I want to begin this post by first admitting that, on the long list of places I want to explore, Las Vegas was never somewhere I imagined myself going. It seems to be that people either absolutely must go and they make it happen, or it simply doesn’t get considered.
Having shown Las Vegas the cold shoulder many times in the past I was eventually convinced to go. Rather narrow-mindedly, I only agreed knowing it meant I would get to visit the Grand Canyon, which was that fantastic it deserves a post to itself.
My initial doubts surrounding investing time and money……ok a lot of money…….to visit Sin City were that I am by no means a party animal, I don’t have a clue how to gamble and I wasn’t eloping for a drive thru wedding. So what was the point? Well let me tell you, there is so much more to Las Vegas than the Grand Canyon and I can honestly say I come away with a completely different opinion than I expected to have.
My first view of the strip blew me away! The sheer magnitude of the wacky hotels has to be seen to be believed. Many of which are individually themed down to an undeniable and over-the-top T, and will leave you feeling like you really are in an adult Disneyland. From the Egyptian Pyramids, to the Eiffel Tower, to the Big Apple………the Vegas strip has it all, and suddenly I couldn’t wait to explore!
We checked into our amazing, fountain view room at none other than the Bellagio hotel.
Which leads me to my first must see when in Vegas, the Bellagio Fountain show. Free for visitors to enjoy, find yourself a perch and fall in love with the stunning performance. If you only have time for one viewing I recommend going at nighttime to see the lights that accompany the fountains. The show by far exceeded my low expectations, given that they are just fountains. Trust me, they will impress you too!
Monday to Friday
- 3pm – 8pm – Runs every half hour
- 8pm – Midnight – Runs every 15minutes
Saturdays & Holidays
- 12pm – 8pm – Runs every half hour
- 8pm – Midnight – Runs every 15minutes
- 11am – 7pm – Runs every half hour
- 7pm – Midnight – Runs every 15minutes
So what do you do on your first morning in Las Vegas? Well you visit the famous sign of course!
From the Bellagio Hotel it would have taken approximately 50minutes to walk to, and in the Vegas heat this simply wasn’t happening………into a taxi we hopped. We left the hotel at around 9am, and reached the sign about 15minutes later. All this is is a photo opportunity, so our taxi driver said he would wait for us. Luckily we were early enough to beat any big queues, and so the taxi only had to wait for 10minutes. However, be warned, had we have left even half an hour later the queue would be at least 50 people long, just to get a picture. With no shade from the scorching sun I certainly wouldn’t want to be waiting there for much longer than we did. Bus loads of people can arrive here any second to get their picture taken. I highly recommend aiming to arrive at the sign for 9am.
No trip to Vegas would be complete without a graceful and romantic glide down the Grand Canal in an authentic Venetian gondola. Yes that’s right, I did mean Vegas, not Venice. Although I’m sure the same applies there also.
The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas features it’s very own replica of the Grand Canal, complete with St Mark’s Square, aquamarine canals, bridges, cafes, shops, vibrant Venetian streetscape and authentic gondola rides.
We paid $29 per person for a gondola ride on the indoor canal (that’s right, there’s two! One outdoor and one indoor). Yes it’s a bit pricey for the short 10-15minute ride, however it’s a touristy thing to do and we wanted to have fun doing some touristy things. We were serenaded by our friendly and tuneful gondolier for the whole ride. As you leave the dock you have your picture taken in the boat with your gondolier which you later have the opportunity to purchase. I really enjoyed this short but sweet experience.
- Shared Gondola (Four Seats) = $29 per person
- Private Gondola (For two) = $116.00
- Photo Package starting at $22
Ticket Booth Hours
- Indoor Gondola opens 9.30am
- Outdoor Gondola opens 10am
- Sunday – Thursday 10am – 11pm
- Friday – Saturday 10am – 12am
- Daily 11am – 10pm
The last Gondola leaves the dock 15minutes prior to closure. The outdoor Gondola runs on a seasonal and weather permitting basis.
You may have noticed the extortionate price of $116 for a private gondolier of 2 poeple. Having come straight from the Vegas sign we arrived at the indoor gondola just as it was opening and there were few people around. Therefore, by strike of luck, we actually had a gondola to ourselves and only had to pay the $29 per person.
Of all the Vegas resorts we explored, the Venetian wins the prize for being the most unique, romantic and elegant. The ambiance here is simply enchanting.
That evening, we decided to pay a visit to the High Roller. This isn’t your average fairground ferris wheel, in fact it is the biggest observation wheel in the world! At more than 550 feet the High Roller is equipped with 28 air-conditioned pods. It runs during the day and at night.
