This past week Sam and I traded -30℃ weather for a fun-filled weekend in Las Vegas! With Canadian winter still brewing, the desert seemed like the perfect escape, so we hopped on an Air Canada flight and 4.5 hours later we were sporting jeans and light sweaters – practically summer!
We only had 3 days in town, but I don’t think we’ve ever packed so much into such a short amount of time. While my weekends at home consist of sipping hot tea and watching travel documentaries in my pyjamas, Vegas had me out of bed early for outdoors adventure and then kept me out late with its swanky bars and nighttime entertainment.
Here’s a look at what went down over our weekend in Las Vegas:
Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil
For our first night in Las Vegas we decided to catch a show. This was a task in itself because there are so many musicians, magicians, and performers passing through town that it becomes really hard to choose! It was a toss up between LOVE The Beatles, Michael Jackson’s ONE, and the Blue Man Group (which I had already seen years ago, but absolutely loved!) In the end we went with good ol’ MJ.
I wasn’t sure what to expect of the show, but the Cirque du Soleil did a wonderful job of pulling together a mixture of Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson’s greatest hits. My favourite part of the night was a throwback to MJ’s childhood rendition of I’ll be there, where he belted out the lyrics with that soulful voice that would one day make him the King of Pop.
Driving Exotic Cars at World Class Driving
I’m still shaking my head in disbelief at this, but you guys, I drove luxury cars! I never thought I’d get to set foot in a car that’s worth almost half a million dollars, let alone drive one! But that’s where World Class Driving comes in; they can make all your car dreams come true.
After showing them my driver’s license (and signing my life away!) I was handed the keys to a Porsche 911 Carrera, and then a Lamborghini, and then a Ferrari. We took these babies all the way out to Lake Mead and then put them to test. I’ll be posting the video on YouTube soon, but it’s basically me grinning the whole way.
Red Rock Canyon with Pink Jeep Tours
Red Rock Canyon was one of the biggest surprises of the weekend. I had been to Vegas before, but I had no idea that you could find yourself surrounded by this much natural beauty just a short 20 minute drive outside of the city.
I joined the Pink Jeep Tour for an afternoon tour of Red Rock Canyon, and our guide Bob (who had grown up camping here!) did a wonderful job of showing us around. He knew the place like the back of his hand and spent the whole ride sharing anecdotes and telling us a bit about the history of this place.
Our first stop was Calico Ridge, and then we continued on to the Sandstone Quarry Trails and Spring Mountain Range. It was a nice mix of driving through the park and doing some light hiking.
If you have the time to explore this area on foot, you need to come back on your own, leave the car behind, and head out for the day. The park is stunning and there are so many trails to enjoy!
STRIPSTEAK at Mandalay Bay
Most days I eat like a vegetarian, but I was a total carnivore in Vegas. If there’s one thing there’s no shortage of in this city it’s steakhouses so I knew I had to eat at one!
Sam and I were having a hard time deciding on one steakhouse, but then my friend Marie-Eve told me that STRIPSTEAK at Mandalay Bay had complimentary french fries cooked in duck fat. Duck fat! It just so happened that someone else that morning had been trying to sell me on french fries cooked in duck fat, so it was settled. Off we went to STRIPSTEAK.
We showed up without a reservation and were fortunate enough to get a table; that’s the beauty of travelling in Vegas during the low season. I started out with a Cucumber Martini, and ended up ordering their Trio of Beets salad (not my favourite), an 18oz giant bone in rib eye steak (delicious!), and a side of potato gratin (double yum). I ordered my steak medium-rare and it was cooked to perfection – no need for salt, sauces, or any extras. The meat was the star of the meal. (Steaks here don’t come cheap with the prices starting out at $42 for the flat iron and $59 for the filet mignon, but portions are large and the sides are big enough to share.)
Marie-Eve, Sam and I were stuffed by the end of the first course, but we still said yes when the dessert menu came around. It was an apple crumble for me, and let’s just say by the end of it all I was ready to be rolled home in a barrel.
The Chandelier at the Cosmopolitan
The Chandelier has to be one of the coolest bars in Vegas! When you walk into this bar, you are literally setting foot inside a chandelier. I entered through the top level where instead of walls I was surrounded by curtains of beaded glass. There was a round bar in the centre of it all, and then a spiral staircase which I followed down to the middle level. People were lounging around on royal purple sofas with drinks in hand, while a trumpet and a clarinet squealed over cheers. As I peered over the glass staircase down to the ground level I noticed a girl in full flapper costume dancing, kicking, and singing her heart out. Had I somehow transported back to the 1920s? I followed the spiral staircase down yet another level where a huge crowd had gathered at the Post-Modern Jukebox. The place had a speakeasy feel, and even those in attendance were dressed in outfits reminiscent from the 20s, 30s, and 40s.
When I first walked into the bar I thought it sounded like a mix of jazz and swing, but then I realized I recognized the lyrics. They were performing Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Baby”, Britney Spears’ “Womanizer”, and Tove Lo’s “Habits”, but all with a slower tempo and a retro feel. It was amazing! I’m not one to seek out bars or nightlife when I travel, but this place was seriously mind blowing. After listening to a few more songs, we found a place to sit (inside the chandelier!) and ordered some drinks.
Helicopter Tour over the Grand Canyon
Oh. my. gosh. WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!!!
Flying over the Grand Canyon is one of the coolest things I have ever done. As you may know, I’m a bit of a nervous flyer, so a helicopter tour is not something I had ever really thought about, but the Grand Canyon was calling. My options: take a full day trip aboard a tour bus and come back knackered, or hop aboard a helicopter, land in the canyon, drink some champagne, and come back all in one morning. Considering we only had 3 days in Vegas and we were kind of pressed for time, the helicopter tour seemed like the best option.
We took the Wind Dancer Helicopter Tour with Maverick Helicopters and it was unbelievable! I’m giving you a little photo preview here, but there will be another post coming out soon!
Social House Sushi
This restaurant was one of the best finds of the trip. Social House Sushi is located inside The Crystals, which is right next to the Aria, and their lunch time menu was a bargain. For $20 you could get a 3 course meal. I got their miso soup, the salmon and avocado roll, and the teriyaki salmon donburi. Everything was delicious and I left feeling beyond satisfied.
Shake Shack Burgers
Now I know Shake Shack isn’t native to Vegas, and I know they have hundreds of locations scattered around the United States, but this was my first time experiencing the magic that is Shake Shack. Boy have I been missing out! I ended up here on my first day in Vegas, and I have to admit that I came back two more times over the course of the weekend. What can I say, their Smoke Shack Burger is amazing!
Staying at the Tropicana
While in Las Vegas I stayed at the Tropicana, which was completely renovated just a few years ago. This property is actually one of only four remaining hotels dating from the Strip’s early resort era (Tropicana first opened its doors in 1957), but tacky and dingy is one thing this hotel is not! The rooms were spacious, bright, and comfortable. Also, they welcome each of their guests with warm chocolate chip cookies. Who doesn’t love that?
And that’s a little glimpse at what I got up to this weekend. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks!
Have you ever spent a weekend in Las Vegas?
What did you get up to?