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First Time in Vegas! TR 4/2 - 4/6

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New York City, New...
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First Time in Vegas! TR 4/2 - 4/6

Just got home from my first ever trip from Vegas. WOW, what a place! Unbelievable sights, sounds, and atmosphere. Delicious food, awesome entertainment. This was the best trip of my life. My girlfriend thought the same thing and we both had an amazing time.

Hotel - I want to start off my report by describing our hotel, the Luxor. From reading these boards I knew what to expect from this place and all the information on these boards was dead on. We stayed in a Spa Suite. An adequate room with a nice jacuzzi...that's about it. The room was dark, dingy, and very dated. I don't want to say that the room was dirty, because it was not, it was just very old and worn. Everything needs updating. The television from the 90's has to be replaced, the carpet needs to be replaced, the furniture needs updating, and the lighting needs to be upgraded. Aside from that, the room was adequate, not great but not as terrible as everyone makes it out to be. The location of the hotel was not an issue for us, but next time we would prefer to stay somewhere mid-strip. The Strip really gets going at NYNY and MGM, and the Luxor is a short walk from those hotels. The actual casino inside the Luxor is a bit of a downer compared to the other hotels on the strip. Even on a Saturday night the casino just doesn't feel exciting. Overall, we liked the Luxor, but would try another hotel next time.

Day 1 - Our flight from NY arrived at McCarran at 12 noon on Saturday and our first "WOWWW" moment came soon after that as we walked through the terminal to the taxi area. Looking at the strip with the mountains in the background was really something and I quickly realized that this was going to be a special trip. It was hot when we arrived, up around 90, and I was way overdressed with my jeans and thick sweatshirt but I did not care. The taxi to the Luxor was uneventful and our driver did not take the tunnel. Walking into the Luxor for the first time was unreal, at first sight the inside of the hotel by the check-in counter looked amazing with the really cool egyptian theme. We were starving after our long flight, so we dropped off our bags in the room and headed down to the MORE Buffet downstairs. It was a champagne brunch...definitely a plus...and the food was good, but not great. I don't remember exactly what we ate, but I know I had about 6 glasses of champagne! After we finished eating, we headed over to Mandalay Bay...damn, what a beautiful hotel compared to the Luxor. We both really like the scene there...the decor, the shops, the casino, the restaurants...all very good if not great. We decided to go to the Shark Reef, which was pretty cool, but as others have noted, wasn't really worth it for the price. The line to buy tickets was very long but we decided to wait anyway. The exhibit took us a little over an hour to check out. From there we checked out some of the stores in Mandalay Bay then walked back up the strip to check out MGM and NYNY. I didn't really like the vibe in MGM but the lions were awesome. We got lucky and got to see a feeding which was very cool. NYNY was fun, we liked the casino and the arcade section. It was fun to play Ski-ball and some other games. The CVS over there sells beer and other liquor for a decent price, so we bought some beers and walked up to the Cosmopolitan...a stunning hotel and casino. The vibe in there is upscale but not overwhelming and the chandelier is beautiful. We decided to get dinner at Diego's in MGM and the food was good, but again not great. After a long day, we decided to head back to the Luxor to conclude day 1. More to come...

Minneapolis...
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1. Re: First Time in Vegas! TR 4/2 - 4/6

Nice to read your TR Jackman, I will be at Mandalay Bay and Luxor come May. We are staying at the Luxor the last night after MB, which I know and you've confirmed, will be a bit of a buzzkill!

I like your attitude about it all though, and your descriptions of the casinos you have visited so far...keep it coming!

yourstarla
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2. Re: First Time in Vegas! TR 4/2 - 4/6

Jackman - Off to a good start. I've never stayed at the Luxor but I've heard similar reviews about the rooms. I hope your trip was great!

LaedyFish - you'll like MB. No need to worry. :)

Lancaster, Ohio
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3. Re: First Time in Vegas! TR 4/2 - 4/6

Welcome to a new addiction!! LOL! Enjoying your TR!

Edmonton Canada
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4. Re: First Time in Vegas! TR 4/2 - 4/6

Great so far.Hey and how about the fragrance at Mandalay Bay ,just love it!

