Turning 21: Vegas experience


Story by Jim Joyner, Sports Editor

This past month I was fortunate enough to spend my 21st birthday in the greatest city in North America. It’s the Sin City, Sam’s Town, the entertainment capital of the world and the city of lights: Las Vegas.

Something about Las Vegas makes life a little slower and the people a little happier. I don’t know if it’s the smell of the casinos, the free-roaming alcohol or the thrill of winning big money, but people, including me, are constantly in a better mood.

We were there from late Wednesday night to early (and I mean early) Saturday morning. On our second night we went to the Laugh Factory comedy club inside the Flamingo Hotel and Casino. One of the comics said that Las Vegas is a place where you can’t stay for more than three days. After thinking about that I realized that she was exactly right.

This was my second trip to Vegas, and I’ve learned that three days in Vegas gives you a lot of time to explore and take in the whole city, or at least the exciting parts of the city. In three days I was able to walk through and see almost every hotel and casino, go to three shows, hang out on Fremont Street, spend way too much time on the casino floor, and be a sports bookie for all of my friends back home.

Being there for four days can be a stretch because of how the lifestyle can take a toll on you. In three days I walked more than 65,000 steps, including a day when I walked 32,000 steps, which is a personal best for me. It typically takes about 1,000 steps just to walk from your hotel room, through the casino and out to the Vegas strip.

Lack of sleep is another challenge, especially if you visit Vegas for more than three days. When you factor in the two-hour time change those of us on Central Standard Time, or three hours if you’re from the East Coast, you’re often staying out an extra two or three hours every night. The first night we were in Vegas I stayed out until 3:45 a.m. local time and 5:45 a.m. on my biological clock. The next morning I woke up at 8:30 a.m. to run up and down the strip, immediately setting my sleep schedule back for the whole trip. When going to Vegas, be prepared not to sleep.

I still haven’t even mentioned the financial toll that Vegas takes on your wallet. It’s not as much the gambling or the hotel rooms or transportation that will bankrupt you; those can actually be way more affordable than what most people expect. The biggest expenses are often for eating and taking in the nightlife and shows. Meals are not cheap,and show tickets and nightclub cover charges will take a nice chunk of change out of your pocket.

Jim’s Keys to Vegas:

  • Pick the right time of year to go for cheaper hotels.
  • Be ready to walk (tourist sites are not as close as they appear).
  • Be ready for sleepless nights.
  • Don’t be afraid to spend money because it’s only fun if you do.

And most importantly, don’t stay for more than three days. You will become a zombie by day four.