When I told most people that I had never been to Las Vegas before, they were utterly shocked. I had to remind them multiple times that I grew up on the other side of the country so Vegas wasn’t quite as accessible until I moved to Southern California, where I think most people have been to the city a dozen times.
So I decided that I had to make a trek out to Vegas sometime, fully expecting to tolerate it but not totally love the city (I thought it was a place you had to see at least once in your life). But I never expected to actually enjoy Las Vegas; I don’t particularly like to party, although I do like to dance; I’m not a club person or a stripper person (:)); I am probably the cheapest person alive so I didn’t think gambling would be my thing. But still, there was something about the gaudiness and glamour of some of the hotels and the fact that you can travel from New York to Paris in one city block that totally drew me in. I ended up surprisingly having a really fun time (which could also have had something to do with my travel companions).
I drove up one weekend in February with two of my coworkers/friends, Stacy and Steph, for a two-night stay. We ended up staying “off the strip” at the Rio hoping to save some money, but realized later that during that time of year, we probably could have stayed in one of the nicer/newer hotels on the strip for about the same amount of money. Next time!
Getting there late on Thursday night (it was almost midnight by the time we got to the room), we went straight to sleep planning on a long day of walking and sightseeing ahead of us.
The next morning into the early afternoon was spent exploring most of the hotels (I think the Bellagio and the Aria were my favorites), picking up souvenirs and window shopping in all the designer stores, looking around some of the more kitschy shops in downtown, making a quick stop at the Chihuly exhibit near the Aria, hopping from one hotel to the other on the tram, and waiting to see the Bellagio water show only to find out we were about 3 hours too early (oh well). Side note: we ended up not seeing the water show at all, a reason for me to go back!
The Bellagio Gardens were decorated to celebrate Chinese New Year.
We made stops at Egg Slut for breakfast and Shake Shack for lunch, both of which I loved! Dare I say, Shake Shack is better than In n’ Out?? I know, that’s blasphemy here in Southern California but I am an East Coast-er originally.
We made a quick stop in “Venice” (where we passed on a gondola ride due to the incredibly long line) before heading out to see the Seven Magic Mountains, which I wrote about earlier.
With tickets to see a show that night and since we were already out in the desert, we stopped at the M Hotel for their buffet. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I think a buffet is wasted on me since I don’t tend to eat too much in one sitting. Although the free wine with our purchase made it a little better. 🙂
Heading back to the hotel to get ready for the night, we were all a little tired but had to rally for our 9 PM show at Mandalay Bay. We were seeing the Michael Jackson ONE show, a relatively new Cirque du Soleil production. I could go on and on about this show, if only because it was so fun to hear all of his best songs for an hour and a half.
I couldn’t quite figure out beforehand why the show was called ONE but that was almost immediately clear once the show started. The show’s overriding theme was about unity and equality, something that we need a little more of lately. It was fascinating to see how Cirque du Soleil took his music and his artistic style and put their own acrobatic spin on it, while still honoring him and his specific style of dancing. It was really beautiful. I could try to describe it more but if you want, take a look at the official video.
The next morning, Steph and I headed out for breakfast before hitting the road again. This was the weekend that California got buckets of water dumped on it (I don’t know why all of my trips seem to involve rain; I live in SoCal!). The rain was so bad, part of the freeway that Steph and I were driving back on had washed away the night before, along with a fire engine. It took us 2.5 hours to go 9 miles on this road. 😦 But because of the rain, we postponed driving over to the Hoover Dam, another reason I have to make a return trip!
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Las Vegas, and I look forward to returning soon.