Get Lucky in Las Vegas

Have you ever wondered what is so special about Las Vegas? Why do people always suggest it as a vacation spot or why people become so addicted to going?

Ahead lies some reasons you ought to consider visiting “Sin City.” I will also cover what else there is to do in the surrounding area, Las Vegas isn’t only gambling, sex and shows. There is more than meets the eye.

SnapseedOn my most recent adventure to Las Vegas, I had decided to make it a point to do more than just sit at the tables and waste money, though I still did some of that anyway… It’s Vegas baby!

With only 2 days on a business trip, I needed to spend my time wisely. I attended an Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). The show didn’t start until the next day, which meant I had some free time before attending a 4 PM meeting.

Arriving early is always key when you go. Most hotel check-ins aren’t until 3 PM and often times they will hold your luggage for you. I arrived at 7:25 AM {very early}. I had decided to rent a car and head for the desert: Death Valley. Using points from my {beloved} AMEX, I exchanged them for $50 for the rental.

Here is how I spent my morning until 4 PM:

-2 Hours drive to Death Valley

-1 Hour hiking and observing Artist’s Palatte 

-20 Minutes walking around Devil’s Golf Course

-1 1/2 Hours at Badwater Basin 

-2 Hours drive back to Las Vegas

Welcome to Death Valley

Death Valley is one of the most unique terrains I’ve experienced, far stranger than Joshua Tree. For one, many parts of Death Valley are below Sea Level. Specifically; Badwater Basin, which is -288 feet below sea level (lowest elevation in the United States and one of the lowest in the world). Rock formations jut from the ground as if they came up sideways. Terrain can vary from rock to salt to sand within 100 yards. While driving to Death Valley, I crossed the state line into California from Nevada. There is quite the drastic change in scenery and roads {the road went from nicely paved to uneven right at the line}. Based on this time of year, temperatures range to as high as 85º- but it will feel like 95º (depending where you are). One lesson I learned from my last desert trip:  Temperature ranges can vary drastically from spot to spot. {For instance: when I arrived to Death Valley I was wearing leggings, a t-shirt, and my utility jacket. When I left, I was down to a pair of shorts and my t-shirt and sweating}

Altitude Sea LevelElevation here is just as serious as temperatures. When they tell you to make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks, do so! The desert is unforgiving, you will be thirstier than you think. I bought 3 bottles of water, a gatorade, peanut butter crackers, beef jerky and a banana, along with the airplane snacks I didn’t eat. To my surprise, there were quite a few people biking out here. Death Valley has a lot to offer and covers quite a bit of land, there is plenty left to still explore (next trip).

Artist’s Palatte is tucked away off Artist Road. You’ll see signs for it right before the turn off, so look out for it. Though the colors were not as vibrant during the day, I can imagine that at either sunrise or sunset that they are intensified. The rocks vary in color:  Yellow, Green, Pale Blue, Pink and Black. Colors are pigmented by the amount of metals including iron that are in the mountains here. You can hike up through the pigmented rock at the Artist Palatte pull off. {Due to time constraints, I didn’t frolic through the palatte}

Artist's Palatte pull out

It was my mission to make it to the Salt Flats at Badwater Basin. In the near distance the vastness of land is a sizzling snowy white color, that seems to go on forever. Along the way to the basin I pulled off to The Devil’s Golf Course, though I had no idea what it was or what to expect. When I finally reached it, there were thousands of rocks or what looked like white rocks. This area is is covered with crystalized salts. Salts are deposited from recurring floods and leaves the rocks covered in jagged crystals. *Warning: Use caution while exploring this area, falling on the crystalized salt rocks can leave major cuts and scrapes, similar to those of coral reef in the ocean. 

