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Travel: Las Vegas, Nevada

I am not a gambler, but I still love to visit Las Vegas! It is packed with attractions, outdoor activities, shopping, history exhibits and restaurants. Here's what we did on our Extended Weekend in Las Vegas! 

My Mum and I spent 4 days, from Saturday to Wednesday, on our trip. We rented a car to spend Saturday night in Phoenix to visit family then came back to Vegas.

Here's everything we did:  

  • Hoover Dam 
  • Grand Canyon West
  • Neon Graveyard 
  • Sphere Experience 
  • High Roller Wheel 
  • Hotel decor for Chinese New Year
  • Bellagio Fountian
  • Hotel restaurants & shopping 
Here's some essentials I'd recommend for your trip: 
  • Stock up on water and snacks for your road trip
  • Gas is very expensive in the long road stretch areas so fuel up when you can
  • Sunscreen and moisturizer is a must - the sun is intense and dry due to the lower humidity vs the east coast 
  • Bring comfy walking shoes, we walked over 10 miles! in this trip through the Las Vegas strip and Parks 

Renting a car from Las Vegas allowed us to drive to see the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon West, this was about a 3 hour trip one way. We also drove the 4 hours to Phoenix and back to Las Vegas, to see family over the weekend. 

There are many paid tours available from Las Vegas to the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon West. These are a great accessibility option for travelers. If you are traveling in a group renting a car is the most cost-effective option to visit these hot spots!

Accommodations and Getting Around 

We'd come back to Vegas from Phoenix on Sunday. We decided to stay near the airport instead of the Las Vegas strip to save of cost and get perks like an included airport shuttle and free hot breakfast from our hotel. We stayed at the Homewood Suites near the airport. Staying closer to the airport also gives to a quieter hotel experience than staying on the strip, I definitely appreciated this.

The Las Vegas airport was interesting to get around because you can tell it's been expanded. Its terminals are connected by trains and the car rental building is off-site, about 10 min (by free bus) away. Consider these longer walking and transport times when you go. 

We did use the Priority Pass Lounge in Gate D (our flight was in C, so it took us 10 mins to get there and back) for a free lunch on our flight back. I get Lounge visits with my travel credit card. There was a wait list but it moved quickly, and the food and drink were good too, definitely worth the stop and free food. 

As for getting around in Las Vegas, There is a bus that you can ride for 8$ per person per day to get around the Strip! We decided to Lyft most of our trip because we used it only 2x per day really (to get to the Strip and back to the Hotel). The cost wasn't that much more (~$20 per day) and was worth the convivence because we walked so much, over 10 miles in a few days on the Strip! So especially if you have a lot of people, rideshare might be the cheaper option! 

Everything We Did

Let's jump into the details and photos of everything we did! Plus our favorites of what we ate. I'll also be including tips for you to use on your trip to Las Vegas. 

We landed at the Las Vegas airport EARLY! we left Tampa at 6am and arrived in Las Vegas at 8am. We grabbed airport food, pics at the photo op spot, grabbed a paper map from the Visitors center and picked up our rental car. 

Las Vegas Airport Photo Arch 

I pre-checked in for the car rental, so skipped the line we went straight outside to pick up our car. We were able to pick from a large selection of cars because we got there so early in the morning.

Hoover Dam
Our first stop was the Hoover Dam. I have always wanted to see it in person! We decided to do the viewing area from the bridge, instead of doing a tour of the dam or driving over it. We just needed a quick stop to see it. 

After some windy roads and a security check, you can drive to the viewing area. It has parking, basic (very basic, bring wipes) toilets and steps or a ramp to get to the walking part on the bridge. It was super windy when we were there! almost 65mph wind gusts. 

I've always wanted to see this in person. It's 726 feet tall and can hold almost 10 trillion gallons of water as it creates electricity for Arizona, California and Nevada.

  

  

Grand Canyon 
Our next stop was the Grand Canyon!! We decided to visit Grand Canyon West instead of the National Park because of time/distance. The Grand Canyon National Park is more accessible from northern Phoenix but we were coming from the West from Las Vegas. 

