Five Tips for Spending Three Days in Las Vegas
It’s not easy to get everything you want from Vegas in three days, especially when you are coming from the East Coast. Between long layovers and time changes, it can be a challenge. Unfortunately for me, United lost my bag and I had to spend Friday night after a full day of traveling trying to find something to wear to see Calvin Harris. At least we didn’t get beat or dragged, I guess. But not to fear! The Miracle Mile Shops are open until midnight and have a slew of stores where you can make last minute purchases or just wander around with Fat Tuesday chalices full of fun punch.
So here are my tips for a brief (and successful) first time trip to Vegas:
1. Stay ON the strip – I know a lot of people will contemplate staying of the strip because of budget or other reasons but don’t do it. The traffic crawwwwls on the strip and for your first time, you want to be centrally located. We stayed at the Venetian – an amazing maze that will lead you to any wonder – or sin – of your choice.
2. Go to a show – I know, it can seem a bit corny but that’s what Vegas is for – to do things you don’t normally do. We went to see Cirque de Soleil Mystere and it was AMAZING. The ab strength and guts one needs to do these stunts is so far above my abilities. Vegas builds on the awe of this with a Cirque de Soleil UNDERWATER. Man, I hope they get paid a lot.
3. Get your vitamins – I am a master sleeper so I empathize with those who need their rest. But you didn’t go to Vegas to sleep. Edward made fun of me but I got a no-hangover potion from GNC. Yes, a potion. It’s really just a ton of b vitamins. When I tell you I was bouncing off the walls. I had more energy than I’d had in months and it was well worth it because 8 hour sleep nights are not happening.
5. Get OFF the Strip – Vegas has some pretty cool scenic spots. We didn’t have time to get to Grand Canyon so we went to Red Rock Canyon. (More on that below). The Hoover Dam is also pretty close.
Now that we got that out of the way, here’s what you really care about: what to eat and see. The strip has so many restaurants and sights that it’s kind of overwhelming. I will admit, I did not try all of the big chef spots like Emerill’s or Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants. And a lot of places I tried were in and around the Venetian. Not to worry, the hotel’s massive square footage made every place feel like a destination.
Bouchon by Thomas Keller
Hype level: 4 Actual Score: 5
I know what you’re thinking- this chick eats at Bouchon in every city she visits (see my trip to Santa Barbara). Not true, folks need to be more creative with naming their restaurants.
Oh la la, the food is on point here. We had the chicken and waffles and omelette. I don’t know how the French make such masterful omelets but they’re always fluffy and the perfect shade of yellow. Even my best home omelette looks like it was dropped on the floor compared to these.
The chicken with the waffles was roasted and came with tasso ham gravy. It was out of this world delicious. Think, having a Coq au vin for breakfast. With waffles. Just sounds fancy.
If I were to describe the crowd, it was an older Chloe bunch + trust fund 20 somethings but everyone was nice enough.
The best part about Bouchon is it’s beautiful outdoor patio. It is on the same level as the Venetian pool deck. It’s easy to feel like you’ve been walking through one long building in Vegas (which you kind of are) so this was a welcomed feature.
Hype level: hmmm 2ish? Actual Score: 5
In addition to the restaurant, Bouchon has bakeries in a couple of locations. At first glance, it didn’t seem all that exciting-pastries and coffee. Got it. Until you try one…a moment of silence to honor the cinnamon roll, blueberry croissant (!), and monkey bread. They had a good life. Bouchon bakery is underrated in an any team playing the Patriots kind of way.
Hype level: 0 Actual Score: 3.5
Thao is located at the Venetian and is an Asian fusion restaurant. This didn’t come highly recommended, although everyone seemed to think it was solid. I got the impression it was not that the food wasn’t tasty but that the restaurant is no longer the new, cool kid on the block. Anyways, we had chili shrimp, tacos, sliders, and satay. All very flavorful. The ambiance is cool and sexy- wear your decent duds. This is worth a visit.
Mercato Della Perscheria
Hype level: 0 Actual Score: 2.5
Have you ever met someone that was probably good at something but seemed so uninspired doing it? As in, Kendell Jenner’s modeling career. Yeh, that is Mercato. Apparently they were fresh out of salt, oil, and butter. Hey, word of advice, you’re going to need that stuff if you plan to make edible pasta. The presentation of the food was nice but the classic spaghetti and meatballs and fruit de mare were bland and boring. Sorry but Mercato deserves it’s mediocre visibility and I’m surprised by its four stars on yelp.
Hype level: 4 Actual Score: 4
Buffets are all the hype in Vegas. When I think of buffets, all I think about is being dragged to Old Country Buffet as a kid by my aunts and hating EVERYTHING except the jello. So to say I’m skeptical is an understatement.
When trying to figure out exactly which buffet is noteworthy, you’ll get a million answers. We got two strong opinions: The Palm and the Wynn. When I asked my husband which one we should try he said, “Well, the Palm was recommend by our Lyft driver who says he buys his groceries at the .99 cent store.” Y’all, our Lyft driver had nothing but a twinkle in his eye when he said that the .99 cent store has Oscar Meyer wieners that are normally $4 at the grocery. The only catch? They are days away from expiration. Ha. That’s dedication. I digress.
