May 2, 2013

K's Guide to Sin City...

 K's Guide to Sin City

I'm not claiming to be an expert on Las Vegas but I have vacationed there 9 times in the last 7 years so I know a little about the place


Helpful Hints:

The first time I went to Vegas I was there for 'business' - attending the Magic Fashion Shows. We stayed at the Riviera and only made it to 1/2 of the Strip. You are NOT going to see everything in one trip. I've been 8 times and still haven't seen and done everything that I would like to

Wear comfortable shoes - I can't stress this enough! It doesn't mean you have to look like a fool and commit horrible fashion crimes but make sure you don't try to attempt walking the strip in 5 inch heels. You WILL be one of those people walking barefoot on the Strip while carrying your shoes. I usually wear comfortable flip flops (Reef's with the gel cushions are my favourite for Vegas) and my feet survive

Do not - I repeat- DO NOT take 'the Deuce' - shell out the extra money for a cab if you don't want to do a lot of walking (unless you WANT to smell like B.O. for the rest of the day...)

Carry lots of $1 bills (not for THAT reason... unless you plan on hitting up Thunder From Down Under or the Chippendales...) so you can get pictures with the characters that are all over the Strip  - you don't want to have to give them a $5 or a $10 and most want the $ from you before they'll let you take a picture




Dining:

I'm not a 'fancy' person. At my cousin's $100,000 wedding I would've preferred the children's meal (chicken fingers and fries) over the five course fancy meal we had, so when I'm in Vegas I'm not eating at Gordon Ramsay's restaurants every night. Instead I'm eating at places like:

Attached to the Flamingo, the hotel we usually stay it, so every trip involves more than one stop. Breakfast is always a must - I had the best omelette of my life, the Western Omelette, when I was there in April. If you're wanting to start your day out right have a Mimosa or Spiked Red Bull Mimosa with your breakfast. It's seriously the perfect way to start your day. If you go later in the day try the Volcano Nachos (these are only good if you live by my mentality that calories don't count on vacation...) and a Perfect Margarita. You'll thank me later. (Update on Jan 22/15: Margaritaville expanded and no longer serves breakfast)

Mmmmm Mimosas

Located in Harrah's - great for lunch. Portions are huge so be prepared to leave with your plate looking like you didn't touch your food. Drinks come in huge mason jars and they will give you a to-go cup for your drink if you're not finished by the time you're ready to leave. My favourite drink is 'The Mason Dixon'. For lunch I usually get the Triple Decker Club, "I Love This Bar" BBQ Beef Sandwich, or Pulled Pork Sandwich. Like I said, calories don't count on vacation...

It's a bit of a walk if you're staying closer to the North end of the Strip. We usually stay at The Flamingo so we'll take a cab down to the MGM Grand, eat breakfast or lunch, and then walk back to the Hotel,  hitting up NY-NY (grab a slice of pizza for the walk!) and places like M&M World and World of Coca-Cola on the walk back. I would love to take my nieces to the Rainforest Cafe - it is absolutely amazing inside-  you really feel like your in the middle of the rainforest




Located in the Miracle Mile Shops across from my favourite sports bar in Vegas, Blondies. I never used to think I would like Mexican food but after trying La Salsa Cantina I was hooked  - it's delish. If you're a vegetarian (or just want something not so heavy) try the Taco Salad... it's amazeballs! You can add beef or chicken to it but it is good without. Trust me on this one. And a trip to La Salsa Cantina isn't complete without a yard sized margarita



Honourable mentions:
Planet Dailies (Planet Hollywood), Grotto (Golden Nugget), Lombardi's Romagna Mia (Miracle Mile Shops - Planet Hollywood), Serendipity 3 (MUST try the frozen hot chocolate), The Cheesecake Factory (Caesar's Forum Shops)

Frozen Hot Chocolate

I've always wanted to eat at Sugar Factory and Mon Ami Gambi but just haven't made it yet. Mon Ami Gambi has an outdoor patio that you can dine on and has a really good view of the Strip - you can't make reservations you just have to try your luck at getting seated on the patio. Both are located at Paris Las Vegas

And of course, when in Rome (or in this case,Vegas) you must hit up a buffet. They aren't just ordinary buffets - they're like a regular buffet X a million. I've been to both the Mirage's and Treasure Island's and never been disappointed. But make sure to go on an empty stomach so you get your moneys worth!

