Are you an introvert? Do you like to do educational, quiet, mindful, reflective and respectful things when you go on vacation? Well, let’s see if I can make even Las Vegas tolerable for us, shall we?
Photo Credit: UnSplash, and yes, this makes me cringe a bit, as does the title of my piece because ugh, Elvis was and remains the worst! But, hang in there nerds, we can do this!
Las Vegas is the type of place I only visit when I have to. Not because I intentionally on purpose want to. Not because I am drawn to whatever is that happens down there.
Because for the most part, a lot of it is just so intensely problematic for me: the glorification of excess, the celebration of the commodification of women and sex and using people’s bodies, the hyped focus on drinking and partying, the lights, the loudness, the gambling, the disregard for addictions and the almost too gleeful culture of addiction enabling, and the fact that all of this is happening in an environment that just cannot and should not have ever had to sustain a resource drain like this.
So, when I think of Vegas, I think of the word waste. Waste of energy, waste of money, and waste of humanity, morality and virtue. Ouch right? I guess so. But, it’s not a place that uplifts the best in us, as a species.
I will do my best to be at my best, and to make this place tolerable. I promise.
Because I have a secret.
I am a nerd. Ok ok, I know that was not a secret, but, I will get to that in a minute and well, to be more clear, I am an ecofeminist, democratic socialist, academic, introverted, deeply spiritual nerd with values that center around kindness, respect, justice, and meaningful relationships. And I carry that with me wherever I go, whatever I do.
I am my authentic self and I hold myself, and those around me and in my life, to standards that speak to authenticity. I am strong enough to always remember who I am and I encourage those I love to always remember who they are as well, and to act in ways that are in line with their core being.
So, this being said, I have found the secret to being ok in Vegas. I make it Nerd Vegas.
Photo Credit: UnSplash, all of this in a desert! What an American idea! Yet, let’s hunt for the treasure and seek out what is good, healthy, hopeful, and uplifting in this maze, ok?
Here’s how, ahem, I present to you:
Five ways to enjoy being in Las Vegas if you don’t enjoy gambling, excessively extra entertainment, drinking, sinning and if you want a smart mindful educational vacation even in a postmodern neoliberal dystopian hellscape:
Photo Credit: UnSplash, Example of Neoliberal Postmodern Hellscape Design, but you can make it nerdy and ok with a bit of work!
1.Museums and Exhibits
An actual museum with a 13,000 square-foot permanent gallery, lessons on geology, and the Nevada State fossil - the ichthyosaur. That sounds awesome, right? This museum is educational and will teach nerd visitors about some of the history of the area, -the plants and animals native to this place, the people native to this place, and the history of early settlers. You can also learn about the Hoover Dam!
So, if you can brave it, - you have to walk past a lot of potentially off putting things, - smoking, gambling, too many people, so much noise, and so on, but, some hotels have museum quality exhibits. Things that have actually toured quality regular museums throughout the nation. I have seen the Titanic Exhibition before, in Chicago and in Milwaukee, but it is nice to know that it has a home in Vegas for a bit too. The hotel is creepy. A giant black pyramid. But, the exhibit is in an area that almost feels quiet and contemplative.
In the same hotel, the Luxor, as the Titanic Exhibit (in case you missed it, this hotel lends itself to attempting to be weird and spooky and so on, right?) you can go see the Bodies Exhibit. You can, because I will not. My level of nerd does not extend, yet, to the desire to see actual dead human bodies on display, even though I love science and will read all about it. I am cool not having to see this. But, by all means, you make your nerd Vegas in your nerd way, and I will make my nerd Vegas in mine!
Photo Credit: UnSplash, this is not a Vegas art gallery, but, it is an art gallery and the silence and calm here is something present in most art galleries, which is nice.
A lot of art! Painting! Sculptures! Photography! Just a massive amount of art in a quiet, calm, addiction-enabling free space.
It’s in a hotel/casino, but that is one of the realities of the surrealism of Vegas. Everything is essentially connected to a hotel or casino. Hence making Nerd Vegas is part joy, part task. This world is not set up to prioritize things like humanity at its best, learning, education, contemplation, reflection, silence, respect for our bodies and respect for the bodies of others, and so on. But, this
gallery has spaces for that, hence it is on the list of things to do in Nerd Vegas.
Look, I know it is just a mall. A super expensive mall. However, the place is amazing to walk through, and there’s an indoor river, and sometimes performances that include Opera and mimes. And of course, gondola rides. It is less loud than a casino, less smoky, and the only addiction you have to witness is that of excessive shopping and consumerism.
Photo Credit: UnSplash
3. Other Nerd Adaptable Things in Hotels
This is absolutely mindblowing. It is gorgeous, peaceful, family friendly, and romantic. It is quiet and there are beautiful fish. We loved it.
Because it is the one really Vegas thing to do that is nerdy and Vegas. The entertainers are wax so they are less annoying, the set up is silly and hilarious so you can take great and memorable pictures, and the wax sculptures are simultaneously creepy and well done. Plus, I always think of that episode of Reading Rainbow where our hero, LaVar Burton, goes to this museum to get his wax figure made and it is wildly entertaining, educational, and adorable.
Photo Credit: Unsplash, though I do not condone the display of books in this manner, it is still - books! And bookstores are a nerds safe space, especially on vacation!
Tears were brought to my eyes when I found out that Vegas has more than one bookstore, and more than one independent locally owned bookstore. The city I live in now has one bookstore and I had forgotten how it felt to have choice and also, to experience the pure, true, actual, nerd paradise that is a used bookstore.
Stacks of used books, stacks of new books, book readings and poetry slam readings and other literary events, - now if only a used bookstore could also be a hotel, right? Let’s get that idea going, please!
A bookstore that specializes in old books, out of print books, classic books. A great way to spend your day!
For when you want that chain bookstore feel, - new books, coffee, and the comfort of familiarity, it is ok to head to Barnes and Noble. It’s peaceful, quiet, and you already know that is a safe and relaxing place for your introvert nerd needs.
I know it’s vacation and no one is probably going to get a library card, but sometimes libraries are just fascinating and delightful places. I love looking at the displays, I love seeing the design and set up, and libraries often have paintings and art as well as historical information about the area. So, check this out too, perhaps!
Photo Credit: UnSplash, a hotel room is the perfect place for introverts, nerds, and people who need a vacation from their vacation to spend their time!
5. Your Hotel Room
Now, if you are reading my work by now, you know things about me and I know things about you, aka you might be a nerd introvert academic with strong morals and a sense of justice and so on and so forth. So, I know I should not even have to say this but, bring books. Bring books. And bring books. Books make every vacation better. And on vacation, sometimes, we are in hotels. And hotels are nice because we can just focus on down time, not cleaning the house, or being overwhelmed by cooking or laundry.
We have time to read, fellow nerds!
So let’s enjoy this wonderful break with books, a nice hotel bed, a robe perhaps, some room service, and just an escape from whatever is down there on the “casino floor” aka legit hell. Hotel rooms offer peace, quiet, a time for meaningful connection with our loved one, and give introverts time to recharge before hitting the museums and art galleries.
I hope you have found some of this useful, uplifting, resonating, and entertaining, - and I hope you enjoy making any vacation a nerd vacation.
I look forward to hearing your responses and your tips for introvert nerd travel, spiritual mindful nerd travel, feminist socialist nerd travel, and all other forms of doing the vacation thing in ways that bring out the best in you and in others, and that respect the best in you and in others, in the comments section!