Dang I love Vegas. Not just The Strip, which is fantastic on its own, but the food, people, hell, I even like the weather. When you grew up with heat and humidity, a desert isn’t so bad by comparison. That’s why I was super-excited to book a booth at Vegas Fan Fusion for this weekend. Unfortunately, as many of you hopefully know by now, Vegas Fan Fusion was cancelled a few weeks back.
Luckily, since I love the city and travel arrangements were already in place, I opted to go anyway, still holding the Meetup I promised my readers. If you’re reading this before Saturday the 29th and would like to join, click here for more details. In honor of my trip this weekend, I decided to do a quick travel blog for Vegas. This definitely won’t be the most comprehensive guide out there, but if you’re heading that direction and want a little advice from a big fan, this may turn out to be a bit of help.
On a personal level, I like The Cosmopolitan when it’s affordable. They’ve got several of my favorite Strip food spots, huge tubs, balconies, a sweet location (more on that in a moment), and just a general fun vibe. That said, I don’t think one particular hotel is “essential” to a Vegas visit. There are a ton of them, with a wide range of rooms. Heck, last year during a stopover for the Phoenix con I stayed in a Linq room staring into a parking lot for under $60.
The room matters less than you’d think. It’s not something to disregard entirely, you are going to want some hangover/down time, but in general Vegas is a spot where you expect to spend most of your time out of the room. In that light, I would suggest that you consider location above all else. Figure out the casinos/shows/attractions you really want to see, then book something that gives you easy access. Want to book without knowing all that first? Aim for around Caesar’s Palace. It’s not a true center, but based on the things I see people visit most frequently, something in this area should serve you well. Although there might still be a few long treks, the majority of what you want will be a short stroll away.
Whether it be cost-cutting, morality, or just a change in policy, getting hammered in a Vegas casino isn’t as easy as tales make it out to be. Perhaps, if one sits around the higher-roller tables, drinks still flow fast and freely. On the other hand, if your budget has you chilling on penny slots with me, don’t expect to see a steady rotation. People do still come around; I’m not going to say that’s gone, just not that often. If you want to keep a steady buzz in Vegas without camping a table for hours, you’ve got two options: price-gouging or planning.
Price-gouging is where you pay bar prices for drinks within a casino. This is a move for some people, folks who value convenience over low-cost. No judgement, it’s your cash, live how you like. For the rest of us, the trick is to buy booze at one of the cheaper places, then keep it on you. An ABC Store (one is located in Planet Hollywood, which is by Caesar’s and Cosmopolitan) will sell you beer, wine, liquor, snack food, and medicine at normal rates. CVS and Walgreens will have most of that, save for the liquor. Since Vegas has an open-container law and no casino cares if you want to get yourself drunk (not their liability) the easiest thing is to fill a flask and bring it around with you, assuming you like shots. If you’re more of a sip-and-chill person, a fanny-pack will hold several tall-boy beers or some of the small wine options.
Will you look silly? Yes. Will you soon be too buzzed to care? Almost certainly.
If we were going to have a discussion of the overall Vegas food scene, I’d definitely have to take this blog off The Strip. However, since it is tourist based, we’ll keep it simple and stick to the major novelty a lot of people think of when imagining Vegas dining: the buffet.
The best buffet on The Strip is The Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan. Full stop, no questions. I’m open to being proven wrong, if you disagree, but let me knock out some common competitors real quick.
Caesar’s Bacchanal is also a solid buffet, easily a strong second place. Between the crowds and the smaller selection though, it just doesn’t win out for me. Some people might find it better, depending on specific flavors and tastes. They are both delicious, Wicked Spoon is just put together better for me, so it takes the cake.
Anyone who recommends the Rio Seafood Buffet either A) Hates you, or B) Hasn’t actually been in years. It’s terrible. Feels old, tastes old, and the “premium” seafood buffet isn’t just limited, it’s not very good. Their version of extra feels like a shittier version of most other buffets baseline.
There’s a bunch that are fine: New York New York, MGM, Linq. I haven’t tried every buffet, planning to knock out Aria on this trip, but I’ve done many in my times, and tried the Buffet of Buffet once. If you want to fuck around and try a bunch, by all means. Vegas has tons of great, unique buffet options. Wicked Spoon just happens to be the best, and the one you definitely don’t want to miss.
If you’ve got something you really want to see, go see it. I can’t even begin to guess what each person reading this has in terms of taste for entertainment. So, rather than trying to list some random ones that won’t age well, I’ll say this: take chances. Pick some weird, cheap stuff and give it a shot. There are loads of avenues for cheaper tickets, so take some swings. I’ve seen odd shows in Vegas, but none I would call “bad” because even getting to that point usually takes a lot of work. And sometimes, I’ve seen full-on hidden diamonds.
It’s got buzz now, but when my friends and I went to see Zombie Burlesque, it was just a funny name and a cheap ticket. Then we watched as a troupe of insanely talented actors and dancers burned down the stage (Metaphorically, this is Vegas, so I felt the need to specify) to wild applause. Want to be surprised? Delighted? Experience something wholly new? Try a random show. Trying your luck is woven into the very fabric of the town.