Goodbye Reality, Hellooo Vegas!!
The only disappointing part of my trip to Vegas was the fact that I just had bought a Huawei phone the week before my holiday and....it was stolen a week into my trip! 😭 I did not know that, unlike Google backup, Huawei is automatically set to only backup every 7 days; I was especially unlucky because it was on the seventh night that it was stolen and so I missed out on the entire week of photos from Vegas on my phone! I guess what happens in Vegas really stays in Vegas!!! 😂
(1) WHEN TO VISIT
Many large conventions are held in Vegas hotels so it's a good idea to keep an eye out for any that may be happening when you are planning to visit as these can push hotel rates up.
Winter / Summer
I've found that a lot of people seem to be under the impression that it's always super sunny in Vegas...I mean, it is in the desert right?! 🤭 However, it actually does have cooler weather during the Winter season (when it ranges from low -2°/-3° to high 15°/19°). Winter can still be a popular time for visitors due to the many Holiday and New Year parties so bear this in mind when searching for hotel availability. Another thing to note during Winter is that a lot of the popular Vegas pool parties do not occur during the cooler season.
Mid Summer (June - August) gets very warm with temperatures up to and into the 40°s! For me, and my pale Irish skin, I find this sort of heat unbearable! 🙈 Still, Summer is a popular time to visit due to it being the holiday season when families and students tend to be off work and college. Another thing to note for the Summer period is that, due to the intense heat, tours to the desert may not operate - for example, mid Summer tends to be too warm to visit Death Valley.
Spring / Autumn
My favorite time to visit Vegas is either Spring (March - May) or Autumn (September - November). I visited both in early April and early September. While September temperatures reached up to 40°, April stayed around 19°- 22°. We even had sleet and snow on our trip to the Grand Canyon in April!! Locals advised us that this sort of weather is not very common for April in Vegas, however, it is worth noting that if you really want sunshine, then closer to the Summer period is best (May or September). The Summer Pool parties tend to kick off at the end of March.
(2) HOTEL TIPS / WHERE TO STAY
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A lot of Vegas hotels have 'Club Cards', such as the M Card (which covers over 10 MGM Resorts along the Strip) and the Red Card (Wynn hotel). You can sign up for these cards and avail of deals and hotel discounts. The M Card also offers discount codes on its website (click here for discount details).
Monorail Connecting Hotels
A simple google image search for 'Vegas Strip map' will result in several maps of the hotels along the strip and these may be useful to download/print off as a reference point. Though the hotels may look close by each other, it is important to remember just how large these hotels are and thus it tends to be a longer walk between some of them than you first think when reviewing a map! ....Especially a difficult trek if you are walking in the strong Summer heat! There is a monrail service that connects several of the hotels together and so you could stop off along some of its stations to explore hotels along its route (click here for the monorail map). You could also just Uber a taxi - if there's a few of you to split the fare then this might even be cheaper.
Visiting Other Hotels
If you are on a budget and staying in a cheap hotel but wish you could see the more luxurious hotels then don't worry - you can still visit the malls, casinos and the impressive interiors and gardens of other hotels....so don't feel like you are constrained to your hotel! One limitation will likely be pool access though as many of the pools require hotel cards to access them. If the hotel pool is important to you then read on for my section on Pools in Vegas and research pictures of the hotel pools before booking. The impressive pool area in MGM Grand is one of the reasons why we chose to stay here as it has multiple pools and hosts some of the best pool parties. You can still buy tickets to these parties even if you are not staying in the MGM though!
Where to Stay
Some of the more expensive and luxurious hotels are The Bellagio, Aria Sky Suites, The Wynn and The Venetian & Palazzo. A bit cheaper (but still on the pricey side) is the MGM Grand and this is where I stayed on both of my trips. Rates can very much fluctuate depending on conferences and availability so it can be worthwhile keeping an eye on prices in case a good deal comes up!
