In Defense of Las Vegas and Other Maligned Destinations
If you’re like me, you probably have preconceived ideas about certain destinations. Whether it’s books, movies, magazines or blogs, every time we think of these places, certain scenes, sounds, smells and images appear in our heads, even if you’ve never been there.
It’s a natural human trait.
We use existing information to form an opinion and fill our blind spots.
If you asked me what Beijing looks like, I would say it was polluted, crowded and chaotic. I imagine not being able to see the building in front of me, the streets crowded with people, the chaotic markets (give me all this food, however!), The insane traffic and many people who cycle.
But I have never been to Beijing, so I really have no idea. This is just the picture I have in mind when I read and heard about the city over the years.
Last month, I asked on Twitter which popular places people would not visit and why. Vegas has come a lot. The same goes for Disney parks, Paris, Mexico and India.
In the same way that I have a preconceived image of Beijing, people had preconceived images of these places.
But what surprised me the most was not the destinations but the way their reasons were based on sensational titles and cultural stereotypes.
These stereotypes defined these destinations so much that people didn’t even want to see if they were right or wrong (they are mostly wrong).
People didn’t want to go to Vegas because they thought it was all the casinos and the Strip, Mexico or India because of security concerns, or Paris because of the crowds and “rude French people” .
It is true that the Vegas Strip is a shit of people who play, get drunk and are rude and / or just plain strange. Everything is wrong, expensive and designed to make you spend money at the casino and in overpriced restaurants.
But playing isn’t the only thing there, even on the Strip. There are more in this city of more than two million inhabitants. For example, here is an example of what you can do without involving casinos, drinking or spending a lot of money:
- The Mob museum – This is an impressive showcase of Sin City’s turbulent past and its connection to the mafia.
- The neon museum – This eclectic outdoor cemetery for hundreds of the city’s famous neon signs from the old casinos is truly an incredible experience. Ideally, bypass the sunset.
- Fremont street – It’s Old Las Vegas. Yes, it has historic casinos, but also buskers, street performers, outdoor concerts and tons of interesting people to watch! A canopy of four blocks covers a large part of the street, on which there are also regular light shows. You can also take a zipline on the street itself.
- Red rock canyon – Take a break from the city for some hiking and biking trails just 30 minutes from the city.
- Hoover Dam and Lake Mead – Less than an hour east of Vegas is the Hoover Dam, a huge engineering feat spanning more than 1,200 feet and 700 feet tall. Lake Mead, a byproduct of the dam, is ideal for swimming, kayaking and other water activities. You can also take a guided tour of the dam itself (for $ 30 USD).
- National Museum of Atomic Tests – Affiliated with the Smithsonian Museum, this exhibition in the north of the city documents the history of nuclear tests in Nevada (more than 900 nuclear bombs exploded in the state). There is also a separate exhibit for Area 51 (the truth is there!).
- The arts district – This area is full of galleries, thrift stores and vintage stores, theaters and music venues and is the cultural heart of the city.
- The haunted museum – This paranormal museum is full of supposedly cursed objects, such as haunted dolls and accessories belonging to serial killers. There are 30 rooms full of all kinds of quirks, and the house itself would also be haunted.
You can take a whole trip without ever walking on The Strip or in a casino.
However, for many, it is as if “Vegas = game = The Strip” and nothing else exists. The image of Las Vegas portrayed in the media is that of bacchanal debauchery. That’s all we see.
I thought the same way.
Before my first visit to Las Vegas, I thought everything was gone, party, party. But the more I left the Strip, the more I saw a vibrant city with much more to offer than games and drinks. I realized that the stereotypes of Vegas were wrong.
Likewise, although there are serious problems in Mexico, it is unlikely that you will be kidnapped or robbed during your trip to Cancún – most of the dangers in Mexico are drug related. And, as I said before, Paris is not a tourist destination with rude people. The French are not more or less rude than anyone in the world. But if you only deal with those in the tourism industry who handle a large number of tourists, your image will be that of “coarse French”. Because they’re probably fed up with people asking the same questions over and over again. But you can find this all over the world in tourist areas. It is not limited to Paris.
Everyone has their own list of destinations they don’t want to go to. I don’t really want to see Saudi Arabia, and I developed asthma problems that pushed China and India to the bottom of my “must see” list due to their pollution (but they are still on my list).
But before canceling a destination, think about the reason.
If you feel like writing it because you think it is some foundation of our cultural stereotype of a place, reconsider it.
Look for a destination before classifying it based on what the media says (or part of it).
Destinations are always more than their cultural images. It’s the starting point. To take off the layers and really discover what makes a place vibrate. Look beyond traditional perception.
Because it is sometimes the places we least expect from this end that often become the most memorable.
P.S. – We launched a new Patreon where you can get stories and tips that I don’t share on this blog, a private Facebook group, phone calls with me and the team, live Q&A, postcards out of the way, signed copies of my books, and much more! Click here to find out more and register today!
Book your trip to Las Vegas: logistics tips and tricks
Book your flight
Find a cheap flight using Skyscanner or Momondo. These are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the world, so you always know that no stone is left behind.
Book your accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com, as they always offer the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
Don’t forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft and cancellations. It is complete protection in the event of a problem. I never go on a trip without it because I have had to use it several times in the past. I have been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that provide the best service and value are:
Are you looking for the best companies to save money?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when traveling! I’m listing all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think it will help you too!