I truly believe that there is something worth visiting in every area of the United States. Whether it is a cool restaurant, a unique attraction, or some sort of natural wonder, diversity is key to having a good vacation. With that being said, there are a handful of major cities that have a hard time living up to the hype created for them by movies and television.
Because of films like the Hangover, people who come to Vegas have a lot of preconceived notions of what the city will be like. I hope that this article will dispel some of these rumors and provide an accurate description of what it is really like to visit the City of Sin. At the very least, this list should provide our readers with a few tips for avoiding the worst pitfalls of visiting Las Vegas. This article will countdown 15 harsh truths why Vegas is overrated and 5 reasons to visit anyway. If you can think of any harsh truths about Vegas that didn’t make this article (or particular reasons why you would visit it anyway) feel free to mention them in the comments section.
20 Harsh Truth - Everything Costs Money
In another entry we will talk about the numerical cost of visiting Vegas but I think it is also important to talk about how you have to pay for everything you do in the city. Even things that are not overly expensive begin to add up over time.
Obviously, you have to pay for your hotel and food but shows, casinos, and even taking pictures with people on the street can quickly lighten your wallet. I have been to very few places where I looked at my bank account after a few days and was aghast at what I saw.
19 Harsh Truth - The Casinos are the Primary Attraction
This next entry should have been obvious. It is a common complaint that there is nothing to do in Vegas for people who don't fancy casinos. While this isn't absolutely true, the city of sin is based around this industry.
You can probably find other things to do while you're in Vegas, but since the people you are traveling with will probably spend a significant portion of their time in a casino, you might be doing that alone.
There are plenty of shows and activities on the Strip, but the city could definitely be more rounded in terms of attractions.
18 Harsh Truth - Limited Food Options
I personally like Las Vegas but the food and restaurant industry within the city could certainly be updated. Local restaurants cater to people eating in a hurry (fast food, buffets, etc), so there are only a limited number of traditional restaurants close to the Strip. These restaurants are often overcrowded, and they can get expensive.
It is very hard to find a traditional sit-down restaurant close to the Strip without paying an arm and a leg. The limited availability of some restaurants is a major problem with Las Vegas.
17 Visit Anyway - Cheapest Airfare in the West
I talk a lot in this article about the high costs of visiting Vegas but the actual airfare into the city is very affordable. Even if you are coming from the East Coast, tickets shouldn't cost you more than $500 for a standard ticket. If you are coming from the West, especially Los Angeles, tickets are even cheaper.
Las Vegas is extremely dependent on tourism, so they have a deal worked out with the airlines to make flight prices into Vegas consistently cheap. The money you save from your ticket should probably go towards the inordinate cost of staying on the Strip.
16 Harsh Truth - No Sleep in the City of Sin
One of the most surefire ways to enjoy your vacation is to have realistic expectations of the destination. I constantly see people complaining about certain aspects of a city, even when they must have known that this particular city was famous for this thing. Because of this I have little sympathy for people who complain that they can't get a good nights sleep in Las Vegas.
Vegas is famous for its nightlife, so of course things will be a ruckus outside of your hotel room if you are staying on the Strip. Still, this is a negative consequence of staying in Vegas.
15 Harsh Truth - Expensive On The Strip
Plenty of authors have chimed in on the debate of whether it is better to stay on or off the Strip when you visit Las Vegas. One factor that always comes into play is how expensive it is to stay on the Strip.
Rooms on the Strip will typically cost you at least 50% more than a similar room elsewhere in Vegas. But being and staying on the Strip is an integral part of the Vegas experience. The fact that this comes with such a hefty price tag is a negative aspect of visiting Las Vegas.
14 Harsh Truth - Lack of Grandeur Off the Strip
It is now popular for travel magazines and publications to advise tourists to Las Vegas to stay off of the trip. This is certainly the cheaper option but is it the better option? It has been my experience that there are very few quality hotels and restaurants away from the Strip. These places have become accustomed to catering to a cheaper clientele and have adjusted their services accordingly.
There are still gems to be found off the Strip but it seems like the outskirts of Vegas are becoming increasingly rundown.
13 Visit Anyway - the Best (ongoing) Music Festival of All Time
You can say what you want about city officials in Vegas, they know their history. Atlantic City began to lose its luster after it became apparent that there was nothing there to do besides spend hours at the casinos and knock down cocktails.
Vegas has worked incredibly hard to become an entertainment mecca. One of the most apparent results of this strategy is the artists that you can see in Vegas. Britney Spears, Elton John, and even Bob Dylan all do shows in Vegas. At one time, these were some of the biggest stars in the world. It is amazing to me that you can now see all of them in one place.
12 Harsh Truth - You Can't Spell Vegas Without Stigma
I am not someone who thinks that what other people say and think should dictate your life but it is worth noting that visiting Vegas comes with a certain stigma. For some reason, going to somewhere in Europe like Paris or Rome makes you look sophisticated, while visiting a place like Las Vegas conjures images of rowdy bachelorettes.
If this stigma will bother you, either during your trip or upon your return, I would advise looking into somewhere else to travel. The fact that Vegas refers to itself as "Sin City" certainly doesn't help your cause.
