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A Little of Everything and 280+ Pics to Prove It: 7/10-7/15 [FULL REPORT]

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by M_ILIS, Jul 17, 2021.

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  1. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:

    My Trip Report

    Prelude: As I’ve mentioned here multiple times previously, I’m part of the online golf community Greenskeeper.org. It’s sort of like Yelp for golf course conditions, plus they hold events, outings, competitions, etc. Anyway, they scheduled back-to-back events in Las Vegas on the weekend of July 10th and 11th. I much prefer Vegas on weekdays than weekends – easier travel, smaller crowds, less expensive – but I really didn’t want to miss these events at Paiute (Sun Mountain) on Saturday 7/10 and Reflection Bay on Sunday 7/11. So I had to figure out how to make it happen.

    The most obvious option would mean leaving Friday, battling Friday night SoCal to Vegas traffic and paying exorbitant hotel rates for both Friday and Saturday nights. No thanks. But needing to be in Vegas by noon on Saturday, there weren’t many other great alternatives, especially knowing my wife and daughter wouldn’t want to leave at an extremely early hour like 5:00 a.m. on Saturday.

    Eventually, I found a solution when I discovered an incredible one-way airfare on Allegiant for my wife and daughter to fly in on Sunday afternoon after my two rounds of golf will be done. After visiting Allegiant’s website, they started targeting me on social media and I saved $20 on top of the great rates with a promo code featured in an ad. I ended up paying $46 total for two people to fly one-way from SNA to LAS. Originally the flight was to arrive around 3:20, but then Allegiant changed the time to about 45 minutes later a few weeks after I bought the tickets.

    When I first started monitoring hotel rates for this trip, they were pretty high, but then started coming down to more reasonable levels. At that point I pulled the trigger on 3 nights at Downtown Grand starting on Saturday night. I took advantage of a Buy 2 Nights, Get 1 Free promotion booking directly on their website, and it came to $313 total including resort fee for Saturday/Sunday/Monday nights. I then added two nights at Aria using one-night myVEGAS rewards on both me and my wife’s accounts. With a Conor McGregor fight, Justin Bieber concert, Delilah’s star-studded private party and the long-delayed Garth Brooks concert at Allegiant Stadium all taking place this weekend, hotel rates rose again. I think I got them at the very best time.

    Other pre-trip planning included buying timed admission tickets to Omega Mart at Area 15 and making dinner reservations for most of the nights due to the high demand right now. I also used a myVEGAS reward to get three admissions to the Mirage Secret Garden for the price of one.

    A week or so before the trip, I was texting with the founder of Greenskeeper.org and alerted him I had an extra bed for Saturday night already paid for at Downtown Grand, so he decided to stay with me that night.

    Seems like Allegiant’s game is to offer low base airfares but then nickel and dime passengers for everything including seat selection, bags and more. So for ease of travel and to avoid any costly bag fees, my wife and daughter packed their suitcases early and I took them with me in the car.

    Right before the trip began, with extremely high temperatures all week, McCarran Airport was in the national news for being “too hot” for some planes to fly into, with many flights being significantly delayed or canceled. (How is Sky Harbor ever open in the summer, then?) It was a bit anxiety inducing knowing that my wife and daughter might be affected by that on Sunday.

    Wanting to avoid the stress of any traffic, I planned to leave bright (actually dark) and early on Saturday morning.

    Here we go!
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  2. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Day 1: Saturday, July 10, 2021

    Oftentimes before a trip, I don’t sleep that great or I wake up ahead of my alarm, but this time I slept all the way until it sounded at 3:40 a.m. I got up, took a shower, packed up my last few items that needed packing and fired up the car at 4:20.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-36-08 by Mark, on Flickr

    A few minutes into the drive, some freeway construction caused a slight delay, but the rest of the drive was exceptionally smooth. I crossed the state line less than 3 hours after leaving Tustin, so I had plenty of time to kill before my 12:07 tee time at Paiute.

    I decided to exit in Jean, go pee at Terrible’s and then visit Seven Magic Mountains with my new camera since my last Vegas trip. (For the first time in my life, I finally bought a high-end/professional grade camera earlier this year. This trip report will be a mix of my Google Pixel 3a and Canon EOS RP.

    I got off the 15 only to find that Terrible’s apparently has not yet reopened since the pandemic! The parking lot was all roped off, so instead I went inside a little gas station/mini mart near the parking lot entrance to use the restroom. When I came out, there were some skydivers heading down into the desert.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-37-21 by Mark, on Flickr

    I took the side road up to Seven Magic Mountains. Despite absurdly high temperatures forecast for the weekend, it was relatively comfortable out there at this early hour.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-00-48 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-11-41 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-55-17 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-14-49 by Mark, on Flickr

    I decided my next stop would be to go check out Virgin Hotel/Mohegan Sun Las Vegas. I self parked, looked around a bit and went to the cashier cage to get a player’s club card. They said if I earned 5 points on the new card, I could return for some sort of prize ranging from $10 in freeplay to whatever the grand prize was, which I forget what they said.

