Recently I spent five days and four nights vacationing on the Las Vegas Strip. It was my first time visiting Sin City which I know in this day and age, is practically unheard of. I left on a Saturday afternoon and met up with my parents who drove in from Arizona and arrived a few hours after me. The trip was fast moving since there was so much to do and see in such a short amount of time (two days consisted mainly of travel.) There were a ton of trip highlights (I outlined some on Instagram stories) but here are my favorites.
PS: After speaking with some locals and getting recommendations, I’ve already made a list of what I want I to do on my next trip, which you can read below.
Since I was the first to arrive, I took a Lyft from the airport to The Hilton Grand Vacations at the end of the Las Vegas Strip (it was a few feet away from the Stratosphere). After checking in, I went to my suite (every room has a kitchen, living room, and separate bedroom) and settled in while I waited for my parents. They choose to drive rather than fly so they could stop along the way and take photos of the desert and stop at the Hoover Dam.
Once they arrived, we had dinner at the hotel restaurant called Waves Pool Bar and Grill. Then we stopped at a local Whole Foods to stock up on drinks and snacks to bring back to our rooms. Rather than hit up the casinos, we opted for a drive down the Las Vegas Strip instead (it was incredible seeing it my first time at night) and then we retreated to our rooms so we could get an early start the following day.
Each morning we started our day by taking a Lyft down the strip and getting dropped off at the other end. This gave us the opportunity to see more sights (like driving past the Hello Kitty Cafe on a side street that I may have not noticed if we had walked). For our initial full day of exploring we began at the New York-New York Hotel and Casino. Since this was my first time entering a Vegas casino, I played some slots before doing anything else.
For such a long time I’ve wanted to try these colorful sweets that I’ve noticed all over Instagram. I approached the window, and between the donuts, macarons, cakes and croissants it was hard to narrow down what I wanted. Ultimately, I decided on the vanilla Birthday cake (because being in Vegas is a celebration in itself), and a strawberry lemonade. Both were delicious. While I was enjoying my sprinkle cake, a live band played 90s grunge hits in the background from the likes of The Cranberries, Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, and Nirvana.
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For so long I’ve wanted to grab a bite at a Hello Kitty food truck. Sometimes they’ll come around Southern California, but the line is always hours long. While I was in Vegas, I came across a Hello Kitty Cafe right outside of the New York New York Hotel and Casino and I literally ran to it. My vanilla cake and strawberry lemonade were both delicious and totally worth the hype! . You can go to sanrio.com to see where the pop-up trucks will be headed next!
We had dinner reservations at Mon Ami Gabi—a French bistro that sits directly across the street from the Fountains of Bellagio water show. We were seated at a table on the patio and as the sun set, it offered a stunning backdrop to the dancing fountains set to music. Being a vegetarian, there weren’t a ton of meatless options on the menu, so I settled on the kids mac and cheese which was insanely delicious. My mom ordered the Classique Steak with butter and my dad got the Roasted Salmon with butternut squash seed oil, creamed spinach, calabrian chili, and kale. Once we were finished we walked around the shops at the Paris Hotel and did a little more gambling. It was an incredible first day in Vegas.
Normally when I pack for a vacation, I overpack. But on this trip I attempted to bring only the clothing I needed (rather than everything I might want to wear). I planned an outfit for each day based on the weather (or so I thought). I was unaware that the forecast had changed right before I left so I was totally unprepared for the cooler weather. On our third night, it would be the chilliest yet (a drop to 40 degrees) which would require warmer clothing. After we got ready for the day we stopped at the Miracle Mile Shops in Planet Hollywood and ended up at Urban Outfitters. I purchased a Nirvana tee to throw on over my bodysuit and Amborella Organics lollipops (just because). To be completely honest though, I enjoyed the autumn temperatures.I don’t get this kind of seasonal weather in LA so it was a nice refreshing change.
As we walked by Magnet Max, the display of realistic food magnets caught my eye. I ended up purchasing a chocolate fudge popsicle version (that looks good enough to eat) and a few other souvenirs.
