Though I chuckled a good long time about taking the kids to Las Vegas for the tail-end of my 40th birthday trip, I heard from a lot of people that it’s not all that unusual to take kids to Vegas. Sure it’s common to think of gambling and night clubs and debauchery (I guess Vegas is still trying to un-do the What Happens In Vegas tagline that I remember from my younger years), but there are also magnificent shows, elaborate displays, fun hotels, and shopping all on the strip.
After glamping and exploring both Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, we figured a real shower and a bit of bougee would feel nice. We booked two nights at Mandalay Bay because we had heard about their magnificent wave pool (more on this in a second…). So on Thursday morning we packed up our glamping gear and drove the two hours west, back to Las Vegas.
After returning our Turo rental, we checked in, paid the $40 to get into our room before 4:00 (ouch). Our room smelled heavily of smoke, but the concierge was lovely and quickly switched us to a new room, just as spacious but no smoke smell. We wasted no time changing into bathing suits and booking it to the pool.
Well… it turns out that the wave pool isn’t really a wave pool anymore. It’s now a zero entry pool (that you must stand in; can’t sit) that sends out on anticlimactic wave every 5 minutes or so.
Assuming it must be broken, I asked a worker and he replied “nope, this is just what it is. Kind of lame, huh?” YUP. Ha. No biggie, we paid just shy of $40 to feed the kids a hotdog and a hamburger (welcome to Vegas…) then had a ball chasing each other around in the lazy river. Redeemed!
After a few hours of fun, we headed back to the room for showers, then David and I treated ourselves to a massage at the spa. The spa itself is very nice and I wish I had more time to hang out and enjoy the sauna and the cold plunge, but we arrived just in time for our massages and had similar experiences- mediocre. However, like pizza, even a subpar massage is a treat and I left feeling relaxed.
The kids were pretty exhausted from the day (week?) and so we switched gears from planning to explore the strip to ordering them room service pizzas to eat in their pajamas (door jammer and iPad messaging for the win). They were THRILLED with some downtime, so David and I had a date night. We headed to the Bellagio where we sipped a martini and an old fashion before getting dinner at Harvest. The food was excellent!
Neither David nor I are big gamblers, but after dinner he decided to show me how to play craps. I’m still not sure I understand how to bet on it, but it sure was fun cheering at the table with everyone! We had 20 minutes of some good luck before we took our winnings and headed out. The picture of me cracks me up because it looks like we’re really getting wild at 3:00 AM, but in reality it was about 8:20 PM right when we were about to head back to the room. Still, it was fun to get out and feel a little wild with my babe.
Saturday morning we woke up refreshed and ready to explore! We walked to the Luxor and found a cafe for breakfast with hearty portions, so after fueling up, we headed out. We decided that the best way to get the most bang for our energy buck was to cab it to the other end of the strip, then work our way back, so we got dropped off at Caesar’s Palace and began our wandering.
The hotels, as expected, were a big hit for the kids, especially Caesar’s and The Venetian that give the illusion of being outside while in the middle of the monstrosities. Kaitlyn loved being surrounded by stores and both kids got a kick out of the architectural features, but neither loved that everything smelled vaguely of smoke. That was more so in the casinos than the mall-like areas, but still- smoky for sure.
I loved getting to show them the intricate fall fairytale fairy display at the Bellagio and their true highlight of the strip tour was a gentleman outside of Planet Hollywood performing street magic and card tricks. Both girls were enthralled and lit up when their card appeared to fly across the breezeway and land up high on the wall. Great fun!
We ate a small lunch and had a few minutes of computerized roulette success before heading back to the room to shower up.
Once cleaned up we made one more surprise stop- the ice bar! Have you seen these places where you put on parkas and hang out in a room made completely of ice? We thought the kids would get a big kick out of it, but honestly after the first fun 5 minutes, they were clearly cold. They were good sports and kept smiling, but it probably was not worth what we paid to get in.
Our next plan, though, was very worth it. We had built up our fancy dinner and a show to the kids and arrived at our dinner spot in the Venetian at 5:00 prompt. Delmonico is an Emeril Lagasse restaurant and it was outstanding. The service was attentive and kind and the kids loved getting to really practice their “fancy manners.” When the server brought out a free refill of a Shirley Temple without them even asking, their eyes grew wide and their faces lit up. It was too funny.
We ordered shishito peppers, a large Caesar salad that was made tableside, lamb chops for David, a filet for me, and both girls opted for French Onion Soup and a baked potato. David’s cocktail and my glass of wine also hit the spot. Overall, very impressed!
They brought out a birthday scoop of a banana ice cream, then we were off to our final stop. We walked across the street to watch Mystere, a Cirque de Soleil show at Treasure Island. It was the perfect ending to our evening, as we were all a little tired so sitting back and being entertained by the talented men and women doing acrobatics was relaxing and fun. Both kids really enjoyed their first Cirque experience, though it drove Hailey a little crazy not to have a storyline to follow.
Afterwards we cabbed it back to the hotel, got showers, and crashed hard into bed. Then next morning we were headed back to the airport. We are probably more National Park type people, but we still enjoyed Vegas for the unique and energetic experience that it is!