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Hello World! As some of you may know my boyfriend was stationed in Las Vegas last year. We looked at all our options for the best way to make our relationship work in light of this development; do I stay? do I go? After much discussion and evaluating all of our options, we decided to live apart during the week. It didn’t make sense to us for me to leave my stable and longstanding job, when he would only be in LV for a 3 year period, and it’s only a day drive away. We make it work by driving back and forth on the weekends, usually my boyfriend drives back to San Diego, but once a month or so I drive out to Las Vegas. It’s a difficult dynamic, but we are working it out as we go. There is a silver lining though, because who doesn’t want to visit Las Vegas?
There is SO MUCH to do in Vegas!! The strip alone has 30+ casinos & hotels, and even if you don’t gamble they are a site to behold. Some places, like the Beligiao and Mirage, have beautiful atriums you can check out for free. The Flamingo, Mirage, and Mandalay Bay have animal exhibits – both free and paid. There are more shows than you can fathom seeing in one lifetime – let alone one weekend! Then there’s the downtown district, locals’ casinos, and plenty of other off-strip fun. While we enjoy just having time to spend together we make a point to get out and explore when we spend the weekend in town. Here’s what we managed to accomplish, in between episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale (currently obsessed with this show).
Solo Road Trip
Okay, okay, so this isn’t technically part of Las Vegas – but the drive is the kick start to the adventures. If you’ve ever made a long road trip you know they can be tons of fun! Grab some friends, some snacks, some good tunes, and hit the road! But a 6+ hour (yes, 6. Regardless of what Google Maps says) drive by yourself may not sound all that enticing. The traffic can be horrendous if you get caught in it at the wrong time, and since I was leaving on the Friday before Memorial Day – I knew it was going to be bad. So how do I keep sane in the stop-and-go madness?
Find a good audio book or playlist:
When I first started these drives I had a killer playlist and I sang along the whole way at the top of my lungs! By the time I pulled off the freeway I was exhausted and had no voice. I’ve started listening to audio books more recently. They keep me focused on something other than how annoying it is to be traveling 50 mph under the speed limit. And I get to learn something new! For this trip I downloaded The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, which I highly recommend. It’s filled with great info about starting a business, improving your work-life balance, and tips on managing your personal life more effectively.
It’s still a road trip, and I did not want to extend the drive time by having to stop. I try and pack mostly healthy stuff, since I know that won’t be a priority once I hit the state line. Some rice cakes, cashews, Wasabi Trail Mix, and beef jerky are my normal go-tos.
You have to stay hydrated on long trips, especially driving through the 104 degree desert! I pack plenty of water, to keep from dehydrating. Energy drinks, so I can hit the town once I get there. And ZICO Chocolate Coconut Water, which is full of electrolytes to fight against the not-so healthy choice I’ll be making shortly.
Southpoint Hotel & Casino
Southpoint is one of the first hotels you’ll see once you get into the city. It’s not as showy as some of those you’ll see on the strip, but it is far less crowded. I stopped here to kill some time and started to win a few bucks playing on the slots. I moved to a new machine every time I hit a bonus or jackpot, and by the time my boyfriend was off work I was up $60!! Woo hoo! It’s rare that I win, especially on slots, needless to say it was a great way to start the trip and I was so excited!
