By: Max Plenke
Everything about Las Vegas screams, "I WANT TO MAKE MISTAKES." Casinos. Strippers. Buffets. Free booze (if you're gambling, of course). Topless pools. Insane clubs. These are the best kinds of mistakes.
Your group doesn't need to be the Rat Pack or the wolf pack from The Hangover to send your friend off into wedded oblivion. You're heading to the mecca of indulgence, a place that's as much a state of mind as it is a city.
This is Sin City. This is what a bachelor party is supposed to be.
It's time to find out how to do a Las Vegas bachelor party right.
Credit: Olympic Gardens
Holiday weekends are obviously the busiest times in Vegas -- people in Middle America sure do love escapism. That goes doubly for New Year's.
The slow season, in contrast to almost everywhere else in the country, is Summer, and that's solely based on the average person's ability to handle soul-melting heat. The dead of summer daylight hours stick between 100 and 110 degrees. We're talking hot enough to melt the plastic Starbucks cup in your cup holder. To walk around the pool barefoot is to know how your steak felt before it got to your plate. So, unless you're coming for Labor Day Weekend or Memorial Day Weekend, the jackpot of pool parties hosted by the biggest DJs of right now, we say skip it.
Instead, hit Vegas in the winter. High temps here are still prime for swimming (70-degree January afternoons are commonplace), and you can actually walk down the Strip without the hot stink of sewage making your eyes water.
Credit: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
...if you're spending money like the groom is on death row: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
This place is so swanky, its lobby won a top-tier design award. Not only does it have one of the biggest and best nightclubs in the country (Marquee), but almost every one of the restaurants has some internationally renowned chef behind it. Pro tip: Rent a Northeast corner suite on a double-digit floor. They face both the Strip and the Bellagio fountain you've seen in almost every movie set in Las Vegas. You've paid for the right to quote Ocean's 11.
...if you want to have some money in your bank account: Downtown
The earliest entrepreneurs of Las Vegas opened their (mostly mob-run) hotels and casinos in the downtown area, on Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. Since they're older, downtown hotels won't run such a high tab. But in efforts to compete with the new kids on the Strip, they've renovated and added bars and clubs. We recommend Downtown Grand, The D, and Golden Nugget, which, of course, has a water slide running through a live shark tank.
...if you aren't a bad best man for taking the good deal: Midweek reservations
The advantage to hosting your party in Las Vegas is that most hotel/casinos are so huge they usually don't book solid. If you pay close enough attention to the deals, it isn't unheard of to get a big suite at off-Strip places like Rio or the Hard Rock Hotel, especially midweek.
...if you want to live like a billionaire while you stay: Renting Strip condos
Palms Place is known for absurdly cool rental rooms (the Hardwood Suite has a basketball court inside it). Like the major destination cities, Las Vegas is full of crazy homes of constantly traveling celebrities or quiet billionaires. Case in point: There's a three-bedroom actually called the "Celebrity Billionaires SkyVilla".
That probably tells you enough about it.
...and want to shoot things: Pro Gun Club
Pro Gun Club is out in the middle of the desert -- not quite where card cheats used to disappear -- but you're going to need a ride. The reason it's worth it over the nearby spots: Grenade launchers ($60), vehicles you can buy specifically to blow up, and an M2HB .50-cal heavy machine gun ($200) built to take out, among other things, low-flying aircraft.
...and want to get out on the water: Lake Mead
The 247-square-mile Lake Mead has enough marina and boating shove-off points to make the trip worth it. Plus, it isn't too far from the Pro Gun Club. Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours offers really cheap canoe and kayak rentals ($25-$30 all day in most cases). But you won't be hard-pressed to find motor boats to rent at any of the marinas. Some even offer house boats for $500-$1,000 a day (try Callville Bay Resort). This should be at the top of your to-do list.
...and can't swim: Red Rock Canyon
This is the sole reason why Las Vegas has REI stores. Thirty minutes West of the Strip, everywhere you look is a trail or a well-worn rock face still covered in chalk or mountain peaks the color of your sunburn. And the options run the gamut, from casual-Sunday-afternoon stroll to Bear-Grylls dropped-in-the-wilderness trek. Look up the very specific directions for finding Ice Box Canyon, a hidden local favorite with ice-cold pools fed by thawing snowcaps (springtime is your best bet here, obviously).
...and came to Vegas for one reason: Gambling
Seriously, throw a rock. You're bound to hit something with an ace of spades in or around it.
...and brought your bathing suit: Pool parties
The beauty of any major casino hotel: Its weekend pool turns into a daytime club and looks like something out of an early 2000s Hype Williams video. Waitresses offering anything from beers to bottle service will actually hand you a drink while you're in the pool, and tireless DJs spin pounding house music (usually) until sundown. The best bets are Wet Republic (MGM Grand), Marquee Day Club (Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas) and Rehab (The Hard Rock Hotel).
...and brought a good pair of shoes: Walk the Strip
Anyone who can make it from North to South Las Vegas Boulevard while continuously drinking deserves a medal. You can walk with an open container -- Beer! Liquor! A literal meter of booze in slushy form! -- anywhere on the Strip.
...and love yard games: Gold Spike
It's on the Northernmost part of Las Vegas Boulevard, just North of the burgeoning Fremont Street. And the hotel's backyard goes beyond the basic games: There's bags (cornhole, for the Midwesterners), giant beer pong, and a friggin' ice rink made with synthetic ice so you can skate during 110-degree days.
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