Cultural Experience | Nevada

15 Reasons to Be a College Tourist in Vegas

When you’re in Vegas, you’re up all night to get lucky!

My Mom suggested, “We should go to Vegas for your 21st birthday!”

I laughed along and agreed, “Yeah, that would be awesome…”

Little did I know, she was serious. Flash forward to this summer as I found myself on a plane departing BWI and heading to Las Vegas with my Mom, Step-Dad, and my Grandparents. Yup, even Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop came along for the trip. While this wasn’t exactly your typical Vegas experience (i.e. I didn’t wake up to any tigers in the bathroom a la The Hangover), I did have a fantastic time. Here are 15 reasons to be a College Tourist in Vegas:

  1. You Only Turn 21 Once

    Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville

    48 oz Margarita? Challenge accepted!

    Vegas is the perfect place to visit for your 21st birthday. You have to be 21 or over to do most of what Vegas offers, so there’s no sense in going before then. Now, I know Vegas has been trying to come off as family friendly…but it’s still Vegas. Hey bring your Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop along, and it’s family friendly, but still a-lot of fun. You definitely have to pick up an awesome souvenir glass and try to drink the whole thing. Just be responsible. We were there in July when it got up to 106 degrees. Stay cool with a frozen margarita, but stay hydrated with some water.

  2. It’s Slots-O-Fun

    Lucky 7 on my first try! It was all down hill from there.

    Lucky 7 on my first try! It was all down hill from there.

    I am not a gambler, but while you’re in Vegas you have to try your hand at a few. As you can see above, I was not a high roller since I mainly stuck to penny and quarter slots. They’re everywhere, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity. There were slots even when we stepped off the plane and into the airport.

  3. The Views are Amazing

    View from the top of Paris Paris

    View from the top of Paris Paris

    All around Vegas there are some great spots to view the strip. My favorite was riding to the top of the Eiffel Tower at Paris Paris and looking out over the city at midnight. It’s not quite as luxurious as viewing the city from a penthouse hotel, but for a College Tourist, the price is definitely worth it.

  4. You Can See the World from the Strip

    Venetian Hotel

    The Venetian is just one of the many themed hotels and casinos you can travel to

    Along the strip, you can travel from New York to Paris to Venice in a matter of minutes. One of my favorite parts of our trip was just visiting the different hotels and casinos and taking it all in. With its bright skyline inside and its canals, you’ll feel like you stepped right into Italy at the Venetian, or if you take a trip to Paris Paris, you’ll see charming french architecture and a few Can-Can Girls. It’s feasible to visit several in just one night.

  5. No One Will Judge You for Embracing the Tacky

    Vegas Vic Cowboy on Fremont St.

    Say “Howdy Podner!” to Vegas Vic on Fremont St.

    While a lot of Vegas looks more like a sleek, cosmopolitan city than a collection of neon and glitz, the classic “old Vegas” can still be found on Fremont St. When you think Vegas, you probably think bright neon everywhere. Don’t worry, it’s still there on Fremont St. Fremont St. is delightfully tacky in the most refined way possible. It’s not too far off the strip, so it’s easily accessible.

  6. You Never Know Who You’ll Run Into

    Alan from the Hangover in Vegas

    My new best friend Alan and his baby Carlos.

    Vegas is full of characters. As you make your way down the strip late at night, you’re sure to run into a few showgirls, Elvis impersonators, and movie legends. Most of them are asking for tips, but this was a guy just having a crazy night out with his friends. As my Mom and I made our way through the Mirage, she noticed this guy and gasped, “OMG Courtney, look!!” We ran after him to get a picture because he totally nailed the Alan costume. Sure, it wasn’t actually Zach Galifianakis, but maybe you’ll be lucky enough to run into a real celeb.

  7. You Can Easily Get Away if You Need to

    Falling off the Grand Canyon

    Almost didn’t make it back from the Grand Canyon

    We stayed in Vegas for 5 days, which is longer than most people stay. Since we were there Monday-Friday, we needed a break mid-week. Luckily, the Grand Canyon is easily accessible from Las Vegas. It’s about 4 to 5 hours away, but worth the trip. We took a bus out there, but there are also plane a helicopter tours. It was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of sin city for a day.

