Las Vegas – March 2015

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Day 1.ย 

It was spring break, and we were headed to Vegas! While planning the trip, we decided that we would like to have a date-night, and after looking into babysitting options, discovered that it would cost about as much as bringing along an extra person. So we invited Brian’s mom to join us!

The trip started off rather frustrating though, as we apparently exited the Vegas airport on the wrong side, and therefore couldn’t find a taxi. Finally we sorted it out, and made the short ride to the Hilton Grand Vacation Club at the Flamingo.

Their lobby was mostly closed off due to construction, which was unfortunate. But it still had it’s good location going for it. They wouldn’t let us check in until right at 4pm, so we left our bags and headed out. Fist stop was lunch at the Flamingo! We went to the buffet – most of the Vegas hotels are known for these. This one was okay, plenty of variety but we would have better throughout the week.

Next we went over to the big wheel. I had already bought tickets online, so we were quickly at the loading platform. It wasn’t busy at all, and we got one of the giant globes to ourself! (I think they are meant to hold up to 40)

It slowly turned in it’s giant circle, giving us great views of the city, and our own hotel which was right below. Brian was goofing around for the camera, acting like he was about to fall out the window ๐Ÿ™‚ He and the kids also got crazy with some dancing when we got to the very top of the circle.

We wandered around a little more afterwards, then decided to go see if our room was ready. It wasn’t, and they were being a little snippy about it. So partly in defiance, I decided to simply camp out on the couch right next to the registration desk. I was hot and tired by now, and the AC felt good!

Finally, right at 4pm, I watched them start calling every single person checking in. Yeah, I’m sure ALL of those rooms magically got cleaned RIGHT at that moment. Oh well.

We settled in and relaxed for a few minutes before it was time to get ready for dinner. We were going to the Tournament of Kings dinner show at the Excalibur hotel! It took us a while to figure out how to get to the monorail. It was right outside our hotel, but in typical Vegas fashion, there was only one way to get there that involved walking around the world, or so it seemed. It would become a very frustrating trend of the trip.

But eventually, we were checked in and seated. When buying tickets, I had the choice of sitting in the section of a country or Dragon, so of course I chose Dragon, lol! A pre-plated meal of food was brought out (no option to substitute anything vegetarian, so Brian and Lily ate my cornish hen, and I made do on just the potatoes.)

During dinner, the various knights battled and jousted on their horses, and our Dragon occasionally came out to torment them. It was in the style of a Medieval Times dinner show. Cute and entertaining, but not the best show we would see, or meal we would eat.

Afterwards, the kids wanted to play in the arcade. Excalibur is known for having the largest on the strip, so we gave them some money and let them have their fill. Finally it was time to start the long trek back, and get rested for tomorrow.

ย Day 2.ย 

We started the day early with breakfast at the Hash House, in a neighboring hotel. They are known for their amazing breakfast, but get busy quickly so we made sure to get there right as they opened. They definitely have some unique things, and it was all very freshly prepared. Great service too, so this one was a hit. And we all left with huge to-go boxes with our leftovers. Talk about big portions!

We wandered over to the Mirage and looked at some of the tanks in the lobby. It didn’t seem quite as impressive as it did when I visited as a kid – not sure if they have scaled back since then or if it’s just a difference in perspective on my part.

Lily wanted to do the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat that they have there, but Owen really wanted to go back to the hotel and swim, and Brian thought that sounded like more fun too. So the boys headed back, and the girls went to see the tigers and dolphins.

We watched the dolphin show, and afterwards, I talked Lily into going up to the Q&A session with the trainer. ย She gave Lily some tips on how to become a dolphin trainer if she chooses that route in the future ๐Ÿ™‚

We also wandered through the animal exhibits – mainly the famous white tigers, plus a few smaller things. Overall, I think Lily enjoyed the afternoon and was glad we stayed.

We went back to the hotel and joined the boys at the pool. The Flamingo’s big “Go Pool” was open to kids only on the week days, so it was good that we were primarily here then. They had a blast splashing around and playing in the waterfalls – it was too hot to be doing anything else outside today!

Eventually we walked over to the snack bar and got lunch, and later headed back to the room to get ready for the evenings activities.

We made our way slowly to the Monte Carlo. The monorail helped, but it always brought us out in the very back of a hotel, and even if it was right next door, we still had to walk about a mile to wind our way to the front and get out. They definitely don’t make it easy, I suspect that’s on purpose!

I did spend my entire gambling allowing here though, a whopping $2. I had no idea what I was doing in the slot machines, as they’ve become a bit more cosmic since I was last in Vegas. A whole matrix full of stuff would flash up on the LCD screen, and I couldn’t even tell what I was supposed to be hoping for, or what I had won or lost. But eventually it wouldn’t let me play anymore and spit out a receipt saying I had just over $7, so I must have won something ๐Ÿ™‚

We had dinner reservations at a restaurant in the hotel. It was right as they opened though, so we were the only ones in there. Owen slept through most of the meal. So he didn’t eat much but at least he wasn’t loud. Hopefully he would wake up enough for the show.