There is a price difference between visiting these 2 locations to see the Grand Canyon. The National Park is about 20$ per car and Grand Canyon West is about 60$ per person. I recommend buying ticket online as they are about 10$ cheaper than buying them onsite and you get to skip the line to get tickets!

I was happy to have the shorter drive and support the Hualapai Nation by visiting Grand Canyon West. Their location also has many Native education art and culture exhibits PLUS overnight lodging experiences and authentic Native Hualapai restaurants on site. I will definitely keep this spot on my travel list to do an overnight lodging experience and really get appreciate everything the site has to offer.  

The site had 3 places to view the Grand Canyon and Colorado River below! You park at the main location and an onsite bus (included in your ticket) takes you between the main 2 locations, Eagle Point and Guano Point, to view the Grand Canyon. 

    


This part of the park is called Eagles Point because of the sloping center in the rocks that resembles an Eagle flying up into the sky. 

The View from Guano Point


Grand Canyon West is also home to the glass and steel observation Skydeck that peers at 500+ feet over the Grand Canyon. If you buy tickets online, the lowest level of tickets available includes a walk on the Skydeck. I am happy I decided to walk on it, but it was definitely scary because the floor was glass too!!

You can also pay to have someone take photos of you on the Skydeck but I had my Mum take a photo of me from the side. If you decide to walk on the Skydeck, be prepared to leave all of your items in a free locker and wear their provided booties to protect the glass of the Skydeck. 


Here's a better view of how the Skydeck hangs over the Grand Canyon!


The road trip between Nevada and Arizona was beautiful! It was amazing to see the desert and mountains with their changing landscapes along the route.  I didn't get to see any wildlife on this trip (maybe due to the extreme wind) but I saw plenty of tumble weeds which are actually an invasive species! 

We only spent over-night in Phoenix and I didn't get to any of the tons of amazing things there so I am not counting this as a visit to Phoenix! BUT I will definitely be planning a longer trip just to Phoenix to see family and explore the amazing parks, gardens and history that Phoenix has to offer. 


I recently watched a nature documentary on the Saguaro cactuses of the southwest. They can live for 150 years and support so much wildlife in the desert. 


Las Vegas!!
We of course had to get a photo at THE Las Vegas sign! We were very lucky to get there early as there was a growing line to take a photo in the center of the photo op spot. We took a Lyft to the sign, there is also a small parking lot there too. 

There was also an "unofficial" man taking photos for you, if you wanted him to for tips. My recommendation is if you want a photo here go early! but don't worry Las Vegas has many photo op spots! Like this one I took a few steps away from the sign at the Harley Davidson site. There was no line and I think the letters were super cool! 

    


Las Vegas is covered with amazing tourist sites and places to take great photos. The hotels that line the Strip are all unique and extravagant in their own way. 

     

Above is all one hotel built to look like the New York skyline, it even has a roller coaster and the Statue of Liberty! 

Paris Balloon and Eiffel Tower

Paris is one of my favorite hotels on the Strip, it even has it's own Eiffel Tower and restaurant inside. You can also take an elevator up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, it's a beautiful place to see the Bellagio fountain from. 

I love the streets of restaurants and lounges you can sit and rest inside. Their restaurant Mon Ami Gabi is a favorite of mine for the food and to people watch from their patio. You can also see the Bellagio fountain from their patio too!

Bellagio Fountian

Bellagio Fountain

I really believe the hotels on the Strip are attractions themselves because of how amazingly they are decorated! There are pictures from inside the Venetian, this hotel even has its own canals and gondola rides with a replica of St Marcos square.  

     


I was really excited to go to Las Vegas this time of year because of the Seasonal Chinese New Year Decor in the main Hotels and Malls. There are huge intricate displays for the holiday decorations!! There photos are from the Venetian and The Shops at Crystals. 

    

    

I unfortunately missed the display in the Bellagio lobby by 2 days!! They do a huge 2-story room filled with holiday decor made out of flowers, this is a must see and a hidden gem. They have displays all year long so when I was there, they were tearing down the Chinese New Year decor and working on their Spring Hummingbird display. The sample photos looked amazing!! 