Bars/Nightlife:

A trip to Vegas also wouldn't be complete without a stop at Blondie's for some beer pong. They have a decent bar menu- potato skins after ten a few rounds of beer pong is absolute bliss. Just ignore the fact that the waitresses wear tiny cheerleader uniforms - the place really is better than that



The first time I went to PBR Rockbar was April 2013 - we drank there two different nights and there was a 'special' each night. The 1st night drinks were 2 for 1 (which saved me a loooot of $) and the next night was College night - $10 for a women and $20 for men and you get unlimited well drinks and beer all night.Again, saved us a ton of money. They probably gave me at least $100 in free booze. Try the Southern Hospitality- it's one of the pricier drinks but on 2 for 1 night it's definitely worth it

Opened in April 2012 - we were there the day they opened - I'm not a huge fan of the menu but the atmosphere is always great. Be prepared to be made fun of and for them to make you look absolutely ridiculous There's always some form of entertainment so it's definitely a good place to go if you plan on doing some drinking



We celebrated the Twin's 21st birthday at Gallery Nightclub  in June 2011. McLovin was also celebrating his birthday that weekend at Gallery which is why the birthday girl picked Gallery for our night out. It was brand new at the time and right inside our hotel (Planet Hollywood) so it was perfect. The atmosphere was great- we didn't pay a cover, though I'm sure most nights you have to, and the drinks were very expensive. I'm not sure if the PCD Saloon is still located in Gallery but at the time it was so it was nice to bounce back and forth from the club atmosphere to a more laid back area (Update: As far as I can tell, this nightclub is now closed)


Posing with Robin Antin, creator of the Pussycat Dolls

Not a place you would sit at to enjoy some drinks but a great place to stop and grab a drink for the walk down the Strip. Try a Pineapple Amaretto or a Peach Bellini. I'm drooling just thinking about them... They are heavenly! There are lots of locations so you won't have to go far to get one. And mkae sure you add extra shots!

Hotels:

My cousin Star got married at the MGM in February 2009. The hotel is HUGE - there's at least four Starbucks in the MGM alone (of course I hit up everyone). Everything you need is located right inside so it's perfect if you don't want to stray to far from your hotel (aka you're there to gamble). Star and her husband got a Skyloft Suite for the supper and 'reception' and it was amazing. I wish I could do Vegas like that every trip!

Very nice hotel - basic by Las Vegas standards, but the rooms were newly renovated and were gorgeous. It's located at the North end of the Strip and very far away from most of the action so I doubt I would ever stay there again but if you're looking at doing Vegas on a budget then the Riviera would be perfect. It's just as inexpensive as somewhere like the Travelodge or Motel 6 but it's still located on the Strip

I could go on and on about how much I love the Flamingo (and I'm not getting paid to, I promise!).  Margaritaville is attached. The pool is devine. Everything is pink. I just LOVE LOVE LOVE everything about it. I've stayed there 6 out of the 9 times I've been to Vegas and we always stay in the 'Go Deluxe' room's. There is nothing better than getting ready in the morning while watching 'Fresh Prince of Bel Air' in your bathroom mirror, or not having to get out of bed to open your curtains in the morning so the sunshine can help your hungover ass get out bed. There are just so many little touches to the rooms that makes me want to stay at the Flamingo all the time.


 View of the pool from the room

I always feel like I'm somewhere tropical when I'm at the Flamingo's pool

Love the location. We spend a lot of time in the Miracle Mile Shops when we go so it's a prime location to stay. The rooms are nice but there was no wow factor for me - just a basic hotel room. I would definitely stay again though (in the wintertime though because there pool is very basic as well) just for the convenience factor of being right in the middle of the Strip

If I ever go in Winter (aka when the pools are closed) I'd like to try out other hotels. When I first started vacationing in Vegas the plan was to try out a different hotel each time. Then I fell in love with The Flamingo's pool and just haven't been able to stray away from it. I'd love to try out Treasure Island, the Mirage, NY-NY, The Bellagio, and Caesar's Palace. I guess I need to start going in the Winter more often!


Tourist Attractions:




Nightly shows- begins at 7:00 pm and runs every hour on the hour until 11:00 pm. If you want to get up close plan to get there early and wait for awhile. I wouldn't recommend wasting your time standing around waiting for it. Show up right before it starts - you don't really need that good of a spot to see it anyways


Go the link above to see performance times. For a free show I think the Sirens of TI is something you definitely want to see. The effects are great - it's a show for adults, definitely not geared towards children. You have to get there early to snag a spot with a good view or else you will be very far back. I'd suggest getting your spot at least half an hour early, if not sooner. Every show attracts tons of people - as soon as the show ends be prepared for everyone to try and leave at one time - the Strip gets crazy for awhile afterwards with everyone trying to head the same way at once. I'd suggest waiting it out for a little bit until the crowd thins out (Update: when I went in November/14 the show was dunzo)


