By way of a background in 2013, we took our first trip to Vegas for 4 nights as part of a multi-centre holiday (the other two destinations were New York and Dominican Republic just in case you wondered). As I wasn’t really blogging at this time about my trips away and we are off to Vegas again this year, I thought I would just give a brief of what we got up to in Vegas back in 2013 so we don’t look like we have done nothing the 2nd time round. As you will see from what we did there are a few things that we did back in 2013 that we will not be doing again this year.
P.S I do like to go on about everything so apologies in advance!
We flew with British Airways from London Gatwick to Vegas, they were brilliant to fly with we had no problems at all with them food was lovely plenty of drinks and a good choice of films to choose from.
We stayed in the MGM Grand resort, we had booked West Wing King room, however, on arrival we were given a Grand Queen which was a pleasant surprise and no we didn’t do the $20 trick. First impressions of the hotel were excellent, however the hotel was HUGE even after our four nights in Vegas we still hadn’t explored parts of the hotel.
We took a taxi from the airport to MGM unfortunately we got tunnelled (if you have been to Vegas or on any Vegas forums you will know what this means) I was super annoyed at myself for not saying about no tunnel as I had read so much about it but the excitement of being in Vegas, an 11 hour flight and being awake for a stupid amount of hours made me just get in the taxi and say MGM.
We got our tickets for the NYNY Rollercoaster through MyVegas (again if you have been to Vegas or read the forums you will know about this game that you all of a sudden become obsessed with and then don’t know what to cash your coins in for!!) Anyway back to the rollercoaster, I loved this it was very bumpy and my head was flying everywhere and I got back to the start looking like I had been dragged through a bush backwards but it was great fun and definitely worth a go for a first timer in Vegas! Sam on the other hand hated the ride! Bad times!
This was my favourite attraction in Vegas, I loved it, every time we walked past and the fountains were shooting in the air I would make Sam stop and watch them, by the end of the 4 days he was walking off and leaving me. I just loved how they went along to the music and at night they were all lit up. These are definitely a must watch in Vegas! I think they are on every half an hour or something like that, I can’t remember now.
Las Vegas Sign
We took a walk down to the Welcome to Las Vegas Sign on our first morning in Vegas, due to us having ridiculous jet lag and being up at stupid o’clock it seemed like a good idea to take a stroll and take in a few hotels along the way. We walked from the MGMG over to NYNY, through Excalibur, Luxor and Mandalay Bay and then continued down to the sign. I think it took around 15 minutes from Mandalay Bay to walk there. As we were so early there was only a handful of people at the sign and of course Elvis was there to take your picture (and a couple of dollars) I think he got offended when I said I wanted to take a selfie J Anyway, if you’re a first time visitor or have never been its worth a stop by to get the photo of you and that Vegas Sign.
Grand Canyon Celebration Tour with Papillion
We booked our Grand Canyon Tour with Papillion before we left the UK, I can’t remember how much it was but it was cheaper than Maverick. We didn’t book to go to the South Rim as we weren’t in Vegas for long and it being our first time we wanted to see as much as possible in the short time we had there. Anyway, it was a helicopter tour which landed in the canyon and a picnic lunch with champagne and then flying back. We had no problems at all with Papillion, they picked us up from the hotel on time, we had a few pickups along the way and then we were off to Boulder City (I think – bad memory) where the terminal was for Papillion. The tour itself was amazing the we managed to get front row seats in the helicopter (they arrange the seating by your weight) and the experience of flying over the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon was amazing we loved every minute of it and couldn’t stop smiling. When we landed we had time to explore, take pictures, enjoy a glass of champagne and a little picnic, we were then taking our seats back in the helicopter and flying off again. After landing we were then taken back to our hotel. I think the whole tour was around 4 hours. Again I would totally recommend the tour and Papillion.
Mandalay Bay Aquarium
We got our tickets for the Aquarium from MyVegas so they were free however, I wouldn’t really pay for this attraction. Yes it was nice to see all the fish and the alligator etc but it’s something I can also see at home. Anyway it was a nice attraction and I can imagine that if you are visiting with children they will love it. We only spent an hour wondering around and then left. Would I recommend it… probably not.
