Las Vegas Journals

Las Vegas: My Second Home

Best of IgoUgo

An October 1999 trip to Las Vegas by jim

Bellagio Photo, Las Vegas, Nevada More Photos
Quote: Vegas is awesome, but even more so if you know where to stay, where to gamble, and some cool things to do

Las Vegas: My Second Home

Best Of IgoUgo

Overview

Quote:
You can always live beyond your means in Vegas (especially if you don't count gambling as an expense or you gamble a pretty nice sum of money). Plus, everyone lets their guard down a little and you are sure to have a good time.Quick Tips: Make sure you get a gambler card at whichever hotel/casino you are staying. You may not be a big gambler, but your time adds up at the table. At the end of your trip when you check out, you can ask to be comped for some of the things you otherwise would have to pay for. Also, don't be hesitant to separate where you stay from where you gamble. Some of the nicest casinos are not necessarily the best places to gamble. You get much better odds/payouts (i...Read More

Bellagio

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Hotel

Bellagio Photo, Las Vegas, Nevada
Quote:
The Bellagio is one of my favorite hotels / casinos in Las Vegas. Everything is done in a first-class manner and the attention to detail is amazing. Named and themed after a real Italian village, you will walk around and continually be amazed at the different parts of the hotel. Outside is a lake where an interesting fountain show performs to music every ten minutes or so. The shopping area looks like a village from the outside, and features some pretty high-end retailers (not many I could afford). Inside, you will find some beautiful areas including a world-class Art display, an atrium with hand-blown glass flowers stretching across the ceiling, a garden courtyard (and you will appreciate the br...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 16, 2000

Bellagio
3600 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 693-7111

Caesars Palace

Hotel | "Caesar’s Palace"

Caesars Palace Photo, Las Vegas, Nevada
Quote:
I got a nice room for a relatively good price compared to all of the other “high-end” casinos. The restaurants are very good, and I really liked the attached Forum shops for both eating and shopping. Also, the location is very convenient and near some of my favorite casinos (i.e. the Bellagio). I haven’t done this, but I’ve been told you can pay a little extra and get a much nicer room (larger, four post bed, suite). As for the gambling, Caesar's has a great sports book and plenty of tables. It is difficult to find your way in and out of the casino, but this is a decent place to gamble if you don't care about getting the best odds.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 16, 2000

Caesars Palace
3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 731-7110

Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino

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Hotel | "Flamingo Hilton"

Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino Photo, Las Vegas, Nevada
Quote:
Supposedly, the Flamingo has a storied past tied to some famous mobsters. I didn’t really care about all that, I just wanted a decent room near all of the other casinos (and that’s what I got). The times I have stayed at the Flamingo, I typically go across the street to other casinos like Caesar’s, the Bellagio, Paris, etc. even though the Flamingo has a perfectly fine casino. It also has a a really big pool, surrounded by “lagoons” with real live flamingos and fish. The hotel is a little bit tacky and ostentatious, so if you don’t like a lot of pink, look elsewhere.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 16, 2000

Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino
3555 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
702-733-3111

Bally's Las Vegas

Hotel | "Bally’s"

Bally's Las Vegas Photo, Las Vegas, Nevada
Quote:
The rooms are solid, but not great (and that is the theme throughout). You’ll find everything you would expect from a large hotel in Vegas, but nothing really distinguished itself in my eyes. But I have always gotten a good price on the rooms, pretty good service and plenty of gambling time in the casino. Speaking of the gambling, Bally's has a solid sports book and plenty of tables. It is not the nicest environment nor does it have the best odds, so you can probably find a better place.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 16, 2000

Bally's Las Vegas
3645 Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 967-4111

MGM Grand

Hotel

Quote:
If you like big, then the MGM is a good choice. The largest hotel in the world, caters to the large crowds it attracts. You will have lots of choices of restaurants and you always get a pretty good room for the price. They even have an amusement park behind the hotel. However, you may not like some of the lines (i.e. check-in) and you may feel a little like cattle. The same applies to the gambling, lots of tables and lots of people. My last room at the MGM was part of the Gone With the Wind themed portion of the hotel which I found a little cheesy having grown up in Atlanta.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 16, 2000

MGM Grand
3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 891-7777

New York New York Hotel & Casino

Hotel | "New York-New York"

