Visiting Vegas is an absolute must for any traveller of any age. If you are looking for a ‘full on’ vacation this is the place to be.
I am currently on my 6 week countdown until I take my 4th trip to Sin City. I will be celebrating both Thanksgiving and Black Friday and will certainly be making the most of all the shopping bargains to be had. It may surprise you to know that shopping in Vegas is absolutely sensational, but more of that later.
I suppose I better add it’s my daughters 27th birthday and for the last 14 years we have always celebrated her birthday as part of our holiday destination. Not a huge lover of sun, sea and sand relaxation holidays, my choice is always places where there are lots of things to see, do and experience.
This fabulous 24 hour city in the desert is certainly the home to some of the most wonderful experiences and craziest sights. Seeing is definitely believing.
While I already have experience of visiting Vegas previously, there is always so much to see and do and it is constantly changing so you do get a different experience every time.
1. Tour the Themed Hotels
This is THE top thing to do when visiting Vegas and some of the hotels are so vast it takes several hours to absorb everything that’s going on. Each of the themed hotels offers something completely different. Just take a stroll along Las Vegas Boulevard (The Strip) to discover the wonders of Las Vegas.
Starting with The Luxor, this incredible black glass pyramid hotel with it’s single strobe beam light shining into the night sky from it’s central point it can be seen for miles. As you can imagine this hotel is Egyptian themed. Make sure you grab plenty of photo opportunities as you are taken back to days of the Pharaohs.
Moving on to Excalibur, built in the shape of a castle with magnificent turrets. All of the activities within the hotel are medieval themed. This hotel is always lively. Make sure you grab an evening at the Tournament of the Kings show, where you are fed and watered and get to see a magnificent jousting spectacular.
You can check out great value tickets for Tournament of Kings and other Vegas attractions here.
New York, New York gives you everything Big Apple. From the spectacular roller coaster that travels both inside and outside of the hotel, to the monumental replica of Lady Liberty and even the Chrysler building.
The Monte Carlo Hotel contains a Minus 5 ice bar and this is a really great experience to do if you get time. There’s also another ice lounge in The Mandalay Bay Hotel.
Caesars Palace and of course the immortal Hangover line ‘This isn’t the real Caesar’s palace is it? You can buy all sorts of memorabilia here. Home to both Celine Dion and Elton John shows, this magnificent Roman styled amphitheatre building is a spectacular centre piece of the strip. The Forum shops within the hotel are tasteful and plentiful, over 160 shop and restaurants and of course the piece de resistance is always the free ‘Fall of Atlantis Fountain’ show.
Paris is a real eye-catcher with replica Eiffel Tower and hot air balloon. There are some wonderful Parisienne themed restaurants and no trip would be complete without going up onto the viewing platform of the Eiffel Tower and grabbing a full 360 degree view of the City and the surrounding desert. You can sometimes forget you are in the desert until you remember how overheated you feel especially in the summer months.
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Looking for a Gondola ride? Then head over to The Venetian. This incredible hotel has a replica version of Venice’s Grand Canal where you can take a fabulous boat ride and admire detailed replicas of the Bridge of Sighs, the Rialto Bridge and Campanile Tower.
Grab an ice cream in St Marks Square and watch the entertainment. It does actually feel like you are in Italy.
Further down The Strip is Circus Circus. As you can imagine this hotel contains a circus and rides. There are free circus shows throughout the day.
The Stratosphere is the hotel which has a rooftop ride 1149 feet up above the city. Not one for the feint-hearted. The Tower has a 360 view of the city and it is pretty spectacular at night when everywhere is lit up.
There are so many more hotels to explore when visiting Vegas, I have just touched on a handful of my favourites. If you are looking to admire more luxurious surroundings make sure you have a wander through hotels like The Bellagio (their Christmas decorations are fabulous) or try The Wynn, The Encore and The Palazzo. No matter where you are you will get a view of the gold cladded Trump Hotel.
Choosing a hotel to stay
All of the hotels are great so it really is personal preference and budget that determine where you actually choose. I personally enjoy the central strip location around the newly built Linq.