  8. There’s a Chance to Get Up Close and Personal with Wildlife

    Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat

    I like to think this Dolphin is saying, “So long and thanks for all the fish!”

    Now, when I say wildlife, I am not referring to the people roaming the streets late at night. You can see actual wildlife at Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat. Siegfried and Roy no longer perform at the Mirage, but their famous white lions, snow leopards, and tigers are still there. They also have two Dolphin pools. Lions, and Tigers, and Dolphins–Oh My!

  9. Almost Every Major Hotel has Some Sort of Free Show

    Treasure Island Pirate Show

    Pirates on the Quest for Booty

    Vegas is almost as famous for its shows as it is for its gambling. For years, Vegas has hosted big name headliners that draw in huge crowds, but you don’t have to pay a pretty penny for entertainment. All along the strip, hotels and casinos offer shows and spectacle. At the Mirage, a volcano erupts almost every hour. At the Bellagio, the fountain show is breathtaking. However, if you’re looking for more than just fancy water tricks, you have to check out the “Sirens of TI.” It’s performed three times a night, and it’s free! Just get there early for a good viewing spot.

  10. It Can Be Educational Too

    Las Vegas Mob Museum

    Things went a little wrong at the Mob Museum

    I am a total nerd and watched a History Channel documentary on Las Vegas before I left. While that may sound boring, I assure you that the history of Vegas is anything but. It’s a rich history filled with manly mobsters, prohibition problems, and gambling gals. If you’re really into the history, you have to check out the Mob Museum. It’s an interactive attraction that brings the classic Las Vegas tales to life.

  11. Vegas has a Fascinating History

    The Golden Nugget

    The Golden Nugget is one of the few classic Vegas casinos left

    Watching the documentary made me want to check out the classic Vegas most people think of, which as I mentioned, is still found on Fremont St. Walking down the street is like stepping back in time. Most of the classic casinos like the Dunes or the Sahara now exist only in the pages of History books, but a few, such as the Flamingo or Golden Nugget still stand. 

  12. The Whole Town is a Circus

    Midway at Circus Circus

    Just hanging around at Circus Circus

    Crazy Characters? Check. Bright Lights? Check.  Animals? Check. Vegas is like one big circus, but one of the casinos actually is a circus. It’s appropriately called Circus Circus. I’m terrified of clowns, but luckily there weren’t any in here aside from the big one on the marquee. The casino isn’t anything special, but if you head upstairs to the midway, that’s where everything comes to life. There’s circus acts every hour and midway games galore. It’s a fun place to indulge your inner childhood spirit after potentially enjoying one to many adult “spirits.”

  13. You Have Time to Stop and Smell the Roses

    Garden at the Bellagio

    While away the hours conferring with the flowers

    Most of Vegas doesn’t truly come alive until night time, but there’s plenty to do during the day as well. Afternoon was the perfect time to visit the Bellagio gardens. The large hall feels like a giant greenhouse, so soak up a little sun away from the pool and take in the greenery here.


  14. There are Plenty of Opportunities to Travel in Style

    Ventian Gondolas Vegas

    Float along the canal on a lazy afternoon

    Vegas has some innovative modes of transportation. The Deuce bus is the most efficient way to move up and down the strip, and the monorail can take you from casino to casino. However, if you’re going nowhere in particular, you should enjoy a Gondola ride at the Venetian.


  15. So Many Neon Lights!

    The Fremont St. Experience

    Bright Lights Razzle Dazzle

    Honestly, one of my favorite parts of visiting vegas was just seeing Vegas. I, of course, enjoyed some shows, gambling, and spirits, but I really went for the sights. There’s so much to see and do that it was tough to fit it all in, even with 5 days there. Vegas is a unique city unlike any other. New York may be the city that never sleeps, but Vegas is the city that never turns off the lights. And thank goodness because they’re dazzling.

Courtney Guth

University of Maryland | 31 stories

Courtney Guth is a senior English major at the University of Maryland College Park actively seeking an answer to the age-old question, “so what are you going to do with that?” Her answer currently involves working in communications and development for a small non-profit in Washington, D.C. If she’s not exploring the nation’s capital, she’s probably watching an old movie, attempting to cook, or losing her voice at a Maryland Terrapins’ game. She believes the adage that “the world is a book, and those who do not travel only read one page” but why just read when you can write?

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