I usually try to get down to Fremont Street for an afternoon or a night during a trip. I like the atmosphere on Fremont Street but I don't think I would ever stay down there. I would probably spend all my time on the Strip anyways so I prefer just to take some time to head down to Fremont Street and check it out. From the Strip it's usually a $40 round trip cab ride but it's worth it if your going to spend some time there. If you want to check out the overhead light show you have to go at night. It's definitely interesting - seeing all the other lights shut off on the hotels, shops, and casino's is neat. The show schedule is hit or miss. I really enjoy the Tribute to Queen show but am not a big fan of Heart- Crazy on Vegas. If you are there for a few hours after the sun has set you will get to see a few different shows. If you click on the link above you can see a show schedule to help you determine when you would want to head down there



Again, if you want to get up close to see this complimentary show, head early to get a good spot. I love checking out the fountains and each show is set to different music so it's not always repetitive. If you want a really good view, head up the Eiffel Tower at Paris after dark


View from the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas


Pink flamingos, ducks, koi fish, and turtles call the Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo home. If your taking children to Vegas it's something that I'm sure they would love to see - I find it refreshing to take a coffee, or even an alcoholic beverage, down to the habitat and just relax for a bit while I take it all in

Located at the South end of the Strip. I never would have known where it was if it weren't for my cousin's wedding in Vegas - we took a limo ride after the reception and stopped at the sign for pictures. To me it wouldn't be worth it to take a cab ride there just for a picture but if it's something you really want to see it might you worth it for you


Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum at the Venetian
Of all the tourist-y attractions, this is my favourite! The wax figures are always changing so even if you go a bunch of times like I do you will always see new things. It is a bit pricier but I feel like it's worth it - plus, there are always coupons for the wax museum in the 24/7 magazines that you can find in cabs. Sometimes there are even people standing outside the wax museum handing out coupons. I think this is a must see!


I'm deathly afraid of heights and yet somehow always find myself in situations where I'm being peer pressured into things like riding the NY NY Roller Coaster- TWICE! I'd say that the 2nd time was actually worst because I knew what to expect. It costs $14 for one ride so it is a little pricey but worth it if you're a roller coaster enthusiast - which I am not! Make sure to shell out some cash on the souvenir photo so you can prove to people that you 'conquered your fear'. And if you're scared of heights like me, make sure to close your eyes the entire time so you don't almost panic yourself to death as you go upside down overtop of the hotel's pool! I still have nightmares about it...



Flight Linez on Fremont Street
Again, this is one of the more expensive attractions but it's worth it! It's an exhilirating experience and worth the money. I was even peer pressured into doing it TWICE. (I'm starting to see a pattern here...)



It costs about $20 for admittance - I've been twice and didn't mind having to pay for it. The first time I went there were baby tigers and we probably spent at least an hour just watching them they were soooo flippin adorable. The second time the trainers were working with the dolphins and we got to watch them interact - I don't know if this happens often or if we were just lucky to be there at that time




I usually don't get that far down the Strip on any of my trips but on my 5th time visiting my sister wanted to go check out the Shark Reef Aquarium. Until that point I had never even heard of it but I'm so glad my sister wanted to do this - I loved everything about it. There was so much to see AND one of the highlights of my life (not even joking) was petting the Sting Rays. I was scared to death of doing it but finally a random 5 year old girl convinced me to do it - And I'm so thankful she did! The entrance fee is around $20 but soooo worth it!  

Sharks swimming overtop of our heads

The Sting Rays that we were able to pet!


I don't know why I do these things to myself  - the elevator ride up to the top of the Eiffel Tower almost did me in. Being able to see the Strip as you rode up the Elevator had me in panic attack mode. But I did it and the view of the Strip from the top was breathtaking. We were able to see the Bellagio fountains going off and it was seriously amazeballs. The only downside (other than the whole heights thing) was that we had to wait over an hour in line after buying tickets before we were able to go up. It gets busier at night when you can see all the lights on the Strip so if you don't care about that try going earlier to avoid the lines


Shows:

You would think that with having visted Vegas 7 times that I would've seen a ton of shows but that is the furthest from the truth. I've actually only seen two shows - two different times each. I want to see a Cirque du Soleil show so bad but just haven't made time  for it on any trips yet. One day!

