Vegas in August: What were We Thinking!

We had a week time-share to use and wanted to use it near a certain vacation site, Yellowstone. The closest available place was Las Vegas! They have lots of rooms. We had been there in November, January and May...loved it. Grateful for AC and taxis in August.

No Chumlee, No Sale

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by two cruisers on March 29, 2012

We are Big Fans of the guys on Pawn Stars, a History Channel favorite. I mentioned to my nephew, a Las Vegas resident that I wanted to visit the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, he was dubvious at first. But we all chalked it up to new experiences and off we went.. Non of us had been in a pawn shop before. i did bring a couple of items to try to sell.
First we had to stop in the parking lot and photograph "the Old Man's" 1957 Chevy. We had watched Mike and Frank on "American Pickers" find this vehicle as a commission from "Pawn Star's" Rick. Rick wanted to surprise his dad with a 57 Chevy as a 70th birthday gift. At this point I would like t express my resentment that they call him "the Old Man" when he is only 2-3 years older than us! The Pickers find was in rough shape so the restoration specialists had some work to do.
The pawn shop building is sort of frumpy looking and not all that big. i suspect there must be a huge warehouse area that special buyers are welcomed into. Also it was dirty...on TV it seems to sparkle, must be special effects. There was a very imposing man positioned at the door, just like we see on the TV show. That reminded us we must behave. We took one turn around the display cases. It was very crowded and I skipped over the guns, knives, and men's watches. We were disappointed that the four regulars on the TV show where not around. Thinking about it, that makes sense. They would have to spend all their time doing autographs and posing for pictures. On the back wall was a huge poster of three of them and I posed with that. I was most interested in seeing the paintings, prints, and historical items on display. Recognized several things from shows we had seen. Of course I would have liked to browse the ladies jewelry, but that seemed to be the most popular case and was too crowded.
I took my two items over to the counters where two men appraised, bought or rejected. Both my items where rejected. I had brought a set of collectors spoons from the 1893 Columbia Exposition. If they had been silver instead of silver plate I could have sold them. The other item I took in was a Chimayo table mat. I was told they don't deal with that type art work. Better not ever have an episode featuring either of those items!
Bill and Kevin were ready to leave so I never did get back to the jewelry case. Maybe next time.
Gold and Silver Pawn Shop
713 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, Nevada
(702) 386-0606

Diversity is an Important Part of Every Vacation.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by two cruisers on March 29, 2012

When ever we travel to Las Vegas, we try to mix in a trip out of the city for a little diversity. In the past we have gone to Ethel M's factory / cactus garden and The Springs Preserve. Both were excellant attractions. This visit my nephew suggested we go out to Red Rock Canyon. He often bikes out here from the university area of the city. He is not alone. We saw several bikers and hikers out today despite the over 100 F temperatures. Keep hydrated!
Once you reach the park (National Conservation Area) you can follow a 13 mile Scenic Drive. There are parking lots and they request you not just pull over to the side of the road. That could injure plants and it takes decades for some of these Mojave Desert plants to regrown. Be sure to pick up a visitor guide if you plan to hike the trails. There are lots of warnings and safety tips included. Can you say rattlesnake? Trails are rated as to difficulty, pay attention to that before starting out.
If you are like us, and hiking trails in the heat is risky, the drive through the park with ocassional stops is enough of a thrill. This is a beautiful place.
Red Rock Canyon
Highway 159 at Scenic Drive
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89124
(702) 363-1921

Part Museum, Part Ham Acting, and Holograms, too.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by two cruisers on March 29, 2012

