Guest Post: My Best Las Vegas Solo Trip

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Venetian

Today I have a guest post from Rona Wright, who only began traveling solo after her husband passed away. After reading her story, I thought her perspective could be useful for many readers–for other widows and widowers, divorcees, or anyone who finds themselves in a new situation of traveling to Las Vegas alone. But also for those who can’t relate to my travel style, which is very different from Rona’s. For instance, I’ve never felt the need to pretend I was married when traveling in the U.S. But I’ve been traveling solo for 20 years, so it’s perfectly normal for me. In any case, I’d say given how much she raves about her most recent solo trip, Rona has clearly become a “Vegas solo” herself. Here is her story:

I have been to Las Vegas six times; twice with my late husband, and four times as a Vegas solo. I have stayed at the Monte Carlo, Bally’s, Flamingo, Mirage, and recently the Venetian, which was the best place I have ever stayed in Las Vegas and would highly recommend to others.

This was my best solo Vegas trip ever.

Going to Las Vegas I have experienced all types of weather and holidays: Memorial Day, Christmas, July, August, November, and now April. When I went last month two out of the four days were rainy which is unusual for Las Vegas, according to the people I spoke with, but it was a welcome relief for them due to drought conditions. Actually it was quite comfortable, not humid, and it did not deter me or others from enjoying ourselves. As I always say, if you can’t find something to do in Vegas, shame on you. Continue reading

A Walk in The Park

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T-Mobile Arena

T-Mobile Arena at The Park, now open for business

I intended to publish this last weekend, but got sidelined with the flu for the better part of a week, so I’m a little late adding to the conversation about the opening of MGM’s new Park. But hey, better late than never!

Remember two years ago, when my brother (“Vegasbrolo”) scooped me by being in Las Vegas the day the High Roller and Linq promenade opened for business? Damned if he didn’t do it again this month when The Park opened for business. The thing that’s really maddening is that he didn’t know anything about either of these events! He just coincidentally happened to be in town at the right time. How’s that for luck?

But since I couldn’t get away from the office at this time, it worked out well for me that he was there. Once again, I enlisted him to be my intrepid, on-the-ground blogger/photographer. So Vegasbrolo and his wife went down to the Park twice to check it out–once during the day and again later at night–and he sent me his photos for use on the blog. He offered some brief initial impressions of The Park, which are also included below.

I’m not going to throw a lot of facts and figures at you about what’s available in the park. There are plenty of other Vegas websites where you can get that information. These are just the initial photos and impressions of your everyday, average visitor to Las Vegas–just like you and me. His words below, in italics, are pretty much stream-of-consciousness (in other words, he was texting me). Anything not in italics below is my commentary.

The Park

Shady seating outdoors in Vegas? This alone is worth building a Park.

Local press is all over the place.

Very much like the walkway down to High Roller [The Linq Promenade] but more of a “park” atmosphere (as you would expect). There seems to be many different areas where local musicians are setting up. Looks like a big event by the Toshiba T-Mobile area.

Toshiba Plaza

Setting up for an event at Toshiba Plaza

Toshiba Plaza has two acres of space for outdoor events, concerts, etc. This is in addition to the Arena. I could see this being a fun space for the right events.

There are actually 2 large theatres flanking the park. One is built, the second is under construction. The one that is under construction will have much more capacity than the existing ones.

Very much a park feel with bag toss and ladder ball games. Lots of trees. Lots of seating areas. Outside park tables have table games, like Connect 4.

Bag toss game

Haven’t I always said the one thing Vegas was missing was a good bag toss game? Problem solved.

Looks like most of the bars/restaurants are open. . .

Sake Rok

Sake Rok

Sake Rok – The wait staff are also the entertainers; every 20-30 minutes, they sing and dance. Somewhere down the road, the screen above the outside bar will show the waitstaff doing their singing routine inside the bar.

[I can’t wait for that. I probably won’t ever eat there, because I don’t like sushi, but I’d love to see the waitstaff sing and dance.]

Beerhaus – Has games inside like ping pong, pool, etc. plus more table games like checkers. [Glad to see Vegasbrolo had his priorities straight here. Who cares about food and beverages–it has ping pong! LOL, I kid, I kid. He took pictures of the menu here, and the beer menu is quite extensive.]

Beerhaus draft menu

Beerhaus draft menu

I confess, I don’t quite understand the whole ticket system for drinks here. This isn’t the county fair. Anyway, Beerhaus also has beer in bottles and cans, non-alcoholic brews for $4, cocktails for $10, and wines by the glass ranging from $5-12–but not more than 6-7 options in each of those categories. The food menu is similarly small and features more meat than anything, with prices ranging from $4 for a snack to $14 for a 1/2 free range chicken meal. There’s no question that this is primarily a beer hall, which is fine if all you want is a beer. But I probably won’t be eating here.

CPK- nothing to report. [If you’ve been to the California Pizza Kitchen at the Mirage, you pretty much know what to expect.]

Bruxie

This place is definitely on my list to try.

Bruxie (the waffle place) – Same menu all day. You can have dessert for breakfast or breakfast for dinner, LOL. Just “interviewed” one of the chefs from Bruxie (such a rookie, I didn’t get his name but he is from Mass).

