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TR 6/19-6/26 - Fabulous Family Fun!

Beaverton, Oregon
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TR 6/19-6/26 - Fabulous Family Fun!

This is my first forum post. I hope I don’t bore anyone with our trip report. We’re not gamblers, and it’s a family vacation, so be warned!

Background - Family trip, hubby and myself (40 somethings), daughter 22, son (turned 19 on our trip) Hubby grew up in Vegas, but hasn’t lived there for over 30 years. When I originally booked our trip for a week’s stay, his reply was “I don’t know what you think we’re gonna do in Vegas for a week. I used to live there, and there’s not that much to do” Thanks to all the posters on this forum, I knew I could convince him otherwise. I was a woman with a mission now! Instead of gambling, my “jackpot” moments came every time I impressed the family with great tips I learned on this forum!

Will post as a reply . . .

Beaverton, Oregon
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1. Re: TR 6/19-6/26 - Fabulous Family Fun!

Day 1 - Had an early afternoon flight to catch from Portland Was determined to not have anything go wrong this vacation, since our past vacations seem to always have some major disaster happen (got hit by a drunk driver last time, and totaled our car!) On the way to the airport, a flatbed truck passes us on the freeway, with a load of port-a-potties on the back. Just as it pulls up next to us, one of the port-a-potties tips over (our direction, of course) and nearly topples off the truck into us! Luckily the driver noticed, and pulled over in time. WHEW! Caught our flight and landed with MUCH TURBULENCE in Vegas around 3:45. Picked up our rental car at Alamo (did the web registration ahead of time), found the kiosk, picked out our full size car, and we were driving out in minutes (thanks to the forum for all the rental car tips!) DH was VERY impressed “KA-CHING” (my first jackpot moment)

Checked into our hotel, Desert Rose (we needed 3 beds and didn’t want to get 2 separate rooms in a strip hotel) and were VERY happy with our room. 2 bedrooms plus a pullout queen sofa in the living room, 2 bathrooms, plus a FULL kitchen (including fridge, oven, d/w, micro, coffee maker, blender, etc)

Headed down to Fremont Street to spend our first evening in Vegas. Drove down the strip and felt like the Griswold’s! Our mouths were probably hanging open in awe of all the lights and sights! I was in love with Vegas already! Ended up at the Prime Rib Buffet at Main Street Station, got 2-1 coupons by signing up for their player’s card “KA-CHING”, so it was cheap, and we could all get what we wanted. Walked down Fremont and promptly got a HUGE slushy margarita. Had a blast watching the light shows, hearing the live bands, and just wandering around. Oh, and for all of you who thing Elvis is dead . . nope . . he’s wandering around on Fremont Street posing for pictures (for a tip, of course!) On the way back to the hotel we made a stop at Walmart to stock the fridge with bottled waters, sodas, etc.

Beaverton, Oregon
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2. Re: TR 6/19-6/26 - Fabulous Family Fun!

Day 2 - Free breakfast at the hotel (and they served Starbuck’s coffee too!), then off to the Valley of Fire. Arrived around 10:30, and spent several hours driving through the park, walking around, and taking loads of photos. The landscape is SO different than anything I’d ever seen. Absolutely beautiful, and well worth the drive. Headed back to Vegas and had a quick lunch at Sammy’s LA Pastrami with our Restaurant.com coupon “KA-CHING!” DH and son LOVED their huge sandwiches and burgers. We were all tired, so headed back to the hotel for a nap.

We were all excited for our first walk on the strip, so we headed down to have Father’s Day dinner at the Harley-Davidson cafe (with another RC certificate.) The food was very good, my daughter and I could only eat 1/2 our salads, they were so big! Walked our leftovers back to the hotel, then headed over to NYNY and Excalibur and wandered through the shops. Had a yummy raspberry lemonade margarita at Coyote Ugly, that lasted the whole night! I love those “slurpee” margaritas!

Beaverton, Oregon
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3. Re: TR 6/19-6/26 - Fabulous Family Fun!

Day 3 - Breakfast at Hash House a Go Go on Sahara (KA-CHING!) I had been telling my family about all these reports on HHAGG, but I’m not sure they believed me. After watching the episode on Man Vs. Food, they were all excited to check it out too. I had the banana french toast (could only eat one slice out of 3) and a tangerine mimosa . . oh yum!

Daughter had the blackberry pancake (one pancake, and she couldn’t even eat 1/2 of it!) The guys both ordered gigantic platters of food (which they THOUGHT they could eat) but both failed, and we ended up taking more food back to the hotel fridge than we ate! My son’s S’mores mocha was the best coffee drink I’ve ever tasted. Service was excellent, the place was not that crowded, nice and quiet, and a very relaxing meal. Would highly recommend it!

