Las Vegas Travel Diary

I was married in Las Vegas and my husband and I have always talked about going back there at some point to celebrate our wedding anniversary and we decided that this was the year. There is a story there which I will tell one of these days and it's not that we eloped. Of course when we planned our vacation a few months ago, we had no idea that such an enormous tragedy would occur the night before we were set to travel there. We woke up to the startling news as well as a number of texts from family and friends asking what we were going to do. With a few hours to decide after contacting our hotel, we decided that we would go forward with our trip as planned. After all this could have just as easily happened in New York or somewhere else. We didn't see the point in being afraid and security would certainly be at a maximum for the week. I guess others felt the same because our flight was full.

It looked like the glass was still broken out of the two windows when we arrived. The area where the shooting had occurred was was blocked off like the crime scene it was. Onlookers had gathered to take in the scene and there were others who were paying their respects. A vigil is one thing but people shouldn't treat sites of tragedy like it's a tourist attraction and take selfies. That is just beyond wrong and disrespectful and why I still refuse to walk anywhere near the 9/11 Memorial to this day.  The windows were repaired in the next few days and we noticed that the Delano and Mandalay Bay had extra security throughout with an additional security check imposed at the elevators going up to the rooms. Our check-in was understandably delayed. We waited less than an hour before we were able to go up to our room. The staff also informed us of the closures within the facility for the evening.

Las Vegas is in the Pacific timezone which is three hours behind our usual Eastern time zone in New York.  Unlike our visit to Seattle last year, we decided to just adjust ourselves to the local timezone since it  wouldn't make much sense to get an early start in Vegas anyway.

The Delano
3940 Las Vegas Blvd,  Las Vegas NV
We chose the Delano because it is a modern all suite property. It doesn't have a casino which is a plus since we have zero interest in gambling. We wanted to be on one end of the strip so it would be more quiet. We also had a good experience at the Delano in Miami before. The Delano is connected to the Mandalay Bay and as guests we had access to all of their amenities and services. In terms of decor, the hotel has a tranquil spa-like quality throughout which was really nice. The staff was friendly and helpful with any requests we had. Our suite was spacious with a chic modern design. The mostly white decor felt fresh and clean and there was no tacky bedspread for us to remove. The bed was quite comfortable and the pillows actually were as well. We only used it a few times but it was nice to have a separate living area. We actually watched the start of the AL wild card game from there as we were getting ready for dinner one night. And the powder room just inside the entryway came in handy. We opted for a strip view which overlooked the Luxor out onto the strip.

The one thing about the Las Vegas strip is that everything appears closer than it actually is. There is a free tram system that operates between Mandalay Bay and the Excalibur that we would take to get us mid-strip and then from there we used the Monorail system to get us to the other end of the strip. The strip itself is definitely way more walkable than it was the last time we were there since it is so much more built up now with retail shops lining each block. There is a trick to navigating it. Everything is designed so that you have to walk through the casinos. I see what you're doing there Vegas! The other way to get around is by taxi or Uber which we used in the evenings.

Dining in Las Vegas is varied and there are many choices especially if you're into celebrity chef experiences. What we noted on this trip is that there are now more in the way of affordable options to balance out all the upscale dining and buffets. We ate pretty well in Las Vegas and here are some of the highlights.

Border Grill
(Mandalay Bay) 3950 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV
(Forum Shops at Caesars) 3500 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV
Border Grill comes from chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger known for Food Network’s “Too Hot Tamales".  They serve authentic modern Mexican cuisine inspired from Oaxaca and Yucatan home kitchens with an emphasis on fresh ingredients and sustainability. There are two locations of the Border Grill in Vegas and being we dined at them both. We actually visited the one in Mandalay Bay twice because we liked it so much and we did Happy Hour at the Forum Shops venue before going to watch O at the Bellagio. Everything we tried here from guacamole to quesadillas to tacos, empanadas, etc. was flavorful and delicious. If we had one of these in NYC, we'd dine there all the time.

