give you free drinks (!!). A much better alternative to relying on the bartender at whichever hot club you're planning on hitting up. Just don't forget to tip!
  4. Don't plan on wearing heels for the walk to the club. Trust me. The distances in Las Vegas are way farther than they first seem to be. Since all the casinos are right next to each other, it doesn't seem like walking down the strip to get to where you need to go would be that difficult. But the strip is actually four miles long! Definitely use the indoor walkways when you can, or one of the trams. I ended up walking barefoot a good distance and many passersby expressed concern for the soles of my feet because who knows what is on the ground in Vegas, right?IMG_1251
  5. Don't drink so much at the club that you end up needing to get sick at the club. Those AMFs may seem like a good idea, but a bright blue mix of every alcohol known to man is literally never a good idea. Pace yourself. The bartender will still be there for seconds, no matter how slowly you finish your first. Additionally, drinking at clubs is expensive, so drinking beforehand for free at the casinos and then getting a maximum of one drink at the club is the way to go.
  6. Probably stay away from the clubs altogether. I highly doubt I would ever, ever return to another Vegas club. Talk about a shit show. I think College-Robin would have loved this scene, but Sane-Robin found it a little overwhelming.
  7. Dress up! It's fun, and it's Vegas! You are allowed to wear whatever you want in Vegas. T-shirt and shorts, little black dress, or leather and feathers: literally whatever. No one will judge you. Wear what makes you feel comfortable, but also don't be afraid to do yourself up real nice. And then send a picture of yourself to your ex-boyfriend so that he gets mad that he doesn't have you anymore and that you're living it up in Las Vegas (just kidding, sort of, not really). IMG_4487
  8. Enjoy your days. I thought that Vegas would be all about nightlife, but the brunch buffets (god, how I love the brunch buffets. Bellagio anyone?) and time at the pool was relaxing in a way I had never imagined Vegas could be (remember though, wear your damn sunscreen).
  9. Eat dinner early. This is a big one. There are hundreds of restaurants to choose from, but most of them will be incredible over-crowded at the peak dinner time. To avoid waiting to eat, grab an early dinner, which will get you better service and will also give you plenty of time to digest before to start your night.
  10. Spend time exploring! My favorite part of my weekend was not drinking, or gambling (I actually only gambled $20 at one machine. It took a long time to dwindle down, and it was fun. And I had budgeted about $20 for gambling, because it iiis a part of the Vegas experience and a good thing to try even if you are not a gambler or incredibly stingy with your hard-earned money, like I am). It was the atmosphere! There are SO many different, beautiful theme casinos to explore on The Strip (plus lots of awesome shows, including Cirque du Solei, and the iconic Bellagio fountain show, which goes off every half hour between 3pm and 8pm and every 15 minutes after that), and it beats sweating on the crowded dance floor any day of the week...trust me.


Las Vegas is awesome. Unless you live close, a big Vegas weekend may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Have fun and enjoy every single moment, because if you do it right, you'll probably never want to go back.


Published by Robin Beck