A Vegas Vacation is never the same twice. We’ve had trips where we’ve been non-stop, trips where we’ve won, trips where we’ve lost, and trips we wish we could remember. This trip was different, and once again, we discovered some things we didn’t know about ourselves that will make our future trips even better. This was my 10th trip to Vegas and my companions 5th, so we aren’t newbies by any means. However, we are still always learning and our Vegas likes/dislikes continue to grow and change. I’m going to break this up into categories, as I honestly can’t remember what we did one day to the next. Flight We flew out of Minneapolis at 6am. Well, not sure I like the early morning flight all that much, but it did get us there early. We are spoiled in the past with direct flights, but this time, we flew out of MSP to Seattle, then to Vegas. This was a free flight, so no one was complaining, but having a direct flight is always preferable. The flight there and home were uneventful, which is always good. The flight home was a late flight, arriving at MSP around midnight. This was perfect, minus the 3 hour drive home. We were on Vegas time, so it was pretty easy to stay up. Cab Ride We arrived in Vegas around 11:30 and caught a cab from Terminal 3. I asked to be taken to Four Queens. Without any further conversation, we were treated to a $50 long haul. I swear, 10 minutes into the ride we were just seeing Mandalay Bay. Really? I’m not one for starting a trip on a sour note, so I paid the fare and then turned the guy into the Taxi Cab Authority. (its really easy, just a simple form you complete online with their taxi number) Four Queens Hotel We proceeded to check in, which is simple at the downtown hotels. Never a line, never complicated. I had originally intended to ask for a newly refurbished room, but I was so excited to be on vacation, it never even came to mind. Regardless, we did get one of the remodeled rooms, which are very nice. No, they aren’t fancy and if you NEED the amenities of an Aria or Bellagio, then this isn’t the hotel for you. However, the room was perfect for us. The remodel is mostly a bathroom gut, and the bathrooms are REALLY nice. (they have those side shower heads that really add a spa experience) They did a nice job on a limited budget. The room itself was spacious for the two of us. It has a nice table for piling crap and a huge closet. When paying $350 for a week, I don’t expect much. This room exceeded our expectations. Gambling – Slots/Craps This was probably the most disappointing part of the vacation. We had limited wins and LOTS of losses. We had trouble finding a live Craps table we liked downtown. The Fremont Casino Craps table was full of grumpy employee’s who drove us to remove our chips and play elsewhere. We liked the atmosphere at The D, but when we tried it out, were less than impressed at the control they had of the table. Other players were on the table when the dice were live, and frankly were unbelievably disruptive. Now, I am not a stuffy mcstufferson. I love a lively craps table and want lots of enthusiasm. However, when the play and actions of other players is at the detriment of the table, that drives me crazy. We each dropped a hundy and moved on. We checked out MSS and The Cal, and while they tables were always busy, we didn’t get a “fun” feel from them, so never went back. However, we did have LOADS of fun playing Bubble Craps, especially at the Four Queens and The Grand. In fact, The Grand was awesome for us on two trips over there. I will give them credit that they are trying. We had fantastic drink service there, and usually fun folks to play with. Four Queens also had great servers, especially in the morning. We did head to The Strip a couple of days. We played Bubble Craps at several locations, having winning sessions at The Venetian and The Linq. I also had a winning live craps table session at Harrahs. We also found a love for the new huge video Big Bang Theory Game. We played this nearly everywhere we went and won on it several times. Really fun game, and if you play $5/spin, you have some HUGE opportunities on the bonus game. Poker We always make time for several poker tournaments, which usually consists of Binions downtown. However this trip, their tournament (and frankly Binions in general) seemed to be struggling. They never had more than 1 table for their 1pm tournament. In years past, they used to draw 3 or even 4 tables of players. We only played this tournament once. We also ran into problems with their dealers there. One of their dealers mucked a hand of my companions when pulling in his chips. The suit then told him to “protect” his hand. Ummm….he had a chip on it, and the guy still mucked it. And its not like he was in seat 1 or 10. He was in 5, so he reached across the table. Luckily, several players caught it and they were able to retrieve his hand. But not without a bit of uncomfortable dialogue. We played most of our live poker at Golden Nugget. Their room is not ideal, but they always had a great turnout for their afternoon and evening tourneys. The dealers were nice. I don’t love the structure, but the play was decent. We were both out of practice, so it was nice to not have a huge commitment playing in a larger dollar tournament. Neither of us were in the money, but we were close a couple of times. We ended up our last night on the strip at the Linq and played in their evening tournament. My companion ended up winning there, although the competition was pretty light. All in all, the gambling didn’t pay out for us like in the past, but we still had lots of fun with it. Food Best laid plans are always how it works for food in Vegas. I had all these big plans to try new stuff. Did we? Well, not really. But we had some great meals regardless. Dupars – this is always our go to, and it ended up being our go to 3 times this trip. Delicious food, great counter service. Yep, we just love this place. Magnolias – this was new to us, and we really enjoyed their food and prices. Everything we had here was super tasty. And you can’t beat the price Pizza Rock – we never ordered from the menu, but their slices were my go to when I needed a quick snack. Damn, this is good pizza. Highly recommended. Red Rock Buffet – this was a really good buffet for the price. (we used MyVegas, but the price without is very reasonable). Mandalay Bay Buffet – still one of my favorites, and it did not disappoint. Their crepes and turkey are some of the best. YUMMY! In N Out – I truly love this place, and was finally able to introduce it to my companion. Yes, its fast food burgers, but they are delicious. Double double animal style = perfection. Spice Market Buffet – we used the groupon for this one. Honestly, this place disappointed us. I expected more from it, and its definitely not worth the price tag. I think we will pass next time. We had some small meals here and there, but nothing exciting. We are pretty simple in our eats in Vegas. Other mentionables We rented a car for a day for the first time ever in Vegas. I do believe we will be car renters from now on for our entire trip. We loved the freedom and loved being able to visit outlying casinos for our trip. I love the casinos on Boulder Highway. The Southpoint also felt like a place we could frequent. I doubt we will ever stay on the strip or downtown again! We also visited Red Rock Canyon, and man was it BEAUTIFUL. This was our favorite day, and it was so nice getting away from the hustle and bustle for the day. I absolutely want to do more exploring in the future. We visited The Neon Boneyard. WORTH EVERY PENNY. If you haven’t been, you should go. Great piece of Vegas history. Likes/Dislikes I’m a list kind of person, so here’s my observations: 1. Binions seems to be in trouble. The casino felt in disrepair at multiple times. The poker room couldn’t maintain games. Makes me very sad 2. The Downtown Grand is giving it a good try. I could see spending more time here. (hint hint, send me some offers) 3. Having a car in Vegas is a HUGE advantage. We will always rent moving forward. 4. I remember now why we dislike The Strip. Bad gambling, SO DAMN BUSY, and no appreciation for gamblers. We have outgrown it. 5. Boulder Highlway could be our new home. As could Southpoint. Or Red Rock. Really with a car, the options are limitless 6. I hate cab drivers in Vegas. Now, I will give a shout out to Brian (@stripcab) who was a great driver for us 3 times during our trip. But I believe he is the exception in Vegas when it comes to cabbies. Look him up, and you will be guaranteed a safe and fun cab ride when in Vegas 7. Vegas is ever changing, which is why even on my 10th trip, I still saw so much that was new to me. Never will I ever tire of vacations here. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed!