Viva, Las Vegas! A First-Time Visitor's Take

As a first time visitor to Vegas, I had no idea what to expect, except the unexpected. We stayed at Bally's and had a blast! The heat (up to 120ºF) was largely unbearable, but there are a million and one air-conditioned places to pop into when necessary.


Viva, Las Vegas! A First-Time Visitor's Take

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 25, 2005

The possibilities in Vegas are endless. Tailor your trip to your personal interests. You will have no problem finding things to do.

In my case, as it was my first trip to Vegas, I wanted to be sure to check out the touristy sites. We spent a lot of time just perusing the various hotels and casinos and marveling at their beauty and enormity. Shopping is overwhelming in Vegas (Forum Shops at Caesars, Desert Passage at Aladdin, and Grand Canal Shops at The Venetian, amongst others). Think about checking out AT LEAST one show, as there are many. There are a handful of Cirque Du Soleil shows alone! I saw Celine Dion's show at Caesar's, which was wonderful. If clubbing/dancing is your thing, I loved Studio 54 at MGM Grand, but there are many.

My best advice: Do a good amount of research so that you are aware of your options (particularly through this website), but plan as little as possible. When you arrive in fabulous Las Vegas, things will fall into place and you will have an amazing time. ${QuickSuggestions} Pick up a copy of the free magazine What's On when you arrive. It is chockfull of information in regards to attractions, dining, shows, etc. You will also find some coupons there. You will also find people on the Strip handing out another magazine, 24/7. Get one of those, too; it has more coupons.${BestWay} • MONORAIL: This is the easiest way to get around the Strip. It runs from the MGM Grand to the Sahara, with a handful of stops along the way. It is $3 per trip, but you can get 10 trips for $20. If you plan on seeing much/all of the Strip, I recommend getting the 10-trip pass (it is also shareable).

• WALKING: Use good judgment when deciding to walk somewhere. Many places are very walkable. However, I was there in July during a heat wave, so the idea of walking even half the Strip was out of the question without taking many air-conditioned breaks. Also, some things appear walkable because you can see them, but then you find they are farther than they appear. Remember that the Strip is nearly 3 miles long. Wear the most comfortable shoes you own. I didn't, and let's just say that my feet were in very poor condition by the end of the trip.

• CAB: Personally, I would only use these if you are in a hurry to get somewhere, or you need to leave the Strip area. We took a cab downtown to Fremont Street from Bally's. It cost about $16.


Bally's

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 25, 2005

You can't beat the location of Bally's Hotel (my main criteria). Our standard room at Bally's was very spacious. We checked in very early, so we were able to request a view of the Strip. The view was incredible. We could nearly reach out and touch the Eiffel Tower. My one gripe with the room would be with the old-fashioned furniture. From what I understand, Bally's is one of the oldest hotels on the Strip, and sometimes it's easy to tell that it is.

I really enjoyed the casino at Bally's. It was not very big compared to the others, but I liked the intimate feel of it. It was never crowded during my stay, but always had enough people to keep it lively. Because of this, it was very easy to jump into any table game you wanted.

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

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 25, 2005

Yes, it's a chain, but I had never been to a Margaritaville before. There is a pretty large and diverse menu (food- and drink-wise), and from my experience, the food was decent. A band played ‘80s tunes on the stage, which added to the atmosphere.
Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville
3555 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109
(702) 733-3302

Bally's Big Kitchen Buffet

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 25, 2005

We went during lunchtime. Come with an empty stomach. I rate the food as average and the menu's diversity as excellent. There is definitely something for everyone at this buffet.
Big Kitchen Buffet
3645 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109
(702) 736-4300

Cheeseburger at the Oasis

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 25, 2005

We just hopped into this place in the middle of Aladdin's shopping area. It's no more than a casual burger place with a cool atmosphere. The food was good enough to recommend. My friend absolutely loved her coconut shrimp salad (if you want a recommendation).
Cheeseburger at the Oasis
3663 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109
(702) 735-8600

Golden Nugget Buffet

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 25, 2005

We arrived at the buffet only 40 minutes before they were to take the food away, so we didn't have enough time to really enjoy our meal. I rate the food above average, but it did not have as big a selection as other buffets.
Golden Nugget Buffet
129 East Fremont St
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89101
+1 702 385 7111

In-N-Out Burger

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 25, 2005

Living on the East Coast, I am deprived of such luxuries as In-N-Out Burger. I finally got the chance to try it in Vegas. It lives up to the potential.

It is located a ways off the Strip. You will need to drive there or take a cab. We got lost driving, so be sure you know where to go.

