Vegas is a destination many enjoy. I am a casual gambler and I enjoy that, but there is so much more than that to Las Vegas. It is a center for entertainment, and great for a vacation. Some call it “Sin City” and a slogan for the town is “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. The truth for millions every year is a little more time and a lot of fun.
For me, any trip to Vegas starts with a flight. Today I left out of Norfolk International, which is the closest airport to me. Sometimes it is worth an hour’s trip to another nearby airport when you can save a few hundred dollars on your flight.
Flights to Vegas are likely some of the cheapest flights you will find. This is because of the number of travelers and that demand and the related supply does bring costs down sharply. These days, flights are not what they used to be. The seats (even first and business class) are packed in a bit like sardines. I wish someone would start a new airline called legroom, charge $100 more a ticket, but give you real legroom and bigger seats for comfort. I would travel to that airline for all of my flights.
Now to get any legroom you have to choose the aisle seats near the emergency exists. Those have no seats in front of you, and on flights that are not packed, they may remain almost unused. Though good stewardesses will move healthy people there to help in case of an emergency.
Landing in Vegas is a simple affair. Unlike some airports, there are plenty of runways and a good deal of flat land around for a direct approach. Here is a fun video with a cockpit view from a plan for you of the approach and landing.
Video by RobT Cockpit videos
Day One Arrival
When you arrive at Las Vegas airport, you can leave right from the baggage area, but if you want to get to the resort via an Uber or a rental limo, then you want to go up one floor to the 2nd and there is an Uber stand.
I opted for the cab because no matter your type of transport, the trip from the airport is a short one and not expensive. Also, a cabbie typically knows the area better and has more experience.
As you arrive at the resort, you realize you are well positioned about one mile from the convention center and just a short walk from the Westgate monorail links to the strip. The location not only puts you very close to the strip, it also places your stay 30 minutes from the Red Hills, and 1 hour from the Hoover Dam.
Check-in was a breeze because of the well-trained staff. My room was a 1 bedroom king suite, which comes with a full kitchen, a nice tub in the bath, a great shower, and a double sink. The separate living area also comes with a pull-out bed in case you are traveling with the family. The resort also has 2 bedroom villas as well. You get 772 square feet with the 1 bedroom and over 1,000 sq feet with the 2 bedroom.
- Cable TV
- Coffee Maker
- Ice Maker
- In-Room Safe
- Free WiFi
- Outdoor Pools
- Business Center
- On-Site Restaurants
- Fitness Center
- Concierge Services
The flight to Vegas is often an easy trip. I do not feel jet lagged. But I do tend to like to get a drink or two and decompress once I get to my resort. There is a small bar in the restaurant that was a great little spot to belly up to.
They also have a nice-sized marketplace shop on site that offers snacks, drinks, and prepared foods. The location also provides room service, which is a nice option. Vegas has tons of food options for many hours of the day, but if overdo it on the strip, it is nice to sleep in someone’s day and get some room service.
If you plan to see the area beyond the strip, like traveling to the Hoover Dam or other sites like the Grand Canyon, then renting a car should be on your list. If, however, you are OK with walking some and plan on spending most of the time on the strip, then taking advantage of the monorail and the close distance to the strip will make you a happy visitor.
One great thing about Vegas is that since it is such a major travel destination, things like car, rentals are still much cheaper than they would be in most people’s home airports. Renting a car near my home airport is about $100 a day now, but you can rent through any of the major car rental companies in Vegas for half of that with ease.
The Hilton has free parking which is nice if you do choose to rent a car. For myself, on this trip, I chose not to rent, but I will be transferring to a different hotel in the area and will rent in a few days because I plan to then go out and see the surrounding area some.
I do love to gamble and see shows, so that is what I plan to spend most of my time doing while I am staying so close to the strip.
Here is a video on the great free things to do in Vegas for even more savings on your trip.
Video by Travel Ruby
I woke ready to attack the strip and see as much as I can on the Las Vegas trip without running myself ragged.
I planned to eat breakfast somewhere on the strip at a casino hotel. Then do some gambling until some of the hourly free shows start at some of the locations on the strip.
I went to Caesars and their Fall of Atlantis show. This free show starts at 11 AM and happens every hour on the hour throughout most of the day. You will find this near the shops at Caesars.
Thursday through Saturday one of the fun free shows I like to see is the Mermaid Show. For me, this is a flashback to my childhood having seen this same kind of show on a trip to Florida. It is at the Silverton Hotel and Casino. Now, this is an off-strip, but it was worth the Uber for this trip down memory lane.
The shows start at 12 PM and happen 3 times each day, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. There are also timed shows on Sunday.
After the Mermaids, it seemed like the Fountains of Bellagio Show was a perfect next stop. On Saturday they start the shows at 12 PM and they happen every 30 minutes until 7 PM. Do make sure to check the websites of the locations I like to here for show times in case of changes.
