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VOL. 129 | NO. 205 | Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wiedower

Lance Wiedower

Las Vegas Without Gambling

By LANCE WIEDOWER

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Who in his right mind spends four days in Las Vegas, without kids to slow down things, and doesn’t sit at a table game even once to play a hand?

Who visits Sin City and doesn’t buy in at a morning poker game? And who travels to Las Vegas with a group of friends, almost all of whom played at least one table game, and doesn’t sit with them?

Well, that would be me. Guilty as charged. It’s not because I didn’t want to play. But there was just so much else to do that I never got around to sitting down at a blackjack table or putting $15 on red at roulette.

Before traveling to Las Vegas for the first time earlier this month, I didn’t have a real agenda other than seeing what all the fuss was about and experiencing the city without a schedule.

I’m not a gambler. I play an occasional poker game with friends, but I didn’t feel comfortable enough to try my hand, so to speak, in Vegas.

So what did we do? Well, we ate really well, we relaxed a lot, we spent time at the pool, we walked, we shopped, we people watched, we experienced the crazy scene in Downtown Las Vegas and we just might have renewed our vows with Elvis presiding over the nuptials.

Minus the Elvis vow renewal, our visit to Las Vegas reminded me a lot of spending time at a beach resort. Never once did I feel I was missing out by not gambling. Sure, my wife played some slots. And I won on a few bets at the sports book (thanks Kansas City Royals for your magical postseason run).

But an interesting thing this trip made me realize is that it’s possible to spend days in Las Vegas without setting foot inside a casino and still have a great time. The city is like a grown ups’ Disneyworld with all the lights, shows and crowds.

Another great thing I discovered about Las Vegas is the city has something for absolutely every taste. Sure, there’s a raucous club and party scene. And there’s a Bourbon Street vibe late at night on Downtown’s Fremont Street.

But there are also excellent restaurants, classy bars and clubs and plenty of shopping if that’s your thing. The Bellagio has its own art gallery, not to mention its unique dancing fountains outside.

We had blowout meals, excellent but well-priced pizza, gourmet burgers and even beef tongue tacos at a hole-in-the-wall taco stand up the strip. Dining out in Vegas is expensive, but there’s great food available at every price point.

Next time we go, we plan to get out of the city and explore the nearby Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, take a day tour to Hoover Dam or visit the West Rim of the Grand Canyon.

As for the strip itself, take note that places are farther away than they appear. The casino properties are massive, and while the Venetian might look like it’s just a quick walk down the strip, that walk is probably farther than you think.

If you enjoy games of chance, Las Vegas is your place. But if you’re traveling as a family or don’t expect to spend a second of your time gambling, Las Vegas is also your spot. Just consider staying at one of the hotel properties with a great pool, like the MGM Grand’s complex with five pools and a lazy river.

And if you are considering Vegas with kids, don’t be afraid. To our surprise we found the strip to be pretty tame, especially on weekdays and early evenings. Check out tripsbylance.com/2014/10/las-vegas-with-kids/ for ideas on traveling to Vegas with children.

Managing editor Lance Wiedower’s column appears every other Tuesday in The Daily News and The Memphis News. For more travel inspiration, read his blog at tripsbylance.com or follow him on Twitter at @tripsbylance.

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