Since it was around 100 degrees still, we decided to take advantage of the AC and see Pirates of the Caribbean 5. I’d give the movie 3 stars as it was predictable and the new characters seemed like re-hashings of the original, this also provided a good dose of nostalgia. Southpoint has a FANTASTIC movie theater above the casino, with a great matinee. We’re able to both see a movie for less than the cost of 1 ticket in San Diego. AND this theater has leather recliners. They’re also adding a bar to the lobby (in addition to the Starbucks and gelato stand), so I’m pretty happy about that. After all, it’s Vegas!! 🙂
I am a pizza connoisseur. If I had to pick one thing to eat for the rest of my life, it would be Pizza. Pepperoni pizza, Hawaiian pizza, BBQ chicken pizza, BLT pizza – you name it, I want to try it. Grimaldi’s is a chain, but I haven’t seen them anywhere until we found them on Door Dash. Their pizzas are coal fired at 800 degrees, and also are amazing. Easily one of the best pizza’s I’ve had ever, and having them deliver via Door Dash is so convenient. So that was our Friday night, pizza and Netflix. #TrueLove
On the Strip
The one weekend per month I spend in Vegas I consider vacation, so in true vacation fashion we slept in until noon on Saturday. With a full list of places to check out, we dragged ourselves out of the house and hit the road!
7 Sinful Subs
This isn’t actually on the strip, but you can see the strip from here – so that counts right? 7 Sinful Subs keeps it simple with, you guessed it – 7 subs! I stuck with a classic Italian style sandwich, the ladies at 7 Sinful call it the Knuckle Sandwich. I instantly sent a photo to my sister to let her know I’d finally found the knuckle sandwich grandma used to threaten us with, and it was, in fact, delicious.
7 Sinful also has a Saturday special called the Walk of Shame, made with just about anything you could imagine eating for breakfast. Not one, not two, but THREE pieces of french toast surround a sausage patty, hashbrowns, eggs, cheese, ham, and bacon. The sandwich, no joke, was 6 inches tall. And there were plenty of leftovers. We’ll definitely be coming back here again.
Flashing Lights and More at City Centre
After our late lunch it was time to live it up, and off to the strip we went. Las Vegas is a fairly small city. You can see the strip from pretty much anywhere in town, and you’re never more than 20 minutes away from anything. Usually no less than 20 minutes away either, with traffic. If you’ve visited the city of neon lights, then you know the strip is flooded with people, lights, traffic, stores, casinos – it’s sensory overload. There’s so much to do, sometimes you don’t even know where to start! I can talk for days about all the different properties and what makes each unique, but we decided to check out what the Aria had to offer.
Now you might ask, why the Aria? What does the Aria have that makes it so appealing? Well, lots of things! It’s a beautiful property with some of the classier cocktail waitress uniforms. There’s great shopping and AMAZING restaurants at Crystals, the Aria’s shopping center. But these things aren’t what brought us here on this occasion. No, it was a higher calling that anyone with a 12 year old (or boyfriend who thinks they’re a 12 year old) may be familiar with: Pokemon Go. Yup. If you’ve seen the game, you might be familiar with the PokeStops in the game. Apparently there is a spot in Crystals where you can reach seven stops, which makes for great resources and Pokemon catches.
Personally though, I prefer games like black jack and Orange is the New Black themed slot machines. I found a 100 hand black jack machine (LOVE) and came up another $80. Then I turned around and gave it all away to a Game of Thrones slot machine. You win some, you lose some. Never go gambling expecting to win, at best you might break even. Gambling is an experience, and when you bet you’re paying for that experience.
Stand up comedy is a favorite of the boy and I. We watch every stand-up special that Netflix or Comedy Central can spit out. Gabriel Iglesias is one of the best, so we were super excited to see he was going to be in town the same weekend as us!! The show was in the Terry Fator theater at the Mirage. We saw LOVE at the Mirage, and that was great, so we had high expectations. The theater is a great venue, there are no bad seats and it’s fairly small so you’re pretty close no matter what.
This show was part of the Fluffymania tour, celebrating Iglesias’ 20th year in comedy. (Did you know he started off on All That?!?!) In the spirit of this celebration much of the show revolved around telling stories about being in the biz, or experiences the comedian was able to have as his celebrity grew. It was a good show, but not quite what we were expecting. I hadn’t seen live stand-up before, and I learned that most of those specials are the culmination of a tours’ work rather than one show. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t cheap either so I’m a little hesitant to consider comedy shows again in the future. Kind of a bummer, but we did have a good time.
