I may be a highly successful beach bum whose feet are happiest in the sand or waves, but some of you may be surprised to learn that I kind of love the desert almost as much as the beach. And after calling the desert home for a summer after graduating from university – it will always hold a special place in my heart.
So it felt REALLY gosh darn good to get back to fabulous Las Vegas after having not been back since I lived there in 2008. TEN YEARS AGO, you guys! I don’t even know how I stayed away for so long.
This was a girl’s trip with my mother that was several years in the making and it was totally worth the wait. From landing the most perfect room at Caesar’s Palace, complete with our own views of the gorgeous Bellagio Fountains, to taking in two amazing shows including Jennifer Lopez who is UNBELIEVABLE – plenty of memories were made, laughs were shared, and amazingly fun times were had.
Now, I’m sharing my 10 tips for an amazing Vegas vacation and my favorite snapshots from the trip!
EXPLORE THE FLAMINGO HOTEL
The Flamingo, to me, is classic Vegas and totally worth stepping into to explore. Compared against the new luxury properties on the strip, it’s nothing fancy nor is it new BUT it’s one of the original hotel & casinos on the strip. It still has its bright neon lights, the casino has an old school feel to it, and there are some very friendly flamingos in the FREE garden habitat out back. You can also rub a Buddha belly for good luck, which if you’re gambling, might come in handy?
Lastly, it has a Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville on-site, so you should probably grab yourself a margarita or two while you’re there.
SEVEN MAGIC MOUNTAINS
The Seven Magic Mountains is an art installation about 20 minutes on the highway, south of the Las Vegas strip and it is oh, so worth the drive out to see it. Especially because rumor has it that it’ll be taken down by next year. We went earlier in the morning to avoid the crowds and spent a good hour there enjoying the art and looking for rattlesnakes, as one does in the middle of the desert.
Stay tuned for the Seven Magic Mountains own post coming soon. I have A LOT more photos where these came from!
RENT A CAR. SERIOUSLY.
The Las Vegas airport is a stone’s throw (and short cab ride) from the strip but as amazing as the strip is – and trust me, it’s AMAZING – there are so many awesome things within an hour’s drive of it, that you simply can’t miss out on. I highly recommend renting a car and exploring the desert. From Red Rock to the Grand Canyon to the outlet mall at Primm – there is so much to see.
THE HOOVER DAM
To my last point of renting a car and exploring, the Hoover Dam is an absolute must. Whether you’re into engineering and architecture or not – the Hoover Dam WILL take your breath away. I guarantee it. And the new bridge? WOAH. The dam is so damn impressive (see what I did there?) – it’s getting its own post too😎
THE BELLAGIO HOTEL
From its amazing (and I mean AMAZING and BREATHTAKING) fountains to its lobby ceiling to the incredible observatory whose theme changes every few months, the Bellagio has always been my favorite hotel to explore. I could watch the fountains out front for hours and if you’re looking to have a drink, The Petrossian Bar by the lobby often has amazing piano players.
GO OFF STRIP
The strip is home to some amazing casinos and hotels, but don’t be afraid to check out some of the properties off the strip too. We made a quick stop at Sam’s Town, as my favorite band is the Killers and I’d never made it out to Sam’s Town when I lived in Vegas. Obviously, I wanted a picture with the famous sign. From Sam’s Town to Hard Rock to the Rio and The Palms – if you’re looking for great buffets, restaurants, and lower table limits in the casinos, off strip is always a great place to start.
THE HIGH ROLLER
Considered one of the highest observation wheels in the world (even higher than the London Eye), the High Roller is a must. We went on it at night and the views were spectacular but I’d also love to try it by day. Whether you choose night or day, just make sure it’s on your Vegas to do list! For the extra adventurous, you can upgrade your ticket to a 30 minute all-you-can-drink happy hour in the sky.
STROLL THE LINQ
The High Roller and LINQ (hotel and mini strip leading to the High Roller and lined with shops and restaurants) were new since I lived in Vegas, so it was really fun to explore both. The LINQ is a fun spot to be at night and is home to an In-N-Out and a Sprinkles – complete with cupcake ATM. Also, we tried a little walk-up pizza counter next to In-N-Out that sold pizza by the slice and was delish, if you’re looking for something on the go. May I recommend an ATM cupcake for dessert?
THE BUFFET AT CAESARS PALACE
It’s a right of passage to eat at, at least ONE buffet while you’re in Vegas. Big eater or not, the variety and types of foods you get to try when you choose a buffet makes it a no-brainer. Over the years, I’ve tried A LOT of buffets but nothing has ever come close to the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace. It’s not cheap, but I promise you it’ll be one of the best meals you have all week.
THE MIRAGE VOLCANO
Now, I’m kind of a geek when it comes to volcanoes and have always been fascinated by them, so not surprisingly, I love to geek out over the Mirage Volcano that puts on a show 2-3 times a night. It had been updated since I last saw it and WOW – between the show and the reactions of everyone watching, you’re in for a real treat. Catch it nightly at 8pm and 9pm or on weekends at 10pm too.