The last time we visited Las Vegas with two other couples was quite a different experience than traveling here with our three children this time around. Let's just keep it at that.
We thought it would be fun to make a quick stop in Vegas for Halloween weekend while also cutting our drive into California the next day by a couple of hours. Seeing Las Vegas through our children's eyes was exciting, dramatic and scary too. They were blown away by the thematic hotels that span several blocks, the large crowds, the bright lights, the flashy cars, the casinos and the endless fun activities for all ages. In contrast, they were repelled by the many shady characters, drunk behavior, scanty attires, and several folks with severe psychological issues who yelled their rants into the streets. When we first arrived they wished we booked two nights instead of one. By the time we left they said they were happy we were leaving. Vegas is a lot to absorb. With all its excitement and glory comes a glimpse into darker lives. Turns out one night was a perfect amount of time to acquaint ourselves with both aspects before becoming overwhelmed.
I can't believe how much we fit in into twenty hours. On the day we arrived we logged over seven miles of walking on the strip. Despite the pandemic there were thousands of people out and about. Surprisingly the vast majority of them were wearing masks. We couldn't believe how packed it was with others visiting for the weekend. The strip is most beautiful at night when it lights up and hotels offer spectacular outdoor shows for pedestrians. Everything is so over-the-top, ostentatious and perfectly thought out. It truly is a Disney World for adults and kids alike!
A part we enjoyed most in Vegas was exploring the different hotels and seeing how they pay homage to the cities they are designed after. Epcot popped into my mind a lot, its been years since I have been there and I think the experience is pretty similar? I can't quite remember.
Caesers Palace (Rome)
One of the larger hotels on the strip, Caesers masterfully captures the essence of Rome in design and famous landmarks.
We enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the Paris Hotel at Mon Ami Gabi. We dined on their large outdoor patio underneath the Eiffel Tower enjoying a true Parisian morning. The food was tres magnifique!
New York - New York
New York couldn't be missed while exploring the strip. The hotel skillfully creates authentic scenes straight out of New York City which made us all a bit nostalgic and missing home a bit. From the brownstones to the cobble streets and the Brooklyn Bridge to the Statue of Liberty, this hotel struck a chord in all of our hearts and together we went down memory lane listing all the things we miss about home.
The Venetian Hotel (Venice)
We booked our rooms at this central hotel that we found to be beautiful and very well operated. The kids fell in love with The Grand Canal section of the hotel which has done such a wonderful job replicating Venezia with gondola rides and all! Also important to note is how seriously the hotel is handling the pandemic. There were hundreds of staff members at every corner wiping down surfaces like the conveyor hand rests on escalators and pressing elevator buttons for guests to minimize contact. Hand sanitizing stations are found every few feet and everyone was wearing a mask. Despite the huge crowds we felt very safe in Las Vegas, Covid wise. So far, Sin City has the best pandemic practices we have seen yet.
We booked our rooms in The Palazzo building of the hotel, which is a newer building and also a quieter part of the hotel. The rooms at the hotel were spacious and spotless. We were able to get connecting rooms for a fee of $11 per room. Although this is a minimal fee, it is the first time we were ever charged to connect rooms. My husband and I went downstairs for a couple of hours to enjoy the atmosphere filled with gamblers and those heading to the nightclub. I played my $20 bill at a slot machine but had no luck winning this time around. That's ok, being here with my family was a win in itself.
The Bellagio offers a spectacular outdoor fountain show every day, all day long. The playful show included the water "dancing" flirtatiously to the Pink Panther theme song. The show is fun, humorous and absolutely beautiful.
The Mirage also offers a daily show in the evenings only. Starting 8:00pm a volcano erupts on the hour. This fire show also appeals to all ages and is a fun way to enjoy the strip.
When we notcied Black Tap, a New York City favorite milkshake joint, was in our hotel we ran over to order some of the most insanely over the top milkshakes, in true Vegas form! The kids were ecstatic upon the arrival of these delicious monsters. Enjoying them while the gondoliers of Venice serenaded their customers added to the fun.
El Segundo Sol
For dinner we gobbled up a delicious Mexican meal at El Segundo Sol. Considering the large masses of people dining at the restaurants in Vegas, it is impressive that some restaurants can still deliver delicious food and great service. My mezcal margarita was perfectly balanced and the chef even made me a special hot sauce. This is a great choice for great food and people watching. The vegetable and mahi mahi tacos were terrific.
Fashion Show Hotel
Since it was Halloween weekend after all, I looked for an activity that was kid friendly to get in the spirit. The Fashion Hotel offered a Trick or Chic "haunted house" where a guide walked one family at a time through their spooky space. The tour was more comedy that scary, which was also a welcomed treat.
So much has changed since the last time my husband and I went to Vegas. It almost seems like a life time ago. Coming with our children was fun and exciting. We also had our parents' lens on seeing the world of drunks and a whole lot of inappropriate behavior and attire through their eyes. Still, I think Vegas is a great place to take older children since there is so much for them to see and enjoy. If anything, seeing all the crazies is a great lesson on drug and alcohol abuse and inappropriate behavior. Watching people making fools of themselves will hopefully make a mark when they have to make decisions as adults.
With rollercoasters, ziplines, and beautiful pools at the hotels, families can easily spend two nights here. Viva Las Vegas!