>> Saturday, January 12, 2013
Pharmie and I took a quick 4-day trip to Vegas last weekend without Henry. He had a great time playing at his Grandparents' house! Today I'll post some "general" photos from our trip (along with our "Vegas advice"), and on Monday I'll post photos from our 2 long workouts / hikes / runs in the Vegas area.
We got in on Friday night around 8:30. We were THRILLED to see THIS was the view from our room on the 22nd floor of The Bellagio:
We always had a front-row seat for the fountain show!
Oatmeal from a glass. Classy.
The Christmas Show was still up at The Bellagio Conservatory.
Those polar bears were all flowers.
In front of our hotel on a morning walk.
The shopping complex at Caesars was great!
Pharmie in front of some curving escalators next to a fountain by "The Forum Shops" at Caesars.
Saturday evening, we got dressed up to head to church (about a 40 minute walk away). It was past New York New York which was handy because we were heading to the Cirque Du Soleil "Zumanity" show there - so we could hit church, and then the Cirque show was on our way back. As we walked around before the show, we went through the Luxor, Excalibur, Monte Carlo, and ended in New York New York. So on Saturday, we hit the MAJORITY of all of the casinos / hotels on the Strip!
Our seats before Zumanity.
Pharmie liked this guy.
We both liked her act - she was spinning a ton of hoops while flying around
by 1 arm over the audience. The "naughty school-girl" outfit was a nice touch. ;)
By the end of the show, all of these people had performed topless. Seriously.
Out for drinks at The Cosmopolitan after the show.
Gambling later that night.
Finally seeing the Fountains from ground-level.
Pharmie soaking in the tub reading a book on her iPad.
That cheese pizza was SOOOOO good!
"The World's Largest Chocolate Fountain" (the official Guinness paperwork is on the right).
We stopped for soda at Rocket Fizz along the way, which is a candy / soda store. Check this out:
They had 3 carts of soda like this.
This is ALL Root Beer!
After the hike and the trip to the soda store, we stopped off at The Pinball Hall of Fame. There are about 200 machines for people to play from one guy's private collection of over 1,000 pinball machines! Any profit goes to the Salvation Army. It's pretty sweet. Some pinball machines date back to the 1950s and 60s.
Pharmie playing an old game.
Pretty realistic "curves" on this machine...
I HAD to play some Excitebike!
The more modern machines were more popular.
After dinner at Michael Mina.
My 6 bottles from Rocket Fizz back at our hotel room.
I made a lot of stupid decisions and got lucky to get this high.
Monday morning we got up early.
Sunrise from our room.
Our last stop on Monday night (before having to be up at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning to catch our flight) was The Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars. LOTS of people recommended that. We were only about the 4th couple in line, but it took us over 20 minutes to get seated. Lame. But the buffet was GREAT. They had different areas that focused on different kinds of food. I started in the Asian "wing," so my plate was mainly Asian food, along with a slice of pizza and a slider:
The upper plate had a made-to-order taco on it, the cast iron
had some cheesy potato skins, and there was mac and cheese next to that.
Chips with meat and 4 different kinds of salsa and guac.
I know a lot of people go to Vegas pretty often and there are a lot of people giving advice, but here's OUR 2 cents on heading to Vegas...
So here's what we'd do DIFFERENTLY next time:
• We'd rent a car the whole time. We found a $40 rental for 24 hours at Treasure Island (it was $60 at The Bellagio), but it was only about $15 / day at the airport. ANY "good" casino on The Strip has free parking, so that won't be an issue. Navigating the strip by car wasn't as hard as we thought it was going to be. (Just maybe try not to drive The Strip on a busy weekend night.) Once you figure in the cheap shuttle we had to-and-from the airport, it would have been about the same price to have a car for those 3.5 days from the airport than to just have one for 1 day and take a shuttle. [Oh, and speaking of shuttle, if you use one, book through a travel agency and NOT the shuttle itself. We were on the shuttle with someone who lost their ticket, but being they booked through a travel company, they could just "look up" their info - otherwise they would have had to re-pay if they just went through the shuttle service.]
