Let’s be real – when people think of Vegas, they think of gambling and booze, and for good reason; there’s plenty of that in Vegas. Most of the friends I talk to that have been to Vegas always complain about how expensive it is (valid) and how they’re not sure if they ever want to go back. That wasn’t the case for me. Yes, a lot of money was spent, but because I don’t like to gamble and I avoided heavy binge-drinking, I managed to have a trip to Vegas that made me sad to leave and eager to go back.
There are so many ways to “do” Vegas depending on what your priorities are. This was my first time going west of Texas in the US, so I wanted to make sure I did it right.
So what brought me to Vegas in the first place? Celebrating my man. He was graduating from a class that took place there, and I flew out to see him after spending a couple months apart. He looked handsome, and he and his team won an award #proudgirlfriend
He booked us a suite at the Palazzo, and honestly, I felt so spoiled the few nights we stayed there. The room was gorgeous. We ordered room service more than once. We both slept in every day of our trip because we were both so exhausted from our everyday lives. It was a dream vaca and a perfect reunion.
But enough of that mushy gushy stuff. We had a BLAST in Vegas, and the best thing we did had nothing do with the Strip.
There are honestly so many things to see and do in Vegas that it’s nearly impossible to get a full, composite list, but these are some of the things we did and would highly recommend to anyone visiting.
I wanted to share this one first, because I want people to know that you can go to Vegas and not get drunk (though we did) and gamble and do all that stuff that people associate with the city. We drove about 45 minutes outside of Vegas to go to Valley of Fire State Park. We spent several hours climbing rocks, hiking and exploring the beautiful landscapes. Having lived in Louisiana for the past 12 years, I’m so used to seeing only flatland. Just driving around Vegas is pretty to me with all of the mountains and whatnot, but going to Valley of Fire State Park was a treat in and of itself. Get ready for a photo dump.
GO TO A SHOW
There were so many shows to choose from that it took us awhile to narrow it down. I had never been to a Cirque de Soliel show, so I thought that that would have been a priority, but I ended up watching the promos for a few different shows and Absinthe is one that stood out to me.
It was an incredible choice. Not only were we blown away by the acrobatics, it’s also a hilarious show with a good balance of comedy. It takes place in a tent right outside of Caesar’s Palace.
RIDE THE HIGH ROLLER
Even if you’re afraid of heights, the High Roller is such a neat experience that I encourage you to take the plunge. They have two different options – one where you simply take a ride and observe the beauty of the city from over 500 feet up or one where you can enjoy an open bar while you do that. We opted for the open bar, and it was worth it. Our bartender was meh, but he allowed us to take a drink for the road because, ya know, Vegas.
We went on the High Roller at night, and it was so nice to see how beautiful the city looks from up above. I bet going during the day would also be a really cool experience as well.
WALK AROUND THE VENETIAN
Since we were staying at the Palazzo, we took some time to walk around both the Palazzo and the Venetian. The Venetian is like its own city. There’s so much going on there. There are tons of shops, restaurants and things to do. While we were eating lunch, there were performances going on in the courtyard. You can also go on gondola rides where the gondolier will sing to you. Several of the restaurants have happy hour specials, which is how we ended up at the Mercato della Pescheria. More info on that in the “Eat” section below.
SEE A WATER SHOW AT THE BELLAGIO
The Bellagio is pretty famous for their water shows, and for good reason. We managed to capture a couple of the shows during our time in Vegas. The first one we saw was pretty mellow. I imagine that the shows earlier in the evening are this way. As the night goes on, the shows get more intense and elaborate. They are so beautiful and worth the short stop while you’re walking along the strip.
TAKE A PICTURE IN FRONT OF THE “FABULOUS LAS VEGAS” SIGN
We were ambitious and decided to walk to the sign from our hotel. Luckily it was a nice day. If you have a car, there is some parking available. While we were there, a man was in front of the sign, and he was a photographer who donated his time to be out there and take photos. He worked for free, but he did accept donations. He took a few photos of us using my phone, and we tipped him a few bucks. He did an awesome job, if I do say so myself.