Quote:
I get a real kick out of New York-New York (since I live in the real thing). This hotel / casino is one of the most architecturally impressive buildings in Vegas, with a New York skyline that includes imitations of buildings like the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Statue of Liberty and more. Plus, a roller-coaster winds its way around the whole complex. New York-New York has decent rooms (although a little smaller than many of the other casinos I have stayed at). But I didn’t stay here for the rooms (it was neat to just walk around and see the different New York “neighborhoods). Plus, this casino is not so large that it is difficult to find your way around and it only takes ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 16, 2000

New York New York Hotel & Casino
3790 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 740-6969

Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino

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Hotel | "Mandalay Bay"

Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino Photo, Las Vegas, Nevada
Quote:
The Mandalay Bay is my favorite place to stay in Vegas. The rooms are exceptionally nice and everything is done in a first class manner. Plus, I really like several things about this place. One, the restaurants (i.e. the Rumjungle, China Grill) are awesome and you have lots of choices. Second, it has a great spa and workout facility (plus this is a good place to start a run down the strip). Third, the pool area (flowing river and wave pool) is awesome. Finally, it is a little less hectic and crowded than many of the other casinos. By the way, this is also the biggest negative since it is a hassle to get from the Mandalay Bay to some of the other casinos and activities (the Mandalay Bay is basic...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 16, 2000

Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino
3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89119
(702) 632-7777

Monte Carlo Resort and Casino

Hotel | "Monte Carlo"

Monte Carlo Resort and Casino Photo, Las Vegas, Nevada
Quote:
I had always gotten the impression that the Monte Carlo was one of the finest casinos on the strip. The rooms are nice (albeit a little overpriced) and the location is pretty good. Plus, the impression is one of luxury. However, this all changed once I had stayed at the Bellagio and Mandalay Bay. For the price of the Monte Carlo, you can stay at one of these other hotels and they are much better (bigger rooms, nicer restaurants, better experience, better service). The Monte Carlo does attract a more upscale gambler (and a higher quality gambler) which can be nice when you are at the tables.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 16, 2000

Monte Carlo Resort and Casino
3770 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(800)-311-8999

Imperial Palace Las Vegas

Hotel | "The Imperial Palace"

Quote:
I will never forget my room in the Imperial Palace. I paid around $50 and got a very large room. But most memorable was the huge Jacuzzi whirlpool in my room. Coupled with the mirrored ceilings, the extensive selection of x-rated movies and the general feel of the hotel, I definitely had some “bad” thoughts (which I didn’t act on). This would be a cool place for a bachelor party except I didn’t like gambling here.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 16, 2000

Imperial Palace Las Vegas
3535 Las Vegas Blvd. SO
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 731-3311

Quote:
The Desert Inn provided one of the more civilized stays in Vegas. This place feels more like a resort/spa than a casino and is bit more conservatively adorned than most of the other casinos. You will be very impressed by the entranceway and the rooms. The rooms are very spacious and the bathrooms are especially nice. If you are lucky, your room will look out over the golf course that is part of the Desert Inn complex. Also, the spa / workout facilities were very nice (and I really enjoyed getting a massage here). This is a nice respite from all of the glitz and cheesiness of much of the rest of the strip. As for the gambling, it is more of what I have already said. The clientele tends to be a ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 16, 2000

The Desert Inn
1140 East Desert Inn Road
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 654-4780

Quote:
Of all the places I have stayed in Vegas, Circus Circus was one of the most disappointing. I had been here as a kid (this place has been around awhile and it shows) and had fond memories. I guess that is what happens when all you can do is watch circus acts and play in arcades as a kid. However, as an adult, the experience was the opposite. I got the impression that I was one step away from a trailer park- kids running around, old worn out looking carpet, long lines and more. The location was also inconvenient and away from most of the newer casinos. I quickly checked out of this hotel after one night and headed to some of the newer hotels on the other end of the strip.