We were worried as little as we lined up outside the Blue Man Show theater – he had just woken up, and was grumpy and groggy! Fortunately, as we went in and were seated he became mesmerized by the lights and silly antics. A giant ball was being tossed around, crowd surfing style, and he thought that was hilarious.

The show as really cool, I don’t even know how to describe it. Lots of creative miming and skits and general special effects. Definitely worth seeing if you ever get the chance!

Day 3

Today we were headed to the far north end of the strip, to Circus Circus and their indoor amusement park. The monorail didn’t get us quite all the way there so we still had a long walk outside, and it was getting hot already!

We got our admission wristbands and started riding. Overall, I was pretty disappointed in the place. It wasn’t that big, the rides were county-fair quality at best, and they didn’t have a good solution for people with bags/purses. They wouldn’t let you take anything on the rides, but also wouldn’t let you leave them in the provided cubbies at the loading area. So we always had to leave someone behind holding stuff. But we did really enjoy the 4-D penguin movie.

After a couple hours we had had our fill, even though the wristbands were good all day. We opted to take a cab back to Caesars Palace since by now the walk to the monorail would have been unbearably hot.

We had reservations for lunch at their world famous Bacchanal Buffet. At $40/person, this isn’t exactly a Golden Corral, lol! It was probably one of the best meals we had though, very exotic and well prepared food. Unfortunately, Brian got a work call in the middle of it, we had carefully scheduled lunch around when the call was scheduled, but the person randomly decided to call early. Oh well.

We headed back the hotel (the tediousness of getting anywhere was admittedly starting to get to me a little by now!) and relaxed for a couple of hours, I think the boys may have gone to the pool for a while and Lily took a nap.

Tonight was date-night, so we were going separate directions. ย  We were actually both seeing a Cirque du Soleil show, but ours was a “little less” G-rated, lol! The kids were going to see Mystere at Treasure Island, while Brian and I went to Zumanity at New York, New York.

We got the kids and Brian’s mom settled into a cab, figuring that would be easier for them than navigating the monorail system. And we headed to the south end of the strip for New York.

The show was really good, and in typical fashion they singled out some audience members to “participate”. Since we were sitting in the front row, I figured we would get picked on a little and I was right, lol! At least they didn’t make us go up on stage ๐Ÿ™‚ Amazing acrobatics, and plenty of “adult content”. And costuming. Or lack of. Definitely not kid-friendly!

The kids enjoyed their show too, but decided on a simple dinner back in the room afterwards. We, on the other hand, hung out at NyNy and had dinner at Il Fornaia, then cruised around the casino floor with fruity drinks in hand, before heading back to join everyone at the hotel.

Day 4

It was our last day in Vegas, and our only set-in-stone plans were a comedy show later in the afternoon. Brian had seen the CSi experience at the MGM earlier in the week and was intrigued, so we headed there. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would – we were introduced to a crime scene and given clues, and as we went through the exhibit, we had to piece together the clues to figure out who did it. It was challenging, but not so impossible that you couldn’t solve it. So after being skeptical at first, I ended up being glad we came.

The next few hours were rather formless, we generally wandered from hotel to hotel, just sightseeing and people-watching. We had lunch at a little hole-in-the-wall pizza place at Cosmo, called Secret Pizza. It really was a secret – it didn’t appear on any of the hotel maps or directories, and didn’t even have a sign! You just had to go down an unmarked hallway and suddenly there was a pizza counter. They probably owe their entire existence to Yelp.

Our last show of the trip was to see Jeff Civilico, a comedian. It was a good show – lots of good jokes, juggling, and various funny stories.

Afterwards we watched the fountains at the Bellagio (really cool by the way, and one of the few completely “free” things in Vegas!)

Day 5

Time to get up and get packed! We actually weren’t flying out until later tonight, but I had rented a car and were driving over to Hoover Dam for the day. Figured it was the only time the kids would be this close so it would be a shame to miss it.

Getting the car picked up was as tedious as ever. I had left everyone else in the room to finish packing and get breakfast. By the time I made it back to pick them up we were already running a few minutes late.

But we made it in good time, luckily ahead of the huge traffic jam we saw coming through the gate as we left. It pays to be early! We walked around at the top for a while, but didn’t feel like we had time for a tour.

Then we drove over the Pat Tillman bridge to get a look back at the dam. Definitely an impressive feat of engineering! And nice to be out of the chaos of the city – it reminded me of our summer vacation when every new city we went to was more relaxed than the last.

After a bit of exploring, it was time to head to our last adventure – a riverboat cruise below the dam! We were, again, one of the first to check in (Brian gets a little annoyed sometimes at my paranoia about being late, lol!)

We ate lunch on the boat and enjoyed sightseeing some more. It was a nice way to end the trip for sure.

But then it was back to the airport. It had been a fun adventure, bit honestly I think Vegas is one place I can check of my bucket list and not feel the need to return!