This post is an untypical city guide for a Las Vegas road trip. Vegas has another side that you’ll want to explore.
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s I push the button, I feel the anticipation build for what will come next.
I hear the sound of all the right symbols lining up across the pay line. I feel my body tingle from head to toe, and then people around me are cheering my big win.
Every trip I imagine this is the one I win the Megabucks slot machine jackpot, Nevada’s version of the lottery (after every win, it resets to $10 million). The machines are tied together and are in about every hotel across Nevada.
Do they serve big winners champagne to celebrate?! I hope so.
What comes next in my Megabucks fantasy is checking into the Fairway Villas at the Wynn hotel where I’ll live – for a few nights – like a celebrity. The villas have a private-drive entrance to their own registration lobby. Each suite comes with butler service, a massage room, and a private balcony or patio overlooking the Wynn golf course.
Las Vegas is close (from Salt Lake City, Utah) and a quick escape for a long weekend. Since I go to Vegas frequently, I like to have a theme each time. This trip my theme was unique spots to have a cocktail.
This theme was fun because it took me to hotels I otherwise might not stay at or visit.
There is another side to Vegas other than what typically gets depicted in movies, such as The Hangover.
It also has a sophisticated side. It’s home to some of the best restaurants in the world, hand-crafting cocktails are becoming an art form, and it has nearly every luxury retailer on the planet.
Las Vegas road trip
It’s only a 6 to 6 ½ hour drive from Salt Lake to Sin City
It helps that the speed limit on this stretch of Utah is 80 mph. The governing body in Utah is very particular about what goes on (or shouldn’t go on) but speeding down the highway is A-OK.
It’s the perfect place to stay if you like a more laid-back vibe. The prices are reasonable, and most of the guests are over the age of 35 – if you know what I mean. It’s easily accessible to the strip without being in the madness of The Strip.
The Signature doesn’t have a casino; however, the MGM Grand is easily accessible. Parking is free (unlike the MGM which costs around $30 per night). I usually valet the car and take Uber or Lyft wherever we go because the traffic in and around the strip is horrific.
The towers are made up of studios, one and two bedroom suites. The studios have a kitchenette, and the one and two bedroom suites have small full kitchens. Each tower has it’s own lobby and pool, they are all connected along with internal access to the MGM Grand.
It’s worth the nominal upgrade ($10 a night) to stay on a higher floor because the view – especially facing the strip – is delightful.
Guests can use any of the three towers pools. They even have an adult-only pool and guests also have access to the MGM Grand’s 6.5-acre Grand Pool complex featuring four pools, three whirlpools, and a lazy river.
We typically leave home so we can arrive in time to take a quick dip in the pool before we go out for the evening.
The Wynn hotel
The main bar is inside, but the outside patio is where you’ll find me. It sits adjacent to the Lake of Dreams which includes a 40-foot waterfall and a pine-topped mountain (the strip is on the other side of the trees).
A tranquil oasis in the middle of the strip.
I always order a dirty martini and enjoy the view. Every evening after it gets dark the lake puts on an impressive show.
Last year I celebrated my birthday at Lakeside. There are dining experiences I’ll never forget, and this is in the top five. It’s an exquisite place to celebrate special occasions; the service is impeccable, the food is over the top, and the wine list is extensive.
But it’s the Cherry on Top Sundae dessert that’s worth the trip!
This dessert isn’t just any sundae. The “cherry” is a large chocolate sphere filled with mixed berries in a delectable sauce that sits on top a massive fudge brownie surrounded by vanilla ice cream, meringue buttons, and whipped cream.
The waiter brings out the dish with a wood mallet and carefully cracks it open. My pictures don’t do the dessert justice.
How do they get the berries in there?
Dinner was, of course, followed by a crack at the Megabucks slot machine.
I spent the day by the pool and didn’t get my act together in time to eat dinner where I’d planned. We had tickets to Boyz II Men, so we had to hustle to The Mirage hotel, where they are in residency, to find dinner.
What a happy accident!
We ate at Otoro (Japanese) and had the best sushi and tempura. We were seated immediately, and the prices were moderate. I’d hands-down go there again.
I love Boyz II Men because they have some of the best romantic ballads of the ’90s.
They perform in a small theater which has an intimate feel, and every seat is excellent. It was one of the best concerts I’ve ever! Not only are they talented musicians and performers but they connect with their audience on a personal level.
During several songs, they stepped off the stage and gave out roses or slow danced with audience members. All while singing!
Love them, love their music.
Fashion Show Mall
The Cosmopolitan hotel
On the way back to our hotel we did a bit of bar hopping. First, we went to The Chandelier in The Cosmopolitan hotel and had the “secret flower drink.” The talented makeup artist suggested the drink at the Chanel counter because it’s not on the menu.
I love pink and purple sparkle, so this place was totally my vibe.
Yes, I found the Megabucks machine and gave it another whirl.
Who knows what this is?
Mandarin Oriental hotel (now the Waldorf Astoria)
Each of the twelve cocktails is crafted with characteristics of each zodiac sign and served in conjunction with the sign’s dates.
The Mandarin Oriental hotel lobby and the bar are located on the 23rd floor of the hotel.
As I got out of the elevator something in the lobby caught my eye…
A champagne vending machine! Then I wondered…can you get one on Amazon?
Recently the Waldorf Astoria purchased the hotel and is being rebranded as the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas. I hope they keep the tiny bubbles.
The view from the bar was phenomenal.
Did you know the MGM Grand has an almost secret hotel called the Mansion? You can look down on it from the bar at the Mandarin (not shown in the photo above).
The Mansion is an exclusive enclave tucked into a discrete corner of the MGM Grand property and had 29 Mediterranean-themed residences. The entrance is hidden and gated. If the Internet is right, a stay here is by invitation only.
The villas here make the Fairway Villas at the Wynn look average by comparison.
We topped off our evening with the High Roller. I highly recommend this because it’s so unusual.
I’m afraid of heights, but the entertainment value far outweighed my fear. I was fine.
Do it at night and if you’re are traveling with over 21’s spring for the happy half hour open bar. Of course, you can still get the happy half hour during the day. Because Vegas. But the view at night is spectacular.
My hat’s off to the bartenders who bring their hustle and keep everyone happy in a half hour which is the amount of time for one rotation.
This year San Francisco developers announced plans for the Golden Gate Flyer, a wheel planned to be 728 feet tall. Love San Fran, not sure I’ll be riding on this one though.
We sat on the outside patio and had an excellent view of the fountain show. Because it practically sits on the strip sidewalk, this is an excellent location to people watch and has a fun sidewalk café atmosphere.
We had French martinis at the bar while we waited for our table. Then we started dinner with a charcuterie board. It had several pates, meats, cheeses, and dried fruits. All excellent!
Great food, great time!
Interesting note: I didn’t look for the Megabucks slot machine at the Paris hotel, but 12 days later someone won the $11,183,715.84 jackpot! I’ll always wonder if I missed my chance.
On the road again
Even though I didn’t win the Megabucks jackpot, I still had a blissful road trip and…there’s always next time!
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