Las Vegas

Hotels

MGM Grand

It is HUGE. This is where we stayed and honestly you could spend the whole week here without getting bored ( not that I recommend it). During our stay we saw the Cirque du Soleil show: Ká and David Cooperfield.

Ká is supposedly the first Cirque du Soleil show with a story line, but it wasn’t really clear what it was. It’s just like all the other Cirque shows with a little more connectivity. That being said it was still really good. The stage is really impressive; it’s attached to a hydraulic press and moves up and down and horizontally and vertically. If you’re going to see it, definitely get there early as the preshow starts about 15 minutes before curtain.

David Cooperfield: So you might think, like I did, that all magic shows are heavily geared towards kids and are kitschy at best. Well this one is not. Note, I’m not saying kids won’t enjoy it just that adults will too. He veers away from the traditional bunny-in-hat and saw-women-in-half magic favoring more spectacle feats. I won’t give anything away but my jaw did drop more than once. If you fear audience engagement, this might not be for you as almost every act involved someone from the audience.

New York, New York

You should take time to walk around, both inside and outside, of New York, New York which is right across the strip from MGM Grand. We had a snack at the Nine Fine Irishmen after arriving and it felt very authentically Irish. So authentic it felt more like a Disney Epcot version. Shopping here is also very good, we spent time looking at Stupid Idiot and Swatch.

The Bellagio

You can’t go to Vegas without seeing the fountains. They go off every 15 minutes. I would try to see them more than once since there is more than one show/song. We saw them dance to some Italian opera and some Uptown Funk. If you have time I would also suggest going inside to look at the flower show in the center lobby.

Caesar’s Palace

This one stressed me out. All casinos have bright lights and loud sounds but this one was particularly excessive. But, we also saw this one last after a long day of traveling and I might have just reached my limit. We did have a nice dinner at the Trevi Restaurant with some really good Italian food. I would recommend the non-alcoholic Italian Soda cocktails(my sister and I got the blackberry one).

The Venetian

Another great Italian food place. We ate at the Mercato Della Pescheria, which was really good but also pretty expensive. I would recommend trying to eat during the height of happy hour times (4-6) to get some half price apps and drinks. I got the mushroom risotto and the artichoke appetizers( who knew artichokes could taste good?). Also hit up the ghirardelli store to get yourself some chocolate covered strawberries, and watch the impeccable technique of the guy making them. And if you really feel like treating yourself go down the escalator and get yourself some gelato.

Paris

We ate at the buffet and it was worth it. Its divided by region of France with food from each region. Make sure to save room, a lot of room, for dessert namely, creme brûlée and macaroons.

Hiking in the National Parks

Red Rock Canyon

If you want to go to both parks, go to this one first. You’ll have to pay for the car to get into the park but other than that it’s free. Definitely go to the visitor center first to get recommendations for which hike suits your abilities/time restraints/preferences best. We did the Calico Tanks hike which was pretty difficult but well worth it for those views!

Fire Valley

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The hikes are shorter here so you can do more than one. If you only have time to go to one park, choose this one since it is so unique with the red/orange/white rocks. Wear shows you don’t mind getting sandy as the trails are all sand.

Hoover Dam

Get here early! Shoot for a half hour before the park even opens, that way you can guarantee an early tour and you won’t be waiting around the visitor center all day. The tour takes you down into the dam and a guide tells you how it all works. Don’t skip the introductory video since it gives great context to the importance and magnitude of the Dam.

Don’t Bother

Downtown Vegas

Unless you really want to see Sin City, avoid downtown or old Vegas. It’s basically just a strip club and a couple of bars. It’s not worth the drive.

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