Las Vegas is a destination known internationally for…well…debauchery and partying. Taglines such as “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” abound, and most people will react with a knowing nod when you say you’re heading to Las Vegas for the weekend. Once, I decided to fly there on a Friday night rather than drive like I usually do (it’s about a 5 hour drive), and the whole plane was full of people who were rearing and ready to party. I called it the “whooooo!” flight because it was full of a bunch of pre-intoxicated people saying, “whoooooo!”
The thing is…I’m kind of a fuddy duddy when it comes to partying. I never drink more than a couple drinks at most. I highly appreciate the merits of a nice, early bedtime and a good night’s sleep, and I’d much rather be seen getting up early to participate in a 5K or on a hiking trail than dancing in an over-crowded nightclub in some uncomfortably tight dress at a ridiculous hour of the night.
The thing is, there’s actually a lot to do in Vegas even if you’re not into partying, or even if you have kids with you. Yes, there is a lot of gambling, partying, and other such events that happen there, but you don’t need to do those things to have a good time in Vegas. Here are some of my suggestions for a good time in Vegas when you were born to be mild rather than wild.
Hike at Red Rock
Ok, I only recommend this one during the non-Summer months, because Summer can be a bit brutal in the desert. And by a bit brutal, I mean…don’t do it. It’s too hot. But if you’re there in Autumn, Spring, or Winter, Red Rock is a beautiful area to go hiking, and it’s really close to Vegas, so definitely worth a visit. It’s so close to the city and yet feels a world away. Enjoy serene red rocks and desert scenery and still be back to the strip in time for dinner at a fabulous celebrity chef’s restaurant. Best of both worlds.
Visit the Container Park
If you head off the strip to Downtown Las Vegas, the container park is a great center made out of shipping containers with lots of pop-up shops and restaurants that change on a rotating basis. There are also some really fun entertainment options happening there. There’s also a huge playground with a slide in the middle, which is free, so it’s a great place for families to go and let their kids run around for a little while. the slide is fun for adults, too. I would know…I’ve gone down it on more than a few occasions.
Catch a Golden Knights Game
If you happen to be around during hockey season, why not check out a Las Vegas Golden Knights game? They very nearly won the Stanley Cup last year, and although this team is new, their fans are extremely enthusiastic. A friend of mine who lives in Las Vegas and had season tickets last year said that they did a great job with entertainment surrounding the games as well. It is Vegas, after all.
Go to the Hoover Dam
Aside from making Dam related puns all day. Oh, it’s DAM hot. Oh, DAM…I forgot my sunscreen…the Hoover Dam is a really interesting day trip from Las Vegas, and the drive is relatively short as well. If you schedule ahead of time, you can take a very informative tour of the dam and go inside, which is really interesting to see, but even if you decide to go last minute, it’s interesting just to park and walk around the area for a little while and see it from the outside. It’s not every day you get to inspect a marvel of engineering up close.
Hit up the Buffet
Las Vegas is well-known for it’s buffets. It’s almost as much a quintessential Vegas experience as drinking and gambling, and who doesn’t love food? Not all buffets are created alike, however. I particularly like the buffet at the Cosmopolitan, or, if you want to get away from the strip, the weekend seafood brunch at the M is always a good choice. If you’ve never been to a Las Vegas buffet, it’s a quintessential Vegas experience like no other. Spend the afternoon sampling a staggeringly large variety of dishes, and maybe wear your stretchiest pair of pants while you’re at it. Also, don’t plan anything too strenuous for right after the buffet, because you’ll likely want to rest for a while afterwards. I know that gluttony isn’t exactly the best thing to practice, and in my daily life I try to eat a balanced diet with reasonable portion sizes, but hey, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Las Vegas, eat an unreasonably large amount of food at a fancy buffet.
Las Vegas is home to a staggering array of really, really good restaurants, and there is something for every taste and budget as well. From unique breakfast places and stone-fired pizzas all the way up to extremely fancy, five star celebrity chef restaurants, you really can’t go wrong exploring the culinary scene in this city. If the strip is a little too…wild…for you, try poking around downtown Las Vegas, which is a great little area with a lot of cool hipster restaurants and bars that are a little more chill than their counterparts on the strip.
Catch a Show
After gambling, Vegas is well known for being a spectacular place to catch a show or concert. Check online to see what’s happening in town during your trip and snag yourself some tickets. There really is a show for everybody. In addition to some pretty big name concerts, there are cirque de soleil, magicians, plays, musicals, and everything else under the sun to choose from.
What are your favorite things to do in Vegas that aren’t gambling and partying? I’d love to hear your thoughts and get some new ideas for my next adventure!