Labor Day weekend found us jetting off to wild and wonderful Las Vegas. Fortunately — or unfortunately depending on your view — we have no wild and crazy stories to share. (I’m sure Dan’s rugby buddies will find that hard to believe!) Although if I hadn’t carried my cellphone during a very hot run along a “desert” trail, Dan might have spent a day searching for his lost wife, à la The Hangover movies. But that’s another story.
As it was, we survived our trip to Sin City none the worse for wear. Thanks to a great Travelzoo deal, we spent four nights at the beautiful JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort and Spa, about 15 minutes from the Strip. We rented a car, which enabled us to see the area as well as get away from the glitz and glamor when we needed to.
Of course, the resort featured its own lavish casino, which you had to walk through to get to the restaurants, so we couldn’t resist throwing a few dollars into the slots every time we went by. For the record I came out ahead and Dan did not. He hit some decent jackpots, but as is usually the case, those greedy machines stole it all back. I did better at Blackjack and managed to have some fun for a while before calling it quits with my massive $45 winnings. As you can see, I’m not exactly an adventurous gambler.
Highlights of the trip:
Vegas show. We saw the comedian/impressionist Gordie Brown at the Golden Nugget. He did a fabulous job impersonating singers — everyone from Elvis and Frank Sinatra to Coldplay and Eminem — using his own hysterically funny lyrics. If you don’t want to shell out big bucks for the top entertainers, he’s a great alternative and I highly recommend his show. We got an online deal ahead of time for dinner and the buffet so it was even more affordable.
Plus it got us down to Fremont Street, the original Vegas strip, which was pretty cool in itself. You don’t want to miss the Fremont Street Experience. Part of the street is under a dome, which features music videos flashed on the overhead screen. On this particular night, a live band was playing as part of their summer music festival, and we rocked out to the music of Journey, Boston, and Led Zeppelin. I’m sure my kids were sorry they missed that!
Vegas Strip. We spent a day walking around the infamous Strip, mostly on the south end. Handy tip: all the casinos offer free parking so just pick your favorite, park in their garage, and head out from there. Our concierge recommended the Bellagio, since it’s more or less centrally located, and walking through their lobby is certainly a nice way to start your day! We missed the famous fountain show, but it’s a great treat if you can time it right.
We ended up returning to the pub Sunday night for some wonderful Irish music and dancing. Before that I wandered through The Shops at Crystals, part of the fabulous new City Center — an upscale collection of hotels, restaurants, and stores — while Dan checked out the PBR Rock Bar & Grill. We also walked through Excalibur and Mandalay Bay. A free tram travels between those two resorts so be sure to look for it. I’m sorry we didn’t get down to the other end of the Strip as I especially wanted to see the new Trump Hotel, but there’s only so much you can fit in!
Red Rock Canyon. To take a breather on Sunday, we drove out to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, which was only a few miles from our resort. The area is absolutely breathtaking. We drove the 13-mile scenic route, which made me slightly nervous as there were thunderstorms in the area and the news kept warning us about flash floods (one reason I didn’t want to drive out to the Hoover Dam/Lake Mead area). But the storms stayed away, and we even got out and hiked one of the trails. The sandstone landscape is really amazing and totally worth a side trip.
On Monday, we enjoyed the pool and casino before taking the red-eye home that night.
Although I know Vegas isn’t for everyone, I think it’s an exciting city with lots to do and see. (Not to mention lots to eat — we definitely overdid the buffets!) It can be as wild and crazy as you want to make it, but it’s all up to you. Keep in mind that some people actually do survive Vegas without getting married, getting lost, or completely forgetting everything they’ve done!