The likes of The Excalibur (I stayed here on my own for 2 nights after my friends left Vegas and it was so so cheap!), New York New York and The Flamingo are reasonably priced. You can also get very good deals for Circus Circus and The Stratosphere, however, unlike the prior three hotels just mentioned (which are all located pretty central along the Strip), these two hotels are towards the end of the Strip and so it can be a bit of a walk to travel to other hotels from them.
(3) SWIMMING POOLS
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Vegas is famous for its impressive swimming pools where you can lounge and sunbathe close by a bar, attend top pool parties with world famous DJs, contain waterfalls to swim under and you can even play swim-up blackjack at Caesars Palace Fortuna Pool!! The below lists some of the more impressive pools, however, most hotels in Vegas offer good pool areas!
Pools for Partying
We stayed in The MGM Grand where you will find the Grand Pool Complex; here there's a 6.5 acre Grand Pool Complex with four pools, three whirlpools, swim under waterfalls, a lazy river, five bars, and a restaurant! The MGM hosts the infamous Wet Republic Pool party where many famous Guest DJs play (note that even if you are staying in MGM, you will still need to buy tickets to the parties at Wet Republic). Other popular pools for partying include The Marque at The Cosmopolitan (which has both a Marque Dayclub and a Nightclub), Encore Beach Club at Wynn (which also hosts major parties by its pool area with some top DJs).
Not so big and chaotic (but still with live DJs) is Liquid Pool Lounge at Aria; this pool has not achieved as good of reviews as the prior ones mentioned though.
If you love the beach then the popular Beach at Mandalay Bay is where you need to go!! This pool has brought in tons of sand and even has a wave machine to enjoy a beach-like experience!
Pools to Relax at / Mixture of both
A more relaxing pool area would be the impressive Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis at Caesars Palace which is set in a Roman Architecture theme. The Pools at the Bellagio are also popular for relaxing by.
If it's a mixture that you are after then The Flamingo offers both a Beach Club Pool (family oriented with a kids pool) and GO POOL (adults only day club with DJs performing). The beautiful Venetian pools offer several different pool areas too, for example, the Aquatic Club offers a sporty twist where there are several pools for relaxing by and, for clubbers, there is a Day club at TAO Beach where special guests are frequently found.
You can do Vegas very expensive, or, you can hustle and party for cheap! We were lucky because our friend had visited Vegas many times and so she had a Promoter contact based there. This Promoter looked after us with free drinks and free admission into some nightclubs. So, for example, one of the most popular Pool Parties is Wet Republic (which gets many famous guest DJs and guest appearances) and tickets can go for circa $100. Our Promoter got us free admission in here and gave us several free drink vouchers too! Similarly, we got into the MGM nightclub (Hakkasan) for free and had a table saved for us by a Promoter we met during our trip! People at the reserved table just by us even offered us free drinks for the night so we didn't end up spending any money on drink....where it was circa $20 per drink in the nightclub bar!!! 😲
I would suggest finding and contacting Promoters on social media (once I started tagging Vegas in my pictures several Promoters even contacted me offering both my friends and I free entry to several nightclubs, such as Encore at Wynn to see the Chainsmokers!). Secondly, once you get to Vegas you will spot many Promoters offering/selling tickets. You could try to forge a contact with one of them and even get their number if you can! If not, if you want to do some of the best nightclubs and pool parties in Vegas then it can cost you a LOT of money.
Another website to perhaps sign up to for nightclub deals is Las Vegas Guest List.
As mentioned, we were lucky and got free entry into the MGM Grands extremely popular Wet Republic Day time Pool party. I'm not a huge clubber but I've gotta say that it ended up being one of the highlights of my trip! It's more of a relaxed atmosphere than a nightclub and there was a really good chilled out vibe with everyone mixing, chatting and dancing together. Nothing too messy! 🙊 Steve Aoki was the guest DJ on the date that we attended - it tends to get many famous guests and DJs (as does many of the popular Pool clubs along the Strip).