There are two mob museum attractions in Las Vegas now. This one, located in the Tropicana Casino Hotel experienced a great deal of legal troubles opening. They needed to get clearances from family of the mob guys that are showcased.
Tickets are $22-$25 for adults. We had to select who our celebrity mob guide would be. The actors we had to pick from were Mickey Rourke, James Caan (Sonny Corleone), and three from 'The Soprano's" Tony Siroco (Paulie Walnuts), Frank Vincent (Phil Leotardo) and Steve Shirripa (Bobby Bacala). I picked Bobby because he was the least frightening. When you buy your tickets the gangster behind the counter assigns a mob name to you. I was named Dasher and my husband was named Creepy. Bill claims they never met before, but she sure nailed it on that name. We were given plastic card badges, on lavaliers, with our mob name and imbeded codes.She also took several pictures of us in different poses.
Entering the attraction, Bobby greeted us via video and explained what we would be doing during the rest of our Mob Experience. We entered through a mock up of a wharf area, twisted around some other dimmly lit buildings. Ocassionaly a costumed live actor would pop out, give us a warning or instructions, or goods to deliver, I honestly tried to stay in character as the lower eschelon mobster, but i got the giggles. The first experience we had with the holograms was two guys talking on a hill over looking the village of Las Vegas. When they were finished talking...poof...the became dust.Sometimes we would turn a corner and Bobby would be waiting for us to give more background...except now he was a hologram and would disappear in a poof. I won't ruin your experince by telling you the ending, but my husband swears he could feel bullets whizzing by us.
The rest of the attraction was a standard museum. Only this time instead of Presidents, Founding Fathers, Great Inventors, or Famous Authors we saw the lives and times of gangsters. Gangsters Bugsy Segal and Meyer Lansky were extremely important in the developement of Las Vegas. We saw a lot of their personal items from furniture to weapons, to autos. We also had time-lines and development displays of the city. The Rat Pack connections were presented along with connections to gangsters in other parts of the country.
When we exited the museum into the forlorn gift shop, we were given the opportunity to buy a set of pictures taken of us pre-entry and PhotoShoped into arrest cards, inside a prison cell, etc. By the way, you aren't allowed to use your camera in the Mob Attaction. Too, bad.
Mob Attraction Las Vegas
3801 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89119

Came for the Gambling: Returned for the Food

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by two cruisers on March 28, 2012

We visited New York, New York twice on our recent trip to Las Vegas. In the morning we hit the slots. They had added to this area since our last trip, but some of our favorites disappeared. Such is life.
We met for coffee break at La Fornaio. Previously we had wandered into the bakery/deli and had a treat there. This year we were seated in a dining room and brought an extensive menu. We settled on latte's and a pastry called Zampa D'Orso. It was similiar to croissant stuffed with almond and hazelnut paste, topped with slivered almonds. A little dry, but what a nice flavor.
After more playing the slots we had our lunch at The Nine Fine Irishman. The food was so good, I would bring my relatives here. Wait!!...I did bring my relatives here later in the week and we all were happy with our selections. The menu was heavy on Brit favorites and that was fine with us. We ate bangers n' mash, fish n' chips, also shepard's pie, and turkey panini (that doesn't sound British but it was very good). The restaurant is dedicated to the firemen and policemen who lost their lives in 9-11. On the walls are badges from each of the fire and police stations. Our waitress flirted in Irish brogue with the people at the next table. That added to the atmosphere, too, but delayed getting our meal!
One of the reasons I like New York, New York is the sky walk to MGM Grand, which connects to Tropicanna. We did stop at both casinos for awhile. The MGM lions were delighted to see us....actually the slept through our whole visit. MGM has an enormous gaming floor, and not much else. The food court is lack-luster. But it is easy to get a cab from here. Tropicana had the lowest ceiling of any of the casinos we visited. It was a tad bit claustrophobic. I doublt if we will return here.
Back at NYNY, one night we valet checked our vehicle and it took forever to get it back. Taxis are looking better and better.
New York New York Hotel & Casino
3790 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109
(702) 740-6969

Sister Casinos-Hotels: Bally's and Paris Las Vegas

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by two cruisers on March 28, 2012

We have visited here before and intend to come back again. Love the way the casino at Paris looks like a Paris street in the evening. Bally's looks rather Plane Jane by comparison, however, you have a better chance of winning at the slot machines there! Connecting the two are shops and restaurants that stay true to the styles of each casion/hotel. I like to have the taxi driver drop us off at the Paris entrance as it is sets the mood with imitation Arch de Triomphe, iconic Paris baloon and the entryway of typical Parisian ironwork.
Where to eat? Our first choice is always the Creperie. Have savory for a meal, come back later for sweet crepe dessert. There are at least two bakeries filled with temptations. The line-up to get into the buffet starts to gather early. People really like the choices offered there. Once we ate at the Provencial restaurant where there are singing waiters and incredible food. And when you wash-up afterwards, check out the lovely French sinks.
Paris Las Vegas
3655 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109
(702) 946-7000

Sister Casino Hotels: The Venetian and The Palazzo

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by two cruisers on March 28, 2012

