Early June 2022, the fiancé and I took our first proper vacation since the pandemic! We wanted to go somewhere in the same time zone since with all the covid testing still in place for Canada/US flights, we wanted to simplify our covid testing process and not have to account for time zone differences. So we chose Las Vegas!
I’ve been to Las Vegas multiple times in my life. My dad used to road trip us down there. It was always really fun since we’d stop at various towns along the way. We’d also usually squeeze in a drive to Anaheim too in the itinerary so we could go to Disneyland! These trips would happen during my summer breaks from school and would take a few weeks. I no longer have the luxury of taking a month off like back then but it was still very nostalgic to relive Las Vegas—albeit without my dad, mom, and sister this time.
I remember marvelling at staying at a castle when my family and I used to stay at Excalibur. And that helped sway our decision this time around to stay there too. To be fair, I still felt a thrill seeing the castle every time we returned back to the hotel, but the inside is definitely not as magical as I remember. I wish it was more themed—a medieval theme feels like it really could have made a revival especially with shows like Game of Thrones! The fiancé and I never really spend much times at the hotels we stay at so I didn’t really mind, but the rooms were quite lacklustre.
We landed in the afternoon on June 1st and headed straight to our hotel to drop off stuff. We then marched across the street to the Coca Cola store and fully experienced the Las Vegas heat in all its glory! It was simultaneously not as hot and hotter than I remembered. I was thinking “this isn’t too bad” as we crossed the streets, but then after a few more minutes I felt the heat beating down on my shoulders.
The nice thing with the Las Vegas strip is that there are lots of stores to take air conditioner breaks in. However, crossing the street requires the most convoluted pedestrian overhead bridges that make you walk more than you would’ve had to if they just had crosswalks. We ducked our way into hotels and shops until we got to the Coca Cola store for the first thing on our itinerary: soda flights!
I remembered doing this back when I visited with my family the last time we came. At the top floor of the Coca Cola store, you can buy sample fights to try sodas from all over the world! Most of them were kind of gross or overly sweet, but it was fun to sit down and quench our thirst!
After sodas, we walked around a bit more until we got to Planet Hollywood. But by then I was pretty done with walking down the street in the mid-day sun. So we took an Uber to downtown Las Vegas!
We had heard of this great deal at Tony Roma’s and we wanted to see how legit it was. For $8.99 you can get a whole prime rib dinner if you visit between 4:30PM – 6:30PM! We also got an onion loaf to share (which was $10 and in comparison, sounded like a rip off). The prime rib was amazing. Maybe it’s the price that really hammered it home, but I felt the quality was top notch. As context, I usually visit the Keg for prime rib and pay like $40 for it. I’d gladly go to Tony Roma’s any day for $8.99 a plate though.
Tony Roma’s is located inside one of the older casinos on Fremont Street. We had wanted to catch the Fremont Street Experience, but it was a little early so we headed to the Mob Museum. Everyone says it’s a must-visit and it was a cool exhibit overall. But if you’re not prepared for a lot of reading (or paying for the “bonus” experiences), don’t get your hopes too high. There was a really neat section that stuck with me and it was the Valentine’s Day Massacre wall. They had the actual wall with the bullet holes you could walk up to! I left learning a lot more about Las Vegas’ early strong mob influences, and just how much prominent names such as Bugsy Siegel, Al Capone, and Lucky Luciano appeared in America’s mobster past.
After spending a good 2 hours or so at the Mob Museum we walked back out to explore Fremont Street. There are loads of restaurants and shops along the street. There are also open bars with random girls hired to dance on the tables? They’re gorgeous, but it was a little bizarre to see among the tourist hustle and bustle.
People online said that the best time to see the Viva Vision show was the 9PM showing. I actually thought the regular stuff of nature and scenic footage they played was cooler. We saw the “MIXology” show and it was…kinda abstract? But I think anything shown on the gigantic overhead screens that lined the street would have been cool regardless.
