When you hear the words “Las Vegas,” any and all of the following thoughts might come to mind: All scenes and characters from The Hangover, gambling and slot machines, black-out wasted, Cirque du Soleil and various shows, the lights on the strip, impromptu weddings, Elvis impersonators, VIP lounges; in a phrase, “the sweet life.” Not to piss on your “stripper dancing/foam party ” parade or anything, but there is far more to Vegas than meets the tourist-driven eye. And contrary to what you’ve been told, some of the greatest aspects of Las Vegas exist miles away from the blackjack tables and rooftop nightclubs. Don’t take my word for it? I understand–I mean we’re talking about SIN CITY, the land of lust and dollar signs–it’s cool, no hard feelings.

But before you dismiss my claims altogether, at least glance at the pictures (they’re worth 999 words, at least).

1-Hiking and outdoor exercise is prevalent

Most tourists will never get to experience this view for themselves. 1) 99% of them are too hungover from last night’s festivities to even make it from the hotel room to the pool. There’s no way in hell they’re going on a 2.5 mile hike. 2) They have no idea that the option even exists. Hotels don’t spend millions of dollars advertising nature walks and outdoor exercise. And that view pretty much speaks for itself, don’t you think?

2-People have a great sense of humor

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so I suggest visiting The Cracked Egg while you’re in LV. The food is delicious (I love their feta, chicken, and spinach scrambled egg whites), the service is fantastic, and it’s so far off the strip that you don’t have to worry about looking fabulous at 10am. Also, if these signs were hung up throughout New York, we might have enough money to reduce the national deficit.

3-February = Spring

Most people visit Vegas between the months of May and September, when it’s uncomfortably hot. Who knew that the end of February/beginning of March would be the start of their Spring. And when I say “Spring,” I mean 70 degree afternoons. Chinos, sandals (and a sombrero) was all I needed to keep warm.

4-Some of the best eats can be found off the strip

I’m a huge fan of the show, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (hosted by Guy Fieri). If you’ve never seen the show, you’re missing out, first of all; secondly, it follows Fieri as he peruses throughout the country in search of small, “mom and pop” restaurants. Basically, he forces viewers to salivate at the mouth as they sit in front of their TV’s and watch him eat amazing meals (cruel torture for a food-lover such as myself). Regardless, Naked City Pizza was once featured on the show, and it’s no wonder why. Located less than a mile off the strip, this dive bar/pizza joint serves up a delicious pie. Plus, the inside decor is NY-themed (extra brownie points).

5-Local talent is some of the best around

When it comes to live entertainment, you can’t beat Las Vegas. From acrobatic performances to light shows, celebrity appearances to Grammy winners, talent is in full abundance. And if you can’t afford an expensive show every night, the local talent is nothing short of spectacular. Take, for instance, The Jeremy Cornwell Project, an artist who gigs throughout Vegas, putting his own spin on crowd-pleasing cover songs. Sure, he may be related to my boyfriend in some small way, but it’s not like I’m biased or anything.

6-Tropical Smoothie > Jamba Juice

Unless you are prepared to fly your ass to a Tropical Smoothie and sip on one of those refreshing, $4 (GASP) fruit concoctions, you’re not allowed to berate me for rating it higher than JJ. Plus, their lunch options are healthy, delicious, and extremely inexpensive. It’s Jamba Juice without the huge dollar sign. Like I said, don’t knock it ’till you try it.

7-Las Vegas isn’t always fabulous

Let us review. Vegas is home to some of the best nightclubs in the country. Women wear latex club outfits to the pool (or brunch…seriously). The sky is cloudless about 90% of the year. But just like any other tourist hot spot, it gets old quick. Maybe not in a week, or two weeks, or even a month. But after you’ve spent enough time in Vegas, chances are you’re going to fall out of love with it.

All in all, the trip to Las Vegas was awesome. I was able to escape the arctic temperatures us New Yorkers refer to as “the calm before the storm” (aka February – March), I enjoyed a mini-vacation from work, and I finally saw my boyfriend. For those of you wondering how surprised he was when I walked through his door at midnight (I know you’re absolutely dying of suspense), let’s just say he definitely wasn’t expecting me (cue the dropped jaw).

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20-something creative writer turned corporate, armed with big ideas and even bigger dreams. Avid reader, lover of all things musical, incessant blogger. Sucker for movie quotes, feature writing, and a good book. To inspire and be inspired.

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