Travel Diary: Las Vegas Girls Trip
I just returned from an amazingly fun and much needed weekend trip to Las Vegas with my girls Nikki, Scarlett and Jeannette! For the last couple of years, we have made a point to take a trip together once a year. Last year we put our southern accents to the test in New Orleans (I didn't do a travel post on that one...guess I need to go back!) with our husbands and had such a great time! We decided to replicate that but this time without the boys.
When trying to decide where to go we had only a few criteria: somewhere we each had never spent any real time, somewhere with a lot of activities, and somewhere that wouldn’t cost us our first born children. Charleston, Miami, Las Vegas, Austin and several others made the list. And after a few weeks of deliberation, Vegas was the clear winner. So the rounds of date picking, hotel scrutiny and activity brainstorming began! I'm sharing what we decided and how our triple digit heat weekend turned out!
Where we stayed: The Mirage Casino and Resort
When selecting Las Vegas as our destination, it came with the necessity to stay in the heart of the action: The Strip. Our place of temporary residence had to have a Las Vegas Boulevard address, which in turn raises cost. We set the budget at $300 per person for all three nights. Though not at all impossible to find, to ensure that our stay was not going to be too far down The Strip (a la Mandalay Bay), and was going to be on the nicer side of things (I'm looking at you Excalibur), we had to do some digging. Resorts like The Venetian, Aria, the Cosmopolitan fell just outside the budget and the Mirage was the best value for the money! Nice, clean, updated, centrally located and plenty spacious. The theme of the resort is a tropical oasis complete with water features and lush greenery from the moment you step indoors from the desert heat. There were several restaurants and plenty of casino real estate that allows for late night snacks and risk-based fun until the wee hours! The two that booked the hotel signed up for the MLife rewards program that provided points for the stay and around the resort. Recommendation: Ask for conjoining rooms! Rather than sleep two to a bed in a two queen room, we requested and were granted conjoining Resort King and Resort Queen rooms. Just remember to book separately and request when checking in. We left the connecting door open the entire weekend so each room was an extension of the other. We had TONS more space to spread out, had an extra bathroom for showers and getting ready. It truly made the experience that much less stressful because we had that extra room!
What We Did: Daily Travel Breakdown
Thursday || Day 1
All of us girls were flying in from different corners of the country. To save cost and maximize my time on the ground in Vegas, I booked the early bird Southwest flight, landing at 6:30am PST! Historically, I don't like to fly Southwest because I really like picking my seat ahead of time (control freak, anyone?), but the early morning and late night flights are always less crowded. With only 50 people on a 737, I got the entire row to myself and was able to stretch out and go to sleep for the quick hour and 25 minute flight. Upon landing, I grabbed a quick Uber ride to the hotel (for more on that, see my IG TV video of my hilarious Uber driver) to meet up with the first to arrive. We caught up and relaxed for about an hour before heading downstairs to Pantry for breakfast and coffee! The coffee brought me back to life from such an early morning to catch my plane. Then it was time for the pool! The Mirage pool is spacious, beautiful and has plenty of chairs to drop your items and hit the pool deck! And of course, no vacation pool is complete without a pool drink! I recommend the larger $23 drink, because if you plan to drink more than one, it more than makes up for itself!
Shop This Look: Swimsuit
Money Saving Tip: Head to the store and get yourself some snacks and alcohol! The same rule from your childhood when your parents would pack a cooler on a long road trip! Save yourself the time and a bit of money by picking up some snacks. We headed to Whole Foods south of Mandalay and picked up some snack foods as well as some alcohol, beer and mixers to keep in our room. Pregaming saved us quite a bit of money and the snacks prevented me from getting hangry while getting ready in a group of girls!
After our trip to the store, a quick room change to get our conjoining rooms and some catch-up/outfit changes and a quick dinner of Poke and tacos at Still in the hotel, we were ready for our first event of the weekend: Dita Von Teese! We headed over to the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay, a beautiful but crowded venue with a lavish stage and two bars. We had General Admission (standing room only) tickets and it worked out really well, as there was enough floor space and you could see plenty well. The show was amazing, the dancers were inspiring, all shapes, sizes and colors, and Dita was everything you would imagine!
Friday || Day 2
Everyone I spoke to about going to Las Vegas in the summer time said it would not be complete without a traditional Vegas pool party...so pool party we did. Recommendation: Find a good promoter! I found a promoter from a blogger (Aileen over a Baller on a Budget ) and he hooked us up on his VIP guest list with free entry into one of Vegas' hottest beach clubs, Encore Beach Club as well as two drink tickets each. The drinks were delicious, but quickly gone, so we invested (read threw away the dollars) on the $65 big drink to hold us over for the rest of our party time! As with the large drink at the Mirage pool, with the $23 price tag per drink at Encore, any more than two drinks makes the larger drink worth it. Ask for lighter ice and close your eyes when they swipe your card. We made friends with a bachelor party that occupied a lily pad in the pool and scored some free drinks from that crew. The music was loud, fun and we had a great time! After some lovely assistance from one of the many security crew who helped us to our Uber (for real, he was really nice!), we headed back to the hotel for some much needed recovery for half of the group. I ventured out for some food in the BEAUTIFUL Forum Shops in Caesar's Palace right next door and called it a restful night!
