4/6/18 to 4/9/18. We travel to Sin City every few years. My husband and I got married here. We beat the odds and as of 2018 are still together at 20 years of marriage. This time we traveled with another couple for a short trip. There are so many places to see in Vegas. Each time we return we hit up a few more. This trip we crammed a lot into our long weekend. We do not gamble. There is way more to do in Vegas than gamble!
don't order the burrito
We flew on Southwest Airlines from Midway in Chicago directly to Las Vegas. My go-to airline is Southwest. The prices are usually cheaper, luggage flies free (I refuse to pay for a carry on bag), and generally we don't have any problems. If you stick with one airline you can rack up frequent flier miles. I've gotten many free flights this way. It was April in Chicago and snowing! They had to de-ice the place before take off!
Before leaving the Windy (Snowy) City, we had a bite to eat in the airport. I got a chicken burrito from a Mexican restaurant and should have taken note of the name of the place. I feel like this was the universe's way of saying to me I should be a vegetarian. There was literally an entire chicken bone in my burrito. The stand was located in the foot court for your future reference. UPDATE - I flew out of Midway again and was able to snap a photo of the chicken bone restaurant above. Take note if you value your teeth!
My husband, Joe, and I after the burrito incident ready to leave Chicago.
wyndham grand desert
Yes, we are timeshare owners with Wyndham. We have been for many, many years and enjoy staying in the condo resort accommodations. There is a right and wrong way to do timeshares but that's for another blog. One word of advice, avoid the time share presentation at all cost. It's a complete waste of your time unless you are planning to buy something that very day. As owners, their trick is to make you go to a different location for your parking pass then they lay on the free goods, free breakfast, etc. Just say no!
We have stayed at the Wyndham Grand Desert 3 times. The resort is very nice. This time we reserved a 2 bedroom condo since there were two couples. There are 3 pools here and some hot tubs as well. The one thing I didn't like was the pool hours were limited. It opened late and closed early. There was one pool open 24 hrs but it was the smallest pool and not in the main building. This resort is located a couple blocks from the Strip. We walked there the first night. As always the Grand Desert was a great stay. We also stayed at Tahiti Village in the past. That resort is very nice as well but a little far from the Strip, you would need a car. Each location offers shuttle service to the Strip but it stops early so you would need a taxi ride back.
We rented a car from Enterprise since we would be driving out to the desert in search of UFOs. Read my blog post on that adventure. The rental car companies are a short shuttle ride from the airport. We had no problems with Enterprise. Actually we were very pleased because when we arrived a beat up Ford Explorer was waiting for us. The air vents were literally broken out and it had a ton of miles on it. We knew we were driving out in the desert on dirt roads and did not want to be left stranded so we asked for another vehicle and they were happy to comply with a newer Ford Explorer and free navigation.
the strip itsn't all it's cracked up to be
We walked to the strip our first night in town. I was surprised to find not that much action going on. It just isn't what it used to be. It's a glorified mall now. There are so many kids. I have no idea why anyone would take their children to Vegas! That's what Disney is for people! All the action is down on Fremont Street.
One thing you need to do is have your photo taken at the infamous Welcome sign located at 5200 S. Las Vegas Blvd., near the airport on the main Strip. There usually is a huge line. There are no professional photographers taking photos. If anyone offers to take your photo for money go ahead and do so if you need someone to take it but there is no charge to take a picture here. There was a lady dressed up in a showgirl outfit that looked like it was a relic from the 50s, feathers missing and all. She was posing with tourists for a small fee.
The parking garages in Vegas used to be free. Now there are only a few that are. We parked at the Flamingo so I know that one is free to park at, at least for now.
All the action is down in the older part of Vegas on Fremont Street. We went to Fremont Street twice on our weekend stay because we enjoyed it so much. Here is where you find people dressed up in costumes, although there are some on the main Strip, I thought there were many more characters here. You will literally see anything. I took a photo with Darth Vader but there are mostly naked women, superheroes, and even an overgrown baby cruising around.
Fremont Street is located at, you guessed it, Fremont Street. You will need to park in a parking garage at minimal cost. The main attraction here is at night there is a light and sound show overhead. You have to see it for yourself. There are numerous bars along the street, casinos, and attractions. You can walk down the street with open alcohol which Vegas is know for. One thing we knew we wanted to try was the Slotzilla Zipline. We bought our tickets online ahead of time because we needed a specific day but you could purchase them on site. Weekends are very busy. The wait was crazy long but it was so worth it. The women did the superman zip line. This is where you lie on your stomach and fly like a superhero down Fremont Street under the light show and is longer than the regular zip line. The light show is only after dark so make sure you time your flight right. The guys, not as adventurous as us women, did the regular one and said afterwards they should have done superman. They offer outrageously expensive pictures at the end which we chose to decline but here is photo of me and Karen getting ready for the Superman zip line. I would recommend it and will definitely do it again in the future.
