What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas? Well there wouldn’t be much point in having a blog if that was the case. We started our California (with a little Nevada) tour in Vegas and then moseyed on to Yosemite National Park, San Francisco and finally Los Angeles. All fuelled by the power of our Hyundai Elantra. I’m going to write an overall driving guide but I thought I’d do our step by step cities too since there’s just far too much to fit into one blog post. So here we go – Vegas in a nutshell…
Courtesy of a very comfortable British Airways flight we landed into Vegas McCarran Airport at around 11 at night – by this point we’d been awake about 24 hours and technically it was still 5am. I’m telling you now folks – jetlag is very very real and she’s a spiteful bitch.
In a hazy blur we checked into our hotel – New York New York and made our way to our well sized room with a view of the strip. New York New York is one of the oldest hotels on the new strip and you can tell – it’s not flashy and it’s also one of the few hotels not to have a full shopping mall built in. To be honest I found myself preferring this as it only took us 5 minutes to get from our room to the front door – in other hotels we visited it literally took half an hour, if not longer.
Word of warning – the weather in August is unbearable – we’re talking 40-45 degrees every day with no let down until about 9pm where it becomes a slightly more bearable 30-35 degrees. Wear sunscreen.
Day one we availed of the awesome breakfast menu at The Cosmopolitan – it’s not to be missed. Braised rib eggs benedict? YES PLEASE. We then took a walk up the strip and pretty much investigated every hotel on the way with their enormous shopping malls. No joke every hotel has a shopping mall the size of London. It’s ridiculous. We dropping some money on slot machines and then had our first ever Shake Shack. Stunning.
Day two we visited the North Mall. We also discovered the amazing bus that runs up and down the strip (info in the tips section below). Our feet were walked off us after just 24 hours and the bus was a welcome relief. A quick 15 minutes and we were at the shopping village. Packed with designer outlets and most at absolute bargain prices. I picked up a North Face hoodie for $23. TWENTY THREE DOLLARS. I’m still getting over this. I also scored a Michael Kors purse for my cousin and spoilt myself with a beautiful Coach handbag. This was a huge deal for me as the most I’d ever spent on a bag was about £45. This was considerably more but still an absolute steal so it’s ok…
That night we went to see Cirque Du Soleil KA at the MGM. It’s absolutely stunning and the effort put in is like nothing I’ve ever seen. The artists are in character from the moment you step in – swinging above you and jumping out behind seats. There are usually around 6 different Cirque Du Soliels on in Vegas, all in different hotels and tickets can be bought in advance or in the hotels themselves. We got a 25% discount code whilst walking through the MGM so keep your eyes peeled when you’re out and about.
After the show we took a walk up the strip to watch the the Bellagio Water Display and the Volcano at Ceasar’s Palace. It’s definitely worth taking a walk up and down both during the day and night, it’s a completely different experience. Vegas really comes alive at night – I’m sure that’s no surprise. A lot of clubs don’t really get going until around 2am, most don’t open before 11 and many people tend to sleep or lie by the pool by day and party at night.
Day three we spent just mooching around. We considered going to The Grand Canyon but the high cost and 10 hour round trip didn’t really appeal. We did however really enjoy a beautiful buffet dinner at The Wynn. This hotel has to be seen to be believed. Every hotel has its own theme and stand out differences but The Wynn is just perfection. We’d been tipped off on their buffet and were not disappointed! Every food type was provided and tasted amazing, the dessert selection was endless and the dining room itself was Alice in Wonderland’s Tea Party. Wonderful. At $42 each I would have gone every night.
We finished our stay with a trip to Fremont Street. It was an experience to say the least. Not for the faint of heart, expect to see even less clothing on entertainers, busy streets full of hen parties, bizarre street performances and a distinct feeling of 80s nostalgia. In truth Fremont Street looked like how I’d imagine all of Vegas would…just a little tackier.
The next day we went to the airport to pick up our car and that’s when the real adventure began. I’m glad we visited Vegas – it was definitely an experience, but to be honest it wasn’t for me and I won’t be in a rush to go back. A couple of days is more than enough.
10 Tips for Surviving Las Vegas
- Wear sunscreen – you may be in and out of hotels but the sun is direct and it’s very easy to get burnt. It’s so warm you may find yourself deliberately walking through hotels instead of the strip to avoid the heat so also bring a layer you can easily pack as the aircon is really cold!
- Use the Bus – of course you’ll want to walk up and down the strip and see the sights and hotels but eventually when your feet are falling off you and you know that getting to the Wynn will take you at least 45 minutes in scorching heat you will want alternative methods of transport! RTC stops are located all the way up the strip and a 24 hour pass will cost approx $8 with 3 days costing $20. The Deuce will also take you to the shopping malls and Fremont Street.
- Shopping outlets – Leave space in your case! Vegas itself isn’t cheap but the outlets are amazing. Hoards of people lifting 5+ Michael Kors bags and pairs upon pairs of Diesel jeans.
- If they’re dressed up they want money – the streets are lined in poorly dressed superheros and film characters. Not once did we see a Marilyn or Elvis – everyone was in either a Transformers outfit or Superhero costume and very few had put in any effort. Poor show lads!!! Yelling and trying to get you into a photo before charging extortionate ‘tip’ fees.
- Tipping – tipping is huge in the states and Vegas is no different, 15%+ is the standard for anything from a drink to your meals. Nothing comes for free here.
- Water – it’s so warm you’ll need water continuously. Look for souvenir shops on the strip – they entice people in by offering bottles for cheap. One opposite our hotel offered 2 for $1 which we visited every day before heading out.
- Food – there’s plenty of places to eat in Vegas but it’s very hit or miss. Keep your TripAdvisor app handy to see where is nearby with a decent rating. The Cosmopolitan breakfast we had on our first day was out of this world but pricey at $70!! The Wynn Buffet is a great investment – at $42 it’s not cheap but the decor and food are worth almost twice that price!
- Taxis can only pick up from hotels so don’t bother trying to flag one down on the strip as they’ll just drive straight past you.
- Fremont Street is like the strip’s fun, dirty Aunt – you’ll see some strange sights but it’s definitely worth a visit – the bus will take you straight there and back.
- Appreciate each hotel – Every hotel has something to offer; Parasol Lounge in the Wynn is beautiful – try to get a seat between shows or try the upstairs balcony bar which offers just as great a view but is much more quiet. The Ballagio has a stunning water display, but it also has a botanical garden in its conservatory. Ceasar’s Palace is renowned for its casino but has one of the best shopping malls AND beautiful sky-lit ceilings and beautiful Greek statues throughout.