Because of our generator issues and scheduling around Spring Break crowds, we had way too many short stays in a row. For us, short stays are anything less than two weeks. It may sound silly at first, but two weeks goes quickly for us because we work Monday-Friday. When we arrived in Las Vegas, our travel schedule finally started to normalize. We stayed for 11 nights.
We like big cities: the excitement of being around other people, the things to do and (usually) good food to eat. Las Vegas provided a balance because we stayed on the outskirts in a peaceful campground, but we were only 20 minutes from the city center.
What We Did
For me, highlights of the Las Vegas Strip include people-watching and the M&M’s store (I kind of loved the 3D movie). But I do enjoy wandering in and out of the casinos and seeing the jaw-dropping decor. The Bellagio Conservatory and pyramid-housed Luxor are two of my favorite spots.
But nothing we saw compared to the behind-the-scenes tour we received from Kent Bagnell, Assistant Director of Flora & Horticulture at the Palazzo and Venetian. Kent is part of our RV Wanderlust community, and he showed us a side of Las Vegas we’d never be able to see otherwise!
I was welcomed with a stunning Venetian rose, unique to the hotel. From there, we saw the beautiful pool-side gardens and seasonal exhibits that Kent is responsible for, and ended our tour underground in the floral department’s shop. One of the things that surprised us most was the Palazzo and Venetian’s environmental consciousness. The hotel complex is reportedly the largest LEED-certified building on the planet. We’re so grateful to Kent for his time and everything he taught us!
Of course, we also had to see the famous Bellagio fountains (dates and times), which are just as impressive as the movies make them seem.
Our big splurge was going to see Cirque du Soleil’s LOVE, a show based on the Beatles’ music. The soundtrack was produced by the late George Martin and his son, Giles. Eric and I were in our element. Though this was our first time seeing the show, we both have had copies of the soundtrack since around the time the show premiered in late 2006! Pro tip: the seats closest to the stage are not the best because you can’t get perspective on everything going on. I think the seats near the rear of the 200 sections are actually the best.
Fremont Street Experience
Ah, Fremont Street. We had a friend mention to us that it isn’t family-friendly, and we were so confused about why she would say that, as we strolled along in the light of day. Everything seemed copacetic. By the time night had fallen and we were wandering back to our parking spot, the whole scene had changed. While it was exciting, with creative street performers, live music, dancers and zip-liners zinging by overhead, there were definitely some things I’d consider inappropriate for young eyes.
Use your own discretion, and have fun! This is a true Las Vegas experience.
Fremont St. – Website
For those little ones feeling left out, you can console them with a visit to Container Park. This place is awesome! Just down Fremont Street (away from the hullabaloo), this urban park is walled in with two stories of converted shipping containers.
The containers house a little bit of everything. There’s at least one craft cocktail bar, and restaurants ranging from BBQ to fine dining. There are also really cool boutique shops, with apparel, jewelry, art, decor and more. If you stop by, make sure to visit our friends at Kappa Toys! They used their experience as the owners of internationally-famous Toy Joy in Austin to create another awesome toy store, this time in Las Vegas.
In the middle of the complex, there’s abundant seating and an awesome playground that makes me wish I was 10 again.
Once you spot the giant metal praying mantis, you’ve found Container Park.
707 Fremont St. – Website
Essential Oil Gear
Essential Oil Gear was a fun stop for me while we were in Las Vegas. I have a growing collection of doTERRA essential oils, and was looking for some glass roller ball containers and spray bottles, so I could create some special concoctions. Their full inventory is online if you’re not in the area.
6180 N. Hollywood Blvd. Ste. 108 – Website
Day Trips Into Nature
Death Valley National Park
We spent an awesome day at Death Valley National Park, which is about two hours away from Las Vegas. Itinerary and photos here.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
We loved the 13-mile scenic drive around Red Rock Canyon and highly recommend it. There are some hardcore rock climbing opportunities along the way, as well as a long list of hiking trails. We chose to do the Keystone Thrust hike (2.1 miles out and back), though we ended up improvising when we semi-lost the trail/wanted to go a different way.
This is the sort of place you could visit multiple times and still not fully explore. The entrance fee is $7/vehicle or $30 for an annual pass. There are also some free days during the year that are listed on the website.
1000 Scenic Loop Dr. – Website
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Lake Mead is a 186,000-acre oasis in the desert, offering recreational opportunities from boating to swimming to biking to hiking. We only spent a short time there, between our time at the visitor’s center and one night of dry camping with friends, but we’d love to return.
Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument
Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument is one of the newer national monuments, established in 2014. In fact, it’s so new that there’s no visitor’s center, no rangers on site and virtually no signage. It makes for an interesting visit because you get to see a national monument in progress. We were surprised by all of the trash laying around–it tangibly communicated the value of the National Parks Service.
Speaking of value, Tule Springs Fossil Beds was recognized as a national monument because of the unique and varied fossils that have been found there, from animals like mammoths, lions and camels! Yes, you read that right. When we got our passport stamp at Lake Mead, the ranger there said she practically stumbled on an amazing fossil right under her feet when she was casually walking around Tule Springs.
What We Ate
Asian BBQ & Noodle
It doesn’t get any more authentic than Asian BBQ & Noodle, where you may be the only customer who speaks English. We ordered a big bowl of wonton soup to share, then each had a plate of chow mein. I had BBQ pork and Eric had shrimp, but we both agreed the BBQ pork was the best. We could’ve shared one plate of chow mein because it was huge. We were craving this place after just a couple of days and almost went back.
3400 S. Jones Blvd. #5C – Yelp
Nora’s Italian Cuisine
I wanted somewhere slightly romantic to celebrate our 56th monthiversary (we celebrate every month), and Nora’s Italian Cuisine ended up being perfect. This family-owned business has a simple, but welcoming, ambiance, with old photographs lining the walls. The service was excellent, and everything we ate was delicious. After hot tea, mozzarella sticks, a generous house salad, shrimp scampi and fettuccine alfredo, we couldn’t believe the bill was only $60, including tip. Fettuccine alfredo is one of my personal favorites, and this sauce had a unique flavor that ranks among the best I’ve had.
It does get busy, so you may want to call ahead for a reservation.
6020 W. Flamingo Road #10 – Website
There were a few other places we ate at in Las Vegas, though some of them won’t get a mention. Shake Shack called to us when we were getting foot-sore on the Strip. We went to the flagship location in New York City back in August, and this place has seriously good burgers, fries and milkshakes.
We also had a good time at Anthony’s New York Pizza & Deli near Fremont Street. We were looking for New York-style pizza, and that’s exactly what we found. Even the space reminded me of New York, although Anthony’s version was quite a bit cleaner than my NYC experiences. Even better than the pizza was getting to chat with Anthony himself, who represents everything I love about small business owners. He takes the time to get to know his customers, and he cares about his craft.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at Desert Eagle RV Park on Nellis Air Force Base, which is available to active duty military members, National Guard, reservists, retirees, 100% disabled veterans and DoD civilians. This was among my favorite military campgrounds we’ve stayed at. The landscaping is beautiful, with a gravel trail encircling the numerous sites. Nellis Air Force Base itself has a large Exchange and a beautiful gym with free fitness classes. I would return in a heartbeat.
What We Missed in Las Vegas
Valley of Fire was at the top of our list. We had a day picked out and everything. But when that day dawned, it was chilly and extremely windy, so we had to nix our plans.
What do you think we missed? I’d love to hear your Las Vegas recommendations in a comment. Thanks for reading!