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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Las Vegas Adventure

(We completely forgot about taking a picture when we arrived...this was the day we left)

Last November was our Kaitlynn's 16th birthday. We thought it would be fun to send her, a friend and myself away for a few nights. We told her she could choose a city of her choice....she chose New York...we said "pick again". We would have loved to have gone to New York, but that would be a spendy trip. In the end we chose Las Vegas. After talking to many friends and deciding that there was plenty to do there that didn't involve gambling or questionable activity we started making plans. 
(The group Recycled Percussion...Kait was not too thrilled she wasn't looking at the camera)

We decided to go in June (yes, I know...it's hot in June) because that was really the only month there wasn't something going on. We began planning early, looking around online for rates, hotels, things to do. Kait's friends' mom and stepdad have a timeshare at the Wyndham Grand Desert and were VERY gracious and let us use it during our stay. The girls spent some time online thinking of things they might want to do and see.
(inside New York New York...made entirely out of Jelly Beans)

I picked the brains of friends who had gone before to get ideas of what to do. The biggest question was do we rent a car or just use public transportation. Most people said they used public transportation or just walked everywhere. In the beginning I was completely opposed to renting a car. Me + Car + Big, unfamiliar city = in my mind, disaster. However, in the end I caved and we rented one. I even humbly admitted to my hubby that he was right and I was glad we did and can I recommend if you go, you do so as well. 
(Outside one of the hotels)


Why?

  • We didn't stay on the strip so we couldn't just walk out of our hotel and in to the action. 
  • It was never under 104 there and it was nice to have a car to jump into and drive to the next spot. The AC came on quick. 
  • Parking was easy to find and always free. Yes, we did have to walk a little bit from the self-park areas, but walking is good for you, even in the heat so it was just fine. 
  • We could do things according to our agenda and didn't have to wait on public transportation lines or schedules, or get ripped off by cabbies. 
  • We had freedom to do as we pleased when we pleased.
  • It really is very easy to navigate...trust me, if I can do it so can you. 
  • We wanted the freedom to go to stores or places that were away from the strip.
The other thing was that our finances weren't in abundance so we wanted to make the most of our money. Here are a few things that helped us.

  • Choosing to not eat out every meal saved lots of money. We set aside $50 and went to walmart to buy some things for breakfasts and lunches..mainly wraps, fruit, veggies, cereal, bagels, etc..
  • We tended to snack at little deli's and shops throughout the day so if we didn't eat lunch before leaving the hotel, these things tied us over till dinner. I think we only ate at an actual sit down restaurant twice (Hard Rock Cafe and Rainforest Cafe). The only reason we ate at those locations was because of great hunger (Rainforest), and the Hard Rock was the first restaurant they saw(plus she found a 20% off coupon)...I'm sure we could have found some other great ones and even better priced. 
  • When we arrived, we picked up a visit Las Vegas book and Kait immediately went through and tore out coupons. We also talked to the hostess at the front desk and she scored us some tickets to see Recycled Percussion...3 free tickets. All we had to pay were the taxes. We found several deals of buy one ticket get one ticket free.
  • Do your research and you'll find awesome deals.
We were there for 2 full days and 2 half days. When we arrived we quickly found our baggage and made our way to the rental car location. We were set to have a compact car but there weren't any available (hellooo..how does that even happen...don't answer that), so they upgraded us. We got a very nice Ford Fusion and off we went. We had no problem navigating our way to the resort and got ourselves checked in. The room was small with one bedroom, but perfect for the three of us. We went to dinner then over to Walmart to buy some food.
(I literally got down on the sidewalk to get a picture with the Eiffel Tower in it)


That first night we decided to be brave and drive down the strip...that may not seem brave to you, but to me, it was VERY brave...I mean it was after dark, I'd never been on the strip and I was driving AND wanting to see the sights (which isn't entirely possible). We did it...Kait took pics and video and we had a really fun time. Windows down, music playing, camera flash flashing...oops, sorry people all around us..(C:
Kait is Miss Organized so when we returned to the hotel she laid out the plan for the week...this was after all her trip so I let her run with it. I was the driver and photographer, she was the planner. 

The first morning we decided to head to the resorts pool (smaller than the pictures showed but still nice). This was actually the only time we made it to the pool. I was surprised at how early people had cans of beer or other alcohol in their hands. After about an hour we headed back to the room to change, eat something and head to the strip. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure what we did when and what day. One key was to not try and do the strip in one day. We broke it up in two day chunks, knowing what events or activities we wanted to do and saw that chunk of the strip on that day. When they say the blocks are long, they aren't kidding. On Tuesday we did A LOT of walking...we underestimated the distance between two places, but we were fine...we took advantage of walking through hotels to get cooled off before heading back outside...our feet sure were sore though by the end of the day (we did not wear appropriate walking shoes). 
(These were made of blown glass..the artist is a NW native..Conservatory at Bellagio)


The hotels are spectacular with their architecture and individual uniqueness. Each one had it's own mini-mall and most of the times there weren't too many repeats of shops. We spent a lot of time just enjoying the scenery. Yes, you usually have to walk through the casino's to get anywhere but it was fine. We were impressed with how clean everything was, and because we did most of our stuff during the day and mid-evening it wasn't very "smoky" or "trashy". We did realize that there were a few things we did miss seeing but that was okay, they weren't the majors. 

Here are some of the  things we did: 

  • Recycled Percussion show! Highly recommend.Google them to watch some video.
  • Rode to the top of the Eiffel Tower. This was cool, but $18.00. You can stay on top for as long as you like and the view is pretty.
  • Girls rode the roller coaster at New York New York and said it was pretty good.
  • We did the CSI experience at MGM. That was fun. We were given a case to solve. 
  • The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. This was neat but  not very long for the money. 
  • There are several free things to see at each hotel. We didn't get to many of them because of time, but I think they're well worth looking in to.
  • The Conservatory at The Bellagio is beautiful. They feature Blown Glass art by Chihuly, a NW artist. 
  • The girls got Henna Tattoos which was fun for them. 
  • We bought Ethel M.'s chocolates (which are amazing)at the Fashion Mall.
  • The Fountain show at the Bellagio is beautiful.
  • The Coke store and the M & M store are a lot of fun. 

There really is so much to do and see. We had an agenda but just enjoyed ourselves and didn't let ourselves feel rushed. I'll post a few pictures and if you have any specific questions just comment. I can't remember everything.
(At the top of the Eiffel Tower)

One thing I'll say is....I'm so glad I live in the Pacific Northwest. It was so nice to return to beautiful green landscaping!


With Joy UNquenchable,

6 comments:

  1. Very nice blog! By the way New York jellybeans is so cool!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for posting this. Chris and I are planning to go in January or February and I want to do more than the big casino's and a few slot machines. I'm even more excited now that I've seen what you guys have done!

    ReplyDelete
  3. .thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a fun trip for a 16th birthday! I know you all had a wonderful time! I have always wanted to go to Vegas, but have just never found the opportunity. Knowing there are things to do that necessarily don't involve drinking and gambling does make the trip more appealing to myself. So glad y'all had a good time!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Vegas is awesome. I usually consider it an "adult playground", but teens probably enjoy just as much as adults do!

    Check out Kidspartyworld.com for all of your party needs. They even have helpful videos on topics from candle information to pinata 411. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete

I'm so glad you stopped by. Thank you for leaving me a note. I look forward to making new friends on this blogging journey!

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