This may come as a surprise, but Las Vegas is more than just a four mile strip of flashy hotels and loud casinos. It’s actually a sprawling metropolis of 2 million people that spans over 4,000 square miles, which means there’s a lot more to do than watch a drunk guy try to find his missing shoe (even though that is highly entertaining). Here’s some fun stuff to do off the Las Vegas Strip…
Visit A Casino Off The Strip
At the casinos a few miles away, your money goes further. Table minimums are lower and casinos like Eastside Cannery, a classy ’50’s inspired hotel with color-changing exterior, and the elegantly designed Red Rock Resort, are replete with penny and nickel slots.
The only problem with off The Strip hotels is the lack of free entertainment (and in a city like Vegas where everything costs four times more than it should, free entertainment is the only thing preventing you from betting your mortgage at the tables). One of the few hotels that offers a free show is Sam’s Town, a hotel way the heck out there on the outskirts of Las Vegas.
Their show is called Sunset Stampede, an eight-minute tour of the Western pioneer as told through water theatrics, lasers, lights and animation. It’s no Bellagio fountains, but it’s better than buying cap guns and trying to reenact life in the Old West with your friends.
The first half of the show is cool, depicting cowboys and Indians and dessert animals looking way more colorful and futuristic than they do in real life. Suddenly the tune changes and the show morphs into an oddly uncomfortable display of pro-America propaganda, complete with country songs and images of military might.
Try New Sodas And Candies At Rocket Fizz
In a strip mall at the edge of Vegas (literally, it’s nothing but desert a few blocks away), there’s a cool shop called Rocket Fizz, where you can find hundreds of varieties of soda and candy, some of which you probably haven’t seen since you last bought something from the ice cream man.
Perhaps my favorite word in the entire English language is “free,” and Rocket Fizz offers free soda tastings on Saturday. After trying this lightly carbonated peach soda that tasted exactly like a real peach (science has come so far), I asked a clerk for the weirdest soda.
He gave me Cola Azteca, a dark soda that contains coffee, chocolate, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Sounds like a deadly combination, but it was surprisingly good, although I’m not used to heat lingering in my mouth after a swig of soda.
But my greatest find was something that got me in trouble when I was a kid. It’s absolutely the most un-politically correct candy ever made and I can’t believe they still make this stuff…
Bubble gum cigarettes.
They even come in a box that looks like a real pack of cigarettes. But here’s the best part: pretend to smoke the cigarette and white smoke shoots out.
It’s totally wrong and sends a terrible message to kids, but I’m not gonna lie, it looks effin’ sweet.
Pinball Hall Of Fame
I grew up sucking at video games, but I wish I grew up twenty years prior so I could have sucked at pinball instead.
A couple miles off The Strip in an unassuming warehouse is 10,000 square feet of flashing lights and loud sounds and a helluva lot of fun… except it’s way cheaper than a slot machine. $10 can last an hour at the Pinball Hall of Fame.
Take a nostalgic trip back in time and play one of 152 pinball machines and 54 arcade games, some of which date back to the ’50’s. There are even some new games, like an Iron Man 2 pinball machine, and a fun ski ball game called Dunk ‘N Alien where competitors try to hit a moving target and dunk an alien.
Find Treasure With The Pawn Stars
If you’ve ever seen the History Channel show Pawn Stars, you know that the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop has become another Vegas landmark. But once you see the place, it’s kind of a let down.
The store is smaller than it looks on TV, the guys on the show only work a few hours on weekdays, and everything is terribly overpriced. I thought we’d see a lot of the interesting antiques they buy on the show, but it’s mainly jewelry for sale. And the thought of wearing someone else’s jewelry, especially knowing they pawned it to likely pay for medical bills or something, is disturbing.
There were some motorcycles at the back and a few old slot machines on the counter, but not enough to warrant braving the huge crowds that pack into this small place to buy overpriced souvenirs.