There is also a hidden wildlife nook on the Strip! Check out the Flamingo to see some real flamingos! They have a wildlife habitat in the middle of the hotel. They have large koi, a pelican, ducks and even sturgeon. I love stopping here for a bit of peace from the bustle of the Strip. 

    

Viewing these items on the Strip and in the Hotels was all for free!! This is one of my favorite things about the Strip, there is entertainment everywhere so it's very easy to find things to do at many price points, even for free!

High Roller Wheel
This is a 550-foot-high Ferris Wheel next to an outdoor shopping area next to the Flamingo, near the Linq. It has air-conditioned pods that give you amazing views of the Strip and even the new Sphere right behind it. 

This cost us $52 for 2 tickets as we went during the day, if you want to ride it after 5pm the price increases by about $10 per person. You can pre-purchase tickets online, I'd recommend this for weekends. I didn't because we weren't sure if we wanted to do it. It was also a less busy a Monday and it was closed the prior day due to the high winds. 

Us coming on a non-busy day is what made the ride! we got a pod to ourselves even though it could fit 40 people. I would not do it if it was that full, there is only about 8 seats if you want to sit down. You get one spin around for 30 minutes and you can even buy snacks and drinks for the ride if you'd like. We got super lucky that it wasn't busy and I am so happy we did it, it was an amazing way to see the Strip!

     

     

We also wanted to check out the new panoramic screen experience, The Sphere on our trip! It has a constantly running show that gives amazing views of Earth and it's environments. 

We got tickets in the middle left for $170 for both. The tickets are more expensive the more in the middle and high up you go in the (very very steep) seating. I think the higher seats would not be as fun because the experience is really feeling the screen wrap around you which I think is best from the very middle. 

When you visit be aware that phone service may not work inside so have a meet up point planned for your party. You will also get an email stating that doors open an hour before the show, this is to enjoy the displays in the atrium. I don't think this is enough time for everyone to get in to spend time here before the show starts. I looked at some of the displays in the Atrium but there were huge lines to interact with them. I'm not sorry I missed them and got to my seat ASAP to get settled in. 

I am happy we went but I feel it may have been a little overpriced for what it is. I'd go back for a different nature show and I was really happy to experience it from the inside and seeing the cute advertisements on the outside.

    


Neon Museum aka Neon Graveyard 
This has been on my Las Vegas list for a long time. This museum is about 10 minutes north of the Strip so we took a Lyft to get there. We got tickets for $25 each and spend $30 on souvenirs like our magnets (I collect magnets on my travels) and post cards. You can pay more for guided tours or pay less to come during the day. There is also a free audio tour available with your phone. 

The Las Vegas history here is AMAZING! Seeing older vintage signs and beautify pieces of Las Vegas History. The get "new" signs often, they told us they are getting a sign from the Flamingo in the next few weeks, so I'd definitely stop again next time I'm in Las Vegas. 


     

It also felt great to support some local history and tourism in Las Vegas. The Strip is full of chain stores and restaurants so it's great to see something different in this exhibit that works to preserve the history of Las Vegas. 



Our Favorites from What We Ate

Kennys Vegan Dim Sum: We were looking for a healthy spot before we returned the rentals car and Kennys was the perfect fit!! We spent $78 and got hot tea, chive dumplings, vegan spicy tuna roll, vegan orange chicken and garlic broccoli. The food was amazing from this unique and local spot. 

I loved the signage that "No animal products are kept on site" because I didn't have to worry about my shellfish allergy! Everything was fresh and flavorful and its was just the filling but healthy meal we needed. This will be a must stop for my next trip to Las Vegas, It's about 10 minutes west of the Strip. 

     


Mon Ami Gabi at Paris: This is the green terrace restaurant at the Paris hotel that is across the street from the Bellagio and its fountains. It's an excellent place to people watch the Strip. 