    I found a nickel STP DDB machine and had good luck and got a tasty Bloody Mary.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-38-56 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-37-40 by Mark, on Flickr

    And queens again. Is this a sign I should have stayed at Four Queens this trip?
    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-38-33 by Mark, on Flickr

    Only one problem: In about 30-45 minutes of play, I didn’t earn any points. So I went back to the window and asked what it would take to get the 5 points to qualify for a prize. They said it’s $1000 coin-in to get the five points! Ok, nevermind! I was happy to start my trip with a free drink and $10 profit.

    I then walked around and took some pics. If memory serves, I’d only been to Hard Rock once or twice many years ago, so I didn’t really recognize any big changes. Overall, Virgin seems nice but has an unfortunate location. Here are some snaps from around the property:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-15-27 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-16-17 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-16-34 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-17-03 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-17-24 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-17-48 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-18-08 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-39-19 by Mark, on Flickr

    Next I made my way over the Strip trying to think of somewhere to eat breakfast. I was sorta near Strat when I decided I’d see if there were any Wendy’s nearby because I’ve yet to try their breakfast sandwiches they advertise on TV so often. I found one (right across the street from Frankie’s Tiki Room, which I’d never seen before) and tried the sausage, egg and swiss croissant as well as a bacon version, too. They were just ok and kinda weird with mayonnaise on them. The Sausage McMuffin with Egg remains undefeated. Sorry no pics.

    Suddenly I had to pee again so I decided to return to Jerry’s Nugget for the first time in about 6 or 7 years. By now it was extremely hot out just walking from the car to the casino. I found some nickel DDB machines and lost $10 with no “picture-worthy” hands, bringing me back to even for the trip.

    After I cashed out, it was around 10:30 so I decided to just head toward Paiute. I stopped for a a Big Gulp on the way and got there about an hour before my tee time.

    It was good to see some friends I hadn’t seen for a while and meet new people as well. Greenskeeper.org is currently in the midst of a GK Cup match-play tournament, and I was playing another member in today’s outing, so it was nice to finally meet him for the first time. This would be my second time playing the Sun Mountain course. (The last time was in winter with snow-capped Mount Charleston in view, while today was forecast to be the hottest day in Las Vegas history.)

    Here are some pics from the course:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-23-11 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-18-48 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-19-21 by Mark, on Flickr

    I ended up winning my match and captured closest to the pin on the last par 3 of the day, which won me an extra prize. It was a super fun day, although I still maintain that overall, the Paiute courses are a bit overrated. The courses have a lot of nice individual holes, but lack distinction as 18-hole layouts. With three courses, it feels sorta like 54 random holes out there.

    After the post-round festivities concluded where I won a Linksoul hat and golf shirt, my friend and I headed toward Downtown Grand to check in. They initially said only one car was included in the room rate, but then said don’t worry about it and comped my friend’s parking too. I remember someone’s recent trip report wishing that more hotels gave out information about what’s open now, hours, and whatnot. Well, DTG does this!:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-01-23 by Mark, on Flickr

    I was assigned to room 3724 which is on the 7th floor of the new Gallery tower. That was cool because I hadn’t specifically booked that tower. For the most part, it’s very similar to what I remember of rooms in the other towers, including the dumb half wall on the shower. (Downtown Grand management doesn’t read 7 years of online reviews complaining about how stupid this is, I guess.)

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-06-18 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-39-51 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-40-23 by Mark, on Flickr

    Here’s our view of Gold Spike:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-06-41 by Mark, on Flickr

    Cool hallway and door designs:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-40-44 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-45-41 by Mark, on Flickr

    Right off the elevator, it seems every floor has one of these things that reads differently depending on which angle you’re looking from:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-44-58 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-45-21 by Mark, on Flickr

    I decided to take advantage of the last 30 minutes or so before the pool closed, but the water was very warm and murky with lots of people still in the pool. Not at all the cool, refreshing water I remember from past trips to DTG. Yes, even in hot summer temps.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-41-54 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-43-24 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-43-46 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-44-37 by Mark, on Flickr

    I went back to the room and my friend and I decided to hit Fremont Street to find somewhere for dinner. I had no idea he’d never been to Fremont Street before, so it was interesting to watch him discover the craziness of it all for the first time. I suggested Chicago Brewing Company and they were able to seat us right away, so we went there.

    Got the house-made root beer with a great view overlooking the casino:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-46-13 by Mark, on Flickr

    My friend got the deep dish pizza (I had a piece and it was tasty) while I had been craving a burger for a few days, so I got a standard cheeseburger. All was good.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-46-33 by Mark, on Flickr

    Afterward we wandered around for a little bit before returning back to the room.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-47-15 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-26-13 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-25-34 by Mark, on Flickr

    Around 10:15 I decided to head over to the Cal to get a new BConnected card and play some nickel DDB. It’s so weird how some nickel machines are 6/5 and then others are 9/5 just a few feet away. I played at the 9/5 ones along the escalator. I hit one quad, got a Long Island and earned ZERO points. WTF?

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-47-51 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-48-17 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-48-36 by Mark, on Flickr

    I lost $15 on that machine and then found a nickel STP machine over by the Holo Holo bar, where I lost $10 more.

