My First Las Vegas Experience

The Union that Sean works for has a training facility in Las Vegas and he is occasionally sent there for conferences and other work-related events. I had never been to Vegas, so I was always jealous and crossed my fingers that someday his schedule would work with mine so we could extend his trip (and take advantage of his free flight) as a vacation. Lucky enough, in 2014 he was sent right before my week off between summer and fall semesters of grad school! Let the party commence.

(Aug 24 2014) Day 1. Leaving Boston, Arriving in Las Vegas.

Harrah'sNot much to say about day one. My flight didn’t leave Boston until about 8pm, landing in Vegas around 11pm. The one benefit of this late-night flight was that I got an awesome view of the strip lit up during our landing – just a preview of the week ahead of me!

Otherwise, after landing I just picked up my luggage, got in a cab to the hotel (Harrah’s), kissed Sean hello, and promptly fell asleep.

(Aug 25 2014) Day 2. Las Vegas.

Caeser'sAfter waking up (at a fairly early hour due to time differences) we went for a walk around the central strip. I got my first glimpses of The Flamingo, LINQ, Paris, Cesaer’s, Bellagio, Cosmo…everything was just so amazing to look at! The colors and architecture were impressive and beautiful. The weather was sunny and hot, but bearable in the morning while sipping our overpriced iced coffees. We had breakfast at Café Bellagio and then did some shopping at the Miracle Mile Shops where we saw the rain storm (and Sean bought new sandals while I drank a daiquiri). After walking back and forth a few hours we had lunch in LINQ at Flour and Barley pizza. Finally, we visited the Bellagio’s Alice in Wonderland-like Botanical Gardens and the Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes, where we heard some entertainers singing.

By this point we were pretty tired so we returned to Harrah’s and took a nap. We had dinner at KGB in Harrah’s, and then started getting ready for the night. As a bonus, from our room window we had a nice view of the Mirage Valcano show.

VenetianTonight was one of our only chances to stay out late without having any next-morning commitments, and I intended to take full advantage of my first real night in Las Vegas. After putting on my favorite and most sparkly skirt, we started out by walking down to the Paris and casino-hopped our way back north to Harrah’s. We ended up playing some Roulette and Slots at Paris (which was my favorite casino in terms of decor); Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em at Flamingo; Blackjack at Cromwells (where I had my best luck that night); and Roulette at Harrah’s. I got back to the hotel happy and satisfied, even though I did not win any jackpots. 

(Aug 26 2014) Day 3. Las Vegas.

Regretting our overpriced Starbucks coffee the previous morning, this day we decided to try McDonald’s instead. The prices were cheaper (basically half as much) – but the restaurant was way more crowded and it took too long. But with coffee finally in hand, we went to the Forum Shops. Again I was impressed by how even the malls are decorated in such amazing ways. I wish everywhere was this interesting!

Old VegasAfter grabbing some breakfast and walking along the shops to see the various statues – but disappointed to see the aquarium was closed – we took the monorail to visit Circus Circus. After much walking in circles we finally found the area with live entertainment and were there just in time to see a little show: a pair of twirling roller skaters. I considered this to be just a tease of what amazing acts we were going to be seeing later that night!

From there we took a cab to Old Vegas/Freedman Street. We ate lunch at Claim Jumper (side note: the hotel that housed this had a crazy pool that had a tank with sharks in it!) and wandered the street. Old Vegas is where I had the best luck gambling. I doubled my $40 playing $5 Blackjack at Binions. And as an added bonus we had some of the better drink service there – win, win. Once we had our fill of cards we took a cab to SLS, the newest casino on the strip. After poking around the chic new hotel for a few minutes we took the monorail back to Harrah’s and took our daily nap.

Fountain ShowThat night we made reservations and ate a fancy (read: expensive but delicious) dinner at Roku, where we enjoyed the restaurant week dinner menu and a chilled bottle of wine. Stuffed and happy, we headed over to Treasure Island to see Cirque du Soleil: Mystere! I had been looking forward to the show for months, and it did not disappoint me. It was funny, exhilarating, and the permanent stage effects and live music made the entire experience magical.

Speaking of magical, after the show we walked over to the Bellagio and finally saw the fountain show – which also did not disappoint. It was truly awesome with Paris and the Eiffel Tower lit up in the background while Frank Sinatra was crooning to me and Sean.

(Aug 27 2014) Day 4. Leaving Las Vegas, Entering Grand Canyon.

