The Las Vegas Experience in Two Days

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.


Pizza party

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.


No photos allowed during the show, only at the end, but here’s a glimpse at the stage.

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.


Perfect for a 1AM snack

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.


Wish I had a better photo of the lobster, but didn’t want to be “that” girl in the fancy restaurant!

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.

A Quick Trip To Las Vegas

I am so exhausted, but it’s completely worth it. I just spent a whirlwind 36 hours in Las Vegas. I was with my husband and a group of seventeen of his friends from the Navy and some spouses. It was such a fun group and a great bonding experience, to say the least!

We drove from Ventura to Vegas on Friday evening, arriving at around 10pm. We were quick to get all dressed up and hit the night club, Light, at Mandalay Bay where we were all staying. I haven’t been up dancing that late in, well… a very long time. My one bad decision of the whole trip was taking a shot (I do not do shots) with all the girls about halfway through the night. In the grand scheme of things that can go wrong in Las Vegas, my dull headache the next day wasn’t that awful.

So when you wake up at 10am, after 6 hours of sleep, mildly hungover, what do you do? Brunch and cocktails, of course.

I got a mimosa, and my husband got this ridiculous ultimate Bloody Mary from Citizen’s Kitchen & Bar. Yes, that’s a crab leg, a jumbo shrimp and a huge beef jerky strip in there. The photo also doesn’t do it justice, it was the biggest Bloody Mary I’ve ever seen. I needed something to soak up all the fun I had the night before, so I opted for this big Belgian waffle for my meal.

As a group, after chowing on waffles, egg sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, fruit cups, gravy smothered waffle fries and mac and cheese (to name a few of the wonderful hangover cures) we headed out to the pool to relax for the afternoon.

Night two started at about 6:30pm with all seventeen of us going down the road to New York, New York for dinner at Tom’s Urban. I had such a good time, I forgot to snap any photos there. It happens. My husband and I split a margherita flatbread pizza, that was surpisingly salty, so you aren’t missing a lot. I have eaten at Tom’s Urban in Los Angeles and had a great meal, I just don’t think I’ll be getting the pizza again.

Next on the agenda was heading over to the Linq and doing the Happy Half Hour on the High Roller. Similar to the Londen Eye, the High Roller is a giant Ferris wheel with capsules that hold up to forty people. One rotation takes a half hour, and we went for the slightly pricier tickets that included an open bar for the entire ride. I didn’t chug down as many cocktails as some of the group, but I managed a couple vodka cranberries while taking pictures of the Vegas Strip from 550 feet in the air. That’s where the featured image from this post was taken. This was the highlight of the trip to me. It was a lot of fun and the view was incredible at night.

When we were done, it was on to the Omnia night club at Caesar’s Palace. It was another fun night of dancing, but after the first night I went pretty easy on drinks and my husband and I ducked out around 1am and caught a cab back to Mandalay Bay. We changed into comfier clothes, met up with another couple from our group and found the once place still serving food at the hotel, Ri Ra Irish Pub.

These are Irish potato cakes and they might be the most perfect dish after two nights of drinking. They were made with cheese and chives, and topped with sour cream and a thick balsamic drizzle. Ah-maz-ing. I wish I had them right now. I also wish the photos were a little clearer, but it was a dark pub. My husband got shepherds pie, not pictured, and we also split some boneless chicken wings. Warning! The medium heat wings from Ri Ra were intense. I love spicy food and could handle it, but I would not want to try the hotter sauces. We all probably benefited from sweating out a little alcohol.

After a another short night of sleep, a couple of us headed back down to Citizen’s for a quick breakfast before checking out. I got a smoothie, a bagel and this lovely fruit bowl. I could almost hear my stomach thanking me for the vitamins and fresh food. It was the perfect ending to an indulgent weekend.

Soon after, we drove back, luckily beating most of the Sunday traffic. By 5:30pm I was back on my couch, snuggling up with my pup. It was a fast and fun trip, with good food and great people, but I am happy to be home and to get back to normal. I’m glad I paced myself and didn’t feel the need to keep up with the younger half of the group, but I can safely say I won’t be touching hard liquor for a long time.

I also just realized, I didn’t gamble once! Well, I guess I’ll just have to go back some day and try my luck. And try some more restaurants.

Spending Time Back Home

I think everyone considers where they grew up “home”, even after they’ve moved away. I was born and raised on the South Shore of Massachusetts and luckily for me most of my family still lives there. I went to school in Georgia, but returned after college for about seven years until my move to California last September.

A few days ago, I traveled to Massachusetts alone, as my husband couldn’t get away from work. The trip was really more for business than pleasure, because we are having our wedding there in two and a half months and a lot to get done. I should probably explain that my husband is in the Navy and like many others in that situatuation, we had a quickie courthouse marriage. Now I am planning my dream wedding celebration so we can say our vows in front of family and friends. And to, you know, party and drink and eat.

So on Valentine’s Day I flew from Los Angeles to Boston. After an hour and a half delay, a five and a half hour flight, and the shock of being thrust into record breaking cold tempatures, I was home. Unfortunately I failed to take a picture in my post-travel hunger daze, but my wonderful family was kind enough to have chicken tikka masala from our favorite Indian restaurant waiting for me upon arrival. That’s love and understanding.

Day one started with a 9am dress fitting. I haven’t seen my gown in 6 months and luckily it fit almost perfectly! The way you reward that is with French toast. My mom, sister and I had the best breakfast at one our favorite local spots, The Eating Establishment, pictured above. To be able to visit places that you have known since you were a kid is such a cool and special experience.

The best part is that the day only got better from there. After  finding and buying my moms dress for the wedding, we moved on to what is hands down the most incresdible part of wedding planning. Cake tasting.

Suddenly all the worry about bridesmaid dresses and stress about if the florist can be booked in time dissolved. I was mesmerized by a beautiful plate of seven different slices of delicious cake. The only hard part was having to choose a favorite.

Day two we ran a few more wedding related errands. A lot of stuff got taken care of and there’s really no need to break it all down. I can sum it up by saying at the time I was a ball of anxiety, but next week when I sit down with my to-do list, I’ll be feeling great about all we accomplished. Shout out to my sister/maid of honor for keeping my organized!

We had one more family meal the last night at another favorite restaurant, Not Your Average Joes, an American style eaterie that serves up seasonal specials and local ingredients. I usually would have tried something of the monthly specials, but since it has been so long since I had been there, I ordered my staples. The table shared fresh foccacia bread and buffalo Caribbean chicken tenders with pineapple salsa, and for my entree I had a Tuscan chicken sandwich, smothered in fresh mozzarella. YUM.

It was a short but sweet trip, and I am glad I got to break in my new travel category with a visit home. Just like my cooking, it’s nice to start with things that are familiar and beloved as a jumping off point. Luckily I have some more adventures coming up over the next couple months that I can wait to share.