The Park at night

Nighttime at The Park

I have to admit, when I first saw Vegasbrolo’s daytime photos, my initial reaction was that The Park looked like it wasn’t quite ready for prime time, if you know what I mean. It just didn’t resemble what I’d pictured it would look like, and I couldn’t see myself wanting to spend a lot of time there. But when he sent me his nighttime photos and impressions, I got more excited about it. Nighttime seems to bring out the best in The Park.

Fountains

Fountains in The Park at night.

Why come here? To get away from the sounds of the slot machines. There are live musicians all throughout and waterfalls–very serene.

Musician

See? Cellist.

Lighting (or lack thereof) is a great tool for creating boundaries. . . .By keeping the perimeter darker and the center lighter it defines the area.

The other nice thing? No pan handling, or people dressed up as cartoon characters. Not sure how long that will last, but it’s nice to get away from that, too.

Bliss

And of course, the Bliss Dance statue looks better at night, too.

The only food and beverage establishment they actually tried out was the Beerhaus. He answered my question before I even asked it:

So why did 2 non-beer drinkers decide to stop at the Beerhaus for a drink? Because it was very inviting. The side of the building opens up, exposing a very large bar.

Beerhaus

The Beerhaus at the Park, nighttime

[He added that there was plenty of seating at the Beerhaus that night. They sampled Tenaya Creek Brewery’s Bonanza Brown Ale with coconut. The Beerhaus was giving out free samples.]

Bonanza Brown Ale

Tenaya Creek Brewery’s Bonanza Brown Ale with Coconut. Made in Las Vegas.

He did manage to snag a photo of the open kitchen at Bruxie, the waffle sandwich place:

Bruxie open kitchen

Commence the waffle-making!

If you look at the bottom of the photo you can see all the waffle makers. There was a worker “trimming” the rough edges of the waffles for better appearance.

Great. Now I’m hungry. And thirsty.

Many thanks to “Vegasbrolo” for the great photos and first thoughts on the Park! What’s the next big thing opening in Las Vegas? I bet whatever it is, he’ll be there then, too. 🙂

Have any of you been to The Park yet? What about the Arena for a concert? What did you think of this new neighborhood on the Strip?

Photo credit: All photos in this post are the property of Vegasbrolo. 

A Long-Awaited Stay at Aria

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Aria entrance

Welcome to Aria

I’ve been wanting to try a stay at Aria for years, but it’s almost always outside my budget during the times I’m in Las Vegas. Late last summer, it was finally within reach, and I’m so glad I booked it. I loved staying here! What a beautiful hotel. Obviously, it’s not the right hotel for anyone on a tight budget, but if you can afford places like Palazzo, Bellagio, Wynn and the Cosmopolitan, you can afford Aria.

Anyone can enjoy the casino and restaurants here, as I have on many occasions while staying at Aria’s less expensive neighbor, the Monte Carlo. But there are certain things you only notice once you’re a guest of the hotel.

Continue reading

Restaurant Sleeper Hit of 2015: Aria Cafe

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Aria Cafe

Aria Cafe

Before my stay at the Aria, I had never eaten at their Cafe, but I had certainly heard a lot about it from friends–none of it good. So it wasn’t exactly high on my list. But as these things sometimes happen, early on in my stay, I had a craving for roast chicken. I had planned on eating at one of the hot new restaurants, Bardot Brasserie, or Lago, that night, but after perusing Bardot’s menu, I just wasn’t feeling it, and Lago was mobbed. I wandered between Monte Carlo, Aria and Bellagio for nearly an hour, looking at over a dozen different menus, and no one had what I was looking for. . .except the Aria Cafe. I finally thought, what the hell? I’ll give it a try.

It was around 9pm, and I was clearly overdressed. Everyone else in the place was wearing shorts. To be fair, I was dressed up because I had planned on eating somewhere a bit fancier. In any case, don’t feel obligated to dress up for this place just because it’s in an expensive hotel. Continue reading

Happiness is a Leisurely Morning by the Pool

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One of Aria's pools

One of Aria’s pools

When I first started traveling, I had to be active every minute of every day, or I’d feel as though I were “wasting time” on my vacation. Oh, how I’ve changed as I’ve gotten older. I’m still not the kind of person who just wants to sit by a pool all day long on vacation, but the older I get, the more I enjoy a leisurely morning reading by the pool. To me, slowing down like that really feels like I’m on vacation.

What makes a perfect pool experience for me

It’s sometimes hard to find the perfect pool in Las Vegas. I’m one of those fair-skinned people with a family history of skin cancer, so ample shade is a MUST. It’s ridiculous how few pools in Vegas offer decent shade–despite temperatures soaring well into the 100s. Also, many of them play music way too loud, and some have the DJ party scene going on, and that’s just not relaxing to me. Don’t even get me started on cover charges just to sit by a pool for a couple of hours. In the past, I’ve enjoyed the pools at the Palazzo, Bellagio, and Monte Carlo. On my most recent trip, I struck gold with both the Downtown Grand pool and the Aria pool. For me, they each represented the perfect pool experience. Continue reading