Since I moved to California in September, I have been to Las Vegas four times. Wowza! It’s not that impressive when you know two of those times were just stops on road trips. My husband and I stopped on our move out here, but were too tired to do much more than a dinner and a few slot machines. Plus we had our beloved corgi mix in tow, and the strip isn’t really a place for a pup.
The second time we went with a huge group of friends, and it was a whirlwind. Lots of dancing and clubs and chaos, but lots of fun too. You can read about that trip here. The third visit was with my girl friend who accompanied me on my drive back to Massachusetts for my wedding, but that was literally just a walk around the strip to see the sites before hitting the road again.
Last weekend was my fourth trip, and by golly, I think we nailed it. I’ve always enjoyed my time in Las Vegas, but this time felt the most like Vegas. Does that make sense? Maybe it will when you see how much we packed into two days.
My husband and I hit the road on Friday morning and after battling traffic on I-15 met up with our friends at the Mirage hotel where we were staying. Because of work schedules, everyone kind of showed up at different times, but we all gathered at the pool for drinks and discussions on how to spend our fabulous weekend. We actually got a cabana by the adult pool because there were enough people to split the cost so it wasn’t too outrageous. I highly recommend it, because you get shade, couches, a mini fridge, TV, waiter and access to a not crowded, kid-free pool.
Friday night we headed over to the Linq plaza and caught a quick, cheap meal of pizzas by the slice at Flour & Barley. This is a great option if you are in a rush, because you don’t have to wait for a table or a server, you can just order from a counter right on the square and eat by the fountain or on the bar top tables scattered around. We actually were in a hurry- we had tickets for the High Roller.
This was the second time we did the happy hour on the High Roller, but it’s another thing I really suggest doing. You get beautiful views of Las Vegas and a half hour to drink all the cocktails you can. I know, I sound a little cheap, but cover fees and drink prices at most Vegas bars are steep. This is a good way to get a head start, if you know what I mean.
After we got off the Ferris wheel, it was a mad dash over to New York, New York to see Zumanity at 9:30PM. I had never been to a Cirque du Soleil show before and it was absolutely amazing. People have gushed to me about these shows before, but I didn’t take it very seriously. Seeing it in person, when performers are flying over your head on nothing but a steel trapeze bar or a long flowing piece of silk, takes your breath away.
Zumanity is an over 21 burlesque style show, so there’s racy language and nudity, but trust me, it’s not like going to a sleazy strip club. It really was one of the most beautiful performances I have ever seen, followed by a hilarious audience Q&A at the end.
We decided to head back to the Mirage because a rare rain storm started moving in. We played a couple slots, got a giant (alcoholic) slushy drink from the Rhumbar counter and headed over to LVB Burgers for a late night snack. As usual after a night of drinking, I went with some form of French fries. Parmesan truffle wedges to be exact, delicious and perfect for soaking up all those cocktails.
Day two we slept in a little and headed downstairs to Pantry. First thing I saw on the menu (after ordering my mimosa, the best part of brunch) was chicken and waffles, and of course, I was sold. I loved it so much, it’s the feature photo at the top of this post. It was a vanilla waffle in a cast iron pan topped with two humongous pieces of Texas Pete fried chicken. It was a great combination of breakfast and lunch to get me ready for another day of Las Vegas fun.
The girls in the group headed over to the Cosmopolitan hotel to do a little shopping. Everyone on our trip was a member of the Navy, or a spouse like me. Our friend is having her wedding in a couple weeks before going overseas for her fiance’s new assignment, so we actually went and found her a gorgeous dress to wear for the ceremony. To celebrate we had a champagne toast in the Chandelier Bar, which was incredibly beautiful.
We headed back to the pool at the Mirage, where the guys were holding down the fort in our cabana. (We had to do it again, it was so much fun the first day!) It was another great afternoon of drinks and shenanigans by the pool. I also loved the fact that our personal server could bring us food from a number of restaurants in the hotel. I was snacking on spinach & artichoke dip and sipping Miami Vices in between swimming.
Saturday night we got dressed up for reservations at Tom Colicchio’s Heritage Steak. Now I am not a red meat eater, but I do love Top Chef so I was excited to actually eat at a “celebrity” restaurant. It was gorgeous, the service was top notch, and the food was unbelievable. I was the only one who didn’t get a steak (which most said was the best they ever had), but I did not leave disappointed in the butter poached lobster with fried shallots and sweet corn puree I ordered. It was so tender, I hardly had to use my knife to cut through it. I also stole a bite of my friends grilled octopus appetizer, had a side of mashed potatoes with chive and a palette cleansing scoop of berry sorbet to finish. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
From there, we headed down to Fremont street to see “Old Vegas”. We wandered around for a while, checking out the older casinos and the street performers. A couple of us got some big, slushy Hurricanes to drink which were very refreshing, seeing as it was still 90 degrees outside, even at 11pm at night.
We finished our night at Gold Spike, a really unique bar that has old school arcade games like Pac Man and skee ball, and a huge open back patio with giant jenga sets, rows of cornhole boards and beer pong that you play with trash cans and a dodgeball. There was also a live band and a dance floor in the center of it all. If you can’t have fun in a place like that, you might need to check your pulse. We played games and danced until the wee hours of the morning.
Somehow we made it back to the Mirage and got a couple hours of sleep. The next day my husband I were quick to hit the road and beat traffic back home. Looking back, I am amazed at how much we squeezed into a (barely) 48 hour trip. Like I said before, this vacation felt like we really hit our Vegas stride- we did a little bit of everything, besides going clubbing. I think I’m just fine admitting to myself that at almost 30 years old, I would gladly pick a fancy dinner over a loud, crowded dance floor. I am not sure if we will be back anytime soon, but if we do visit again, I now feel like I know exactly how to do it right.