How to Spend 48 Hours in Las Vegas (If You're Under 21)
It’s Vegas baby!
The famous ‘Sin City’ has gained its reputation for its parties, nightlife and entertainment. So if you’re under 21, going to Las Vegas may feel like a world away, as you may feel like you’re missing out. You may feel like you’d be spending your entire trip in the hotel room, waiting for your ‘of-age’ friends to get back from their all night parties.
But this is one common misconception about Las Vegas that’s worth busting; that there’s nothing to do for under 21’s. The one thing that threw me was the abundance of activities, tours and more that are essential for any Vegas trip. All of which had nothing to do with alcohol, parties or hangovers. Don’t allow yourself to be deterred; Las Vegas is a unique place worth the trip.
If you’ve finished your incredible stint at summer camp, and Sin City is a brief pit stop on your whistlestop America tour before home, then you’ve got to cram in the best bits.
So here’s our handy guide on how to spend 48 hours in Las Vegas, if you’re under 21.
Day 1, 9am - The Las Vegas Sign
How can you travel all the way to Las Vegas and not have a photo in front of one of the most iconic signs in the world?
How else would people know you actually went to Las Vegas without the obligatory selfie?
9am is a great time to go, as let’s not forget; Las Vegas is in the desert. It gets extremely hot in the summer. A VERY different climate to a UK summer. This means it’s best to go in the morning when it isn’t sweltering hot, which will also save you some cab fare. It’s south of Mandalay Bay at the end of the strip, so a walk would be a little too far in the midday heat. I also tried it at night, which was an amazing experience as the atmosphere was alive. However, the photos don’t look so great as the flash clashes with the lit up sign. So unless you pay the photographer there, the photos may not turn out as the ideal Instagram portrait you hoped.
Day 1, 12pm - The Rainforest Cafe
By this time of the day, It is already very hot (around 40°c), so you’ll want to head to a cafe with great air conditioning.
Rainforest Cafe is an ‘experience cafe’, with their entire theme being a huge, immersive rainforest, which is as incredible as it sounds. Vegas in itself is a wonderfully immersive place, which at times can be a beautiful sensory journey. Here at the cafe, you’ll feel like you’re in the Amazon, where there are insane thunderstorms going off at random intervals. The food is beautiful and varied, with so much to offer for all types of guests, with the staff there being super friendly.
We were able to sit outside under the misters (a MUST) so we had a nice view of the strip.
Day 1, 2pm - Tour the hotels
So now is the time to walk off that delicious lunch.
Las Vegas is also home to some of the most grand, luxurious and downright exuberant hotels in the world. Even if you aren’t staying in a hotel, you have to at least head into the lobby and view the luxury life of a guest. The opulence as you walk through the door is like no other. You’ll also see how different each hotel is to the next. It’s not your classic Ibis or Premier Inn, it's a doorway into Egypt, New York or Italy. These are breathtaking cities within hotels. Some of the ‘must sees’ include:
- Caesar’s Palace
- New York New York
- The Cosmopolitan
- Mandalay Bay
- MGM Grand
Day 1, 6pm - Tour the Mandalay Bay Aquarium
Once you’ve completed the long trek through the hotels and take the walk along the strip, you’ll find yourself at the Mandalay Bay.
One of the things to do in Las Vegas is to explore the incredible aquarium here at the Mandalay Bay. A $25 ticket will allow you access to the Shark Reef Aquarium, the Polar Journey and the motion ride (which is a bargain of an experience, if you ask me). The Aquarium has an exciting shipwreck area, where you can be part of the ocean, with huge sharks circling around. The excitement doesn’t stop there, as you can head over to the Polar Journey and be engulfed in the immersive beauty of themed Arctic and Antarctic regions. The interactive spaces leaves you understanding more about the world through the many various activities scattered about.
Day 1, 10pm - Fremont Street (Downtown Vegas)
If you’ve ever seen anything about Las Vegas you would’ve seen the image of Fremont Street.
It is one of the most famous streets in the world, which is home to many different casinos, such as the Golden Nugget (which I was lucky enough to stay there during my Trek America Tour - the shark tank slide is a must see).
One of the first things you’ll notice (or hear) is the screaming people zooming above your head. The zipline, Slotzilla, is 114ft high and 1,400ft in length. Where else in the world can you superman fly 114ft above the street? There’s two options, a lower level which is a sit-in zip line for $25, or the upper level which is a lay-down zipline for $45 ($5 less before 6pm). You’ll never look at Fremont Street the same.