    Walking back to DTG I noticed that Zowie Bowie was just starting on the FSE. I had watched him on TV from Stadium Swim on New Year’s Eve, so it felt a little like I was seeing something special. His intro is kinda cool but after all that buildup, there was very little reaction to him coming onstage. Behold:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-59-01 by Mark, on Flickr

    I watched a song or two and then retreated to DTG only to find they have 9/5 nickel STP too!

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_02-59-38 by Mark, on Flickr

    I put in $20, played it down and eventually hit a couple good hands. Decided to cash out when I was down a couple bucks.

    One four away from 8000 credits:
    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-00-13 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-00-46 by Mark, on Flickr

    Went back to the room and called it a day around 21 hours after I got up.

    Down $27 for the trip.

    FYI: For all those who complain that Downtown Grand is always dead, you shoulda seen it tonight. It was jumping and very lively. I actually prefer when it’s low key, but good for them for looking like a successful casino.
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  3. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Day 2: Sunday, July 11, 2021

    My tee time Sunday at Reflection Bay (out at Lake Las Vegas) was at 8:50, so I left DTG around 7:30 Sunday morning. On the way to the course, I got a text from Allegiant indicating that my wife and daughter’s flight was delayed. With them scheduled to land in the hottest part of the day, I was very nervous that ultimately Allegiant might just decide to cancel the flight.

    On this day I played terribly and lost my GK Cup match, but still have a chance to advance when the qualifying round concludes at the end of August. I won a $25 GolfMoose voucher in the post-round raffle.

    Here are some pics from Reflection Bay:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-28-55 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-33-28 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-33-45 by Mark, on Flickr

    After the round I got another text from Allegiant saying the flight was pushed back another 35 minutes or so, and then maybe another? I was getting seriously worried that they’d either be in for a nightmarish delay at the airport or get canceled altogether.

    When I left Reflection Bay, I searched for a nearby Caprioti’s and Google Maps took me to one near Sunset Station. I considered going there to check it out because I’ve never been there, but instead I visited an old favorite instead:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-37-10 by Mark, on Flickr

    I found a table in the closed atrium bar to eat my sandwich and enjoy the view.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-02-39 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-03-03 by Mark, on Flickr

    I spotted a bank of nickel DDB machines with a progressive, so I was stoked to go play there after eating my Italian sandwich. I told myself I’d lose no more than $20 but when I lost it without any highlights, I put $5 more in the machine. Good thing I did.

    A few bucks later, I hit a quad:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-03-37 by Mark, on Flickr

    Two minutes after that, I hit the progressive!

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-03-56 by Mark, on Flickr

    My 6th lifetime Royal Flush and second trip in a row to hit one! Also my first-ever progressive Royal, iirc. Woo!

    Two minutes later, another quad:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-04-21 by Mark, on Flickr

    I cashed out for $230, marking a $205 profit on the session!

    This is cool… Saw this nickel progressive for a dealt Royal is up to 12 grand!

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-05-02 by Mark, on Flickr

    I left Sam’s Town and headed back to DTG for a shower, change of clothes and hopefully good news regarding my wife and daughter’s flight.

    With time to kill, I went back down to that nickel STP machine at Downtown Grand. One of the buttons would stick every once in a while and the machine was acting weird, sometimes reverting back to the main “all games” screen for no reason, but I still stuck with it. I hit a couple good multipliers but lost $9 on the session:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-05-35 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-05-55 by Mark, on Flickr

    I’d been monitoring Allegiant’s flight status updates and eventually it said their flight had departed, but also my wife’s texts weren’t sending in a timely manner, so I was a bit confused whether or not they were actually airborne. I decided to head toward the airport, stopping at an ABC Store off Tropicana so I could greet them with cold drinks.

    Allegiant pushed back the arrival time by a few minutes at one point, but I was still fairly confident they would be landing soon. Then at 6:30, I got a text from my daughter saying “We made it!” right after they landed. I don’t remember the last time I was that happy. It was such a relief that despite the minor delays, they didn’t have any major issues to deal with. Also, it turned out there were only 24 people on their plane, so it was easy for them to sit together, etc.

    I picked them up at the curbside pickup area and we caught up on our individual adventures, including my Royal, and then headed straight back downtown because we had an 8:00 dinner reservation at Pizza Rock.

    It was great having a reservation because lots of people were waiting but we walked in and were seated right away… coincidentally, in the same exact spot where we last ate here about 4 or 5 years ago.

    We tried to order a fried green tomato caprese salad, but they were out of it so we got BBQ wings, rosemary garlic Italian fries and the New Yorker pizza. I’ve been craving the taste of the New Yorker ever since I gave our leftovers to a presumably homeless woman who asked for them right when we exited last time.

    The wings were pretty good while the rosemary garlic fries were amazing! I loved the pizza but my wife didn’t think it was as good as the last time we had it.

