Las Vegas: Stereotypical America on Steroids

Best thing to do in Las vegas

You’ve seen Las Vegas in a hundred movies and you’ve read about it in countless magazines but nothing can prepare you for the experience of actually being there.

Las Vegas is big, it’s brash and it’s bonkers. It’s a stereotype of what people who’ve never been to America think America is like. It’s a stereotype of America on steroids.

A few years back I went to Blogworld in Las Vegas for business. Okay, that’s a fib. As a born again blogger I was keen to go to the biggest and best blogging conference in the world, but in truth I also wanted to visit Las Vegas quite badly.

It’s not like I hadn’t been to the States before either. In fact I’ve visited the USA many times over the last 25 years, and even lived there twice, but I had never, ever been to Las Vegas and that felt wrong.

Tacky, tawdry and totally OTT it may be but I wanted to see Las Vegas before I die.

There’s a lot for a country girl like me to soak up in Las Vegas. The Mandalay Bay Resort Hotel where I stayed probably holds more people than the whole 4.8 square mile (12.5 km²) area I live in. In Noosa we have just two sets of traffic lights but Las Vegas is a sea of neon signs, flashing lights and shooting laser beams. I wandered round lost with my mouth gaping for six days.

The Best to Do in Las VegasI didn’t eat at Dick’s Last Resort – the restaurant advertised here but I like the way they paired Fat Dick with the buffed boys of Thunder From Down Under in the photo of a billboard above. Nice juxtaposition.

Juxtapositions like that are what makes Las Vegas well, Vegas. Take the side by side offerings of as much as you can eat buffets with the surgically enhanced beautiful people, the families who come to see shows with the party animals who come to get trashed and the hardcore gamblers with the wannabe poker stars like me.

Then there are the ‘only in Vegas’ gamblers who come purely for a flutter, whether they want to plop their money quarter by quarter into the slot machines, or bet the lot on one turn of the roulette wheel.

One morning I met a man who told me I was a fool paying for the hotel’s buffet breakfast. He bragged that he got to eat free as he’d been gambling. When quizzed he admitted he’d lost $1,000 so far which seemed like an expensive breakkie to me.

Luckily, there are plenty of other things to do in Vegas apart from just gambling.

Most importantly you cannot go to Las Vegas without running into Elvis, especially if you’re a long-time Elvis fan like me. And of course you cannot think about Las Vegas and Elvis without thinking about how great it would be to have a Las Vegas wedding.

Alas I was already married when I visited Las Vegas so I couldn’t grab a nearby stranger and force him into wedlock with me as that would be bigamy. You can call me many things but bigamist isn’t one of them.

So, while I really, really, really wanted to follow in the misguided footsteps of people like Britney Spears, Angelina Jolie and even Elvis and Priscilla themselves, I couldn’t even renew my wedding vows as my husband didn’t come to Vegas with me.

Fortunately I got to do the next best thing there is to do in Las Vegas apart from have yourself an Elvis: go to an Elvis wedding.

The Best to Do in Las Vegas - pink cadillac - annabel candy

Me and the pink Cadillac outside The Little White Wedding Chapel

Elvis Presley is very much alive and well in Las Vegas. I saw him four times and he still looks and sound great. Apart from the Elvis wedding I also went to a karaoke hall where a couple of former Elvis impersonators, now gone to seed, were still having the time of their lives crooning away to some good old Elvis tracks.

Then there was another old guy with an exceedingly large quiff who I asked if he was an Elvis impersonator:

“Nope, the Elvis impersonators have gone home now,” he dead panned.

You could have fooled me.

My friend Molly and I spotted this old gent having his photo taken with some of the many young girls who favour dressing like hooker.. He even asked to have his photo taken with us and told us with a wink:

“Vegas is Disneyland for grown ups.”

Las Vegas – what can I say? It’s definitely a travel experience that has to be seen to be believed.

things to do in vegas

This post was commissioned by Casino Top 10 which is a guide to online casinos. I have an addictive personality so I tend to steer clear of such things but if you’re into a bit of responsible gambling and fancy a flutter check them out. Even if you’re not interested in casinos or gambling their entertainment section, including celebrity news and gossip, is fun if you want to see what your Hollywood friends have been getting up to of late.

Have you been to Las Vegas? Did you love it or hate it? What’s the best thing you did in Las Vegas? 

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  1. amy parmenter October 3, 2012 at 9:17 am - Reply

    Hey! I think I need a photographer’s credit!!! :0) (kidding of course – but soooo glad to have been there w/ you!) Absolutely one of the most fabulous weddings I’ve attended. I couldn’t stop smiling! Long live the King!!