Hoover DamWe got up early and picked up our rental car at 9am over by the airport. Once we haggled with the rental agency (leaving unhappy that we were paying way more than what was quoted online) we drove away and stopped to get a quick breakfast at the first Starbucks we saw before committing to the drive to the Hoover Dam. The Dam was actually a little closer than we anticipated – less than an hour. Before getting to the main event we stopped to walk halfway across the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge…before regretting our decision and getting back off due to our fear of heights. At least we got some great pictures first! It was the best view of the Dam itself.

Safely back on solid ground, we drove to the Dam and took the Power Plant tour. Unfortunately, this also took us 500 feet below ground – equally scary! But overall it was worth it. We heard some history, saw some generators, and got some more great pictures.

Rosie's CafeAfterwards we got back on the road. We were super hungry for lunch and not happy that it took many, many miles of nothingness before finding our first (and seemingly only) lunch option, Rosie’s Den Cafe. Luckily, it served tasty burgers and BLTs. Satisfied! We finally got to the Red Feather Hotel in Tusayon around dinner time. We checked into our (surprisingly nice) room and walked down the street to eat some Mexican food at Sophie’s before returning to watch some TV, drink some beer/wine, and fall asleep.

(Aug 28 2014) Day 5. Leaving Grand Canyon, Returning to Las Vegas.

Grand CanyonFinally time to see the Grand Canyon! This stop had been on my travel bucket list for a long time, and I was super pumped to finally see the natural wonder. Luckily, it did not let me down. We were at the South Rim’s National Park. We started the day at Mather Point and walked East along the Rim Trail about about 2 1/2 miles. The views were endless the entire time – even the surrounding vegetation along the trail was interesting. We also saw an elk on the side of the trail! It was super close and I was scared of startling him, but overall he seemed pretty unimpressed by us.

Once we were tired we hopped onto a shuttle and had lunch in the Grand Canyon Village’s food court before getting back on the long, empty highway back to Vegas. At least we got some Dunkin’ Donuts on the ride home, and made great timing. We were back in Vegas for dinner!

Grand CanyonWe ended up eating dinner at Hole in the Wall Battista’s, which had large portions of tasty Italian food – including all you can drink house wine! Then we took a quick nap before taking advantage of our unexpected free night. We played some cards at the Venetian and Palazzo (I did not win any money until Sean backed me for my last couple hands). Both casinos were very nice – much brighter and cleaner than some of the other ones we visited. Although I wasn’t impressed by their “smoke-free” section of slot machines. There was one little sign designating the area, but no one seemed to be paying much attention to it.

(Aug 29 2014) Day 6. Las Vegas.

New York New York at sunsetOn our final day in Vegas we (finally) slept in a little bit and then hopped on the monorail to visit the South strip. We checked out MGM, Tropicana, Excalibar, New York New York, and Luxor. Our main objective was to buy tickets to the comedy show for that night at the Laugh Factory, so we grabbed those before having lunch at Fine Nine Irishman in New York New York.

After going back to our hotel and taking our final nap of vacation, we made reservations for dinner at Pub 1842 at MGM. I had delicious sangria with chicken and waffles. Before going to the Laugh Factory we had some time to kill, so we lost a few dollars in the slot machines. The comedy show itself was funny. I of course can’t remember who the comedians were, but I know I enjoyed the second guy the best. The headliner was funny, but started off a little slow for me. It was a nice, light way to end of vacation.

After the show we did some final gambling at New York New York and Harrah’s (I think Sean won a little money, but I did not). Overall our last night in Vegas was an early and tame one because we had to wake up early to catch our flight back to the real world. Sad.

(Aug 30 2014) Day 7. Flying out from Las Vegas, Heading Home.

Little to report on our last hours in Vegas. We woke up early, got to the airport, and took our 9am flights home to Boston. Our trip might not have been the typical “party until the sun comes up” and “gamble all of your money away” (although I gambled plenty haha) experience, but it was so much fun. For us, it was a great mix of walking around to see the sights, napping (my favorite), and still having some late-night fun outside of our everyday repertoire. Las Vegas might not be a destination I would want to visit yearly, but I definitely wouldn’t mind returning. I feel like there is still so much left to see!

Grand Canyon   Las Vegas Strip

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4 thoughts on “My First Las Vegas Experience

  1. I loved your recap! Even though my first casino experience was a bust, this post made me definitely want to give Vegas a try 🙂 So glad you and Sean had such a fun trip!

  2. Pingback: Transition to 2015 | Julia, travelling.

  3. Pingback: Planning: Las Vegas & San Diego | Julia, travelling.

  4. Pingback: Returning to Las Vegas and San Diego | Julia, travelling.

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