- Travel and Places
Las Vegas - You Have to Go at Least Once - Everything that happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas
Las Vegas Airport Welcome
Viva Las Vegas and the Excalibur Hotel
Where in the world do you get free drinks 24/7? Vegas! Where in the world is entertainment available almost everywhere for free? Vegas! Las Vegas entertainment is what it's all about. Viva Las Vegas! There’s more but I think you get the point, Las Vegas, Wow! I was first introduced to Las Vegas by my sister-in-law who loved to gamble. She wanted to go to Vegas and thought it would be fun if a small group of us went – so, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, daughter and her husband and my 17 year old son went and we loved it. We went back two more times we loved it so much. I thought I was the only one who called Vegas “Disneyland for a adults” but I found the quote on a web page about Vegas.
Our first trip to Vegas started when we looked out the plane window and saw Vegas below us, only one mile from the airport. We got off the plane and while we were searching for our luggage my sister-in-law was winning $250 on an airport slot machine! There are slot machines everywhere, even in convenience stores.
Everyone knows about the beautiful hotels and lights and glitz but if you haven’t been to Vegas you might not realize there is lots to see and do that doesn’t involve gambling. Actually statistics say most people who go to Vegas only gamble 3.9 hours per day. Pretty impressive considering it’s a gambling town. But there’s so very much to see. Hotels in Vegas can take your breath away. We haven’t been to Vegas since 2001 and I know since then hotels have been torn down and new ones built, that’s what Vegas does, constantly updating in a way only Vegas does. The Vegas strip is a 4.6 mile stretch of land lined with fabulous casinos/hotels. Vegas weather is very hot in the summer but comfortable other times of the year.
On our first trip we stayed at the Excalibur. There were two reasons for that. First, it was one of the cheapest places to stay in Vegas and second I’m a big fan of King Arthur so why not stay at the Excalibur Las Vegas! New York New York is on one side of the Excalibur and the Luxor is on the other. It’s located right in the heart of the strip so it had lots going for it. The upper levels of the Excalibur contain the buffet, restaurants, and shops. There’s also a downstairs “dungeon” which is actually a game room. As with all Vegas hotels there are shows, a pool, and ‘lounges’ for drinks and entertainment. All of this in one hotel. At the time we were there there was also a Merlin and the Fire Breathing Dragon show, free, outside the hotel, nightly. An animatron Merlin battled an animatron dragon before a very large audience. Speaking of nights, knights in shining armour, damsels in distress and various minstrels wander around the hotel. We spent some time playing video games in the dungeon and attended the Excalibur show, “Tournament of Kings” a true medieval show which consisted of a show, jousting, fireworks and more. A three course dinner was served medieval style with no utensils and most of the show you were yelling “Hoozah!” It really made you feel you were back in time.
Las Vegas Buffets
Vegas turned me into a buffet connoisseur. Las Vegas buffets offer food from everywhere around the world! As we walked around Vegas we visited many buffets, one better than the next. Endless rows of food just there for the taking! Remember, these are my opinions. We decided the Excalibur had the best breakfast buffet. Since we ate so much at breakfast, we rarely ate lunch. At first our favorite dinner buffet was the Luxor, which is still excellent, but after our second trip we found out about the Rio Suites buffet. Did I tell you we spent most of our time touring the strip on foot? The Rio is off the strip so we found it through word of mouth. This incredible buffet includes everything you can think of from Lobster to corn on the cob, choices of American food, Sushi, Chinese, Italian, Seafood, Mexican, Carvery Roast Ham, Beef etc! I think it is only a dinner buffet but you shouldn’t go to Vegas without eating there at least once.
Mandalay Bay Hotel Aquarium
Monte Carlo Hotel Entrance
Vegas Hotels Worth Seeing
Back to our foot touring. At the time we walked the length of the strip...we didn’t realize how long it actually and we didn't care but I can say we slept well the night we walked it. The other point to consider is the hotels are so large they look a lot closer than they actually are and the distance from the street to the hotel entrance can be considerable as well. Each hotel has its own interesting theme. We’ve already talked about Excalibur. New York New York is a heartwarming experience for any New Yorker. In addition to the New York landmarks, such as the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty, there is a roller coaster outside of New York New York. Inside is like being outside in old New York. There are tenement buildings, street-side cafes and Central Park with lights. Needless to say, all of the shows, restaurants, and shops, not to mention pools and spas, are part of all of the hotels.
