Date of Trip: March 2003
Las Vegas is a one of a kind city; where else can you imagine you are in Paris, New York, a tropical island, Venice, or New Orleans for a moment? A place where neon is king, and restaurants and entertainment rule the city. A place to dream of hitting it big, but more than likely leaving with empty pockets, and a place you will never ever become bored visiting. This is a city that on the flight home you starting planning your next vacation to return back…but after a good nap though.
For me, it’s the endless casino/hotels to explore and experience. I love the Bellagio fountains, there is no more romantic spot in my eyes then watching this wonderful dancing water next to the person you love, then strolling inside to explore what wonderful display will be showcased at the Bellagio Conservatory.
The Wynn hotel is one of the most elaborate hotels/casinos, and also one of the newest and shouldn’t be missed. I loved it with it’s spectacular cascading waterfalls and extraordinary attention to details. The twinkling lights that lined the foliage paths were stunning and made you feel very relaxed while visiting.
The Venetian, the luxury resort inspired by the splendor of Italy’s most romantic city, Venice, is truly a place to visit. The ceilings are covered with hand-painted re-creations of Venetian art. Just stroll down the stone walkways to stumble upon Venice’s famous Grand Canal, where you can shop at many stores and boutiques while taking in live street performers and watching lovers glide down the river in one of the resorts Gondola rides.
If you like dancers, then the Rio is a place to check out. Every half hour or so, waitress/waiters will jump up and entertain everyone with a number of tunes. Don’t miss the ceiling float parade that goes on each day.
If you want to see a lot in a short time, take a limo ride to tour the city. These are so reasonably priced it’s crazy not to. We took a 3 1/2 hourride for $220, which included a tip and could handle up to six guests. What a deal. We saw the Mirage Volcano, the Treasure Island pirate, the Bellagio Fountains show, Fremont light show, and many other sights in Vegas. They dropped you off and picked you up… we brought champagne, which made the trip even more enjoyable.
Never ever wear new shoes in this town. Go for comfort before style. Don’t be surprised if you don’t come home a big winner. Use coupons for freebies and save your money for a good show or a nice restaurant. Coupons are found everywhere. Some hotels (Coast Hotels) give you coupon books for staying with them for free drinks and discounts on shows. Use them. Use the free shuttles to get around… they are so convenient. Play the machines the locals do…this paid off for me at the Palms. Always carry around a lot of dollar bills, you will need them frequently for tipping. Always be careful with your purse or wallet. Most people are honest and not thieves, but you never know when you may run into somebody that may want to take advantage of you. Be Safe! And last but not least, always enjoy yourself. Always go on vacation with a good attitude and take in all that you can.
My Top Picks
Depending on where you plan to go, your feet, taxis, and free shuttles are the best method for traveling. If you are on the strip, it is easier to just walk from casino to casino, and take in the abundant sunshine there is in Vegas. A taxi is easily found by the doors near check in/out of the Hotel/Casinos so they are never hard to find. Cost is only $3.20 to start, then $2 dollars a mile. Well worth the money. To assure a good safe ride I always tell the driver his tip depends on how calm my nerves are when I arrive. It’s always worked in so far in Vegas.
If you are staying at one of the hotels that offer free shuttles to the strip etc. (Coast, Orleans, Rio, and Barbary Coast among others) use them. They are fast, free (I always tip) and clean.
For an extra special way to see the city, I suggest taking a limo ride for a tour of the city. For $55 person (included tip) for 4 of us we had 3 ½ hours which took us to several of the major attractions in town. Well worth the money.
The Trolley takes you from the Stratosphere to the south side of the strip. At only $1.50 they seem like a great deal if time and comfort are not a factor. The trolley stops at every major casino on the strip and has less than comfortable wooden seats. The monorail system is usually located in the back of these large casinos and usually a long distant to walk to reach them. They cost from $5.00 per ride to $40 for a three day pass.
Gold Coast Hotel and Casino
If you are looking to be pampered, and having luxury amenities are important to you, then pass on the Gold Coast. But if you are satisfied with a clean room, hot shower, and a bed, then you should check out one of the best bargain hotels in Vegas. The Gold Coast is located a short distant from the strip across from the Palms and the Rio, with one of the best rooms rates in the city.
I stayed here over President’s Weekend and got my room for free, thanks to a comped room from my gambling sister-in-law. But even if I had to fork out the $59 a night, I still think I would be satisfied with my stay.
The rooms were smallish, clean with the décor somewhat southwestern. Our room had two full beds, a table, two chairs, and a dresser. It did have a TV (only used to check out the weather) and a much needed alarm clock ( Didn’t want to miss the flight home). The air-conditioning worked fine, but was rather loud when it was running.
