When my girlfriend suggested Vegas for her bachelorette, my jaw nearly hit the floor. With a 7 month old baby (who I love and adore) forcing me to stay at home and work a 7 day week (check out this hilarious video on the subject of world’s toughest job), I was dying to get out of town and – for more than 24 hours – not be responsible for another human being. The planning started sometime into the New Year and all of a sudden we were booked: 6 girls traveling to Las Vegas over the Easter holidays. A dream come true? You have no idea.
Toronto – Dallas – Vegas
Our trip started with a 3 hour plane ride to Dallas (see the cowboy below for proof). Our package had us boarding a US Airways flight operated by American Airlines. This little arrangement made checking-in online extremely confusing, since the confirmation number sent to me by Expedia was completely different than the one required by AA to check-in. If you’re heading to Vegas from Toronto on a similar flight, it’s advisable to note a few things before you board.
- Entertainment: The first leg of the trip will most likely be on a larger plane with an entertainment system (score!) so bring headphones. Unfortunately, on this leg of our return flight, 2 out of 3 units didn’t work, but hey, you might get lucky. The second leg of the trip is on a much smaller plane with significantly less leg room and no entertainment system, however if you bring your ipad or tablet, you can pay for WiFi and get access to movies, etc.
- Food: You get none, so buy snacks beforehand.
- Drink: You get complimentary drinks both ways. Alcoholic beverages are extra. On this note – when you get off the plane in Vegas, there is a liquor store that proves very useful for travelers looking to jump right into the Vegas vibe. The airport is close enough to the strip that your buzz won’t wear off – I promise.
- Baggage: Last but not least, you will have to pay for any checked baggage so if you can squeeze all your shoes into a carry-on, it’s one way to save $50 (money that can definitely be put to better use once you land).
The Dallas airport was awesome. Great places to grab a bite and very easy to navigate. The train transporting passengers between terminals is efficient and runs constantly so if you’re connecting, there is absolutely no need to panic, or leave an hour to reach your gate. You’ll get there in plenty of time, so grab a Starbucks (seriously, avoid the other cafes, I tried them) and wander until your flight gets announced.
The Cosmopolitan Hotel
We booked a four day, three night package on Expedia.ca and wound up staying at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, one of the newer hotels on the strip. Having never been to Vegas before, I really had no idea where anything was, so I went along with the planning and googled as we went. As it turns out, the Cosmopolitan is centrally located, bordering the famous Bellagio (which for the record, will always throw me back to Ocean’s Eleven and that epic scene in front of the fountains after Matt Damon and George Clooney pull off the sweetest heist in history) and the Aria (featured hotel in a great movie called Last Vegas staring Kevin Klein, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas and Morgan Freeman).
We got our keys to the 21st floor, cracked open a bottle of gin, threw in a little tonic for flavour, put on our sunglasses and – since we had an hour or two to kill before meeting up with the other half of our group – decided to tour our little corner of the strip. As we sauntered into the burning sun, purple cups in hand, we realized just how quickly the effect of the alcohol hit those who were jet-lagged, exhausted (our flight departed at 6am that morning) and starving. So, we did what reasonable people do and headed towards the first taco joint we could find.
There we devoured what seemed like the most delicious tacos we’d ever eaten, a claim I’m sure was boosted by the margaritas we had to accompany them. For someone who doesn’t like Tequila (for reasons we’ll keep to ourselves), I fell in love with blended margaritas on this trip – scrumptious!
Thunder Down Under
When the rest of the gang arrived, our evening officially began. On the agenda for our first nigh in Sin City? Thunder Down Under. No, it’s not some kind of weather related theatrical show, and no it’s not as risque as it may sound. Did it involve men with an Australian accent removing certain articles of clothing? Well, yes. Did they show anything more than you would see on a wholesome Canadian sitcom? Hardly! In fact, I would dare to say that HBO shows more than these guys do. For the most part anyways.
