Vegas is basically synonymous with debauchery: drinking, gambling, strippers, excessive consumerism, you name it. It’s a weird place, at once divorced from reality and yet somehow hyper-real as well. It is LOUD and BRIGHT and CROWDED at all hours of the day and night; it is the epitome of sensory overload.
For a textbook introvert like me, even the idea of Vegas is overwhelming. Our five day trip there earlier this month was good, but also exhausting. I was very happy to see my own bed again. While Vegas may not be my idea of a perfect vacation, though, it does have several things to offer that don’t involve jangling slot machines or topless girls. You just have to look a little closer.
Bryan and I stumbled upon this gem while exploring the Linq. Bryan happened to see the little Polaroid sign, so we went inside and discovered that there is also a museum upstairs. It is free and when we were there, it was just the two of us. It was so peaceful, and the exhibit is so interesting, it ended up being one of my favorite things that we did. There is a beautiful, colorful collage that I loved, as well as a timeline of the Polaroid company through all their cameras, and a few personal collections of Polaroids as well. I highly recommend this place, even if you aren’t super into photography.
Everyone knows that Las Vegas used to be run almost exclusively by the mob (right? That’s not just a thing that I think everyone knows?). So it makes sense that the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement would be located in Sin City. Now, this place isn’t exactly off the beaten path. It was jam-packed when we were there. And I mean jam-packed. For a person who doesn’t like crowds, it was a little bit unsettling at times. But for a person who loves things like the history of the mafia, it was awesome.
The place is big. It took us three hours to get through the whole thing, and by the end of it, my brain was mush. Don’t go in there hungry. Don’t go in there tired. Don’t go in there cranky. There’s a ton of information, most of it fascinating, and you won’t want to miss it. I think the most interesting thing there was the St Valentine’s Day Massacre wall. It is the genuine wall against which seven gangsters were shot to death. Creepy creepy creepy.
This is definitely worth the visit, but be prepared for it to be crowded and to take a loooong time. Tickets are $21.95 USD but we found a coupon online that got us $3 off each ticket. Google around.
Get out of the city
Las Vegas is actually fairly close to a few cool things within driving distance. Part of the Grand Canyon is close by, as well as Fire Valley and Lake Mead (which Bryan visited last year with his brother and says was really cool). We chose to rent a car and drive the 2.5 hours through Nevada, Arizona, and Utah to get to Zion National Park.
The whole day ended up costing us about $150 USD including the car rental and the $25 fee to get into the park, and it was 100% worth it. It was the very best thing that we did.
Slotzilla – Zoomline/Zipline
Slotzilla is a relatively new attraction on Fremont Street downtown. The minute we stepped off the bus, I looked up to see four people zooming across the sky above us. I watched their progress the whole way, utterly rapt, only looking away when Bryan said, “Do you want to do that?” Being terrified of heights, my stomach flip-flopped, but I nodded anyway. I really, really did.
We wandered down to the other end of the street where the ticket counter was located. $40 for a ride that would last less than a minute?! That seemed insane. We wandered back away, and I felt the disappointment clawing at my throat. No. I wanted to do this. I had to do this. We turned around, and I paid the $80 for the two of us to get tickets for the higher, longer Zoomline.
Then we had an hour to kill, during which I maintained a low level of anxiety but managed not to freak out entirely. We waited at the bottom of the ride for our ticket time to flash on the LED screen, then we walked up the stairs. We waited in line to show our tickets to the guy. Then we waited in line to get fitted for harnesses. Then we waited in line with a bunch of other beharnessed people for the elevator to show up. Then we waited in line while the people in front of us went.
Four people go on the ride at one time. The two women who would be joining us on our adventure were middle-aged, loud, and very Southern. One, with huge blond hair, kept complaining about how scared she was. The other one couldn’t contain how wild and young this whole adventure made her feel. I kind of loved both of them.
Finally, it was our turn. I laid down on the waist-high mat, and the guy hooked me up to another harness. The mat dropped away, so I was hanging in mid-air, belly down, arms hanging. To my left and right, the Vegas sky was black and speckled with neon lights. The wind whipped around me. In front of me was a nondescript, grey metal door that, any second, would slowly open to reveal Fremont Street stretched out in front of us. Tension mounted. More waiting. More waiting. Then, finally, the door began to move. My heart thundered wildly, I let out a whoop of excitement, and then we were flying.
I stretched my arms wide, a huge, silly grin on my face, watching all of the people below us as they craned their necks to watch our progress, just as I had done an hour earlier. My blood sang in my veins, and I felt free, wild, young. In less than 60 seconds, it was over. We were reeled in, and unharnessed, and the four of us hugged and shrieked with happy adrenaline. And then we went our separate ways. And I can still remember what it felt like to fly over Fremont Street, if only for a moment.
We didn’t end up having enough time to do this but my friend Leah, who lives in Vegas, highly recommends it as well, especially if you are into things such as the Mob Museum (or the show CSI, I guess). You get to analyze a crime scene and solve the crime yourself, which sounds pretty cool. Tickets are $28 for general admission.
Have you ever done any of these? What is your favorite thing to do in Vegas?