Some of the rooms in this hotel have great views. I went with another guest (just for drinks) up to one of the Suites on the top floor one night and the view was awesome, but it was hard to see it through the dirty windows. Our room was located on the first floor (2nd level) and had a view of the back door of the show “Forever Plaid.” Occasionally, we saw some of the performers sneaking outside to smoke their cigarettes, but that was it.
The first floor was a smoking floor (we are non-smokers) so we were a little worried about the smoke smell bothering us, but with free rooms why bother? The hallway stunk, but the rooms were fine. Our room was located not far from the elevators so it was only a short walk to reach the casino. If you are thinking why did they take the elevators, as we were on the first floor, it’s because there was a sign on the door telling us too…honest.
If I had to list something negative it would have to be the size of the bathrooms. I was thinking to myself that if I get any bigger I might have a hard time using this room. The tub and shower were adequate as the water was hot, and the pressure was good. Two important things needed to get the soap out. But if you are looking for fancy toiletries then bring your own. They did provide a blow dryer, an iron, and a one cup coffee pot for your convenience which was very helpful and much used. That’s about it for the room. There’s nothing fancy about this place. But if you would rather plop your cash into the machines to try your luck, then waste it on a room that you are only in a few hours, then this might be the ticket for you.
Gold Coast Security
One thing I want to mention about the security at the hotel is that it was very efficient during my stay. One afternoon we came back to the room to catch a short nap before we headed out for the evening and in one of the other guest rooms a few doors down from us, there was all sorts of ruckus going on. You could hear young kids running around and it sounded like they were running up and down the hallways, and jumping from bed to bed. After about 30 minutes of this, I walked down and could tell which room it was coming from but didn’t hear any adult voices, only children. I decided to call the hotel security as I didn’t want anyone to get hurt goofing off without supervision. They were very thankful as they said they have a very strict policy about leaving unsupervised children in the rooms. It was only moments later that I heard security knocking on their door. The noise stopped instantly and then shortly after that I could hear the parent yelling at the kids. This bothered me a little as I was sure it made the parents mad for having to come back from their gambling to actually take responsibility and watch their children. My intent wasn’t to get the kids in trouble, but to prevent an unnecessary injury. I am sure they were paged downstairs in the Casino…but shame on them for leaving young children unattended.
One other note regarding security…at about 4am in the morning, as I was getting ready to catch my flight home, I heard an alarm ringing. I was blow drying my hair and my friend was in the shower so the noise wasn’t that loud and I just took it for someone’s alarm clock ringing and ignored it. It evidently stopped. Then shortly afterwards over the loud speaker was an announcement that the fire alarm was a false alarm and everyone should return back to their rooms. When we went downstairs to check out there were firemen and security everywhere (also still a large crowd at the table and machines gambling) checking out the situation. The hotel handled this situation very smoothly in my opinion and I am quite sure I would feel safe here as a guest once again.
On a funnier note: I heard a funny story from some other friends of mine that were staying there the same night on the second floor. I guess a large group of high school hockey players were also staying there (in town for a tournament) and when the alarm rang, they all ran out of their rooms barely dressed, without anything…but they all had their hockey sticks. You can tell what their priorities were!
Nine Fine Irish Men
I ate lunch here on a Saturday afternoon while in town, and had a great meal. My friend and I shared a corned beef sandwich and a bowl of the Irish stew. We each ordered a house drink — forgot the names but mine was like an apple martini. Prices were around $9 for each drink, which I thought was a bit pricey for what you got. The food, however, was awesome. Great stew with big hunks of meat and vegetables. The corned beef sandwich was so tender we both finished everything on our plates. The total bill ended up being round $50 for two, but well worth the stop.
There was a live Irish band playing and the crowd was really getting into the songs by yelling out their favorite request. We were seated in the way back, behind the band, which was a more quiet spot and away from all the action, but we could still hear the music clearly, and there was no wait to get seated.
I would definitely stop here again if Irish food is what you like. You will feel like you are in a true Irish Pub in Ireland.
Wayne Newton (The Show)
I couldn’t leave town again without seeing Wayne Newton, Mr. Vegas, so I didn’t. We got tickets the same day of the show, on the lower level, and paid $80. We were seated with another couple and ordered a not so great $10.00 house drink during the show. The theatre is smaller than you would imagine, but very comfortable for the guests. Wayne is such a performer. His voice is fading, and he coughed a lot during the show, so maybe he was suffering from a cold. But still, it’s Wayne Newton, and I loved it. He played several instruments which was very entertaining, and had a few singers perform numbers as well. They were very talented and he showcased them extremely well. The show only lasted an hour and a half but I felt like I did get my moneys worth. If you are looking for a fun show, and don’t expect him to sound like he did when he was 20, then go and enjoy yourself.