StripSteak Steakhouse
(Mandalay Bay) 3950 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV
We had our one fancy meal at StripSteak Steakhouse. We were originally planned on dining at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon but it made more sense to eat in Mandalay Bay since we were going to see the early show of Cirque du Soleil Michael Jackson ONE. And besides Joel Robuchon will be making his return to New York dining scene soon. Our meal started off with an amuse bouche of 3 types of French fries with 3 dipping sauces. The crispy rice poppers with hamachi and ahu tuna, tobiko and ponzu were popping with flavor. We decided to share a ribeye steak which was poached in butter and grilled over a mesquite wood fired grill. It was perfectly cooked, tender and delicious. To balance the meat we got sides of broccolini and asparagus which were really good as well. We were stuffed by the time we were done. The food was pricey but worth it and the service was fantastic. The AL wild game was on the television there and our server thought it was fun that we were cheering on the Yankees during our dinner and kept checking in on the game with us.

(The Cosmopolitan) 3708 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV
eggslut has a bit of a cult following since it has been featured on so many food/travel shows. There was actually an eggslut pop up in NYC this past Spring and the queues were always crazy so we never made it but we did make a point to stop over for brunch when we were in Vegas. There was already a small line when we arrived at 11:00 but it went quick. We got the bacon, egg and cheese and sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches and a Slut to share. Yes that's the actual name. The infamous slut is a coddled egg over a smooth potato purée, poached in a glass jar, topped with gray salt and chives, served with slices of baguette. You stir it all together and eat it on the bread. It was creamy yet light and just really good. I did forgo the bread after a few bites and just ate out of the jar. The sandwiches were really good but the slut is where it's at. I can't believe I just said that.

In-N-Out Burger
(Linq Promenade) 3545 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV
No trip to the West Coast would be complete without a visit to In-N-Out Burger especially when you happen to enjoy burgers like my husband. The last time we had In-N-Out was in San Francisco a number of years ago so we couldn't remember if we liked it or not.  I got a cheeseburger, animal style, protein style and my husband got the double double animal style. I have to say I really like the option of getting a lettuce wrap since I try not to eat too much bread. The burgers were good but honestly I can't say I get the hype. Shake Shack tastes so much fresher and better balanced in terms of flavor to me and the meat seems of a better quality. But that's just my opinion.

Gordon Ramsay's Fish & Chips
(Linq Promenade) 3545 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV
This a fast casual restaurant by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay that specializes in Fish and Chips. The menu and the seating are both fairly limited. The fish and chip combo is the best value. The sustainable cod filets are covered in a crispy batter. The fish was s flavorful and tender and not greasy at all.  The chips were crunchy and light. You get a choice of two sauces. The tartar sauce is definitely the way to go. Definitely the best fish and chips we've had outside of London.

Las Vegas is known for their nightlife and gambling which are two things we don't have much an interest in but we did find things to do. You can walk around the strip and through all the hotels/casinos. The Bellagio is one where there is always something to see from the Chihuly sculpture in the lobby to their Conservatory and Botanical Garden which is always decked out for the season. There are any number of shopping centers and shows going on as well as more family friendly attractions. Of course all the various Cirque du Soleil productions are always among some of the most entertaining attractions going.

Cirque du Soleil O
(Bellagio) 3600 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV
We had wanted to see O the first time we were in Vegas but couldn't get tickets. While the show is still a hot ticket, we did buy our tickets a few months in advance this time. We were seated just off center in the fifth row and then someone mentioned that our proximity to the stage would mean that we might get splashed. Fortunately we didn't and we had a great view. This show has a permanent residence at the Bellagio. It takes it's name O, pronounced as eau, the French word for water as it takes inspiration from the "infinity and elegance of water's pure form." While there is no clear narrative, the stunning water acts such as synchronized swimming as well as aerial and ground acts performed around and above a 1.5-million gallon pool. It was mesmerizing from the beginning to the end. No I didn't take any photos because photography is not allowed inside.

Cirque du Soleil Michael Jackson ONE
(Mandalay Bay) 3950 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV
It would be pretty obvious from the name that ONE pays tribute to the late Michael Jackson. The show uses original master recordings of his classic hits. Unlike O, ONE features a narrative about four misfits who go on a journey with Michael Jackson as their spiritual guide. They are each transformed when they come upon four of his iconic talismans: a hat, shoes, glasses and glove. At the end of their journey they end up in Neverland. This is a fast paced show which combines incredible  dancing, stunning acrobatics, fantastic light effects and state-of-the-art surround-sound acoustics. A very different experience than O and very enjoyable whether you are a fan of Michael Jackson's music or not. 