Once the adrenaline rush has calmed down, you can head down the street and explore the mass of street performers. Everywhere you look they’ll be something weird and wonderful happening. No one bats an eyelid, as though it’s normal for a 5’11 man fit into a box, or women making flowers from corn leaves. But you’re in Vegas, where normality doesn’t exist.
Fremont Street isn’t on the actual strip, but a cab ride is more than worth the experience of Fremont Street. If you’re like my friends and I, you’ll feel like Mary Kate and Ashley in ‘Getting There’ (one of their best) when they got lost and found their way in Vegas..
Day 1, 11.30pm - The Bellagio Fountains
Your final walk home after a long evening will bring about one of the most inspiring moments of your entire trip.
One of the most iconic fountain shows in the world, The Bellagio Fountains is a spectacular, artistic water display, located at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip.
From 3pm-12am, in half an hour intervals, these choreographed displays mirror an incredible soundtrack which dance high into the air. You can sit back, with a cold drink and take in the view which you have no doubt seen in countless blockbuster films. It’s almost awe inspiring and you’ll find yourself getting lost in the show.
You’ll no doubt be jostling for a position near the front, such is the fountains popularity. I’d love to see statistic for the number of profile pictures people have taken stood in front of the Bellagio; it would be well into the millions and rightly so.
Day 2, 10am - The Stratosphere
The Stratosphere is another very famous hotel/casino on the strip, of which it’s spire pierces the skyline.
It is well known due to its 1149ft tower which holds 3 very famous, yet scary, rides. Once up at the observation deck you can explore the insane attractions they have to offer. Big Shot is a vertical catapult, which shoots you 160ft high at 45 mph, so you get a stunning view of Las Vegas and an immense thrill at the same time.
Insanity is the classic claw, with a twist… it’s 65 ft off the edge of the tower (which is a harrowing image just thinking about it). X-Scream is a see-saw type ride, where the ride rolls from one end to the other, 866ft off the ground. Not your usual theme park ride, but why would you want that in Las Vegas.
If you’re like me and your stomach turns at the thought of heights, you will be very happy to know that there is a very nice cafe downstairs to chill. Sit and enjoy a hot chocolate, while your friends have the thrill of their lives.
Or, go wild and order some carrot cake, which is the size of a small child (hey, it’s Vegas and everything goes large).
Day 2, 1pm - Helicopter Ride
How boujee would you look in a helicopter in Las Vegas?
Let’s be real, who does that? Try and count how many people you know who’ve flown in a helicopter, for one, and how many did it over the Las Vegas Strip? If it’s more than 1, I want to know your friends (and their bank account details).
For a flight over the Las Vegas Strip it will cost around $60 depending on the company you fly with. If you’re boujee’er (let’s make that a word), a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon will cost around $300 - again depending on company - but imagine how magnificent that would be to see from the air? The Grand Canyon isn’t too far from Las Vegas (helicopter wise), so the trip would take around 4 hours to see Lake Mead, The Hoover Dam and The Grand Canyon.
Day 2, 6pm - Dick's Last Resort
So back home I work at a busy sports restaurant, and even though I love my job, sometimes the customer is not right, they’re just rude.
So you have to hold your tongue and do you best to calm them down. Dicks Last Resort is any waiters dream. The entire idea is that the servers say exactly what they want and treat you, well, bad to be honest. Service with a smile died long before it got to Dicks. This place is not for the easily insulted, as they give you dunce hats made from a ream of paper, with a usually explicit comment about you and your group.
Much too explicit for an example, so you’ll just have to see for yourself.
Day 2, 8pm - Dive-in movie/Show
As we went during the summer, the Cosmopolitan Hotel had an amazing offer to see a ‘dive-in’ movie. So instead of a drive-in where you bring your car, you bring your swimsuit and watch a film in the pool.
The film was projected onto a huge screen. It was one of the most unbelievable nights of my life, seeing the Vegas skyline while watching Jurassic Park. We really wanted to see a show, so we checked on Groupon to see if there was anything for cheaper, then stumbled across the dive-in movie for $5 and knew we just had to. Definitely check Groupon or other travel websites to see what’s going on around the city, because we would’ve missed out big time had we not.
Las Vegas is known for its incredible shows and array of world class talent, of which if you get the chance, are certainly worth checking out. After summer camp though, finances may be a little tight, so be aware that you'd be forking out a considerable amount for a top end show.
There it is, your things to do in Sin City (minus the sin) for us under 21’s. I honestly had the best time in Las vegas and would go back in a heartbeat even as an under 21, because it is one of the most surreal places. It is, quite simply, uncomparable to anywhere else in the world and an incredible way to end your dream summer at camp. If you check out any places on our list, let us know by tagging @Smallerearth in your photos.