I love this bar and grill!If anyone tells you this place is easy to find…well don’t believe them. We knew it was located in Harrah’s and even asked how to find it once we got there. Go up the elevators that are in back. FYI there are three sets of elevators. Avoid what we did and just go up the third one and yes, they are located in the far back of the casino.
Once upstairs, and just past the Fairfield Timeshare Folks, you will see the restaurant. We arrived around 2 in the afternoon and had to wait for 20 minutes or so. They took our names and gave us a paddle that would light and vibrate when we could be seated. This was a perfect time to check out the gift shop next-door and purchase that Toby souvenir.
The restaurant wasn’t too crowded, but most of the tables were full. There is a restaurant section and then a bar area, with monitors playing Toby’s videos over and over again. It’s loud in here, but that was expected. Plastered all over the walls was Toby’s memorabilia. There were guitars, pics, handwritten song lyrics, pictures, and clothes he wore to special events among other things. There were a lot of items on displayed but not too much that would be too busy on the eyes. And way in the back there is an actual stage and dance floor. Nothing was going on back there, but I am sure it gets hopping in the evenings.
The menu has four sections: appetizers, sandwiches, entrees, and desserts, highlighting Toby’s signature meals. Some of the appetizers included chips, cheese fries, and not-so buffalo wings. Cheeseburgers, catfish, and Toby’s signature fried bologna sandwich, and a few salads to choose from as well. Some of the dinner entrée were ribs, steaks, and seafood dishes, along with his meatloaf and chicken fried steak. Then there were his desserts and signature drinks to try. Prices ranged from $9 for sandwiches, and up to $30 for the steaks.
I ordered the chicken fried steak, and my friend couldn’t pass up the fried bologna sandwich. We munched on cornbread they brought to the table and ordered drinks. The meal took about 25 minutes to be served, which gave us plenty of time to walk around the bar and check out all the cool stuff on the walls.
When the meal arrived I was a bit embarrassed by what I had ordered. The portions were huge. Southern gravy was smothered all over the steak and mashed potatoes, along with a small container of creamed corn. What was I thinking? Anyway, it was great. My friend’s sandwich was oozing with cheese and onions and she just loved it. Neither of us could finish our meals and we even had to take a to go cup with our drinks in it.
FYI: his signature drinks come in two sizes: normal and 22 oz mason jars. We didn’t know this and ordered the 22oz…we left full, satisfied, and very buzzed.
Acting Like Vegas Divas
If you want to see a lot, and have little time in town, then I suggest getting a limousine for an evening. We decided to take a tour one night while in Vegas for something a little out of the ordinary for us. There were four of us, including one lady who had never been to Vegas before and only had 2 days in town.
We reserved A1 Worldwide Limousine Service for the 3 ½ hour tour and we were very satisfied with what we got.
Reservations were easy and made over the Internet. The fee for 3 ½ hours was $210, which included tax and tip. We could have had up to six guest for that price. They pick you up at your hotel and return you to your desired location.
They arrived promptly at 7:15pm and picked us up at our hotel. We purchased some champagne and brought that along for the ride. Off we went. They have a regular routine for the trip we booked. First they drive you down the strip to check out all the lights. I got such a different perspective seeing the casinos from a limo — one, I wasn’t driving in all that congestion on the strip worrying about where to go, and secondly, I was sitting comfortably on the leather seats of a stretch limo, with a glass of champagne in my hand feeling like a Diva.
First stop, the Welcome to Vegas sign. Out we went for pictures. The driver was so nice and pointed out all the famous places we passed on our ride, like the wedding chapels and all the new condos springing up everywhere.
Next stop was the Bellagio to watch the fountain show. We were dropped off at the front door and told where and when to return. We exchanged cell phone numbers to make sure we stayed in close contact with the driver. They must have it timed out perfectly as we arrived only moments before the show started, and after it was over we headed inside the Bellagio to take a peek at the Conservatory display.
When we were ready to get back to the limo it was a bit hard to determine which of the 15 other limos was actually ours. Luckily one of the girls memorized the license plate. Next, we were off to see the Pirate show at Treasure Island. We got there in plenty of time to catch the show, and then head next door to the Mirage for the Volcano Show. The next stop was the Fremont Light Show. The rider took us the long way so we could see all the sights, and dropped us off near Binnions. We got there 15 minutes before the next show, which allowed some to hit the restrooms and others to plop money into the machines. After the show we headed back via the expressway to get yet another perspective of Vegas at night.
This experience was awesome and very reasonably priced. I totally recommend doing this at least once while in you are in Las Vegas.