Now I get the idea that my pursuit of all the free shows in Vegas in a day seems like an odd thing to do, but I love all things touristy. I am the guy that will stop at roadside attractions at random on long drives. To me, part of travel is creating memories. These little moments are more lasting and fun than sitting at a table and gambling for hours.
If you want to see a more traditional show for free, then see a Circus Act again. The free show here is on the hour starting at 11 AM and going until the next day with the last show at 12:15 AM.
It is now after 3 PM and I have spent most of the day with these fun shows and seen a good deal of the strip in the process. I think I will stop and play a few games.
These days, one of the secrets to gambling in Vegas is making sure you use their tracking systems via the gaming cards and their related points systems. I signed up for and grabbed a player’s card at Circus Circus. Like most players’ cards, you can earn points towards free games, dinners, and meals. You may also gain access to special shows, events, and more.
When I use players’ cards, I often set the goal of at least paying for a nice meal, if not a meal and a show. From my travels, I already have player cards with several other Casino brands. Most Casinos allow you to build up points at many locations not only in Vegas but also in Atlantic City and other locations.
There are things you can do to increase your points faster on these player cards. What the cards are intended to do is to count the money that is being spent in the Casino. The more money that goes through the card, the more points you gain. So instead of just keeping your money stored on the card, or in chips, you may want to cash out for lunch or dinner. Each time you cash out then put your funds back into chips and play with them, you increase your spending levels on your card.
You still need to play games and follow reasonable patterns, but cashing out and then putting your funds back at play later certainly can help you move toward your point goals.
I was able to earn enough points for a nice dinner in just a few hours’ time.
I chose to enjoy my dinner at the Blue Iguana which is a great Mexican restaurant. I had the Oaxacan Chicken Mole Enchilada Slow-roasted chicken with mole sauce and melted cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla. I also had several nice margaritas, and I had mine on the rocks with salt.
I woke to the sun over the sands in Vegas. Vegas may be hot but it also is lovely with all the pools, giant-lit Casinos, and amazing strips.
I started my day at the Venetian Las Vegas
The Venetian is a large resort hotel located in Las Vegas. It features an indoor canal, a replica of Venice’s famous St. Mark’s square, and many other attractions. Guests enjoy luxurious rooms, gourmet dining, and a variety of shows. I was here for a ride in the canal. Sometimes when I travel solo, I take advantage of my travel budget to do something for others. Often this is seeing a kid with their parents and quietly offering to send them through an experience. Like entry to a show, event, or ride. Today I did not see a young kid to treat, instead, I saw a senior couple that looked like they wanted to ride on a Gondola yet they were holding back based on price.
These are overpriced, being almost as costly as a real ride in Venice. One great thing is that you can earn points for a free ride with your player’s card fairly quickly. I was able to get 3 free tickets for the gondola one for myself on a solo trip, and two for these nice strangers. The gondolas here run regardless of the weather because they have an indoor route and an outdoor route.
At 9:50 AM and 4:20 PM, Gondolier March, a special tradition only happens twice a day. The team of gondoliers sings in unison as they march along the indoor canal. By getting an early start, I was able to capture this moment before 10 AM and afterward, I went to breakfast.
For that meal, I went to Grand Lux Café at The Venetian. Here they offer 24/7 meals and a great menu. I had French Toast, which was perfect. There is something bordering magical about warm pancakes, French Toast, and melted butter with great syrup. I do not know if it is the amount of sugar with the syrup, or just the calories, but these really get me fueled and energized for the day.
Today I want to work the machines some. Here is my inside tip about gaming machines. When you enter the main gaming areas, look at the machines that have the most visibility. Those in higher-traffic areas will typically payout at a higher rate. The casinos, in their wisdom, understand that if people see others winning with all the lights, sounds, and visuals of success, it will encourage them to spend more.
Since encouraging others to play is part of the primary job of the casinos, this is one step all take. Now do not get me wrong, you are not guaranteed to win at these machines. The odds are still in the favor of the casino. The idea is that the odds may just be a little better in your favor.
After a few hours of playing at the slots for a while, I was ready for a cocktail and some blackjack. One of the fun things about Vegas is that it never really stops and that you can start in your relaxation mode any time you are ready.
So a few adult beverages later, I was gaming with that slight buzz that seems enhanced by the air systems in Vegas. A long-held myth is that they pump in oxygen to keep players awake. I can confirm that there are no systems pumping oxygen into the gaming areas. But there is a great deal of fresh air. The casinos have some of the best volume air filtration units. These systems are sized to handle large rooms and crowds of players. The air exchange rates are very high and do likely help people stay awake and aware. Another thing to consider is the temperature. With the heat outside in Vegas, all the casinos keep their spaces nice and cool. With the heat outside during the day, you really do not want to go back out into the heat voluntarily.
Follow me to my next Hilton resort on the Vegas Strip on this trip.