9 Ways To Get Your “Geek Fix” in Vegas

Geek tee

Wear your geek label proudly.

Some people use the term “geek” in a derogatory fashion. Not me. That’s because I am one–and I make no apologies for it. I grew up reading comic books and watching Star Trek and Star Wars, and I never stopped loving those things. My favorite hangout in Las Vegas used to be the Star Trek Experience. I’ve been wishing that someone would open a scifi themed bar or resort to fill the gap ever since the Experience closed. Sadly, that hasn’t happened.

But I was able to feed my inner geek on my last trip to Vegas in a handful of spots. If you’re secretly (or not so secretly) into Marvel comics and Star Wars and UFOs and love to indulge your inner geek whenever you go on vacation, here are some places for you to check out in Las Vegas: Continue reading

Horse Race Betting for Dummies

Horse race

Full Stretch by Paul Kehrer

If you’ve ever found yourself intimidated by the idea of placing a sports bet, I feel your pain. I am intimidated by a lot of gaming options in Las Vegas casinos. Craps, blackjack–anything where I have to know the rules and perform them in front of others who are more experienced tends to intimidate me. (What will happen if I screw up? Will they yell at me? Will they snicker at me? How badly will I be humiliated?) This is why I’ve pretty much stuck to playing slots during my gambling sessions in Vegas: No witnesses.

But I have had a fascination with horse races for a long time. Part of it is rooting for the underdog (or “underhorse” as the case may be). Part of it is that I love horses; they are such magnificent creatures. Part of it is that horseracing is such a fascinating subculture and industry.

My June Vegas trip happened to coincide with the Belmont Stakes. For some reason, I took this as a sign that it was time for me to learn how to bet on a horse race. I mean, if you’re going to do it, it might as well be a famous race, right? Continue reading

My Very Own “Cheers” Bar in Vegas

Double Barrel Roadhouse

Double Barrel Roadhouse

For years, I’ve been searching for my very own “Cheers” bar–you know, the one where “everyone knows your name”. I still haven’t found that place here in Vermont. Even the staff at the sports bar around the corner from me (that I visit at least once every other month) still don’t know me by name. But on my June trip to Vegas this year, I think I came as close as I ever have before, at the Double Barrel Roadhouse.

The Double Barrel is one of the new restaurants at the Monte Carlo. You can’t actually get there from inside the Monte Carlo, though. It’s located outside the resort, between 800 Degrees Pizza and the CVS Pharmacy to the north of the Monte Carlo Strip entrance.

The Roadhouse has a down-home feel to it, and lays claim to being pretty much a BBQ restaurant, with BBQ beef brisket and pork, baked beans, and wood-grilled corn on the cob, among other menu items. The walls are made of what looks like weathered wood, and the back wall is a stack of barrels.

Double Barrel Roadhouse

The Double Barrel Roadhouse is a good spot for people-watching.

In the summer at least, it is an open-air restaurant. But don’t think that means you’ll be sweltering in the 100-degree temperatures. I sat at the bar, which is in air-conditioning. It was perfect. Not too hot, not too cold, with a mixture of sun, fresh air and cool air. Not to mention great people-watching on the Strip.

The food’s not so bad, either. Believe me, I had three meals here, so I got to sample plenty of it. I’m going to tell you what I had and how good it all was, even though none of these things appear on their online menu any more, so I assume they’re no longer offering them. All I can say about that is I’m so sorry for all of you who didn’t get to try the first dish on my list. So, so sorry. Continue reading

Sunset on The High Roller

High Roller and LINQ

The High Roller and LINQ at night

Let’s not kid ourselves, the High Roller, one of the newest attractions in Vegas, won’t be for everyone. Some people are afraid of heights. Some people find the ticket prices too high. Lots of people go to Vegas with other priorities (gambling, drinking, shows, fine dining, clubbing, etc.) for their time and money.

Queue

I don’t remember Disney World ever being this empty

There’s really only one reason to ride the High Roller: for the views. Not everyone cares about the views around the valley and Strip, and if they do, they can get those views more cheaply by going up to the Stratosphere Tower, the Eiffel Tower, the Voodoo Lounge–well, you get the picture. But if you are at all inclined to go up, just once, just to see what it’s like, I recommend timing your ride for sunset to maximize your views: You get to enjoy the slanting, golden light of late day glinting off high rises, the pinks and oranges of sunset contrasting with the purple mountains on the horizon, and then the city lights as darkness falls around the valley. Continue reading

The Vegas Airport Shuttle Experience

Paris Las Vegas

Have you ever taken an airport shuttle in Vegas?

In most cities I travel to, I always try to book an airport shuttle rather than take a taxi to my hotel. For a solo traveler with a large suitcase, it’s generally the least expensive option. (Public transportation is out when your suitcase is larger than a carry-on, and sadly, I am incapable of packing everything I need for a week in a carry-on.) But, believe it or not, until my most recent trip, I had never used an airport shuttle in Las Vegas. I just never saw the need, with the Strip being so close to the airport and all.

But my discontent over longhauling cabbies in Vegas finally reached the boiling point, and I decided that it was time to see what the shuttle experience was like here. I’ve heard mixed reviews over the years. Some love the fact that it’s cheaper than a cab, while others hate that it takes longer (sometimes a lot longer) than a cab. I knew I could handle it, though. I’ve taken so many airport shuttles over the years in other cities, I’ve gotten used to dropping other people off at their hotels before I arrive at mine.

With that in mind, I booked a one-way trip from the airport to the Downtown Grand on Showtime Shuttle. I didn’t book a round-trip for 2 reasons:

  1. I was changing hotels mid-trip and couldn’t figure out how to book a return trip from a different hotel; and
  2. I didn’t want to commit to the return trip just in case I had an awful experience the first time.

So how did my first experience with a Vegas airport shuttle go? Continue reading