So yes, there is more to do in Vegas than party, get drunk and gamble. While these are horribly fun (until they’re not!), Vegas is full of surprises — great shopping, bright lights, and a whole bunch of unexpected animals!
Get Your Shop On: Las Vegas Premium Outlets North & Town Square
I can’t lie — I love shopping abroad. One thing I’ve learned over my years in Toronto is that I love being unique. I want to wear colours that other guys don’t wear; have accessories that make me stand out — I’m all about making an impression. Vegas and its high-end outlet mall north of the Strip had the perfect intersection between affordable and fashionable, and with $1000 in spending money, you know we were going to get our shop on sometime. As what’s mine is hers (or at least that’s what the pastor told me when he married us), I made sure to give Sarah her half and we went. to. town.
The Las Vegas Premium Outlets North is an outdoor mall (remember that Vegas doesn’t get a lot of rain) with lots of deals — but that’s all you’re getting. If you want action, adventure or even good food, stick to the Strip, ’cause people are here to shop! Town Square Las Vegas is on the south end, with more stores, but the deals are a heck of a lot harder to find!
My shopping spree was an amazing opportunity to re-up on some style items that my wardrobe was sorely lacking: new sunglasses; colourful dress shirt; casual belts and edgier shoes — I was planning to return to Toronto a little better-dressed than when I’d left. If you want to get great swag at an amazing price, I strongly recommend hitting the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North (the South mall is indoors and has fewer designer brands if street style is more your thing)!
Shopping isn’t everything to do in Vegas when you’re not partying from dusk ’til dawn, though — Vegas has a multitude of experiences available for all sorts of people… including a certain one on Fremont Street!
The Fremont Street Experience
While “bright lights, big city” definitely applies to the Strip, it’s got nothing on the Fremont Street Experience, found in the hub of old Las Vegas on the north side of town.
With tons of tourists milling around and far cheaper deals on meals and drinks (note — I didn’t try much of either up there, so consume at your own risk), Fremont Street has a certain charm to it — it’s like a time warp with old-timey lights, music and entertainment. If you want the glitz without the glamour, congratulations! You’ve found it!
You won’t even need a watch most of the time — at the top of the hour for 5 minutes, you’re taken to the Fremont Street Experience, where the traffic comes to a halt and the 90′ x 1500′ canopy turns into a psychedelic light show full of strange imagery, bright colours and fun animations. You’ve gotta see this in action at least once — classic Vegas won’t let you down!
Lions and Tigers and Komodo Dragons… wait.
Now if you’re
crazy adventurous enough to bring a kid with you to the City of Sin, beyond all the food they can sink their teeth into (not to mention your wallet), here are a few attractions that might keep them entertained during your stay:
Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
Through the winding corridors of the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, you’ll eventually find their Shark Reef Aquarium, the 1.6-million gallon facility that houses over 2,000 animals and offers SCUBA diving with sharks — if that’s your sort of thing. For the most part, though, it’s a long, calm stroll through glass corridors full of cool-looking marine life.
It has its moments — there’s a pool in the middle where you can touch manta rays — but the experience is over almost before it begins.
Sometimes it can be a nice place in Vegas to just sit, think and just space out for a while; but if you’re travelling with kids with eyes wide and full of wonder — this just might be a good place to kill some time!
Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat
On the other end of the Strip is the Mirage Hotel & Casino, where you’ll find Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, with 2.5 million gallons of water for the dolphins and a jungle sanctuary for the black panthers, golden tigers, leopards, lions, white lions and white tigers in the Secret Garden.
If you’ve ever been to a zoo before, though, this place isn’t much to write home about.
Though it was cool to see some big cats in Vegas (especially since they’d gotten rid of the lions at the MGM Grand), Sarah and I couldn’t appreciate it as much as others around us. After trekking through Tanzania and a honeymoon in Europe, Vegas can seem so small sometimes and cats in captivity weren’t helping the fact.
The dolphin tricks, however, were pretty cool. Unlike Sea World, the dolphins don’t perform on a fixed schedule (it’s a habitat, so they’re supposed to act as naturally as possible), but they’re fun when you see them in action! I was good after a few minutes, but I’d sure that any kid would love it!
So when you’re not partying like it’s 1999 (which would’ve sucked anyway — I wasn’t old enough to get in any of the clubs) or stuffing your face full of voluminous American cuisine, just remember that Vegas still has much more to offer!
“But Casey,” you say, “This can’t be it! What about the partying you did? The food you ate? The crazy drinks you drank the height of your body???”
I guess you’ll need to wait ’til next week to see!