Welcome back to the latest chapter of my American travels! As the Christmas season nears, may this blog series inspire you to craft your own memorable holiday adventure. To give you all context on this recent trip, my sons and I have spent the rest of our 2017 holidays in San Francisco, then flying to New York City to witness the New Year Ball Drop at Times Square.
From there, the boys and I began our year in Las Vegas, a place notoriously known as Sin City: America’s capital of casinos, hotels, and live entertainment.
So now, come and #JuanderWithUs as we explore the vibrant city of Las Vegas.
Touchdown! Indeed, upon landing here, one notices a stark contrast from the massive metropolis of New York. While the Big Apple gleams with steel, glass, and concrete, Sin City is encrusted in sand, glitter, and neon. New York is where professionals work; Las Vegas is where the high-rollers come to play. And while the former is a place of aspiration, the latter is a destination for fantasy.
I could already feel the excitement right from the terminal. From the airport, we headed immediately to one of my favorite joints for some much-needed comfort food.
We stepped into the California Hotel and Casino, which while named after a neighboring state, is decidedly Nevadan from its bright exterior. Here, I was happy to once again taste my favorite oxtail soup – which still tasted just as good from my first try.
Finally, we’re at our suite at the Bellagio, right in the middle of all the action. What a welcome view of the famous city skyline too.
Goodnight for now, Vegas!
Waking up, I thought to myself: what could be more fun than shopping with the boys? So I decided to start our second day at the Las Vegas North Premium Outlets. Here’s where the most skilled fashionistas hunt for more unique finds, from all the major labels you could think of.
Of course, we just couldn’t miss getting a few pieces too.
But enough retail therapy for now. From our shopping trip, we headed back to our hotel to rest. I then prepared myself for an even bigger event that was to happen that night.
You might be guessing I’m here to get that grand jackpot at Caasars Palace – but alas, I’m here to pursue lasting, not fleeting memories! That night, music icon Celine Dion was performing one of her shows at the same hotel, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to listen to her medley of chart-topping hits.
From start to finish, the show was just as spectacular as one expects from a world-class artist. While the venue was massive, her endearing performances made the show more intimate – like she was serenading personally to every concertgoer. This experience was one to remember for sure.
I then went back to the Bellagio for a post-concert dinner, at the Lago, an Italian restaurant by Michelin-decorated chef Julian Serrano. I was delighted to be joined by my loved ones. Here, the setting was like visiting a modern art gallery, as abstract paintings lined its walls, and glimmering decor made for a gorgeous backdrop for our dining. The delightful pasta was the icing on the cake to this great day.
The boys and I got up early the next day, wanting to go away from the city for a while, and into the wilderness of the desert. From Nevada, we then drove out of the state, and into the extent of the Utah-Arizona State Line. Here are a few postcard-perfect snapshots of our stop – to the Grand Canyon State we go!
Now that we’re in Arizona, we then drove to one of its most visited sites apart from the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell. Around two million travelers head to this lake every year – which can be quite surprising, given that it is a manmade reservoir formed by the construction of the nearby Glen Canyon Dam. Then again, the place is truly a stunner, as its deep, reflective waters contrast the surrounding orange landscape.
Another sight to behold is the Horseshoe Bend, which as its name suggests, is literally shaped like a huge horseshoe. The formation is said to be caused by a dramatic change in sea level, way back from the prehistoric times.
Still, more wonders awaited here in Arizona, including the now-famous Antelope Canyon: a popular backdrop to get that one-of-a-kind Instagram photo. It’s amazing how nature could craft something so artistically inspiring.
While we were moved by the immense beauty of Arizona, we were also eager to head back to Vegas for a delectable gourmet meal! So, with just a few snacks at hand, we munched away while we were driven back to our hotel for a cold shower. Then, we headed down to our next stop: Gordon Ramsay Steak, a bright modern steakhouse carved out at the middle of Paris Casino.
From the peppered tenderloins to the spiced shanks, as well as the solid chunk of buttered lobster, our dinner was as every bit of mesmerizing as we hoped. Gordon Ramsay certainly lives up to his hype.
Soon after, it was time to head back to our suite for some shut-eye.
The glow of the desert sun signaled the start of our third day. To savor the favorable weather, the boys and I spent a little while at the Bellagio’s refreshing poolside – right before it got a little too warm.
The boys just wanted to spend their day on their own, so they decided to do head out on the town for more extreme experiences like bungee jumping. Meanwhile, it’s me-time back at the Spa and Salon Bellagio, which extended right into the night, even after the boys finished their sports-filled day.
The following morning, we checked out of the Bellagio and met up with a few of our friends who lived in neighboring Spring Valley. It was so kind of them to offer us a stay at their home. Then again, we were also looking forward to catch up.
From there, we were also curious to see more of Las Vegas beyond its usual attractions. Luckily, there were also plenty of cultural treasures hidden within its neon-lit streets – such as the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts.
It was such a joy browsing through its expansive exhibitions. Among these was a display of Japanese artifacts, all of which dating back to the country’s samurai era.
On the opposite end of the museum, I was then treated to another visually enticing exhibition: this time of Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. Who knew there were Louvre-like experiences within Sin City?
It was a bit of a shame we had to go back. With its vast collection of masterpieces, I could have toured the museum all day! Right after, we then went back to Spring Valley to have a hearty, home-cooked meal with our friends. Our time in Vegas was soon to come to an end.
Waving our friends goodbye, we then hurried to the airport. On the outskirts of the city, we also had another photo-op at the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign.
Right on time for departure! Before take-off, my sons and I were reminiscing about our short stay in Vegas: its flashing lights, massive casinos, and extravagant restaurants. But more than this, we were surprised to rediscover a city filled with a unique charm, one where you could also make lasting memories beyond the poker table.
Curious to see what lies ahead, we then plugged into our earphones and awaited our landing to another glamorous side of the West Coast: Los Angeles.
Have your own thrilling adventure planned out in Las Vegas. Inquire with our #WorldJuanderer travel specialists today. #WithYouWhileYoureOutThere