We had tickets to a show at The Palazzo later in the week, we decided to spend a day familiarizing our selves with this complex. It is a complex complex! The taxi dropped us off at the rotunda entrance to the Palazzo. The Palazzo and the Venetian are connected by a two story shopping mall. We spent the morning in the Palazzo casino, enjoying a wide variety of slot machine games. There were also many table games, though most people we saw were hanging out with the flashy slots. In the afternoon we visited the Venetian Casino which is cramped and had less variety of machines. We also stopped at the box office and confirmed our on-line purchased tickets. Very helpful staff both here and throughtout the building. We got lost on at least two occasions and staff members walked us to the correct area.
The style of the Palazzo is Italian Rennasiannce, Huge amounts of marble, huge statues, and huge topiary Chia-Pet animals (snails, frogs, etc) in the shops courtyard. The Venetian style is of course Venetian with lots of Venetian glass and of course a canal and mock St. Mark's Square.
There were many restaurants to choose from. We ate one meal at the Venetian food court. Lower prices and wide selection of food outlets made for a very crowded dining area. Another day we ate at a sandwich shop with much higher prices and a retro-burger joint look. it was called "I (Heart) Burgers". The food was ok, but I think the food court was just as good. We did find a restaurant with modest prices, wide variety, pleasant surroundings and good location. Grand Lux Cafe was next door to the "Jersey Boys Theater". At that meal there were five of us and we sampled from the entire menu with special attention to the asparagus dishes. We would definately come back here. If upscale dining is your penchant, they have that, too. I looked at one Wolfgang Puck posted bill of fare and about the cheapest entre was $50.
And then there was shopping. I shopped in the Venetian along the cannal enjoying the serenading gondolier. I also shopped in the tony Shops at the Palazzo. Mainly just browsed, but I did use some of my gambling winnings on a bottle of imported perfume. And that is why there are shops here, to keep the gambling money from leaving the building!
The show we attended was "Jersey Boys", it was awesome. Not a bad seat in the house and there was plenty of legroom in the rows. The four main actors did an outstanding performance. Of course the songs were from the era we grew up in, so we knew all the words. What a hoot! I had seen this show in London and bought a souvenir cup. The gift shop here wasn't well stocked, no cup, in fact they had nothing I wanted to bring home. Oh, well that gave me more money to play Da Vinci's Diamonds!
Venetian Resort Hotel Casino
3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109
(702) 414-1000

We Had the Best Condo in the Resort

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by two cruisers on March 27, 2012

We arrived too early for check-in, but no big deal. The lobby lounge was a comfortable cool place to relax and wait. The clerk said they would let us know when our room was ready. Suddenly the lobby was full of people and luggage. The near-by airport must have brought in a special flight with just residents of Desert Rose Resort. Getting nervous that they would get all the rooms I joined the long line-up. When I finally worked my way up to the counter, the clerk apologized for our two hour wait and told me they had moved us to another room and it was available. Don't know what the other one was like, but the one we got was terrific.
We were located on the top floor of complex 4. Our room faced North with a view through pine trees of Hooters Casino and angled across the block to NYNY and MGM. At night we had the lights from the strip, but not blinding us. During the day we were protected from the evil rays of the sun by buildings on the South, East and West. Our room was always comfortabley cool and we needed that as August in Vegas means 108 F...every day. The condo had a fully equiped kitchen with granite counters, comfortable furniture and good lighting. There is a swimming pool that seems to be always active, a fitness center, and meeting rooms.
One surprise we had was the extensive continental breakfast provided in the lobby for all residents. The crowd in the lobby was enormous at this time of day. As an RCI exchange resident we filled out a menu card and time for delivery. What we wanted was brought to our room. Yipee! The trick was you fill out one card for the whole week and they show up every day with that order. The portions delivered are so generous, we saved the leftover bacon and bought bread, tomatoes and mayo for evening meals. Also portioned out the huge fruit servings and oversized bagels, too. And if that wasn't enough to eat, we were given a discount card to use at a snack shop.
The weak point of this Resort was the elevators. There was one, slow moving elevator for each of the four complexes. The housekeeping staff also used this elevator. They would be lined up like boxcars on a train track to get on board at just the time that the tourists were trying to leave for the day. It was also difficult to weave your way through the waiting carts to get to the parking lot. Parking was free, a great benefit and there was room for our friends cars when they came to visit. We often during the week left our car in the lot and had the clerk at the front desk call a taxi for us. With the 108 F heat we found this was the easiest most comfortable way to get around. We only had one taxi driver who didn't know where the Desert Rose was, but when we said "behind Hooters" he knew right away.
Desert Rose was new to us, but I would definately stay here again.
Desert Rose Resort
5051 Duke Ellington Way
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89119
(702) 739-7000

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