Recreation

   
Boulevard Pool

The Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan

What can you do in Las Vegas as a solo traveler?  Plenty!  We’ve already explored your shopping options, attractions, and shows.  Here are some other recreational activities available to you in the greater Las Vegas area.  Many of them involve the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals while engaging in an activity you love–which is really the best way to meet people.

Pool Time

If the idea of sitting around a pool, soaking up some sun and reading a good book while sipping a fruity cocktail with an umbrella in it appeals to you, you’re in luck.  Most hotels on and off the Strip have swimming pools, but be aware that not all pool areas are created equal. If you plan to spend considerable time at the pool, you will want to make sure your hotel has a good one.

Consider sun vs. shade, landscaping, drink service, and clientele. Some noteable pool areas are at Mandalay Bay, which has a sandy beach and wave pool, MGM Grand, which has 5 pool areas and a lazy river, the Flamingo, which has lushly landscaped grounds, and the Golden Nugget (which is small, but nice and features a slide that goes through a shark tank). My favorite is probably the Monte Carlo, which has a regular pool, wave pool, and lazy river for a much more reasonable price than Mandalay Bay.

To get a feel for what the various Vegas hotel pools look like, take a virtual tour at Destination360. Some pools do close down for the winter. Those that remain open may not have drink service. Be sure to call ahead for information once you decide where you want to stay. For information about Vegas pool clubs (think nightclubs, only during the day by the pool), check out this page at Vegas.com.

Slot machine

Vegas has every slot machine you could possibly want to play

Gambling

You thought I was never going to mention this, didn’t you?  Let’s face it, gambling is the engine that drives many a Las Vegas vacation.   Gambling is a great activity for someone traveling alone. Chances are you probably know more about gambling than I do.  But just in case you’re a gambling virgin, here’s a little advice from what little I know on the subject:

  • If you’re introverted, play the slot and video poker machines.
  • If you play a progressive slot machine, play max bet.  If you don’t, and you win, you’ll be kicking yourself. Trust me.
  • If you want your money to last longer, play the nickel and penny slots, but be careful how many lines and coins you play per spin, because if you play max bet, these can actually be more expensive than higher denomination games.
  • If you’re extroverted, play the table games.(Craps and roulette are very social games where you can bond with the folks standing or sitting next to you.)  Find a table that seems to be having fun and join in.
  • If you don’t know how to gamble, you can learn while you play at WizardofOdds.com.  Just be sure to click on Free Games.
  • If you’re looking for the best odds, try blackjack, craps or video poker, and if possible, do it off the Strip, either Downtown or at a locals casino.
  • My best piece of gambling advice is only gamble what you can afford to lose. Treat it as an entertainment fund, the way you would money spent on a show or dinner.  Be sure to budget how much you plan to gamble every day and don’t go to the ATM for more when you run out.
  • If you’re the kind of person who has no will power, don’t even try to gamble.  Just don’t.

Race and Sports Books

Do you enjoy betting on sports?  You can find a sports book in pretty much every casino resort in Vegas, but if you want to enjoy one of the best, there are some that get higher marks than others.  Among the biggest and best in town are found at the  Las Vegas Hilton, Mandalay Bay, Caesars Palace, and the Mirage. Wynn has one of the most luxurious sports books, including skyboxes (which can also be found at the MGM Grand’s sports book).  MGM Grand has a reputation for being a good sports book for newbies, as they’re helpful at answering any questions you may have. Red Rock Resort has a sports  book with a massive 18 x 96 foot wall of TVs and giant screens for your viewing pleasure. For a total immersion in sports, visit NYNY’s sports book, conveniently located next to the ESPN Zone.  The Golden Nugget, not surprisingly, is considered to have the best sports book Downtown.  There is usually some type of food available in or near sports books so you can grab a bite while watching the game.  For more reviews of Vegas’s sports books, try this Top 10 list, and this more thorough listing from Vegas.com.

Herbal laconium

Herbal laconium at Canyon Ranch Spa (image courtesy of Canyon Ranch)

Spas

If your body needs a day of TLC, indulge in a day at the spa.  Las Vegas has some outstanding facilities, including Qua at Caesar’s Palace, which features Roman Baths and an Arctic Ice Room with “snow” falling, and a tea room; the world-famous Canyon Ranch at the Venetian and Palazzo, which includes a Finnish Sauna, Hydro Spa, and Experiential Rains; the Japanese-themed spa at the new Aria hotel, which includes a Salt Meditation Room; the Bellagio Spa (one of the most relaxing, zen experiences I’ve ever had); and so many more.  Pretty much every hotel has some form of spa.  Even if you don’t want to make it an all-day experience, a massage can certainly be a wonderful treat for any solo traveler on vacation.

For the more active solo traveler, there are many choices.

Springs Preserve

There are a number of hiking spots around Las Vegas and Nevada

Hiking

Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire, and Mt. Charleston are all within easy driving distance, but of course, you’ll need to rent a car.   In addition to the usual advice about hiking in the wilderness and desert (and if you don’t know what that is, you shouldn’t be doing it alone), I would advise you to let someone back home know exactly where you are going, what time you are headed out, with the promise that you’ll call them immediately upon your return (and what time that should be).  That way, if (God forbid) you should have a hiking mishap, someone knows to alert the authorities.  If you’re not already an experienced hiker, I’d recommend something a bit more tame:  Within city limits is the 180-acre Springs Preserve, which has some walking trails where you can see indigenous flora and fauna.

Other

Horseback Riding – There are a number of operations around Las Vegas that offer opportunities to go horseback riding in the desert.  Just run a Google search for “horseback riding” vegas and you’ll turn up a bunch.

Bicycling – Bring your bike or rent one and go for a scenic bike ride through Red Rock Canyon.

Golf Courses – There are several in Las Vegas.  Your resort can probably hook you up with a reservation.

Tennis Courts – Many Las Vegas resorts have tennis courts.  Check to see if yours does.

Motor Sports – Do you feel a need for speed?  Try The Richard Petty Experience at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  It’s pricey, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Or you could book one of the off-road tours involving a hummer, an ATV, or a dune buggy.

Race Car

Experience a race car going 160mph at the Richard Petty Experience

Water Sports – If you love boating, head down Boulder Highway to Lake Mead, where you can indulge to your heart’s content.  Lake Mead Marina rents boats if you don’t have your own.  Or try white water rafting on the Colorado River.

Sporting Events – You can sit at a sports bar or in one of the race and sport books around town and watch your favorite sports being played–or you could get out there and see a live game.  Which one do you think is more exciting?  Major boxing matches are held in Las Vegas every year (MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay being among two of the usual hosts).  The PGA Tour comes to Las Vegas every fall, and The National Finals Rodeo comes to Las Vegas every December.   The Las Vegas Wranglers, a minor league hockey team, plays home games at the Orleans Arena (though word has it they may be moving to the Plaza).  Cashman Field is home to the Las Vegas 51s, a AAA affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.  If you’d like to catch a basketball game, try the UNLV Rebels.