Did I mention the Luxor? Never been to Egypt? The Luxor will take you there. The building itself is a large pyramid with Pharaohs and sphinx located outside. Inside is like walking into Egypt. It’s a little dark and sandy inside with sarcophagus, more sphinx and ancient artifacts throughout. Staff dress like pharaohs and Cleopatra.
Sort of behind the Luxor is Mandalay Bay. The Shark Reef Aquarium is unreal with sharks of all kinds, jellyfish, sea turtles, piranha…there’s also a ‘beach’ with a wave pool in the back of this hotel. It is a beautiful hotel. This is a luxury hotel with art for viewing in the lobby. MGM Grand’s main attraction is a glass sided lion habitat. You can walk under and around the lions. When we were there the hotel theme was The Wizard of Oz but I understand that it has been changed to Art Deco to appeal more to adults.
Caesars Palace is truly a palace! Here there is obviously a Roman influence. Male staffers walk around dressed like Roman gods, some with short skirts, all with excellent physiques. Caesars pools are “Garden of the Gods” spacious and stately. There are shows at the Forum Shops of the Talking Statues. These really have to be seen to be believed. The show goes on every hour on the hour. While it is difficult to hear what they are saying, just watching them is an experience (including the laser lights) and behind the fountain they occupy is a saltwater aquarium. P.S. Wolfgang Puck has a restaurant here. There are statues everywhere and gloriously opulent fountains in the Roman tradition. Lots of marble here.
Weather and Deals
Did I mention the weather in Las Vegas? November, December, January and February can get cold, down to 39 degrees, but hover around 40 - 41 degrees. The rest of the months range in the high 50's to 60's. However, I must say July and August can get pretty hot. Vegas is aware of this and has built enclosed, connecting walkways between many Vegas hotels. While the Vegas strip is the most popular place to stay, don't rule out the 'off strip' places. You can get some great deals! Speaking of deals even the big hotels offer some great deals. Of course the economy is hurting right now but I recently saw a deal for Circus Circus at only $29 per night and the Excalibur from $24 per night! (Can you see why we stayed at the Excalibur?) Many offer additional incentives like kids eat free, two-for-one coupons, special deals on shows, buffet passes and so on. So, if you think Vegas is expensive it is only as expensive as you want it to be. If you want a luxurious hotel with lots of amenities you can find it, but you'll pay for it. If you want to gamble your money away you can, but if you want to enjoy Vegas on a budget you can do that too!
Vegas in your pocket
There's nothing like a Vegas hotel! Did I mention the Ventian Hotel which is a destination unto itself? Being inside is like being outside in Venice. Truly a great place to visit! There are so many hotels with so many FREE attractions, there are dancing fountains outside of the Bellagio, natural wildlife habitat in the Flamingo, the volcano at the Mirage, and more. There are other attractions as well. One of my favorites is M&M World, what chocoholic wouldn't love thousands of M&Ms in a real variety of colors. Oh, and let’s not forget the Freemont Laser Light Show downtown. While you’re downtown go to the Golden Nugget Hotel to see the worlds largest gold nugget.
Remember, all drinks are free when you are playing the slots or at the tables in all hotels (but don’t forget to tip the waitress.) I always bring home some free cups, these aren’t ordinary cups they are the large cups used to hold your quarters at the slots. I haven’t even scratched the surface of Las Vegas! I haven’t mentioned the Stratosphere or the Sahara or Riviera, not to mention the new hotels that are built every year. Remember too, Vegas constantly rebuilds itself by tearing down old hold hotels and replacing them with new. As if that weren't enough it finds places to build new hotels were none have been before. So even if you've been to Vegas if it's more than two years ago, you might not recognize the landscape if you go back. It's like a living thing! Visit Vegas and see for yourself.
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