Each year I try to make Andrew’s birthday special – like extra special. It seems like every year it becomes harder and harder for me to think of ideas… last year, I took Andrew skydiving so this year I knew I had to think of something just as crazy and just as fun. So, why not Vegas?
Neither of us had been before – so let the fun begin! We fly out of New Orleans Thursday when Andrew got off work and enjoyed the weekend in the neon lit city.
Once we landed, we check into our hotel. We stayed at the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino near Freemont Street. I’m not exactly sure what made us book this hotel other than the price was right. But the hotel had so much to offer. It was a hidden surprise itself. We enjoyed the outdoor pool and bar, the convenience of its location near Freemont Street, and of course, the casino! With that being said, we learned A LOT during our Las Vegas trip … so I’m here to share the top 15 things to do in Las Vegas!
1. Sugar Factory
I’m a sucker for cool places – especially if I’ve seen them on Instagram a few hundred times. I found a Groupon (read why I love Groupon here) for Sugar Factory that counted towards alcoholic drinks! I thought nothing could be better… but once we got there, we waited forever for our overpriced $40 cocktail that we decided to share. When the bartender came back, she brought us the wrong drink – so she took it back to the kitchen. She came back 20 mins later with the wrong drink again. We decided just to drink it – only it wasn’t even good! The drink itself was cool but the taste and price isn’t worth your time.
2. Paris Eiffel Tower Las Vegas – Observation Deck
One of the best views of Vegas!! Luckily, I found a Groupon for a nighttime view so we saved about $30 bucks! We went up an hour before closing and it was sooo pleasant. We enjoyed a private elevator ride and there was a handful of people at the top of the desk. The elevator attendant said that it’s the best kept secret to come an hour before closing. Andrew and I soaked up the view for about 15 mins before we headed back down. It is well worth your time and money!
3. Vegas Strip at Night
You can’t go to Vegas without walking down the main strip at night! I promise the strip is so much longer than it looks in the movies. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and watch out for cars.
4. Seven Magic Mountain
This hidden gem is just 25 minutes South of the Strip. It’s free and totally unique. Andrew and I woke up super early and made our way to Seven Magic Mountain around 7 am – and guess what! It was totally worth it because we were the only ones there (woohoo, for no photo bombers!!) “Renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone’s colorful large-scale, public artwork Seven Magic Mountains is a two-year exhibition located in the desert outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring seven thirty to thirty-five-foot high dayglow totems comprised of painted, locally-sourced boulders.” Definitely worth a stop during your trip!
5. Hoover Dam
Andrew loves history – touring the Hoover Dam was a MUST for our trip. We arrived right when it opened and parked in the parking garage ($10 fee). Luckily, since we got there so early we didn’t have to wait in line! We decided to take the $30 tour – it includes a 1-hour guided tour of the dam plus a tour of the Powerplant & Dam Passageways. The tour guides were great and the tour felt so personal. Andrew and I truly learned so much about the Hoover Dam and its history.
I love finding a great deal but sometimes it’s worth the extra bucks to filter yourself from the crowd. We probably spent 2-3 hours at the Hoover Dam from start to finish. It was a beautiful day and we were in no rush. We also stopped in the gift shop! Andrew has started this little magnet collection – each place we travel to together, he makes sure to pick-up a “cool” magnetic for the fridge!
6. Boulder Dam Brewing Company
Located near the Hoover Dam, we stopped at Boulder Dam Brewing Company for lunch. For those of you who read my blog regularly, you know that Andrew LOVES craft beer. What’s a birthday trip without going to places he loves most?! We enjoyed a delicious lunch and took advantage of a great Groupon deal. The brewery is located near a few alien and ghost enthusiast shops so we learned a lot about Area 51 – it was a fun stop to our day!
7. Sunset Helicopter Tour over Red Rock Canyon and the Las Vegas Strip
YOU MUST DO THIS! Wow, what an incredible experience and view! I scored a Groupon (click here for more information about Groupon) for this helicopter tour for just $80 – for the both of us!! For under $100 bucks, we took a 45 minute helicopter tour over Red Rock Canyon and the Las Vegas Strip at sunset. The pilot was so nice and made sure we felt safe. He showed us Brittany Spears house and a few other famous houses while we passed over them.
We also saw some of the most incredible views of the Red Rock Canyon. Sunset truly lit the canyon with color and really brought out all the details. It was beautiful and such a thrill.
Lastly, he took us to the Vegas Strip – no other view could compare! It was like we were in movie – the entire strip was completely glowing especially compared to the towns nearby. Our tour guide pointed out the most famous Vegas hotels and restaurants as well. It was hands down the best experience of our trip!
