My 2019 is off to a good start since taking a last minute three day trip to Las Vegas. When two of my sisters realized they both had conferences in Las Vegas on the same weekend, I decided to join them. It's been almost a decade since I last visited Las Vegas and I was interested in seeing how much it changed. Our #sistertrip was a lot more laid back than the bachelorette weekend I attended in my twenties. I am happy to report that Las Vegas is better than I remembered. Here are some takeaways from my trip in case you plan on heading to the Sin City!!!
From East Coast the best way to get to Las Vegas, is to take a nonstop flight. The trip is long and the change in time zones is measurable. But getting anywhere West can be pricey so try to book early. If you go on a holiday weekend, like I did, think about paying for seat choice and other add-ons because those flights tend to be full. As always when flying, take healthy snacks and entertainment for the flight.
What should you pack?
Las Vegas is overflowing with fine dinning, shopping, clubs, golf, concerts, and of course casinos. You will want to pack day and night clothes as well as your Mezam Apparel leggings for a quick hotel gym workout session!
Here is one piece of friendly advice: Pack WALKING Shoes. My pedometer was off the charts in Vegas because the easiest way to get around is on foot and the hotels are huge! Just walking from the hotel's check-in area to the guest elevators can take up to 500 steps. If you plan on taking Uber or Lyft to get around, you should know that most hotels have designated pick-up areas that are quite a distance from the regular taxi pick-up/drop-off areas. Keep all of this in mind when you are planning outfits.
Dress for the weather in Vegas. If you go in the winter, like I did, please note that the sun is very strong during the day and the desert is chilly at night (i.e. sunglasses, SPF and layers).
Where To Stay?
To strip or not to strip? A good rule to follow about hotel accommodations in Vegas is to stay at the newest hotel on the strip. Why the strip? Because you can reach a large number of attractions by walking. Traffic can get crazy and walking is often the fastest way to reach your destination.
I spent two nights at the MGM Grand Hotel and one night at the ARIA Hotel. Both hotels have free Wifi all over the hotel and great amenities. There are a number of dining and shopping options too. The ARIA Hotel is more modern and feels more luxurious. The room comes with turn down service and really cute slippers. If you stay at the MGM Grand...ask for a room in the Stay Well section of the hotel.
Added luxuries put aside, the ARIA is a better choice because of the air quality throughout the hotel. Smoking indoors is permitted in Las Vegas. (CRAZY!!!) The ARIA Hotel's air filtering system far exceeds that of the MGM Grand. If you have allergies or the smell of cigarette smoke bothers you the ARIA is a much better choice. Another plus about the ARIA is that it is right next door to the Shops at Crystal a high-end shopping mall.
(The newer hotels all had better air quality including: Park MGM, The Cosmopolitan, Bellagio and the Vdara).
Vegas is filled with so many restaurants and there is something for everyone. Breakfast for us usually ended up being a coffee run to a Starbucks downstairs. Out hotel rooms did not have a coffee maker so mornings in Vegas started with a coffee run and about 1000 steps on the pedometer. The sports bar at the Park MGM called Moneyline Sports Bar & Book has a understated but great breakfast buffet with lots of fruit and other healthy choices.
Lunch can be a little tricky in Vegas since lots of the nicer restaurants open at 5pm. You can head out to the strip, but if you want to eat at a hotel and you don't want to stand in line at a buffet or food court your hotel options can be a little limited. That being said, ARIA Hotel has an amazing restaurant called Lemongrass. Lemongrass has dim sum everyday during lunch at a reasonable price.
Another great lunch destination is Eataly. Lucky for us Eataly Las Vegas opened two weeks before our trip, at the PARK MGM. This Italian food hall does not disappoint. There is an aperitivo bar, counters serving pasta, pizza, seafood, meats and cheese plates, as well and a section dedicated to Italian coffee and deserts. The beef cheek ravioli is one of the best meals I ate on my three day stint. To be honest, two of my three lunches were spent at Eataly.
My sisters and I opted for fine dining, some clubbing and of course the casinos in the evening. While no meal was a disaster, my least favorite meals tended to be the most expensive ones. Mastro's Ocean Club is located in the Shops at Crystal. The atmosphere is great and the food was decent. I ordered the tuna tartare and scallops. The cocktails were the best part of the meal.
If you are looking for a restaurant with a bit of a show head to the Bellagio Hotel's Jasmine Chinese restaurant. The dining area at Jasmine has a front row view of the Fountains of Bellagio. Diners get a front row seat to the famous water show in what is one of the most beautiful dining rooms I have ever seen. The plates are by Versace and the servers are extremely attentive. We ordered the duck which comes two ways. The pancakes for this dish are prepared in front of you and a second dish is brought to the table. The African in me was wondering what happened to the rest of the meat. The best part of the evening was walking through the Bellagio and seeing the displays for the upcoming Chinese New Year (The Year of the Pig).
A little side note: The Bellagio hotel is a great hotel for families and those who are looking for a more laid back environment. The price tag is a little high so if staying there is out of your budget still visit.
Let me know your Vegas must see, eat and dos.