Our next stop on our epic North American road trip was none other than Sin City. This city built in the midst of the desert is unlike anywhere else in the world, and I had been waiting a long eight years to return. Although billed as an “adult’s playground”, there is so much for children to experience and enjoy that it should not be written off by families.
Paula and I had visited back in 2010, which at the time, was considered my trip of a lifetime; however this has well and truly changed since starting ‘Our Awesome World Adventure’. Plus this time would be considerably different with two children in tow, and a budget to worry about.
We wanted to stay mid strip, so utilising our Wyndham loyalty card we choose The Linq Hotel and Casino (click here for our review), which was at the time, the lowest priced resort for our five nights (which we later reduced to four due to our time constraints). As we drove down The Strip (listening to my Vegas playlist), Lincoln and Braxton starting pointing out the seemingly never-ending line of limousines, wishing they were inside one rather than our decade old BMW. Little did they know we had lined up a surprise for them later in the week (more on that later). As we drove to our hotel we passed pyramids, castles, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Eiffel Tower and even a volcano. Vegas really does have a bit of everything and you can almost travel the globe by visiting just this one city. Unfortunately parking was not complimentary at our hotel despite us being guests, and not wanting to pay $12 USD/$17.76 NZD per day, I instead found some nearby free parking at another casino hotel, Treasure Island (the only strip hotel that offers free parking). Which meant a 15 minute or so walk to The Linq, but to save nearly $50 USD it seemed well worth the hassle and my time.
There is a little running joke between friends and family that I can turn most conversations into something Vegas related, so for the preceding months I had tried to get the children as excited as I was. Braxton was easy to convert as being a lover of the chocolates, ‘M&M’s’, we took him to M&M World, a four level shop that sells everything M&M related. Not only did this shop sell colours and flavours of the small chocolates I had never ever heard of, but every type of merchandise item imaginable, along with displays of a M&M sponsored race car and a small complimentary movie theatre that shows regular M&M short movies. Braxton was definitely in heaven and being a complete purist M&M eater, who won’t touch anything other than the originals, he managed to fill a bag of the chocolate treats that he munched on over the next day or so. Lincoln was next, and after telling him about the rollercoaster that surrounds the exterior of the casino resort ‘New York, New York’ he had been waiting to experience it. So using a “buy 1 get 1 ride free” voucher the cost was just $15 USD/$22.27 NZD, he and I hopped aboard the coaster designed to look and feel like a New York taxi cab and strapped in for our adrenaline rush. This coaster is surprisingly high off the ground and provides a great view of the strip below, although you are left little time to enjoy it as after the ascent to the top, you find yourself falling at breakneck speeds twisting and turning, completing corkscrews and loop de loops. Paula and I had ridden this coaster in our previous visit and it brought back great memories and was every bit as enjoyable as I remembered it to be. With Lincoln and Braxton well and truly entering the “Pro Vegas” camp, we wanted to show them some of the amazing free sights along the strip. Over the course of our time in Vegas we took them to watch the Atlantis Show, inside The Forum Shops at Caesars, The Mirage volcano erupting and the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown amongst others. However, without a doubt, my absolute favourite Vegas attraction is the dancing fountains of the Bellagio. I could literally stand and watch these fountains for hours on end as they never cease to amaze. For me no Vegas trip would be complete without catching a couple of shows of these fountains dancing to music that blares out of the speakers along the edges of the 8-acre (3.2 ha) lake.Vegas is also the home of buffets and for the most part they are done incredibly well. We chose to utilised the Caesars ‘Las Vegas Buffet of Buffets’ pass. This pass for our family of four cost us $216.46 USD/$321.45 NZD (this equated to about $13.50 USD/$20.04 NZD per person per meal) and allowed us access to five different buffets for a 24 hour period. Wanting to make the most of our 24 hours we decided on starting it with a late dinner the first night meaning we would get two dinners, along with a breakfast and lunch out if it. We decided on trying a buffet at a different casino for each meal and settled on Harrahs, Flamingo, Planet Hollywood and Paris. Paris was probably our favourite for which we had breakfast, meaning freshly made crepes and omelettes amongst other options. It’s fair to say that after 24 hours of buffets we were well and truly full, and our waistlines reflecting the excess of food we had devoured. We had wanted to see a show in Vegas and while we would have really liked to see another Cirque du Soleil show, they were a little out of our budget this trip. So using the budget friendly Groupon app we decided on the much more reasonable, family friendly Nathan Burton comedy magic show. Coming in at a total of $50 USD/$74.25 NZD for four tickets it was much more aligned with our budget and for an hour and half of entertainment it was pretty good value for money. There was plenty of audience participation and lots of different magic tricks which kept all us entertained for the entirety of the show.
While in Vegas we wanted to check out the Hoover Dam, unfortunately we had restricted time so we were not able to complete one of the guided tours, although I have heard they are pretty incredible and very insightful about the history of the dam. The waterline here is pretty amazing, showing how much the water levels have fallen, which can’t last forever, especially considering how much is required to keep a city like Las Vegas running. We took the mandatory state border photograph showing Lincoln and Braxton in different states, before hopping back in the car and driving the 40 minutes or so back to Vegas.Wanting to end our Vegas trip on a high, Paula and I had secretly booked a limousine ride with Vegas VIP Limo for the final night of our stay. After using an Uber to visit the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown (old school Vegas) and having dinner, we told the kids we were heading home.
We said that we needed to walk to the back of one of the casinos to pick up an Uber but instead waiting outside was our driver, holding a sign reading ‘Lincoln and Braxton’ and standing next to a white Dodge Challenger limousine. It took a double take from both boys upon seeing the sign but as soon as they clicked it was for them they started jumping up and down with excitement while hugging and thanking us. We only hired the car for an hour and asked our driver to drive up and down The Strip before dropping us back at our hotel. Once inside the music was turned on and we enjoyed some soda and adult beverages. Both boys loved the tinted windows and neon lights, and for our hour they felt like “rock stars”, so it was well and truly worth the $120 USD/$178.20 NZD and is something the kids still talk about a lot.With the limousine ride coming to an end, so was our time in Vegas, hopefully the kids enjoyed our stay as much as I did and will want to return when we come back through on our return road trip. But for now it was ‘goodbye’ to Sin City, next up the incredible Grand Canyon.
Average Daily Spend for 4 nights – $440.52 NZD ($153.02 over budget per day)