Welcome To Las Vegas!
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
All lame jokes aside, let’s talk about our trip. The first vacation Colin and I took together was to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. It was our college graduation trip from my parents. We were super excited to head to a new place; we packed the flag and got our bags ready. We were so excited we couldn’t sleep! A decision I later regretted; with a 6AM flight and had a 3-hour time difference. It was our first time getting to experience each other in stressful situations, away from home. We took loads of pictures, experienced things we never would have outside of Vegas, and got our first glimpse of how grand it could be to see somewhere new.
FIRE UP CHIPS!
Picture this for a moment. A young couple on their first trip, using public transit with bulky backpacks and carry-ons. We are wearing jeans in 85-degree weather because it was cold when we left, and we didn’t want to pack them in our small bags. We’re wandering a few miles from the Las Vegas Strip, lost, hungry and are a little rattled. If you didn’t laugh, you should, because we sure are (now). Take a look at the below video that Colin snapped of me, wandering around, confused as where to go next. We jumped on a bus from the airport, attempting to head straight to our hotel. However, due to lack of knowledge, we didn’t exactly know where to get off and we ended up getting off the bus WAY too soon. The website for the bus system is here. I would HIGHLY recommend using the trip planner, if you are going to use the buses. The trip planner is here (scroll down to where it says plan your trip) and it will tell you right where to get on and off the bus. Or, just catch an Uber, Taxi or even carpool using “Trip to Strip”, directly from the airport. There are plenty of options for getting to the strip, we just weren’t sure on which to use and at the time Uber and Carpooling were not as popular. Our advice; plan ahead. Especially if this is your first time visiting and even more so if it is your first time using public transit. Use the scheduling planner or just simply call an Uber.
Lost in Nevada
Harrah's Las Vegas Hotel & Casino
We enjoyed our stay here, along with the casino. The receptionist was very nice and allowed us to leave our bags in the hotel the day we arrived and the day we checked out, so that we didn’t have to carry them on the strip during the period of time between check-in and check-out. We recommend checking Groupon for hotel rates and doing some research prior to booking. HotelTonight is also great for cheap Vegas lodging. We were somewhat in the middle of the strip, which was a good location to be. If you are looking for luxury, try the Bellagio (even if you don’t stay there, you have to catch one of the fountain shows!). If you’re looking for kid friendly, try Grand Circus or Excalibur. Plenty of hotels to choose from. My favorite that we walked through during our visit was the Mirage. It had a pool that I loved and an exhibit with dolphins. Each hotel really does have an unique amenity to offer. So, browse around, check Groupon, and then book the one that speaks to you the most.
Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat
Bellagio Fountain Show
A big part of the Vegas experience is attending a show. We went to a Cirque-du-Soleil show and really enjoyed it. We got (FREE) tickets for Zumanity, knowing it was something you would definitely only see in Vegas. (See below on myVEGAS Slots, a free-to-play app that allows you to redeem your earnings for free things in real-life Vegas) As far as Cirque-du-Soleil goes, visit their website, as there are plenty of shows to choose from. Zumanity does have some nudity and audience participation (not to be confused with audience participation in nudity). However, we were sitting too far away to be chosen for participation and just got to enjoy the show from a distance. We would definitely recommend attending some type of show, as many people do. They are all different, unique and very Vegas.
Zumanity - Cirque-du-Soleil
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If you have ever watched a movie with a casino scene, you’ve probably noticed buckets of coins and levers being pulled on the side of the machines. Most casinos don’t look like this anymore. But, we’re talking about Las Vegas! If you are looking to take it old school, head on down to Fremont Street. We actually highly recommend the Fremont Street Experience be apart of your trip anyways. We took a bus to Fremont Street and found it easily (we finally learned the bus system). We LOVED Fremont and we want to stay downtown next time we visit. Here, the casinos are just as fun, but the experience is a little different. There are plenty of lights (including the light show on the canopy covering the street). There are individuals spray painting magnificent pieces of art in a matter of minutes, with tons of on-lookers. Plus, we were able to see The D Las Vegas which was cool to check out! Our only complaint was that we didn’t plan enough time to spend downtown. This is a great place to hang out, people watch and take in Vegas, without the craziness of the Strip.
The Freemont Street Experience
The D Las Vegas
Aside from gambling, walking through hotels and observing lights and fountains, we had a lot of fun just “relaxing”, Vegas style. When we wanted to take a break from gambling, we would grab a drink from Fat Tuesday (still to this day, our favorite alcoholic vender), sit down and just people watch. There are performers and street acts EVERYWHERE. If there is one thing I can say about Las Vegas, you will never be bored. 24 hours a day there are people walking around, lights flashing and a slot machines calling your name. Coming back home, we forgot what it was like to not be able to get McDonalds at 3:14am. “What do you mean you close? How absurd.” This is how you feel after a few days and nights in Sin City.
Old School Winnings
4 Queens Casino
We also took the opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam while in the area (see our post about Grand Canyon National Park here). This was a great break, in-between all the casino hopping and walking around. We were able to take a bus straight from the Strip, over to the Grand Canyon, which gave us some time to sit and relax (and I was excited to get a chance to read).
Of course, you have to check-out the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign. You will likely have to wait in line to snap the pic, but did you really go to Vegas if you don’t capture the sign? When we went, there was a guy volunteering to take everyone’s pictures, in exchange for tips. Leave the selfie sticks and tripods behind and get a good shot of you and your group!
Overall, we really enjoyed our first vacation and first trip to Las Vegas. So much so, that Colin was sick of exhaustion on our way home. After seeing many movies with Las Vegas in the plot, it was great to be able to see the Strip and casinos for ourselves. We had a great time and want to visit again with friends. It can be a relatively cheap trip as well (depending, of course, on how much you spend gambling). Viva Las Vegas!