New York City, New...
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5. Re: First Time in Vegas! TR 4/2 - 4/6

Day 2 - Our second day was really a major test of endurance. What everyone says is true...make sure you wear comfortable shoes and bring lots of water. Started off with breakfast at the Pyramid Cafe in the Luxor. The food was decent and reasonably priced. We wanted to check out the rest of the strip, so we decided to walk up to the Mirage as we had to pick up our show tickets for LOVE. It was a beautiful 75 degree day...perfect weather. The walk was great and it doesn't seem too far because there is just so much to see as you casually stroll down the strip. We enjoyed checking out the Flamingo with its old-school feel and Caesar's Palace is absolutely stunning. We finally got to the Mirage, picked up the tickets from will-call, and took a break at one of the casino bars. 7 bucks per beer. Yikes. After our break, we checked out the dolphin habitat and the the other wildlife. It was feeding time when we arrived and the trainers do a great job with the dolphins. It was awesome to get so close to the them. The wildlife habitat with the different lions and tigers was cool as well. Most of them were asleep or resting but there was a cheetah or leopard that was strolling about. I'd say these exhibits were worth the price of admission. We killed at least a couple of hours there all together.

From there we made the foolish decision to walk from the Mirage all the way to the Atomic Testing Museum all the way down Flamingo. Damn...what a long walk. Neither of us realized it would take that long. It was hot and sunny and we contemplated turning back but decided to press forward. We had just passed Terrible's and I knew the museum wouldn't be much further. Finally get to the museum, sit down for a few, and proceed into the main exhibits. What a great museum this is. Highly recommended. Some of it is a bit dry, but still very interesting and historical. Spent a couple of hours here too. We walked back down to Terrible's, caught a cab back to the hotel and rested up. What a long day! Not sure how far we walked all together, but I would have to estimate at least 7 or 8 miles.

At night, before the show, we decided to get dinner at Onda in the Mirage. So we took a cab (great choice) there. Stopped at checked out the volcano...pretty awesome but I was expecting more. Can't complain though since it was free. Anyway, Onda is a great restaurant. Great service and great food. A tad bit pricey but nothing too extreme. The 10 dollar glasses of wine really expand the bill a little bit. We then proceed to the theatre for LOVE. I'd never been to a Cirque show so I did not know what to expect, but this show was excellent and entertaining. A solid 90 minutes of fantastic music, dancing and acrobatics. After the show, we cabbed it back to the hotel and called it a night.

Edited: 07 April 2011, 16:18
Oceanside...
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6. Re: First Time in Vegas! TR 4/2 - 4/6

Enjoyable TR so far -- keep it up! :)

Jersey
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7. Re: First Time in Vegas! TR 4/2 - 4/6

Sounds like a great trip so far. There is nothing like your first visit to Vegas!

New York City, New...
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8. Re: First Time in Vegas! TR 4/2 - 4/6

Day 3 - Woke up early, as we are both on east coast time, and caught the sunrise from our window overlooking Mandalay Bay. Quite beautiful. Awesome shades of orange and red.

We decided to walk...AGAIN...to save a few bucks on the cab, I guess. This time all the way up to Imperial Palace for breakfast at Hash House a Go Go. But before that, we stopped at one of those tix4tonite booths and grabbed tickets for Peepshow at Planet Hollywood. Hash House is an awesome restaurant. The chicken and waffles are out of this world and the roasted chicken hash was delicious. Prices aren't too bad and they give you a TON of food. Service was a little spotty but the food makes up for it. After breakfast, we decide to walk further up to the Venetian. Beautiful hotel with amazing shops and stores. The gondola rides are a real trip and it seems like they do a great job with them. The atmosphere in the shopping area is very cool with the beautiful ceiling and the "drunk" court jester making his way through the place. Not sure what the name of the store is, but there is a historical book store that is really awesome. First editions of many classic books. Also writings from Shakespeare and Ben Franklin, just to name a few.

We leave the Venetian and at this point we are tired and thinking about cabbing back, but then we run into Casino Royale and that perked us right up. The 1 dollar Michelob's and frozen drinks are a great deal and we each won some free slot plays on the free slot machines outside. We were able to spend a couple of hours here easily...just drinking, taking in the atmosphere, and gambling with our free plays. We then drunkenly walked down the the Flamingo and checked out the habitat, which we both thought was cool. Very serene and nice. There was a wedding going on and it was cool to watch. We then walked to PH and picked up the tickets. Planet Hollywood has a nice vibe to it as well. From there we walked back to the Luxor...another long day of walking. Before going back up to the room, we grabbed a sandwich at that little deli place by the elevators. We were starving after walking so much and the sandwich really did the trick.