Haakasan is rated highly as a nightclub (it is part of the MGM Grand too) and as we were staying in the MGM, and had gained free entry to the club through a Promoter, we went out here on one of our nights...I must admit, maybe I'm too old, but I didn't love it! The queue to get in was quite long (even if you are on the guestlist) and the staff were not very nice to us. Once inside it was pretty packed and some girls had already taken over a lot of our reserved table and tried to shoo us away when we got there!! We ended up making friends with some others at another reserved table and had a great night with them. They seemed to have unlimited free drinks with their own server at the table! The main dance floor was pretty small and cramped and the interior was not too amazing either. Still, it was handy for us as it was right in our hotel (but expensive if you had to pay $20 a pop for a drink).
Other popular Nightclubs include:
Skybar (Waldorf Astoria Hotel) is a great spot to have some cocktails while enjoying an amazing view over the Las Vegas Strip from 23 floors up!
If you are more in the mood for a sing-along and laid back bar then definitely The Bar at Times Square (New York New York Hotel) is a must. We visited here and, though it was quite crowded, the piano songs were great! It is a piano bar that consistently gains great reviews for its duel piano show and they take song requests from the audience. If you arrive early then you may miss the cover charge. The pianists are very engaging and really get the crowd involved!
Vegas is famous for its extravagant shows and it attracts some huge acts. On my first trip to Vegas I took in a show ('Phantom of the Opera') at The Venetian Hotel and, as much as I love NYC, it was probably more impressive of a production than most of the shows I've caught in NYC! They go big in Vegas and you could see this in the production setting - where at one stage an actor even flew over our heads and out over the audience during the show!
Vegas has a huge selection of shows ranging from Comedy, Concerts, Magic, Production, adult shows, and the popular Cirque Du Soleil. A lot of famous people perform in Vegas too so keep an eye out for what is happening when you are visiting. The following website lists many of the different types of shows on offer and you can filter by the dates of when you are visiting - click here for the website.
(6) HOTEL INTERIORS
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The extravagant hotels of Vegas are open for all to explore and it is definitely worth visiting a few of them. The majority of them have very impressive interiors and you can find everything from indoor garden areas, shopping malls, replica street settings and you will even see gondolas sailing the water inside the Palazzo! I visited many hotels during my last trip and took many pictures so I was very upset when I lost all of these pictures when my camera was stolen! 😭 Nonetheless, I will list some of my favorite hotels that I visited.
If you love New York or Paris then a visit to New York New York and Paris Hotel is worth a trip. The interiors are like as if you are stepping right into the streets of these cities! New York New York consists of hugely impressive architecture where outside you will see a model of The Statue of Liberty (standing at 150 feet high) and replicas of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, the Main Immigration Building on Ellis Island and Grand Central Terminal. If you are an adventure seeker then the popular Big Apple roller coaster is another activity to do during a trip to New York New York hotel. Inside the New York theme continues with scaled-down versions of the streets of NYC and miniature landmarks scattered around the 'streets'.
Similarly, Paris Hotel is modeled to feel like you are stepping onto the pretty cobbled streets (and bakeries which smell amazing!) of Paris. Outside stands a replica of The Eiffel Tower (standing at 540 foot high) and an Arc de Triomphe (two thirds the size of the actual one). I was disappointed on my last trip to discover that the pretty fountain (see above gallery) is no longer found outside of Paris Hotel. Inside The Eiffel Tower, you can enjoy a meal at Eiffel Tower Restaurant and travel 46 stories up for views from the Eiffel Tower Viewing Deck.