We went back to the The Paris Hotel and Casino so we could go up to the Eiffel Tower viewing deck. The deck sits 45 stories high (half the size of the original in Pairs) and offers unparalleled views of Las Vegas; from the strip to the desert. On our way down we crossed the Bridge of Love Locks and took photos of the vibrant display. Next up was more gambling and stopping in the Eiffel Tower Gift Shop. Here I bought a pink casino chip, Sugarfina s’mores candy, dice lollipops, and a Ban.do “Lucky Break” pin to add to my denim jacket.
One of my favorite casual spots to get a quick bite to eat is Dirt Dog LA. I usually get the Elote dog which comes smothered in corn, cilantro, mayo, chili powder, cotija cheese, and lime. Since I don’t eat meat, I order it with a veggie dog instead and it tastes like the real thing. After finding out they have a Dirt Dog restaurant inside the The Grand Bazaar Shops, I took my parents there. However, I was disappointed they didn’t offer the veggie version at their Vegas location, so I settled on Elote fries which were amazing. My dad got the House Dog and my mom ordered the Patty Melt; they both enjoyed the unique twist on a classic hot dog.
After our lunch we visited It’Sugar—a colorful candy shop that carries an array of sweets; from the coveted classics to the hard to find. They also have a lot of quirky gift options to bring back to friends and family, like this Sanrio Surprise Box or a Japanese Snack Pak. I was craving chocolate, so I grabbed a bag and filled it with chocolate-covered gummy bears, chocolate-covered Oreos, and pecan/cashew turtles.
Later that night we ventured over to The Venetian Resort and spent the evening there. My parents went on a Gondola ride and I used this time to get a 30 minute massage in St. Mark’s Square. After that, we met back up and strolled around the Grand Canal Shoppes. For dinner we choose Buddy V’s Ristorante which you may recognize from TLC’s Cake Boss. I ordered the most delicious Mac and Cheese Carbonara (minus the bacon).
I fell in love with the Renaissance inspired architecture at the Venetian. When I wasn’t in the casino, I was walking around snapping photos of the intricate artwork on the ceilings and of the stunning chandeliers.
On our last full day in Vegas, we began by having a poolside lunch at the hotel. It wasn’t warm enough to swim, but it was our first time enjoying the relaxing atmosphere during the daytime.
Next we headed over to Caesars Palace. I put $40 dollars in a five player slot machine and that kept me going for about an hour and a half.
Upon exiting the casino, I came across the Brahma Shrine, which is a replica of the famous Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, Thailand. The statue was made in Thailand and installed here with the supervision of Buddist Monks. It was built with a mix of bronze, wood, mirrored tile, and marble, and it’s surrounded by flowers and incense; tourists can light the incense to inspire good luck. The Brahma holds a vase, disk, book, shell, and a scepter, and is known as one of the five lucky spots at Caesars. One of the plaques reads “The Brahma Shrine is renowned throughout the Far East, to people of all faiths, as a place of prayer which in turn bestows prosperity and good fortune on those who come to visit and make their hopes and wishes known.”
We made our way over to the Paris Hotel for an early dinner at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant. We were lucky enough to score a table facing west and witnessed a spectacular sunset over the Bellagio fountains.
I ordered gnocchi with artichokes and a glass of Pinot Grigio, my mom got the steak tartare, and my dad had a caesar salad. For dessert, my mom and I each had a tasty hazelnut chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Once we were finished our waiter brought over a tray of Petits Fours, which was a nice ending to an exquisite dinner.
My first stop was Attic Salt—a quirky gift boutique that carries books, jewelry, and trinkets. Here I found a coffee table book Las Vegas Then and Now which presents two photographs side by side. The left side of the book shows what a building or area in Vegas looked like in the past, and the right shows what it looks like today. I also purchased So. Many. Planner Stickers. so I can decorate my 2020 planner.
I had been looking to bring something back for Billy this whole vacation but couldn’t find anything he would like (I didn’t want to give him a typical tourist gift like a magnet, pen, or shot glass). So, I found a pink grapefruit exfoliating body scrub and shower gel from The Body Shop. I knew he would enjoy them since they’re made with natural ingredients and The Body Shop is big on reducing environmental footprints.
