What happens in Vegas…

Late-night buffets, sports books and craps tables will be colored cardinal and gold over the next few days.

Thousands of Iowa State fans are taking advantage of their football team’s game at UNLV, turning it into a mini vacation. I can’t say I blame them. I’ve visited Sin City four times in the last 10 years, and loved just about every second of it — even when losing my money, which I’ve done a lot of.

Clone fans, have fun.  

Get some drinks, put $20 in a slot machine, walk The Strip, fight the urge to punch the idiots handing out escort service cards.

Here’s what I’ve learned about America’s playground that may help those traveling this week:

You may think you can walk the length of The Strip. You can’t. Unless you’ve got three hours to kill. It’s a lot longer than you think.

Downtown Vegas is just as cool as The Strip. The casinos are older and there’s not as much shopping or glamour, but if you are looking for a good time it can be had there. The light show is worth the cab fare.

Try the buffet at the MGM Grand. You’ll thank me. Your stomach won’t.

Poker players, visit The Rio’s poker room. The pros you see on ESPN may be hanging around.

Put some money down on a sporting event. It makes watching it that much more fun. The ISU game won’t be on the board. Gaming rules in Nevada prohibit games involving the Rebels to be wagered on.

Tip your wait staff big on the first drink. They’ll remember you if you’re planning to hunker down at a blackjack table.

While we’re on the subject, embrace the absence of open container laws. Walk down the street with a beer at 2 in the afternoon. It feels really cool.

Don’t waste time sleeping unless you really need it. My typical day in Vegas: to bed by 5 a.m., up again at 10 a.m. Shower, eat lunch and you’re ready for a new day. Popping three ibuprofen somwhere between the shower and lunch is probably a good thing.

Guys, the outdoor pool/bar at the Hooters hotel is a must-see. I, of course, was there to eat the chicken wings.

The outdoor show at Treasure Island is pretty neat. There’s pirate ships involved. Nuff said.

Ride the train/shuttle if at all possible. Cabs are pricey and there’s always traffic on Las Vegas Blvd.

Lastly, if you care what time of day it is, wear a watch. Casinos don’t have clocks on the wall.

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