Sober Visiting and Personalized License Plates


I’m visiting Las Vegas for the first time and don’t drink or gamble. Where should I go?

Utah! This query recently arrived via Twitter, and while I couldn’t resist sending that flippant response—after all, would someone who dislikes kids and crowds visit Disneyland?—I quickly realized that it was also narrow-minded and trapped in a Las Vegas of perhaps 30 years ago. These days, there are in fact a number of reasons why someone who doesn’t do booze or blackjack would vacation here; in recent years Las Vegas has significantly broadened its traveler appeal beyond the sinful staples.

So, what should a teetotaler with a disdain for dice do in Las Vegas? Sorry to sound anticlimactic, but pretty much the same things tourists do in other cities: eat, shop and indulge in local culture. To satisfy the first component, our fine dining restaurants are all top notch, but I’d recommend the Peppermill for a particularly “Vegas” experience. And when it comes to shopping, you can’t go wrong with the Forum Shops at Caesars, while Downtown Container Park has a cool homegrown scene.

As for local culture, I suggest jaunts to the Springs Preserve, the Neon Museum, the Mob Museum and Red Rock Canyon. If you’re into the arts, consider a trip to the Arts Factory, its surrounding Arts District and The Smith Center, as well as CityCenter, which is on my must-see list for any visitor, thanks to its art and audacity.

It doesn’t stop there. We’ve got several live music venues (from tiny to huge), cool coffeehouses for chilling with locals, and sporting events that dot the calendar throughout the year. Feeling ambitious? Take a long day trip (or an easy overnighter) to Zion National Park in southern Utah or Flagstaff/Grand Canyon in northern Arizona. Or you can check out one of my favorite nearby pressure-valves: Boulder City. Just 40 minutes south of the Strip, you won’t find a single casino in Boulder City—it’s the only municipality in the Silver State that does not have gambling—but you will find a familiar small-town charm (and Hoover Dam).

Sure, our primary business probably always will be vice, but you no longer have to be a sinner to enjoy a trip to Sin City.

Why do so many Las Vegans have personalized license plates?

From my vantage point behind the wheel, it appears that about 15 percent of the cars in our Valley sport personalized plates, which does seem like a lot. Our city’s peacocking car culture certainly plays a role. But the desire to stand apart in a boomtown of mostly bland, stucco boxes and look-alike cars (ever played “Find My White Camry” in a parking lot?) would seem the best answer. Seven characters convey your true self!

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