Las Vegas – a magical place where you can shun all responsibilities and do whatever you want without being judged. The best part is that “whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Sounds great, right?
I was 14 years old when I made my first visit to Vegas. I was fascinated by the larger than life theme-decorated hotels, obnoxiously loud slot machines, and bright lights that never seemed to turn off. Since then, I’ve made several other visits, attended functions and weddings, met friends for quick shopping sprees, or simply came to enjoy a weekend of entertainment in the sun.
Admittedly, Las Vegas isn’t known for yoga, wellness retreats, or supporting healthy lifestyle habits. Still, it’s possible to make healthy choices while enjoying the sights and sounds of Vegas. This is Viva Las Vegas – Yogi Style:
As soon as you step into McCarran International airport (LAS), you’ll be greeted by bright lights and the sound of slot machines. Most people will stay on the Las Vegas strip which is just a long, long row of theme-decorated hotels, or in the Fremont Street area, which is the trendy, downtown part of Las Vegas. Both are very easy to get to from the airport. If you are traveling by yourself, a shuttle will be cheapest (you can purchase tickets at kiosk stands just outside of the airport, in front of the taxi area), but can take a long time as they stop at each hotel, dropping off or picking people up along the way. If there are more of you, sharing a taxi is relatively cheap and much more efficient. There is a city bus that leaves from the airport (walk to the far left when you exit the airport). It costs $2 and will take you to close to the corner of West Tropicana Avenue and S Las Vegas Boulevard (New York New York Hotel). From there, if you don’t have much luggage, it’s an easy few minutes to walk to the central hotels. If you have more than a few days, renting a car is also a nice option as you may have the opportunity to explore the greater Las Vegas area, including Hoover Dam or the western tip of the Grand Canyon. You’ll probably be walking up and down the strip taking in the sights, but if you have a specific place to be, you can purchase $8 all day bus tickets (purchase at a machine at each stop, or onboard) that will allow you to hop on and off as you wish (your feet will thank you). Another great choice is the Las Vegas Monorail. At only $20 for a 3 day pass, the monorail will take you around the Strip.
Once I’ve checked into my hotel (the Bellagio and Venetian are my personal favourites, located right in the middle of the strip), I start and end my days very similarly: indulging in a long rain-style shower, or submerging into an oversized bathtub. It’s not a difficult decision – I’m a bath girl, complete with bubbles, a refreshing beverage, and my favourite tunes. Starting my day (regardless of when I’ve arrived) like this ensures that I’ll be feeling fresh, relaxed, and full of energy (which you need a lot of in Vegas). And at the end of the day, there is nothing more heavenly than a warm foot soak. If you want proper spa care, there are higher end services available at each resort.
You’ll find a mix of styles in Las Vegas, with most people dressed casually during the day, and getting all “dolled up” in the evening and into the night that never ends. The most important part of dressing for Las Vegas during the day is to wear a comfy pair of shoes (bring an extra pair of flats, ladies), as you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Bring along an extra sweater or light jacket, as many of the hotels and exhibits have air conditioning (shows can get especially cold), which can be chilly. If you’re traveling in the fall or winter, nighttime can also get quite cool.
- Raffles Café – in Mandalay Bay, offers a full sit down breakfast menu.
- Orchid Coffee Bar – in Mandalay Bay, this is a great stop to get a fruit cup, oatmeal to go, or grab a quick coffee.
- PRESS – located in the Four Season’s Hotel lounge, this little café has freshly pressed organic juices, healthy snacks, and barista-crafted coffees. Perfect for your morning jolt.
- 3940 Coffee + Tea – if you prefer a quieter location than a hotel lobby, located in Delano Las Vegas, this comfortably furnished café offers freshly squeezed juices, specialty coffees, and serves breakfast and lunch.
- Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery – at the Venetian, has great fresh baked goods and specialty coffees, but doesn’t have a seating area. However, you can enjoy your pastries on a bench overlooking the punting pond just a few steps away.
