Fruit juice and neon: Las Vegas’ Strip and environs

Jan 1, 2010   //   by Emmy   //   Adventure, The Blog  //  5 Comments

So what’s there to do in Las Vegas, if you aren’t a gambler (which we aren’t)?  Well, fans of the weird and wonderful owe it to themselves to take a walk through the surreal landscape that is Vegas.  Wander up and down the Strip, in and out of the big casinos, and marvel (or roll your eyes) at the sheer madness of it all.  Taken in the proper spirit (that is, not seriously), Las Vegas is quite the architectural fantasyland.  In the evening, of course, many of the casinos have free light, fountain and pyrotechnic shows as you walk up and down Las Vegas Boulevard.  This is not a secret, of course, so we don’t have to tell you to watch for the fountains at Bellagio or the Mirage’s volcano.

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It’s all designed to seduce you into letting them suck your money out of your wallet, of course, so unless you’re a fan of $16 cheese fries, resist the temptation.  Even the fast food costs more down here.  The Strip is good for walking and pretending that you’ve stepped into a city designed by faeries.  Insane faeries:  don’t eat or drink anything Las Vegas offers you, or you may never be allowed to leave.

Off the Strip, the next obvious stop is all the way up Las Vegas Boulevard, past the bail bonds offices and numerous wedding chapels, to Fremont Street and the “old strip.”  “Old” Las Vegas has been pretty modern for some time now, and these days it’s covered for five blocks by an elaborately engineered canopy with over 12 million LED lights, Fremont Street–now known as the “Fremont Street Experience”–is better for people-watching than the Strip, and somewhat less crowded, though no less insane.  There are two outdoor sound stages, and the bands that turn up there range from decent off-the-wall cover bands to surprising original artists.  The Fremont Street Experience is also the place to go to see the Las Vegas Neon Museum (a collection of classic Las Vegas signs), a palm reader in a gypsy wagon, or to get your picture taken with Elvis.  Las Vegas is a psychotic place, and you’d do well not to forget that.

The drivers are psychotic, too.  Or, more to the point, they’re not paying attention. Traffic backups on I-15 are common, and driving the Strip means crawling through traffic at just about any time of the day.  The best way to see the crazy parts of Vegas is to park at one of the casinos and walk.

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There are less crazy corners of the city.  We found the Artisan Hotel, on Sahara Avenue, whose laid-back atmosphere and elegant décor should push the right buttons for anyone into the steampunk aesthetic.  The Artisan is a small (64-room) non-gaming hotel, so it’s a great place to meet friends in quiet, and a welcome escape from the crazy that makes up the rest of the city.  The walls and ceiling of the lobby are covered with framed artwork, there’s free wi-fi,  and the cozy Artisan Lounge and Mona Lisa Italian restaurant are equally inviting.

5 Comments

  • Hey guys, where are you parking for your stay? We’ll eventually end up there and will be looking for a place to settle in for a week or two. Feel free to email or reply after you leave if you don’t want people “investigating” until you’re gone. 😉

  • @Jonathan – The two RV Parks that are closet to the strip are the Circus Circus KOA and a resort called the Oasis. Circus Circus is way north on the strip, and not really in walking distance to most of the good stuff – we ended up driving and parking most of the time. The Oasis is just off strip, but they apparently have a shuttle service. We’ve not stayed there – so can’t recommend it, but we’ll try it next time we’re in the area.

    Sometimes however – depending on the season – booking a room on the strip is cheaper than RV Parks in Vegas.. and most hotels will let you park your rig in their lot while you’re staying onsite. We made the decision last visit to do that and got a room at the Luxor.

  • What a wonderful blog! Please continue this great work I will be sure to check back regularly…

  • Ah Vegas, home of the scariest ride I’ve ever been on – “Insanity” @ Stratosphere. Duncan convinced me it would be “Awesome” and even though I really LOVE rollercoasters I had a bad feeling about this one. After riding Insanity, there was no way in hell I was getting on the X-Scream. But you should try it if you’re not into gambling. The view is totally worth the near heart-attack – do it at dusk or night. 😀

    Vegas is not really our deal either but I figured while I was there I’d try to find a bartender that would fill up a 3ft long “dog bone” with redbull and vodka. I don’t recall if we drank it all, but I was amazed that we weren’t the first people to request such a thing. It cost $25 for godsakes! You can do ANYTHING in Vegas. :)

    Oh yeah, ladies, don’t stand on a corner by yourself (even for a minute) or you’ll be offered money or asked about your “services”. 😮 Have fun!

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