The past few weeks in D.C. have been brutally cold. Coming from upstate New York, that’s saying a lot! So when some friends of ours proposed a weekend getaway to the desert, I had to do everything in my power not to board a flight that very night. We booked our tickets a little less than two weeks out and were able to find a stellar deal from Dulles in Washington, D.C. to Las Vegas, about $120/person. We opted to take night flights and bank on catching up on sleep later on. Rookie mistake, and I’m probably still suffering from sleep deprivation, but it was so worth it! With only three days to spend in three city, this is how we made the most of our experience.
Just as a side note, I am not a gambler nor were most of the companions we were traveling with. While I did make some time to learn how to play roulette and lose enough money to make myself feel guilty, most of our adventures took place outside of the casinos. Let’s get started!
We landed at 1:30pm west coast time on Saturday morning. A quick uber ride brought us to our accomodations, MGM Grand right on the famous Las Vegas strip. After a brief walk through the casino, we headed to bed to sort out our internal clocks. Clearly still on east coast time, Dan and I woke up early and got our day started with a quick workout and a stroll outside. January is the off season which had both its pros and cons. One such disadvantage was the chilly temperatures. While we hit almost 60 one day and the sun was always shining brightly (desert, duh), it was mostly around 40 degrees for the weekend. We were well prepared with warm clothing, but a little bummed that our swimsuits stayed packed. After wandering around the strip for a quick introduction to the city, we started off with a serious brunch at Denny’s. For real. I always, always, always make it a point to try local cuisine in a new city but somehow Las Vegas is more about huge extravagant presentations of old favorites. We went into the biggest Denny’s diner I’d ever seen and made guesses on how many pancakes they serve a day. Once we were properly fueled, it was time to head out with no particular destination.
A huge boulevard that runs directly through the center of the city is where you’ll find most of the action. Lined with restaurants, high end shops and quirky exhibits, it’s easy to wonder the avenue for hours. Different blocks are structured to emulate other cities, such as New York and Paris. The Eiffel Tower looked so real, and was a lovely flashback to our trip from last summer. We meandered in and out of casinos, won some money….lost some money, and jotted down names of shows and restaurants we wanted to revisit. There were lots of people dressed up in characters and street performers scattered on the side walk, although we heard this was much tamer than normal given the frigid air. I saw enough to get my Vegas fill, though.
Bally’s Real Bodies
After walking for most of the morning, we headed into an exhibit created out of real bodies..or corpses I guess would be the appropriate term? Not sure on this one. I’d heard incredibly things about these body museums and was eager to check it out for myself. It aas incredible to see the intricate workings of various parts of the body, from muscles and bone structure to blood vessels and organ functions. Each model was well labeled and gave a deep explanation as to what you were looking at, as to how it impacted your actual body. Once you got over the creepy factor, it was much easier to embrace from a scientific lens. The thousands of reviews on Yelp agree that this is a must see when you need a break from that casino life.
We headed back outside to find some of the renowned casinos to walk through (aka recreate the scenes from The Hangover). The buildings are gorgeous and unlike anything I’ve seen. Although as gaudy and garish as they come, the gilded statues and sky-like ceilings were worth marveling. We headed into a couple stores out of our budget and finally agreed it was time for another meal.
We headed back to MGM and stopped at one of the first places we saw inside the casino. Lucky we did because this was possibly the best meal I had so far this year! A bustling sports pub, we started with drinks and a soft pretzel appetizer. I like to think of myself as a soft-pretzel connoisseur and was very pleased not only with the pretzel itself, but the multitude of dipping sauces available. (Beer cheese, spicy mustard and Gouda, oh my!). I indulged in fish tacos and gave it five stars. The rest of the crew enjoyed their meals just as much! After a very filling meal, we went our separate ways and divided up between going for a nap or hanging out at the poker tables. #napsalwayswin.
The Laugh Factory in Tropicana
Since we didn’t have any set plans for the night, we went to one of the 50% ticket booths our the strip to find a deal for a show that was at least mildly interesting. With few expectation, we chose a comedy show that was close by to our hotel and reasonably priced. The Laugh Factory at Tropicana was a small little venue above the casino, which is my preferred way to view stand-up. We saw Bob Zany along with a very funny opener (Jay something or other?) and a magician in between. The show was hilarious, although it was clear that it had been performed hundreds of times. It’s certainly not one of the highest rated performances, but the perfect entertainment for a night out!
(It was at this point here that I realized this post was going to be over 2,000 words! I’m breaking it up into two parts, so check back here for Part 2 on Monday to find out all about the nature parks nearby and my top buffet meal…ever).
What kind of shows do you like to see when traveling? Favorite comedian?