- Sambalatte – at the Monte Carlo, is a large café with a lot of indoor and outdoor seating. It serves teas, coffees, and espressos, along with many healthy food choices.
- Dragon Noodle Co – at the Monte Carlo, where you’ll find unique sushi combinations and delicious noodle bowls that won’t break your budget.
- The Noodle Shop – in Mandalay Bay, offers giant bowls of noodles topped with your favourite Chinese style meat and/or vegetables. A very similar style restaurant, simply called Noodles, can be found in the Bellagio.
- My personal favourite: Stroll a little further to Caesars Palace, where you’ll be met with statues of the Gods. Inside this beautifully decorated resort, you’ll find Forum Shops, a four storey shopping centre. Stay for award winning Japanese restaurant Sushi Roku (4th floor) where you can have dinner with a view of the strip.
- Mix – in Mandalay Bay, a French inspired American restaurant with fabulous views of the entire strip.
- Pho – at Treasure Island, Vietnamese fare
- Shibuya – at the MGM Grand, has a full sushi menu. It opens for dinner only.
- Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill – in the MGM Grand, just one of seven of Wolfgang Puck’s Las Vegas restaurants, this American style grill serves healthy meat and vegetarian options.
- Le Creperie – in Paris, offers both savoury and sweet crepes.
- La Belle Café – in Paris, good luck selecting just one pastry to pair with your French pressed coffee.
- Trattoria Reggiano – at the Venetian, serves traditional Italian dishes
- Citizens Kitchen & Bar – at the Mandalay Bay, there is a small walk-up café attached to this restaurant that serves healthy snacks, salads, smoothies, and a fresh juice bar.
Things To Do:
- The Mandalay Bay is one of the first of the large theme-decorated hotels, closest to the airport on the Las Vegas strip (Las Vegas Boulevard). This is a beach themed resort, nestled between the Four Season’s Hotel and the Luxor. If you want a relaxing day at the “beach” or pool, this is the place.
- Moving south from Mandalay Bay is the Luxor. This Egyptian themed hotel is characterized by a large sphinx head. No matter how many times I have been there, I always stop into the Luxor for the Bodies Exhibition. Because which yogi doesn’t want to hone up on their anatomy knowledge? Although not as large as many of the other Bodies Exhibitions I’ve visited, it’s a great refresher anatomy course for yogis and non-yogis alike. If you don’t have the stomach for such cadavers, the Titanic Artifacts Exhibition is an interesting display, right next door.
- Continuing south, you can try to walk past Hershey’s Chocolate World, tucked into the corner of New York – New York, but if you find the allure is just too strong, there are many “healthier” dark chocolate options to choose from. Here, you’ll be able to personalise your own chocolate bar and find unique chocolate combinations. Across the street, you’ll find similar at M&M’s World.
- There are a lot of “free attractions” that are great when you don’t want to spend more money (or maybe you’ve lost some). Each resort has a unique offering: the Bellagio has a large outdoor fountain show (and a beautiful conservatory and botanical gardens inside), Treasure Island has a shipwreck, the Mirage has a volcano, and the Venetian has punting (although they do charge a small fee for this), amongst many others.
- At the far end of the strip, Circus Circus has Carnival Midway – a free acrobatic show that takes place above the casino each morning (beginning at 11AM).
- You’ve probably heard a lot about the shopping in Vegas. There are shops and small centers along the strip, and Fashion Show Mall is located next to Trump, across from the Wynn. The Premium Outlets (there are two locations – north and south) are also extremely popular. However, these contain a lot of large, big brand chain stores. If you’re looking for something unique or would rather support smaller, local shops, take your shopping to Fremont Street (and surrounding downtown area). Fremont Street is a full five blocks of light shows, three stages of live music, and even a zipline. You’ll find that most of the shopping on Fremont Street itself is geared towards tourists looking for gimmicky souvenirs, but if you venture off to the adjacent streets, there are plenty of local shops carrying clothes, household goods, and other things.
