How many times have I been to Las Vegas? Well, it’s embarrassing but luckily I can still count them on one hand: FIVE.
There is something about a cheap, quick getaway to some fun in the sun. This post is for someone who is heading there for their first time looking to maximize their trip or even that person who didn’t really do much outside their hotel. the other times they have been there. This post will basically incorporate all my trips into 1!
Las Vegas Trips I have been on:
1. August 2010
2. October 2011
3. April 2012
4. September 2012
5. July 2013
Yes, I know, it’s a lot…
If you are there for a 3 day 2 night weekend, here are some great recommendations to do it all!
Lets just say…I used to have a goal to stay in every hotel on the Las Vegas strip so naturally I have stayed in quite a few in the amount of times I have been to Las Vegas. I have actually liked every single hotel I have stayed in so I will list the hotels by price from highest to lowest! (The hotel price ranking is based off a Friday-Sunday stay in the summer)
1. Mandalay Bay – Average $205/Night
This is my favorite hotel to stay at. It has an amazing pool including a wave pool, lazy river and separate pools. The pool area is large and spacious so you don’t feel crowded with people. The hotel is filled with many places to eat, like sushi, a food court, mexican and American food. The casino is situated in the middle of the hotel with things surrounding it so it can be confusing to navigate. This hotel is on the far end of the strip so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as a first time stay hotel because the walk in the 100 degree weather isn’t fun.
2. Planet Hollywood – Average $182/Night
Planet Hollywood was the first hotel I stayed at in Vegas. I liked it because the casino was very lively and the location was pretty mid strip! The side of the street that PH is on has a lot of food court style food to keep the cost down.
3. Hard Rock Hotel and Casino – Average $177/Night
Hard Rock isn’t located on the strip but it is a block off mid strip. We stayed there for just a night but I loved the atmosphere. If you love old school rock and roll, this is the place for you! There is a lot of memorabilia to look at. The pool area is also nice. Its not large but there is a lazy river and several pools. Get there early, people seem to get there early! If you are a crazy partier, this hotel is also known for the pool party “Rehab”
4. Monte Carlo – Average $144/Night
We just stayed at this hotel last month and it was nice! This hotel is more family friendly so you aren’t experiencing a ton of drunk people. We spent a ton of time at the pool which included a lazy river, wave pool and separate swimming pool. We didn’t have any issues finding chairs! If you aren’t wanting to spend a ton of money on a hotel then this is a great choice! The pool area is basically a scaled down version of Mandalay Bay
5. Treasure Island – Average $124/Night
We stayed here one night as well but got to spend a little more time here. This is where the famous Sirens of TI show is. The hotel is a little more busy with people walking through and the hotel was a little more smokey, but there is a pho restaurant, and Kahunaville! The pool is also nice. It is decorated with palm trees and have a few pools.
6. Golden Nugget – Average $114/Night
This hotel isn’t located on the strip but down on Fremont Street, or old Las Vegas. I loved this hotel! It is a little older but the hotel has been renovated. The pool area is amazing! Complete with a shark tank pool and a slide going through the middle of it. We also discovered a glass pool on the upper deck. When you walk out of your hotel, everything is conveniently located right there.
7. Excalibur – Average $84/Night
I stayed here for my birthday with all of my girlfriends. It is one of the original hotels in Las Vegas, and I’m not going to lie, it needs a face lift, but its a fun hotel. The pool area is large but doesn’t have a lot of decoration or theme. There are multiple pools so we didn’t feel crowded. The hotel has everything you need! A casino, food court and restaurants.
To be honest, I usually go during the week because the rates that I have listed here are literally cut in half, or even more than half in some cases. This just gives you an idea what you will be paying if you want a crazy club/party weekend!
Things to See
There is A LOT to see in Las Vegas. I am going to start at Mandalay Bay and work my way down the strip. Here is a map for reference 🙂
There is a great Shark Reef Aquarium in Mandalay Bay. It takes about 1.5 hours to get through and is filled with tons of sea life! http://www.mandalaybay.com/shark-reef/. The lobby of Mandalay even has a huge aquarium which is really pretty!
Next we make our way to Luxor. Just heading up the stairs through the main entrance is sight seeing enough! It is built in the shape of an Egyptian pyramid. If you head back out the doors you can get a great shot of the pharaoh on the front of the building. http://www.luxor.com/. Be sure to look back down the strip at night. There is a beam of light that shooting out the top of the pyramid can be seen all the way in space!