    She had some sort of spicy margarita while my daughter and I had soft drinks.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-07-13 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-07-51 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-08-16 by Mark, on Flickr

    After dinner, we roamed Fremont Street, watched some performances and got our daughter a vanilla shake at the Plaza McDonald’s for dessert. I’d read about the Studio ’71 photo op area but my understanding was it closed at like 10:00 p.m. Turns out it was open and actually a lot of fun. In addition to being the Plaza’s inaugural year, 1971 is the year both me and my wife were born. So thank you Plaza for this tribute to us.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-09-29 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-10-26 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-10-44 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-12-08 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-12-30 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-13-07 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-13-24 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-13-54 by Mark, on Flickr

    It had been another long day, so we headed back “home” and called it a night.

    Up $169 on the trip.
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  4. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Day 3: Monday, July 12, 2021

    I woke up before anyone else so I snuck down to the casino for some early morning play at the same nickel STP machine. Couple nice hits led to a $16 profit on the session:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-14-19 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-14-35 by Mark, on Flickr

    My daughter texted me when she woke up so I returned to the room and we went out in search of caffeine to start the day. Walked to the Starbucks inside the Golden Nugget and she got some sort of white chocolate iced coffee. We then later got my wife a coffee at Art Bar to start her day.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-15-07 by Mark, on Flickr

    The plan for today was to enjoy the pool and maybe check out some art exhibits we’d been wanting to see downtown. By the 10:00 a.m. opening time, the Downtown Grand pool had only about a foot of water in it and was being filled by three weak stream pipes. It was so hot when we got out there, we wanted to get in the pool anyway, so we did. (Other people were in it earlier.) Then some employee comes up to my daughter and rudely says, “You’re not supposed to be in the pool.” Then she came and told me that the pool wasn’t ready yet. I replied I didn’t know that and she goes, “Yeah, that’s why no one is in it.”

    So rather than apologizing for getting such a late start on whatever they do to drain and refill the pool, she gets rude with us and acts like we should know when there’s no sign or anything? Lame. The pool level was raising about an inch every few minutes, so eventually someone came back and said yes, you can get in the pool now, even though it was not even halfway full. When we did, the pool water was filled with junk and seemed dirty. It wasn’t that fun.

    We hung around maybe an hour but it was just too hot to bake in the sun on a day that was supposed to get up to 113 or so. Instead we went back to the room and headed out for lunch at American Coney at The D. Yum, it was great!

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-16-16 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-15-53 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-16-36 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-16-54 by Mark, on Flickr

    We then walked over to Fremont East so my wife could take advantage of the boarding pass promotion at El Cortez.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-19-52 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_01-06-10 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-18-12 by Mark, on Flickr

    She signed up for the player’s club and then had to swipe her card at a kiosk to apply the promotion. I helped her load the free play on a Coyote Moon machine and then my daughter and I took off toward the Container Park $5 or less store.

    My daughter found some glasses and stickers she loved, while I got some cat earrings that look like our cats for my wife. Always fun finds in that store for good prices.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-17-39 by Mark, on Flickr

    Then my daughter got a call from my wife (she’d called me too but I didn’t hear it) saying she had a crazy story to share with us. Long story short, she had an encounter with a woman who said she was excited to be getting off the streets and trying to clean up her life, who asked my wife for a cigarette. My wife doesn’t smoke but coincidentally had seen a whole cigarette sitting on the machine next to where she was sitting. The woman was happy to get the free cigarette and they somehow conveyed they were wishing the best for each other, and then as soon as the woman walked away, my wife hit some sort of $70-ish win on her freeplay.

    I bought a Container Park souvenir shirt on the way out. Sort of an impulse purchase because I thought the design was cool. Whaddaya think?

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-18-31 by Mark, on Flickr

    We then went and relaxed in our room for a while before driving over to City Hall around 4:00. Why? Because I’d seen something a while back on Las Vegas Weekly (or somewhere) about some art exhibits that were currently on display at City Hall. Right inside the main lobby was one of them, but there was some sort of video interview happening in that space, so a receptionist directed us to other exhibits on the second floor first.

    The building itself is gorgeous inside, and the art was interesting. One of the exhibits was all by Pacific Islander artists.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-40-32 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-41-40 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-42-06 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-42-35 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-42-56 by Mark, on Flickr

    There was an outdoor terrace on the second floor that offered a cool view of downtown and had this anatomically correct heart-shaped sculpture:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-45-11 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-46-24 by Mark, on Flickr

    The interview taking place on the first floor had concluded, so we then checked that area out before leaving:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-46-56 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-47-21 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-48-55 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-49-45 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-50-16 by Mark, on Flickr

    After returning to the hotel, we hit the pool and had a great time for about an hour before the 7:00 closing time.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-19-08 by Mark, on Flickr

    Tonight’s dinner was an 8:00 reservation at Le Thai. We left our room a little early, though, to catch the DTLV Art Alley beforehand. This had opened in early 2020 and was on our list for our big April 2020 scheduled trip that ended up getting canceled due to Covid. I forgot to check it out last time I went in November, so it worked out perfectly for this night. It’s practically right behind Le Thai.