The indoor Gardens in The Bellagio Hotel and the gardens of Wynn Hotel are stunning and worth a visit too! The Dancing Fountain water show at the front of The Bellagio is another must see - click here for details and times of the show (it's free to watch). The Venetian and Palazzo is located not too far from The Bellagio and is a beautiful hotel/s - Palazzo Square is a sight to behold and it even has a miniature bridge to walk over where you will find gondolas (real ones!) floating by inside of the hotel. The ceiling (similar to Paris hotel) is painted to look like the sky and it really does almost feel like you are outdoors!
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Vegas is very popular for its selection of shopping. It has some top luxury shops and also offers outlet shopping.
Budget / Outlet Shopping
Premium Outlets are located just a short bus ride from the main Strip area of Vegas. There are two Premium Outlets; one at each end of the strip. Both are similar in size but vary depending on the type of shops on offer. Click on the following links for more information and a list of stores found at each location: North Premium Outlets (more upscale and an outdoor outlet) and South Premium Outlets (more affordable and an indoor outlet).
The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace have more than 160 specialty shops and restaurants. Though considerably smaller (circa 26 stores), the Bellagio stores also offer luxury stores such as Chanel, Dior, and Fendi. Not too far from the Bellagio you will find The Shops at Crystals (Aria Hotel) which offers over 50 world-class shops, such as, Gucci and Hermès - you could also make an appointment to see the James Turrell installation hidden inside the Louis Vuitton store in here. Down the street from The Bellagio you will find over 100 stores in the Grand Canal Shoppes (inside the Venetian and Palazzo Hotel). The Shops at Wynn and Encore offer circa 50 stores with the Wynn’s Promenade boasting Alexander McQueen, Chloé, Cartier and Chanel.
For sweet lovers, check out M&Ms World Las Vegas which is located along the Strip.
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If you want to do more than just party and gamble then don't fear, there are plenty more fun attractions in Vegas!
* 'Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas' Sign: This sign is located at the very beginning of the Strip and many tourists flock to it for their 'gram pic. 😂 It can be quite a bit of a walk to the sign depending on where you are staying along the Strip. I walked about 25 minutes over and was not prepared for the queue of people who were in line to get a picture! There was a guy there to help take your photo once you got to the top (for a tip), however, have your pose ready because after the long queue you may only have a minute or two to get the picture while everyone else waits in line! You can of course opt out on queuing and take photos by the side of the sign while others are getting their photo taken directly in front of it.
* Fremont Street (where you can take the Slotzilla Zipline Ride); this is starting to become more of an up and coming neighborhood in Downtown Vegas. It offers live street music and a lot of street performers (some of whom are not wearing many clothes!). It's a bit dodgier and dive bar-ish than the Strip and so people seem to tend to either love or hate it depending on what they are after. It was a very busy spot during the evening I passed through. The popular Slotzilla Zipline Ride is found here which offers you the chance to zip line up through Fremont Street! You will also find popular street art in the Downtown area.
* Stratosphere Hotel (Observation Deck, Sky Jump and Thrill Rides (including Big Shot))
* The High Roller Observation Wheel at The LINQ
* As mentioned, the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden and Wynn Gardens are super pretty and impressive (they are free to wander around inside of the hotels)
* Eiffel Tower Viewing Deck at Paris Hotel
* Gondola Ride at The Venetian
* Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
* James Turrell installation hidden inside the Louis Vuitton store
* Pinball Hall of Fame (more than 150 Pinball machines lined up to play)
* Axe Monkeys (indoor axe throwing)
(9) DAY TOURS
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From Vegas, I took a tour to both the south and north Rim of the Grand Canyon and I also took a day trip to Death Valley. I will write a separate post on these over the next few weeks! A stop off at Hoover Dam is usually included in the Grand Canyon tours, however, you can also make a separate trip out to it and do a tour solely of it if you so wish.
Other tours on my list for next time I visit includes:
* Bootleg Canyon Flightlinez take a tour up towards Boulder City where a trip to the top of Red Mountain kicks off a 1.5-mile descent over four different zip lines that can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour!
*** Click here for photo blog of the trip!