After dropping off the leftovers, we drove down to the Mirage (so convenient to have a rental car and use free self-park at any of the hotels on the strip) to pick up our tickets for LOVE that night. Thanks to TA posters for the $50 Cirque special posts! We wandered around the LOVE shop, had our photos taken at the entrance to the theater, then went to S&R Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat. Got there just in time to watch the trainers working with the dolphins. Walked over to see the lions and tigers, and just as we were leaving, we spotted two white tigers fighting over a prime napping spot - in the pond next to the waterfall.

Next up was Caesar’s Palace and the Forum Shops. Wandered around the mall until we found the talking statues, only to discover they weren’t working that day! We headed over to the Bellagio and immediately fell in love with the hotel. The entrance was beautiful with all the hot air balloons hanging from the ceiling, the glass sculpture ceiling, and then the conservatory. This was high on my “to-do” list, and did not disappoint! Wow, the gardens were gorgeous and whimsical, with their summertime theme. Took a ton of pictures, then walked outside to watch the fountains. So amazing! It was afternoon, so they were going every 30 minutes. Watched a couple shows, then decided to walk back to the Mirage, for the car, and drive back to the hotel for some afternoon swimming at the pool.

Our hotel had a Manager’s reception from 5-7 Mon-Thurs. with free beer, wine, soda, and snacks, so we joined the other guests for awhile, then went back to the room and devoured our leftovers from last night’s dinner, and HHAGG breakfast. Then, drove back to the Mirage for the 9:30 performance of LOVE. Got there early, so we walked down to watch the Bellagio fountains at night. On the walk back to the Mirage I was SO thirsty and really needed a drink of water. Upon entering the theater, I went up to the counter to buy some water, and spied the margaritas! BINGO! Got the big size, went in and found our seats, and promptly got brain freeze from drinking the margarita too quick!

We all thoroughly enjoyed LOVE. We had no idea what to expect, but it captivated all 4 of us, and was probably the highlight of the trip. We had seats up high and could see everything fine. Glad we didn’t pay extra to be down closer to the stage. After the show we headed outside to catch the volcano erupting, then back to the hotel.

Beaverton, Oregon
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4. Re: TR 6/19-6/26 - Fabulous Family Fun!

Day 4 - It was my son’s 19th birthday, and since he’s a Civil Engineering major in college, we thought a trip to Hoover Dam would be fun. Thanks to other posters, I knew we should get to the dam early, so we grabbed free breakfast at the hotel, and were on our way. There was no line at the security checkpoint yet, so we breezed through and parked on the Arizona side, walked across and did the DAM tour! Walked around more afterwards, watched the turtles in the water while walking back, then began our trip back. DH was skeptical when I told him that there would probably be quite a line of cars headed TO the dam on the way back, and sure enough - the line was backed up for miles! He gave me this “how did you know that” look. KA-CHING! Thank you TA posters!

Next stop was the M Resort for their $15 buffet lunch. We took the scenic route back, and DH was amazed at how much bigger the city is than when he lived there years ago. Heard a lot of “this used to be just desert when I lived here.” Arrived at the M around 1 pm, and the first thing we noticed when walking through their casino - no smoky smell! Waited in line for about 30-40 minutes, then got seated. The server brought each of us 2 glasses of our beverage to start out, and was great at keeping everything refilled, and clearing dirty dishes. The buffet was good, desserts were even better. I’m not much of a meat eater, so I mainly stuck to the fruits, salads, and seafood items. The gelato station was fun, I think we tried 6 different flavors! Mmmmm!

On the drive back to the hotel, we passed a strip mall and my daughter said “oh, isn’t that the cupcake place you were talking about?” So we made a quick turn, and sure enough, there was a Cupcakery! I had read Petra’s post about the one at the Monte Carlo, and had planned on getting some cupcakes for my son’s birthday. I didn’t know they had more than one location, so this worked out great. We let the birthday boy choose 6 different cupcakes, so we could share them after dinner that night. The cupcakes were $3 each, or they had 9 pack assortments that were day old, for $14.75 a box! We were tempted to get the assortment, but there were a few flavors that weren’t in the box, that we really wanted to try. The Rolo cupcake was my favorite (chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, and caramel filling inside.)

Back to the hotel for afternoon swimming and lounging in the glorious sunshine! Drove back to the Mirage (their self-parking garage is a great location) then walked over to Stripburger for dinner. It was a beautiful evening, there were actually a few clouds in the sky, and we sat outside watching the gorgeous sunset as we drank our delicious shakes, shared a couple burgers, and fell in love with the fried dill pickles that I read so much about! KA-CHING! Also had our RC certificate, so the meal was cheap! I would highly recommend Stripburger!

The rest of the evening we just walked the strip, watched the fountains at Bellagio again, (I don’t think I could ever get tired of them!) and did lots of picture taking. Back to the hotel for the much anticipated cupcakes. They were heavenly! KA-CHING!

