My First Time In Vegas Proves It's So Much More Than Bright Lights & Late Nights
I watched The Hangover on the flight to my first adventure in Las Vegas. I. Am. A. Cliché.
Call it a travel pre-game or a perfect window into my naive understanding of the infamous American city, but I was amped to finally experience everything Hollywood movies had teased me with for years.
All my previous trips to the States had been prior to turning the big 2-1, I had never gambled before and thanks to Sydney lockout laws, I hadn't clubbed past 1am in years. So yeah, I was ready to give up my Vegas virginity.
I arrived to a stunning suite at MGM Grand for a much needed shower and recovery nap after the long haul flight. There was a good chance I may never have made it out of the lush bed, but I could see the strip's dazzling light display from my window tempting me.
I dressed and dashed for dinner at Yellowtail overlooking the Bellagio Fountain. Overseen by Celebrity Chef Akira Back I sampled an endless smorgasbord of his unique creations before toasting the city I was about to explore.
The next morning I woke early for a Sundance Helicopter ride over Red Rock where you picnic with a champagne breakfast of bagels and fruit while gazing across the desert. Flying back over the patches of homes surrounded by the rust covered earth, it was hard to believe I had only been in Vegas for about 12 hours.
Next I made my way to Flightlinez Bootleg Canyon where I propelled myself across four separate ziplines covering 8,000 feet at a speed of 95 kilometres per hour.
By mid-afternoon I was starving! But what Vegas holds in activities, it is equally balanced with an endless supply of food. Burgers the size of your head from Mesa Grill at Caesar’s Palace; contemporary Mexican dishes from Bandito Latin Kitchen & Cantina; mega shakes topped with endless cream at Holsteins in The Cosmopolitan; beer tasting paddles and succulent sammies at Beerhaus in The Park.
But I was lured for a different reason to many young visitors who travel for the shining lights of the Vegas Strip. Initially I was enticed to cover a festival Downtown called Life Is Beautiful which boasts artists like Chance The Rapper, Lorde, Haim, Gorillaz and Dua Lipa.
If you’re not familiar with the Downtown area, it's recently been revived by investors, especially Tony Hseigh of The Downtown Project who spent over $350 million in an attempt to create the most community-focused city in the world.
Celebrating the core values of music, art, food and ideas, the festival is now in its fifth year, bringing 50,000 people to the festival ground on each of the three days.
As I ran from stage to stage (each located on a famous Downtown street) to see my favourite acts, I happened upon murals in the making, food trucks powered by celebrity chefs and the electric energy that ran through each person.
While in the area I also made sure to take in a Lip Smacking Foodie Tour where we sampled signature dishes from local institutions like Carson Kitchen, Therapy and 7th & Carson. We also visited Container Park where pop up busineses lease space to set themselves up in the community.
Don't get me wrong, I probably ran on three hours sleep between the festival, club nights and celeb performances I backed up one after the other each evening. (Talk to me offline and I'll tell you how I ended up in Calvin Harris' DJ box singing "We Found Love" at the top of my lungs).
But it wasn't all about the nightlife. Some of my best memories come from soaking up the sun at Planet Hollywood's 'Pleasure Pool', snacking on munchies while challenging friends to a round at Topgolf or getting in some much needed cardio shopping at Las Vegas Premium Outlets North.
If you're planning to pop your Vegas cherry in the near future, lured in by the widely publicised bright lights and late nights - make sure you stay on to discover the diverse daytime attractions while you're at it.
...and maybe schedule a wake up call. Trust me.
To learn more about booking your ultimate adventure in Las Vegas, head here.