We came here for lunch on Monday and spent $131 on a beautiful salmon salad, their apple and brie chicken salad, 2 bottles of Perrier and 2 St Germain spritzes. We came back on Tuesday to sit in the sun and people watch with some sorbet and spent $48. The food was fresh, filling and well portioned. The service was great also! This is a great "go-to" spot for me! 

    


Bobbys Burgers in Paris:  My Mum called out this spot while we were walking through Paris, so we came back the next day for lunch. We spend for $60 for 2 large milkshakes, 2 cheeseburgers and 1 side of onion rings.

I am still dreaming about that pistachio milkshake! It was fresh, the dairy tasted good, and it was packed with pistachios!! worth every bit of $10 for that huge, delicious, pistachio dusted milkshake. The buttermilk onion rings were also on point. The burger was ok, it was a thick patty but didn't have much flavor to it. 

Overall, a great stop! That pistachio milkshake will make me pull over from anything else I'm doing next time I see a Bobby's Burgers! 

     

The Bedford by Martha Stewart: I wanted to stop here because I saw this on social media a bit ago and it looked beautiful, I also love Martha Stewart! her style, cooking shows, hospitality guides, I love them all! We spent $135 on a bottle of Perrier, the squash salad, famous perogies, fried squash blossoms (these are a fav of mine) and the pumpkin pie for dessert. This was plenty of food for 2 people. 

The host staff was very kind in giving us an amazing table. The food all around was pretty good and the restaurant was more beautiful in person! I loved the salad and perogies, I will definitely be trying to recreate these at home. 

As for the dessert.... it was a bit of a letdown. It's called the deep-dish pie but it's not deep dish, it's more of a tart.  I also feel like the textures didn't work out, the meringue wasn't smooth, and the tart shell was very soft. The flavors were off (a little funky maybe) and the filling was weepy (spilling clear liquid). All as if it wasn't so fresh, this was a disappointment for a $20 small tart.

Overall, I was so happy to go and see the restaurant in person! and I was so happy to support one of my favorite chefs and stars in hospitality. 

     

     

     


Dominique Ansel P√Ętisserie: We found this spot in Caesars Hotel when we were looking for a cafe with nice patisseries (sweet baked goods) and lattes! We spent $32 here on 2 matcha lattes and 2 cannels. 

After ordering I found out this is the place famous for creating the cro-nut a cross between a croissant and donut. I didn't try one as I was more than happy with my cannel! This is my favorite French pastry, a little brown cone caramelized to perfection, they are very difficult to make so not many French bakeries have them. They are crisp and caramelized on the outside and soft, even almost custardy in the center... absolute perfection in my book! 

Loved the pastries and the matcha lattes were packed with matcha! so I'd be happy to stop here again!

      



Thank you Las Vegas!

Even though I am not a gambler or a drinker, or even a high shopper I can still appreciate Las Vegas. There are new paid attractions very often and they don't forget about providing free things for people to do as well. 

The Strip sidewalks can be dicey with costumed characters asking for paid photos and men handing out escort cards, but this can be completely avoided if you stay on hotel private property, which is every easy to do. I've been to Las Vegas solo and even returning with my Mum we felt very safe and comfortable traveling here. 

This city is great for travel at any season because there is so much to do inside! For some hotels you don't even have to leave the building for a great selection of convenience stores, shopping, restaurants and spa options. Eating on the Strip can be pricey but if you pick wisely, you will not be disappointed in your food choice. There are also many food options for any price point. 

Overall, I loved our trip! We got to do and see so much!! I'm sure you'll have a good time too! 

Keep reading for a full spend review and itinerary from our trip! Because #traveltransparency is important to me, I'm happy to share all of the details!

Happy Travels!

Bye Bye Las Vegas!


Spend Review
Here's a summary of what we spent on our trip! and where I review how well I think I did with my trip finances. 

