What’s the best American city in which to combine a weekend of partying and sports?
It’s gotta be Vegas, baby.
Party City USA
If I asked you to name the top four party towns in America, most lists include Miami and New Orleans. Some may include the huge metropoli (New York, LA, Chicago) thanks to the nightlife. Some may include places known for live music and decadence like Nashville, Austin, or Key West. But EVERY list would include Las Vegas, a rare town that appeals to revelers of all ages.
Every celebrity chef has an outpost here. There are famous pizzerias from new York, from Chicago, and some fantastic local options downtown (Evel Pie and Pizza Rock). There are day clubs and night clubs for the young and beautiful, and dive bars and casino lounges for the older and not-so-beautiful. There’s a pretty strong craft beer scene, mainly concentrated in the Arts District. You can bungee 829 feet off a hotel roof, ride a roller coaster through New York, “soar” over Iceland, or zipline Superman-style through the world’s biggest slot machine. There are museums dedicated to mob history, atomic testing, pinball, the macabre, and old Vegas neon signage.
You could spend days (and $$$) popping in and out of the resort casinos along the Strip taking in exhibits dedicated to the Titanic, Hunger Games, Marvel, the human body, sharks, and wax celebrities. See some of the best comedians, some of the best musicians, some of the best circus performers, some of the best magicians, and some of the best strippers. And for “free”, there’s the Bellagio fountains, the Mirage volcano (at least until 2024), the jugglers and aerialists at Circus Circus, the mermaids at the Silverton, the Fremont Street experience, and the contact high you get from all the weed smokers who can’t light up in their hotel suites and choose to do so on the Strip.
There’s also the sports.
For most, it’s likely a Raiders game. Allegiant Stadium is among the top venues in the NFL and worthy of a visit. Soon, it may be for a Las Vegas Athletics Major League Baseball game. Or it may not even be live sports but a day in a great sports book watching anything on which you have money.
Born in Canada, I’ll always have a special place for hockey. And as any hockey fan will tell you, watching the game live is significantly better than watching on TV. Catching a Vegas Golden Knights game at T-Mobile is a must for any puckhead. I rate it as my top NHL Arena.
Vegas’ usually mild winter climate allows for more gathering and mulling outside the venue with a drink (legally) in hand. And the sensory overload of the Strip doesn’t stop as you approach the Arena. The art and horticulture at “The Park” (the outdoor area between the arena, New York New York and Park MGM) adds some visual pleasure. There is a DJ or live band blasting tunes for the fans pre-game. And the arena itself is aglow with huge videoboards, and lots of bright magenta.
The sensory blast doesn’t stop when you’re inside. The Vegas Belles, a team of gorgeous women dressed in traditional showgirl attire, stand by the opposing team’s glass during the warm-up shoot around, distracting them with their skimpy outfits and perfect figures. The pre-game hype show is absolutely bananas with crazy projections, live action, smoke, props, and a drum line. And the in-game vibe is a lot more intense than you’d think for a brand new team in a non-hockey market.
My birthday present to myself these past two years has been a hockey game in the dessert. If you’re a hockey fan, this has to be on your short-term bucket list.