In-N-Out Burger
2900 W. Sahara Avenue
Las Vegas, Nevada

Celine Dion - A New Day

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 25, 2005

Every seat at the Colosseum Theatre at Caesar's is a good seat. The ticket price is high, so I only recommend it to those who enjoy Celine's music. Celine sounded as incredible as ever, and the stage production, by Franco Dragone, was breathtaking. Celine had great energy for a show that is as routine to her as brushing her teeth; however, her talks with the audience were too rehearsed and cheesy for me. Luckily, those moments didn't last long, as Celine performed as many songs in 90 minutes as possible.
Celine Dion - A New Day
3570 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada

Fountain Show at the Bellagio

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 25, 2005

Many people will tell you that this is not to be missed, and they're right. I only wish I saw more of the shows. Make sure you catch one at night.
Bellagio Fountains
3600 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada
(702) 693-7111

Lion Habitat at the MGM GRAND

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 25, 2005

Honestly, I didn't walk all the way in because I was so “underwhelmed” after having seen Siegfried and Roy's "Secret Garden." From what I could tell, there were two lions out. It is free, so it's worth a look if you find yourself in the MGM Grand.
Lion Habitat at the MGM Grand
3799 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109
+1 702 891 1111; +1

Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 25, 2005

Although I recommend the Shark Reef to everyone, I particularly recommend it to families. The size of it alone was very impressive. I appreciated that the remote wand explaining the various marine life was included in the admission price. Definitely check this out if you enjoy watching marine life in a beautiful setting.
Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium
3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89119
(702) 632-7777

Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 25, 2005

Of all the places in Vegas to observe wildlife, I was most impressed here. The MANY lions and tigers (and an elephant!) were absolutely beautiful and were VERY close. I was only mildly disappointed that we weren't able to get closer to the dolphins (i.e. actually touching them), but I think that's the little kid in me talking!
Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat
Mirage Hotel, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109
(702) 791-7188

Bellagio Conservatory and Fountains

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 25, 2005

The flowers in the conservatory are changed around every 2 weeks. It is very well kept. Though it is not terribly large, it is quite beautiful (and free!). It's definitely worth a look, since your trip is not complete without a visit to Bellagio anyway.
Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, Nevada

Fremont Street Experience

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 25, 2005

Do not leave Vegas without seeing the old downtown area, which is very much alive today. Although the hotels and casinos are significantly smaller than the Strip's, the lights and atmosphere feel much more vibrant! The Fremont Street Experience Light Show is a MUST-SEE. It was about a $16 cab ride from the Strip. Note: Families may want to think twice before visiting this area at night.
Fremont Street Experience
Westernmost 5 Blocks Of Fremont
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89101
(702) 678 5777

The Bar at Times Square

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 25, 2005

This bar has dueling piano players who will take (and stop) requests for tips. They will play many of your old favs (think "Sweet Caroline" and "Piano Man"), which you will happily sing along to with a multitude of people. Great fun!
Times Square Bar
New York-New York Hotel & Casino Las Vegas / 3790 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109
(702) 740-6969

Studio 54

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 25, 2005

We went on a Tuesday night, which is a theme night (EDEN Night). There was not a major line, but there was a very good crowd inside. Early in the night, the DJ played a mix of old classics, which progressed into house mixes as the night went on. Acrobatic artists and dancers would randomly come down from the ceiling to do impressive routines above the crowd. Professional dancers also kept the crowd going. There was even a girl holding a snake for most of the night. It was constant fun and entertainment. If you're going out to dance, this is a great place to do it.
Studio 54
3799 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109
+1 702 891 1111; +1

Caesar's Palace

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 26, 2005

I think I was most overwhelmed by Caesar's casino than any other. It was enormous. I can't be sure of all the games that were there, but I imagine they have everything you'd be looking for.

If you are a shopper at all, you cannot miss the Forum Shops - try not to get lost! I didn't get to spend as much time there as I would have liked, but from passing through, I saw just about every brand/designer name I could think of!

Caesar's has a large collection of classy/gourmet restaurants. Although I didn't get the chance to dine at any of them, my friend visited Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill and enjoyed it.

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

Mandalay Bay

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 26, 2005

Admittedly, I only passed through the casino, but this hotel is a sight in and of itself. I previously had no desire in visiting it, but my friends wanted to go to the Shark Reef, which I recommend.

I loved the feel of this hotel. It was classy and modern. To me, it felt as though it was geared towards a younger crowd. The shopping mall certainly seemed to be aimed at a younger demographic. Of course, this is not to say that anyone wouldn't enjoy their time there.

The pool area was gorgeous, with a lazy river.

In the future, I would pick this hotel as my next accommodation choice. I would love to try what seemed to be MANY amazing dining choices!

The only flaw I found with Mandalay Bay is its location. It is one of the last ones on the south end of the Strip, which makes it a bigger chore to peruse the Strip.

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

The Venetian

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by BostonChick on July 26, 2005

There's a reason why you've heard of The Venetian. In my opinion, it is the most architecturally brilliant hotel on The Strip. You will find yourself walking around aimlessly, staring anywhere but where you're walking.

Shop around The Grand Canal Shops which lead into St Mark's Square.

Try a gondola ride. We tried the outdoor one which was 10 minutes and $12.50. The indoor rides are 15 minutes and a couple dollars more. I had no idea that the gondoliers serenade you in Italian. Our gondolier, Aldo, had a beautiful voice but all the ones that I overheard sounded wonderful as well. I got goosebumps when we passed under a small bridge and Aldo's voice strengthened with the reverberation.

Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum is also on the premises, but I did not visit, having seen the London version and not having the time.

The Venetian Gondola Rides
Grand Canal at The Venetian
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109
(877) 883-6423

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