I loved the Bellagio conservatory, when we were in Vegas it was all done up for Halloween, they really do make it look beautiful with all the flowers and theme. There were pumpkins everywhere, scarecrows, fountains and I loved the talking tree. We are heading back to Vegas again around Halloween season so I am sure the theme will be the same as last time however, I would love to see it around another time of the year, Christmas maybe. I would recommend a visit good photo opportunities and nice to see it all.
This is a fun free attraction to watch while your in Vegas. We just happened to be walking by when it started to we stopped and watched it was very good the heat off the flames was intense or maybe I was just standing a bit to close to the railing. I’m sure we will see lots of the volcano going off this year as we are staying at the Mirage 🙂 It is worth a little stop off if you have never seen it before. I think it runs at certain times in the evening (again bad memory I’m sure it will say on their website).
Flamingos at The Flamingo
We were wandering through the flamingo hotel when we came across the garden of flamingos, it just so happened that t was also feeding time for them so they appeared to be quite alive following the woman with the bucket of food while she was trying to tell everyone a little bit about the big pink birds. Again this isn’t something I would rush back to see as I’m sure when it’s not feeding time they just stand still like statues. I’m sure if you was visiting with children this would be a good little stop off for them but I wouldn’t have gone out my way to find the pink birds.
The Secret Garden at Mirage
This was another attraction we used our MyVegas coins on for 2 tickets. I wasn’t sure on this attraction at first however I did warm to it by the time I left. The gardens are lovely and the Dolphins seemed happy enough especially when one of them clearly wanted to play catch with me and kept knocking the ball out to which I threw it back in and the dolphin knocked it back out splashing me in the process this went on for a while but they were cute. The trainers came out and did a little get to know the Dolphins talk. The white tigers and the lions were just beautiful they looked so peaceful basking in the Vegas sunshine under the waterfalls. I enjoyed this little attraction I wouldn’t rush back but it was nice to do for a first time. Again I would recommend if you have children but I still had fun.
Rhumar at Mirage
Loved this bar and I can’t wait to go back and have another daiquiri. It is a very small bar inside and all white very clinical looking, however they have a patio outside with seating which is lovely. We enjoyed a few cocktails here and I would definitely recommend a visit. We also got ID’d in this bar I think it may have been the only place we did so if your from the UK maybe have a picture of your passport or driving license to hand.
Top of the Stratosphere – Viewing platform
We went to the top of the stratosphere late afternoon however it was obviously not late enough as the bar wasn’t open at the top so we had to pay to go up to the top… Bad times. I can’t remember how much it was maybe sometime like $12 each anyway I couldn’t be bothered to wait for the bar to open as I’m impatient so we paid to go to the top. Really my honest opinion is it is not worth it, yes you can see for miles but it wasn’t very exciting. I think I had more fun watching the people to the sky dive and their faces turning a nice grey colour just as the guide counted down. The rides did look fun but I wasn’t really feeling it that day so we didn’t stay long. Would I visit again definitely not would I recommend it not really but don’t let me put you off everyone has their own opinion.
Las Vegas Premium Outlets North
We took a cab to the Premium Outlets North which I loved, I’m definitely an outlet girl and love a bargain. I even managed to get some white converse here for around £13 couldn’t turn them down just wish I bought two pairs as they were not £13 in the outlet in Florida last year. We also managed to grab some bargains from Ralph Lauren especially for the nephews, I was getting the kids plain t-shirts/polos for around £8/£14. Anyway I think we spent around 3 hours here before Sam had really he enough of my indecisiveness in Kate Spade and said its time to go. They have a taxi line just outside the outlet and we got a taxi back to the strip I can’t remember how much it was but I do remember the driver being crazy I swear he thought he was in grand theft auto or something.
Gordon Ramsay, Burgr at Planet Hollywood
This restaurant is nice we had lively burgers here and the restaurant itself is lovely I did love the sign with the fire around it very Gordon Ramsay. It does seem to be a very popular restaurant though and I don’t think you can book it is first come first served. We did end up queuing for nearly an hour. I was obviously having a good patience day that day however I do remember nearly passing out due to being soooo hungry so when we actually got seated I was a tad grumpy until I had food. I would recommend it however maybe try it early evening or lunchtime when the queues aren’t ridiculously long.
Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood
There is so much shopping in Vegas this was just one of the shopping places we visited I can’t remember buying anything from here though, I think I just wondered round admiring everything. Some nice shops though and get you out the Vegas heat for a while. I’m sure we even got lost in here we definitely didn’t come out the same entrance we went in.
We took a taxi to Fremont street one evening this driver was quite nice he wanted to chat all the way and tells us all about Freemont street however took advantage of the fact we had no small value notes and just drive off without giving us change for the cab ride. Yes I would have given him a tip but not the amount he drove off with. Anyway back to Freemont Street, first impressions were ermm this place looks interesting. All of a sudden my Nan telling me before I left to watch my bag in Freemont street made sense – yes my Nan was a big Vegas goer back in the day and then wanted to relive her experiences through my trip. Back to Freemont, we had a walk down the street watched the light show above our heads and a few people zip lining. We then passed a few interesting characters and watched a live band on stage (I think this was something to do with Halloween) we had a nosey through the casinos I loved the pool at the Golden Nugget with the big tank in the middle. We didn’t really gamble down here and we only had a couple of drinks, if I remember right we were tired this night and I didn’t really feel comfortable at Freemont Street. To be honest we didn’t really spend as much time in Freemont Street as we probably should of to really appreciate it. So that is the plan this time round and maybe spend an afternoon/evening down there instead of arriving at 10:30pm when everyone has had one too many drinks. Would I go again, yes I would however after being I think I will go with a different mindset. Would I recommend, yes I would I think you should see old Vegas and plus it’s cheaper in downtown than the strip but also a totally different vibe to the strip. Roll on the next visit.
Counts Kustoms is basically a car programme that Sam enjoys watching back in the UK and as we were in Vegas he really wanted to see them all. So we got a taxi to Counts and when you get there you sign in and then you can look round the workshop and the cars they are more than happy for you to take photos and have a nosey round at everything they are all very friendly people. They even ordered us a taxi when we wanted to leave. Sam was a bit gutted nobody from the show was there at the time but he still enjoyed his visit there. One last thing I would say is I wouldn’t really go walking round this area even when we jumped in the taxi the guy said to us it wasn’t the nicest place to walk about. Would I visit again, no I wouldn’t it’s one of those things that once you’ve seen it you’ve seen it. If your into the show though it’s worth a visit as they have some cars there that have been in the show.
Ricks Restorations is another programme aired in the UK however this show I didn’t mind so it was nice to actually go there and see everything how it is on TV. Again we got a taxi here however watch out for the people that hound you when you arrive and ask for your email etc I had read about these and they are not part of Ricks so I did give some false details when I completed their little card they ask you to fill out. Anyway back to Ricks when you go through the entrance you can see some of the things they worked on in the show that was interesting and then they welcome you to do a tour of the workshop this was great you could see everyone working and getting on with their normal daily life. We did see Rick’s son Tyler working away on something. The tour was really informative and they told you all about the different rooms and what everybody does. The tour is only around 15 minutes but it’s worth it. At the end you can buy some merchandise. We then took some pictures out the front and had a sneaky peak through the gates where we think Rick was getting ready to film in the boneyard we got ushered away from the fence pretty quick. We then managed to grab a taxi when someone was being dropped off to take us back to the strip. Would I visit again, probably not again I have seen it now. Would I recommend it definitely if you watch the show the tour is good and they are really friendly people.
