Vegas off the strip

Las Vegas to me is adult Disneyland. There are colourful characters, bright colours and lights, games, and rides. If you aren’t into gambling however, venture off the strip to more interesting places for different physical activities, learning opportunities, life experiences, and culinary treats.

Most recently, I started my “Vegas” off-the-strip experience with a trip to Red Rock Canyon. Hiking around the park or rock climbing up magnificent red sandstone walls is best first thing in the morning or else the heat bakes you onto the landscape.

My off-strip physical activities continued with a vertical yoga class at Shine Alternative Fitness. Bright neon green loops of silk hung from the ceiling and I found myself stretching, flying, soaring, inverting and then gently cocooning in a womb of fabric. Next door to me a speciality pole class was underway with Cirque de Soleil type athletics (…next time).

My appetite was whetted by the great alternative yoga experience, so I was off to a yin yoga class at a different studio. (I can’t recommend them because of mandatory tipping signs everywhere, but the class was good). Yin yoga focuses on circulation and flexibility, holding poses for three to five minutes. The room was warm and dark, and by the end of the class the pains and tensions I’d accumulated during the day were gone.

Moving on to more cerebral activities, the MOB museum is a great way to spend a couple of hours. Learn about the mob and law enforcement in Vegas, get your photo in a police line up, watch clips from the Godfather, and get sworn into La Cosa Nostra.

The Neon Bone-yard and Museum is also a surprisingly educational experience. I’d recommend pre-booking especially for the sunset tours. Though I went expecting more of the neon to be lit up, a surprising number of restored pieces have been returned to public areas. I still very much enjoyed the tour, which was very historically informative, and was happy to hear that some of my favourite pieces were designed by a woman.

Switching gears to life experiences, a visit to the Gun Store or one of the other gun ranges is a mildly ridiculous, but highly enjoyable opportunity to shoot down zombies or other baddies with any number of hand guns, shot guns, and/or machine guns.

Fremont Street is other amazing sensory experience. I didn’t zip-line down the street but instead enjoyed walking and craning my neck up to the block long canopy video screen projecting stunning images and music.

Lesser know options include a tour through Zappos for those that love the online retailer or get fuelled by entrepreneurial spirit. They’ve taken over the old city hall and Tony Hsieh has also bought $250million in real estate in the immediate area and is further reinvesting millions to encourage arts, culture, and innovation. Get inspired by “The Downtown Experience” tour, that even goes through Tony’s apartment, and perhaps you’ll meet the Superman of tours, Caleb, or Heidi the Pixie of Positivity.

Thanks to Caleb, I can also pad this piece, and my hips, with a few culinary treats in the area as well. Ridiculously good (read decadent and cream filled) doughnuts often sell out if you wait too late in the day to get them at O Face Doughnuts.

Then you can stroll over to Container Park, where a huge praying mantis welcomes you at dusk with sparks if you get in on the drumming at its base, for more stellar eats and treats. Pinche Taco saves you from “fake-xican” food with their authentic Mexican fish tacos. Big Ern’s BBQ has been getting rave reviews, and I would absolutely endorse the pulled pork with extra “espicy” dipping sauce.

If you get hungry while at the MOB Museum, check out Pizza Rock less than a block away for a large take-out slice of purple potato and pancetta pizza, allowing you to keep exploring the area.

At the other end of town, if you find yourself on Paradise Road, Capriotti’s is an Excellent sandwich shop. I suggest the “Slaw Be Jo,” with roast beef, provolone, Russian dressing and cole slaw.

While you can find eats and enjoyment on the strip (including Lobster Me at the Venetian), this last trip showed me an incredible diversity of tastes and experiences for locals and tourists alike off the beaten path as well. Just like Disneyland, there is always something new to do in Vegas.

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