About 5-10 minutes down the road from here I finally found the holy grail. The Salt Flats!  As you come up on this area you’ll notice that in the distance the terrain begins to smooth out and become less patchy. The mountain ranges in the background still have snow covered tops here. It’s a crazy mind trip. You will think it’s winter by the white on the ground and snow capped mountains, but when you get out of the car your body registers the heat. Once you park, I might suggest to bring a bottle of water with you for the trek. You may also want to use the bathrooms before you start walking. At this point you’ve reached the lowest sea level. Badwater Basin is extremely hot! It will catch up with you quickly.

Badwater Basin

Here are some things to look out for:

-keep your ears open for all the sounds here

{if there aren’t many people around then you will hear the sounds of silence, something we rarely get a chance to hear. Also you will hear the change on terrain below your feet the further you walk out}

-the further out you go, the easier it will be to see the salt pucker

-wear proper head gear: hat & sunglasses

(remember white reflects, black absorbs)

-if you start feeling too hot, it’s time to head in

-take a 360º view here!

-look into the distance and you may see a mirage

I spent most of my time here at the basin and I wouldn’t change a thing even if I missed out on a few extra things. {Embarrassingly enough I spent waaaay  too much time trying to capture the photos below, but I did meet a nice couple from Seattle who then asked me to take some photos for them} Along the walk back I chatted with the Seattle couple who stayed in the near by town of Shoshone which has population of 100 or so. They exclaimed how cute it was and how excited they were to experience the Desert.  When I got back to the car there was a thick layer of salt on my shoes, {its a bit challenging to remove} so I rubbed my feet in some near by gravel to try and remove as much as possible before heading back to Las Vegas. Those snacks I bought on the way out came in handy at this point. 2 hours later I was back in Vegas (I used an entire tank of gas to get there and back) just in time to catch my 4 PM meeting!

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Later that evening I had tickets to The Beatles LOVE cirque du soliel at The Mirage (9:30PM). My brother and I met up for dinner at No. 9 Noodle. A cool little noodle house in Ceasar’s Palace where they hand pull there own noodles. Though I wasn’t too impressed with my meal, my brother enjoyed his. I had to jolt early because of my show, which I wast 10 minutes late for due to the walking distance from Ceasar’s to The Mirage.

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The show… was unbelievable. Unfortunately they do not allow photo or video inside the theatre

but I can tell you this, You MUST see this show. If you are at all into The Beatles or even broadway then you ought to spend the time and money to see it! Tickets were reasonable at $100, I did some research scouring for the best deals and stumbled on mine here. Pricing can range depending on your seat selection; I highly suggest that you choose seating a little higher up or further back. I chose section 201; which is the first entrance on the left and had a great view of the stage. Be prepared to have a really great time at this show!

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LOVE seating map (see more info. highlighted below)

Tip:  At one point during the show the act pulls into the audience, this is why I suggest a higher level or further back. If you get covered during this portion of the show, you will miss out greatly on the full spectrum of what is going on above you. {I was lucky enough to be right at the breaking point to see both above and below} This was the most mesmerizing piece of the show for me.

If you look at the map (above), the Yellow highlight is suggested area to pick seating for the best stage view. Green sections: 200 & 209 are probably the best seats for optimal views of the entire stage. Red Dot is where I sat. The acts take over the entire stage during a majority of the show!

After LOVE, I took an opportunity to play my hand at some tables before hitting the hay. It wasn’t my night tonight, but I didn’t lose anything (thankfully). The next day I spent most of my morning and early afternoon at the Convention Center-working. Since the Expo ended at 4 PM, I knew exactly what I was going to do after work (at least until 6PM). The W hotel {where I stayed} is connected to the SLS Las Vegas and houses the cutest cabana lined pool. The pool closes at 6 PM each day, though hours are probably extended during Summer months. If you are staying at The W, you too will have access to this pool just show your room key when necessary.

The W Hotel:

 -located off the Strip and is almost equidistant to both the Strip and Freemont Street.

A short Uber ride to either.

-attatched to the SLS Las Vegas and can be a little confusing walking through either end.

