Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Las Vegas: Day 2, Night 3

Las Vegas: Day 2, Night 3....and some of day 3 1/2 (most of this day was spent returning the rental car and waiting in the TSA line at the airport). Day 2, Night 3 was our busiest but we saw nearly everything we wanted to see before we got back on the airplane. We got a few hours of sleep Sunday morning before our adventures began, with margaritas and salsa of course.

The inside of the pyramid hotel we stayed in (The Luxor). We ate brunch at T & T (Tacos and Tequila). My white peach margarita and the green salsa was the best I've ever had! Great start to our day!

We found a great deal on a rental car for the day (we waited to rent one for last minute deals. Also, if you're renting a car, it's a lot cheaper to rent a car at the hotels than at the airport). The only catch? We had to get to Treasure Island hotel to pick it up. I didn't feel the need to walk the entire length of the strip right before hiking in the mountains, so we went to catch the bus at the stop right outside of Mandalay Bay. While we were that way, we went to Mandalay Bay's aquarium. 

                                         Matt pet a sting ray and I touched a star fish.

                  We had such a great view that we could count the sharks teeth as they swam above us.

We picked up the car with no issues and we were out on the open road. It was a gorgeous ride into the canyon.

Our main destination was Red Rock Canyon, but we stopped right before the canyon at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. We did a few hiking trails up the mountain and into the canyon, but the real surprise of this stop was the ranch in the park. The ranch has been owned by a number of people and is on the national register of historic places. We had a wonderful time hiking and loved chatting up the folks that work at the ranch. It was such a great impromptu stop.

                                      The trails started out smooth but turned rocky.

The lake in the mountains. I had to giggle when I saw the "lake" as we have ponds in Des Moines bigger than this.

For the first time in my 31 years, I climbed a mountain (it was on a trail but it totally counts in my book)! I heard a good rumor that Santa is bring hiking gear for Christmas so the adventures can continue.

We did not see any poisonous snakes, but we saw a lot of little lizards. I shrieked every time I saw one dart in front of me. Matt tried to catch one.

Howard Hughes owned the ranch for a few years. We didn't tour all of the ranch, but they had tours of the house and barns available (free to the public).

Our intended destination: Red Rock Canyon. We were running short on time (and I had a wicked headache from the desert heat) so we didn't get out to hike. We did however go to the scenic outlook. We had such a gorgeous drive through the mountains.

 After hiking, we needed to load up on greasy food before the night's festivities. 5 Guys Burgers and Fries had just what we wanted--and peanuts!

 A stop at the Las Vegas sign was in order since we had not yet done that. I didn't feel like battling the long line to stand in front of the sign. We made it quick and easy and went to the side. Good enough for me!

My 5 minutes rest for the day on an unbelievably comfortable bed.

This was the best night of all. We walked down to the Bellagio fountains and caught a night show, saw the Mirage volcano show, got an open bar ticket on the Highroller at the Linq Hotel, and spent some time in the MGM casino.

As I've said before, the Bellagio Fountains were my favorite thing in Vegas. We saw them not once, but twice night #3. Here's a video of the night show:

 The Mirage volcano show was pretty cool. We never made it into the hotel though. This was the only thing on my 'want to see list' that we didn't get to. Not too shabby for only being their 3 nights and 2 1/2 days.

The Highroller at the Linq Hotel. A month ago, Matt found a Groupon for a ride for 2 on the Highroller with an open bar (for only $60). To sum it up: it's half hour ride around the giant ferris wheel with as much as we could drink. Best ride ever with a fantastic view.

 Our bar tender was awesome! Shortly after this, a couple got engaged. Everyone in the capsule did a celebratory shot for them.

 Cool views.

 After the Highroller we strolled through the outdoor mall at the Linq. I fell in love with a store called Kitson, but thankfully for my checking account there was limited space in our luggage so I didn't buy too much. However they do have shipping...

 The Flamingo Hotel

 Frozen hot chocolates on the patio at Serendipity 3.

 Taking a late night walk through the Bellagio to get dessert crepes at Jean Philippe Patisserie, we got to watch workers take apart the garden and put in the fall decor. That was really interesting to see.

                                                                One last fountain show.

 MGM Grand casino

 Monday morning we had just enough time to go to CBS Television City in the MGM Grand, check out of the hotel, return the car, and get to the airport....and thankfully we got there early because the TSA line was insane! Although it moved pretty fast, I had visions of being stuck in the line for hours.

 View of the Luxor while we waited to board the plane.

Until next time Vegas!
Planning a getaway to Vegas? Here's a few important tips:
  • During the week days, hotels, restaurants, shows, etc. all run specials and discounts. We had no choice but to go over a weekend this time around, but you can save hundreds of dollars going during the week instead of the weekend. That being said, weekends are a total blast and I actually felt safer (people weren't as stupid) on those busiest nights.
  • Wear walking shoes as you'll do A LOT of walking.
  • You can get very good and very strong drinks everywhere in Vegas, but drink TONS of water! I got a headache every afternoon from the intense heat despite keeping myself adequately hydrated.
  • Stay center strip (Monte Carlo and Bellagio are next on my list of hotels to stay at).
  • Don't use public transportation unless you have an insane amount of patience. Groupon came out with a deal on a car rental the day we left or look into picking up a car from one of the hotels on the strip (tends to be cheaper than the airport). Driving the strip is difficult because it's a very pedestrian friendly road, but if you plan on going off strip at all, you'll want a car.
Check out Day 1, Night 2 and Night 1 posts for our earlier adventures of the trip.