So off to the Wynn we went. The Wynn is a nice looking casino. It has a mini Bellagio water show that puts me in a trance and a carousel! From the first look, this was a reasonably classy buffet and crowd. The decor is kind of a weird geyshia meets carnival look. As far as buffets go, this is not bad. There’s a TON of variety – including an omelet station, pancake station, asian fare, meat carving stations, fruit, quiche, and an entire dessert room. A dessert room is the best kind of room.
For the price, it’s a great value. It’s $25 plus $19 if you want bottomless brunch drinks. People are not kidding when they say Vegas is expensive. Initially, it’s all good but then you realize every meal is easily running $100. We went to this one place on the strip that looked like a legit dump and the margaritas were $16 each. Gasp. So, If you want a break from the sticker shock and are in the mood to fill up, I’d say the hype is worth it.
Canyon Ranch Spa
Hype level: 5, blame the Venetian’s marketing materials Actual Score: 2.5
Canyon Ranch continued the Vegas theme of lines. Line to sign in, line to get undressed, and hanging out in a waiting room full of people before going back to the massage rooms. My zen is already shot. There was also something off about the spa itself. Most spas have tranquil scents and music, that excite more of your senses than just touch. I didn’t get that at Canyon Ranch. Ultimately, the massages were pretty good- the therapists listened to what we wanted and used the just the right amount of pressure- but I doubt I’d go back here.
Red Rock Canyon
I wanted to see Red Rock as soon as we flew over it during the flight. The colors and shapes of the mountains are gorgeous. Best of all, it’s a 20 minute ride from the strip. We opted to take a Lyft. Our original plan was to hike briefly but the area is a little tricky.
If you happened to rent a car, this is an extremely easy jaunt. If not, you could either have a lyft/uber drop you off. Or do what we did: have the lyft/uber take you along the scenic route. We were looking for something pretty light (aka when we got there it looked too strenuous lol) so we had energy for all of the other things planned that day and there were only a couple of trails under theee miles. Tip: if you get dropped off, cell phone reception is spotty to nonexistent so you’ll need to prearrange a car or call from the visitor center. Retro but doable.
All that being said, having our lyft driver take us around was pretty awesome. We stopped and took pictures and walked down into some parts of the trails. This was a great idea and took about an hour. If you’re actually going to hike, I’d recommend leaving at least three-four hours at the canyon. And bring real supplies. The parts we did walk were extremely dry and windy. This was a really neat diversion. Aside from the beauty of the canyon, it was neat to see some parts of “real” las vegas and where people live. Summerlin, the town Red Rock is located in, has beautiful homes and makes for a pretty drive.
Thao and Draia’s
It’s been a minute since I’ve been to a day pool party. Besides constantly feeling like I ate too many sour cream and onion potato chips all year long to prance around the pool, I actually like to swim and that’s not really (oddly enough) what folks do at these types of pool parties. But there’s no time like the present so here we are! I wanted to get the full vibe (this is all for you guys) so we splurged on a cabana. The minimums are your standard level of ridiculousness. Once you get over how much you have to spend, you will think “Oh, well now I can buy hoards of liquor and food.” Not so fast, pitchers of sangria and champagne cocktails were anywhere from $75-150. Despite the cost, the cocktails were delicious and obviously made with top shelf goodies. My suggestion would be to just lounge by the pool- did I mention no one actually gets in the pool? More space (and cash) for you.
I have to admit, after all this preparation, I was ready for some fun. We met new friends and were ready to get what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas turned up. Hmmm, maybe we made a mistake by doing this on a Sunday, maybe we picked the wrong weekend. I doubt any of these are true but this crowd was so stiff, I thought some were avatars and for a Vegas day party, the crowd was sort of sparse.
Silver lining: Fake Drake. He was very entertaining. When we first saw him, he told the bouncer he was going to f*** sh*t up! I like people who make plans. But he did a cannonball into the pool and security kicked him out. Lame. The other entertainment was just weird. One woman did a most violent and ***unruly**** cannonball into the pool. Far more dramatic and frightening than Fake Drake but she didn’t get kicked out. Life isn’t fair.
Despite the crowd being a bit boring, the music was on point. We didn’t want the day to end so we moseyed to Draia’s.
Draia’s was full of entertainment! While Tao may have been too stiff, Draia’s was perhaps too loose. The water was really shallow-still not sure if it was a real pool or a wading pool-and folks were dropping into the water like a dunk tank. This was fun to watch. On top of a happy and free crowd, the music was good. Go here if you’re looking for some solid trap music or need a break from nonstop EDM. Although I like EDM, I don’t like how people dance to it so I enjoyed watching/doing the milly rock. Draia’s look wasn’t as cool as Tao’s and the “cabanas” are laughable. I know I said the cabanas at Tao were take it or leave it, these cabanas are all leave it. I also thought it was hilarious that they made us frozen rose drinks. I guess this is a thing but I find frozen wine the pariah of liquor and I will not indulge (unless I’m already in the zone, ha).
Neither party was as exuberant as I imagined. I mean, I was paying for a music video experience and didn’t get it. Still, it was a good time and unique to Vegas, so it’s worth a try.