    I was actually hoping to enjoy it more than I did. I guess very few of the murals really resonated with me (and it also seemed like drug addicts were hanging around), so it was a little underwhelming. Still glad we did it, though. Here are some pics:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-51-27 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-52-51 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-53-29 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-54-00 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-54-22 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-54-44 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-55-15 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-55-40 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_07-52-20 by Mark, on Flickr

    On to Le Thai! My wife got the amazing Hendrick’s Cucumber drink they have while I opted for the Blooming Basil, which was good but almost tasted like a Thai basil noodle dish if somehow liquified. My daughter ordered Tom Kha Gai soup and a salad with chicken, while my wife and I split spicy eggplant with shrimp and the short rib fried rice. (We contemplated the crab fried rice instead but they said they were out of it.) We added a fried egg on the rice and also got some egg rolls.

    Everything was delicious and the service was great:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-22-03 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-22-42 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-23-05 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-23-40 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-24-02 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-24-20 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-24-41 by Mark, on Flickr

    Turns out we ordered way too much and for the second night in a row, we took leftovers back to our room but didn’t really ever do anything with it. (No fridge.) We dropped the food off at our room but headed back out to explore Fremont more and get dessert at the ice cream place inside Four Queens.

    Now, let me pause at this point. For these first three days I’d been in town, the weather was sorta weird with a heavy haze all across the valley. Out at Paiute and especially at Reflection Bay, the nearby mountains were almost totally obscured by this white haze. Although it wasn’t humid by most standards, it felt like maybe there was excess moisture in the air that needed a thunderstorm to get things back to normal.

    Well, around 10:00 Monday night, it started raining on Fremont Street, and within a couple minutes it started coming down in absolute buckets of water. The street between DTG and Pizza Rock quickly accumulated probably 5-6 inches of water in the gutter, and then it started pouring even harder! It actually felt great and I got completely drenched like I’d been standing in the shower with all my clothes on. It was crazy, but it made for great pictures, even if these were just taken with my cell phone:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-26-08 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-27-10 by Mark, on Flickr

    As we were walking to the Gallery Tower elevator bank, suddenly it all went dark and a door like on the front of a storage unit started lowering to lock off all access to the tower.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-27-43 by Mark, on Flickr

    Fortunately we weren’t in there and didn’t get stuck on the elevator. We waited around for a while and the DTG employees weren’t really aware of the issues until some guy in a suit walked by and spotted the halfway-lowered door and started radio’ing for people to fix it. One elevator was operational while the other two were out of order. After seeing that first elevator successfully take people up and down a few times, we were confident enough to get on it to retreat to our room.

    In the room we enjoyed a lightning show out the window for a while and then went to sleep.

    Up $185 on the trip.
    • Like Like x 6
    • Love Love x 2
  5. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Day 4: Tuesday, July 13, 2021 / Moving Day

    Again I woke up earlier than anyone else and hit the casino. Turned $20 into $30 with a quad and an 8X 3-of-a-kind.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-28-24 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-28-41 by Mark, on Flickr

    If not for the apocalyptic rainstorm the night before, I was hoping to head up to the top of the Binion’s parking garage to take night pictures of the iconic neon sign. So instead I headed up there this morning. Didn’t have my “real” camera with me but I was happy with how these came out:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-29-54 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-30-32 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-31-52 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-32-38 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-33-38 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-35-46 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-37-00 by Mark, on Flickr

    Then headed over to the FSE and got an iced coffee and regular coffee for the girls at the McDonald’s at The D.

    We requested a 12:00 late checkout and my daughter and I did one more pool session. THIS was the DTG pool I remember – cool, clean water and small crowds. It was fantastic!

    We had 12:00 access to Area 15 (not sure it’s needed anymore; don’t think anyone checked to make sure we had a reservation) and Omega Mart tickets for 1:20. We arrived around 12:30 and there are some cool sculptures and art installations outside before you even go in.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_08-43-29 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_08-42-22 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_08-43-05 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-37-57 by Mark, on Flickr

    In need of lunch before Omega Mart, we asked at the front desk of The Beast how quickly we could get in and out, and they said we should be fine. Yay!

    This place is very cool! My daughter got the Loaded Fries (short rib, queso, pickled onions and scallions), my wife got the Korean Corn Dog and I got the Beast Burger with the spiral potato on top. Everything came out quickly and was delicious, especially the cheese sauce on my daughter’s fries which was almost addictive. And scarily rich.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-39-10 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-40-08 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-40-30 by Mark, on Flickr

    Failed selfie… sorry hun!

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-38-48 by Mark, on Flickr

    Indoor seating at The Beast:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-41-03 by Mark, on Flickr

    “Patio” seating at The Beast (also indoors, just outside the confines of the restaurant space:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-41-25 by Mark, on Flickr

    After lunch, we got in line for Omega Mart and were inside within just a few minutes. They gave us a card to scan at certain areas that would provide access to clues about the whole experience/storyline.

    To me, Omega Mart was basically a combination of three concepts: 1. A pop culture/jokey museum space, 2. An Instagram/photo op place with tons of cool backgrounds to take pictures, and 3. Sort of like an escape room experience where you’re trying to figure out the storyline and “solve” the puzzle.

