After a whirlwind few days in LA, we decided to make our trip even more crazy and do a road trip to Las Vegas. And why not? Las Vegas is only 5 hours drive away and it is a must see place when on the West Coast.
On the Road to Vegas
So on a sunny Valentine’s Day, my husband and I and our 2 kids set off from LA in our very comfy SUV hired earlier that morning. My only request was GPS as I knew getting out of LA will be quite tricky and I was not wrong…After over an hour of different freeways, highways, and my favourite carpool lanes we got on the interstate highway which took us into Nevada. The highway runs through a desert with no life in sight for miles and the never ending mountains provided a dramatic backdrop to our roadtrip. Our half way pit stop was in Barstow which is situated on the famous Route 66. It is also known for this branch of McDonald’s using old train carriages as a base of the restaurant which is quite unusual.
And then, after hours of desert and barren landscapes, we arrived in Vegas where the colourful and bright lights mesmerise you from the start. We started our evening watching the amazing Diana Ross perform at the Venetian Hotel. Gosh, she can sing! We also got our first glimpse of the Strip where all the action and fun happens. But that’s for another day… We retreated to our SLS Hotel where we had a well deserved sleep.
High Above Las Vegas
We started the day early as there was so much to see and we only had one day to do it in. Bearing in mind we had kids with us, we had to think of an itinerary they would enjoy. To be honest there are quite a few things in Vegas for kids. The casino and alcohol laws are very strict in the US so there was a lot of places we could not go to or stop for a long time. However, we still managed to hop on the slot machines and I even won $35 on my first go.
Number one thing to do is to have a ride on the High Roller, a 550 foot tall Ferris Wheel just behind the Linq Hotel. In roughly 15 min you are on the top, overlooking Las Vegas with 360 degree views of the Strip, the airport, and the mountains surrounding the city in the distance. The views do give you a fantastic perspective on the isolated location of Vegas which makes you think… how on earth do they make this place work!…
The ride should definitely be followed by a visit to In-N-Out Hamburgers which is not far from the High Roller exit. We had protein hamburgers which is their delicious burger wrapped in a massive lettuce leaf. As we don’t have In-n-Out places in the UK, it was definitely an experience. We followed it by Sprinkles ice creams which were absolutely amazing and they actually have a cupcake ATM which you can use out of hours – only in Las Vegas!
Elvis is Alive!
Seeing Elvis in any shape or form is a must when in Vegas. You can experience Big Elvis for free at the Piano Bar in Harrah’s Hotel. The guy is absolutely amazing and his voice is a dead ringer for Elvis. He is only there three times a week so do catch him while you there as it was definitely a treat. Please check my Las Vegas YouTube video where he features for a couple of seconds.
In-N-Out of Vegas Hotels
This is so Vegas! Would you ever think of going inside a hotel to look round it? You do in Vegas. You have the Bellagio, the Venetian, Caesars Palace which entice you inside with their amazing shops, architecture and exhibitions. The Venetian Hotel is basically a fantastic replica of Venice, with St Mark’s Square, serenading gondoliers offering you a romantic ride on the canal, the Campanile Tower and the real life Rialto Bridge. The Bellagio Hotel offered a spell binding Chinese Year of Rooster flower exhibition. Caesars Palace boasts the famous Forum Shops and the Trevi Fountain. You definitely feel the opulence of these places. The customer service is amazing and you certainly do not feel like you are in a hotel when walking through these.
The Spectacular Shows
3pm is a magic time when the Bellagio Fountains start their fabulous shows every 30 min. Every show is meticulously coordinated to a different song. The show lasts about 5 minutes and, not surprisingly, it attracts a lot of spectators. We witnessed “Time to say Goodbye” and “Uptown Funk” performances which were unbelievable. Please see my YouTube video for a little sample.
Another outside show not to be missed is the Volcano at the Mirage Hotel. There are two performances during the week so get yourself really close so not to miss this exciting show. It will definitely warm you up! The show is dramatic, loud and it is something you would expect to see in Vegas. It is a show for the whole family and you come away uttering a big “wow”.
Overall, the Strip comes alive at night as it becomes an adult playground. There are scantly dressed showgirls you can take pictures with, offers of 1 minute HIV tests, and other adult services. It was time for the family of four to head back to our hotel after an exhausting day but there was one more thing to see…
Downtown Las Vegas
Fremont Street Experience is about 10 minutes away from the Strip in Uber. Again, it is something not to be missed. It is the historic part of Vegas and the area where the Mob was particularly active. Fremont Street boasts the world’s largest digital screen suspended 90 feet above the pedestrian area. Every hour the roof of the street lights up with a visual and musical performance which, among many others, features the UK band the Who. Looking up at this visual extravaganza, you can’t fail to notice daredevils zip wiring the entire length of the street every so often. It must be an exhilarating experience as loud shrieks of joy run through the air. This bit of Las Vegas had a slightly different feel though, not as polished and exuberant as the Strip. However, it is in the old part of the city and it is good that the authorities found a way of attracting tourists to this side of the city.
Las Vegas in a Day
Seeing the sights of Las Vegas in a day is possible. Actually, I think one day in the city is just enough as it is an overwhelming experience but once you have seen the lights and sights there is nothing else to see unless you can afford the shows or spend your time on the slot machines. For us, it was definitely enough. We came, we saw and we left with our heads full of fantastic memories…and an extra $35!
More on my Las Vegas in a Day YouTube video.