The other side to Las Vegas, Nevada

I found a deal, too good to pass up and quite frankly I have always wanted to go to Vegas so as soon as the opportunity came up I took it.
I booked a last minute week long package with Thomas Cook and asked Matthew Ruth, our local travel agent, if he could get any more money off, which he did.
We flew out on the Saturday morning and after a 9 and a half hour flight, landed  at lunch time in Las Vegas. We had hired a car and for anyone else that is considering doing so, there are no car hire places at the airport terminal! For any hire car you have to get the shuttle bus to a different building.
When we eventually had our car we set off for The Strip, our home for the next week.
I did not realise it at the time but The Westgate, our hotel was set back from The Strip. This was a very good thing! The hotel was quieter than most with less visitors, calmer music, friendly staff and a few shops.

I hate to say it but I was underwhelmed with The Strip. I found it to be fake, too busy, hard to get around, and smokey!
The streets were packed, especially at night. You literally feel as if you are queueing to get along the pavement! You can’t cross the road other than over bridges which are accessed by impossible lifts or escalators. Often you will find an escalator or bridge closed and you literally have to go way out of your way or give up on your destination.

The famous casinos that I was looking forward to seeing were old looking and full of smoke. Yes it is legal to smoke in Vegas in any building with 15 or more slot machines and smoke people do. Sorry if I am offending any smokers here but coming from a country where it is illegal to smoke inside, it really did hit me and I didn’t like it.

The Strip is a line of hotels, packed together and each hotel houses a casino. In my head the casinos were going to be a cross between glamorous palaces of games and dreams and the scene from Sister Act! In reality each casino is dark, loud and smokey. The sights to see? Lone, sad looking people sat at slot machines who may well have been there for days and missed their flight home without even knowing.

The hotels work hard, almost too hard, to be the biggest or the best or have the most shops or unusual attractions to attract people to come to their casinos! You can find anything in the hotels, that is you manage to find them, the hotels are so big and confusing you may not find what you are looking for before you die of smoke inhalation!

There are overpriced and busy attractions such as zoos, Roller coasters and even a fake Eiffel tower to go up! You can watch almost any kind of raunchy show and you can even order girls or pizza to your room! There are also swarms of helicopters going up and down The Strip for those that would rather pay than follow the queue of people travelling slowly up the street!

The thing that struck me most though, was the contrast. You have people throwing money at barely dressed girls in the street next to the starving, barely dressed homeless who may as well be invisible.

The posh hire cars and limos roaring past teenagers sleeping on the pavement.

The Vet with no home but a smile for those that will stop even though he knows they wasted more money on poker that day, than he’s seen since he came out the army.

The lady collapsed in a wheelchair, her hope left her months ago but everyone’s eyes are on the fake fountain behind her.

My place of  dreams became the place they dream of their next meal.

People making promises to each other in the many wedding chapels next to strip clubs and brothels.

And worse, people getting upset at losing hundreds of their thousands while others are counting pennies to live.

It all seemed kind of mixed up and wrong.

Now I won’t be entirely negative. Las Vegas Strip was not what I was expecting but there were bits I liked.

In the mornings the streets and hotels were quieter. You can drive, all be it slowly, to hotels and park entirely for free in some and for an hour free in others.

The Venetian is pretty inside and you can pay for a fake gondola ride, Miracle mile has a couple of interesting shops such as a sports memorabilia shop where you can even buy Ronaldo’s signed shirt and a fight shop.

 Circus Circus has a theme park which you can read about here:

My favourite bits of Vegas? 

Fremont street was interesting.

The Westgate was great to go back to and relax.

The Mexican restaurant, juan’s Flaming Fajitas & Cantina was amazing (

Bonehead paintball were friendly.

Most of all I liked driving out of there to see the amazing sights in Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

For those reasons I’m glad we went.

Next time I would avoid the strip, grab a meal at Juan’s and head out into the desert!

Taking a child with an ASD to The Strip in Las Vegas?

I wouldn’t! Its loud, constantly crowded, overly stimulating and busy. Entering any hotel is like walking through a shopping center and walking down the street is like one big queue!

If you do decide to take your child here then I suggest a hotel off the strip like the Westgate. You can enter via a side door and avoid the casino. You will pass a few shops and the wedding chapel, but it is quieter as most people from The Strip don’t walk that far! 

Visiting the adventuredome at circus circus in the morning before it gets busy may be an idea.

The zoo at the Mirage could provide some animal related calm.

It is quieter watching the Bellagio fountains in the afternoon from the hotel side rather than the street side.

If your child is happy on car journeys then there are lots of quieter places to visit away from The Strip!

The Thomas Cook holiday I booked included flights and accommodation only. There was a resort rep but we didn’t try to find them.

Matthew Ruth was able to beat Thomas Cook’s sale and promotion price. This is not the first time he has saved us money. His email address is:

Published by Autism Kids on Tour - Autism without limits

I have two kids and love to show them the world. We dont let autism limit us in our adventures! I write about our adventures and include tips on how suitable activities were for children with autism. I also write more autism specific posts.

12 thoughts on “The other side to Las Vegas, Nevada

  1. I’m no fan of Vegas, and I rather agree with all you say here. Just get to the desert, see the red rock, experience the beauty of Utah, Nevada. Well, at least you can check this one off the list! #mondaystumblelinky xo

  2. I think when I eventually make it to Vegas it’ll be just like you – more for the day trips to the surrounding areas. I want to see the strip too but I’m not crazy about the idea of the rest of it. Good place to be based though I’m sure.

  3. Yes, there are two sides to Vegas. I was quite amazed at all the nature parks around it. But I also love the glitz and glamor, once in a while. B

  4. It sounds a little scary. I do not like seeing the scary side of places but this sounds like it would sure put me back down to earth. I think I would still visit, I like to see it all with my own eyes

  5. Don’t worry, we were quick to get out of Vegas too! We enjoyed walking the strip during the day, and taking in the light and water shows by night, as well as some of the musical productions and shows, but I agree, it was VERY fake and almost as if we’d stepped into a parallel universe where we couldn’t escape the commercialism and neon lights. Like an adult playground but on steroids!!!

    We love heading to Vegas if we’re looking for a romantic escape where we can not leave the hotel room, because you can get incredible penthouse suites here for super cheap. Thanks for Matthew’s contact info, will shoot him a note to see if he can save us money next time.

  6. Maybe it’s not what you’ve expected, but it’s good that you’ve visited anyway. Now you can say that you’re not that blown away by the city instead of wishing to go. At least those Bellagio fountains were calmer. 🙂

  7. I relate to you completely…so many things seem off about Vegas – the old casinos full of smoke and all the money disparity. I can image the place was a dreamland years ago, and maybe now it’s time is slowing going away…

    Thanks so much for such a real post…really appreciate you for speaking the truth as you saw it…

  8. I’m not big on Casino so just like you, when I was in Vegas I prioritized the day trips outside vegas and they were really interesting. Of course, there’s the grand canyon right there. That was my main reason of visiting Vegas.

  9. I have never visited it but I always thought what you have said. It is actually true for most touristy places. The more popular, and more publicized areas are bound to be too crowded and commercialized. If I ever reach there, I’d also head to the desert directly.

  10. I felt the same way when I last visited Las Vegas. It was interesting to see all the pretty hotels but then I got bored of it really fast. The food is good there though! And we loved the Cirque du Soleil shows.

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