Does what happen in Vegas really stay in Vegas?

Looking to get away over Fall Break, four friends and I decided to pack our bags and bombard Sin City. With a reputation of offering nothing but cheap thrills and more bills, Vegas seems to get a bad wrap from people living in our very own Salt Lake City.

I, too, have been a harsh critic of Las Vegas in years past, with its provocative ads and swisher sweet casino smell. The list of cons could go on and on with my usual pessimistic perception. However, last weekend I optimistically endeavored to look at the city in a new light.

While introducing the little ones to Vegas with a stroll down the strip might be ill-advised because of porn promoters (why do they slap those little cards anyway?), getting off the strip and seeing the town for what it really is will turn you into an advocate of the desert town.

While many in the Beehive State think there could be no closer relation to the devil’s advocate, if they truly understood the luxuries that exist in Vegas, they too would agree with me in saying that we are extremely fortunate to have such a city right in our back yard.

After a few shredded credit cards, I realized gambling was not my forte. But put the gambling, sleaze and strip aside and you’ll find an excellent getaway hours from our state’s border.

Let’s talk golf. I’m not going to say it’s the most affordable, but with great weather all year long, the courses are always mature and beautiful. How about boating? Lake Mead is just down the street, so you can rooster tail in the morning and at the club, pull tail at night. Speaking of clubbing, no one has been able to duplicate the Vegas touch. By enforcing a stricter dress code than La Caille, all of a sudden the person behind you trying to impersonate Little John’s “Yeeeeah” is more attractive.

With a temple and one of the largest populations of members per capita in the world, members of the LDS Church should also see Vegas as a great place to raise a family.

Think of all the great stores that are in Vegas that we don’t have here. How good is the Cheesecake Factory? Are you serious, Puma and Diesel outlets in the same mall? Where else could you see Jerry Seinfeld and Celine Dion in concert on the same night? Hey, if you stay up late enough and head to the craps table, you might even be able to add Michael Jordan to the list.

Much more could be said about the appeal of Las Vegas, but the point I wanted to make is that the city is more than a Boulevard. It has character, offers recreation and never lacks entertainment. So what if a spicy chicken sandwich at Wendy’s will cost you $8.50? You’ll make it up at the table. Sure you will!

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Mark Harmsen’s column appears every Thursday.