At the end of 2009, we did a trip to the US, starting in Las Vegas.
There is a lot to see in Las Vegas – and if you want to see a couple of shows, visit casinos, do some shopping, it is a good idea to stay at least three nights to take in the sights.
What we recommend to do in Las Vegas
We walked and walked in Vegas. We are not big on gambling but wanted to see as many casinos as possible. Some were very tired in décor and really not worth a visit. To make the most of your time we would recommend visiting:
One of the newer casinos – we liked the soft, pretty interiors. As we were there 26-27 December, the Christmas decorations in the foyer were wonderful. The water/light/sound show out front is gorgeous. We had dinner at the Café Bellagio which we can recommend – good food and pretty décor. In hindsight we wish we had a buffet breakfast at Bellagio at The Buffet for about US$16. The Bellagio Hotel & Casino is a big place – arcades of upmarket shops, meeting rooms and gaming rooms.
From the Bellagio you can walk through to the new City Centre complex – in particular through the Aria Resort & Casino. It was overwhelming in scale and size. Very modern design – loved it.
Across the road, the Venetian is also worth a look. Grand hotel foyer, shopping arcades with re-creation of St Marks Square in Venice, a canal with gondola, cafes and shops.
Very ‘Las Vegas’ – over the top décor but worth a visit.
One of the newer casinos and worth a visit if you have time.
We also walked through Circus Circus, New York New York, Luxor, Mirage, Excalibur and Caesar’s Palace. All were a bit tired and if you’re short of time, give them a miss.
Las Vegas Premium Outlets North and South
Can highly recommend this large outdoor shopping centre. Lots of designers and brands in one spot. You could spend hours there.
The Fashion Show Mall
This mall is opposite the Wynn. We visited Macys to buy warm, down-filled coats, and Abercrombie & Finch for jeans.
Grand Canyon Day Trip
From Las Vegas, you can do a day trip to the Grand Canyon. There are flights and road tours to both the West Rim and South Rim.
The West Rim is the closest (about 120 miles) and that is where you will find the Grand Canyon Skywalk.
The South Rim is a popular place to stay in the Grand Canyon National Park and you will find places of interest such as El Tovar Hotel, Bright Angel Lodge, Hopi House, Lookout Studio and Desert View Watchtower.
Accommodation – Tuscany Suites & Casino
We were a group of seven – four adults and three teenagers. As we would be travelling for about two months in total, we looked for good-value-for-money accommodation, and decided to stay off the Strip while in Vegas.
Although we had a car, we wanted to be in walking distance of the Strip.
After much research, we stayed at the Tuscany Suites & Casino – which proved to be great value for money. Our room, with two double beds, cost around US$30 per night for four people! It seemed too good to be true however we can highly recommend it.
It is a large resort style property. The rooms are big, it was clean and quiet. For convenience we ate at their Italian restaurant (Tuscany Gardens) and had breakfast in their coffee shop (Marilyn’s Café) at the back of the casino. Fairly standard and relatively cheap. In comparison, we had friends who travelled a year later, chose to stay at the Bellagio Hotel for about US $130 a night for four people. While the room was good value, they said the meals were very expensive and their stay in Vegas cost more than they anticipated.
Tuscany Suites & Casino was excellent value for money, in a good location, with large, clean rooms.