How to Spend Christmas in Las Vegas
Well…the holidays have past, the christmas spirit is gone, and the cold weather has kicked it into high gear here in Chicago, but I thought I’d focus on some more positive things; like the fact that I spent Christmas in Vegas. This was by no means my first trip to Vegas, but it was definitely one of the more memorable ones. How does one find themselves in Vegas for Christmas you might ask? Well you book a flight and then proceed to board that flight and go. Just kidding, but really. Truth is the rents up and decided it was time to retire after I graduated this past may and headed West, ending up in the lovely Henderson, Nevada right next door to Las Vegas.
Christmas Eve was standard. Typical of my family, we opened gifts and binge watched HGTV; proceed my father falling asleep. Christmas day, however, was much less typical. My brother and I headed out to Gold Strike Canyon for a climbing hike to natural hot springs. The trail head is the only point off it’s exit, but your GPS may fail to warn you of which exit to actually take (exit2). Once you arrive it’s free parking, first come first serve. The hike is 6.5 miles roundtrip with some intermediate bouldering. Ropes are already in place and there is a water bottle exchange for hikers that are unprepared for the strenuous hike. From what my brother and I read online this is not a hike you want to take in the summer as they have fatalities every year due to heat exhaustion. You can check for trail closures here. The weather conditions we hiked in were ideal temperatures (55-65 degrees). The canyon is massive and looks like something out of a post apocalyptic world. The hot springs are the perfect treat after a long hike. Prepare to slip and slide on your climb back up through the canyon as your feet will most likely get wet from the streams. This makes the hike back more challenging. The hike itself is great for those people looking for a slightly more advanced bouldering hike with incredible views. I highly recommend it as a half day trip for those of you adventure seekers that find yourself in Vegas.
Once the Christmas festivities concluded we checked out of “Hotel Anthony” and into Bally’s. This was our second time staying at Bally’s and I recommend it for many reasons: it is reasonably priced, the rooms are spacious, and the location is smack dab in the middle of some of the most classic casinos on the strip. We stayed for three nights and definitely partook in our fair share of gambling and the complementary drinks that came along with it, but below are some tips and suggestions on what to do in Vegas:
- See a show- Vegas has some of the greatest shows on earth and if you’ve never seen Cirque Du Soleil it’s a MUST.
- Beatles Love– Featured at the Mirage, this show will not disappoint. Having now seen it twice I would recommend this for people who are hesitant to try Cirque Du Soleil for the first time as it focuses on one of the most iconic bands of all time and, come on, who doesn’t like the Beatles??
- Mystere-This show has been long running at Treasure Island. Having seen this show twice, it is another I highly recommend. This show follows the more common Cirque Du Soleil theme and features brilliant costumes and high energy acrobatics.
- Michael Jackson ONE-This is one of the newer Cirque Du Soleil shows but is definitely not lacking in entertainment. I had the privilege of seeing this performance while it was still touring the US. This is another great option for those who are hesitant to see Cirque Du Soleil. The costumes and choreography are spot on with some of Michael Jackson’s greatest hits.
- Visit Fremont Street-Take a couple of hours to explore this historic part of Las Vegas. It features some of the oldest casinos and some of the most ridiculous street acts you could ask for. It is one of those experiences everyone has to have for themselves. Venture over to Atomic Lounge for those people who love a good dive bar.
- “Window shop” at the Aria-Or regular shop, if you are one of those lucky enough to be able to afford Fendi and Prada. Either way this is a fun day time activity if you are looking to get out of the smoky casinos for a little while. Not to mention the Aria and Cosmopolitan are definitely casinos worth walking through simply for the extravagant decor.
- Get a reward card-They are free and if you ever plan on going back to Vegas this is a great way to earn free rooms from all the money you spend. If you don’t plan on going back the card still has it’s perks and, often, the casino will give you “free money” to gamble.
- Go to the Sports Book-This is a great way to spend an afternoon, bet on your favorite teams, and have a couple of beers (and maybe take a nap if you are worn out from the night before). I recommend reserving a table if you want to make a day of it, especially during March Madness or football season. Ceasars Palace and Mandalay Bay both have very popular sports books.
- Pay for the Happy Half Hour if you ride the High Roller-The difference in a single ride ticket and the Happy Half Hour ticket is ten dollars at nighttime and it is worth much more than that. When we decided to do this we figured we would be lucky to get two drinks. Turns out we each had four rum and cokes and three shots. The bartenders are generous and a lot of fun and the views of the strip are excellent. DONT FORGET TO TIP.
- Play video poker at a casino bar-This is a classic way to get free drinks without blowing twenty bucks in less than a minute. Put a twenty dollar bill in and take your time. Just make sure to play a couple dollars so as not to piss of the bartenders and always leave a tip. Which brings me to this:
- Carry single dollar bills-No, not for the strip clubs (well maybe that too) but to tip. If you treat your cocktail waitress well she will treat you well.
- Last, but not least, HAVE FUN-Get drunk, have beginners luck then lose your ass, venture over to a strip club or get married, ride rollers coasters or go shopping. No matter what you decide, Vegas is always a good time.