Anyone else surprised (dismayed?) by Las Vegas?

A few weeks back, my family and I flew into Las Vegas, and set out for the Hoover Dam, Death Valley Natl. Park & that general area.

After a couple of days of that, we returned to Las Vegas and drove up and down The Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard) to see what all the buzz was about. I had never been.

Here’s the thing- I had sort of imagined that Las Vegas was… more sophisticated than it is. As in, like genuinely high-end, luxurious stuff. And that it would be busy on a Sunday night, but mostly with people seeing shows and eating nice food, etc., and that the gaudy bits were more kitschy than anything else.

But instead, it’s like someone said "Let’s make a place that appeals to decidedly not wealthy people’s idea of what wealthy high rollers do, where they want to stay, and eat. So the whole thing was kind of like a huge complex aimed at the lowest common denominator- all the advertised acts were things I’d heard of on TV, all the restaurants were either national chains, or celebrity chef outposts, the stores were all chains, the casinos seemed to try and outdo each other at being gaudy and flashy, etc…

All in all, just a trashy display I felt. Certainly not somewhere to aspire to be.

Maybe I’m hopelessly naive, or was anyway, but is this a common way to feel? I mean, I’d heard for years about how fun it was, etc… and it just seemed like a huge commercial enterprise meant to separate rubes from their money, not where the rich and famous go for recreation.

My pithy description of Las Vegas is “like Los Angeles, but with extra gambling, guns, drugs, and hookers”.

Las Vegas tried to do more upscale “family” entertainment. Maybe 20 years ago? That didn’t really work out. It’s all about the glitz to separate the rubes from their money. Los Angeles is a better tourist destination (unless you’re into the extras).

Oh yeah, that was a clear misconception.

When I visited a few years back with Mrs and Kid Cheesesteak, we all had a wonderful time. We saw shows, museum stuff, touristy stuff, got a picture with Elvis, went on the giant ferris wheel, gawked at the crazy crap at Caesars and the Fountains, and the big pyramid. No gambling, not even the nickel slots.

It’s a place for regular people to have fun and/or gamble, not a place for the wealthy to recreate.


It’s also a prime spot to people-watch. You will see folks from all walks of life on the Strip. Except for the uber-rich.

And yet, people who come from overseas to visit the US have Las Vegas on their list of places to visit. I agree the main tourist area is designed to separate people from their money - remember: casinos weren’t built on winners.

Vegas is a great place to see some fantastic shows, keep up on the latest ironically or unintentionally culturally kitschy stuff, and to use as a base for exploring Red Rock Canyon, Mt. Charleston, and the Valley of Fire. As such, I love it. In the right doses.

Driving up and down the Strip shows you nothing about what’s inside the nicer hotels.

Vegas has many places with $1,000/night hotel rooms and $500/person dinners. But those outfits aren’t flashing big signs at you on the Strip.

I lived there roughly 1985-1995. The overall demographic had been sliding downwards during my era and has continued to slide since. The pursuit of volume naturally means more workin’ class folks and therefore an ever-smaller percentage of high-roller class folks.

So how low did the water look? I’m massively fascinated to see what our snowpack does…we’re at 150% all over Colorado, or more.

I’ve been to Vegas for conferences, and you don’t hang around the ritzy stuff then….and about 15 years ago, the Wife and I stayed at the Venetian to vacation. Our bathroom was floor to ceiling marble and I thought ‘they didn’t hang this stuff in every suite with the expectation they wouldn’t make their money back’.

Whether you work or play in Vegas, you really can’t stand more than 3 days of it at a time.

Actually, a lot of Michelin starred chefs opened restaurants in Vegas in the the last ten years or so. Are they all gone?

But yeah Vegas is mostly kitschy/crappy. The touristy stuff can be fun, though, if you’re into that.

Yeah, this. The Uber-wealthy are certainly in Vegas - they’re just not standing on a corner twirling a sign drawing your attention.

There are miles of velvet ropes in Vegas to keep the riff raff away from the beautiful people.

Las Vegas is funny. I’m not a gambler, but I’ve been there many times to see shows. Nowadays there’s even more incentive to go because a lot of top acts have residencies there, rather than having tours. But it is extremely flashy and kitschy, which is off putting after a while.

