Next & Previous

The Explorer’s guide to Las Vegas

Helen and I had the privelege of a business trip to Las Vegas recently, and as non-gamblers, we wanted to find fun things to do, and to explore without compromising on personal values. Helen had to be in conferences for most of the days, but we did get one full exploring day together and a few nights out. We were staying at Treasure Island.

What to see

Fortunately, there really is a lot of free stuff to look at in Vegas. It’s best to plan your trip before you set out, and your hotel front desk can help with this by providing a tourist map and a bus pamphlet if you want one. Note that Vegas is dead before 10am and drunk after 2pm. The hotel side of the street (with Mirage, Caesar’s Palace, Luxor etc.) is wider and more friendly than the other side, which is narrower and has more nuisance advertisers.

The free attractions are almost all directly on the strip (a.k.a Las Vegas Boulevard). You can work from your hotel outwards to see:

Inexpensive Breakfast

La Cantina Salsa in the corner of Forum Shops was a nice breakfast with good service. I can recommend the breakfast meat platter skillet thingy to share between two… you wouldn’t think that tortillas and salsa were good fits at breakfast time but it turns out they are. They do a basic cooked breakfast for under $5.

For Kids (big and small)

If you’re a Treasure Island guest, definitely try Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. It is $5 for hotel guests, and that includes the necessary device rental. If you’re not a guest, it’s more like $40 which is no longer a no brainer. Make sure to take photos on your own phone because it costs a lot to buy the montage they make from whatever pics you take on the rented device.

You can also check out the aforementioned Lego and Disney stores but they basically follow a cookie-cutter pattern from every other Lego and Disney store.

Off the strip (and taking the bus)

Tourists are encouraged to buy bus tickets at the Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) where it is $6 for a 2 hour pass. Avoid this! You can buy tickets on-board the Deuce for much better value.

The strip is served by the Deuce and the SDX. On the Deuce, you can pay the resident price of $5 for an all day ticket but you must have the exact money. You cannot do this on the SDX, which is a tourist bus, and has a mini-TVM installed on board which will charge you the aforementioned $6/2 hours.

You can catch either of these to Sahara Ave. The SDX briefly leaves the strip to go past a nearby conference center, so don’t be alarmed. Both have stops on Sahara Ave which are very close to one another. From Sahara Ave, you can then catch either the SXA or SXB, going west, to get to retail parks with a range of chain restaurants (cheaper than on the strip) and interesting stores. My particular favourites follow:…

Sahara Pavilions

Not to be confused with Pavilion Central (the last stop on the route), Sahara Pavilions is a cool retail park with a few hobby stores and normal business-end-of-America stores. Note that you need to leave your bags at the front/with security at any store you go in.