Saturday || Day 3
Saturday's are for face beats, boujee brunch, wandering and shopping! One activity we really wanted to do was get all dressed up and go for boujee brunch! I found my favorite maxi dress I have ever worn at Rooted Boutique here in Littleton, CO and fell in love immediately! We did our research beforehand and discovered a cute and boujee brunch spot right down the street in the Palazzo. Morel's is known for their Bloody Mary's, made table-side by your expert waiter or waitress. Irvin was marvelous, lively and made the best bloody on the strip! Our reservations were for 10:30, though they were completely unnecessary...we were one of 5 tables in the entire restaurant. It was quiet and we had great service. The food was nothing to write home about and I would rate it a 7/10.
After brunch came the wandering! Because we were already in the Palazzo, the sister and attached resort of the Venetian, we made our way through the casino, found some coffee (so necessary!!) and made our way to the indoor gondola rides! Were were there during a holiday season, so standard pricing was $36/pp for a 4 person gondola. We used a military discount which dropped the price right under $30 each. Much to my surprise, it was not at all cheese or corny. For 15 minutes, our gondolier, Cosimo, navigated us through the indoor canal of The Venetian shops, under bridges and sang three traditional Italian songs, each one better than the last! We tipped him well at the conclusion and loved the experience from start to finish!
Following our Venice-style adventure, we continued to wander through the beautiful shops of the Venetian, did a little shopping and headed over to the Forum shops to explore even more. We visited the Victoria's Secret Store (where two of the three friends ships began) and wandered around in the beautiful mall amongst the Chanel, Burberry and Fendi shops until it was time to head back and get dressed for our fancy dinner for the last night we were all together!
Among the many recommendations we received about where to eat in Las Vegas, Joe's Seafood Fine Steak and Crab was near the top of the list for an expensive and Vegas-esk dining experience! Joe's is a high-end chain in many of the major business cities, and it most certainly did not disappoint! An impressive wine list, the bisque and scallops that make you want to leap from your seat were all incredible! That is...until one of the girls in the group began feeling like a round of food poisoning before we even left the table. We obviously cannot confirm that Joe's was what did her in and I certainly don't want that to be a deterrent for your dining experience, but it's an important piece to note as it changed the trajectory of our evening. Our plans to go out to the club that night were scrapped due to suspected food-borne illness. And perhaps in some situations I would be upset by not doing a very "Vegas" thing like go dance the night away in a club, I was just as content to put on my PJs and laugh and chat and sip the night away in our hotel room and just catch up. For this group that I really only get to see in its entirety once a year, doing absolutely nothing is just as fun as any dance floor!
Shop This Look: Dress
Sunday || Day 4
In the itinerary, Sunday was the make up day. Just like in school when you have to go extra days because you were called off because of too many snow days, Sunday was our day to do the things we didn't manage to get around to the other three days. We had a rather lazy morning and headed over the the Wynn buffet for their opulent brunch buffet. If you get the chance to experience the Wynn resort, just go for a walk around the property. Very whimsical, beautifully decorated with so many colors and flowers, it is easy to get lost while oogling the elaborate flower arrangements. You will feel like you are in a carnival fit for the Duchess of Cambridge. The buffet is massive, with their own separate dessert buffet with private pastry chef. One of the girls in our group has celiac, and the executive chef for brunch came out and escorted her through the entire buffet noting what she could and could not eat. Excellent levels of service!
After we ate and acted like tourists in the Wynn resort, our next stop was the famous Las Vegas sign! By this time, it was already in the triple digits and keep in mind when you go visit, there will be a line and it is total exposure. We bought frozen waters from a lady selling them for one dollar, and waited our turn. Even though it was hot, it was certainly worth it to get the classic picture.
Our next and final stop before heading back to the hotel was to find some souvenirs to take home. We went back to the Venetian and found two souvenir shops that we loved. Is it even a trip if you don’t bring home a commemorative shot glass!?
After the final exploration, we got in to our swimsuits one last time and headed for the pool at our resort. We talked, had a few drinks and enjoyed each other‘s company for the last few hours that we had left together. After a few hours we got out how old off change clothes and ran across the street to Chipotle and Panda Express for a quick and cheap meal to take back to the room. We were looking for something familiar and inexpensive. Because even breakfast in Las Vegas can run you well into the triple digits for 4 people.
So there you have it! My girls trip to travel diary to Las Vegas! By some accounts it may seem rather tame. But it was a perfect trip for us! I highly recommend it to those thinking about going. You don’t have to spend $10,000 on the weekend to have a great time. Now I think it’s time to go back and bring the husband!
Travel Loudly. Love Loudly. Live Loudly.