May 07, 2012

Viva Las Vegas!

We made the mistake of not planning ahead for Las Vegas. We ended up driving into Las Vegas after dark, with no place to stay for the night. It was Saturday, and all the church offices I called were closed for the week. We decided to drive by several churches with hopes of just parking for the night and then asking for permission in the morning, but the churches we drove by all had gates at their entrances, gates that were locked. We called all the Wal-Marts, and no go there; the Wal-Marts in Las Vegas do not allow overnight parking. So there we were, 9pm at night with nowhere to go. We gave up and called an RV park, and coughed up $60 to park at the KOA RV campground at the Circus Circus Casino. Ugg!

What you get for $60 in Las Vegas
The good thing is that that RV park is located right off the strip, and allowed late check-out at 4 pm (for an additional $10 charge…nothing is cheap in Vegas). We were too wiped out to explore Vegas on Saturday night. We made a yummy Trader Joe’s pizza and fell promptly asleep. Sunday, we set off to explore the strip.

Most of Las Vegas’s attractions are located on Las Vegas Boulevard. There is a neat section on Fremont Street as well (more on that later), but that is a 3 mile drive up the boulevard. We started at the north end of the strip, near the Stratosphere Tower. This is a super tall skyscraper on the strip that has amusement rides at the top of it. Imagine riding amusement rides on the 100 something floor?!? It looked pretty awesome; we almost went up there, but then weenied out.

The Stratosphere Tower
Just past the Fashion Show mall is where the strip gets really interesting. You walk on wide sidewalks with tons of people from all over the world, and there are amazing buildings and attractions on both sides. Sky and I were joking about how we went from one international wonder (the Grand Canyon) to another (Las Vegas), and they are both equally interesting and picturesque, just depends on what your tastes are.

Treasure Island has an awesome sunken pirate ship outside. They also have free nightly shows of sirens that sing on the sharp rocks outside the casino.

A view of Las Vegas Blvd.
The Venetian was amazing. There is a reproduction of San Marco square outside, complete with bell tower and gondola rides. We went inside to see the shopping mall and walk along the canals inside the casino. The ceiling inside is painted to look like the sky outside, which completes the optical illusion that you are really walking along Venetian streets. The Venetian hotel halls reminded me of a museum.

San Marco replica at the Venician
The canals inside the Venician
Inside the Venician hotel
The Mirage casino has a volcano that erupts in spectacular colors nightly. You can watch this show nightly for free after dusk. Caesars Palace, complete with a Coliseum reproduction, has beautiful fountains that stretch from the strip to the hotel entrance.

Mirage casino
Caesar's Palace and Coliseum
Along the strip, amidst the numerous tourists, there are impersonators of all kinds. Here you can take pictures with Hello Kitty, Mario and Luigi, a million Elvises, and of course, the Las Vegas showgirls. If you like to people watch, this is definitely the place to come and spend an afternoon.

Vegas showgirls on the strip
At the southern end of the strip we went by the New York city reproduction, the New York, New York casino, complete with Brooklyn Bridge!

New York, New York casino
Brooklyn Bridge in Las Vegas!
Then we passed the famous CityCenter, a 76 acre complex, the largest privately funded construction project in the United States! We went inside The Crystals, the super high end mall and walked around. You can see how the builders were able to spend the 9.2 billion dollars it cost to build this compound. There are exotic stones laced into staircases, all the finishes are slick, modern and visually pleasing, and the architecture even inside the buildings was remarkable.

CityCenter Complex
Inside The Crystals mall
We saw a Vegas wedding, walked by the Eiffel Tower, and then walked inside the Mirage shopping mall for a bit. By then our time was up, we had to move the trailer to somewhere less expensive.

A wedding in Las Vegas
The Eiffel Tower
Since it was Sunday, when I called the Green Valley Baptist Church, they were in. I asked them if it would be alright if we could park overnight in their parking lot, and their reply was “You know we have no hook-ups, right?”. :o) We moved Lucy to the church, ate a quick dinner and then made our way back to the strip. This time we drove to Fremont St. and parked at the Golden Nugget casino. Their parking garage allows for 3 hours of free parking if you go inside their casino and get the parking ticket validated at the casino cage. No problemo! We even signed up for their 24 karat club, and got $10 of free play money. We walked away with $9. We’re rich! Another neat aspect to the Golden Nugget casino is that they have a shark tank by their swimming pool. You can ride down through a clear tube through the shark tank!!

The shark tank in Golden Nugget casino
Fremont St is famous for the huge video screen ceiling that runs about 3 city blocks. Every hour after dusk you can catch a 5 minute show that’s displayed on this massive screen. It’s a pretty surreal experience. We got there right at 10pm and caught the Queen show. At 11pm they had the Doors show. There are also three stages and a free shows going. When we were there, they had a country music stage, a rock-n-roll stage, and a today’s hits stage. There we saw an LMFAO impersonator. I’d say he needs more practice. 

On Fremont St.
This is a video of the Queen show on Fremont St:

We were going to round out the night with a viewing of the famous Bellagio fountains at night, but parking on the strip turned out to be a huge headache with our oversized ride (turns out Fiona is taller than 6 feet 4 inches..). Most of the casino parking garages offer comped parking, but the ceilings are so low, that we didn’t fit.

To see more pictures of the strip, click here.

Happy all over the world exploring in Las Vegas!


Email me

No comments:

Post a Comment