GO TO FREMONT STREET
Fremont Street is the “old Vegas” located downtown. There are several restaurants, bars, casinos and other entertainment, but the neatest thing is the ginormous video screen, called the Viva Vision screen, that’s located above the street. While you’re walking on Fremont, you’ll see all sorts of performers from dancers to musicians, and there’s a plethora of different food varieties to enjoy. What brought us to Fremont Street was The Laundry Room, which I’ll share more about below.
GO TO A SPEAKEASY
Admittedly, I didn’t know what a speakeasy was until Kyle told me he was going to one with a friend in Vegas. When he suggested we go to one while I was in town, I was excited, but still didn’t know what to expect. We went to a speakeasy called The Laundry Room where you have to send a nice text and ask for permission to get in. When you get there, there’s a whole process of actually getting into the bar. It’s actually pretty neat, and every speakeasy operates differently.
The Laundry Room itself was small and intimate. There was someone playing piano in the corner. There is a drink menu, but the bartender can also custom-make drinks if you tell him what kind of flavors you like, but you can’t name specific spirits or anything like that. Also, you can’t take photos in the speakeasy because it’s all very secretive. It was a really next experience, and if you ever get the chance to go to one, do it.
SEE THE SEVEN MAGIC MOUNTAINS
This is a little bit of a drive outside of Vegas, but it’s worth it, especially if you plan on making the drive to Los Angeles, which we did. Seven Magic Mountains is an art installation that went up in 2016 and will likely be going away by the end of 2018, so see it while you can!
It is a beautiful piece of artwork with seven stacks of colorful boulders that stand over 30 feet high. If you go right when the sun is going down, it looks even more beautiful. While the light is fading on everything around it, the boulders stand out even more.
Admittedly, we ordered a good bit of room service while we were on our trip, but honestly, we did not have a bad meal while we were in Vegas.
This was a random find by Kyle when he Googled “mac n cheese Vegas.” Kyle loves his mac and cheese the way that I love my cheese plates. Carson Kitchen delivered on the mac and cheese, but they also delivered on everything else we ate there. Certain items on the menu rotate, so I can’t even tell you what kind of chicken thighs we had because they were in the midst of changing up their menu on the day we went there. They were so good though.
We had the devil’s eggs for an appetizer, which were absolutely divine, and, of course, the mac and cheese was freaking delicious. Thank goodness for Google on that one. We ate the bourbon fudge brownie for dessert, and holy mess. It was freaking amazing. Bacon and chocolate were meant to be together.
Carson Kitchen is located off of Fremont Street, so if you’re in that area, it’s definitely worth the stop for some good food.
MERCATO DELLA PESCHERIA
This was our first meal after checking into the Palazzo. We spent some time walking around the Venetian and decided on this little restaurant for some lunch because they were in the midst of their happy hour, which had food and drink specials. We each had a couple drinks – I had the pear martini, which was unexpectedly blue. We shared a cheese plate, which isn’t on the happy hour menu, and in my opinion, isn’t worth the splurge. It doesn’t come with any soft cheeses, and it’s only served with thin tortilla chips. I wasn’t impressed. What I was impressed with were the steamed mussels. Those were some of the best things I ate while we were in Vegas.
When I think of a Vegas buffet, I always think of Joey Tribbiani from Friends. People always talk about how amazing the buffets in Vegas are, and they aren’t lying. I felt like I ate my weight in food that night. They have such a huge variety of different things to eat. I went back to the seafood area twice, but they also had a variety of Asian, American and Italian foods and so much more. Plus, they had an entire cheese plate section, so I DIY’ed my own cheese plate.
Don’t even get me started on the dessert table. I. Went. Crazy.
COUSINS MAINE LOBSTER
This was a random little stop between seeing Absinthe on the Strip and going to The Laundry Room on Fremont Street. I had never had a lobster roll before, so Kyle insisted that we get one. I love lobster, and this little food truck served up some delicious lobster, y’all. It was so good.
HONG KONG CAFÉ
My throat started irritating me a little bit on our last day in Vegas, so the Szechuan-style beef & tendon noodle soup I got at Hong Kong Café was exactly what I needed.
There are endless possibilities when deciding what to do, see and eat in Vegas, and I fully plan on taking another trip back to enjoy even more of what Vegas has to offer.
Have you ever been to Las Vegas? What were your favorite things to do and eat there?