- For another unique shopping experience, ask for directions to Downtown Container Park, where shipping containers have been repurposed into mini-boutiques for local designers, artists, and craftspeople!
- My first skydiving experience was in Namibia, where my friends and I jumped out of a moving plane with duct-taped windows. But I know this isn’t for everyone. If you want to experience the adrenaline rush of skydiving, but can’t imagine jumping out of a moving airplane, Vegas Indoor Skydiving (200 Convention Center Drive) gives you a chance to fly in a safe environment (a giant padded windtunnel).
- There are many different types of yogis. I happen to be one of the super flexi-bendy types (that is challenged when it comes to strength and stamina). I once took an advanced yoga workshop and was surprised to find many others much more flexible than me. I watched them closely. Were these real humans? They appeared to bend and contort in ways I could only dream of, and with minimal effort. I was in awe. At the end of the workshop, the studio host stood up and said: “I’d like to thank many members of the Cirque du Soleil cast who have joined us for this workshop….” I’ve been a fan ever since. I’ve now watched so many Cirque du Soleil shows that I’ve lost track of their storylines, but there hasn’t been one that I wouldn’t recommend. Las Vegas is home for many of them:
- KA – at the MGM Grand
- Michael Jackson ONE – at the Mandalay Bay, and The Beatles LOVE, at the Mirage, are really well done shows for music lovers.
- Mystere – at Treasure Island, was the original Cirque show
- “O” – at the Bellagio, is one that you definitely shouldn’t miss. It’s a spectacular blend of diving and acrobatics, which is unique to the Cirque du Soleil roster.
- Zarkana – at ARIA
- Zumanity – at the New York – New York – for adult audiences.
- Nothing relieves stress like laughter. There are many comedy, magic, and entertainment shows in Vegas. A few that I’ve seen include:
- Penn & Teller – comedy and magic show at the Rio
- Blue Man Group – at the Monte Carlo, is a comedy and music show that is also great for children.
- For those who are on a budget but would like to see a water show, La Reve, plays at the Wynn and although not a Cirque du Soleil, is a really great alternative.
- There is a LuLu Lemon store inside Fashion Show Mall (beside Trump and across from the Wynn) that can help you to locate studios and also offers free classes (usually Sundays, except on holidays).
- Most of the resorts have a gym/fitness center that is accessible for free if you are staying there. However, many also offer day passes if you want to use their facilities without staying at the resort. Check out various options – some have specialty facilities. The Venetian and Bellagio both offer day passes that includes yoga and fitness classes. The Mandalay Bay offers a cardio studio for their guests, however, access to their full fitness center is an additional fee.
- If you’re prepared to venture off the strip, there are several yoga studios close by. Although I haven’t attended these studios myself, these two have been highly recommended to me several times: Blue Sky Yoga (107 E Charleston Blvd #145) and Sin City Yoga (515 Rose St). Both offer a wide range of classes.
- During the winter holiday season, you can skate on a small ice rink over the Caesars Palace fountain, or outside The Cosmopolitan. These are only set up until early January.
Places to Chill:
It can be really difficult to find places to just sit and relax (ie. rest your feet). Most resorts don’t have seating except in the lobby, bars, and restaurants, and you won’t find many benches in the shopping areas.
- West Wing Bar – inside MGM Grand, has super comfy seating with tables if you need a space to stop, kick up your feet, or even do some work during the day (when the bar is closed).
This is obviously not a comprehensive list of healthy options in Las Vegas. If I haven’t attended or experienced the activity/show, or eaten at the restaurant myself, it was not included on this list as I’m unable to offer a genuine recommendation. You also won’t find typical Las Vegas activities such as bars, sports bars, pubs, nightlife, or the best casinos, etc on this list, since it is specific to healthy choices. However, if you would like recommendations specific to these, or would like to offer your own healthy options in Vegas, please contact me or leave a comment below.