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on June 16, 2000

Circus Circus Las Vegas Hotel and Casino
2880 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 734-0410

Mirage Hotel and Casino

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Hotel | "The Mirage"

Mirage Hotel and Casino Photo, Las Vegas, Nevada
Quote:
I have always enjoyed my stay at the Mirage. The rooms are solid and there is plenty of gambling space. Also, you definitely feel like you are in Vegas with the jungle theme in the casinos, the white tigers, the volcano, the big pool, the crowds, etc. I've also gotten some really good rates during the week (and been generously comped for my gambling time). Finally, the Mirage has one of the nicer workout facilities I have seen in Vegas (you don't have to be a guest, so if you really want to workout I would recommend this facility). As for the gambling, you have plenty of tables to choose from and the crowd is usually pretty fun. I always get comped a good bit at the Mirage (at the very least I u...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 16, 2000

Mirage Hotel and Casino
3400 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(800) 374-9000

THEhotel Tower Rooms and Suites at Mandalay Bay

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Hotel | "THEhotel (at Mandalay Bay)"

THEhotel Tower Rooms and Suites at Mandalay Bay Photo, Las Vegas, Nevada
Quote:
I am not easily impressed, but THEhotel is a fantastic hotel. It is extremely stylish in an Ian Schrager hotel kind of way. Everything from the lobby, the cafe, the halls, the gym and the rooms are very cool and hip. I couldn't believe how much better this hotel was than the regular Mandalay Bay hotel. The best part, every room is a very spacious suite. Regarding the suites, they are amazing. My suite had a very large separate sitting area / living room. There was a desk, a couch and a separate bathroom for this area of the suite. The bedroom was also very large and the beds were very comfortable. Consistent with the theme of spacious, the bathrooms are enormous. Amazingly, each suite h...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 9, 2004

THEhotel Tower Rooms and Suites at Mandalay Bay
3950 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89119
(702) 632-7777

Venetian Resort Hotel Casino

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Hotel | "Venetian"

Quote:
I was very impressed by the Venetian. I had heard about the suites and how large they are, but I didn't expect the Venetian to be as nice as it was. Everything about the hotel was elegant and extremely well done. The suites were enormous. I think the suite was larger than my apartment in New York city. And it wasn't just large; it was also very comfortable (it had two televisions and a separate area to sit and do your work). The room also had high-speed internet access (there was a $9.95 charge per 24 hours) and a very large bathroom. I really appreciated the attention to detail throughout the hotel and casino. The art, the fixtures, the décor, and everything else were consist...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 9, 2004

Venetian Resort Hotel Casino
3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 414-1000

Red Square

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Attraction

Quote:
Red Square is a very cool, trendy restaurant. The decor is really neat with things like a solid ice bar top and a statue of Lenin with his head cut off. You will see lots of beautiful people (some obviously for hire) and will enjoy a good vodka martini. The food itself is good but not great, so you may be disappointed given the price. My meat was overcooked the first time, but the waiter corrected that and brought me another steak despite my protests to not worry about it. On another visit to the restaurant, I had the tuna tartar and it was excellent. If you want to do something really fun, go into the vodka room. You have to buy a bottle of vodka (which can cost around $250), but when y...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 17, 2000

Red Square
3950 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89119
+1 877 632 7800

PF Chang's China Bistro

Restaurant | "P. F. Chang's"

Quote:
I really enjoy going to this restaurant because I like the food (even though I know it is not the highest quality Chinese and it is chain restaurant). P.F. Chang's is basically nothing more than a trendy version of your corner Chinese restaurant. The dishes are a little fancier, the decor is flashier, and the people watching is better. I always come away satisfied and actively seek certain dishes like the lettuce wraps. Don't go here expecting gourmet cuisine, but if you want a solid Chinese meal in a fun environment, this is a nice alternative to the restaurants on the Vegas strip. The biggest down side is that the restaurant is usually crowded and wait times are a pain.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 17, 2000

PF Chang's China Bistro
4165 South Paradise Road
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 792-2207

Rumjungle

Restaurant

Quote:
The Rumjungle is a high concept restaurant that is something you don't easily find outside of Las Vegas. Surrounded by a really cool waterfall / fire wall you walk in and wonder if it is a restaurant, a bar or a club. Actually it is a little of both and you will dine to the sound of Latin music (dancing kicks in later in the evening). The drinks are tropical and very good and the food is very interesting (South American inspired). I ordered an all you can eat meat special that involved them slicing pieces of meat (up to six kinds) as I requested them. We all left very full, and a little drunk. The people at the Rumjungle tended toward the pretty side and we enjoyed the experience very much. It ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 17, 2000

Rumjungle
3450 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89118
+1 877 632 5300