My sister had watched him on America's Got Talent and he was one show that she really wanted to see. And once again I'm so glad that she talked us into it - I absolutely loved his show from start to finish. I thought that he was just a standard ventriloquist (I had never watched him on America's Got Talent) and I was sooo wrong. He is capable of making his voice sound just like Cher when she's singing - or just like Garth Brooks when he's singing. It is incredible to watch and listen to him. We always buy tickets for shows at  Tix 4 Tonight to get a good deal on them, and I would recommend them to everyone. We went to see him again in April of 2012 and his show was just as good the second time



Peepshow at Planet Hollywood
I've seen Peepshow twice, both times when Holly Madison was starring. Disclaimer: If you don't want to see ta-ta's in all their glory randomly throughout the show then it's not the show for you. I'm not sure how much Holly leaving has affected the show but I enjoyed it when she was in it. It's a very humorous show, different than what I expected but in a good way. (Update: ended its run in 2013)

Shopping:

What's a trip to Vegas without shopping til' you drop? I always have a plan in place for the shopping I want to get done when I get to Vegas since there are so many stores  - everywhere you look is somewhere to shop

Lots of choices for shopping - high end stores are mixed in with more affordable stores and there is lots of variety. I've spent a looot of time there!

It's about a $30-$40 (round trip) to get to the outlets but worth the ride for the deals you will score. I always score amazing deals at Coach, Disney Store, Guess Factory Store, Gap Outlet, Juicy Couture, Puma, and Reebok - just to name a few :)

Lululemon, Forever 21, Macy's, Coach, Express, Guess by Marciano, Kate Spade New York, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom are just a few of the many, many stores inside this mall. The layout can be very, very confusing so definitely stop to check out the maps to get a feel for the place or you will get very, very lost. There is a huge food court, live fashion shows daily,  and you many even randomly run into celebrities while shopping

All higher end speciality shops, like Balenciaga, Fendi, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Tiffany and Co, and Valentino, but it that's the kind of store's your looking for then the forum shops are for you!

Miscallaneous:

Oxygen Bars

I'm not the type to sleep in while I'm in Vegas - even with a massive hangover I'm out of bed by 7:00-8:00 each morning to start my day. And since you most likely aren't heading to bed until at least 2:00 am you might start getting tired early on  - and Oxygen Bars are the magic cure. Some people think they are hokey and don't actually do anything for you but I always feel energized after hitting one up. It's definitely worth a try if you're ready to crash but want to keep going!


Slots, Slots, Slots
Doesn't matter where you are - you'll be able to find these anwyhere! I'm not a huge gambler but can't make a trip to Vegas without a little slot action. I prefer to play the penny slots so that my money doesn't disappear so fast. And you get free drinks while you play so take your time!


If you head to Fremont Street make sure to take a picture with this GIANT slot machine

Limo Ride
When we went for my cousin's wedding we spent half of our time in Limo's just cruising the Strip while enjoying some drinks. It's a nice way to spend some time and get to really see the entire Strip. If it weren't for the limo rides I probably wouldn't have seen the North and South ends of the Strip at all. The limo company that we used cost us $100/hr but dividing it between a group of people makes it worth it. I'd recommend getting a limo to take you to the Las Vegas sign


and finally, 

Pools 

If you head to Vegas during pool season then make good use of them. If you are staying at a hotel with a decent pool you will have to get down there early to get a spot. If you're going for a bachelorette party or a birthday party think about renting a cabana or daybed by the pool for the day. They are cheaper during the week than the weekends and with a group of people really wouldn't cost that much per person. One of my favourite things to do in Vegas is just relax by the pool and drink. We usually go down to the pool every morning for a couple hours before starting our day and then get down there at least one afternoon too


Whewww, I didn't think this post would be this long! Kudos to you if you read through the whole thing! After this post, I think Las Vegas should be paying me to advertise for them! But like I've said, I'm no expert. And even having been to Vegas 9 times there are still so many things that I have yet to do that are on my bucket list. But I have made a pretty good dent in them and tried to put in as much of my knowledge of Vegas as I could. 

If you ever have questions about Vegas feel free to email me or leave a comment and ask away - I have a love for Vegas that I can't describe so I love being able to help others figure out their Vegas plans!

2 comments:

  1. YAY! I absolutely loved this and I'm totally emailing a link to Pete! Do you know if you can purchase admission to another hotel's pool for a day? Just wondering, because the Flamingo's pool looks amaaaaazing, but we're staying at the Bellagio!

    Thanks for writing it all up so thoroughly! I'm going to be checking this frequently during our trip!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Aw! This makes me want to go back!

    I have a little story. When I went for my 21at birthday I was wearing Old Navy flip flops for some sight seeing during the day. A guy stopped me and bought those shoes off my feet (which were at least a couple years old) because his girl was so uncomfortable in her huge heels! Luckily I wasn't too far from my hotel and had extra shoes back there... So I scored some extra gambling money ;-)

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for the love! If you have a specific question please feel free to email me at krmathison@ hotmail.com