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Fun Family Trip June 30-July 2

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by M_ILIS, Jul 4, 2013.

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  1. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    My Trip Report

    I’m well aware of the varied opinions of “family” Vegas trips, but my family and I just returned from a fun three-day jaunt to the city. It was the first time visiting Vegas for my five-year-old daughter and second time for my 15-year-old son. My wife and I had stayed at South Point last year after quite a long hiatus from Vegas and really enjoyed it, so we booked it again this time. Unfortunately I booked the trip on a pre-paid, non-refundable rate through a third-party vendor when this trip was originally planned for April. When a terminal illness in our extended family required us to cancel that trip, I wrote to South Point and explained the situation and they graciously comped me any two weeknights through next May. I was very impressed with their quick response to my letter and their willingness to accommodate me. Customer service still does exist!

    Now, regarding the wisdom of a “family trip” to Vegas – my feeling is that as a Southern California resident, it makes a lot of sense to visit Vegas as a family. If I lived further away where it required flights instead of a four-hour dash across the desert, I likely wouldn’t select Vegas as a family vacation destination. But despite being an adult destination, there are a lot of fun things to do and sights to see for the kids. So that’s what we planned to do, in addition to fitting in some gambling when possible.

    We left our Orange County home a bit past 9:00 Sunday morning, stopped at Barstow Station McDonald’s for some lunch and sundry shopping, and arrived at South Point around 1:45. We checked right in and were given a 24th-floor room facing the Strip, and as a bonus, they informed me the $14/day resort fee was also being comped. I’m up! In a bit of a surprise, the window was a different shape than the windows in the room my wife and I stayed in last time. It was still fine, just different on this floor.

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    We got settled in and then wanted to go see something that was only happening on this day of our trip – the swimming mermaids at Silverton. The Silverton is only about a five-minute drive from South Point, and the mermaid happened to be swimming in the tank right when we got there. My daughter made her way up to the front and the mermaid approached her and they put their hands together on opposite sides of the glass, which was really cool and cute. At Barstow Station I’d bought her a little $1.99 mermaid doll that had already broken, but she still took it to show “the real mermaid.”

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    I was very impressed with Silverton. It’s really nice inside and feels like it would be a good budget option with a luxurious feel, at least in the casino. Nearby the aquarium is an exhibit of mermaid-themed art work that my daughter enjoyed. We’d never been inside a Bass Pro Shop, so we decided to roam around in there for a bit as well. It’s gigantic and full of interesting things to look at in addition to the merchandise – taxidermy animals, fish, an aquarium with a giant sturgeon, an archery range, and so on.

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    We had 7:00 dinner reservations at Primarily Prime Rib, so we returned to South Point and hit the pool for a bit before getting ready for dinner. The pool was packed and the water was sort of cloudy, quite different than the serene scene my wife and I encountered last September. We still had fun, though, and that time of day really accentuates the gold reflection off the South Point tower.

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    We made our way to Primarily Prime Rib and had a great meal. They make the best standard green salad with the tastiest bleu cheese dressing. The server revealed to me that it’s not made in house and is nothing special, but whatever it is, it’s delicious. Great crusty bread, delicious salad and a thick slab of prime rib with a baked potato for $16.95. Hard to beat. With four entrees, a few glasses of wine, three sodas, two free desserts from the South Point fun book, the bill was only $125 including tip. Highly recommended.

    After dinner we wanted to expose our daughter to the Strip for the first time, so we hopped in the car and took 15 to Tropicana, then took the Strip to Caesars self-parking garage from there. Unfortunately we just missed the last moving statue show of the evening at the Forum Shops, but we all enjoyed looking around for a while anyway. We then made our way over to the Mirage volcano, stopping en route to get pictures with “Hello Kitty” and a giant alien on the street.

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    My daughter was simultaneously scared and excited by the volcano show, which has changed since I saw it last. When did that happen? The water doesn’t catch on fire anymore and cascade down like lava, but those flame bursts across the lake are pretty cool.

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    We had hoped to catch a Bellagio fountain show tonight as well, but it wasn’t in the cards as the little one got tired and was ready to turn in for the night. We returned to South Point and lucky for me, my wife was also very tired, which meant there was no decision to be made regarding who got to leave the room and go gamble.

    First though, my son and I toured the hotel/casino for a bit, but it seems that after 10:00 pm, minors aren’t allowed anywhere. Even the bowling alley forbade minors after 10:00. That was sort of a bummer.

