Viva Las Vegas: For the Non-High Roller

Can Vegas be fun if you don't gamble?

It seems like an odd choice visiting Las Vegas if you don't gamble, but there's actually quite a few cool things to do in the sin city that don't require sitting at a poker table.


Vegas is best experienced with friends or your significant other and casinos can still be a great and affordable place to stay with lots to do. Fantastic restaurants, concerts, shows, and in some cases it can be like strolling through Disney's Epcot if you walk through the Venetian and Paris, where you can get a scoop of gelato strolling along the mock Venice canals, or the equally tasty French style pastries or sandwiches at JJ's Boulangerie, which has some seriously delicious tomato rolls.

If you want to experience black box, low budget theater at it's finest, and happen to like horror, Evil Dead: The Musical at the Tommy Wind Theater is an affordable, bloody good night out with friends. Make no mistake, this is flash and trash theater in kitschy, campy glory and they offer a pretty great cocktail to toast along with the actors to. As a huge Evil Dead fan, I enjoyed myself even if I did feel the production was quite cheap feeling. But at $25-32 a ticket, I'm not going to explain because it's an experience for sure. Just understand if you sit in the splatter zone you should be really sure of what you're getting into.

If that's not your thing, relive the 2000s with Britney Spears at MGM Grand, or grand ballad dames Celine Dion and Mariah Carey at Colosseum and Caesar's Palace. 

There's Old Vegas which is always worth visiting, and a few great Tiki bars like the newer Golden Tiki, with charmingly kitschy decor and fine fine drinks or for real old school, there's Frankie's Tiki Room with it's super dim ambiance, 60s surf music vibe, and strong libations. Don't be put off that it seems like in the middle of nowhere residential Vegas next to a gas station, it has a certain acquired charm. Both are open 24/7 if you suddenly feel the call of a Zombie at 3am. Or 7am. You do you.


There's the bright and glitzy Freemont Street, home to the older Vegas casinos and as massive LED spectacle of sight and sound. Zipline down the street or enjoy people watching along this classic strip of pavement once walked upon by the Rat Pack.

Or, if you have a car and feel slightly adventurous, there's always the fact that Vegas is in the middle of a desert and about an hour outside the city is quiet and stunningly colorful Valley of Fire. At $10 per vehicle for entry, this park makes for a great day trip with stunning views and fiery orange-red rocks that don't even need Photoshop to look so vivid in pictures. Just remember to pack sunscreen and water!


With affordable flights and reasonably priced hotels, Vegas can make for a great weekend getaway with friends but just remember, what happens in Vegas...well you know the rest.

Where To Stay

I stayed at MGM Grand, which is starting to feel the teeniest bit dated and late '90s, but it's still a solid hotel with good restaurants and bars and pretty well located.

If you want to save a couple of bucks and can overlook the slight hokeyness of it (but let's face it, you need to check that at the door in Vegas anyway), Hooters can be a decently affordable option with King rooms as low as about $32 a night if you book in advanced. 

I haven't stayed there yet, but my boyfriend has confirmed the Cosmopolitan is nice and it's my goal hotel to stay at next time I'm there.

Where to Eat

Michael Mina Pub 1842 in MGM Grand was quite tasty, and features a few tables where you can pour your own beer from tap.

Hecho En Vegas Mexican Cantina & Grill, also in MGM Grand, serves excellent drinks. The guava mojito with cachaca was delightful, and everyone in my group was really pleased with their drinks. It's also one of the only restaurants in MGM aside from Hakkasan that's open late. 

The MGM Grand Buffet is worth it, I think, when you do the brunch. It's more affordable and you get a good mix of breakfast and lunch food, and you can opt in $15.99 for the champagne part if you wan't to drown your waffles down with mimosas.

JJ's Boulangerie in Paris is a quick cheap and cheerful option for a delicious lunch that won't dent your wallet. 

Truly budget and epically tasty noms noms is of course In n Out. I go a little complicated with the Secret Menu, ordering a Double Double with bun extra toasted, mustard grilled patty, grilled onions, pickles, no spread, no tomato or lettuce. It's a bit tedious to order, but I love my cheeseburger this way. Also, ORDER FRIES WELL DONE. If there's one thing people don't always love about In n Out, it's the fries because they aren't as crispier at first pass as say MacDonald's, but try them well done and they come out crispier. Also, they're fresh cut potato fries. Bless. If you're feeling adventurous, order Animal Style, which is spread, cheese, and grilled onions. Even cheese and grilled onions is also a good option, just mix it up with the fries while still hot. 

I will also say The Golden Tiki and Frankie's Tiki Room are both wonderful tiki places, just don't expect food so eat up before you go!