Thoughts On Las Vegas From A First-Timer

Hey there! Writing to you from Las Vegas. (Nate and I flew here for a long weekend to celebrate his cousin’s wedding.) We spent 4 days exploring the strip, eating out (ooooh, so much food!), seeing shows, and lounging by the pool.

It seems that most people have visited Sin City by my age, but I’m 27 and just crossing this trip off my bucket list! I felt there was about a 50% chance I would either adore or hate Las Vegas….and after 4 days there, I’ve found my answer!

I went into it with an open mind, and after the first 24 hours of so I was actually thinking I might want this to be the place where I do my 30th birthday trip in a couple years! But ultimately, the parts that I loved about this city weren’t enough to outweigh the parts that annoyed me.

This blog post is written from the perspective of a Las Vegas first-timer to those of you have haven’t visited yet. If you’ve been to Vegas, this is all old news to you!

Specifics of our trip:

Stay: We booked a room at The Mirage. I wanted to have a “real” Las Vegas experience and stay in a casino/hotel on the strip. Nate had been before and knew a bit more about the lodging, so he picked the Mirage because it was one of the biggest casinos that also had decent prices. It has a giant pool, which we went to a couple times!

Gamble: This isn’t really my thing, so we used this money toward shows/food instead.

Eat: We ate a lot of good food! Giada’s new Italian restaurant at the Cromwell, Yardbird and Bouchon at the Venetian, and Beijing Noodle No. 9 at Caesar’s Palace were a couple highlights on the strip. We also went to a couple smaller places off the strip.

Shows: My in-laws and Nate’s aunt and uncle went to a Cirque du Soleil show with us. We saw Beatles Love and it was amazing. I saw a Cique show at Disney World when I was about 10, so it had been a long time for me and I was excited about this one!

Weird things about Vegas:

It’s soo smoky inside! If you know anything about Vegas, this isn’t news to you. But for this first-timer, I thought it was kind of weird that smoking is allowed almost anywhere inside! I mean…it’s kind of weird, right? Compared to the rest of the country? I had no idea about that before I came, haha!

The Casino floors are carpet, so after decades of smoke permeating the walls and ceilings and carpet, the Mirage smells pretty bad. I could tell they use an immense amount of air freshener to try to mask it, but the smell just ends up being super smoky + lots of perfume on top of that. We spent an extra $10 per night to upgrade to the “Stay Well” floor at the Mirage, which has air filters in the hallways and in every room.

Everything costs amusement park prices. Makes sense, because Vegas is essentially an adult amusement park; I just had no idea! I assumed the restaurants would be a little overpriced, but I didn’t think that everything from a tea at Starbucks to a bottle of sunscreen at Walgreens would also be extra pricey on the Strip.

We grabbed two cappuccinos on the first day, and with a tip the price came to $13. After that, we just made coffee in our room. 😉 

Even if you’re willing to pay, it’s hard to find great drinks. In Austin, people expect to find craft beer in even the bro-iest bar. In Vegas, even if you’re willing to pay $11 for a can of beer (not even draft), it was hard to find something. We eventually found some bars near us that had stuff other than Miller Lite and Heineken, and we’d grab a couple Nevada, CA, or AZ IPAs and have them dumped into plastic cups to bring out to the pool.

Gambling. It’s not at all like in movies that take place on the Strip, with sexy people with killer personalities who are bantering back in forth and sipping gorgeous cocktails. It all looked kinda sad. Most people were doing it by sitting alone, in front of a slot machine, with a tallboy of Bud Lite and a cigarette. I just kept thinking there’s so much more fun to be had in this life than this, right? The casinos honestly made me feel kinda depressed!

Everything is fake. The gondola ride at the Venetian, New York New York, the Eiffel Tower…they’re all smaller replicas of the real thing. Sure, the gondola ride is kinda fun…but in reality, it’s just a tiny pond in the middle of a big hotel in the middle of the dessert. The replica of New York is kinda funny, but it’s so sad compared to real New York. The whole vibe felt cheapy, and in the future I’d rather use my vacation dollars to see the real thing.

The restaurants are all in casinos, so they feel like food courts. This was crazy to me! Gilda’s Pronto and Beijing Noodle House No. 9 and a zillion others that served really good food were right next to smelly casinos with dirty carpet. If I hadn’t researched where to go, I’d have no idea if I was walking into a super awesome restaurant by a great chef, or a average chain restaurant. Even Giada’s restaurant was decorated like a generic hotel restaurant. It was all kind of gaudy and ornate and wasn’t what I expected from an expensive Italian restaurant.

The shows are amazing, but you could see them in other cities. For my whole life, I’ve heard people say, “If you don’t like the gambling, just go to Vegas for the shows!” And there are tons of them in just about any category – theater, comedy, magic, music, etc. But the stuff offered there (Blue Man Group, Cirque du Soleil, Celine Dion, J Lo,) are shows I’ve already seen or could see in other parts of the country. So I guess if you want one hub where you can see 10 shows in a week, Vegas is a good option.

If you love gambling, I understand why Vegas is so awesome. But since I don’t love gambling, I feel like there are a bunch of other cities where I’d rather get great food and see shows and do some shopping.

Ha! This entire blog post is so pretentious… But I just know there’s a bunch of y’all reading this who will agree with me that Vegas is a little confusing, because it’s smelly and smoky and way over-priced and still one of the biggest tourist hubs in the country. Can you explain it to me, please?

And to those of you who have been to Vegas time after time, you’re reading this and thinking…well, duh! 


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Mac McDonnell
Mac McDonnell
5 years ago

I’ve HAD to do showsnin Vegas for years. I hated every minute spent in that hell hole. It’s also ranked as the most uneducated city in the country, or bluntly put, the stupidest…
I do enjoy a little gambling but just not there…and yes, the smoke…I’m old enough to remember smoking on planes and everywhere else. It’s absolutely repulsive.
So, I guess I’m also not a fan of “Lost Wages”
Nice post!!

5 years ago

We’re all just spoiled in Austin with our great food, craft beer, and true culture. 🙂

terra @
5 years ago

To me, Vegas is one of those cities you just have to visit once in your life. It’s an adventure for sure. And there’s so much to see and do there, including just walk around and marvel at the strip. I’ve been four times and while I’m always exhausted at the end of a trip and get real tired of the smoky smell, real, real quick, I also have a great time experiencing it.

Megan Rosa
5 years ago

I recently did a trip to Vegas and although I’m also not a gambler, I had an amazing time doing a lot of activities off the strip so if you ever go back maybe try going off the strip a little bit. I wrote a blog post about it too if you want to check it out! Definitely agree with you on the smokiness and the sad gamblers though.

5 years ago

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1 year ago

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