This past weekend, I went to Las Vegas with some girlfriends. As with 99% of my personal travel, I started planning this trip by creating a powerpoint with options for flights and hotels and ideas of things to do, along with an estimated cost per person. When you’re planning a trip with friends or family (or really, even at work), this is an important first step. If you’re familiar with “business,” you might say you’re creating a business case (what/why) and part of that is budget.
I considered a few different hotels for our Vegas trip:
- The LINQ
- MGM Grand
- The Flamingo – ultimately, this was the one we went with; we liked that it was on the strip, relatively centrally located, one of the originals and fairly priced. Overall, it was fine. I’ve never been to Vegas before, so I have no comparison, but here are a few noteworthy things:
- POSITIVE: They offer luggage hold for before or after you’re checking into/ out of your room AND they’ll bring it up once you get checked in.
- POSITIVE: They have a very clearly marked Uber/Lyft area; this may seem simple, but we visited a view other hotels for shows / bars and it was pretty tricky to find where to meet our driver at most of the other properties.
- POSITIVE: They have a range of food options – at least 2 cafes, a buffet, a grab-n-go station, two restaurants and a few bars. Plus, it is right off a pedestrian mall that has other options, like Starbucks, In-N-Out, Sprinkles and other places to get tasty treats. Walk across that and you’re in the LINQ, another hotel with many other restaurants/bars/etc. The LINQ is also the hotel that operates The High Roller, which is a massive enclosed ‘Ferris Wheel’ (think ~20 people per pod, some of which have a bar inside!). It was nice to be so close to this.
- POSITIVE: When you check-in, you can get a Total Rewards card, which gave us a free drink and a free prize slot play. With the free prize slot play, we won a BOGO for the High Roller.
- NEGATIVE: The adults-only pool cost $11/person, even though we were hotel guests; it was a weekend day (Saturday), but still seems excessive, especially when we were already being charged a daily per person resort fee.
- NEGATIVE: The room wasn’t quite as advertised. We booked the Fab Executive and in the pictures, a couch is shown. We had a party of 3, so we requested two queen beds, but figured the couch would be good for hanging out. However, the room we received didn’t include a couch, but rather a chair. All in all, not a huge deal, but somewhat of a letdown.
- NEGATIVE: Random, unexpected security check. My friends were sitting outside and I was heading to meet them when I got a knock on the hotel room door and Security announced themselves and asked to be allowed to do a random inspection of the room. There were two men – one entered the room and went to the phone to enter a code and the other stood at the door. It was really quick, but just odd and not anything the hotel informed us could happen.
- NEGATIVE: We also attempted to hit the family pool, but were turned away because we had water bottles. We’re not sure if it was the fact that they didn’t know what was inside or that we had the bottles themselves, but we were told we couldn’t bring them inside (not asked to dump them).
- NEGATIVE: The bathroom was pretty tiny and outdated.
- NEGATIVE: The A/C was just okay – it was about 110 degrees, so I get it was working hard, but I wouldn’t say it was ever “cold” in our room.
We also explored a variety of options for what to do:
- DID: Magic Mike Live at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino; this show was excellent. If you’re looking for a Chippendales or male strippers, this is not the show for you. If you like cool dancing, ripped fellas and humor, you will enjoy this. I highly recommend you watch Magic Mike XXL prior to seeing this show, as it will make you appreciate it all the more.
- DID: Drag Supper Club at Senor Frogs (inside Treasure Island); this show was ALSO excellent. The ladies were incredibly done up with gorgeous dresses/costumes and very well done routines. There were even some cool acrobats throughout as well. We got the VIP option and had great seats, decent food, open bar and a short meet & greet with a photo with the girls after! They also have a brunch option.
- DID: High Roller; as mentioned above, this is a 500ft. tall observation wheel. We went at night and it was very cool to see the strip all lit up.
- DID: Fremont Street – this is the old strip with some cool, classic casinos, random shopping, street performers (and extremely interesting ones, at that), a number of bars, a zip line and cool overhead light show in the evening. Definitely a neat place to walk around and people watch. Oh, and did I mention you can hit one of the bars and walk up and down the pedestrian mall with your alcohol?
- DID: Hit the outlets – we opted for the North outlets (there are north and south options). Both are pretty close off the strip. We decided on North after reviewing the list of stores at each.
- DID: Experience a self-driving Lyft!! This was such a cool experience. Sadly, it was only for a super short drive and we weren’t allowed to take pics or video, but the car still took over and drove! It was a BMW 5 series, so a pretty swanky car, but does have a small backseat, so three was a squeeze.
- DIDN’T: Experience Pass – we opted to not go for this as the shows we wanted to see weren’t included and we were only there for a few days.
- DIDN’T: Hoover Dam – the girls I was with had both already done this, plus I got to see it on the flight in, so we opted out (it’s also a full day trip).
- DIDN’T: Madame Tussauds
- DIDN’T: See a number of great show options (we only had so many evenings there!) including: Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man, Marc Savard Comedy Hypnosis, Vegas: The Show, Blue Man Group.
Finally, we had some damn good food.
- Holstein’s (inside The Cosmopolitan) – this place has insane adult milkshakes. Like, never in my life have I been served a milkshake of this kind. They also have yummy burgers and fries (plus a few other options). Below is the Donutella and the Cookies & Cream.
- In-N-Out (just outside The Flamingo) – I live on the East coast of the Midwest 🙂 so I don’t get this option all that often, unless I’m traveling. If you’ve never had it, do. The burgers are yummy and you can customize and the fries are thin and have a nice crisp. Milkshakes are good too.
- Sprinkles (just outside The Flamingo) – BOMB ASS CUPCAKES. This is an LA-based cupcake shop that has expanded to Las Vegas. They also have a super fun cupcake ‘atm’ for after-hours cupcake needs. I got the red velvet and it was so creamy and just melted in my mouth. HIGHLY recommend. (Oh, and they had a vegan option!)
- Nacho Daddy – this is just off the ‘old strip,’ aka Fremont Street; nachos are huge and delicious, the desserts and margaritas were also yummy and they have a number of good vegan options. Below are blood orange, strawberry and mango margaritas, the BBQ nachos, fried ice cream and the churro dessert.
I hope this helps you with some ideas of what to explore in Vegas. I highly recommend doing some research (if you’re looking for other interests beyond the above) and planning ahead / pre-purchasing tickets before your trip. Also, you really only need ~4 days there. We had three full days and nights and that was plenty (but we didn’t gamble).