New York, New York, VegasI’d meant to write a “how to do Vegas” post after my recent trip there. I believe I have some insight. You see, I don’t gamble, I don’t like to shop for clothes. As for the restaurants and the spas? Well, believe me Vegas has nothing on San Francisco and Sonoma. So what is there left to do? And why on earth would I go there? Well, I never exactly PLAN to go to Vegas, but somehow or other I tend to find myself here nearly every year.

And there is one experience you can only really have in Vegas. It all comes down to one activity: walk The Strip. Preferably from one end to the other — or at least from Mandalay Bay or The MGM Grand to the Venetian. It’s a bit more than a mile as the crow flies, but I logged nearly four miles on my pedometer doing it. That, my friends, is because, in Vegas, the House always wins. So no matter how much you want to walk outside and avoid the casinos and the shopping, you can’t. Somehow, Las Vegas has been engineered so that there is no possible way to walk more than half a block without being forced into one of the major hotels.

walkways over the Vegas Strip

Again and again, you will reach points where you have to leave the sidewalk and walk over a glass bridge.

escalator to Caesar's Palace, Vegas

Inevitably, you will be forced into an escalatored tunnel that will channel you right into...you guessed it!...the casino.

But keep battling your way back out onto the sidewalk. Because that’s where the best floor show is. And it’s free! First of all, on the streets of The Strip is where worlds collide.

tom ford shop, las vegas

On one side of the street, it's all glamour, glitz and modernist architecture.

tattoo parlor, las vegas

On the other side: tattoo parlors, strip clubs and cheap bars.

Here’s the best part: the glamour and the sleaze are evenly mixed and on both sides of the street. So you’ll have an equal opportunity, within the space of half a block, to walk in the world of the high roller or a CSI: Crime Scene Investigation type perp. No matter which universe you are in at the moment, the scene is equally surreal.

Caesar hails Celine Dionne

Where else can you see Caesar hailing a higher authority?

Barney gets busted!

Or catch the take-down as Barney gets busted.

I’ve never exactly been able to put my finger on what is so fascinating about Vegas. It’s kind of like this: imagine the top tourist spots of the world (say Paris, Rome, Venice), then imagine everything heightened and not necessarily for the better. The colors are too bright, the proportions are just a bit off, the lighting is too intense and it’s all completely surreal.

trevi fountain, las vegas

So you can sit on the edge of the Trevi Fountain. Except it's made of something too shiny to be marble, the sky above is painted in day-glo colors and the horses look like monsters.

dragon at Bellagio

Displays for Chinese New Year don't just feature traditional dragons. They are animatronic dragons that breathe smoke and roar!

Chihuily sparkle horse

Even the work of a legitimate artist -- like this Chihuily ceiling -- has to be tarted up with a pseudo Tang Dynasty horse apparently made out of old disco balls.

I’m tempted to say there’s no place like Las Vegas. No place where things are too brightly colored, oddly out of proportion and just plain surreal. But I know I’ve seen it all somewhere else.

Alice in Wonderland

Las Vegas is a live-action Alice in Wonderland as imagined by Tim Burton!

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