Las Vegas & the Grand Canyon

When my husband had a week off in between university semesters we jumped at the chance to get away for a few days. We ended up traveling to Las Vegas with my parents, and added a side trip to the Grand Canyon to our itinerary. It had been many years since I was last in ‘Sin City’, and it would be my husband’s first time there. Las Vegas, in Nevada’s Mojave Desert, is a resort city best known for its vibrant nightlife, casinos, and general entertainment spectacles. Its focal point is the Strip, a four-mile long stretch of real estate with the most luxurious hotels and shopping.

We chose to stay at the Bellagio Hotel, which is owned and operated by MGM. It was inspired by the Italian town of Lake Como and echoes its opulence and elegance. It is well known for its fountains, which are located between the hotel entrance and the Strip. The fountain shows take place every thirty minutes and are choreographed to music. Inside the hotel are plenty of restaurants, casino games, and nightlife. It also hosts a beautiful pool, flower garden, and plenty of entertainment options. The room we stayed in was spacious and nicely decorated. The bathroom was large, with both a shower and bathtub. But, the best part of staying at the Bellagio was definitely its central location on the Strip.

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We flew out of Newark on a direct flight to Las Vegas. Once we arrived we were picked up by a limo and our driver kindly offered to take us by the famous Las Vegas welcome sign. We then checked-in to the hotel and went for a quick lunch at the French crêpe restaurant downstairs. We spent some time getting acquainted with the local area before returning to the room to get ready for the evening. We chose to dine at Le Cirque in the Bellagio, and then attend the Cirque du Soleil “O” show. Le Cirque is an elegant French restaurant which offered multiple pre-fixed tasting menus. Since we had tickets to a 7:30pm show we chose to eat early and do the three-course menu. We all enjoyed our dinner, but the starters and desserts were the real highlights of the experience. We finished just in time to walk across the casino to the show. The “O” show is one of many Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas, but this one combines the artistic acrobatics with stunning diving techniques. It’s definitely a show to see!

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Our second day in Las Vegas began with a visit to the Bellagio spa. We chose a 50-minute couples massage, which I followed with a manicure and pedicure. Both packages were luxurious and were a great way to relax and rejuvenate. We then enjoyed a free afternoon to wander up and down the strip, window shop, and enjoy the general splendor of the city. For dinner that evening we had reservations at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant in the Paris Hotel. This restaurant is located in the replica Eiffel Tower, and boasts distinguished French inspired cuisine. Our three-course meal was fantastic and the service was top-notch. We also had a beautiful view of the Bellagio fountains from our table. The whole experience was definitely worthy of recommendation. Following dinner, the men chose to enjoy a cigar at the Monticristo bar in Caesar’s Palace, while the ladies played the slot machines. We ended $10 up, so for people who don’t gamble much we did ok!

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The third day was reserved for our Grand Canyon adventure. My husband and I chose to travel to the Grand Canyon by helicopter. Neither of us had ever been in a helicopter and so we splurged to experience this natural wonder from the sky. We chose Sundance Helicopters and their VIP Deluxe tour. This all-inclusive tour included a limousine pick-up at our hotel, a 45-minute helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon, a boat ride on the Colorado River, free-time to explore the canyon rim, the choice to go out on the glass skywalk, and flight back to Las Vegas ending with another limousine ride back to our hotel. The whole tour was fantastically organized and flying over the Grand Canyon was a great way to experience its majesty. I don’t think we would have been able to truly appreciate the grandness of the natural formations had we not been in the helicopter. We were also able to fly over Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam and the Strip, so we felt as though we got to see so much more than just the Grand Canyon in the helicopter.

We split our final day in Las Vegas between a few different activities. We started the day by visiting the Real Bodies exhibit in Bally’s. This exhibition features real human bodies in informative poses that teach viewers about the wondrous ways our bodies support life. After this we took the Big Bus tour to see the Strip in its entirety. Using the hop-on, hop-off bus format to see all of the sights of the Strip was convenient, but our guide did not provide the informative commentary I was hoping for (I was really hoping for more history and interesting trivia than we received). We took the bus all the way out to Downtown Las Vegas where we disembarked for lunch and a ride on Slotzilla. This is a zip line experience where you fly superman style down Freemont Street. The wait was long, even with timed tickets, and the flight was short. But it was still a cool experience that I got to share with my dad. We took a cab back to our hotel in order to get cleaned up for dinner. Our final meal was at Delmonico’s, a steak house in the Venetian hotel. The steaks we ordered we delicious, as were the accompaniments. My husband and I then traveled back down the Strip to the Luxor Hotel to see the Blue Man Group. This was a fun and quirky show that was a great way to end a fun few days in Las Vegas.

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We flew home the next morning, direct to Newark. While it was a short holiday, Las Vegas proved to be the perfect destination to both relax and explore. We had memorable meals and enjoyed unique performances. Our Grand Canyon helicopter tour was the highlight of our trip, but there is still so much more that we didn’t have time to see. My husband has already said that he would like to return one day, so hopefully we will have another opportunity to visit fabulous Las Vegas in the future!

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