Fountains of the Bellagio
(Bellagio) 3600 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV
One of the most popular attractions in Las Vegas also happens to be free. This quintessential water and light show is such a touristy thing to do but it also happens to be pretty entertaining to watch rhythmically dancing water paired with  any variety of music from pop to classical to opera or show tunes. Shows occur every 30 minutes and I personally find them a just little more spectacular in the evenings.

Skyfall Lounge
(The Delano) 3940 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV
As guests of The Delano, we stopped by Skyfall to enjoy a complimentary champagne toast that comes with an unparalleled view of the city. It is actually a pretty cool place to chill and look out over Vegas at night. Worth checking out if you happen to be by Mandalay Bay.

The Linq Promenade
(The Linq) 3545 Las Vegas Blvd South, Las Vegas, NV
The Linq Promenade, tucked behind the Strip with it's shops and restaurants is one of those family friendly options. Entertainment includes the Brooklyn Bowl, fountains that light up at night and the High Roller, the second tallest operational Ferris wheel in the world.

The Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace
3500 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV
If you like to shop, there are plenty of options in Las Vegas from upscale to mass retail. The Forum Shops combines luxury and mass retail with dining and entertainment. Don't miss the free Fall of Atlantis fountain show complete with special effects and animatronic figures who recount the myth of Atlantis. While we browsed there aren't any stores we don't have back home so I didn't really buy anything except for a few LUSH bath products to use in our massive hotel tub.

It was probably not the best time to visit Las Vegas because of current events but October is ideal in terms of weather and lower prices on flights and hotels.  When we there the weather was in the 80's during the day and low 70's at night.  I wore dresses the entire time and just carried a light jacket for places with cold AC. While it was hard to not be constantly reminded of what had happened with the heightened security and police presence, we did enjoy our time in Vegas. One of the highlights had to be revisiting The Venetian where we were married and marvel and how much it had changed and what remained the same. Unfortunately the bridge overlooking Piazza San Marco where our wedding took place is now closed off so we had to go one bridge over to reminisce. Fortunately the landing Vegas where this photo was taken was still there.  Of course we expected that much would've changed since 15 years have passed.  This trip was about pure nostalgia, celebration and relaxation and that's exactly what went down. I'm not sure if we would revisit again but it was fun to go back now to celebrate our anniversary.

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


Doctor Anne said...

I have never been to Las Vegas, but want to go some day. When the kids are older, I guess, with a toddler around it wouldn´t be as much fun.
And you have been married for 15 years now? Congrats!

Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

Lilli said...

Morning Rowena, have to say that when the tragedy happened I've thought of you as I remembered you shared your holiday plan in a blogpost. Im glad you traveled the sad but fear hasnt to block our actions :( I see you and your hubby have enjoyed the trip, I never visited Las Vegas but definitely is onto my wishlisth. The last pic is utterly sweet! xo

Margaret Dallospedale said...

Those are such beautiful photos! Hope you enjoyed so much!
Maggie D.
IndianSavageBlog by Maggie Dallospedale

Jackie Harrison said...

I'm so glad you both had a great time and enjoy all Vegas has to offer well as much as you can. Love the food display so many great restaurant and shows to watch it shows you had your trip full of adventures.

Emmylou said...

Aaaaaw....thank you for sharing your anniversary trip with us, chingu:) Admittedly, because of the tragedy that happened, I would've felt the same way about going first, but so happy to read that you made the best of it and still had a memorable time. I just can't believe people were taking selfies where the tragedy happened! :(
The food pics are just TDF. I still have not eaten at an In-N-Out and that's definitely on my bucket list, but now am including the Shake Shack too and having the fish and chips at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant. And that's great to hear that the ONE is a great show. I love MJ so if I ever do get to Vegas soon, hopefully can catch this show:)
Anyhoo, Happy Monday, my friend:)


I want to visit Las Vegas! Thank you for your photo

Hena Tayeb said...

Looks like you had a wonderful time.
That food looks great.. the food is one of the things we loved most about our trip to Vegas.

Oh to Be a Muse said...