swats for not finishing your dinner
The Heart Attack Grill on Fremont Street is known for it's heart attack inducing menu. Karen heard of this restaurant and insisted that we try it out and I'm glad we did. It was lots of fun. The one thing that surprised me is it's CASH ONLY. They have a giant scale outside to weight yourself, although I'm not sure why anyone would want to broadcast that. If you weigh over 350 lbs. you eat free! When you arrive they dress you in a hospital gown just in case you do indeed have a heart attack. The waitresses are dressed like nurses, they serve shots in a prescription bottle, and wine in an IV bag. We did not tell the guys that if you don't finish your food, you get swats from the wait staff. We played it safe and split an appetizer! The guys, unfortunately for our entertainment, did not order too much and managed to cram it all down. There were many guys who I think ordered more food on purpose, hmmm. Here is a video of what you can expect if you don't clean your plate. The food was pretty good too.
coolest bug i've ever seen!
Another cool place to check out on East Fremont Street is called Container Park. This is an enclosed area with shops that are in shipping containers. They had live music the night we went. The best feature was a giant praying mantis out front. If you are lucky this bug will move around and shoot fire from it's antennas to the music. Make sure you read the plaque about the story of the praying mantis.
atomic testing museum
I had a Group On for the National Atomic Testing Museum at 755 E. Flamingo Rd., not too far from the Strip, and I heard they had an Area 51 exhibit so we checked it out. It was pretty boring in my opinion and the Area 51 exhibit was miniscule. The only part that was worth it for me was I found a manual for a Geiger meter I had bought off of Ebay for a paranormal experiment. So I made some photos of it for future reference since mine didn't come with one. Without the discount this museum wasn't worth it in my opinion.
The Carroll Shelby Museum located at 6405 Ensworth St., a short drive from the Strip, and was the other museum we went to this weekend. My husband is a big Mustang fan and wanted to get a shirt. The Museum is small but free! They have a big selection of shirts and other Mustang memorabilia. You can even see them working on the cars through a large glass window. For the price of FREE you can't beat it.
My favorite museum we went to was Zak Bagans' The Haunted Museum. I loved it so much I wrote a blog about it here.
avoid any oxygen bar like the plague - you might contract it
This was the worst decision we made the entire trip. These Oxygen Bars are all over Vegas. Pure oxygen is supposed to make you feel better, cure a hangover, give you more energy, etc. It did the opposite for us. Lucky for us we tried this health benefit gone wrong the last day we were in Vegas. Karen, the only smart one of the group did not participate. They give new oxygen tubing to each victim but bacteria must be brewing in their tanks. I have never been so sick in all my life. The tubing was too large for my nose and I couldn't even wear it properly and still came down ill the next day. Joe, Chris, and I all became deathly sick from it. I felt like death for a week. Karen, the only one who did not breathe the deadly bacteria did not get sick. Avoid this place all all costs.
Other than the Heart Attack Grill on Fremont Street which deserved it's own review, we found a superb breakfast place, a restaurant in the sky, and a great Mexican cantina.
For breakfast we dined twice, and would have went back again if we had the chance, at Marilyn's Cafe located at the Tuscany Hotel and Casino, 255 E. Flamingo Rd., a couple blocks from the Strip. We had eaten here on a previous trip and the food was still very reasonable and good. Prices on the Strip can get expensive. I can't recommend this restaurant enough. It was one of our favorites and yes the coffee is good.
We also had dinner at T&T Tacos and Tequila, located in the Luxor Hotel on the Strip before we saw a Criss Angel Mindfreak magic show also at the Luxor. I had the vegetarian enchiladas, making the transition from the chicken bone burrito back in Chicago, and they were very good. Margaritas were excellent. We can recommend eating here. I was never a fan of Criss Angel but was glad we went to the show. It was very good. This is the last year he will perform in Vegas.
For our 20th wedding anniversary we dined at the Top of the World Restaurant located in the Stratosphere. I advise making reservations online. We went for lunch. Dinner is very expensive although the view at nighttime would be spectacular. I called ahead to see what the dress code for lunch was because there is a strict dress for dinner. Lunch is casual, no t-shirts with offensive language or cut off shorts. We all wore respectable shorts. They offer a lunch special of surf and turf and desert, it was delicious and compared to dinner, reasonable. It is a maze in the Stratosphere so leave plenty of time to locate the elevators to take you to the top of the world. Dining here also gives you free entrance to the observation deck where you can ride a couple roller coasters if you are brave enough.
Other than the deadly Oxygen Bar, it was a great weekend. We crammed a lot of sightseeing in, including a UFO Skywatch and a hunt for a mysterious Ghost Town. We return to Sin City every few years. The city is always changing. There will be new places to see and new adventures to have on our next trip.