There are a good variety of hotels of varying price ranges here; The Linq, Harrahs, Flamingo, Paris, The Cromwell, Planet Hollywood, Caesars Palace, The Bellagio, Vdara, Aria to name a few. Watch out though as they all have resort fees to pay when you arrive on top of your room rate so make sure you factor this in. Even if you are not staying there you must go into The Cromwell as it has the best smell of all the hotels, I kid you not. (All of the hotels have a different fragrance pumped into the air).
All the hotels have a great selection of cafe, bars, restaurants and shops to suit every taste. Don’t just stick to your hotel you can eat, drink and people watch anywhere. Make sure you pick up the coupon books in your hotel as there are sometimes some really good discounts on things you were planning to do anyway. We got our trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower as a 2 for 1 coupon deal.
There are just as equally as good hotels and some even better off strip or downtown in the old part of Vegas, it is just really down to your own preference. I am certain that wherever you stay when visiting Vegas you will have the most memorable time ever.
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2. Watch the Bellagio Fountain Show
One of the biggest draws must be the water fountain show at The Bellagio, it is absolutely wonderful and a real treat in the evening to watch as the water dances in time to the music and lights. Grab a seat at one of the outdoor restaurants across the street at Paris or Planet Hollywood to sit and enjoy a meal and a drink while the show repeats.
3. Fremont Street Experience
This is a great night out. The Deuce bus that runs the length of the strip will take you down to Fremont which is Vegas Old Town. The neon light show and music is played all evening across the entire street and it is a Vegas extravaganza every night.
I personally wouldn’t try the zip wire as I don’t think I have ever seen it running without someone getting stuck and dangling above the crowds. But if dangling above the crowds is your thing, don’t let me put you off.
Do pop into the Golden Nugget Hotel and have a look at the world famous Golden Nugget, I have walked past it a couple of times without even noticing and it is pretty huge!
4. Visit the Vegas sign
Surely this has to be one of the most photographed spots in Vegas. it’s actually in Paradise just outside the city limits of Las Vegas. It’s a the South end of the city and marks the start of The Strip. Depending on which hotel you are staying at you might want to hop on one of the frequent buses that travel up and down the strip as the sign is further out than you may think.
Once there you must take photographs of this iconic 25 foot neon sign, welcoming you to the city, that is recognised globally. You can even have your photograph taken with Elvis. Preferably before he leaves the shot! There is a webcam located here so tell your family and friends so you can give them a wave.
Combine your trip to the Las Vegas sign with a bit more hotel sight seeing. The Mandalay Bay Hotel is located not far from here. The Mandalay has its own man-made Beach. The House of Blues is inside the hotel and is a fabulous eating and music venue especially on Sundays. The Shark Reef is also here which is always worth a visit.
If you have already discovered the Vegas Slots app game, play the free games to build up the rewards. I play the games on my phone and when I am in Las Vegas I exchange the rewards for free drinks, buffets and shows. The rewards are available to use at hotels like Mandalay Bay, Vdara, Aria, The Monte Carlo, The Stratosphere, Caesars Palace, MGM and quite a few more.
5. Grand Canyon & Hoover Dam
Although not strictly Vegas and entirely in a different state. A visit to the Grand Canyon is definitely worth doing especially if you only expect to be here once. There are ticket sellers everywhere for various excursions to the Canyon and you can combine this with a trip to the Hoover Dam. I have been twice to the Canyon once in Winter and once in the Summer and on both trips I was absolutely blown away by how impressive it is. Make sure you go to the West Rim and go on the Glass Bridge. It is the most spectacular piece of engineering ever and the view is breathtaking, Certainly one for the bucket list.
6. Shop until you drop
The shopping is really great in Vegas. There are malls at the South and North ends of The Strip. I love the North mall as this is the Premium Outlet which has all the great brand names at discount prices. Coach always has a spectacular sale, or you can get great buys at Michael Kors. When buying for my niece and nephew I can’t go wrong with purchases from Abercrombie & Fitch and Converse. Miracle mile is as you guessed, a whole mile of shopping inside Planet Hollywood. The Forum shops in Caesars are mostly your high street brands and the shops within The Bellagio are higher end like Tiffany and Louis Vuitton. Usually we end up at some point in Tiffanys for a birthday gift! You could spend a whole day in The Fashion Show mall it is full of great shops including a really good Macy’s. Don’t forget to pick up a discount card from guest services if you are buying anything in Macy’s. I also love the shop that sells all of the cowboy boots, it’s window shopping heaven and the smell of the leather is just wonderful.