Cabbed it to Planet Hollywood for Peepshow. This show was goofy, pointless, and sort of ridiculous...but it kept us entertained for 90 minutes. The milk bath scene was the highlight and the part that sticks out the most. After the show we walked over to the Bellagio and checked out the fountains at night. Beautiful! They were "dancing" to some song from "Chicago." Walked back down the strip and we were hungry. Looking for a place to eat, we stopped at the Cosmo. The vibe was upscale and I was extremely underdressed, so we just got pizza at NYNY instead...works for me. Thus concludes our night.

Edited: 07 April 2011, 16:41
Westbrook, Maine
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9. Re: First Time in Vegas! TR 4/2 - 4/6

Okay, so first question - when are you booking a return!

New York City, New...
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10. Re: First Time in Vegas! TR 4/2 - 4/6

Our final day :(

For our final day in Vegas, we decided to rent a car and go to Hoover Dam and Valley of Fire. This was the only time during the trip that I got a little angry. We woke up early and went down to the Dollar car rental in the lobby at the Luxor at around 7:30. I was really anxious about driving as I am not familiar with the area obviously and I was a bit concerned about driving through the desert...running out of gas, getting a flat...whatever. I don't know why I stress about these things! We get the keys to the car, and I don't know if it was stress messing with my mind, but we could not find our way to the parking garage from the lobby. We were walking around for at least a half hour before we found the right entrance. Feeling relieved that we found the garage, I can now relax a little and start the day...this is not the case. The Dollar representative failed to give us proper directions to the car and now I am staring at a sea of unnumbered parking spaces...great... Luckily I find someone who works at the hotel and he tells me that the rental cars are in a small section in one corner of the lot. It would probably help if there were some signs directing people to where to go. So about an hour after we pick up the car, we are on our way to Hoover Damn. Driving south, we stop and take pics of the Vegas sign and continue towards the Highway. Driving in Nevada is so awesome with the desert and the mountains everywhere....absolutely magnificent. The ride to the Dam was uneventful and we arrived at around 10AM, opted for the 30 dollar per person tour, watched the movie and checked out the exhibits. The tour was awesome as they take you through the tunnels inside the dam and give you all kinds of historical facts. The Dam is really something to see...very cool and a classic piece of American history. After the tour, we drove to Jack in the Box for lunch and took advantage of some west coast fast food. After lunch, we proceeded to Valley of Fire...and WOW...no words to describe it. The drive to the park is desolate; we were the only car going to the park...no one in front or back of us. There are no trees, no powerlines, no people, only speed limit signs, the mountains and the desert. Quite stark and surreal. We arrive at the visitor's center and get a kick out of all the desert mice scurrying about. We decide to check out the petroglyphs and we make the short drive to the Mouse's Tank viewing trail. These petroglyphs are probably the coolest things I've ever seen. They were created by prehistoric pueblo tribes and believe me, as you walk this trail, you feel their presence. Unbelievable. There are not alot of people in the park and the silence is deafening. Remember, no cars, people...nothing...just you and nature. We saw many small lizards walking by and we even saw one larger one sitting way up on top of a rock. VoF is highly recommended...but bring water!

The drive back was awesome as well. We were lucky enough to see a 4 - 5 foot snake slithering across the VoF Hwy. Bright yellow, with brown markings...it was huge! It didn't look like a rattler, but we still maintained our distance from the animal. Truly something you don't see everyday!

Drove back to the hotel, rested, and got ready to go Downtown.

Before going to Fremont Street. We ate at Lotus of Siam for dinner. The restaurant in a somewhat seedy area in a stripmall. It doesn't look like much on the outside, but the inside is warm and welcoming. Our waiter was very friendly and the food was delicious and tasty. After dinner we were off to Fremont Street. Downtown is a MUST SEE in Vegas. Totally different atmosphere than the strip. The canopy is awesome and the old-school casinos are out of this world. We loved the El Cortez! The old neon signs on the side streets are worth checking out too. Fremont street was a fantastic experience and one of the highlights of our trip. The drive back down the strip was cool too, as it is very retro and somewhat seedy...classic vegas!

The following day was sad because our trip was done. This was the best vacation of my life and will definitely be coming back to Vegas. I'll admit, I wasn't sure what to expect from it, but my expectations were exceeded. A great place full of so many different sights, sounds, and people. So many different places to explore. So many different restaurants to try. Can't wait to come back!