Gold & Silver Pawn Shop
Again this is another TV programme that Sam watches at home. This was probably my least favourite show visit destination. A taxi dropped us off in the car park and as soon as we got out the car we were approached by people trying to ask us questions, and made me feel a bit uncomfortable. We reached the shop and luckily there was no queue however it was busy inside. Sam said he felt disappointed on the show the shop looks huge but it really isn’t. There was nobody there from the show and it all seemed a bit mad and busy inside to actually look at anything. I understand that this place is a working shop and not just for TV but obviously with it being on TV it has now become a tourist attraction. Anyway it was ok we took some photos outside the shop but I would probably never go back to see the shop. Would I recommend it only if you really really want to see it, but don’t be surprised if it’s not what you expect. It was also hard to grab a taxi from her
Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan
This bar really is beautiful the floor to ceiling chandeliers in the centre really are beautiful we stopped here on our last night we may have been a little bit drunk oops but I do remember it being beautiful and the choice of drinks being good Sam was on the cocktails however I was enjoying a glass of wine the size of my head. I know this bar has different floors I can’t remember what floor we were on but we sat at the bar and it didn’t seem that busy or maybe I was too drunk to realise. The Cosmopolitan is such a lovely hotel though very modern and grand inside. Definitely worth a stop off while in Vegas
Olives at Bellagio
Olives is in the Bellagio and always busy we booked two days in advance as it was somewhere that I really wanted to eat and enjoy the view from the patio of the fountains. We made our reservation around sunset time so we could watch the Vegas lights come on and the fountains go from daytime to night time. When we arrived our table wasn’t ready so they said we could sit at the bar and enjoy a cocktail. Bar tender was really friendly. And made a ‘special’ cocktail with some different alcohol I liked. We were seated at the table on the patio around 20 minutes later and what a view. If you can reserve a table on the patio DO IT it really is amazing I think we watched around 4 different fountain shows. It really does have a romantic feel about it. The waiter was amazing so friendly and went through the different things on the menu with us. I’m one of these fussy people that loves chicken but can’t bear having a bone in it or even seeing a bone so I asked if they could do chicken breast and they did. Food was amazing tasted delicious and dessert was incredible we had some kind of chocolate pudding it was fab. This was definitely a fantastic meal, restaurant and staff were all so attentive. Would I go again, yes I would visit again however there is a few other places I would like to try on my return to Vegas. Would I recommend definitely 100% try and get a table on the patio too i can imagine it makes the whole experience different to just eating inside.
Las Vegas Monorail
We got a buy one get one free 3 day pass on MyVegas. As we stayed at the MGM the monorail was quite helpful and convenient for us. We did use it a lot coming back in the evening when we had ate way too much and had a few drinks we would get it from a mid strip hotel back to the MGM. If you are staying at the hotel and can get a buy one get one free ticket on MyVegas I would say go for it. However I’m not sure I would have paid full price for it and I wouldn’t probably use it unless I was staying at the MGM. The stations are also at the back of the hotels so it can sometimes be a bit of a trek to get to/from the monorail stations.
New York Pizzeria at NYNY
This is a great little stop for lunch you can get a huge slice of pizza for reasonably priced we stopped here a couple of times at lunchtime as we were only across the road. I would recommend it I thought the pizza tastes good.
Forum Shops at Caesars
The Forum Shops at Caesars are very grand indeed, it’s also huge I felt like I was walking round for ages. I loved the ceiling in here they have painted it as the sky so you really do get the feeling that you are outside in the open. I loved all the statues and fountains that you walk past and you could literally shop until you drop here there are loads of shops. I also loved the curved escalators this was a bit of a novelty as I had never seen anything like that before. Definitely worth a visit here lovely shopping mall but beware you may spend lots of money.
Cheesecake Factor at Caesars Palace
Absolutely love this place and I know it’s a chain and everyone from the UK loves it bla bla bla but I really do love it. Wherever I go in the US I have to find a Cheesecake Factory. It’s right at the back of the Forum Shops in Caesars. We had to wait around 45 minutes for a table but we have never walked into any Cheesecake Factory and been sat straightaway it’s just too popular. When we were seated though we were severed really quickly. We both ordered cocktails which invoked ice cream or cream what a mistake no matter how many times I have ate at this restaurant I always forget how big the portions are they are HUGE. We both ordered pasta as well what a great idea NOT we should have just shared one pasta dish. I stuffed my face and it didn’t even look like I had put a dent in the dish. Anyway food was great as normal and I didn’t even get to the cheesecake as I felt like I had over eaten so much and the thought of stuffing my face with cheesecake made me want to puke. Should of taken some as a takeaway another thing I love about here you can have cheesecake to takeaway yum! I would definitely recommend here just bear in mind portions are BIG.