11 Harsh Truth - Sleepy Vegas
One thing that people who don't vacation a lot don't realize about visiting other cities is how incredibly tiring it is. Constantly walking from attraction to traction, eating in restaurants, and just constantly looking at sites that you're not used to can take an incredible toll on your body. This is especially true in cities where there are a ton of flashing lights and huge billboards.
People talk about this phenomenon a lot with New York City, but I think that it also relates to Las Vegas. There's just so much to see in Vegas and there are so many attractions that are in your face, that by the end of your trip you will be extremely tired.
10 Harsh Truth - Isolation
One reason why Las Vegas has been able to thrive as a tourist destination is because it is so isolated. In other parts of the United States, and especially in Europe, tourist can easily jump from city to city without having spent a lot of time or money on transportation. Vegas isn't like that.
Besides Los Angeles, there is not another major tourist destination anywhere close by. Even LA is a fairly far journey by car, so most people traveling between the two cities take a plane. This makes it better for Vegas attractions, because people are more inclined to stay in the city for their whole vacation. But it also limits the possibilities for people vacationing there.
9 Visit Anyway - A Unique Experience
If you travel a lot you may have noticed that a lot of the cities that you go to a pretty similar. There are very few cities in the world that are so unique that they do not remind you, at least a little bit, of another city. I think that Las Vegas is one of those cities. Since Atlantic City is in an advanced state of decline, there is no other city that offers what Las Vegas does.
There are plenty of casinos throughout the US but there is nowhere else where going to the casino is as much of an experience as it is in Vegas.
8 Harsh Truth - Oh Elton
This harsh truth about Las Vegas creates a dangerous situation that I have personally fallen victim to more than once. One of my favorite things about Vegas is that there are so many shows happening on a nightly basis. Instead of waiting for Bob Dylan or Elton John to come to your city, you can just go to Vegas and see them any night of the week.
The problem with this is that these shows can get pretty pricey. If you are going to shows every night, you better hope that you win big at the casino to finance the remainder of your trip.
7 Harsh Truth - A little too Sketchy
The stats along the Vegas Strip will never equal what they are in crime-ridden cities like Chicago and Philadelphia but it is worth noting that unlawful activities on the Strip are a lot more prevalent than it is at other major tourist destinations. This wouldn't affect my decision to visit the city but it might be a reason for others (especially those planning a family vacation) to reconsider.
Most of the crime in Vegas comes from rowdy partygoers on vacation but there is also significant organized crime in the area. All of this occurs despite a heavy police presence on and close to the Srip.
6 Harsh Truth - Casino Costs
There are some people who simply do not like casinos, but this entry talks about the specific dangers of gaming at a Vegas casino. The major casinos on the Strip are a part of huge public companies that bring in millions of dollars in profits every year.
They would not be able to do so if the people who visited their casino had a good chance of winning. Several studies have been done proving that gaming in a casino brings you the lowest chances of actually turning a profit. Slot machines usually are the worst. As the saying goes, the house always wins
5 Visit Anyway - Once in a Lifetime Shows
By now most people know that there are a ton of shows to see in Las Vegas but what a lot of people do not know is that some of them are really good. There are, of course, the famous attractions like the Blue Man Group and Britney Spears, but there is also a ton of under the radar attractions that are good enough to go on tour anywhere in the world.
The last time I was in Vegas I saw four shows and at least three of them were good enough that I would see them again. Because there are so many performers in Vegas, there are shows going on constantly and you can usually catch one at any time of the day.
4 Harsh Truth - Smelly Hotels
I have to admit that I've only stayed in Vegas a couple of times but I think it is worth noting that I wasn't very impressed by the hotels there. Unless you are staying at the very fancy hotels on the Strip, it will be hard to get value from a Vegas hotel. Because there are so many fun things to do in the city, most Vegas hotels aren’t expecting you to stay in your room very often. This means that they can be very minimalist, and at times, downright disgusting.
Vegas attracts a certain crowd of tourists, and I think a lot of housekeeping staff at Vegas hotels are overworked.
3 Harsh Truth - Painful Parking
In recent years I have been visiting the west coast more often and one thing that I have found is that it is much easier to park in major Western cities than it is in East Coast giants like New York and Boston. Las Vegas might just be the exception to this rule. The major hotels on the Strip tend to come with their own, complimentary parking garages but otherwise you will find it very hard to park in Vegas.
Space is at such a premium close to the Strip that it is not economically viable for parking lots to charge you less than $40 overnight.
2 Harsh Truth - HEAT
There are some aspects of a city that cannot be made better no matter how proactive city officials are. One reason why there are so many popular tourist destinations in California is because the weather there is so mild.
The same cannot be said for Las Vegas, which is in the Nevada desert. The wind and heat can both get uncomfortable at times within the city and outside of Vegas things get even worse. If you are one of those people who like to explore new cities on foot, I would be very careful about which times of the year that you decide to visit.
1 Visit Anyway - A Vacation That Pays
Like any other tourist destination, Vegas can be a major drain on your finances. Unlike most other major cities, however, there is always the chance in Vegas that you leave with more money then you came with. Keep in mind that saying from earlier that the house always wins, otherwise they would not make any money.
With that being said, it does happen, and you may be one of the few people who benefit from Vegas’ unique culture.