I quickly fell in love with the unique accessories and jewelry at Francesca’s. This was a store I had never heard of, but their eye-catching display caught my attention. I purchased a powerstone rose quartz bracelet and the most amazing smelling White Orchid candle. With a little more time to kill, I roamed around the Planet Hollywood casino and played a few slot machines.
On our way back to the hotel we walked along the Las Vegas Strip and I truly appreciated looking at the allure of the bright lights and unique architecture for one last time. It was getting late so we made a quick stop at Bally’s before calling it a night since we had early flights to catch in the morning.
My first trip to Vegas was a success and I’m counting down the days until I visit again. I had no idea there were so many entertaining things to do and see on the 4 mile strip! You definitely need more than a few days to encounter all that Sin City has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a family friendly vacation like I had, or wanting an experience like out of The Hangover (or something in between)—this quintessential American tourist destination has something to offer everyone!
RECOMMENDED BY LOCALS
Whenever I travel I make a point of asking locals and other tourists their favorite must-see attractions in there area. These are the spots (on and off the strip) that were recommended to me (but I didn’t have time to visit). The places in bold are where I visited and highly suggest.
I didn't get a chance to go clubbing, but for those interested in nightclubs, my friends recommended XS and Omnia for EDM music and Drai's Nightclub for Hip Hop. If you're looking for free guest lists or looking to book table service, their go-to is Discotech App. They also have great resources on the best clubs in Las Vegas.
Pools and ”Beaches”
- Mandalay Bay (lazy river, wave pool, sand, and day beds!)
- Marquee Dayclub (three pools to choose from)
- Encore Beach Club (pool parties that go from day to night)
- Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis (five acre complex with seven pools)
- The Bellagio (relaxing atmosphere with poolside massages)
- Beach Club Pool (family-friendly + water slides) and GO POOL (adults only)
- The Venetian (10 pools including Tao Beach)
- The Mirage (ideal for relaxing) and Bare Pool Lounge (adults only; European style)
- Shark Reef
- Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
- Rhyolite (wild west ghost town)
- Bridge of Love Locks
- Adventuredome—Circus Circus (theme park and arcade)
- Taste Coca-Cola from around the world
- The Big Apple Rollercoaster
- VD Adventures (virtual reality)
- Gondola ride
- The Las Vegas Art District (art scene)
- Brahma Shrine
Nightclubs and Bars
- Downtown Cocktail Room (dark cocktail lounge with a New York City vibe)
- Omnia (EDM club that hosts DJs like Calvin Harris, Martin Garrix, and Steve Aoki)
- Hakkasan (three-level club with its own restaurant and light show)
- Tao (dark nightclub sandwiched between Tao Restaurant and a pool)
- 1OAK (old school club playing top 40, EDM, and hip hop)
- On The Record (a club that doesn’t feel doesn’t feel like a club; they also spin 80s and 90s favorites)
- APEX Social Club (on the 55th floor of the Palms’ ivory tower)
- Kaos (party spot with headliners)
- Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas (32 bowling lanes with live music and cocktails)
- Container Park (open-air shopping center)
- The Shops at Crystals
- Chinatown (large shopping area featuring eclectic Asian shops and authentic cuisine)
- Miracle Mile Shops
- The Forum Shops (“The Shopping Wonder of the World”)
- Fremont Street (shops, restaurants, casinos, light shows, and tons more)
- The Grand Bazaar Shops
- Fashion Show Mall (over 250 stores on the Vegas Strip)
- Grand Canal Shoppes
Where to Dine
- Wicked Spoon (not your typical buffet + bottomless beverages)
- Beauty & Essex
- Blueberry Hill Family Restaurant (breakfast anytime of the day!)
- Shanghai Plaza
- Eiffel Tower Restaurant
- Pizza Rocks
- Mama Rabbit
- The Park (outside food court)
- El Dorado Cantina (Mexican cuisine and open 24/7)
- Dirt Dog
- Hello Kitty Cafe
- In-n-Out Burger
- Village Street Eateries (indoor food court)
- Crack Shack
- Bardot Brasserie
- Mon Ami Gabi
- Buddy V’s Ristorante (seen on Cake Boss)
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