Hard Rock Café
We stopped here on our first night in Vegas it seemed nice enough we didn’t have to wait for a table and we sat on the balcony which was nice as you could watch the world go by. Due to us having severe jet lag and being awake for nearly 24 hours from travelling by the time my dinner came I didn’t know whether to eat it or fall asleep in it. The food was just ok and seemed very over priced but it was the Hard Rock Cafe so we should have expected that. Anyway we wasn’t here long as by the time I had ate and had a drink I was ready to face plant the floor. Would I recommend it, probably not there is better places to eat in Vegas
We did explore quite a lot of hotels while in Vegas. When we weren’t visiting attractions or sitting in bars we were walking through hotels exploring. I have just gave a little brief of my opinions on some of the hotels we explored while we were out there. Again these are my own opinions.
MGM – As we stayed here I probably seen this hotel the most, it’s a great hotel very clean, modern and ginormous, location for me was a little bit out from the main strip but still walking distance to get to centre strip. I would definitely stay here again however you can’t go back to the same hotel twice in Vegas there is too many to explore.
NYNY – This hotel was nice I loved how they tried to create the little streets in New York and Broadway. I would say this would probably be a good hotel to stay if you had children with you, the staff were all friendly.
Excalibur – if I’m honest we didn’t really explore this hotel much when we walked into the casino floor I thought it had a really funny smell about it so decided to turn around and walk back out.
Luxor – I liked the Luxor I I loved the way it had the pyramid and it really felt you were inside Egypt being there. One thing I didn’t like is that the hotel feels that little bit too far out from the action centre strip. However it does have a little tram that runs between Mandalay Bay/Luxor/Excalibur so that could save your legs a bit.
Mandalay Bay – this hotel was beautiful it seemed very grand however extremely busy I think there was a conference going on when we were there. The pool area here was amazing with the manmade beach. We didn’t try it out but it looked beautiful. Again I think this could be an option if you have children. As I said about Luxor, Mandalay Bay is the next hotel along towards the airport so again a bit too far out from the centre strip for my liking however very convenient for the airport.
Cosmopolitan – loved this hotel and would definitely be on the list for one of the hotels to stay in on our visits to Vegas. It’s very modern and has a very young vibe to it. The chandelier bar in the centre gives it a very sophisticated look. The hotel also didn’t seem as big as some of the others which was quite nice. My mission is to find Secret Pizza this time round.
Bellagio – Bellagio is a lovely hotel and obviously the fountains outside only make it more beautiful I probably wouldn’t stay here though as I felt it was a bit above my age however I’m sure it would be a lovely hotel to stay in. I can’t really remember what the casino was like in here so I will report on that when I am back this time round.
Caesars Palace – I loved Caesars place again very grand I loved all the water fountains and especially loved the forum shops attached to the hotel. This hotel again is huge I think we may have even got lost in this hotel but I would definitely consider staying here in the future.
Venetian – I liked the Venetian I loved the gondolas going through the hotel it is just how I imagine actual Venice to be like. We did some gambling in the Venetian one night and drinks service was very quick. The only downside I though was that it had a funny smell
Mirage – I liked the mirage when we first visited hence why we have booked to stay there this time round. I love the big fish tank behind reception with all the tropical fish so pretty. The big volcano out the front is great. The casino wasn’t the best but you can always use a different casino. I’m looking forward to staying here in the near future.
Flamingo – I think this is also one of the older hotels on the strip, I know they have redone the rooms but the hotel itself still seemed a bit old and in need of a revamp. It was ok though and a great location on the strip in the middle for centre strip convenience at a lower rate hotel I would go for this one.
Wynn/Encore – This hotel was lovely although we didn’t really spend a lot of time in this hotel but it is really beautiful and grand. We had a little gamble on the slots and the casino was very clean and tidy I would recommend the hotel from what I seen of it. Again maybe just that little bit too far out from centre strip for me.
Stratosphere – I really didn’t like this hotel at all or the area around the hotel. I know they say it’s a strip location but my personal opinion is that it isn’t it’s out in the sticks. We got the monorail to Sahara and walked to stratosphere and I didn’t feel very safe. The hotel itself seemed very old very dark and a very ‘budget’ hotel. Wouldn’t recommend and definitely would never stay here.