Onward! To the Tiny Burgers and Poor Life Choices!
After the show we stopped by White Castle (a must) and spent some time at the Venetian. The Venetian is one of my favorite properties, it’s absolutely beautiful. I’ve never won here, nor has anyone I’ve visited with, but like I said you’re paying for the experience. Wining (if it happens) is just an unexpected perk.
Bad Owl Coffee
Oh. My. Gawd. This was the highlight of my trip, of my life, and my new favorite place ever. I found it when I was pursuing some “must-do Vegas” lists earlier in the week. I’ll have to go back and see what else is on the lists, because this place is fabulous. It’s a small coffee shop themed like it’s straight out of Harry Potter. In case you don’t know – I love Harry Potter. I stood in line for 12 hours at a time to see the movies when they opened at midnight, and to get some of the very first copies of the new books. My heart felt a bit emptier when the series ended. Bad Owl is definitely helping me fill the void.
The decor is simple and elegantly conveys the theme. Hogwarts letters hang from the ceiling. Hedwig is nestled up in a corner. Even the textures in the shop exude an ambiance befitting of the HP universe, warm wood panels on the wall and cool stone on the counter. Comfy leather chairs and coffee tables make you feel like you’re sitting in a common room. I just wanted to grab my copy of the Sorcerer’s Stone, a lavender white chocolate mocha, curl up, and forget the rest of the world. I went back everyday I was there for that mocha. I’m working on replicating the drink, and will share as soon as I have it perfected. Of course you can’t take a picture with Hedwig at home….
I’ve spent a lot of time touring the Las Vegas Strip, but I’d never been to the Downtown District. After talking with some co-workers earlier in the week, I decided it was a must-do. This area is much closer to the old school Vegas of yester-years. There are still street performers, often wearing next to nothing, and flashing lights – but there aren’t really any high rises and the area is much more contained. The plan was to hit the zipline then hang out and gamble a bit until the Fremont Street Experience started later in the evening. Well as they say, the best laid plans….
Turns out that some attractions get busy on holiday weekends – go figure! Unfortunately, all spots for the Slotzilla Ziplines were booked by the time we got there. We’re planning to give it a shot again in July, but I’ll give you the scoop. Slotzilla consists of TWO level’s of ziplines, the taller of the two they call a zoomline. The zipline is 7 stories high, lasts about 30 seconds, and you ride in a seated position. The zoomline is 11 stories high, lasts about 1 mintue, and you fly like Superman! We’re totally doing the zoomlines.
And then We Almost Got Mugged!
I’ve visited Vegas a number of times over the years, and have never felt unsafe. But we did, almost, have an encounter and it got me a little shook up. Bummed that Slotzilla was booked, we decided to call it a day and just head back to the house. We walked through what looked like an abandoned shopping mall to get back to the parking garage. We noticed there was someone walking behind us with a backpack and a hoodie, in 100+ degree weather. There were no open stores, and no other people. My boyfriend and I both looked at each other and looked back. We made sure this individual knew that we knew they were there. Almost instantly the man leaned backwards, turned around, and walked in the opposite direction.
Now I may or may not have interpreted the situation correctly, but either way it put a little fear in me. What if this person had been up to no good? What if it was my sister with me, and not my military boyfriend? Could I defend myself? Could I outrun someone? The answer to the last two are both “no,” so I’m deciding to change that. I’ve had real trouble finding my motivation to get back to the gym since I went on vacation – in February. This is it, I don’t want to be defenseless in the face of something really happening. So I’m heading back to early morning workouts, and I’ll be updating you all with posts about healthy choices and fun ways to be fit.
This was a long one guys, let me know if you made it to the finish line! Do you have any must see places in your home town? Know any other great Pizza joints in the Las Vegas (or San Diego area)? What was YOUR favorite Harry Potter book? Mine was Prisoner of Azkaban, but the movie was terrible.