My aim of this recount is to outweigh the recent horrific trauma Vegas has experienced by telling you all about my unbelievable visit to Sin City, where the hotels, casinos and attractions are unparalleled, and when combined, truly prove that Vegas’ entertainment scene is the best in the world.
Many of you will beg to differ, but I felt that taking a Greyhound coach during my time Stateside was of bucket-list status. For those of you that don’t immediately know what a Greyhound is…you know in those 1980s/90s films where someone will be travelling across America on a bus staring longingly out of the window to the road beyond? That will probably be a Greyhound. And for some reason, trawling through never ending fields and desert in this aluminium cuboid appealed to me in some way.
After about five and a half hours, it was almost biblical how the land parted from endlessly expansive barren lands to magnificently huge complexes. Hotel after hotel, casino after casino, no film nor postcard can truly depict how immense everything in Vegas is.
After freshening up and taking a power nap at our hotel (The LINQ Hotel and Casino), we were ready to take on Old Vegas’ iconic Freemont Street – but not before we were attacked with a sandstorm, which is what I’m assuming was hurricane Harvey aftershock. Nevertheless, the Freemont strip is under cover from the elements and, you guessed it, lined with casinos, bars, buffets and the best tacky gift shops to keep you entertained for hours. Public drinking is legal in Vegas, and down Freemont Street and the main Vegas Strip, there are countless bars which provide ice cold cocktails in plastic tumblers, so you can just buy your drink and walk down the street with it. We picked up a couple of our favourite cocktails (Moscow Mules) and watched some of free live music before heading back to The LINQ.
After an amazing first sleep in our kingsize cloud, and a hearty breakfast at the hotel, we braved the 37 degree Sin City sun and walked to the legendary ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign, nearby to MacCarran International airport. Walking to the sign did take a while, but it was a brilliant way of exploring plenty of the hotels on the main strip such as the stunning Paris, New York, New York and the excessively ornate Egyptian themed Luxor. However, if you’re not up for profuse sweating and consuming about three litres of water, then I’d suggest you take the RTC bus which takes you all the way to the sign, with air conditioning.
Sidenote: The RTC bus service operates with pre-paid tickets which are valid for 2 hours, 24 hours or 3 days. When we landed in Vegas we purchased a 3 day ticket which gave us unlimited journeys and access to any bus service across that time period. It was $20 and saved us a lot of money!
Our evening comprised of one thing and one thing only – Gilley’s Saloon. The Country bar is the cheesiest, most stereotypical but totally hilarious Cowboy nightlife you can ever experience. Located in the Treasure Island hotel and equipped with horse saddle bar stools and a quintessentially Texan dance hall space for you to line-dance your way ‘till dawn, we had such a laugh at Gilley’s drinking beers and watching the weekly mechanical bull contest.
Our third day comprised of a visit to the Hoover Dam and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and it was without a doubt a day which I will never, ever forget. The day before the tour we purchased tickets via the canyontours.com website, costing $79 (this also included lunch!). The drive to the Hoover Dam took a couple of hours, but as we were picked up at 6am the drive went quickly as we both slept most of the way.
After lunch we made our way to the Grand Canyon’s incredible South Rim. Spanning over ten miles wide and attracting some extraordinary wildlife, the South Rim is honestly the most breath-taking things I have ever seen. The first time you’ll ever see it, your jaw will most definitely drop. No image will do it justice, nor truly depict the sheer size and beauty of the Canyon, and no words that I say will describe it sufficiently! But, one final thing – put it on your bucket list.
We got back from our Hoover Dam/Grand Canyon tour pretty late at night, so took our fourth day in Sin City relatively easy by having a walk around the iconic Caesar’s Palace hotel and their Forum shopping mall. Complete with a painted ceiling imitating a cloudy sky at dusk, the Forum was ridiculously elaborate, featuring Burberry and Louis Vuitton stores amongst extravagant Roman surroundings.
After a couple of hours of window shopping, we went back to Old Vegas’ Freemont Street to have a go on Slotzilla, which is essentially a huge slot machine with ziplines coming out of it. It has two levels of ziplines, with the higher level being 114 feet up and costing $45. We went on the lower level which is still 77 feet up and you can reach up to 40mph, but costs only $25. Doing Slotzilla at night will give you the best experience, as that’s when Freemont is at its busiest and brightest.
My final full day in Vegas was a strange one. My boyfriend was returning to Manchester, and for me to get a flight back to London on the same day as him cost me hundreds more than if I went the following day, so this obviously meant having a day on my own in Vegas. We said our goodbyes and I made my way to my hostel for the night, funnily enough, called The Las Vegas Hostel, which was back in Old Vegas.
The hostel really wasn’t bad, and is probably the only hostel I’ve heard of that has a swimming pool. I was in an eight bed, all female dorm and I paid £12 for one night, which included bed linens, towels and breakfast, so despite the flight circumstances not being ideal, I really couldn’t complain. Plus, they organised for the airport shuttle bus to come and collect me on my departure day, and that only costed me $10 door to door.
After a little walk about near my hostel, I returned back to the Strip via the RTC bus to look at a couple of shops, have a nosey in a few more hotels and in particular, see the gondolas inside The Venetian hotel. Out of all the hotels I saw in Vegas, The Venetian definitely stands out as one of the most remarkable. Once again, I’m going to let the pictures do the talking:
It was then my finale morning Stateside and I decided to opt out of the hostel breakfast and treat myself to brunch and coffee at the nearby PublicUs café, which is unmissable if you’re in this neck of the woods. And before I knew it, it was time for me to go back to UK and my American trip had come to a close.
So, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this little series all about my trip around America, and that if any of you were considering visiting San Fran, LA or Vegas, that you’ve gone ahead and booked those tickets. You will not regret it! I hope to be back in the States sooner rather than later, so until next time…
Text: Natalie Zannikos
Images: Natalie Zannikos, The Mint 400, Trip Advisor, We Heart It