Beaverton, Oregon
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5. Re: TR 6/19-6/26 - Fabulous Family Fun!

Day 5 - Drove over to Hard Rock Hotel to wander around and see all the memorabilia on display there. Lots to see! We were there for at least an hour just strolling around. The hotel was pretty much empty, hardly saw any other people there! After that we drove down to the Miracle Mile Shops (they have a huge free parking garage) and had lunch at Tacone (used another RC certificate), then walked all through the mall. We were amused at how the “rain show” was such a big deal (since we’re from Oregon we don’t understand the fascination with rain!)

Next we walked up the street to Paris and rode up the Eiffel Tower, what a view! The guide at the top of the tower was just hilarious. He had us all laughing the whole time. We took tons of photos, the view was great. The Bellagio fountains were going to start up at 3, so we stayed up there a few minutes extra, so we could catch the show. It was worth the wait! We were all pretty hot after almost an hour in the tower (I think it was 105 that day) so we grabbed some slushy margaritas and daiquiris at Tacone again, then back to the hotel for swimming.

Dinner tonight was going to be Margaritaville, so we drove to the Flamingo and walked through the hotel. When we arrived at Margaritaville at 7, the place was packed! We put our name in, and they said the wait was at least an hour. I whipped out my “First available seating” coupon that I had downloaded free off the internet, they typed us in as VIP, and our buzzer went off in less than 5 minutes! KA-CHING! We ordered the Volcano Nachos to share, and daughter go a sandwich. I got the pomegranate margarita too, Mmmmm! The nachos were huge, as expected, and it was the perfect amount to split between 3 people. There was a lot of activity going on inside, the guys on stilts, people making balloon hats, and of course every hour, the volcano blows, and the girl goes sliding into the giant margarita! How fun! Everyone was signing along and having a great time!

After dinner we walked over to the Venetian for the Wax Museum. It’s normally $25 per person, but I had printed out free 2-1 coupons KA-CHING, so we all 4 got in for $50. I promptly spotted Johnny Depp and posed with him, then got married to Brad Pitt (they have him set up in a chapel complete with a wedding dress and bouquet that you can put on!) We all had a blast hamming it up for pictures, its nice how you can pose and touch all the figurines.

After that, we spent the rest of the evening walkiing through the Venetian (I noticed the SMELL before even entering - it was too powerful for me!) then the Grand Canal Shops, and ending up in the Palazzo. As we headed out, the Sirens show was getting ready to start at TI, so we stayed and watched that. I would NOT include this on a “must do” list, it was VERY cheesy, and my daughter and I laughed when we noticed that it was mostly the men watching, while the females looked pretty bored! Back to the hotel, its been a long day!

Beaverton, Oregon
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6. Re: TR 6/19-6/26 - Fabulous Family Fun!

Day 6 - Started out the day at the Atomic Testing Museum near the UNLV campus. DH found it interesting, since he remembers lots of talk about all that, from when he lived there as a kid. My daughter and I were wondering where the slushy drinks were (that probably would have made it a bit more interesting for us!) Back to the Miracle Mile Shops parking so we could have lunch at the Spice Market Buffet. Got there around 1 pm and there was NO LINE! I was very surprised. Had printed out $5 off coupons, (KA-CHING) so it was $60 for the 4 of us. I think we enjoyed this buffet better than the M Resort, and the crepe station for dessert was a hit! We were all stuffed, and waddled back to the car.

Back to the hotel for swimming again, then we walked over to the MGM to see the Lion Habitat. It was just getting ready to close, but we did get to see a couple lions for about 10 minutes. Took the bridge over to NY NY, the kids rode the roller coaster (I had printed out $4 off coupons) so it was $10 each. They loved it! After that we rode the free Tram to Mandalay Bay and walked all through the hotel, and then walked outside for a bit too. I kept noticing that DH was often several steps behind us all, whenever we were walking through the casinos. I turned around at one point just in time to notice him almost walking into a post as he "rubbernecked" at the go-go dancers! His neck certainly got a workout during our trip! HA!

Hopped on the Tram back to the Luxor. Daughter and I used to watch Criss Angel’s Mindfreak show, so we got a kick out of all the stuff they had on display for him. Found the Criss Angel store, posed for pictures, then walked back to the Excalibur. Upon turning a corner, I spied a shiny new sign . . . POPCORNOPOLIS! I had read about this store from a friend on FB that live in California. She is always raving about their popcorn, so of course I had to go in and get samples. The employees said the store had only been open a few days. We bought 4 different kinds of caramel corn: Strawberries and Cream, Rocky Road, Zebra and Cinnamon Bun. OMG, it was the best ever!