As you approach the auditorium, you’re greeted by a guy dancing on stage above a bartender offering free shots for the ladies. Now, if you judged what was coming by the quality of what was on display, you might start wondering what exactly you got yourself into. Thankfully that wasn’t the case at all, and the show turned out to be one hell of a good time. A small venue, filled (I mean packed – jam packed) with women, hooting and hollering, and pushing the birthday girl or bride-to-be into full view of the (ahem) “performers”. As an observer, it was fascinating to see the gender roles reversed. Male sex objects vying for the attention of the ladies who had been unleashed for one night, and one night only. Shouting at the top of their lungs as they jumped up and down in the shortest of dresses, drool literally had to be wiped off the mouths of some women as they ogled the Spartans, firefighters and construction workers taking the stage. Worst of all, (and I kid you not, this actually happened) one woman had to be restrained as she attempted to mount the stage and conquer the muscled objection of her (most likely inebriated) affections.
If you’re heading to Vegas with a group of gals, I seriously recommend getting tickets to the show! You won’t regret it and at the very least, you’ll have yourself a pretty good laugh and be in good spirits for whatever the night has in store. Oh, and if you’re uncomfortable with the idea of half naked men on stage (which I, admittedly, was), drink up, it’s affordable and the jello shots are delicious.
The absolute highlight of my trip to Vegas was our day spent jamming to the beats of DJ Calvin Harris as he rocked the scene at Wet Republic. Wet Republic, for those of you who haven’t heard of it before, is a pretty kick-ass pool party held at the MGM hotel. You can buy your tickets online for just over $30 and despite the seriously long line even for ticket holders (it moved relatively quickly), it was worth every penny.
When you enter the pool grounds, you will definitely shake your head at the number of people crammed inside, but the idea that you’re packed like sardines soon gives way to the wicked dance beats coming out of the DJ booth – and once you get yourself a little bevvy to loosen things up, you’re good as gold. Drinks inside Wet Republic certainly aren’t cheap. In fact, the massive drink I sipped on cost me around $40. I definitely considered sipping on water to avoid breaking the bank, but instead ordered what turned out to be the most delicious cocktail I have ever had. This delicious drink was called “Beach Body” (found on their “skinny” menu – yes, this was my attempt to offset the junk food I’d been scarfing up until then) and was made with Oranje Vodka, Domaine de Canton, Minute Maid Light Lemonade, Sugar Free Peach Syrup, and Sugar Free Red Bull. It was AMAZING.
Besides the fabulous flavour that took over my taste buds, the music was the next best thing. Admittedly, I don’t think any of us girls would have been able to identify the exact point at which Calvin Harris took over (neither could anyone else, we discovered, after asking everyone in sight “Is that Calvin Harris? Is THAT Calvin Harris?”) but whoever was orchestrating the music making us all stomp our feet was doing a really good job of it. I found out that Tiesto, who I love love love, was scheduled to DJ later that night at Hakkasan in the same locale, but alas,we had other plans for the night. Needless to say, if I go back to Vegas, I will definitely be looking into the line-up ahead of time. Not familiar with Calvin Harris? Here is his latest jam “Summer” to loop you in:
Dance, Dance, Dance
After experiencing an amazing pool party in the daylight, we figured we should probably explore some of the night life Vegas is so famous for! So, we decided to check out two of the cities most hopping nightclubs. We started with Marquee at the Cosmopolitan. There are two lines for entrance to Marquee; one for hotel guests and one for, well others. We skipped into the line for hotel guests but were disappointed to be asked to pay cover. Five girls trying to get into a bar… and we get asked for cover? This was not the Vegas I’d heard about from friends. I’d heard that for women, cover (and often line-ups) is a case by case sort of deal. So, I turned to the gentleman manning the door and asked if cover was negotiable. He directed me to his buddy “Barry” who promptly asked if we wanted to pay cover. “Not really,” I replied. “Do you want to wait in line?” he asked? Confused, I muttered a drawn out, “Nooooot really” being sure to smile the biggest smile I could muster. “Okay then”, he said and flung back the velvet rope separating the VIPs from everyone else. Point of the story? If you don’t ask, you don’t get – and if you’re a lady in Vegas, you ask. Inside we rocked out to some techno beats and headed to the poolside for a drink ($$$), some R&B and a glance at some go-go dancers (female of course) before retiring to our rooms. It is beyond convenient to reside in the same building as the club you want to frequent, so I definitely advise looking at where you plan on dancing before choosing your lodgings (provided, of course, that budgets allows).
