Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Viva Las Vegas (A LONG Overdue Recap)

One year ago today, I was in Las Vegas with my two speech buddies, Kathy and Heather, celebrating Heather's big 4-0.  When I returned from sin city, I had the best of intentions of posting a recap of my trip, but...  Well, life happened.  Better late than never, right?

Where We Stayed

The Signature at MGM Grand

The Signature at MGM Grand is located about one block east of the strip and connects with the MGM Grand via a series of pedways.

What I liked most about The Signature is that it is not a casino hotel, so there's no casino in the lobby.  The lobby is very well appointed, nicely decorated, and peaceful.  Once we exited the MGM Grand and accessed the pedways en route back to our hotel, which was only accessible to guests of The Signature, it was a welcomed, quiet respite from all the visual and auditory stimulation found in the lobbies of most casino hotels and outside on the strip.

The three of us shared a junior suite that came with a king size bed and pull out sofa sleeper (which I slept on and was rather comfy).  The suite had a mini kitchen with a small stove, microwave, sink, and refrigerator, which was very handy for keeping drinks, fruits, and other snacks.  The bath featured a two sink vanity, a humongous garden tub, a separate toilet room, a spacious shower, and enough floor space to learn how to do the Cupid Shuffle.

Where We Ate 

New York New York Hotel and Casino

The filet mignon...  Oh, mercy sakes!  It was wonderful and was served with some of the best sautéed asparagus I've ever had.

We ate breakfast/brunch there once or twice and got Haagen Das one evening.  Nothing really stands out in my mind about the experience other than it being a typical food court.  

Canal Canal Shoppes at The Palazzo

Grimaldi's is my favorite New York style pizza and I trek across the Brooklyn Bridge every time I'm in NYC to indulge in this coal-fired brick oven pizza.  Once I discovered that there was a Grimaldi's in Vegas, I knew I had to go, for it had been nearly six years since I had tasted it.

MGM Grand

Upon the recommendation of one of Heather's friends, we started with the 1842 Nachos - fresh tortilla chips smothered in heritage pork chili, black bean and jicama relish, cheddar cheese, fresnos, and sour cream.  I'm not typically one for that many textures, but I made an exception because it was really, really good.  (Sorry, no picture...  Apparently we were all too busy eating!)

Kingman, AZ

Thanks to TripAdvisor, we stumbled upon this classic roadside diner that not only offered up tasty food, but also a heapin' helping of nostalgic 1950's Americana.  

What We Did

On the day we arrived, because our flight was so early, we took a day trip to the Grand Canyon.

For her birthday, Kathy and I surprised Heather with tickets to see the blokes from Thunder From Down Under do their thing at the Excalibur Hotel and Casino. 

Heather and I ziplined the length of Fremont Street on the Slotzilla Las Vegas Zipline.


We also people watched, lounged by the pool, explored the strip, saw Cirque du Soleil's Mystère at Treasure Island, attempted to learn craps, and lost money playing roulette.

We also melted.  Yeah, there's something to be said when an excessive heat warning is issued for Las Vegas in July.  I know what you're going to say, "But, it's a dry heat..."  Dry heat my ass...

Oh, did I mention we people watched?

How We Got Around

We explored a lot on foot.  *When you look at a map of the Las Vegas strip, it's easy to think that everything's within walking distance because they are to some degree. But, the sheer size of the casinos, some of which are behemoth giants, make them appear closer than they really are.  (FYI - the distance between Mandalay Bay, which is located on the southern part of the strip, to the Stratosphere at the northern end is about 4.4 miles.)

We also utilized two Las Vegas buses - The Deuce and SDX.  Granted, riding The Deuce, because it stops very frequently along the strip, made for a slow trip.  We had to allow plenty of time when using it.  The SDX had fewer stops, which was a bit faster.

For our day trip to the Grand Canyon, we rented a car.


Before last summer, it had been 15 years since I had been to Las Vegas.  I was utterly amazed at how much things had changed in that time period.  It was bigger, brighter, louder, and much more crowded.

Vegas is definitely a place where you can over indulge, be it gambling, eating, drinking, or numerous other things.   But, it's also a fun destination with a lot of options for dining and entertainment.  And, it was a blast for ringing in my friend's 40th birthday!

Have you ever been to Vegas?  What did you think?


  1. Last time I was in Vegas was 1994

  2. This is so timely! The last time I was in Vegas literally 25 years ago, but I'm going back in December for my birthday and I'm so excited! I was underage last time I visited, so I'm sure this will be a completely different experience! Seeing a Cirque show, day tripping to the Grand Canyon, and visiting a Rt. 66 diner are all on my list. That zip-lining looks fun too. Sounds like you had an amazing time!


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