I will state upfront that I am not a Vegas person. I have, however, been known to thoroughly enjoy myself there, and have even done so on more than one occasion. If I look back for common threads about those visits, I find the following:
1. The duration of my visit was less than 48 hours.
2. My husband was with me, and my kids were not.
3. Our hotel room was peaceful, spacious, and had a luxuriously comfortable bed.* Hotel amenities included an upscale spa and eateries helmed by nationally known chefs.
4. We had a memorable meal at least one outstanding gourmet restaurant.**
5. I won enough money at a really fun, loud craps table surrounded by some of the nicest drunken strangers I ever met to pay for the entire trip and then some***.
Here are some details on my most recent foray:
1. The duration of our trip was nearly 5 days.
2. My kids were with me, and my husband was not.
3. Our hotel room was a steal at $29 a night via Hotels.com, and my sister, my niece, my two kids and I crammed in there with our luggage and a blow-up air mattress. Hotel amenities included a 70 lane bowling alley, a Subway and a Baskin-Robbins.
4. We ate at a buffet that cost less than $10 at least once per day.****
5. The closest I came to a craps table was when I was lugging the 12 pack of Diet Coke I bought at Target through the haze of smoke in the casino to get to our room and I accidentally bumped into one on the way.
So, let's just say this was not one of the trips where I thoroughly enjoyed myself*****. But there were some highlights:
1. My son's face lighting up with a smile from ear to ear when he hit a three pointer in the opening game of the basketball tournament that brought us all to Vegas in the first place.
2. My niece and daughter squealing with delight over the completely liquified fruit snacks they found in the car:
Me: Girls, I'm so sorry we forgot about the heat. They're ruined!
My daughter: Are you kidding? These are WAY better than regular fruit snacks. I love them!
My niece: These are super better! These are double better!
My daughter: When we get back home, we should microwave all the fruit snacks to make them do this!
My niece: Yes! Yes! Yes!
They then proceed to smear the gooey mess all over their teeth, face and fingers, grinning like maniacs.
3. Seeing Love with the kids dancing and singing in their seats, jaws agape at the magic unfolding all around them.
4. Realizing that there were so very many people who shouldn't be wearing bathing suits around the ridiculously crowded wave pool that my joining the group would be no big deal.******
5. We had been driving for maybe 10 minutes on our way to the gym, and my daughter noticed that all of the ice in the water bottle we had filled up at the hotel had melted. We were all exclaiming over how this could be possible in such a short time with the a/c on full blast in the car, when we heard this comment from my niece******* in the back seat (delivered completely deadpan and in a voice that one would swear bore the traces of a two-pack-a-day habit):
"Welcome to Las Vegas."
* Tip: Stay at the hotels that are attached to but not part of another place. My personal favorite is the oddly capitalized THEHotel at Mandalay Bay. The Signature at MGM was also lovely.
** Tops on my list: Nob Hill Tavern at MGM, DB Brasserie at the Wynn.
*** The luckiest table mates I ever had were all wearing viking horns.
****By far the tastiest meal of the trip was the $2.50 hot link sandwich that a guy was grilling in the 110 degree heat outside of the basketball gym. It was mouthwateringly good! I had one for breakfast the second day.
***** Honestly, it felt like about five thousand people from the midwest who never work out brought all their kids and some pierced neighbors to squeeze onto a sea of identical lawn chairs while a convention of tattoo parlor refugees strolled by in a constant stream. Everyone was drinking something frozen with a plastic surfboard in it. I was the only person for miles reading a book.
****** The low point was my son and daughter insisting that I accompany them on the New York New York roller coaster less than 20 minutes after I had consumed a Fatburger. Thank God I had skipped the fries with that.
******* Did I mention that she's five?