D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Vegas Tip List

Sunday, November 2, 2008 9:33 AM


So after staying in Vegas for a whole three days and now *obviously* being an expert on the city, I thought I’d share some observations based on the experience. No guarantee or warranty that your experience will match mine, but hopefully something here is helpful for your next trip down to LV.

Hotels/Casinos

MGM Grand

Awesome hotel, and not just because this was the one I stayed at. MGM has a great gaming area, great restaurant selections, and a number of bars and clubs. We found ourselves very content to just hang out in our hotel instead of others, and the Halloween theme of the week drew in a tonne of people as well.

Ceaser’s Palace

OMG…amazing hotel, with probably the best executed theme of the strip. Roman statues and art are everywhere in this massive hotel, and the selection of restaurants and shopping stores (there’s basically a mall in there) make this place a must see.

New York, New York

Huge hotel and casino with an obvious NYC theme. Roller coaster is fun, but I kept slamming my head against the shoulder rests…felt like I was getting punched in the head the whole ride. This place also has a number of clubs, including Coyote Ugly, and it currently is the home for the adult Cirque de Soleil show, Zumanity.

The Hilton

Boring, boring, boring. We took in the Hilton, and there was just no vibe there. Felt like an old person’s casino. Especially since it’s so far away from the kewl hotels, skip making the monorail ride down…there’s nothing to see. The Star Trek Experience has been closed as well.

Paris

Didn’t really do much at Paris other than have a fantastic burger at this high end burger place, Le Burger Brasserie. They feature custom burger creations in beef, lamb, turkey, chicken, and veggie, and they have a kobe beef and lobster burger for $777.00 (although that comes with a bottle of champagne…if you get it without the bubbly, the burger is only $70.00). Ambiance seemed to capture Paris pretty well though.

Bally’s

We used Bally’s as more of a pass through to the monorail than anything else. Since you can get to Paris through Bally’s, you might find yourself going through it, but I don’t know that there’s anything specific to Bally’s that would be of interest if you weren’t staying there and taking advantage of their spas.

Monte Carlo

The Monte Carlo is a nice looking hotel, sort of classic Vegas. I wouldn’t say that its entirely thrilling (sort of like the same vibe as The Hilton), but it was the only casino that we found had $5 Blackjack tables and its within walking distance of the MGM and New York.

Billagio

Didn’t go into this hotel, but did watch the kewl water show that they put on every hour on the hour. You don’t need to go into the hotel to see it, you can view it from the street (across from Bally’s).
Update: We actually did walk through part of the Billagio. Nice casino area, but unless you were staying there and taking advantage of their pool area or their expensive stores there’s nothing really to see.

Hooters

FINGER OF SHAME to the Hooter’s casino! First of all, there are big advertisements outside the place: $100 free slot money, and $3 Blackjack. The money you get for the slots is good only in a *special* slot area (because that isn’t fishy), and there was *one* $3 Blackjack table in the joint. Regardless though, the place just felt cheap. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

Circus Circus

I have a love-hate for Circus Circus. The good: $2 and $3 Blackjack tables, lots of casino areas, built in theme park and games areas for kids, lots of amenities like shopping and restaurants on site. The bad: its a dirty old hotel and you just feel like you’ve stepped into something from a 70’s Vegas movie. The carpet needs to be updated, as does the outside and the interior walls. But that might be nitpicking on my part. As I think about it, Circus Circus is one of the throwback casinos to old Vegas. If you’re looking for cheap Blackjack, definitely worth a look.

Tropicana

Very similar feel to the Hilton, except more run down. This place is apparently on some Vegas death watches and I can see why. Nothing really to grab someone away from the nicer spots like MGM or Caesar’s.

Transportation

Airport Shuttle

There’s an airport shuttle that does the rounds to the hotels on the strip. Cost was $6 plus tip, and is much cheaper than a cab. Also, there are shuttles going from the hotels back to the airport as well, but for some reason they were $9 plus tip (different company maybe?) Anyway, the point is that you have options aside from taxis.