    Having followed a bunch of trip reports here over the last year or so, it seems that video poker can be a free money ATM for a lot of people. I’ve never been much of a video poker player, instead reserving most of my (relatively low-roller) play for the blackjack table and maybe a few slots. On this trip, however, I wanted to give VP a decent run. Most of South Point’s VP machines seem to be Game Kings and I chose standard 8/5 Bonus Poker on a 25¢ machine. I figured I’d get my feet wet by betting the minimum and played for maybe 90 minutes or so. I turned my $20 into a high of $37, highlighted by quad threes and a straight flush.

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    Also, betting the minimum nearly came back to bite me.

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    After a cold streak took me down to $30, I cashed out and was ready for bed. But instead I invested the $10 profit at a $5 BJ table and promptly lost it in four hands. By 2:45, I was in bed preparing for day two.
     
  2. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    Day Two

    Day Two
    Sometimes it’s the little things that make you fall in love with a property, and at South Point, one of those “little things” is the $1 Bloody Marys from 6:00 am to noon at all casino bars. My wife and I took full advantage of this offer last time, and as soon as I awoke I brushed my teeth, threw on a hat and made my way down to the bar. Two dollars+$2 tip got me two tasty drinks and freezing fingertips as I retreated back to the room to enjoy them. One was intended for my wife, but as the saying goes, you snooze, you lose, right? Waking up earlier than the rest of your clan has its privileges.

    Last time here, my wife and I went to the Garden Buffet for lunch and were sort of disappointed. It’s an inexpensive buffet and it shows. But with half-off coupons in the fun book and with my daughter never having eaten at a buffet before, we decided to give it a go for breakfast. The bill for the four of us came to $15.02, which includes unlimited bloody marys! (I think kids are free/cheap and we had two half-off coupons.) Long story short, it’s well worth this price for breakfast. The food was nothing spectacular, although they did have an omelette bar that I really enjoyed. If you’re staying at the hotel and have the fun book, it’s almost stupid not to visit the buffet for breakfast at least once. And if you’re the type who’s really picky or wants something totally out of the ordinary, you’re not staying at South Point anyway.

    Fully sated, we returned to the room. My son fell right back asleep while the other three of us hit the pool. Ahhh. This is the pool I remember from last year. Few crowds. Cool, clean, refreshing water. And plenty of lounge chairs to choose from. With the extreme temperatures, we didn’t plan to stay at the pool long, but our time was cut a bit short when a cocktail waitress noticed our cooler bag and informed my wife that we couldn’t have it. Okay, fine, no problem. My wife threw her drink away and informed me, and we were planning on heading back to the room in a few minutes anyway. Apparently that wasn’t enough for this bitch of a cocktail waitress, however, because then she summoned two security guards who were dressed in what looked like police uniforms. We told them we wouldn’t drink anything else from the cooler, but they said we had to take it back to our room immediately. Hey, first time we’ve ever been thrown out of a hotel pool! I’m starting to feel like BeeeJay!

    Next it was time for another “first” for my daughter – bowling! We headed up to the South Point bowling alley and used the fun book “buy three games, get three games free” coupons. Two games each plus shoes came to $26. On average, I bowl maybe once every couple years, but this was a lot of fun. I was impressed that the bumpers on the side coincide with the scoring computer, so they only rose when my daughter was about to bowl.

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    After my son won game one, he confidently bet me $5 he’d win game two as well. My game returned to form and I smoked him in game two, but made a deal that I’d put the $5 on 11 (Anze Kopitar’s jersey number) on roulette and we’d split the winnings when it hit. Oh, but, it didn’t hit.

    We then spent about 20 minutes or so in the adjacent arcade while my wife did her first gambling of the trip. Unfortunately, the temporary tattoos my son and daughter won in the arcade proved a better return on investment than my wife’s slot play.

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    By now it was around 4:00. We returned to the room and I got the okay from my wife to go do something I wanted to do – the “First $200 on Us” promotion at Tropicana. On this deal, any slot/VP losses suffered on the same calendar day that you sign up for the players club are refunded in the form of free play up to $200. The catch is that only half the amount is accessible immediately, and the other half becomes available 30 days later. Normally this wouldn’t appeal to me, but my wife and I already have a trip to Aria scheduled for late August, so it held greater appeal than it normally would.

    I signed up for the card, got all the details and started playing. A played a bit on a 25¢ Red White & Blue slot before switching to 25¢ VP betting the maximum. I knew I only had about 90 minutes to play before I needed to return for dinner, and quarters weren’t going anywhere, so I switched to a dollar machine and started playing max bet. I lost $100 within maybe half an hour, but hit quad Jacks early in the second $100, which took me back almost to even.

