Don’t get me wrong; The Las Vegas Strip is great. I love it there. But occasionally, the strip can be a little much, and frankly, I would rather swallow a pill of cyanide than go anywhere near it. And I know every local feels that way because they’ve all said it to me. And after a few rough days, some tourists need a break from The Strip as well. Thankfully, this wonderful town has much more to offer than just what can be found on that four-mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard. Here are some examples the more this town has to offer…
Playing Games At Insert Coins
Located downtown, the recently opened (May 2011) Insert Coins is the unique vision of its founder Chris LaPorte. Insert Coins is basically the merging of a Las Vegas lounge with a state of the art arcade. There are ten private gaming booths along one wall for people who want to bring in their own systems, over 40 classic (coin-operated) arcade games, a DJ booth (who played an awesome set of old-school hip-hop when I made my visit), a dance floor, and a full-service bar. The center bar is made of color-changing LED lights and gamers can order a drink while playing one of the more modern games on the plasma screens above the bar. It is definitely one of the more unique environments in Las Vegas and the crowd isn’t just a bunch of hermits living in their parent’s basement. We don’t even have basements in Vegas. The crowd is surprisingly diverse (attractive women!).
Being Hip With the Hipsters At Beauty Bar
Right across the street from Insert Coins The Beauty Bar isn’t exactly a secret anymore, having opened up 11 different locations in the country including New York, LA, Chicago, and San Francisco. It is a nice spot for some cheap drinks and a mellow night. If it’s not too hot the “Beer Garden” out back is a nice place to see live music, comedy, or just hang out on picnic tables. I highly suggest going there on “Smiths Night” to see a few dozen Morrissey look-a-likes. It’s fascinating.
Before you walk away thinking all there is nightlife and drinking, here are some activities that are entirely enjoyable during the daytime and while (presumably) sober:
Check Out That Giant Hole In The Earth
There are only Seven Natural Wonders of the World and Las Vegas is a skip and a hop away from one of them. There are helicopter and bus Grand Canyon tours offered in Las Vegas. I would recommend really getting down there with the bus tour because a helicopter isn’t all that different than flying over in a plane. Most bus tours now include a trip across the newly built Hoover Dam Bridge (official name: Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge), which is a pretty amazing example of human ingenuity. You also get to check out the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a semi-circle made of glass that hangs 4,000 feet over the Colorado River. You cannot do this anywhere else in the world. Go ahead and try it. You can’t.
We’re Not On Mars, But We Do Have Red Rocks
Located 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip Red Rock Canyon is Nevada’s first National Conservation Area. There’s a 13-mile scenic drive leading up to 30 miles of hiking trails. For the more adventurous traveler (not me) there are areas for rock climbing and horseback riding. The last time I went hiking at Red Rock I was lucky enough to get a close up look at a group of big horn sheep on the mountainside. I locked eyes with one of them. We had a moment. I think he’ll remember me.
That’s just the beginning of what Las Vegas has to offer outside The Strip, but alas, that’s all I have time for today. Whether you’re a first time visitor, an old pro, or a local like myself, there is a lot more to Las Vegas than what you see in the movies; you just have to know where to look.