Drai's Restaurant

Restaurant | "Drai's"

Quote:
If you are looking for a fancy place to eat, Drai's fits the bill. Wood paneling, nice couches, lots of cigars and fine food describe my recollections. We also saw a lot of couples that we thought were definitely only together for the night (although I may have unfairly branded a few women ladies of the night unfairly). As for the food, it was very nice, but I was a little disappointed for the price (my meat was a little tough and my girlfriend's fish was simply okay). Having said that, our appetizers, desserts and side dishes were great and the atmosphere was amusing. The service was a little abrupt (but we were obviously not big rollers). This spot was recommended by the concierge at the Deser...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 17, 2000

Drai's Restaurant
3595 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
+1 702 737 0555

Attic

Attraction | "The Attic"

Quote:
A lot of people have seen this store in the credit card ads on TV from a year or so ago. That's what inspired me to go check it out and I wasn't disappointed. You will find tons of vintage clothing and furniture as well as some newly made funky stuff as well. The prices aren't great, but I've been twice and both times came away with several items. You can't help but laugh at some of the things in the store and its fun trying stuff on. Have a few drinks and go with a couple of friends. There is a $1 admission fee, which is funny for a store, but it's worth it. A bigger problem is transportation to and from. We took a taxi which was no big deal, but it took a while to get one to come back out. ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 17, 2000

Attic
1018 S. Main St.
Las Vegas, Nevada 89101
(702) 388-4088

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Attraction | "Hard Rock Hotel and Casino"

Quote:
If you want to see a lot of pretty (young) people, then definitely go to the Hard Rock (yes, it is the same company as the Hard Rock Cafe that is really famous). This is what I consider a beginner casino. Since most of the people there are relatively young, they don't have a lot of gambling experience. This is extremely frustrating if you take your gambling seriously. Also, the odds on the craps tables and the rules at the Blackjack tables are the worst I have seen in Vegas. It was fun sitting next to Minnie Driver for a couple of hours (yes, she is very beautiful in real life and no, she is not a good gambler).

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 17, 2000

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
4455 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 693-5000

Fashion Show Mall

Attraction

Quote:
This is one of the nicer malls I have been to which makes sense given the amount of money flowing through Vegas. You will find all of the large stores you would expect (i.e. Neiman Marcus), the brand names in every good mall (i.e. Banana Republic, and a variety of specialty stores all in a very clean, upscale environment. Plus, it is very easy to get to given it is on the Strip.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 17, 2000

Fashion Show Mall
3200 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 369-8382

The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace

Attraction | "Forum Shops at Caesar's"

The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace Photo, Las Vegas, Nevada
Quote:
The shops themselves are not why I like this shopping area. The environment is the reason. A combination of Roman architecture under a blue sky (which is a really neat effect), plus things like a huge fish aquarium make the walk through the shopping area pretty cool. The shops are mostly upscale and beyond my price range (i.e. Gucci, Prada, etc.), but you will also find a lot of brand-name stores that are more affordable (but why shop at these when you can find them in any mall).

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 17, 2000

The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace
3500 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 893-4800

"O" by Cirque Du Soleil

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "O, at Bellagio (one of my all time favorite shows"

Quote:
Hard to describe and even harder to do it justice, this was in every regard a fantastic, remarkable experience. O is a Cirque du Soleil production that was designed specifically for this stage. The stage allows for different depths of water in a matter of seconds. You will see a multitude of divers, water performers, trapeze artists, contortionists, and props & effects brought together in some truly amazing ways. There is supposed to be a plot, but I didn't notice (or care that I didn't notice) because everything was so cool. The highlight of the show for me was being pulled on the stage by the clowns. I was in the front row (which is a great place to view the action up close) and clowns came in...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 16, 2000

"O" by Cirque Du Soleil
Bellagio Casino, 3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(888) 987-3456

Red Rock Canyon

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Hiking Red Rocks Canyon"

Red Rock Canyon Photo, Las Vegas, Nevada
Quote:
Red Rocks National Park was absolutely breathtaking. These canyons were very cool and unlike anything I had ever seen before. It is also as opposite as the city of Las Vegas as you can get (uncrowded, all nature, nothing man-made, authentic). It is located about 15 miles from the heart of town and is a great break from gambling. I had been to Vegas probably 15 times without checking this out, but now realize what a mistake that was. Stop at the ranger station and ask the best trails to go on. They are very helpful and won't steer you wrong (although I think they are a little over protective and assume non-desert people can't handle the heat). The park is easily accessible via the park ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 16, 2000

