For as long as I’ve known him, Jamie has wanted to go to Vegas, so when we were planning our Californian road trip, we had to include a few days in Sin City.
We had three days in Vegas ahead of us. One of those days we had prebooked a tour to the Grand Canyon, so that left us with two days to explore this neon covered city. Challenge accepted.
Possibly the most famous boulevard in the world. Where else can you see the Eiffel tower, the Statue of Liberty and the Sphinx on the same road? You could spend a good few days exploring the 4 miles lined with casinos and hotels.
The Strip in the day is a totally different experience to the strip at night when the City’s 15,000 miles of neon tubing are in full show.
We walked from the MGM Grand, through the Bellagio and Caesars (bet they get fed up of people asking if its the “Real Caesar’s Palace?”), across to the Flamingo and the Venetian and finishing at Wynn’s.
There are over 100 casinos in Las Vegas, with half of these located on the actual strip, and each one has there own unique pull to get the punters in.
When in Vegas
A trip to Vegas wouldn’t be complete without a flutter. There are more than 175,000 slot machines to choose from in Vegas, but we decided to chance our luck on the roulette table.
The Golden Nugget is one of the City’s original hotels and casinos, opened in 1946, so we hoped history was on our side when we entered the casino on Fremont Street. We headed to the counter, exchanged $100 for coloured chips and took a seat. We had a full intention of losing that money, but when in Vegas…!
We stayed a while and enjoyed a few free drinks. A man even joined us and bet $1000 chip on one number. A couple of others joined but soon lost theirs to the dealer.
Lady Luck was certainly with us, or least lucky number 17 was on our side. We cashed out $220 dollars up and left before we could be lured in by another table. A nice $320 for dinner tonight.
The Mob Museum
The Mob Museum, just off Fremont, is definitely worth a visit, if you can tear yourself away from the casino’s bright lights.
As well as telling the story of how mobs came to rule Vegas, and their downfall, the museum also told the nostalgic story of the rise of Vegas and how it got to where it is today. It also looks at organised crime across America and globally, all inside a former courthouse and post office.
We spend a good few hours looking around the displays, watching the videos and playing with the interactives. It’s a great place to learn more about the darker history of Vegas and how it became the entertainment capital it is known as today.
You can’t go the Vegas and not see at least one show. We had prebooked to see two shows, Vegas! The Show and Cirque de Soleil’s KA.
Vegas! The Show
Vegas!, showing at Planet Hollwood, aims to “pay homage to the legends” that helped put Vegas firmly on the map as the entertainment capital of the USA, and arguably the world.
The show featured songs from the Rat Pack, Elvis and Tina Turner, to name a few. Showgirls with glittering skirts danced across the stage, and ripped their outfits to reveal a skimpier outfit beneath – much to the amusement of the older man sat next to us who kept cheering and whooping each time. I can confirm his wife was not impressed.
It’s a good show for those who are nostalgic for the “good old days”.
Cirque de Soleil – Ka
A gravity defying spectacle that left us thinking, “Oh my god, how did they do that?!?!” The stage basically moves from flat to rotating 360 degrees while upright, and everything in between.
There are 7 Cirque shows to choose from in Vegas, including O, the Beatles and it’s ‘adult show’ Zoomanity. After a quick research, we settled for KA, which tells the story of two twins, separated by war, who journey to take back their lands and people.
I’m not usually one for dangerous acrobatics or tricks – I can’t even watch those artists on Britain’s Got Talent where they lock themselves in a water tank and have to get out before they die, or swallowing swords/fire/small instruments. However, these acrobatics were done with such ease and grace, it left you in awe rather than hiding behind your seat.
Cowboy experience at Red Rock Canyon
Not your usual activity while in Vegas, but after all the excitement on the strip, we signed up for a leisurely evening of horse riding through Red Rock Canyon and eating BBQ food.
We were collected late afternoon from our hotel and driven to a stables.
On arrival, we were paired up with our trekking partner. Jamie was given the biggest horse, and I was given one of the smaller ones.
I think I pissed my horse off though. As I was climbing on, I accidentally whacked her in the head, so she punished me by stopping to eat grass at every opportunity or straying away from the path. The whole experience was a mixture of “I love this, what a place to be horse riding” and “Oh my god, what if my horse runs off with me on top”.
Luckily, our guides were on hand to reassure us and give s some information about Red Rock Canyon as we trekked through the countryside.
We arrived back safely, with slightly sore legs and bum from the hour ride and were greeted by the smell of barbecued steaks.
I have to admit, potatoes, steak, beans and salad seems like a strange combination but it was very tasty.
The evening was finished off with smores round the campfire. It reminded me of something we used to do at guide camp when I was a kid, and the perfect way to end a lovely afternoon.
It was a great way to get away from the madness of the Strip and explore a beautiful part of the world that might otherwise be overlooked.