8. Party Bus Tour @ 9 pm till LATE – Groupon
Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun going out with just Andrew but it’s also a lot of fun to meet strangers and party the night away with them! I found this Party Bus Tour on Groupon. We all meet up at a hotel lobby – we’re introduced to each other and our driver/guide then we headed to the first club! With the wrist bands, we got discounted drinks at the clubs but while we were going from club to club – we got free drinks in the party bus! You could take shots of anything and the drinks were STRONG. Our tour also stopped at the Neon Las Vegas Sign so we got a great photo. It was hands down with every penny! I think we paid like $60 bucks for both of us to take the Party Busy Tour with Groupon. Not only did meet some fun people, we also had a DD, photographer, and VIP access to 3 different clubs. It was a fun night!
9. Photo at the Welcome to Las Vegas Sign
Did you even go to Vegas if you don’t take a photo in front of the notorious Welcome to Las Vegas Sign?! Our party bus tour guide took our photos and they turned out great!
10. Casino Hop
I always thought that each casino was the same – just a casino! Um, no – that’s definitely not the case. Each casino is completely different than another. My favorite is the Bellagio – the casino layout is so organized, and the waitresses are prompted, the conservatory and garden is just beautiful, and they have known for their fountain show!
Did you know that drinks from the bar are FREE is you’re gambling?! Although we lost all our money at the casinos – we really enjoyed playing, drinking, and soaking up the fun environment. We also explored Flamingo Casino, Paris Las Vegas Casino, and the Rio Casino. The Paris Las Vegas was my second favorite casino.
11. Watch the “O” By Cirque Du Soleil Show at the Bellagio
HANDS DOWN THE MOST INCREDIBLE SHOW!!! I don’t even know where to start… and I must admit, Andrew and I totally lucked into this seeing this show. I knew that we had to see a show while in Vegas – so I went to the internet and literally bought the first show I saw. Tickets were a bit pricey but the reviews were great and the seats were good so I just went along… boy, did we luck out. I had no idea it was an aquatic show with synchronized swimmers, divers, and world-class acrobats on and on and above water to create a breathtaking experience in a magnificent theatre reminiscent of a European opera house.
There were many times in throughout the show that I found myself lost for words and with tears rolling down my face. I have never been so moved by a show in my entire life. I was praying it wouldn’t end. You MUST, MUST, MUST go see this show! “O” by Cirque du Soleil® - “You cannot move water, water moves you.” -Gilles Ste-Croix, Creative Vice President of Cirque du Soleil
12. Freemont Street Experience
The Freemont Street Experience is definitely where the younger crowd hangs out! It was full of young adults and mid-thirties folks. Freemont Street offers free concerts, games, shopping, food, drinks, and so much more. Andrew really wanted to ride the Zipline Super Hero Style but it was pretty pricey and the line was way too long. Instead, we shopped around (Andrew picked up a magnetic) and we grabbed some coffee. Although it was in walking distance from our hotel, we only went once. I truly wished we would have had more time because I would have loved to enjoy a free concert and seen the entire street lit up with bright neon lights.
13. Grab Pizza at Pizza Rock
I love pizza – in fact, I think I’ve eaten pizza at every place we’ve traveled too. I know that I said Slice Pizza in Austin was the best pizza I’ve ever had but that’s totally changed. Pizza Rock has the BEST pizza. I’m so mad that Andrew and I found this little gem on our last night. The pizza was soooo good. It was right in front of our hotel too. Ugh, I wish we would have discovered it sooner!
14. Relax at the Pool
Nothing like waking up the loud hustle and bustle of Vegas at 9 am after stumbling back to the room at 3 am. The secret is to getting a glowing sun kissed tan while in Vegas is to wake around 8 am – grab a bloody mary from the bar – and fall asleep by the pool. Trust me, around 11 am all the kids will start to make their way to the pool – just in time to wake you up for lunch and a shower.
15. Drag Queen Brunch at Senor Frogs
Andrew had never been to a Drag Queen show before so I thought Vegas would be the perfect time! I must admit – I was a little skeptical about the reviews. Some were great others were not so great. I found a Groupon for it (go figure) and thought for $50 bucks it was worth the risk. Plus, our tickets included UNLIMITED MIMOSAS and the buffet. Since we bought the VIP tickets on Groupon, we didn’t have to wait in line. They offer banquet style seating which is always so fun to me! We sat next to an incredible group of people and had such a great time. Andrew was called on stage because it was his birthday and I laughed so hard that I was crying hysterically! I must say, my man did win the twerking contest and I have it all on video!!! Gosh, what a fun brunch. Andrew and I left smiling and tipsy – the perfect way to leave Vegas and head to the airport!
I never thought that Vegas had so much to offer – I really would have loved to have spent more time exploring the city. After all, it was built by gangsters and mobs. Next time we go back, I want to see more shows, check out the Mob Museum, and head up to Death Valley National Park. Andrew and I truly had a great time in Vegas and we boarded the plane back home tipsy and with big smiles. What a great way to spend the weekend and celebrate my man’s big birthday!