Leaving Las Vegas is a testament to your parents' disciplinary success. Especially after losing your savings at the craps table, highfiving strangers dressed only
in body paint, and reaching the bottom of one-too-many three-foot margaritas.
Luckily, arriving in Sin City is a fool's task. As the first high-rise hotels appear in the distance, you feel like a kid on their first trip to Disney Land. Only Mickey and Minnie Mouse here are trying to lure you into casinos and Snow White is an Agrade substance instead of an exiled princess.
Smack in the middle of the former Wild West, world landmarks like the Eiffel Tower stand a camera's zoom away from a downsized Statue Of Liberty. In this suspended
reality, you're allowed to legally drink on the streets and clothing seems optional. It is not uncommon to find toddlers fast asleep in prams besides the slot machines, while their parents give it one last go, trying unsuccessfully to beat the system.
While the night brings out a seedier specimen, even during the day you'll be accosted by groups of people, handing out business cards. But the mergers they're proposing involve tanned women in various states of undress, often pictured with nothing more than super-imposed stars protecting their modesty. If you take the cards -- hey, no one's judging -- you'll find that Candi sometimes goes by her alias, Amber, and blondehaired Kitty bears a striking resemblance to a brunette Bambi. Just as promised, Vegas can guarantee more reinventions than Madonna.
As for the scenic landscape, each hotel, from Trump Tower to Caesar's Palace, has an exterior more decadent than the other. They also all share a common predilection to golden-hued windows, which can't be opened. These luxury properties also host free shows at a specified time for the public. Consider it Vegas' way of giving
back. Treasure Island, for example, plays to the theme and stages a rollicking battle on the high seas. The daily special at The Mirage is an erupting volcano, complete with hot lava spewing to a dramatic drumbeat. This is the one true form of family entertainment available here, and you should try and catch all the shows along The Strip.
Anybody can stroll into a hotel off the street, with no limit on the number of people sharing a room. You'll often spot at least 10 exiting a suite meant for two. But the hotels aren't worried -- they'll get even at the poker tables.
If you'd rather go for Russian salad over Russian roulette, the food options won't disappoint. Every hotel has at least one restaurant run by the overachieving
Wolfgang Puck, among other star chefs, and the $10 street steak tastes just as good as the $100 Kobe tenderloin. Cocktails are sold like MacDonald's burgers -- quick
and dirty right on the side of the road. And you can carry your booze with you through the night, even while casinohopping, so don't balk at the sometimes steep prices.
The clubs here rank among the best in the world, and keeping with the 'less is more' dress code usually guarantees an entry. Though, if you want to avoid the usual
$50 and upward entry charge, just use the free tickets your hotel will give you to their own nightclub.
Once you've wined, dined and danced yourself into a catatonic state, recover quickly, then continue the madness at the nearest strip club, which stays open until 7 am. Or let years of parental conditioning kick in and head you back home. Either way, Las Vegas won't miss you. She knows you'll be coming back soon.