I've been to Vegas a few times but I've never stayed at the Delano. It looks lovely from the photos. Glad you guys decided to still go to Vegas after the tragedy.

Also, it's a long standing argument about which is better: Shake Shack or In N Out. I was raised on the east coast but I live on the west coast now. West coasters will always prefer In N Out. I've heard that the absolute best In N Out is in L.A. though.

Love the Chihuly sculptures too. There's a great Chihuly museum in Seattle.

Shireen L. Platt said...

I have never been to the US but hubby and I plan to visit in the future. We have zero interest in gambling as well so it's nice to see all the other things that you and hubby enjoyed doing.

ps: It breaks my heart about what happened in Vegas but good on you and hubby and everyone else who refused to bow down to fear. Hugs. xx

Shireen⎜Reflection of Sanity

A Very Sweet Blog said...

Rowena, you two had an amazing time! I so enjoyed reading this post and will be saving it. I went in 2009 and enjoyed myself. I did very little gambling. There's so much to do! They have excellent shopping and eating spaces. I stayed at The Venetian and we saw Phantom of the Opera, The Blue Man Group, Serendipity (which is no longer there) and went to Caesars Palace, Mirage and where that Pirate's Ship was! LOL The Bellagio always has such beautiful decor. Thanks for sharing your trip.

Paola Lauretano said...

I love Vegas and I'm so glad you two had a great time! Lovely pics and delicious food!
Kisses, Paola.


ALLIE NYC said...

Wow I had no idea you were married in Vegas. And how wonderful to return, I lived on the west coast for a decade but never got there though I always wanted to go. It is shame that you had be there after such a tragedy and selfies? Really? OMG that is just unbelievable. And the 9/11 people take selfies there too, jez I would want to yell at them.

But on wards, love the photos and you guys looked liked you had a great time.



I have only been to Las Vegas a few times but not for leisure, only business. I liked the Bellagio. I can see why you still went--we should not live in fear. But, it's still sad what happened there. Eggslut, what a name! Sounds like an interesting story to tell of your wedding in Las Vegas. :) Wish you an enjoyable new week!

Unknown said...

I've never been to Vegas. Your photos make me want to go now!


Pinkoolaid said...

so terrible what happened there but I am glad you got to enjoy your vacation still. The hotel looks and sounds fantastic and the food is just <333333 I was just talking to my sister who lives in NY and I told her I plan to visit her next year so we can go to vegas with her husband and friends. Can't wait!!!

Jenny said...

That's so awesome that you got married in Vegas, they have some beautiful venues there! I've been a few times when I was younger and for my bachelorette party, so my experience of Vegas was quite different from the trip you just took, lol. I would love to visit again and check out some of the restaurants there (eggslut sounds amazing!) and see a non-raunchy show :P

Jenny | Geeky Posh

Pilar said...

I've always wanted to visit Las Vegas! You took some beautiful photos Rowena! I love seeing the Vegas lights at night, and that food looks delicious!

MERI WILD said...

Great photos! I hope I'll visit this place some day ;)


Unknown said...

Your photos of Las Vegas are amazing, I would definitely love to visit here one day! xx

Tash |

Midnight Cowgirl said...

I've never been to Las Vegas, but your trip looks amazing! Some days I miss In N Out burger. Lol.

K&S said...

A friend of mine told me once that a trip to US is incomplete unless you visit Las Vegas. These pictures have proved his words. Have a nice weekend ahead :)

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your anniversary! LV is a very unique place; I've been there several times and I have mixed feelings about it but I keep going back for some reason.

Jane said...

Happy belated anniversary. I am glad that you still went. And I agree about being a bit more sensitive at vigil sights. I don't understand people who would want to take selfies or treat it like a tourist site.

sonia // daring coco said...

Happy belated anniversary! The Las Vegas tragedy was just horrific and incomprehensible. I can't begin to imagine the somber atmosphere that would have lingered around the site. I loved the decor of your hotel room. I stayed at the Mandalay Bay last year when we went and it looks slightly similar to our room. One of the reasons we chose that hotel was for the modern and updated interior. It was very, very nice. BTW I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who doesn't get the In 'N' Out hype. I thought Shake Shack was muuuuuuch better. Even if we had to wait over 1 hour for our food at New York, New York hahaha!