Just Got Back From Nevada
We just returned from our 1st Vegas trip and it was AWESOME! I want to thank everyone for great tips - especially LA Bartender on the advice on Excalibur. We took our 2 kids, ages 14 and 8, and we all had a great time!
The 1st leg of the trip was 3 nights at the Hard Rock. The 14-yr old is a muscian and didn't want to go on vacation, not wanting to leave his friends and band. The minute we arrived at the Hard Rock we all felt at home. It is the coolest place on earth. If you have a musician in the family, GO THERE! The memorobilia collections are fantastic - much better than the Hard Rock here in Orlando. The 8 yr old loved the pool. We all liked eating at Mr. Lucky's 24/7 (guitar shaped waffles for the little ones). Ate at the Pink Taco one night and it was delicious, although a little pricey for the 4 of us. We only played the slots and didn't win much of anything.
I didn't believe it, but it's true that the city never sleeps. Upon arriving the 1st night, took my son to a concert at The Joint, and by the time we hit the sack we had been up over 24 hrs. I'm too old for that!
One note about the heat - What's the big deal? Being from Florida where it's humid and in the 90's, Vegas' dry heat felt great! We had wonderful clear blue skies with a nice breeze every day. Perfect!
The second day we relaxed by the pool, drove over to the MGM to see the lions, and saw the Blue Man Group that night. This is when the most incredible thing happened that "made" the trip for the 14yr old and myself. His favorite band, Pantera, was in town for a concert. A security guard at Luxor was a big Pantera fan and told us the band always stayed at the Luxor, and they had sighted Vinnie Paul, the drummer, that morning by a certain inclinator. We also found out that Vinnie Paul's favorite show is the Blue Man Group, and he may be there.
After the show my husband and daughter went back to the hotel, and my son and I walked around about 2 hrs hoping to get a glimpse of Vinnie. Finally we gave up and went back to the Hard Rock, figuring our chances were 1 in a million of actually meeting him. Just like a scene from a movie, as we were walking past the casino about 1 AM, in comes Vinnie Paul and his two body guards through the front doors. He sees my son's Pantera shirt, stops, says, "Hey man, how you doing?" We talked, his body guard took our picture with him, and he signed my son's tee shirt. My son's a drummer, and the last thing Vinnie said to him was, "Good luck with the drums, man!" INCREDIBLE!!! Once in a lifetime opportunity that MADE the trip.
3rd day enjoyed the great pool again. Visited the Hoover Dam - very hot, kids not impressed, but it was worth the trip. Visited friends staying at Ceasar's Palace. It's a beautiful hotel, but I found the atmosphere a little too stuffy. I like the HR much better. Visited the hotels in that area, the volcano, pirates, et cetera. One thing, there were plenty of families at the HR. We never felt out of place. We were there on weekdays though. I'm sure the atmosphere changes on weekends.
The next day we drove to the Grand Canyon and stayed in the park. Total change of pace from Vegas - nice and cool, and breathtakingly beautiful. Did a Sunset tour, a half day tour the next day, and then drove to Flagstaff that afternoon. Arrived in Flagstaff and visited the visitors center. A great town with friendly people, wonderful weather, and a terrific downtown area with shops and restaurants. Stayed at the Econolodge at I40, and would highly recommend it. Very homey, welcoming, and well maintained.
The next day visited Walnut Canyon to see the cliff dwellings, (what a hike!) and then on to Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona that afternoon. Beautiful - but about 20 degrees hotter than Flagstaff. Kids weren't impressed with Sedona - husband and I would have liked to spend more time there. We all liked Walnut Canyon.
The next morning checked out of hotel, visited the Arizona Snowbowl, took the ski lift to the top. It felt like wintertime. What a good feeling to be wearing a jacket in the middle of July. Great views, wonderful mountain air, hot chocolate, then back to Vegas for 3 more nights.
We stayed at Excalibur, and taking LA Bartender's advice, we called ahead and got express check-in, asking for a room in Tower II (to be near the pool) and near an elevator. Total time from pulling in to arriving in the room with bags delivered was 10 minutes! We got the room we wanted, too.
I was more than pleasantly surprised by Excalibur. Some of the things I read made me expect a small, aging room, with a tiny little bathroom, crowded everything and lousy service. It was totally opposite. Spotlessly clean, good-sized room with plenty of storage space, large bathroom with large shower, and great service. When we needed extra pillows or towels, they were delivered immediately.
The whole theme of the hotel was fun and magical. Kids loved the arcade and the entertainment. Never tried the buffet - line too long and we don't like fighting for the food. We ate at the Italian eatery the 1st night - I liked it, husband not too crazy about it. Most of the other time ate at the food court or the Sherwood Forest Cafe, which fit the bill perfectly.
The pool was nice, not too crowded, although not as good as the HR. The 8 yr old was happy with the slide. We took in the Tournament of Kings the 2nd night. A fun night of entertainment for the family. It's similar to Medieval Times here in Orlando, so we knew not to expect gourmet dining or a romantic evening. Horses were amazing to watch! I'd recommend it for families. Even the cynical 14 yr old enjoyed it.
My husband gambled at the slots and played a little poker online
for the 1st time. Lost $100, then made back $140. The atmosphere and dealers at Excalibur were friendly. Next time we'll probably gamble more - this time there was just too much to see and do. Played Keno while dining, and the 14 yr old had a good time pretending to play just to see how he'd do. Didn't come out ahead on Keno at all.
Drove down the strip to visit the theme park at Circus Circus and see that end of the strip, and visit the white tigers at the Mirage.
One note about driving in Vegas - People drive crazy, traffic is terrible, and it's a pain in the neck! Next time we'll use trolleys and buses more often. Using valet parking was a life saver though, and the only way to go if you're driving. One other note - It's true that it's COLD in the casinos. Bring a jacket, even in the summer.
Our last day we visited the bird show at Tropicana. It's worth seeing if you're in that area, and free. Won a free ticket to Rick Thomas on the free spin machine and bought 3 other tickets using $5 off coupons. We got seats right by the stage and all loved it, especially the tigers. Also visited NY NY, rode the coaster. Very bumpy & pricey at $21 for 2. Neat hotel though.
My daughter and I spent an incredible morning just exploring the area while husband gambled & son slept - Rainforest shop in MGM, lion cubs, magic shop in NY NY, M & M store, Coke store, free 3-D movie at M & M store, all kind of shops, Elvis impersonator at MGM (actually good, not tacky at all), showgirls and music at Tropicana, entertainment in Excalibur. Gameworks for the 14 yr old. Rented a movie for both kids the last night, left the 14 yr old to babysit, and gambled with my husband for about an hour and a half at Excalibur. Got some of the free drinks you hear about, and found a friendly slot machine.
Checkout and bell service was a breeze, and flights both to LV and out of LV were pleasant and on time with America West Airlines. Rental car pickup and return was similarly problem-free with Dollar.
We had a huge variety of experiences and saw a diverse array of countryside in 9 short days, that all added up to a great vacation for everyone. Vegas is definitely for families. There were tons of families around and we always had something to do. We'd love to go back - even the 14 yr old. Hope this wasn't too long or boring, but I just wanted to share our good experiences. Maybe it will be helpful to someone. poker games
Posted by loraboggs
at 2:07 AM EST