Thursday, January 1, 2015

Some new developments in Las Vegas

So I had almost forgotten this blog until I visited my Google Plus page and thought maybe it was worthwhile sharing a few things I've learned on my last few trips to Las Vegas.

First of all, I have come to love staying and playing downtown.  This might be because I am cheap (or at least cheap when it comes to paying for hotel rooms) but I think it is more than that.  But, getting back to the "cheap" thing, there is now a great way to get from the airport to you Downtown hotel for just a couple of bucks.  The WAX bus will express you from level Zero to 4th and Fremont in just a bit more time than it will take to grab a cab.  It's a great deal.

There have also been some new attractions and some new (or remodeled) casinos to visit.  Have only stayed at the Fremont which is inexpensive but clean, comfortable and very well located, but there are other places to consider.  Two of my favorite places to hang out and gamble are the Golden Gate and the "D" which are both trying to cater to a younger, hipper player.  There is actually a new casino called the Downtown Grand which is pretty nice and may have the best rooms outside the Golden Nugget.  The casino tends to be quiet but is a pleasant place to risk a few dollars.  Even such old-school hotels as the El Cortez and the Plaza have stepped up their games.

While you are staying Downtown, there are a couple of new attractions.  There is a zipline that will "fly" you down Fremont Street in style.  Not sure it is something I'll ever do but you might want to try it.  For the more cerebral, curious or disturbed crowd, I recommend a visit to the "Mob Museum."  I spent close to 3 hours there but most people could probably take in the experience in less than that.  Excellent history of the mafia in America and the law enforcement tactics which (mostly) brought it down.

But it isn't simply about attractions or casinos or museums.  Downtown is much more alive with trendy bars, coffee shops and store fronts.  The "East Fremont" district between the canopy and the El Cortez isn't at all scary anymore and has a number of fun places to check out.

Back on the Strip, there are also some big changes.  What used to be kind of a dreary walk between the Barbary Coast and the Imperial Palace has gotten much more interesting.  What used to be Bill's (or the Barbary Coast) is now a very classy boutique hotel/casino called the Cromwell.  Even so, they were nice enough to little old me when I hung out there one afternoon.  Further north, you will encounter the LInq, an entertainment district that has a number of fun places to hang out.  The best attraction though, is the High Roller.  A ridiculous "Ferris Wheel" like experience that gives you an amazing 30 minute trip to top of Strip, it is a great deal of fun.  If you are a bit nervous, they'll actually let you take your cocktail on board...though there is no bathroom.

Up North, what was the dearly-departed Sahara hotel is now something called the SLS.  Again, more upscale and likely somewhat classier, it is probably worth a peek.  I haven't been there but will check it out when I am in town in a few weeks.  Oh...and what used to be the Las Vegas Hilton (Elvis, anyone?) is now called the Westgate Las Vegas Resort.  They even took down the sign.  :(   And, on the south end of the Strip, the hotel that used to be known as THE HOTEL is now called the Delano.

So there you go.  Vegas keeps getting pricier and "cooler" but I'm sure I can continue to find places where lowlifes like myself can sleep, eat and drink cheap.  I'll update my thoughts in a few weeks.


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