7. Sunday Brunch
You can grab brunch everyday at most places but the Sunday brunches are really spectacular and can fuel you for the entire day.
Perhaps one of my favourite ever Sunday brunches has been at The Wicked Spoon which is located in the Cosmopolitan Hotel. The food is fabulous with a variety of stations serving all types imaginable to suit most tastes. Individual portions served up in small copper bottom pots. You can pay just a bit extra at most restaurants serving Sunday brunch to have bottomless mimosas or fizz.
The Flamingo is a really popular choice for the locals so that probably is recommendation enough. Try the waffles they are ACE.
8. People Watch at Carnival Court
When visiting Vegas my first stop is always to Carnival Court. This is a fabulous bar outside Harrahs. It’s a great place to grab a drink while being entertained by the mixology antics of the bartenders, as they mix and throw the drinks. There is usually live entertainment and it’s a great vantage spot to watch the world go by and get over any jetlag!
9. Go to a Show
There are some phenomenal shows on in Vegas, from music of all genres, comedy, magic, tribute acts and so much more. There are probably 6 Cirque du Soleil performances to choose from alone. Most of the hotels have theatres and a lot of them have shows that have been resident for years and draw in the crowds daily. Celine Dion & Elton John are regular features at Caesars. Donny & Marie Osmond have the residency at The Flamingo. The standard of performances are outstanding so do try to take in at least one show when visiting Vegas.
For same day tickets to shows there are a couple of places you can buy these at a discount, so look out for these.
You will also find there is lots of free street entertainment, which is usually to a really good standard it is really worth stopping and watching for a little while.
10. You thought I had forgotten to mention the Gambling ?
The casinos are everywhere as you would expect, you have to walk through them even just to get to the reception desks of the hotels. Slot machines galore along with Poker Tables, Craps, Roulette and any other casino activity you can think of. Semi clad girls and boys in fabulous feathers and costumes welcome you in. It is everything you imagine and more. 24/7 gaming it certainly is. Day or night it is always the same. It is true there are NO clocks. Now I am not really a gambler, if I am at the races I will have a flutter and I have played bingo a couple of times but there is something completely different about visiting Vegas.
There are some people who will just sit and feed the machines all day but that’s not my idea of a vacation. Remember you are on holiday for fun and don’t take it too seriously.
The slot machines are absolutely amazing and absolutely everywhere. It’s a people watchers paradise on a grand scale. Providing you are sensible and budget in advance the amount that you are prepared to lose, stick within that budget and don’t chase your losses, you can generally walk away each day with a few dollars more in your pocket to buy brunch. I particularly enjoy The Hangover and The Kiss slot machines and lots of people seem to go wild for the huge Wheel of Fortune.
The hosts will bring ‘free’ drinks to you while you are playing to encourage you to spend more. Don’t forget to tip a dollar or two each time. If you do go up to the bar yourself you will be charged for drinks. I usually budget what I would spend on buying a couple of glasses of prosecco at the bar then use that money in the slot machines and order my couple of ‘free’ glasses from the hostess. Win Win all round!
Most of the hotels offer lessons in how to play some of the Table games like Craps. For nothing else it’s good to say in conversation that you learned to play poker like a pro in Vegas.
So that was my quick round up of my previous Top 10 so what’s in store for me visiting Vegas in November?
Well along with the extensive shopping I am expecting to do, I have a few new items for my list of experiences. I am going to take a night time trip to the Neon Boneyard and I’ve already booked tickets via Groupon for a show at the Hard Rock hotel. I’ve never been to the container park. I’m thinking that although last time when visiting Vegas I had a spectacular view of the wheel in the sky; The Linq, I didn’t go on it so really should this time around.
You will have to wait until December to read about what I actually got up to on my travels. VIVA LAS VEGAS.
If you enjoy a bit of wanderlust why not read about how I am filling up my bucket list.
I know usually what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas but if you can, please share with me your best experiences and top choices so I can try them out.
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