Not really true—Vegas has always been kind of a trap for the faux riche and people who want to see celebrities slumming—and it has always been kind of trashy but it at least used to have a better grade of trash that was amusing in in a “look at the creatures in the zoo” sort of way. As it is now, I find Las Vegas absolutely horrific and regard it as just a traffic jam on my way to Great Basin or Southern Utah. If I can avoid it, I do so by land or air. (McCarran is in the running of worst airports to get stuck in because it is nearly impossible to find a quiet place to just sit and read a book.). The economy is almost all around the service industry (and associated construction), and post-2007/8 you can find vast tracts of abandoned homes occupied by squatters and drug abuse galore.

I would rather go to St. Louis than Las Vegas, and…well, enough said.


Nope. Guy Savoy is still rocking Caesars. All the rest are packed solid from pent-up demand. I’ll be there in 2 weeks. This trip I think we’re going to actively try to get away from out hotel (Encore) to eat, because we always eat at Wynncore and we want something (inferior) and different this time. So maybe BBQ and Frankie’s Tiki Room.

I’ve been there once, to a conference. LV reminded me of television, which inspires such hopefulness of rising above average yet fails to deliver.

I’ve never been to Vegas, but every time I’ve visited a casino (e.g. in Niagara Falls or Macau) I was disappointed by how dull it seems. Movies and TV have fooled me into thinking casinos are about a huge crowd of cheering people around a craps table, not a room full of video slot machines with a few chumps dutifully pressing a button over and over again.

Were you in a private lounge where everybody was dressed in floor-length gowns/tuxedos? There are the casual rooms where tourists and chain-smoking pensioners piss away their paychecks at Roulette or fruit machines without even enjoying themselves, but I doubt that is the place to look start looking for James Bond-type glamour.

I first visited Las Vegas in 1981 and was appalled by how cheesy the strip was. I was glad for the visit to the Hoover Dam just because it was so much more real. I thought the residential areas of town looked cheap and rundown. No way would I live there at the time.

I went back many years later to marshal a ChampCar race. Some buildings where gone and replaced by fancier ones. The town had grown a great deal, and it seemed better. But then, on the way to an event for volunteers in a residential part of town. A truckload of us saw three school-age girls mug a drunk. They knocked him down and stole his wallet. We were stopped at a light in a far traffic lane. We couldn’t do anything to stop it and the those nearby on foot ignored it. Las Vegas had not improved at all. Not the town for me.

The casinos have more gimmicks than they used to have. When I first went to Vegas Circus Circus was about the only themed one, besides Caesar’s Palace. Now there are tons.
When my daughter lived there she noted that every fast food and cheap restaurant chain in the country had an outlet somewhere in Vegas. If locals gamble they don’t do it on the strip, they do it in one of the casinos on the outskirts. Which are very boring.
BTW there are so many shows that she used to get free tickets all the time since the managers of the venues need to fill the seats to make the shows look popular.

Let me rant about that airport. We sometimes transfer there on SW. If you are lucky you can go to a nearby gate. If you are unlucky it is a seemingly mile long trudge past vast numbers of slot machines and crappy food places. Each pair of gates has someplace to eat between them so it is probably the least efficient airport I’ve ever seen. Horrible place.

I used to have to visit Vegas twice a year. I hate the place. Part of that is just that it’s a really long flight, and the weather sucks. (It’s a desert. I like lush climates, with rain. Not deserts.) But part of that is that it’s noisy and tacky.

I did always enjoy some good shows when i was there. I’m willing to believe there’s good food, but i never found it. I went to buffets with tons of mediocre options. Things that could be excellent and expensive but weren’t actually very good. I went to over priced steak joints that were mediocre. I went to a sushi place with perfectly okay sushi except each piece was so large i needed to cut it. And there were bits of gold foil on some of them. But it was just perfectly okay, it wasn’t great sushi, or even very good sushi. I also went to some cheap chain restaurants and got what i would expect from that chain.

The other thing i did enjoy was people watching. Just hanging out on the street and watching people for an hour is fun. But an hour is plenty.