    Admittedly, we didn’t get far on No. 3. If you wanted, you could spend A LOT of time trying to figure out all the clues on various computers, videos, papers, etc. Regardless, we had tons of fun and probably spent a little more than two hours inside Omega Mart.

    Here are a bunch of photos:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-42-07 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-42-27 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-57-27 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-43-26 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-43-51 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-44-19 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-44-47 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-45-15 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-45-35 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-46-53 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-58-40 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-47-26 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-48-26 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-49-09 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-50-11 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-50-43 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-51-19 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-49-27 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-51-56 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-52-55 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-53-18 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-53-38 by Mark, on Flickr

    Cool electronic tree inside Area 15:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-58-10 by Mark, on Flickr

    Surprisingly, my daughter spotted the zipline-type ride called Haley’s Comet routed around the ceiling of Area 15 and wanted to do it! We inquired and there was one spot left at 4:00 for $18, so we booked it. We checked in a few minutes beforehand and luckily because she was a single rider, she got to jump ahead of about 20 people in line at one point, which probably saved 30 minutes of wait time. A full-grown adult who was to ride right before our daughter chickened out after being strapped in and everything, so I was proud of my daughter for going through with it. Seems like she had a great time.

    We had already bought a couple small souvenirs inside Omega Mart, but then we realized there’s a Meow Wolf merch store as well, so we went in there and got MORE stuff, including a really cute cut-off t-shirt for our daughter.

    We then spent some time in a store called Wild Muse but didn’t buy anything there. Overall, Area 15 was tons of fun and definitely something we’ll return to again in the future, especially as it grows and offers additional experiences. Museum Fiasco looks pretty cool, as does Wink World:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-59-10 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_03-59-30 by Mark, on Flickr

    We now headed to Aria to check in for the next two nights. The myVEGAS rewards only allowed me to book King rooms, but we were hoping for two queen beds instead, so we needed to check in the old-fashioned way. The front desk woman typed and typed for probably 5 or 6 minutes without explaining what she was doing, but eventually got us all checked in to a two-queen room on the 22nd floor. It seemed nice and had a cool view of the pool, T Mobile Arena and Allegiant Stadium.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-00-42 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-01-07 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-02-04 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-02-25 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-04-03 by Mark, on Flickr

    Only one problem: When we opened the shower door, it smelled awful! We quickly decided this room was unacceptable, so I pulled a @tringlomane and called the front desk to share the news. After several minutes on hold, I talked to a friendly and helpful clerk who assigned us a new room on the 28th floor. I would need to go get new key cards for it, though.

    So we all went back down the elevator and then my wife and daughter waited with our suitcases while I went and got the new keys. Our new room had a different view looking directly out at the Chelsea Tower at Cosmo. Closer in the foreground, it also had a partial view of additional rooms at Aria, including one where a naked or half-naked woman was repeatedly taking selfies near her corner suite window-front tub. My daughter was looking out the window and all of a sudden screamed something like, “Oh my God, there’s a naked woman in that room!” I could only see a silhouette, but it did finally balance out the time on a 7th grade class trip to Washington DC when I spotted a grown man naked in his hotel room across from my room.

    Here’s our new partial High Roller and Eiffel Tower view:

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-41-14 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-02-59 by Mark, on Flickr

    One of the Cosmo pools as seen from our room:

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-41-49 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-42-06 by Mark, on Flickr

    With the pool already closed, we just got settled in and relaxed in the room prior to our 8:15 dinner reservation at Best Friend. My wife went to gamble for a few minutes, but didn’t have long to really play. I needed to hit the Park MGM Mlife desk on the way to redeem the myVEGAS reward for a free appetizer. Everything worked out perfectly and we arrived right on time.

    The facade of Best Friend is built to resemble a convenience store and immediately establishes a cool vibe for the whole place – although that space feels sorta cramped and I wouldn’t want to eat out there. Some people were. They said they’d text us in a few minutes when our table was ready. I got a button for my daughter and asked if the Pac Man machine over in the corner was operational. Not only did it work, but it was free! We all played a bit and then I got the text that our table was ready.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_08-45-54 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-04-36 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-04-58 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-05-19 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-06-02 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_08-44-29 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_08-44-00 by Mark, on Flickr

    We were led into the dining room which has high ceilings and is decorated by old photographs of L.A. as well as painted murals. The music is loud and thumping and the whole environment is fantastic. Wait staff seems to wear Adidas track suits, and our waiter Corey was super chill and fun, while also appropriately attentive to our needs.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_08-45-02 by Mark, on Flickr

    My wife got a tequila-based watermelon drink, while my daughter got a virgin cola slush and I just got a Diet Coke. To eat, we got the banchan sampler (kimchi, marinated cucumbers, broccoli, pickled daikon, sprouts and sesame, cold spinach – I normally don’t gravitate toward vinegar-y dishes like this but I loved them all, especially the daikon, cucumbers and kimchi), buttermilk fried chicken, Kogi short rib tacos, and street corn. They also brought us some complimentary rolls.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-06-38 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-08-05 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-08-52 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-10-20 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-10-45 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-09-57 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_08-45-32 by Mark, on Flickr

    Everything was amazing! We all loved our food and enjoyed every minute of the experience. We finished the meal with The Bathtub Sundae, a mix of ice creams, toppings and brownie bites. It was the only slight letdown of the night. Definitely not worth its $18 price tag. Our waiter said they don’t officially have anything categorized as “appetizers” on the menu, so the myVEGAS reward is more like a $15 credit, but he gave us the $16 banchan sampler for free instead. (I thought someone here on VMB recently said theirs took $20 off the bill. Whatever.)

