I dodge people with music pumping through the air and into my veins. The sky is neon orange and fading fast as I summit stair after stair like a champ. People blur and lights streak as I speed by. No one can hear my labored breath—not even me—through the thick cacophony of overlapping sounds as the city lights take over daylight. I’m Jason Bourne. I’m Rocky. I’m Chariots of Fire.
Could this be the Vegas I normally scorn? I’ve never enjoyed Sin City this much.
Whether I’m working a new route or exploring unfamiliar territory on my own, every once in awhile I find myself stuck in a bum place that I don’t particularly love. For example, my overnight in Vegas on Fat Tuesday. I was happy to get out of the freezing East coast weather, but not super excited about a 22 hour layover in a city that just doesn’t do it for me.
Some people are thrilled by the casinos, shopping, and themed entertainment Vegas has to offer — which is fine — but it’s not usually my cup of tea. To me, the entire city seems like a hokey overpriced tourist trap. And it’s a complete letdown from the high and gritty glamour popularized in Hollywood film where everyone is dressed to the nines, young, and beautiful.
But since I was already here, I wanted to make the best of it. I thought about the things I love when I travel: the hubbub of cities, people watching, the great outdoors, walking, exploring, history, art, and not busting my wallet. Keeping these things in mind, I decided to go for a jog through the city, on Las Vegas Blvd, right down the Strip.
And I actually had a blast.
I finally experienced Las Vegas the way it is in the movies: in a series of fast cuts and movement. Jogging made the insanely spread-out car-centric city more manageable on foot. I made a 5.5 mile loop, and still only experienced about half of it. Luckily it’s winter and the weather was perfect, cool and dry in the mid-sixties.
It also wasn’t too crowded. I hit it at sunset around 5:30pm and only had to stop due to sidewalk traffic jams a couple of times in front of hotels that have some sort of outdoor spectacle like the Bellagio. I avoided most traffic lights by running up and down sets of stairs connecting bridges that span the boulevard and some major cross streets.
My playlist was the sounds of the streets: tourists talking, sidewalk entertainers, and pan-handlers. And the music played on hotels’ outdoor sound systems, which shifted with each hotel from classic Frank Sinatra and Celine Dion to house club music.
Jogging the Strip didn’t change my mind about Vegas — I would still recommend a host of other US destinations. And the Strip is spread out, tiring, and can be a hassle of too many people, stairs and stoplights.
However this was my best experience of Vegas yet, and I enjoyed myself while I was there.
— Laura Rowley