At ~$300 per person per day I think we did pretty good for everything we got to see. The trip was a total cost of $3000 for 5 days for 2 people across 2 cities. 
  • I think is overspent on hotels, our Phoenix hotel was $350+ for one night because I rushed to pick something close to family, with more time I'll pick a cheaper and more fitting option for like $200. This was balanced out by a great rate for 3 nights in Las Vegas with free breakfast and airport shuttles! 
  • I think I spent well on activities and local transport (our car rental) - we did a ton of stuff for a "ticket price" of ~$200 per person. 
  • I splurged on food, but I always so and I will continue too - I love food and food experiences! I still have yet to try a Las Vegas buffet! it's on the list for next time. 




Itinerary with Costs
Here are the details of what we did and exactly how much I spent on it! 

DateTimeCategoryLocationDetailsPre PaidEst Cost
3/2/20246:00 AMMain TransportTampa AirportFlight Spirit Air - ConfirmationY$ 71.20
Main TransportTampa AirportAirport Parking$ 62.00
FoodTampa AirportAirport Breakfast$ 12.46
8:00 AMLocal TransportLas Vegas AirportPick Up Rental Car - Enterprise - Confirmation$ 146.40
FoodLas Vegas AirportFast Food Lunch$ 28.15
FoodStarbucks Tea$ 6.77
ActivitiesHoover DamPark Lookout from Bridge$ -
ActivitiesGrand CanyonGrand Canyon West - ConfirmationY$ 147.56
ShoppingGrand Canyon West - Souvenirs$ 56.36
6:00 PMHotelPhoenixHilton Airport Homewood Suites - Check In - Confirmation$ 345.43
8:00 PMFoodDinner with Family - Family Treat - Los Olovios & Ice Cream$ -
Local TransportGas for Car - estimate is 700 miles round trip$ 74.13
3/3/20248:00 AMFoodPhoenixBreakfast in Hotel$ -
HotelHotel Check Out$ -
FoodBrunch with Family - Brunch Snob$ 49.00
1:00 PMLocal TransportDrive Back to Vegas$ -
6:00 PMLocal TransportDrop off car at Airport$ -
Local TransportLyft to Hotel$ 12.30
HotelVegasHotel Airport - Check In - Confirmation$ 635.05
FoodDinner - Kenny's Vegan Dim Dum$ 78.00
3/4/20248:00 AMFoodVegasHotel Breakfast$ -
10:00 AMLocal TransportLyft to Las Vegas Sign$ 11.83
ActivitiesLas Vegas Sign$ -
ActivitiesWalk the Strip - Hotels & Shopping$ -
FoodLunch - Paris - Mon Ami Gabi$ 131.00
2:00 PMActivitiesHigh Roller Wheel$ 56.00
ShoppingHigh Roller - Souvenirs$ 14.52
ShoppingSi Scent Jewlery$ 43.35
ShoppingSteve Madden Sandals$ 51.98
ShoppingH&M Shopping - Socks and Top$ 39.68
ActivitiesWalk the Strip - Hotels & Shopping$ -
FoodDominique Ansel Bakery$ 31.22
Local TransportLyft to the Neon Graveyard$ 22.72
8:00 PMActivitiesNeon GraveyardY$ 50.00
ShoppingNeon Graveyard - Souvenirs$ 28.06
Local TransportLyft to Hotel$ 30.00
FoodDinner$ 50.00
3/5/20248:00 AMFoodVegasHotel Breakfast$ -
Local TransportLyft to the Strip$ 14.99
ActivitiesWalk the Strip - Hotels & Shopping$ -
FoodLunch - Bobbys Burgers$ 59.55
FoodTerrace Seating - Mon Ami Gabi$ 48.00
7:00 PMActivitiesSphere -Y$ 168.00
FoodDinner - Paris - The Bedford Martha Stewart$ 135.03
Local TransportLyft Back to Hotel$ 18.99
3/6/20248:00 AMFoodVegasHotel Breakfast$ -
HotelHotel Check Out
11:30 AMLocal TransportHotel Shuttle to Airport$ -
12:00 PMFoodLunch at Las Vegas Airport Lounge$ -
3:00 PMMain TransportLas Vegas AirportSouthwest Flight Home - ConfirmationY$ 175.92
ShoppingFlight WIFI$ 8.00
10:00 PMMain TransportTampa AirportDrive Home from Airport$ -