Katie and I seem to do vacations in pairs. We’ll go somewhere on a trip, then a year or two later come back and do all of the things we discovered but couldn’t find time for the first time around. Last April we went to Las Vegas for an extended weekend, did some sightseeing, saw some shows. This year we came back mainly for the shows, and did the trip during the last week of March, driving out on Monday and returning Friday evening.

Standard Rio RoomWe stayed at the Rio, which has very nice, huge rooms—even if we didn’t spend much time there. The casino floor is also surprisingly easy to navigate, unlike some of the mazes on the Strip. We’re probably the only people to stay there four nights and not to see the “Show in the Sky” (some vaguely Mardi Gras-ish production they do with floats that run on tracks in the ceiling).

Of course, it is a bit off the Strip:

View of the Strip from our hotel room

But at least it wasn’t as far off as the last hotel we stayed at.

We managed to catch Spamalot (which replaced Avenue Q at the Wynn), Cirque du Soleil’s O (the one with the water), Penn & Teller’s magic show, and Jubilee! (a traditional-style Vegas extravaganza, and yes, the exclamation point is part of the title).

Spamalot is hilarious. It’s funny on its own, funnier if you’ve seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, funnier if you’ve seen other Monty Python, and still funnier if you’re familiar with other Broadway shows. There are in-jokes everywhere, but they don’t overwhelm the out-jokes. O was also well worth the price. We’d wanted to see it back in 1998, when we first visited Las Vegas together (well, us and some friends), and were poor college students who couldn’t afford the tickets.

View of the Vegas Strip from the Eiffel Tower
View from the Paris Las Vegas’ half-height Eiffel Tower

We also took in most of the strip, from the Tropicana up to the Stratosphere, went up the Eiffel Tower replica one night, saw an Ansel Adams photography exhibit at the Bellagio, and Bodies.. The Exhibition, a biology exhibit in which real human bodies were preserved, essentially turned into plastic, to display various aspects of human anatomy. We also stumbled upon the Lion Habitat at the MGM Grand (more about that in another post).

Clouds above VegasIt started out relatively cold, in the 55-60° range, and slowly warmed up over the course of the week. It actually drizzled on us a bit on Tuesday. The hottest day that week wasn’t out in the desert, it was on Saturday, when we got back to within 10 miles of the coast. On the other hand, it was nothing compared to that 1998 trip, which was in December. 40°F and high winds.

All in all, it was a fun trip. Between the last trip and this one, we’ve pretty much seen most of the major hotel/casinos on the Strip (yeah, that won’t last), and neither of us gambles much (does putting $7 into penny slots count?), so our next visit will probably be stopping for the evening on the way to somewhere else. We’re thinking of catching one Cirque show per visit, or at least Kà and Mystère.

Some lessons:

  • If you can take time off such that you don’t drive out on Friday and return on Sunday, do it. Driving back Friday afternoon, we saw the traffic out on the I-15. I was really glad I hadn’t had to drive it. Edit: This obviously only applies if you’re driving there, and may only apply to driving from Southern California.
  • The Monorail is convenient for getting up and down the Strip… but only if you’re already on the east side, and can find your way to the back of the hotel with the nearest stop.
  • Everything is bigger than it looks, and it will take longer than you expect to walk there. That includes getting from one end of a hotel to the other.
  • Most shows have an early (7:00ish) and late (10:00ish) show. If you can stand staying up late, go for the late one. It’ll be easier to find time for things like dinner.

5 thoughts on “Return to Vegas

  1. I 100% agree about avoiding the Vegas trip on Friday night / Sunday. Typically, my wife and I will go up on Sunday or Monday, and come back mid-week. Besides the lessor traffic, the Vegas room rates are cheaper, and it’s generally less crowded.

  2. Ahhh, TIPS! I love it!

    Any recommendations on how to handle it if one is coming from Florida? If not, that’s cool. But it was worth asking.

  3. Hmm… I’ve never flown into Vegas, so I can’t make any recommendations about the airport, but I can make a suggestion on choosing when to go:

    If possible, check hotel pricing before you pick dates, because the rates fluctuate wildly.

    When I booked our room at the Rio, even though our dates were pretty much locked in, I looked at pricing for other nights out of curiosity. The standard room ranged from about $80/night to over $400/night—sometimes within the same week!

    IIRC we ended up with an average of $140/night for four nights (I don’t have the bills with me), but could have saved about $150 if we’d scheduled the trip for the following week instead.

  4. Thanks.

    M’lady and I were recently discussing how Vegas is becoming a place we might actually like to visit whereas it used to be a place with shows I’d never pay to see. And we’re not (well, I’m not) much on gambling.

    Thanks, again.

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