Las Vegas 2011 (Day 1)
We booked a four-night/five day trip to Las Vegas a couple of months back through Southwest Vacations. The promo included two free show tickets (and that’s a significant savings since show tickets here generally costs about $100 apiece) and included a discount on the hotel room. All told, we’d be spending about $100 for the four nights (staying Sunday through Thursday night on The Strip will save you a ton of money since the hotels jack their rates up for the weekends) at New York New York, so it seemed like a good deal.
We got in on Sunday evening and didn’t have time to hit a show. Frankly, there wasn’t much going on. The grating Gilbert Gottfried was at the Hilton, but we didn’t think we could make it through an entire performance. Plus, we were starving. So we headed across the street to grab a quick bite at Baja Fresh. If you live on the West Coast, you’re probably not too impressed with our culinary prowess right now. But if you’re from the Midwest and the one Baja Fresh in a 60-mile radius closed a couple of years ago, you’d probably be missing this better than average fast food Mexican option too. There are a few located around town, but we stopped at the one in Excalibur.
From there, we crossed the strip to the newly-refreshed, much brighter Tropicana. A few years ago, The Trop was a dump. But a significant facelift, an upgrade in shows, the addition of Brad Garrett’s comedy club and new restaurants, and the introduction of the interactive Las Vegas Mob Experience (more on that after we do it), have given this tired Strip staple a boutique rebirth. And, it happens to be where two very casual gamblers (maybe $40 a day) have had luck on the slots. While the hotel is running a promo when you sign up for their player’s card, we signed up too late and missed out the deal (the casino will essentially reimburse you for half of what you lose, up to $200). Still, we had a good time playing Invaders from the Planet Moolah, which is attached to a Monopoly bonus board. We didn’t win any “moolah,” but it was still fun, especially when a Monopoly “big event” kicks in and you win some extra cash.
Then, we simply walked up The Strip. Despite the fact that we could feel the oppressive heat radiating from the pavement, we still had fun watching the cast of characters who come out in Vegas once the sun goes down. It seems the posing for tips phenomenon of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in LA has come to Vegas. We saw a pretty decent Frankenstein and a great Superman, along with a not-so-fab Batman, Spiderman and a really sad Bart Simpson. Along the way, we hit The Strip’s most shi shi hotel/casino, The Cosmopolitan, to see if a band was playing at Book & Stage, a cool space where indie bands play free concerts. There was no show booked for the night so we headed out, deciding to head back to our hotel early so we’d be fresh for the next day’s activities.