Road Trip Day 11 & 12 – What Happens in Vegas…

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I could make this post incredibly short by using the old saying, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Which would then probably make you very curious as to what Melissa and I got up to in Sin City.

However, seeing as I'm not much of a partier and Melissa isn't quite yet 21, there were very few shenanigans for us to get up to in Las Vegas.

But that definitely doesn't mean we didn't have a blast there.

Las Vegas, Nevada

On Day 11, we bid Sedona farewell and made our way into Nevada, making a pit stop at the Hoover Dam. The dam — which was built in the 1930s to help tame the raging Colorado River — is often found on lists of modern engineering marvels and new wonders of the world. And I think it does deserve its spot there. As you stand at the top of this concrete monster and look down at the Colorado River on one side and Lake Mead on the other, it's hard to believe that it was built by the hands of men. In the 1930s. Crazy!

Hoover Dam, Nevada

Hoover Dam, Nevada

We did not have time to take the dam tour (haha… dam tour…), but instead made the mistake of paying $8 just to go inside the Visitor Center. Don't get me wrong — there's some cool stuff to read and look at in there. But you'd be much better off getting the $11 ticket that includes both the Visitor Center AND the Hoover Dam tour. We should have just walked/drove across the dam and got our photos that way. Oh well. Live and learn!

Hoover Dam, Nevada

After the dam, we continued on over the Nevada line and on to Las Vegas. We arrived just before sunset, when the lights on the Strip weren't quite blazing yet. We checked into our hotel (the Stratosphere), grabbed some dinner inside the Stratosphere casino, and then decided to get our Vegas on.

Stratosphere, Las Vegas, Nevada
The Stratosphere tower.

Since we were staying at the Stratosphere and had unlimited access to the observation deck at the top of the hotel's tower, we made that our first stop. We watched some people on some truly terrifying thrill rides, and took in the Las Vegas Strip sparkling in the (surprisingly) clear night air.

Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

Then it was time to get down there. Which was easier said than done, really. We were told walking all the way to the main part of the Strip was unsafe (since the Stratosphere is at the slightly-sketchy far end of things), and we weren't about to shell out for a taxi. Our solution ended up being a bus that runs up and down the Strip in a loop, stopping at every major hotel/casino. We paid $7 for a 24-hour pass. The price wasn't bad at all, but the downside to the bus was that it was crowded, and crawled along in traffic. I would not recommend this mode of transport if you're in a rush.

Eventually, though, we made it down into the thick of things.

Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada
Canal at the Venetian.

Since we couldn't get Melissa into any of the nightclubs, we simply walked up and down the Strip — from the Venetian to the MGM Grand and back. It was A LOT of walking. Thank God we weren't wearing heels.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada
This one (Excalibur) may be my favorite. Who doesn't love castles??

Even though we didn't get drunk and stupid, we had fun watching others who did. Vegas is honestly probably the best place on earth for people-watching — and we certainly did our share! There were drunk people dancing, sober people trying to get drunk, people in costumes posing for photos with drunk people… yes, there's definitely a theme on the streets of Vegas.

Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada

We were both amused at the fact that you can just carry around open containers here — and that just about everybody does. We were also amused by the “escort” cards being handed out (and then dropped on the ground) everywhere, which feature mostly-naked girls with little stars covering up their naughty bits. This theme (naked girls) was also everywhere you looked. They actually pay people to drive up and down the Strip with giant billboards advertising this sort of thing. Some people might get offended. I just thought it was hilarious.

After a few hours of wandering aimlessly, we hopped back on a bus and called it a night.

Las Vegas, Nevada

The next morning (Day 12, if you're keeping track), we were set to drive back into Utah with a stop at Zion National Park. But Vegas was still beckoning. So we listened.

Las Vegas, Nevada

We hit the streets again, this time venturing into a few casinos/hotels, as well as some of the shops along the Strip. My favorite was perhaps the Bellagio, with it's colorful ceiling made by glass artist Dale Chihuly. This swanky hotel also had a fun, themed sun room, which was decked out in whimsical floral art, complete with an aviary with colorful birds inside.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

The MGM Grand was another favorite, since it has its “Lion Habitat” in the middle of its casino to honor the MGM mascot. Usually I wouldn't like things like this, because I hate to see large animals caged up. But these particular lions don't actually live here — they “work” in 6-hour shifts, and are brought in each day for the tourists to “ooo” and “ahh” over.

Las Vegas, Nevada

The highlight here, however, was having our photo taken with a lion cub. How freakin' cute is he??

Las Vegas, Nevada

The Las Vegas Strip in the daytime was just as fun as at night — just much, much hotter. There were still people in ridiculous outfits clutching cups of alcohol in all shapes and sizes (my favorite? a drinking vessel shaped like a Guitar Hero guitar), and still plenty to do and see.

Las Vegas, Nevada
You can live out all sorts of fantasies in Vegas.

I think we were both sad when we couldn't put off leaving any longer. We will most definitely need to make a return trip in the not-so-distant future!

Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada

And as for our Utah plans? Well, I guess Zion will just have to wait until next time.

Each day, I’ll be cutting together a quick video to show you what we’ve been up to. Here’s Day 11 and 12. Excuse the lack of Vegas video — I didn't take my video camera out with me.

Tomorrow, it's on to Arches National Park in Utah!

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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26 Comments on “Road Trip Day 11 & 12 – What Happens in Vegas…

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  1. Great post, we are looking forward to heading to Sin City in October time. The sun room makes for a great abstract photo. Thanks for sharing.

      Thanks, guys! Vegas really kind of has something for everyone. Even though my sister and I weren’t interested in gambling, and couldn’t get into any bars or clubs, we still found plenty to do!

      Good luck in October, and have fun!

    Vegas is known for their nightclubs and casinos, but you’re right– there’s so much else to do. I’ve never been, but I can’t wait. I’ve been to Atlantic City a few times (but it doesn’t compare to Vegas) and had fun there, so I’m sure I’ll have a blast in Vegas.

    These pics are great. My favorite is the one of the ceiling in the Bellagio. 🙂

      If you’ve had fun in Atlantic City, guaranteed you’ll love Vegas! It’s definitely not for everyone (if you dislike being in crowds of drunk people, for example), but I think it’s an experience worth having, regardless.

      I’m glad you like the photos! Thanks!

    Why is Chihuly always in casinos?! So weird! Even the newest casino in Chile, they have Chihuly chandeliers. That cracks me up!

      Good question! I have no idea! He also has stuff all over in gardens and conservatories. Though, I guess I don’t really care what the reasoning is — I love Chihuly!

    You have some wonderful pictures! I have never been to the Vegas and hopefully someday!

      Thanks! And yes, go to Vegas! Even if only for a long weekend. I think it’s one of those places in the US every American should experience at least once!

    The Vegas strip is the best place to just walk and people watch. You save a lot of money that way 🙂

      Indeed! We really didn’t spend much money in Vegas at all! People think it’s a really expensive place to visit. But, if you don’t gamble a whole lot, it can actually be very cheap!

    I went to Vegas twice before I turned 21 and still had a blast! Tho walking around The Strip and the malls is extra fun when you have an Eiffel Tower shaped daiquiri in your hand:-). Next time!!

    Glad to see and hear you are enjoying our Wild West!

      An Eiffel Tower-shaped daiquiri?! We didn’t see any of those! Haha.

      And yes, we loved the West! Already can’t wait to go back.

    I love las vegas, and I’m not much of a partier, either 🙂 I loved the Bellagio, too! We stayed at Vdara at CityCenter next door and walked through there quite a bit.

      I think next time, I’ll pick somewhere more central to stay. The Stratosphere was nice (and the free access to the tower was a big plus!), but it was really far from everything else on the Strip.

    The little lion cub is freakin’ CUTE!! I am traveling to Vegas in October and now that is on my list of things to do!

      Don’t you just want to cuddle him?? The photo wasn’t cheap ($25), but we decided we couldn’t go to Vegas and not splurge a little bit! Definitely check out the MGM Grand when you’re there this fall!

    So many beautiful photos. You’re making me wish I’d spent more time with my camera in hand instead of a Corona :-p

    Did you not make it down to Fremont Street? I don’t think I saw any photos of Old Vegas here.

      Haha, thanks, Chris! Though I’m sure you enjoyed your Coronas just as much. 😉

      And no! We didn’t have time to make it down to Fremont Street. I really wanted to, and we actually got on the bus our last afternoon there with every intention of going down to Fremont Street for an hour. But traffic was terrible, and it took us almost an hour just to get from Paris to the Stratosphere! Ridiculous. So we had to skip it. Next time, though!

    Did you go on the Stratosphere rides? Honestly one of the scariest things I’ve ever done!

    Amazing pictures. You may have just convinced me to go vegas in 2012.

      No, we did not shell out for any of the Stratosphere rides. Though, they did look insanely scary!! Maybe next time.

      And I’m glad you liked the photos! It was fun just being a tourist there.

    I had been to Vegas a few times before I turned 21, there’s definitely a lot to do there if you know what to look for! I haven’t been to the lion habitat yet, but now I want my picture taken with the baby lion!!

    ~Sara

      The lion cub was beyond adorable. They actually had 2 there to rotate out when one got tired. The second one was in another room sleeping. So. Cute.

    Ah, I took pics of those MGM lions but haven’t been able to bring myself to publish them because I felt so bad for them. It’s good to know they only worked 6-hour shifts… thanks for doing the research!

      My sister at first was a little sad to think that they live in that tiny habitat. But they actually don’t. A guy privately owns them on a ranch outside of Vegas, and loans them out to MGM. They rotate in and out of the habitat, and are never there for more than a few hours at a time.

      I mean, I still don’t like to see wild animals caged up like that. But they seem to be very well taken care of. Even the cubs only “work” for a certain number of hours (child lion labor laws? lol).

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