Ended up back at NY NY and had dinner at the food court shops there. I had 2-1 coupons for Nathan’s Hot Dogs, and the pretzel place, and Haggen Dazs. Also got our cup refilled at the slushy margarita place, twice!

Beaverton, Oregon
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7. Re: TR 6/19-6/26 - Fabulous Family Fun!

Day 7 - Last full day in Vegas. We drove down to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, since hadn’t stopped there yet. Waited in line to have our pictures taken (they even have some guy stationed there that takes your pictures for free, so the lines move faster), then drove over to the Flamingo Hotel, since we didn’t get to see the Flamingos in the daytime. Wandered through the habitat for awhile, then off to the Pinball Hall of Fame!

For a pocketful of quarters ( I think we spent $10, total here) we played the machines for at least an hour. DH had fun playing all the old games that he remembered from his college days, and both kids had fun testing them all out too! Great place to be entertained for cheap! By this time everyone was hungry, so we spotted a Del Taco up the street and took our food back to the hotel. More swimming and relaxing after lunch.

For dinner, we met up with a friend that lives in Vegas, at Metro Pizza. Had a great time catching up with him, and I was really surprised that I knew so much more about all the stuff do do on the strip than he did! KA-CHING! I guess locals don’t really go to the strip much.

After dinner, we wanted to spend our last evening watching the Bellagio Fountains one last time. We drove down there, and watched about 6 shows in a row (which goes by fast, since they go every 15 minutes in the evening.) We were really surprised that for a Friday night, there weren’t that many people watching the fountains. Not crowded at all, which was nice! We watched our last show, and I felt sad inside that it was the end of our trip. My daughter needed to use the restroom, and I saw Paris across the street. I remembered reading from other posters about the “French lessons in the bathrooms”, so we walked over there, and chuckled at all the French phrases we heard. Especially the man asking the woman “Are those real?” heehee

Beaverton, Oregon
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8. Re: TR 6/19-6/26 - Fabulous Family Fun!

Day 8 - Final morning in Vegas. The time has gone by so fast! We had intended to do the breakfast buffet at Paris today, but after reading all the posts about long lines, we opted for MSS for their champagne brunch. No line, and there was plenty of food to choose from. I’m sure its not as nice as Paris, but we’re not huge breakfast eaters anyway, so it was fine for us. We still had about 90 minutes before we needed to return the rental car and head to the airport, so we parked at the MGM and walked in to see the Lions again. There were different ones there this time, and they had just been given big rawhide bones to chew on. It would take my dog days to chew on a bone that big, and these lions devoured them in minutes!

Walked over to M&M World and went through all the floors-lots of overpriced M&M stuff that I could do without! One last walk on the strip, and it was time to head to the airport. Returned our rental car (the whole process took about 2 minutes!) and then off to the airport. My son got caught up in security. He was one of the lucky “random” people they pull out and do extra scans and screenings on. The flight home was uneventful, and we landed at PDX around 8 pm. Although I missed Vegas already, it was nice to come home, open up the windows, and breathe in the smell of flowers, rather than casino smoke!

Beaverton, Oregon
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9. Re: TR 6/19-6/26 - Fabulous Family Fun!

Final thoughts - For anyone wondering about whether or not to take a family vacation to Vegas, I would say YES! I think the older your kids are, the better though. I guess ours are technically “young adults” now, so they were the perfect age. They had a blast! I felt sorry for all the young kids who were standing outside the casino gaming areas, looking bored and neglected, waiting for their parents. We did EVERYTHING together as a family the whole trip. And best of all, I convinced DH that there is PLENTY to do in Vegas!

Also, we had originally planned to do the LONG day trip to the Grand Canyon while on our trip, but once we were in Vegas, we decided against it. No one wanted to sit in the car for that many hours, just to spend a few hours at the Canyon. We will do that another time, when we can spend the night at the GC instead. There was so much to see and do in Vegas, that even with a full week there, we still didn’t get to do it all. The good thing is, that will give us something to look forward to when we return! I already told my son that we need to go back for his 21st birthday in 2 years.

It was the best vacation ever, Vegas truly has something for everyone! I LOVE VEGAS!

And if you’re STILL reading this, thank you! And lastly, thank you to EVERYONE who posts on the Vegas forum, without YOU, our trip would not have been nearly as memorable!

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10. Re: TR 6/19-6/26 - Fabulous Family Fun!

Wow! I haven't read everything here but it definitely sounds like you and your family got a lot accomplished!

Wonderful trip report thus far...

Aren't those fountains addicting? And yes, the SIRENS show is incredibly cheesy, like a bad made for TV movie on Cable after midnight :)

Two free shows but both offer entertainment in different areas...

I see you walked in and out a lot of different hotels, did you or your family have a particular favorite on the strip?

Thanks for posting!