Red Rock Canyon
Highway 159 at Scenic Drive
Las Vegas, Nevada 89124
(702) 363-1921

Paiute Golf Resort

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Paiute Golf Resort Photo, Las Vegas, Nevada
Quote:
I played at this course in a golf tournament for the convention I was attending. I don’t usually play golf when I go to Vegas, but I was glad to be getting away from the casinos. The course is about 20 minutes outside of town at the Paiute Indian reservation. There are three 18-hole courses. I played the Sun Mountain course. The scenery surrounding the course is very interesting. It felt like I was looking out at the crater of the moon or Mars from an ecosystem. The course was green, lush and full of water, while the landscape around the course was barren, dry, and rocky. It made for many interesting views. The scenery on the course was also quite nice. There are several water hazard...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 7, 2004

Paiute Golf Resort
10325 Nu-Wav Kaiv Boulevard
Las Vegas, Nevada 89124
(702) 658-1400

Quote:
If you want to win money and that's all you care about, stay away from the large, new casinos on the strip. The odds on the craps table are not that good, the rules on the blackjack table are not as liberal, and the lines for the sports book are not as favorable. Having said all that, the crowd is a bit younger and less hardened at the new casinos and the overall experience is more enjoyable. Also, the amenities are nicer, the waitresses are prettier and the food is better.
Quote:
When you walk down the strip and you see New York-New York, you can't miss the rollercoaster. It is a really fun ride and one of the better rollercoasters I have been on. Plus you get a really cool view of the casino and the strip. It is worth the $5 and the wait in line.

The Sports Books

Story/Tip

Quote:
My favorite sports book is at the Bellagio. They have really nice leather chairs and the atmosphere is pretty relaxed. You also have a lot of big screen tvs to watch the games. Caesar's Palace is another great sports book. It is one of the biggest and most active in Vegas. Other sports books that I enjoy include Bally's and Mandalay Bay. One sports book I found to be funny was at the Luxor. It is very manual and the lines are handwritten on a white board.

Skyscreamer at MGM

Story/Tip

Quote:
The Skyscreamer is an awesome diversion and a great way to get an awesome adrenaline rush without having to bet tons of money on one hand. You are basically hoisted up several hundred feet in the air and when at the top, you pull a release cord that sends you plummeting to the earth (hence the name Screamer). Just before you hit the ground you swoop upward just like on a giant swing. This is one of most memorable experiences in Vegas and it was totally wholesome.
The alligator tank Photo, Las Vegas, Nevada
Quote:
I wasn't really expecting much more than a big tank with a lot of fish. However, the Shark Reef is considerably better than that. First you get a brief warm-up looking at alligators, lizards and the like. But the real fun starts when you get to the aquariums. You'll see everything from jellyfish, to tropical fish, to sting rays and most impressively sharks. The shark tank at the end is super cool as some really big sharks swim under, around and over you. The admission price of $12.50 was a little steep, but I was glad I did it. Take one of your chips and spend it on this attraction before you blow it on a hand of blackjack.
Elvis Wedding Photo, Las Vegas, Nevada
Quote:
Even to this day, Elvis's influence is still felt in Las Vegas. You can see Elvis impersonators at several places and in my case at a wedding. My friend had just gotten married in Acapulco and decided to renew his just spoken vows in his home town of Vegas. 'Elvis' gave the wedding vows interspersed with four of his classic hits. And believe me he took it seriously (a little too seriously). The ceremony was topped off by an Elvis cake (see photos).
The hiking is great Photo, Las Vegas, Nevada
Quote:
We tried to get a climbing guide (we love to climb and we didn't have any gear), but didn't have any luck on short notice. Apparently, not as much climbing takes place during the summer when it is burning hot. Having said that, I wanted a little bit of a climbing fix so I scaled a few easy areas. I realized that going up is not necessarily the hard part. (see photos)
Bellagio View Photo, Las Vegas, Nevada
Quote:
This entry is just a catch-all for some photos of Vegas. I have hundreds, but these were some I thought people might find interesting / informative.