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    In hindsight, I wish I would have switched machines at that point, because after the quad, my luck ran rather dry. I spent a little over an hour at the Trop, losing $165 in the process. I swiped my card to redeem the free play, getting $80 applied to my card immediately and another $80 that will show up in 30 days. I figure that gives me $160 bankroll already for our August trip. (Although they did say the free play cannot be used on any progressive machines, so we’ll see what we can play when we return in 50-some days.)

    I returned to South Point, rationalized the loss to the family and headed to dinner. Last September, South Point had just announced that they’d be building Zenshin, an Asian restaurant next to Steak & Shake. I’d been following the reviews since its March opening, and recently they’ve been pretty good, so we were willing to give it a shot. Also, they’ve added a 10% off coupon to the fun book, so that provided additional incentive.

    We were very glad we ate there! The menu is sort of odd in that it’s all over the place, cuisine-wise and price-wise. I definitely wanted sushi, but didn’t want to break the bank to get the type of feast I consume at AYCE sushi places back home. I decided on a $7 teriyaki chicken bowl and a $13 Tuna Mango Passion roll, dubbing it the “Bowl and a Roll” meal. My son followed suit, ordering the ahi poke bowl and a rainbow roll. My wife only got a rainbow roll, and we got a side of teriyaki chicken for my daughter. My wife also had a Blushin’ Jasmine specialty martini that she loved. Once I requested some sriracha for my sort of bland teriyaki chicken bowl, everything was delicious. With the coupon, the bill only came to $86! Another great dining option at South Point.

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    Tonight’s after-dinner sightseeing trip took us to Fremont Street, where my son and I tentatively planned to ride the zipline. We parked at Las Vegas Club for $5 and were in the heart of the FSE in no time. But wait! Where’s the zipline? Turns out Flightlinez had closed permanently a day earlier. I knew this day was likely coming soon, but it was a shock to learn it happened already, denying us our chance. Oh well, maybe I’ll give Slotzilla a shot when it opens. We walked around a bit, watched some street performers, did some shopping in the gift shops and caught the “Queen” Viva Vision show on the canopy. Then we headed to the Cal for our dessert destination – Lappert’s Ice Cream. My son and I both got Kauai Pie, the daughter got pistachio and my wife ordered green tea. Kauai Pie and pistachio were outstanding, but the green tea ice cream was sort of icy and blah. I’ve been craving more Kauai Pie (coffee ice cream with macadamia nuts, fudge swirl and coconut) ever since.

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    Heading back toward South Point on the Blvd., we spotted Bonanza Gift & Souvenir Shop, aka The World’s Largest Gift Shop in the shadow of the Stratosphere . My son suggested we check it out, so in we went and I bought a sweet baby blue “Las Vegas” tuxedo t-shirt for $12.99 among other fun things.

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    After returning to the hotel, I ventured down to the casino hoping to recoup a portion of the $160 lost at Trop earlier in the day. No luck, however. I played a nickel Red White & Blue slot for quite a while, but eventually lost about $12 on it. Then I lost $20 at the blackjack table and another $10-20 trying variations of VP I hadn’t played. Deuces Wild seems like it requires a totally different strategy than normal VP games. I did have fun playing the multi-hand machines. I think I was out until around 2:30, at which time I called it a night.
     
  3. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Day Three

    Day Three
    As usual, the day began with a journey to acquire two bloody marys for $4, incl. tip. This might be a good place to commend the South Point elevators. I’ve stayed at many mid-Strip properties where the thought of having to use the elevator tests your patience to the point of extreme frustration. Over two stays at South Point, I don’t think I’ve ever waited more than 30 seconds for an elevator to arrive. It’s a small thing, but it sure makes things easier when you don’t have to deal with a hassle each time you leave the room.

    We decided to forego breakfast this morning and head to the pool, although my lazy teenage son didn’t make it out of bed. We were on our best behavior and managed to not get kicked out today!

    After about an hour, we returned to the room to pack up and check out. We then ate a delicious lunch at Steak & Shake before venturing back to the Strip for more sightseeing and a show. We had a Groupon for four general admission tickets to the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater show at the V Theater in Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops. Showtime was 2:30, although they had informed us to arrive about an hour early to pick up our tickets and get in line for the general admission seating. We got there around 1:25 and endured the world’s slowest moving line at the box office, finally procuring the tix around 2:00. Fortunately the rest of the family had already gotten in line, so we ended up getting some of the best seats available for our ticket category.

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    The show was fantastic! We all thoroughly enjoyed it. In addition to the “pet tricks,” there are segments of impressive juggling, jokes, balancing tricks, a quick-change artist and more. It was well worth the $54 we spent on the Groupon for four tickets.

