Archive for August, 2009

Things to do in Vegas that don’t have to stay there.

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

Chelsea and I lived in Las Vegas for three months. We don’t drink, smoke, or gamble. Vegas is a pretty filthy place because people go there to drink, smoke, and gamble. There is, however, more to Vegas than gambling and not-so-veiled prostitution. That’s why I made list of the things you can do in Vegas that don’t have to stay there for you to keep your marriage or job.

Mystere $$$/++

Mystere is Cirque Du Soleil’ s first show, but it barely shows its age. Chelsea and I went to see this show and loved it. This show is appropriate for all ages and I would definitely see it again if given the opportunity. If you are in Vegas and don’t know what to do. See this. It does cost a little bit of money. Chelsea and I got our tickets at one of the “1/2 price show ticket” booths. These booths are legit, and your tickets are usually around half off. The good shows go quick, but this one was usually available.

Phantom of the Opera $$$/+

Here’s another great show on the strip. It’s not as good as it is on Broadway, but it is definitely high quality. Sadly, this is pretty expensive as well. If you have  a choice of seeing it in Vegas, or seeing it later on Broadway, I would go with Broadway. It will be a better show and probably cost less for the tickets. Las Vegas attracts people who are willing to waste their money, so they overcharge for a lot of things. This is one of them.

Blue Man Group $$$/+++

I went with my mom to Vegas a few years ago on business. While we were there we saw Blue Man Group at the Venetian. The show is incredible. My mom says it’s one of the best times she’s ever had. I’ve seen Blue Man Group in Seattle, New York, Las Vegas, and Chicago. The show will make you laugh out loud no matter who you are. It is a complete sensory overload. The tickets were $120 a piece (third row near center), but my mom says it was worth every penny. I didn’t pay that time, but I’ve paid to see them on other occasions and would probably go again at another one of their venues. If you have one expensive thing to do in Vegas, make it Blue Man Group.

Penn and Teller $$/-

I can’t recommend this show. I love magic and I love humor. Penn and Teller have both. What Penn also has is a problem separating his personal beliefs from his professional career. Penn is an atheist, which is totally fine with me. I think people should have a right to believe whatever they want. However, Penn makes a point of sharing this belief with you throughout the show. Did I mention it’s a magic show? He uses God’s name in vain just to offend those that might believe in a God, and explains that magic is completely fake and that religion is the same way for the same reasons. He shows how a few tricks work, and then says that religion employs similar methods as used in magic to deceive people. In the end it is downright offensive. I came to see magic, good magic. I paid money to see good magic. I didn’t pay money to have another person’s beliefs shoved down my throat for an hour and a half. Penn and Teller’s show is the best. I’ve seen other shows and I can tell you how most of the tricks work. I have no clue how two of Penn and Teller’s tricks work. Sadly, I cannot recommend the show. It’s not family friendly, it’s offensive, and it’s unprofessional. Go see something else.

New York New York Roller Coaster $$/–

There’s a roller coaster outside the casino. It costs $14 per person to ride it once. At the other end of the strip at Circus Circus is the world’s largest indoor themepark. It will cost ~$35 to get an all day pass for everything there and their roller coaster is better, so skip this waste of money and go there instead.

Adventuredome at Circus Circus $$/++

5 aces of indoor theme park. It’s a little low quality (typical fair rides), but there are a few bigger attractions. The overall feel is that of being at Six Flags. Chelsea and I used our library card (has to be a Las Vegas card) to get our wristbands for $25 total. I think they are ~$25 per person normally. That said, there’s plenty to do to stay entertained for several hours. Compared to other things in Vegas, this is a good value. If you have kids, then go to Disneyland. If you insist on going to Vegas for vacation, go to Circus Circus and let them play in the Adventuredome all day.

Pinball Hall of Fame $/+++

About three miles down Tropicana Ave from the strip is the Pinball Hall of Fame. If you don’t have a car it will cost you a $20 cab ride to get there. You could also take public transit, which is pretty good in Vegas. The Pinball Hall of Fame is pretty cheap. Most games are 50 cents with some older games at a quarter. The problem  most people have with arcades is that they think it costs too much, but most people don’t realize that for the same $10 you are going to spend on a movie ticket you can play an hours worth of pinball. Few people put the investment in to get good enough at it to get your money’s worth from it. It’s really a museum of sorts, but you get to play on all the museum pieces. I’m glad that for all the garbage in Vegas, there’s gems like this. If you are in Vegas, go to the Pinball Hall of Fame. It’s the local secret you won’t regret. On top of that, there’s a cheap theater right next to it. Nice!

Fountains at the Belagio Free/+++

There’s something that happens when you watch fireworks. Your brain activity changes as you forget about the people around you and get pulled into the moment. The same is true for the Bellagio fountains. Every 15-30 minutes a show of water and light plays out on the strip. The realy amazing thing about this is that it is art. It communicates at an emotional level. Other casinos have free outdoor shows that are trashy (Treasure Island) or, at best, kitsch (The Mirage). The Bellagio manages to create a public art piece, and kinetic sculpture timed to music. There are several different shows a day. Chelsea and I tried to see at least one every time we were on the strip. Skip the pirates and the volcanoes, if you want a free show that is actually worth your money, stay for the Bellagio Fountains all day long.

Gameworks $$/++

It seems we have all but seen the death of the arcade, and it is too bad. The big issue with arcades is that people feel they can’t get their money’s worth. They figure, “I can gamble for a few hours on $40. I’ll run out of money at the arcade before then.” Gameworks uses cards with a credit system. You can pay for unlimited use for a certain amount of time, or you can pay for credits. The more credits you buy at a time, the less each credit costs. Chelsea and I love arcades. I’m not sure why. I love video games and there is something about the atmosphere of a good arcade that really appeals to me. Gameworks is on the strip, so you should be able to walk there if you are vacationing. They have many movement simulator adaptaions of popular arcade standards as well as new games that will really impress you.  If you want to keep the arcade alive, make sure to spend $10 at Gameworks.

There are other things to do in Vegas if you live there. If you live in Vegas and think you have done it all, leave a comment. I’ll tell you some of the secrets I learned while living there.