We opted for a nighttime ride to fully appreciate the vast array of Vegas’s neon lights. I’d highly recommend paying a little extra for the “Happy Half Hour” ticket with which your pod comes with an open bar! Yes that’s right……..all you can drink for half an hour! Spirits, wines, soft drinks and even cocktails! Should that not be your thing, an standard ticket is still very much worth it! The 360° views of the strip and surrounding city are incredible!
- Adult $25
- Youth $10
- Happy Half Hour $40
- Adult $37
- Youth $20
- Happy Half Hour $52
Upon disembarking, you are at the centre of Las Vegas’s LINQ. An open air, lively promenade featuring unique shops, restaurants and bars, crowned by the High Roller.
One thing I was particularly keen to do when in Las Vegas was to see a Cirque Du Soleil show. With so many on offer it was hard to pick just one, they all seemed to get rave reviews! Being a Michael Jackson fan girl I of course decided upon “Michael Jackson ONE”. In my honest opinion, I was left a little disappointed. Yes the music, the dance moves and the hologram of MJ are all very good, but only a few times was the show great. I guess I expected more acrobatics. If I could do it again I would have seen “Ka” or “O” instead.
If you’re a bargain hunter you absolutely must dedicate some time to go shopping. There are two main shopping outlets that Las Vegas plays host to. The North Premium Outlets, and the South Premium Outlets.
Follow the above hyperlinks for details on how to get to each outlet.
I spent the guts of a full day strolling around the North Premium Outlets. An outdoor, village-styled shopping centre with over 175 stores offering mega savings on designer and name-brands such as Kate Spade, Burberry, Michael Kors…….the list goes on and on. How could I resist?
Our day of shopping was broken up with a delightful sit-down meal at none other than The Cheesecake Factory.
- Sunday 9am – 8pm
- Monday 9am – 9pm
- Tuesday 9am – 9pm
- Wednesday 9am – 9pm
- Thursday 9am – 9pm
- Friday 9am – 9pm
- Saturday 9am – 9pm
Fremont Street is where it all started for Las Vegas. Home to the first hotel, the first telephone, the first paved street and the first gaming license…….the original Las Vegas Strip and so full of history.
Nowadays you can expect fabulous light shows overhead, free concerts, great atmosphere and an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia. I would have been sad to have missed this experience.
For more information on the light shows follow this link.
For some added thrill why not try the SlotZilla zip line? This 12-story, slot machine inspired zip line fits right into the Vegas theme and offers two ways to fly:
- The lower “zipline” – seated – $25 – starts 77 feet up
- The upper “zoomline” – lying down superhero style – $45 – starts 114 feet up
Again this is something I would highly recommend to do at night time. Looking over the hustle and bustle whilst the light shows are going on overhead is a pretty cool way to zip line! For me it simply had to be superhero style!
The remainder of our time in Las Vegas was spent either by the amazing Bellagio pool, or gambling!
Gambling is something I arrived in Las Vegas feeling utterly clueless in. I tested the waters first by playing some of the slot machines. Beginners luck served me well as I won $325 on the first machine I went to, things were looking up! Perhaps it was Michael Jackson’s way of apologising for my disappointment in his Cirque Du Soleil show, as the machine was in fact a Michael Jackson machine.
Playing the machines does get a bit tedious after a while, although I have to admit I did get sucked in! They are most definitely addictive. However, I soon felt ready to step it up a notch and join a table game. I had my sights set on roulette, how difficult could it be?
Initially only knowing how to play the outside of the table I stuck to just that, I was doing well and ended up at the same table for around 2 hours that night. By the end of the week, having watched other players and picked up all of the different bets, I felt like a pro!
I would definitely urge all gambling beginners to pluck up the courage and join a table game. I know it can be intimidating at first, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time. The chances are the majority of other people there have no idea what they’re doing either. It really would be a shame to spend all of your gambling time sitting behind a machine. Get involved!
Why not hit the ground running by doing some gaming research? The internet is full of guides written by experts and non-experts that made it really simple for beginners like me. Also, a lot of the hotel casinos offer free, informal gaming lessons for beginners! A very useful opportunity to learn the rules and basic strategies before playing for real stakes.
The list of possible things to do in Las Vegas extends far beyond what I have mentioned in this post, but should you only manage what’s listed above you’d still come away having had a lot of fun and seen some of the best there is to see.
Whether you’ll want to return for a second visit or not………well, that’s a different question.
P.s. I bet you will!