We ended up at The Bank nightclub completely by fluke. The Bank nightclub is located at the Bellagio and is a pretty exclusive club that blends hip hop, R&B with some dance beats that please just about everyone. There’s not too much to say about The Bank, except that if I had to guess, I’d say this is where the high rollers end up. While I left “early” (just after 2am), friends of mine claim that that night, it literally rained money. I kid you not. Now, I know you’re thinking – wait a sec, you were in Vegas for 3 nights, but only went out twice? All I can say to that is sometimes, what happens in Vegas… (you know the rest).
Get your Gamble On
I am not a gambler. In fact, I hate the idea of losing money and the whole idea of plastic freaks me out. In a perfect world, I would pile up a wad of cash under my mattress and know just how much is going in and out on a regular basis. That being said, when in Vegas… do as the tourists do? Well, I did. And I lost $60, which I suppose isn’t bad for Vegas, but it did kill my winning streak (I’ve played the slots twice before in my life and walked out ecstatic with $20-$30 each time). How did it go? Well, first there were the penny slots. Then there were the $1 slots. And then, I discovered Black Jack. I love Black Jack. Tapping my fingers on the green table, knowing that I could lose my $20 buy-in and that it all hangs on the very…next.. card… it’s thrilling! Yes, it’s also addictive. I went up and down with my winnings, but in the end, the table won. At least you get free drinks when you play! I figure with the cost of the 3 gin and tonics I had while playing, my losses hovered more around $20 or so anyways. Definitely worth the experience of gambling in Vegas (definitely a good things I left my bank card in the room). While we gambled at the Cosmo, there are casinos in every hotel. Take a stroll around and see what the different hotels offer – the buy-ins vary depending on where you are (if I’d known that, I probably would have played the $10 buy-in at Caesars when I had the chance!)
Tour the Strip
Speaking of Caesar’s, the very last thing you have to do in Vegas is reserve an afternoon to tour the strip. The Cosmopolitan is one of the newest hotels to join the strip with more of a modern feel, but some of the older, themed hotels are absolutely insane – in a good way. From Caesar’s Palace, full of pillars and busts of Roman Gods, to the Venetian, equipped with singing gondoliers and canals running between rooms, each hotel is made to order and is awe-inspiring to even the harshest of critics. Sure, it’s all a bit fake and overdone, but once or twice in a lifetime, artificial can be officially tons – and tons – of fun. Whether you stay at the MGM Grand, the Bellagio, the Cosmopolitan, Caesar’s Palace, the Venetian or the Paris, when you are in Vegas, having a good time is guaranteed. It may require a drink or two to get on board, but there really is something for everyone to enjoy.
One More Night…
If I had one more night on the strip, I would absolutely suggest taking in a show that didn’t involve naked men. Since I have seen a few Cirque de Soleils, I would definitely look into catching a David Copperfield or even snatching tickets to Absinthe, a show that was described by a taxi driver as Cirque de Soleil’s evil little twin. There are also a plethora of artists constantly rolling in – from Tiesto (as mentioned above) to Brittany Spears, Celine Dion, Elton John, and so on – totally worth spending the extra buck or two.
Travelers Tip: If you’re looking to places to delicious places to eat, you’ll find a ton of options on, and off, the strip. My recommendation? Gordon Ramsay’s BurGR, located in Planet Hollywood. Gourmet Burgers that are totally worth the wait. Put your name down an hour or so before you want to dine since the line gets long pretty early on.