    After the show, we circled around the Miracle Mile shops, got the kids some ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s ($5.95 per scoop, fuck you Ben, fuck you Jerry) and a cocktail for my wife. We then ventured over to Bellagio, taking in a fountain show, acquiring M life cards for our August trip to Aria (via MyVegas comps) and touring the conservatory. It was getting late in the afternoon, and with nearly 300 miles ahead of us, it was time to call it a trip and hit the road.

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    My daughter’s pleas to stay and see more told us all we needed to know – this “family trip” had been three fun-filled days and a big success (other than the gambling, of course). Now back home and counting the days until a much different trip, sans kids and in a luxury mid-Strip hotel. Can’t wait!

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  4. YoungGun

    YoungGun VIP Whale

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    Thanks for the great report. It definitely reminds me of the ones I used to take with my parents and my sister.
     
  5. Joe

    Joe VIP Whale

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    I'm glad you all had a good time.:thumbsup:
     
    Christmas
  6. LV_Bound

    LV_Bound VIP Whale

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    Nice to see you grooming your son to know just how great is Vegas.:thumbsup:
    I bet he can't wait for his 21st birthday. :wink2:

    I know exactly which place you are talking about and agree with your sentiments but have to admit they have some unique flavors that are pretty darn good.
     
  7. JosieCat

    JosieCat VIP Whale

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    Thanks for the report and pictures. It sounds like a great trip. I really enjoyed the Popovich show too!
     
  8. breanna61

    breanna61 Super Moderator

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    Your family is adorable!! I haven't heard much about the pet show at PHo and have been so tempted to see it being a big pet, animal lover....may be a tough sell with hubby or friends but will put it on my solo trip list.
     
  9. g-didi

    g-didi Low-Roller

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    I enjoyed your report. Families can enjoy Vegas when handled properly! Well done.
     
  10. Leeza14

    Leeza14 VIP Whale

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    Great TR and pics! I echo what g-didi said!
     
  11. bardolator

    bardolator Lifelong Low Roller

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    I wish I had read this trip report 20 years ago when my nephew and niece were kids. Nowadays, this is not a trip we would ever take, even though we usually stay at South Point. Yet what a wonderful trip it was! You are one of the better trip report writers I have read. Your posts are clear, accurate, honest, descriptive, upbeat, and coherent. You and your family seem to be a great team. Thank you for posting.

    This trip report should be archived for the next time someone asks what to do in Vegas with kids.

    My only suggestion for you is to learn to play video poker and to read paytables. South Point offers better games than what you were playing, and with a modicum of skill, you'll have more fun and lose less.
     
  12. gambler

    gambler VIP Whale

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    Great post g-didi! You said it well.

    M_ILIS - What a wonderful trip you had! I really enjoyed reading your trip report and seeing all your pictures.

    We took our kids (late teens) to Vegas and the Grand Canyon in April and they are still talking about all they saw and did. It was one of our best family vacations ever. You've shown everyone how it can be done. Thanks for posting!
     
  13. Keyser Soze

    Keyser Soze Low-Roller

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    Great looking family!
     
  14. robert m.

    robert m. High-Roller

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    Great trip!

    Handsome family.

    Sharp photos.

    Hope your August trip is fun!
     
  15. carolineno

    carolineno High-Roller

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    Thanks for posting! Really enjoyed your report. It's about the speed of my own family trip last week. I'll be composing my own report soon.
     
  16. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Thanks for all the nice comments, everyone. A few follow-up notes:

    • I failed to mention that our Zenshin meal also included two appetizers: The miso glazed pork belly that was delicious but rather small, as well as a basket of their eggplant fries.

    • For anyone on the fence regarding the Popovich show, if you can get a deal like I got, it's definitely worth the time. You'd have to be a real grouch or animal hater to dislike that show. Even if it's not your favorite, it's only a little over an hour (plus time spent in that terrible box office line).

    • I look forward to honing my VP skills/choice of game. Any specific advice is welcome!
     
  17. synthpop101

    synthpop101 Tourist

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    Great trip report. My family and I got back a couple of weeks ago from a similar trip.

    Question... What kind of camera are you using to get such great pictures, especially the low light pictures?
     
  18. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Thanks for the compliment on the photos. It's just a Canon Powershot SX150 IS.
     
  19. oldcrabtom

    oldcrabtom Low-Roller

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    Great report, sounds like you and family really enjoyed........I also think the South Point is great ! :beer:
     
  20. ilovevegasbaby

    ilovevegasbaby Tourist

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    Thank you for sharing your trip with us. You have a beautiful family. It sounds like everyone had a great time. Have fun on your next trip!
     
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