I didn’t mention it earlier, but David and I haven’t taken much vacation this year, so we had two extra days that we needed to spend, and you just hate to spend vacation days at home. So we booked a last minute trip to Las Vegas! David went for his Bachelor Party last year while I did a freezing tri in Houston, but I’d never been, so it was time for my very first trip to Vegas. I had some ideas what it might be like, but I was no where near prepared for the spectacle it was and also pleasantly surprised by the outdoors surrounding it.
Day 0: We flew Spirit Air, for probably the first and last time. Spirit proclaims itself as the first ultra-low budget airlines, and that it was. At first we thought we had a great deal for a $100 flight, but then realized we had to add on $30 for each piece of baggage (check or carry on) and $30 just to select our seat! Plus, the flight was at 10:30 PM, arriving at midnight in Vegas, not our preferred timetable. But we purchased anyway since we were going last minute and United and Southwest were extremely higher in price. We got on the plane laughing because we couldn’t have imagined smaller seat space. Seriously, WTF Spirit air??
To make matters worse, we’d gone as cheap as possible with Payless rental cars and had to wait in line about 30 minutes to get our car, which watching the extremely inefficient staff at the counter. You get what you pay for. We had opted to stay on the Strip for the experience and finally got to sleep at our room at the Venetian around 2 AM.
Day 1: We woke up, with David starving (you’ll see that is a theme of this trip), so we headed to Mon Ami Gabi at my request. I couldn’t resist trying a yelp restaurant with 2,000+ good reviews! We had a lovely breakfast on the patio overlooking the Bellagio, both ordering orange juice and the spinach omelette since we were craving greens. We spent the rest of the day strolling on the strip, checking out the Luxor, the Paris hotel, Planet Hollywood, New York New York, the Mandarin Oriental, Aria, and the Bellagio, phew! I thought a number of them were pretty cheesy, but others had just amazing displays and features!
We ended the day with dinner and a show. We dined at a Yellowtail sushi at the Bellagio, on the patio so we could watch the fountains, which were simply amazing. A cute, young military couple that reminded me of my youngest sister sat near us watching as well.
We saw Cirque’s Ka, and enjoyed the crazy stage sets, though I was falling asleep, not from to the show, but just from being so exhausted.
Day 2: One of our goals this trip was to do some hiking, so it was up early to head out to Red Rock Canyon State Park, just 20 minutes out of Las Vegas. After a few u-turns to get to Whole Foods for breakfast & packed sandwiches while David’s stomach almost ate itself, we were finally on our way. And I took my customary picture in front of the Las Vegas WF. #WholeFoodsAddict:
We’d chosen the 6-mile White Rock Loop (I prefer long loops when hiking), which claimed to show a lot of diversity and had some elevation. The hike was wonderful – just what I wanted, not too challenging, but a good effort.
We were virtually alone on the trail, apart from a few trail runners with their dogs. We enjoyed hiking through pines and desert and getting gorgeous views of the red rocks and sandstone.
By the end of the hike, we stopped for a quick bite, and decided we had enough energy to check out Hoover Dam while we were out and about. We headed east, just less than an hour, to see the pretty amazing construction feat. We purchased tickets to the exhibit, which was worth it to understand the history and some fun facts behind the dam.
It was a sight to see and pretty scary to look down! After getting our piece of Americana, it was time to head back to the hotel and close the dark curtains for a nap. For dinner we hit up Scarpetta for some pasta dishes and then on to Parasol Down at the Wynn for a drink. Scarpetta had great pasta, but was extremely pricey for what it was, and the highly rated Wynn lounge was underwhelming, apart from a trippy show done over the Lakeside dining area.
Day 3: We enjoyed Red Rock so much, that we headed out early again, this time for a short hike and for the photographer (David) to get some morning pictures. We hiked along a canyon paralleling the red rocks.
We veered off for half a mile until I wanted to get back on the beaten path and not worry about snakes and spiders so much. What a poser.
Hiking is meditative – I just love being with nature and moving slowly enough to enjoy it.
The short hike was a nice way to start the day; the remainder of the afternoon we spent shopping but didn’t buy anything with the exception of some Vosges chocolates for dessert after our lunch. We had plans for the evening to go to Penn & Teller’s magic/comedy show, so we made some reservations at Tao prior. Tao was pretty disappointing – our plates were too sweet or too salty and the portions were ginormous. I ordered their most popular dish, miso halibut, but as David said “it tastes like fancy fish sticks”. Sigh. We had a little time in between dinner and the show, so we stopped at Hyde (the Bellagio) for a drink and to watch the fountains indoors – it’s probably one of the best viewing spots we found and worth a quick stop for a drink.
Last, we hit the Rio where we were thoroughly amused and amazed by Penn & Teller – a very witty and fun show! I liked how they explained each trick (and how they think magic and the supernatural is BS), then continued to trick you with it!
Day 4: We wanted to do a long-ish run at least once on the weekend, and agreed we wanted to avoid running on the Strip if at all possible, so we took our last trip to Red Rock. We’d seen lots of runners on the 13-mile paved scenic loop the day prior, so we figured we could do an out and back 7-mile run no problem. We were concerned about the heat, but it turned out to be a very breezy cool run (I was freezing). Yes, I wore a hat and a headband.
The loop had spectacular views of the cliffs and mountains; apart from all the up-hills it was really enjoyable. I love that you can pick up and run just about anywhere! It would be a great bike ride too. After breakfast, clean up and checking out, we stopped by Madame Toussoud’s (we got two $10 off coupons randomly on the Strip) to kill some time and were amazed at how life-like the statues were. I was scared one might start moving when I touched it.
We finished out our stay with a little gambling; I broke even with my $1.00 on slots and video poker (yes ONE dollar), and David lost just $2, but he looks like a serious addict here…must.break.even.
I decided if I never have to set foot in a casino again I’ll be happy – the smoke kills me (headache/dry eyes) and it reminds me of a big arcade. That was probably my #1 beef with Las Vegas – way too many smokers! I’m spoiled by Houston’s smoke free environment.
So that was all – all in all, a pretty fun quick trip, and I highly recommend a trip to Red Rock if you want to get away from the bustle of the Strip for a day. I’ll be honest though, after all the eating and drinking, my body is ready for a little detox, rest & clean eating! I’m lucky that my in-laws host a fairly healthy Thanksgiving and are okay with us going on some runs while we’re there 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving to all!