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-11-09 by Mark, on Flickr

    My wife and daughter had never seen Eataly, so we looked through there for a couple minutes before heading back toward Aria via the Strip. Traffic was heavy and there were tons of people participating in the ongoing protests of Cuba’s government. I’m not sure what happened down toward Luxor but there were tons of police cars out on LV Blvd. with their flashers on.

    I had never noticed these multi-colored lights on the far north end of Aria (I think?) before. Is this new?

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_08-47-15 by Mark, on Flickr

    On the way back through Aria, we stopped to appreciate a floral display near the Chopard watch boutique. They have a promotional image of Julia Roberts that switches from one picture to another depending on what angle you’re looking at it, but right in between offers this amusing view:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_08-49-16 by Mark, on Flickr

    Here’s a couple pics from the flowers:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_08-50-38 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_08-51-17 by Mark, on Flickr

    From the fun pics atop Binion’s parking garage to the great pool session to Area 15 and Best Friend, it had been one phenomenal day!

    Up $195 on the trip.
    • Like Like x 9
    • Love Love x 3
  6. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Day 5: Wednesday, July 14, 2021

    My daughter and I started the day with a visit to the Aria pool. When we entered, the first pool had no one in it, so we proceeded to the second pool and got in for a while. Something about the big oval pools here just feels so boring to me. I guess it’s “nice” but feels like it’s suited for old people or something. Even the music seemed to skew older. And why are pine trees part of the landscaping out there? (For the golfers, the Aria pool complex feels like a generic ‘90s Ted Robinson course to me… yeah it’s decent and sorta pretty, but completely lacking character.)

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-11-37 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-11-52 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-12-14 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-12-49 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-13-10 by Mark, on Flickr

    We tried to go back to the first pool but there was still no one in it and a lifeguard informed us there had been a biohazard incident and wasn’t sure how soon it would reopen. We decided to just go back to our room.

    On the way back, we saw a ridiculously long line at Starbucks, so I suggested we just cut straight to lunch and my wife agreed. We wanted something a little more affordable yet still tasty, so I suggested I drive over to Port of Subs to get the sandwich we like so much there. We all agreed.

    My daughter came with me and we filled up the gas tank while there (Port of Subs is inside a gas station mini mart at the corner of Flamingo and Koval). Our extra large No. 1 (Italian sub) was delicious as always!

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-13-32 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-13-55 by Mark, on Flickr

    Oh yeah, when we were leaving the parking garage, our room key wouldn’t let us out despite us adding the parking to our bill when we checked in. Some worker was there and used his pass to let us out, but gave us attitude by claiming they only add the parking to one key card (which is complete bullshit… how would you know which one when they give them to you together in the key card holder?) and said that we’d have been stuck if he wasn’t there. So when I got back to Aria, I called the front desk and waited on hold for about 10-15 minutes before anyone answered. I explained what happened and they said the parking was on the keys, so they weren’t sure what went wrong but requested we come get new keys to make sure it doesn’t happen again. They also said there’s a button right at the exit where you can call and they’ll confirm you have paid for parking, so why that guy acted like he was such a savior is even more puzzling.

    My wife and I went down and fortunately the line was pretty short. We got new keys and took the opportunity to look around the property a little bit on the way back to the room.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-14-20 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-14-49 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-15-12 by Mark, on Flickr

    While the public spaces at Aria live up to the property’s high-end reputation, I think the rooms are starting to fall short. The hallway outside our room looked like it hadn’t been vacuumed for a long time, there was trash sitting outside rooms all day, there were many unfixed dings in the walls and missing artwork, and it smelled odd the whole time we were there. Inside our room there was dirt and/or mold on the wall above our shower door and the furniture was old. (Not to mention our smelly first shower.) None of these things are deal breakers individually but they add up to a feeling that you’re not really staying in a nice hotel.

    Anyway, end rant. The main plan for today was to visit the Secret Garden at the Mirage. We debated when to go to try to elude the heat, but it didn’t really matter; we were going to be hot no matter what. So we got there around 3:00, parked and made it into the attraction just before the 3:30 dolphin show. Standing still was very hot, so we bailed after a few minutes of the show to go see the tigers.

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-42-25 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-43-31 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-44-48 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-45-33 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-46-03 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-46-29 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-46-53 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-47-23 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-48-55 by Mark, on Flickr

    Siegfried & Roy art piece:

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-48-27 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-49-19 by Mark, on Flickr

    Overall, we probably spent around 90 minutes there and had a great time. I’ve said before that time seems to go twice as fast in Vegas, so I’m not sure what we did next except went back to Aria and relaxed in our room for a bit before getting ready for dinner. The whole trip was flying by and I couldn’t believe I’d already been here five days.

