Tips for Visiting Las Vegas if you DON'T Drink or Gamble

I feel like I am the last person in the world to visit Las Vegas, Nevada. To be honest, I didn't really see the appeal. I'm not a big drinker or a gambler and while I like shows, I'm just as happy to check out the shows that come to me locally versus traveling somewhere to catch one. When a trip I had planned got canceled at the last minute, and my kids were already booked on their own adventure, my husband and I were left without kids for a week. I am a sun seeker so we immediately started looking for a plan B. Spring travel can be expensive with many schools and families traveling for spring break, so many options were just too pricey to consider. However, if we wanted to spend some time in the sun, Vegas was a great option that wasn't too expensive or difficult to get to. We spent some time asking ourselves if we really could have fun as a couple in Vegas if we didn't drink and gamble. The answer is yes! If you think drinking and gambling is all that Vegas has to offer, you might be missing out on some great adventure. I'm sharing some ways you can have fun in Sin City, without selling your soul.

entertainment, hiking, sin city

Visiting Las Vegas when you Don't Drink or Gamble

entertainment, hiking, sin city

A little background that will help you understand my husband and I. We are a couple in our late 30's that love all-inclusive vacations in Mexico. I could sit on the beach soaking up the sun while my husband sits next to me in the shade. We like to stay at nice hotels. My husband takes care of the booking because while I like nice hotels, I like inexpensive nice hotels. I don't really want to know how much it costs per night. We will drink if it's free. My husband much prefers drinks that only women get. If it is a milkshake with alcohol in it, sign him up. 

One time we went to a casino. We were in the process of buying our first home, so for Valentine's day we had what we lovingly referred to as white trash Valentine's day. We ate at Taco Bell before we each spent $10 in the penny slot machines. We didn't leave with any extra money. That was 16 years ago. Vegas was going to be a completely different vacation than what we had taken before and we weren't quite sure what to expect. I've got some tips for you if you aren't the typical Vegas vacationer. 

Most people who go to Vegas to gamble or drink will tell you that you don't need a rental car, but if you are going to Vegas and you aren't the typical clientele, get a rental car. If you stay downtown on the strip, it's easy to find an Uber or walk where you need to go, but if you aren't there to spend all your time on the strip, having a rental car was a nice outlet so that we could escape the over-stimulating city. We got a 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata. It was red and adorable... the perfect car to drive with the top down through windy canyons. I drive a mini van, so departing from my swagger wagon was a nice change for us. 

miata, mazda, valley of fire, red rocks, hiking

Just a short drive away from the strip, you will find Red Rock Canyon or Valley of Fire State Park. Both are similar, so pick one, unless you really want to go to both. Regardless, make sure you have time for at least one of them. We drove a bit further to Valley of Fire State Park. It cost $10 to enter the park and was well worth the hour-long drive. My only complaint is that there weren't any food options nearby and we had to leave sooner than I would have liked in search of food. 

valley of fire, red rocks, vegas

Keep in mind the weather when you are booking your Vegas vacation. The first part of our trip was going to be a bit cooler, which made those the days we selected for hiking and wandering. It was in the low 70's and the perfect weather. I couldn't imagine trying to hike around and enjoy the park and the trails if it was 20-30 degrees warmer.

Vegas has a dry heat, so even the cooler temperatures seemed quite warm. This isn't Hawaii. There are no trade winds. Laying by the pool with the temperature in the upper 70's got hot. I couldn't imagine coming in one of the hotter summer months when the temperature can soar over 100 degrees. 

Gone are the days of the $4.99 buffet and while food is prevalent in Vegas, it's expensive. It's not uncommon for me to travel with a few packets of oatmeal. I love the kind that has the line on the packet that acts as a measuring cup {this is the oatmeal we travel with}. Most hotels have hot water or a microwave and oatmeal is a great meal to start your day. I bring along some sliced almonds to put on top as well. You may want to bring along a few disposable bowls and spoons too. 

We are by no means foodies {I bring my own breakfast for Pete's sake!}, so I will not waste my time giving you recommendations. If you love food, you could have a heyday here. We ate at some great places and did enjoy a buffet {The Wicked Spoon} at our hotel {The Cosmopolitan}

Remember how I told you that my husband does all the booking and that we like to stay at nice places? While my husband will not write a single review or leave a single comment on any social media platform {seriously, not a one...not even on mine}, he does read TripAdvisor reviews like it's his job. He knows what floor to request, which room layout he will prefer and even which side of the building he wants to face. This has absolutely worked to our advantage and allows us to be far more prepared and enjoy our stay when we visit. Plus, it allows for some amazing views, like this one of the strip from our 53rd floor balcony.

skyline, vegas strip, nightlife

I think the thing that surprised me the most about Vegas is the amount of shopping that there is. I had no idea. You can find everything from high end to low end and everything in between. Mostly, we just stumbled on the shopping as we were walking from hotel to hotel.
If you come to Vegas, expect to do a lot of walking. According to my FitBit, we would walk about 15 miles a day. There is a lot to see on the Vegas strip but I will warn you that as soon as the sun goes down, the city seems to change. 

