5 Day Trips that Will Make You Love Las Vegas for Different Reasons

Las Vegas is a lot of things. It’s a desert town rooted in the tourism industry. It’s a mecca for foodies; a hotbed of night clubs; a gamblers go-to. But, it’s also a place to use as a launchpad for checking out what’s outside of the mega resorts, hip Downtown and ‘burbs, so Expedia.com asked me to share my insiders tips.

In fact, Las Vegas boasts some incredible spots that aren’t far from vacationers’ hotels, but an entire world apart from what people know and expect of time spent in Sin City. To get you ready for your unique Las Vegas vacation, check out the many hotel options at Expedia.com.

Where to head on a free day in Las Vegas?

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A reflection of life two years at home after traveling and living abroad.

Two Years of Home

A reflection of life two years at home after traveling and living abroad.

December 15, 2015.

I remind myself regularly of this date. When I’m up at night, my brain whirrs as I count the days, weeks, months and now years since I turned my back on expat life.

It seems like no time has passed at all, and yet all the time in the world has passed.

December 15, 2015.

It hovers over me at times, gently bringing back memories.

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Seven Years After Solo Travel

An account of what happens seven years after solo travel. The good, the bad and the truth.

“I hope you find what you’re looking for,” the ticket agent said to me before we hung up the phone on that winter night in Atlanta in 2010.

Pure joy shot through my veins after we disconnected. Sitting in my apartment in the 100-year-old house, listening to the cars pass my house on their way home from work in the bustling city, there was more excitement pumping through me than I’ve ever felt before.

I’m going to travel the world. Solo. 

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What's it like to re-enter after living as an expat? An honest look at returning to life as a recovering expat.

True Story: I’m a Recovering Expat

What's it like to re-enter after living as an expat? An honest look at returning to life as a recovering expat.Editor’s Note: This should have been published on Dec. 15, 2016. I was hella sick so never published it on the actual one-year anniversary of surrendering my status as an expatriate. Better late than never, right?

Hi. My name is Diana. I used to be an expat. For almost four years, it was how I defined myself. I was an expat. Living in Chiang Mai. Living in London. Living in Madrid.

I was a writer. An animal rights activist. A digital nomad. But, most importantly, I was an expat. It was all-encompassing.

It was the one word which I felt the most closely connected to. The word which summed up my story in a pretty little package.

Expat.

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Street art in Downtown Las Vegas, a part of Life is Beautiful, but can be viewed year-round.

Street Art in Downtown Las Vegas

Street art in Downtown Las Vegas, a part of Life is Beautiful, but can be viewed year-round.

Las Vegas isn’t a city known for street art. In fact, I’m confident that most people would never even put the two together.

That’s changing.

Thanks to Life is Beautiful, a three-day festival that takes over Downtown Las Vegas, the city is upping its street art cred.

This year’s LIB runs from Sept. 23 – 25 and blends music, art, food and inspiration to create a massive festival that brings incredible acts and garners national attention.

Sure, I love the music. But, what I really love is street art, and the street art in Las Vegas for Life is Beautiful makes me all kinds of giddy.

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It’s a Beautiful Life

Do you fear re-entry? Are you running? A look at how life is different when you're happy.
It’s a mild evening in Las Vegas. Hot, by winter standards if you don’t have desert (or jungle) blood.

The sun has already begun its descent behind the rugged, snow-covered peak of Mt. Charleston to the west of the city. The mountains on the east, the ones covered in trees, are a deep purple. Sunrise Mountain, the naked, red, jagged mound to the northeast of The Stratosphere, glows a dusky pink.

It’s a serene setting, despite the fact I am sitting in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. A beautiful life outside my windows.

It’s home.

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This Roller Coaster

This roller coaster: comparing life to the popular amusement park ride.I stand over my sheet cake from the grocery store. Clad in an oversized sweatshirt with puffy paint splattered on it in pastel colors, I move my gel-soaked (à la 80s one-hit-wonder Samantha Fox), crunchy spiral-permed hair out of my face and readjust my roller skate clad feet to maintain my balance.

Next year, I will be in the double digits, I think to myself.

At nine-years-old, I was already ready to become a grown-up. To own those double-digit numbers like the champ I knew I was.

But, at that young age, at Wheel-A-While with my elementary school friends, that grown-up life seemed a lifetime away.

I’d look at my parents, in their 30s, and think to myself: I’ll never get to that age. It’s SO. FAR. AWAY.

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What is Home?

What is home to you?Home, by definition, is the “place where one lives.”

As a former corporate-world-woman, long-term traveler, and now a serial expat, home has been many places and continues to morph into new and different places where I wake up.

It was where I grew up, with my family, in the middle-class suburbs of Washington, DC. It was where I spent three semesters trying to fit in and find myself in Bowling Green, Ohio. It was three years in Towson where I finished my degree and then didn’t leave because I was in an emotionally abusive — and addictive — relationship. It was Las Vegas, where I spent the bulk of my mid- and late-20s. Then, it was Atlanta, where I attempted to have a more normal (and less glitzy) existence for a year.

After that, is was the road. Hostels, hotels, trains, airports, were my home as I navigated the world doing some solo female travel. When I returned to the States, home was again (albeit briefly) with my parents, and then back to Vegas.

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Escape of the Week: Downtown Las Vegas

Downtown Las Vegas has always held a special place in my heart.

I remember the first time I ever went to Vegas, fresh off of my ninth grade year in high school. My father drove us down past Fremont Street and the glittering lights and seeing Vegas Vic welcoming visitors to town with an arm raised. Instantly, I was mesmerized.

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

Then, when I moved to Vegas in 2005, and learn more about the history, particularly of the mob and the town’s earlier days, I became fascinated imagining what my experience in the southwestern town would have been 40 years earlier.

In the years I lived in Vegas, I watched the downtown area be reborn. I watched as the Arts District 18b laid its roots, as local hot spots were born, as the city cleaned up its act and began to embrace the area for what it could be — a burgeoning place for businesses, locals and tourists to all share space.

With Zappos moving in to the old City Hall this month, and my stop there, I noticed a huge change from my last visit: Downtown Las Vegas is alive and oh-so vibrant.

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

There is something so old-school about heading to Fremont Street and seeing the glittering lights beckoning people into the casinos … the ringing of the slots as the machines “dispense” coins.

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

The in-your-face marketing of one of Vegas’ biggest sells: getting wasted …

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

And the neighborhood charm of Fremont East and all of its groovy bars and restaurants (you can read about some of my recommendations here) which have popped up in the past decade.

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

In fact, some of my best memories of my life in Vegas center around Downtown and the amazing and beautiful memories created there.

A look at Downtown Las Vegas

Getting there:

From the infamous Las Vegas Strip, simply hop in a cab or bus and head north on Las Vegas Blvd. to downtown. It is a straight shot. If you want to avoid the congestion of The Strip, hop onto I-15 North and exit at either Charleston Blvd. (to check out the awesome arts scene), or take 95 towards downtown and exit at Casino Center. My favorite spots are Fremont East, which is home to Beauty Bar, The Griffin, La Comida, Park on Fremont and other hopping bars and restaurants. Don’t miss Gold Spike. A former casino, today it’s got a sweet bar and fabulous outdoor patio with corn hole and more. To experience Old Vegas, check out the Fremont Street Experience and the casinos there.

What’s your best Vegas experience?

 

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