    We’ll always have Vegas…

    • Annabel Candy October 3, 2012 at 9:19 am - Reply

      Hi Amy,

      You do too. Thank you:) Ah, we had fun didn’t we?! I would still like to get married there myself!!

  2. Dave Doolin October 4, 2012 at 12:49 am - Reply

    What happens in Vegas doesn’t count.

  3. Molly Kelash October 4, 2012 at 1:10 am - Reply

    That was quite the trip…great article! You forgot to mention going to the Playboy Club with all the Aussie bloggers who couldn’t get in without “girls.” Felt quite in demand that evening for an old married broad with two kids! :)

    • Annabel Candy October 4, 2012 at 9:49 am - Reply

      Hi Molly,

      Ah yes, the Playboy Club. I think it left me speechless…

  4. Brenda October 4, 2012 at 2:16 am - Reply

    I lived in Vegas for 30 years. (Except for 9 months in Australia/New Zealand 2 years ago) I grew up in Iowa farm country and married my high school sweetheart and moved to Vegas because his Mom had had enough of cold winters and we didn’t want to live in Iowa forever. (We just recently moved to Colorado because we were ready for a change again.)

    To be honest we were just used to living in Vegas and for the most part ignored that the strip was there unless family came into town or we wanted to take advantage of a huge buffet or had an urge to see a dolphin (at the Mirage). Every once in awhile we reminded ourselves that we could go down there and watch the fountains at the Bellagio or pretend we went to Italy by walking through the canal shops in the Venetian.

    I wasn’t into gambling because I am a poor loser. I did win 30 dollars once but that probably happened only because the people I was meeting arrived and I was forced to walk away from the slot machine before I ended up putting the money right back in.

    With the intense summers of over 100 degrees everyday…….the thing that stands out in my mind about living there is this gave having a back yard pool a whole new meaning of it’s own. It takes the pool experience to a level of appreciation.

    One more experience of living there and raising a family there that stands out in my mind as being unique is the experience my kids had dancing. Our three kids grew up dancing and even our son joined in on the fun when he was 10 years old. The studio they went to offered the unusual experience of doing a benefit dance concert each year and most of the time they got to perform in a theater on the Las Vegas strip. Since there were lots of theater tech people in the city, they would volunteer their time to putting on a professional show. We spent our summers rehearsing and preparing for this great experience that could not happen the same way anywhere else.

    So it is always interesting to me to see Vegas through the eyes of someone else. The place changed almost completely in the time we lived there but yet we were used to it. I try to mentally remove myself from Vegas and wipe the slate clean. I can see it though a first timers eyes for a brief moment. It must be exciting. Maybe after I have not lived there for awhile and go back as a tourist I will stay on the strip and experience it in a new way.

    • Annabel Candy October 4, 2012 at 9:53 am - Reply

      Hi Brenda,

      30 years! That’s amazing. I’m sure you would steer clear of the touristy areas. Which seems to be all I saw! Sounds like you enjoyed the experience though and thanks heavens for the pool. Yes, you’d definitely need a pool in that heat. It must have been a life saver:)

  5. Debra Eve | Later Bloomer October 4, 2012 at 4:55 am - Reply

    HATE! Spent part of my childhood and every American holiday once I got into my teens babysitting nieces and nephews while the adults went out and gambled. My elderly parents are still there and it’s a chore.

    To be fair though, my husband and I once made a special trip because we had backstage passes to a Tom Jones concert at the MGM (his friend was in the band). That was magical!

    • Annabel Candy October 4, 2012 at 9:56 am - Reply

      Hi Debra,

      You must visit Las Vegas a lot. I must say I wouldn’t retire there. I think it’s a young person’s place but then I’m more into nature than partying these days. Love that you had at least on magical experience in Vegas!

  6. Galen Pearl October 4, 2012 at 9:20 am - Reply

    So that’s where Elvis went! Having grown up in Memphis during the era of Elvis, I am always interested in stories about him and the world’s continued fascination with him. Fun catching up with you!

    • Annabel Candy October 4, 2012 at 9:57 am - Reply

      Hi Galen,

      I would love to tour Elvis’s house. I had a stopever in Memphis airport once – that’s as close as I’ve been:)

  7. Giraffes Can Swim October 5, 2012 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    I had only been to Vegas a few times before I went to any other part of America and assumed it was all like that. It’s almost like it’s a different world, an alien landscape rising up from the desert…

    Love that you got to go to that wedding, a true Vegas experience!

  8. Berliner October 20, 2012 at 2:15 am - Reply

    I come to Las Vegas every year, due to my job obligations. What strikes me alsways is the speed with which the city changes its shape. Just a few years, but the area of demolished Treasure hotel is fully unrecognizable. This brings me lots of curiousity for every next trip.

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