• See "Old Vegas." We didn't have time for that.
• Find a "decent" restaurant off The Strip. We only ate at fast-food places or NICE restaurants right on the strip. We could find good food for a LOT cheaper a bit off The Strip.
• Drive along Lake Mead up to the Valley of Fire State Park. This just got cut from my "to do in Vegas" list, and a local we talked to at Hoover Dam said that this is a great drive. And then there's great running / hiking in Valley of Fire.
• Run Mount Charleston. Again, a few locals mentioned this. This is north of Red Rock Canyon (where we hiked - more on that soon), and it sounds fun. It stays cooler there in the summer, so when Lake Mead is ROASTING, head to Mount Charleston for your workouts. [We were told by an employee at Hoover Dam that more people die in the Lake Mead National Park than in any other National Park, and it's mostly due to being out in the heat, getting disorientated, and dying of heat / dehydration.]
So here's what we'd do the SAME next time:
• Stay in a 4-5 star hotel in the middle of The Strip. We loved our stay at The Bellagio, and from what we saw on our "self-guided" tours, we would like to stay at Caesars, The Palazzo, The Venetian, or Paris Las Vegas. We weren't impressed with The Luxor, Treasure Island, or Harrah's (again, this is just what we thought after walking around in the hotel / casinos on our own). We'd probably stay south of The Venetian and north of Excalibur. But definitely ON The Strip.
• Get out of the city a few times. We'd LOVE to spend longer on that trail to-and-from Hoover Dam (info on that coming soon), and I'd love to hike more at Red Rock (Pharmie sprained her ankle badly in October, so she didn't want to over-do that). We'd do things like that again.
• Take in a show. Maybe two. It's Vegas, after all....
• If you're not a big gambler but like to drink, gamble JUST long enough at the penny slots to get a free drink. We did this twice. Pharmie got 2 big glasses of white wine, and I got water. And if you purchase a drink, it's as strong as TWO drinks!! (That glass Pharmie's holding in the photo of us after the Zumamity show was the one drink we bought, and it got her pretty drunk...)
• Mix up meals with "cheap" meals at fast food places, nice buffets, and nice restaurants. We're too cheap to do fancy places all the time, and I think we found a nice balance of meals when we where there. But again, as noted above, we'd try to travel off the strip once or twice next time.
• Eat at the buffet at Caesars. There are longer lines for some parts of this (especially the fresh-carved meat and the seafood areas), but take a few hours to slow down and eat a LOT of good food.
• (My wife says) Eat MORE crepes at The Bellagio! There's a little cafe past the Conservatory where the "World's Largest Chocolate Fountain" is located (it's called "Jean-Philippe Patisserie" [we had to look that up]), and they had DELICIOUS crepes. My wife had a Nutella and whipped-cream crepe. In fact, this morning we made 12 crepes. Really. We have a problem now, thanks to Vegas.
• Go for a run down the strip early in the morning. Pharmie got out around 8 a.m. (not UNGODLY early) and the place is DEAD at that time - it's a REAL different Vegas experience. Here are 2 photos she snapped crossing over The Strip at 2 different spots:
Empty and clean sidewalks - they pressure wash a lot of the sidewalks in the early morning.
Finally, here were a few pointers for me from a Facebook friend who went to Vegas JUST before we did:
Do wear comfortable shoes.
Dont drink so much that you waste the next day.
Do go to old Vegas.
Don't gamble too much on slots, you'll never win big. Instead do play black jack and roulette (always bet on a color).
Do see a Vegas show, preferable a cirque du soleil.
Don't go shopping. Everything is way over priced and not any better than you can find in mn.
Do see the monet exhibit in the Bellagio.
Don't talk to people on the street who are trying to get you to go to clubs.
Do walk around in the other hotels and look around. The Paris and the venetian are very beautiful.
And do have fun :)
I'll post some beautiful photos from our hike / run / workouts on Monday! (There are a lot of my wife's beautiful bum.)
p.s. If anyone else has anything to add (especially any "athletic" related things), please add them in the comments. I've had a number of people ask for Vegas advice because they're heading there shortly. Thanks!!