Las Vegas: Authentically Unauthentic


I recently spent a long weekend in Las Vegas. The buffets were outstanding, the weather warm and pleasant, and the hotels stunning. (I hadn't been there in probably 10 years — a lot has changed.) But the main reason Las Vegas was a surprisingly relaxing city to spend time in is because it is a city that's authentically unauthentic.

When you visit New York City, you worry about whether you are being a tourist, about whether you are doing as the locals do. Same with visiting Paris, Rome, London. But in Las Vegas, everybody is a tourist. Anybody who's not a tourist works in the tourism/hospitality industry. There is no real thing. It's fake all the way to the bottom. The very idea of a sprawling, water guzzling city that sits in the middle of barren desert is too absurd to take seriously.

There was no sin for me in Sin City, but I still found it a nice place to spend a few days in the winter to overeat, have my photo taken in front of the Effiel Tower, walk the strip, and lie by the pool.

8 comments on “Las Vegas: Authentically Unauthentic
  • Just FYI: That “barren desert” actually has some beautiful destinations within an hour or two, with great canyon and slickrock hiking.

    I agree on “fake all the way to the bottom” – it’s part of what makes the place relaxing and fun.

  • There are are beautiful destinations less than a half hour from the strip.

    Disney is less authentic. I guess if you could play the slots while waiting in line for attractions, Disney’s world could have as much real marble as Las Vegas.

    I am a Disney visitor and a Las Vegas resident.

  • Well said Ben, Vegas doesn’t have a lot of authenticity, although there are pockets where it is growing (like The Beat Coffeehouse).

  • Your right about sin city, Vegas is an adult playground and you can have so much fun! but it does not sound like you really got into the spirit of the place… You have to at least gamble!

  • Las Vegas is an iconic city, and beyond that it’s an authentic piece of American history. Not to glamorize crime, but the history of this city and the people who built it is a really interesting story. I agree with a lot of the other sentiments here, too.

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