Hotels want you to wander in and around them and you will often find yourself getting lost inside. This seems intentional. There are very few times when you will find any directional signs leading you out of a resort. Most want you to stay and play. 

You're doing a lot of walking and you will get thirsty. Just like those exit signs are hard to find, so are the drinking fountains. Again, this seems very intentional to me. Bring a water bottle you can fill up at the hotel with ice that is easy to carry around as you walk. I didn't plan ahead but I did have success getting water from Starbucks for free {the tall size only} and several casino bars were happy to refill my cup with water for me too.

Vegas shows are some of the best in the world. We knew that we wanted to catch a show while we were there, but we weren't quite sure which one. I've heard a lot of people talk about getting free tickets to shows or receiving half price discounts if shows haven't sold out, so I was holding out hope that I could get Cirque du Soleil tickets for dirt cheap. What we didn't expect is that since our visit was not over a weekend {intentional}, several shows were on a break for their "weekend".  My advice if you want to see a show, plan ahead.

There is also plenty of free entertainment in Vegas. You can people watch for hours. I loved walking into the Venetian and watching the gondolas filled with people row down the canal. 

venetian, gondola

The Bellagio fountain has a show every 15 minutes in the evening and people line up along the waterfront to watch. You can also find a light show at the Fremont Experience as well as lots of free live entertainment, though we didn't see either on a quick stroll through before returning to the airport. As my kids say "google it", you will be sure to find lots of free things to do in and around the city.

bellagio hotel, vegas strip

We spent five days in Las Vegas and we left seeing a lot, but certainly not experiencing all there was to do. You can zip line through the old downtown, go on roller coasters and visit shark aquariums. You could see a show every single night of the week and still not see them all. You could take an easy drive to the Grand Canyon or to Hoover Dam or helicopter there instead. There is plenty to do in Vegas. The city is so much more than drinking and gambling. 

What are your favorite things to do in Vegas? Have you been?

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Lia Rose said...

When I go to Vegas, I settle into the hotel then find the half price show tickets that are in a few spots scattered around the city. Whatever show isn't sold out for that night, they discount at least by half. Great deal.
Now that the show is picked and purchased, we plan on having dinner at that same casino or near by. We meander around our hotel and around mid afternoon, get ready for dinner and a show. We make our way to the casino where the show is at either by walking, taxi or tram. We walk around the casino and check out the shops, places to eat and find where we are supposed to go to the show. Some of them are way in the back and are hard to find.
Now that we know the layout, we find the place we want to eat. Even if it is reservations only, sometimes you can get in. Just ask.
We tend to have a light breakfast of a muffin or yogurt and fruit.(I love the oatmeal packet idea!) and have a light lunch of soup or bagel then go all out for dinner. I love to try different restaurants so we figure it into the vacation budget.
I do like a drink when I am on vacation and I like to gamble a bit too. The trick is to pick an affordable amount that you can play with each day and then quit. If you can't quit, you shouldn't be there.

Anonymous said...

I have always wanted to see the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. Often, there are airline specials from Dallas, TX to Las Vegas for dirt cheap. Since we don't drink or gamble at all, I really hadn't considered a Vegas vacation. But you gave some great insider tips! We would probably choose a Best Western or some other motel that includes breakfast. We love a great view, and I am a TripAdvisor fan and contributor, and we would probably prefer to be on the outskirts looking in. Thanks for this very helpful article.

Sharon said...

I don't drink (at all, except ice water!) or gamble, so I thot Vegas wasn't a trip for me. I appreciate this article, and will now consider a trip here. Thanks, Sharon

DC said...

Being a non gambler type I've never understood the allure of LV & I guess in turn why never had desire to go. However after reading your post its opened my mind to consider it in future if a quick little getaway is needed :)

Unknown said...

We don't drink or gamble either, but we always have fun in Vegas! Over 12 years ago when we went it was really gross...there were graphic pamphlets on the ground everywhere. I'd heard they'd tried to clean up the strip, and when we went 2 years ago it was actually pretty nice, especially during the day. We had our kids with us and they had a blast visiting the M&M and Hershey stores and seeing the free fountain show at Caesar's. We walked by Carlo's, but the line was out the door and we didn't have time to stop. I heard that they have a cupcake vending machine somewhere near the strip, so we're definitely going to try that next time too!

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