A Winning Trip to Las Vegas (Part 1 of 2)

Kids love living in New Jersey in November.  I don’t think all school districts are like this but in NJ, kids get lots of days off.  Of course, there is Thanksgiving but there is also Election Day and Veteran’s Day.  And on top of those, NJ teachers have a few in-service days.  They have to go to work but the kids have off.  Those two days happened last week.  So what are we to do with a four-day weekend?  

Travel, of course!  Unfortunately, my husband couldn’t leave work so he offered to keep the baby while my younger son, Matt, and I went!  Where to go?  Where to go?  We were considering Charleston, SC (recently named one of the top cities in Travel & Leisure Magazine) or Nashville, TN but we finally opted for Las Vegas.  Yes, I know, it’s crazy to pick Las Vegas but once my husband mentioned it, Matt was hooked. 

When planning a trip, you may remember from a previous article, I always check out Trip Advisor.  After doing this, I was a little nervous.  First many people think a child should never go to Las Vegas, saying it’s just not a children’s destination.  I immediately disregarded this concern.  Kids should see the world…all of it.  Now, if the destination is unsafe, violent, too hard to navigate with kids or you just want an adult get-away then I agree, leave them home.  (One example is my recent trip to Greece.)  Specifically to Vegas, there are quite a few attractions designed for children, especially those 10 and up.   

My second concern was hotel related.  All the reviews I read about the hotels in our price range were questionable.  Many advised of rooms being out-dated, smoky, disgusting or just plain uninhabitable.  Here’s a summary of where we were thinking of staying: 

Hotel Price Location Rating (1-5)
Circus Circus $$ North on strip  3
Excalibur $$ South on strip  3.5
Hilton $$$ North off strip but with monorail stop  3.5
Luxor $$ South on strip  3
Treasure Island $$$ North on the strip  4
New York New York $$$ South on strip  4

*Note:  There are lots of special deals on Las Vegas hotels, you may be able to get a great room at a discount.

We found a sale rate at the Excalibur through Priceline.com so we went for it, fingers crossed.  We left on Thursday afternoon.  Normally, we have the baby and associated things.  Let me tell you how awesome it is to travel with one roller bag and a large handbag…its blissful!

During the flight, we saw fabulous views, deep colorful canyons, snow-covered mountains, and brilliant colors of the sun setting! 

Travel Tip:  Don’t forget to look out the window during your flight, especially if it’s sunset.

We arrived into Las Vegas and my son couldn’t believe we were greeted by rows and rows of slot machines.  Welcome to Vegas, baby!

We waited (not long) in the cab line and were at The Excalibur about $15 later.  We waited in the check-in line (Noticing a trend?  Vegas is crowded.) and about 30 minutes later, we were entering our room in Tower 1.  Matt reminded me the reviews about Tower 1 were the poorest.  I was holding my breath as we opened the door and…it wasn’t too bad.  I mean it was out-dated but it is supposed to be a castle so if you go with that, it was bearable.  The bathroom was fine, no bugs, and there wasn’t any smell of smoke (or vomit…or other gross things!).  It wasn’t luxurious but it was much better than expected!

We put our stuff down and left for a night on the Vegas strip.  On the Strip (the main six-lane drive with all the action), you don’t just cross the street.  Many times, you have to take an escalator to a bridge, cross over the street and then take an escalator down again.

Travel Tip:  This is one reason I wouldn’t recommend stroller aged children in Vegas.  They do have elevators but it’s such a pain to cross without that extra equipment, I couldn’t imagine having to push a stroller through it.

Another note about The Strip, there are people handing out cards with pictures of naked women.  I guess it’s for escort services.  These people never handed one to me.  As soon as they saw my son, they turned away…every time.  Unfortunately, other people who take the cards just throw them on the ground (hello, litter bugs) so there are naked women all over the sidewalk.  I considered this a “teachable” moment and talked about it with Matt (the women posing, the people handing out the cards, and even the people littering). 

Our first stop was the M&M store.  Four floors of M&Ms and any M&M related product.  It was cute.  Then we stopped at the Coke store.  There weren’t four floors but it was similar to the M&M store, filled with Coke and Coke related products.  I loved it but it may have something to do with my Diet Coke addiction.

We then walked a few more blocks and decided we wanted dinner.  We selected Fat Burger.  I know…but we don’t have these at home so it was fun to try.  Although a new friend sitting close by was sure to let us know the burgers aren’t as “fat” as they used to be…noted, thank you new friend.

Back at the hotel, we had to check out the Fun Dungeon.  It’s an arcade in the downstairs area of the Excalibur.  It was big and filled with lots of arcade and carnival prize games.  Be sure to bring your wallet if you intend to play!

Our evening was fun and we intended it to continue the day next.  We only hoped the nighttime excitement would hold up during the daylight hours!

The rest of our trip:  The Winning Continues in Vegas (Part 2 of 2)

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Credit to some pictures: destintation360.

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