The next hotel is Excalibur. There isn’t much to see but the main structure is pretty cool! It is a giant castle! http://www.excalibur.com/
Continuing on down the strip is New York New York. This hotel features a roller coaster that wraps around the outside of the hotel! Though I haven’t been on it, it looks pretty awesome! The inside of the hotel features a replica New York City! http://www.newyorknewyork.com/#/Promo_1 Also be sure to visit the giant Statue of Liberty made all in jelly beans. Pretty impressive!
Next, jump over to MGM and take a peak at the lion exhibit. Why lions you may ask? Well, MGM is known for featuring a roaring lion in the beginning of all their movies, hence, the lion! MGM also has a great area to check out all your favorite TV shows as well as do a tv screening!
Drink a yard drink! They are everywhere and are bound to keep you cool from the heat! There are many many places you will pass that sell them…pick one! My favorite is the margarita! Beware…you will be extremely full when you are done!
One of the things that is hard to miss is the giant Eiffel Tower replica outside of Paris. What is cool is that you can actually head to the very top to their observatory deck. I went to the top in August..when it was 100+ degrees. Bad idea, we were sweating the whole time! Be sure to grab some of those Vegas guide books because they coupons! We got a 2 for $10 pass! Also, the inside of the hotel is pretty amazing! There is a very French vibe with the legs of the Eiffel Tower inside the hotel!
Caesars Palace is known for the Colosseum where Celiene Dion plays, but they also have a great free show that runs in the forum shops! The show runs several times a day. Check http://lasvegas.wikia.com/wiki/Caesars_Palace_Fountain_Shows for show times! If you are a big fan of the Hangover movies, you may get a kick out of just visiting the hotel. You will be able to see where all the scenes were shot.
Visit the flower observatory in the Bellagio. Whats awesome is that they change the observatory based on the time of year. Since I have been at all different times, I have been able to see different decor! http://www.bellagio.com/attractions/botanical-garden.aspx This site features the exhibit dates. In the evening, be sure to catch the fountain show. In the evenings you can usually catch it every 15 minutes. They have created a water show based off the music tempo!
Watch the lava show at the Mirage. It’s about a 15 minute show, but its crazy how they make water look like lava. Beware if you are going in the heat of the summer, watching the lava show even from a distance will make you even warmer!
Watch the Sirens of Treasure Island. You may have heard your friends talking about the show…it was revamped a few years ago. I saw the show on the last visit to Vegas…and it was horrible! The show was filled with sexual inuendos with horrible songs and script. We left before it was even over. But hey, at least we can say we saw it.
Head into the Venitian where you can see what its like to be in Venice! They have canals running through the inside of the hotel where you can take a gondola ride. There are also restaurants that have patio seating as if you were really there!
Whatever you do, head to Fremont Street at night and see the light show. Fremont street is where all the downtown hotels are and they are completely covered by an overhang which does an amazing light show at night! One of the best free things there is to see in Vegas.
Shows to Watch
Whenever I go to Vegas, I almost always see a cirque show! They are on the pricier side, but we usually search for the cheapest one and see it. Here are the shows, all of which I would recommend:
Located in the Bellagio
Located in New York New York
Located in Treatsure Island
Located in Aria
Food to Eat
Whether this is your first time to Vegas or 5th, you have probably heard that Vegas is EXPENSIVE. It’s insane that they can even charge $30 for a drink! Here are some restaurant recommendations for going big or saving money!
Mizuya sushi restaurant located in Mandalay Bay http://www.mandalaybay.com/dining/mizuya/ (SAVE)
Hard Rock Cafe located on Las Vegas Blvd near M&M World http://www.hardrock.com/locations/cafes3/cafe.aspx?LocationID=507&MIBEnumID=3 (SPLURGE)
Cravings lunch Buffet located in the Mirage http://www.mirage.com/restaurants/cravings.aspx (SAVE)
Bacchanal Buffet located in Caesars Palace http://www.caesarspalace.com/restaurants/bacchanal-buffet.html (SPLURGE)
Burger Bar located in Mandalay Bay http://www.mandalaybay.com/dining/burger-bar/ (SAVE)
The Pub located in Monte Carlo http://www.montecarlo.com/restaurants/the-pub.aspx (SAVE)
There are food courts in almost every hotel. These are the biggest way to save money while in Vegas, but I understand not EVERYONE is interested in eating at food court restaurants. The most common food court eateries are: Subway, Sbarro, and McDonalds ….as well as multiple Starbucks in every hotel.