We ended up trying to bus home after the show but the bus took its sweet time getting to our stop. When we got back to our hotel, we wanted to grab a bite and walked to an In-N-Out that’s semi-near our hotel. The fiancé had his first In-N-Out burger here! I don’t know if it’s sacrilegious for me to say, but I actually do not like my In-N-Out stuff animal style. It makes it way too salty for me and I think their burgers and fries are solid as is.
It was past 1AM by the time we got back from our burger run and I was glad to finally go to sleep at around 2!
I think we ended up getting 7 hours of sleep and then we had to make sure we woke up in time the next day for our lunch reservation at Hell’s Kitchen! We left our hotel bright and early to start our trek out. We knew we also wanted to check out the hotels along the way so it was going to take us a while to get to the restaurant. One of these hotels were New York New York. I guess I didn’t recall going inside this hotel from my past family trips or I forgot, but I absolutely loved the themed area inside the hotel that makes you think you’re in a quaint New York neighbourhood! That’s where all their fast food shops are—much cooler than a regular food court!
We were excited to try out Gordan Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen during this trip. We went for lunch and they had a three course beef wellington menu for $85 per person. We had a choice for our appetizers but we both decided to go for the famous pan seared scallops. The scallops were okay. I don’t think you can mess up scallops much, but overall it was kind of bland. You know how sometimes you get a sweetness out of scallops? These lacked that and just about any kind of flavour overall.
The star of the show was supposed to be the beef wellington. Mine was overdone. My fiancé’s was better so I took a bite of his and it was indeed pretty decent. But the chewiness of mine was just not pleasant. I did enjoy the mushroom layer in between the beef and the flaky pastry though!
The end dessert was sticky toffee pudding. It wasn’t bad, but it was just a bit too sweet for me so I couldn’t finish it. For a $230+ meal, it wasn’t worth it at all. I could’ve eaten at the Bacchanal Buffet at that price!
After Hell’s Kitchen I wanted to do a bit of shopping so we went to Fashion Show to check out the shops there. I ended up getting a Sailor Moon backpack, but that was it. We then walked around the hotels on the north side of the strip. The Venetian is amazing as always and I miss the pirate show at Treasure Island 😦 I remember as a kid not quite understanding why seductive sirens were kidnapping men as part of their act, but I look back and it’s so gimmicky—I really miss it.
It was around 8PM and we weren’t really getting hungry. While Hell’s Kitchen wasn’t great, it was filling and we didn’t really feel like dinner. But since we had a show to go to at 9:30PM, we had to grab a quick bite. We ended up getting In-N-Out again, but this time at the Linq Promenade. After that, we headed next door to the Flamingo to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race Live!
It isn’t actually a live filming of Drag Race, but this Vegas show consists of a rotating cast of past queens who lip sync, dance, act, and generally put on a really engaging show. On one of our Uber trips, our Uber driver asked us if we had any shows we were going to hit up and I mentioned RuPaul’s. That led into a very uncomfortable conversation where he claimed he doesn’t really get drag queens. After I explained how much talent and effort it takes to ace it, he then said it all sounded too politically correct since he didn’t know to call them “he” or “she”. Okay? Sir, you had no understanding of drag queens 3 minutes ago and have never interacted with them. But now you feel threatened? Bye.
When the curtains lifted for RuPaul’s Live, I cried a bit when I saw the queens come out on stage. They’re such dazzling personalities and I’m so glad they get to shine on stage. Our cast of queens this time around included Naomi Smalls, Derrick Barry, Latrice Royale, Roxxy Andrews, and Jasmine Kennedie. For our host, we had Ginger Minj. I have to say that while Derrick Barry was not a particularly strong Drag Race contender back on her season, she tries extra hard to put in more effort for the live show. I really appreciate her energy!
By the time the show ended it was past 11PM and we made our way back to our hotel. We would have another early day coming up so we tried to get to bed as soon as possible and set our alarms for 7:30AM.
Getting a bit long here so more to come in the next blog post!