So You're Spending Your Birthday in Vegas?

I recently went to Las Vegas to celebrate my birthday and discovered some new aspects of the infamous party capital when visiting for my own amusement. I had been before for other reasons, but this was my weekend to celebrate. Based on my experience, if you’re spending your birthday in Vegas, here are some tips.

PLAN AHEAD

Hotel rooms are important based on exactly what you want. I wanted a fantastic pool, casino, and comfortable room so I chose the MGM Grand. The earlier you make reservations, the cheaper it’ll be. Luckily, if you’re celebrating your birthday, you can ask for an upgrade when checking in for a very small fee for a suite. It never hurts to ask, and usually the staff will be happy to for a birthday.

It’s no secret that Vegas can be expensive, especially when you need something quickly like water or Aspirin. I went to see Cirque de Solei’s KA at the MGM Grand and was forced to buy a Fiji water bottle for $15 since they literally didn’t offer any other options. Drinks are also painfully expensive at the major bars and clubs, so if you’re wanting to heavily drink, instead of waking up to maxed credit cards, go to a liquor store and pre-game like any college student. Please don’t forget to drink water! I’ve made that mistake before and had horrible hangovers way too early that can ruin a weekend.

No doubt you can go the cheaper route and still have a good time in Vegas. I went the more expensive route due to celebrating my birthday, but even if you’re having a Vegas weekend road trip, you can cram all your friends in one room at the Excalibur for less than $50 a night each and eat nothing but Subway. However, don’t forget that you typically get what you pay for. You can find a street promoter on the strip (they are everywhere) that offers the “Vegas experience” of a limo ride to different bars, clubs, and strip clubs with a flat fee. There are plenty of options to enjoy Vegas, but it can depend based on your budget.

THE STRIP

            The first thing I did after checking into the hotel, was buy the stereotypical hard slushy necklace with a long straw to sip as my friends and I walked the strip. These can be found in most buildings and on the street connected to various restaurants, but they can be really strong without the taste of alcohol. If it’s you’re first time in Vegas, I would highly recommend walking the Strip and see all the places you’ve seen in movies, television, and social media. You barely have to walk on the actual street since all the major buildings are mostly connected by walkways and malls. Remember, there are all kinds of people in Vegas and you will witness people that you’d probably never seen before or even believed existed, but Vegas is a haven where nothing is surprising. You might be flashed, yelled at, touched, blatantly offered drugs, or even hissed at because it has all been done before.

FIND THE FUN

            Vegas has so much to offer yet so many people go to the typical clubs or bars to get blindly drunk and then sick shortly after because “what happens in Vegas” right? What happens in Vegas does not always stay in Vegas based on the complaining sorority girls on the bus to the airport home who were complaining about their drunken mistakes such as nose piercing and tattoos. I would recommend going to a few memorable places that can make your experience more worthwhile rather than a drunken haze of mistakes.

After witnessing the infamous strip of Las Vegas, my friends and I had made plans to eat arguably the best sushi in Vegas. A hole-in-the-wall restaurant 15 minutes off the Strip lays The Naked Fish’s where the sushi will blow your mind. You can’t be picky, only open to whatever they bring you and I swear it’ll be delicious.

For late night, after drinking/clubbing food, I’d recommend the unmarked little pizza place in the Cosmopolitan literally called Secret Pizza. If you find a small hallway next to the Marquee Nightclub entrance with a line of people, you’ve found great pizza. You can find reviews and specific directions to Secret Pizza online here.

            “I made it over 40 seconds this time, but damn my wrist hurts!” said Sean Beal, 24, who joined me in riding a mechanical bull for the first time. He had done it before in Vegas, but this time he was determined to beat his record. Ever gone mechanical bull riding? PBR on the Strip offers $5 (sometimes free) bull riding inside the bar. It is enjoyable to do and even more hilarious to watch. Beal had tried so hard to hold on that he sprained his wrist, so this activity can get dangerously fun pretty quickly. 

Gambling is a given when going to Vegas and I personally hate betting my money away when I am not 100 percent sure that I will win. I was given cash as a birthday present specifically for gambling and I lost all of it pretty quickly playing blackjack in an anxious mess. One game however, I truly enjoyed betting money on was what we called The Ponies (or Sigma Derby). The MGM Grand Casino is the only casino on the Strip that has the low-tech animatronic horses that move along a track that you can bet on. The machine gives the ratios of which have the best chances of winning and the bets are all done with 1 bet per quarter. With a large group of people, free drinks as long as you’re gambling, and screaming at tiny jockeys going around a track on an outdated machine is somehow incredibly fun. The Las Vegas Review Journal did a fantastic article on how wonderful this game is.

DAY PARTIES

            The big event planned, other than Cirque de Solei, while in Vegas was to see Steve Aoki at Wet Republic. Wet Republic is this enormous pool party at the MGM Grand that hosts big name DJs and events. A few tips about Wet Republic you should know before attending:

1) If you plan to buy tickets, buy weeks in advanced. The price of tickets double the closer you get to the event date. You can risk getting free tickets at the entrance from promoters, but this is only when they aren’t sold out.

2) Lockers are $50. Don’t bring anything valuable because everyone leaves their things in the bushes and under chairs due to this insane price.

3) Drinks are $40 each. The mixed drinks are highly priced, but they come in a cup you can bring into the pool and are incredibly strong. Split one among friends and it’s not too bad.

4) Sunscreen! My friends got burned pretty bad due to not having enough sunscreen so make sure to apply before and reapply during since you can bring a travel size into the venue.

5) Drink more water. I made the horrible mistake of drinking more of those delicious mixed drink sippy cups than I did water while partying to Steve Aoki and paid for it later.

I experienced waking up after a haze in my hotel room with all the stereotypical questions people ask in the movies in such scenes. Due to my early hangover, I was unable to go out that night because I couldn’t drink anything without throwing it back up again. Not drinking water can ruin a weekend of fun, luckily this was the last night there for me, but I can image the frustration of this happening on night #1.

My brother Peter, 24, was the person who decided in the group that I should not go out that night because he said “you literally just blinked one eye after the other. You’re not going to a club in this obviously sick condition. What you need is more water and sleep.” It’s important to have a group that can properly look after you when either you’re too inebriated or sick.

NIGHT PARTIES

            “I’m not much of a fan of the big clubs like Hakkasan unless you have a table and a big-name DJ. They can be so overwhelming they lose their fun,” said Matt Norris, 26, who was the main nightclub planner of the trip since he had frequented Vegas the most from the group. Most popular clubs have a cover fee, a long line, and suffocating dance floors. I celebrated with my brother and his boyfriend who preferred the less-suffocating gay clubs of Vegas that were much more eventful in my opinion. I find it flattering to be hit on by both genders, but Vegas is also full of drunks and druggies who don’t understand a word you say. A random guy at a club just grabbed my face and started kissing me until I literally ran away due to the surprise and was later forced to hold his head for full attention and repeatedly say no until he vaguely understood. Then I let him go stumble off to dance with some other people uncomfortably. This is not uncommon in Vegas because many of these people think you’re as messed up as they are.

            Just Google popular events in Las Vegas and the weekend you’re visiting to find great activities from popular DJ appearances, to concerts, to just open parties at different clubs. There is always something going on somewhere in Vegas, so it’s pretty difficult to get bored or have trouble finding something to do. When in doubt, either Google or just start walking down the strip and you’re bound to find something. Have fun, be careful, and make your Vegas experience as incredible as it can be!