Monorail

The monorail is one of the best ways to get from hotel to hotel. A 24 pass will cost you $12, but its definitely worth it. One word of warning though: make sure to check with the monorail guide’s map (they have stands with the guides available for free all over the place) to see where the hotel you want to get to is in relation to the monorail terminals. We wanted to hit Circus Circus, but when we got to the stop that listed it as one of the area hotels we realized that it was a Las Vegas block away (which is to say FAR).

Busses

If you want to visit things on the strip, and get access to some of the hotels that aren’t close to the monorail line, then taking advantage of the bus services LV offers is a great option as well. There are a few options, including the Deuce Bus, the Las Vegas Strip Trolley, and the CAT (Citizens Area Transit). All offer approx $2 one way passes and $5 day/night passes (check their web sites for exact fare amounts). Fair warning though: if you take the Deuce, don’t expect it to be fast. Traffic plus timed stops means that you might be sitting instead of moving for a while.

Restaurants

There are a tonne of great restaurants in Vegas, and since many are run by a-list chefs, its hard to find one that isn’t good.

Mesa Grill (Bobby Flay) in Caesar’s was excellent. Service was great, food was great…just realize that if you go on a Saturday for lunch you may get the brunch menu instead of the typical lunch menu. Cheese fondue is a must have for an app. 

Diego in MGM Grand has great service but the food left us a little disappointed. Mind you, we just had drinks and a couple of appetizers, but the apps weren’t anything to write home about. Maybe their main courses are better.

I mentioned La Burger Brasserie in my hotel section about the Paris. Great burger place with interesting options and a sports bar theme. I’d think twice about the lamb burgers though…its the only one that doesn’t state its made fresh, which I took to mean they get the patties in frozen.

And of course, nothing beats having two McDonald’s double cheeseburgers at 4 AM.

Clubs

We didn’t actually hit any clubs on the trip, but we did pass by some of them

Club 54 is a popular one at MGM Grand and was arguably *the* place to be on Halloween. New York – New York has Coyote Ugly and Daunte’s is just down the street as well. I’m sure there are many others, but those were the ones that I remember passing/standing out.

Shopping

Many of the hotels also have shopping centers as part of their offering. The two best that I found were the shops at Caesar’s Palace (entire mall pretty much), and the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. There’s also a Walgreen’s and CVS pharmacy just north of MGM and NY-NY on the strip.

Shows

Any hotel worth its salt has a show offering. There are 6 Cirque de Soleil shows in Vegas I believe, and each with a permanent home in a different hotel. I saw KA at the MGM, and it was a fantastic show. I’ve heard good things about O as well (their water themed one). Tickets for our show were $112 after taxes and fees, and we had pretty good seats. I *may* consider sitting a bit clsoser next time, just because its hard to make out the facial expressions on the people, but you can still enjoy the performance element regardless.

Other current shows that are being advertised are Elton John, Cher, and Bette Midler at Caesar’s. Donnie and Marie are playing…somewhere. There’s also second-teir acts like George Wallace (comedian…no clue who he is, but they advertise him like he’s big), Louie Anderson, and some magician/hypnotizers. Check Ticketmaster for concert listings as well.




Feedback

# re: Vegas Tip List

You should have went into the Billagio, all I can says is excess. Visit the Wynn next time too.

Clubs on weekends, $40+ cover charges for some of the "in" places. Some are cheaper in the long run if you get the "bottle" service.

Dude you never went to the top of the stratosphere or wandered around the enless marriage chapels?
11/2/2008 11:26 AM | William

# re: Vegas Tip List

We walked through the Billagio...it totally had that air of excess in it. Never made it to the Wynn but I heard the same thing about it. Next time I come, its on the list.

As is the stratosphere! I wanted to do the roller coaster, but could only fit so much into the few days I had. Next time though. 11/2/2008 1:12 PM | D'Arcy from Winnipeg

# re: Vegas Tip List

Billagio? Busses? Yo no comprendo... 11/2/2008 8:10 PM | james

# re: Vegas Tip List

How convenient that you wrote this blog because Kristina and I are headed to Vegas in December. Which reminds me, because of the lack of MNF this last month, you will be watching one of my kids while I am away. It's a win win!!!! 11/3/2008 3:42 PM | Stu

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