Monday, June 18, 2012

Las Vegas Vacation – Part 2

Sunday was all about the dam…Hoover dam. I know this makes me a huge nerd, but I was pretty excited about this part of the trip. We were up early and hit the road. We wanted to make sure we were there early enough to take the full dam tour. It was a great tour and I would highly recommend this to anyone headed to the area. It is amazing how big this thing really is, pictures don't really do it justice. They recently opened a bridge that bypasses the dam and gives some pretty spectacular views. It is worth the stop if you are in the area.

After the dam, we went to Bolder City to grab some lunch. We found an adorable cafĂ© and ate lunch on the sidewalk. After lunch we wondered around town for a bit and then headed over to the Lake Mead national recreation area. We hung out a Bolder Beach for a while. It was rocky, hence the name, and the water was chilly, but beautifully clear. 

After Lake Mead we headed back to the hotel for a little nap and to get ready for the evening. We started the evening with dinner at the Ellis Island Casino & Brewery. With the exception of the craft brewed beer made on-site, this place is right out of old school Las Vegas. It had a $7.99 steak special that included a steak dinner, salad and a beer. I was not 100% sold when we walked in, but it was a surprisingly good meal. Keeping with the old school theme, we headed down to Fremont Street to take in some more old school Vegas action for the evening. 

Monday was pretty low key with some additional exploring on the strip and time at the hotel pool. That evening we headed to our second show of the week, Zumanity. It was Cirque du Soleil’s take on the Las Vegas topless show. We weren’t really sure what to expect, but it was really good with the right mix of sexy and funny. After the show, we headed to Burger Bar. This place had been on my list since reading Crazy Running Legs' review a couple of months ago. I had a burger with blue cheese and red wine reduction, and a salted caramel milkshake. My husband had the Kobe burger and a chocolate cowboy milkshake (chocolate ice cream and whiskey). Burger Bar did not disappoint. 

While I enjoyed the whole trip, Tuesday was probably my favorite day. We went back out into the dessert to the Valley of Fire State park. This place is really spectacular with painted dessert, red rocks, petrified logs, ancient rock drawings, mountains and tons of other desert landscape. Since I have not spent much time out west, this place really blew my mind. I could have spent several days here and still not seen everything. We finished the day with a birthday dinner for my husband at Gordon Ramsey’s new restaurant, Steak. The food was delicious and the steak trolley was pretty fun. 

Overall, this was a fabulous trip and a much needed opportunity to get away. It reminded me just how unique Las Vegas is, both for the good (great food, amazing shows) and the bad (smoking everywhere, the crowds, people acting like idiots). What do you think of Las Vegas? Love it or hate it?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Las Vegas Vacation – Part 1

I few months ago I discussed how much my husband and I needed a vacation, and we finally got one. We took a couple of extra days over Memorial Day weekend and headed out to Las Vegas. I hadn’t been to Vegas in a number of years and it was my husband’s first trip to Sin City. We spent about five days in Las Vegas and the surrounding area and it was an amazing trip. 

We stayed at Vdara and the property was spectacular. It is a nonsmoking, non-gambling hotel located about a block off the strip. As much as I like the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas, this property was an amazing oasis among the craziness. The room was really big and in addition to having a nice sitting area, it had a fabulous bathroom with a great bathtub. I think that may have been one of my favorite things. 

On Friday we left Richmond at 6:30 in the morning. The flight was painfully early, but it meant we were on the ground and settled in the room before noon. Since we were out West, and it was easy to find, we headed to In-and-Out burger for lunch. I rarely eat fast food, but this place is an exception. Plus I got to have a root beer float which I had been craving for a while (like weeks). 

After lunch on Friday, we wandered around for a bit and then headed back to the room for a quick nap. That evening we explored the strip and had dinner at Mon Ami Gambi. We ate outside and got to watch the Bellagio fountains dancing during dinner. 

I spent Saturday morning at the hotel spa getting a much needed post half marathon massage. The hotel spa was fantastic and this is one of the best birthday presents I have gotten in a long time. A big thank you to my sweet husband for that. 

Saturday afternoon we explored a little more of the strip and then got ready for the night. We grabbed a quick dinner and headed to see O. Both my husband and I are huge Cirque du Soleil fans and that was a big reason we chose Las Vegas for our trip. The show was fantastic. After the show, we grabbed some gelato and gambled a bit. Then it was off to bed, because we had big plans for the next day.