-has its own Fitness center, Spa and Salon.

-connected to the Monorail (SLS Station). You ought to consider taking this instead of Taxi or Uber if you plan to go anywhere on the Strip all the way down to the MGM Grand. (see the Monorail Map link below). A 24 hour pass is only $12 for unlimited rides. Need to get to the Cosmopolitan?- hop off at Bally’s/ Paris Station then skip across the street!

LV Monorail map

-offers a variety of room options with a great bed/bedding

-SPG members can request for late check out

-great dining options available in the lobby/ SLS Las Vegas or even room service!

Need More? See What accommodations look like at The W Hotel/ SLS Las Vegas (Below)

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Pool Cabanas
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Spectacular Room @ The W
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Ginormous bathroom in the Spectacular Room

Room Service Breakfast

Poolside

Tip: if you’re lucky, you might be able to ask for a cabana or lounger infront of the cabanas later in the day, if they aren’t selling them and the pool is a little slow. 

Tonight was my last night here in Vegas and I still had a few things I wanted to do! After skipping to over to Caesar’s Palace and The Bellagio on a hunt for a pair of shoes that I had to go to 3 stores at 3 locations to find…I lost myself in the Bellagio Gardens & Chihuly Glass along the way. The Bellagio is always changing out their gardens, but this one was my favorite so far. The tulips and the scent of flowers were heavenly! Then my brother had called to inquire about food, so it was time to head back into the real world again. We decided to head to Freemont a.k.a Downtown to eat and explore.

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Chihuly Glass @ The Bellagio

It was one of my missions to ride the Slotzilla zip line. It took quite the convincing to get my brother on board, but he did ride with me only after taking me to Heart Attack Grill.  I don’t think I will eat here again.. and is not a good option if you are on a diet of any kind. {seriously, just look this place up… I’ll give you a chance to Google or Yelp! it. I can’t believe I ate here, haha!}

Incase you are planning to go on the Slotzilla zip line here are some things you need to know:

• there are 3 ways to get tickets

1. Ticket counter (near the Golden Nugget)

2. Walk-in store with Kiosk

3. Online

 If you enjoy lines, you might want to wait at the ticket counter. If you don’t enjoy lines, hop into a store with a Kiosk or order your tickets online.

• there are also 2 options for the zip line

1. Lower Line

2. Upper Line/ Zoomline

The lower line only goes half way across Freemont Street in a regular seated harness. The Zoomline takes you from one end to the other end of Freemont Street in a body harness. You will zip line horizontally across with speeds up to 35 mph. {We took the Zoomline}

• be sure to head towards the giant Slotzilla entrance up to 10 minutes prior to your time slot, you will be one of the first people from your selected time schedule to head up to be  strapped into gear.

• there will be some wait time no matter what. Remember, these people are keeping your safety in mind so be patient.

• most importantly:  try to schedule your zip line either very early in the day or late in the evening, mid day can be hot and longer lines!

No trip is complete without gambling. That being said, we ended our night at the Golden Nugget. After taking nothing away from the Roulette table last night, I decided to hit up my next favorite game: Craps- $100. The first roller was good, but the second roller really had the table playing. It didn’t take long before the entire table was all in, cheering and hollering and tossing in more money to the table. At this point; if this guy rolls a “7,” then I would be happy with how much I earned. When he finally did roll that dirty little 7, nearly half the table cashed out. Should I have too? I really wondered but decided to pocket my earnings and play with the $25 I still had as “available funds.” {thats the trick with gambling, you have to keep two piles-play money and pocketed earnings} Luckily, staying at the table rewarded me! In the end I went home $345 richer, plus my original investment of $100= $445. {which practically paid for those shoes I trekked all over Las Vegas for- Win Win!} As they say in Vegas, “Winner Winner- Chicken Dinner!”

Good Luck & Safe Travels!

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Additional Photos from the Trip:

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