    For dinner tonight we had two options – we definitely wanted some sushi on this trip and thanks to an endorsement from @DaiLun, we considered Nabe sushi & hotpot. But then a few weeks prior to the trip I discovered the existence of Vegas Test Kitchen, and specifically The Black Pearl, a Mexican concept specializing in seafood tacos and ceviches. They seem to be open mostly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (and sometimes weekends?) in the ever-changing Vegas Test Kitchen venue, which is downtown right next to Ferguson’s. Ultimately we decided to push Nabe to lunch the next day and take advantage of this limited-time opportunity to try something new.

    The Black Pearl’s last seating is at 8:30 and I had no idea how busy it would be, so we arrived a bit past 8:00 and there was only one other table occupied. Soon they left and we had the whole place to ourselves. It seems the Vegas Test Kitchen concept doesn’t really have a wait staff as you order and pay entirely through your phone, and then your things are just brought out to you. Our “waitress” was available to answer any questions we had before ordering, though.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-18-05 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-17-51 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-16-53 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-16-30 by Mark, on Flickr

    The menu is pretty small so I decided to get us each both kinds of tacos they offered as well as three ceviches for us all to split. The ceviches come with tostadas as well. My wife got a cute little can of sake, my daughter got the Miss Scarlett Lemonade and I got a Diet Coke, although they were out of Diet so I had a Sprite instead. Total including tip came to $117.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-17-08 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-17-29 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-18-50 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-19-12 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-19-31 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_11-20-03 by Mark, on Flickr

    The food was absolutely phenomenal! My wife and I preferred the punchy freshness of the lime-forward shrimp ceviche, while our daughter really loved the Tropical Campechana version. The Erizo (sea urchin) & Pulpo (octopus) one had a smokiness that was sort of addicting. Taco-wise, the Ensenadense were pretty standard battered shrimp tacos but the “El Governador” was amazing, with shrimp, scallop, onion, poblano, oyster sauce and jack cheese. We all had a great time and talked to one of the chefs for a couple minutes afterward. Sounds like they hope to open their own place full time in the near future.

    Ferguson’s was closed afterward but we took a look around and drove further down Fremont a little bit. There are so many little motels that seem like they’ve been recently renewed but didn’t seem to be open. Many of them paid tribute to Tony Hsieh on their signs.

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-52-24 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-52-46 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-53-07 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-17_10-53-31 by Mark, on Flickr

    The only thing missing at The Black Pearl was dessert, and I decided to drive back to Aria on Las Vegas Boulevard instead of taking the freeway. We hadn’t been to Peppermill for a while so I thought it might be fun to go have dessert there. When we finally got there (all that construction is still ongoing near The STRAT ), there was a sign on the door that they were not accepting any new customers until 7:00 a.m. the next morning. We tried another door and a security guard asked us if we were on the list, implying they had some sort of private party for the night. Looking inside, it looked like just normal people eating at their own tables, but maybe something was planned for later in the night. Bummer but onward we went.

    We considered going across to Resorts World to explore the hotel, but I wasn’t sure if any dessert options would be open, so instead we went to Ellis Island for the Really Big Ice Cream Brownie Thing. And root beers and a Hefeweizen for my wife.

    They said it would be about 20 minutes before a table was ready, so I encouraged my wife to do some gambling. She said she didn’t want to, so I did and lost $20 on a nickel DDB machine with no picture-worthy hands. It had now been about 25 minutes since we checked in, so I inquired at the desk and got a table ready for us.

    The brownie didn’t disappoint!

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-20-20 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-20-45 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-21-07 by Mark, on Flickr

    We returned to Aria around 11:30 and I dropped my wife and daughter off to avoid the longer walk from the parking garage. On my way back to the room I took two quick detours – one to find the nickel STP machine right by the Mlife desk where I hit a Royal back in November (it was occupied) and another to check out this mixed media artwork by Tatsuo Miyajima that’s currently near the Buddha statue (somewhat near the patisserie). Did this thing used to be inside Crystals at one point? It was vaguely familiar to me.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-21-30 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-22-00 by Mark, on Flickr

    My wife didn’t feel like going out to gamble. I felt the pressure of the trip coming to an end, so I wanted to head out and do more things but was just too tired.

    Up $175 on the trip.
    • Love Love x 4
    • Like Like x 3
  7. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Day 6: Thursday, July 15

    Again I woke up earlier than the others and headed down to the casino a little before 8:00. My nickel STP DDB machine near the Mlife desk was open and hit a couple quads.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-22-46 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-23-09 by Mark, on Flickr

    A few minutes later, I was J-Q-K-A of spades with a 4X multiplier. The 10 of spades on the draw would give me an $800 win. Did I get it?

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-23-24 by Mark, on Flickr

    So close! I lost that first $20 and put $20 more in, and eventually hit another quad:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-24-02 by Mark, on Flickr

    I decided to cash out at $20.05 so I lost $20 for this session.

    I went back to the room and my daughter didn’t feel like going to the boring Aria pool, so we went out in search of coffee instead. On this day the Patisserie line was much longer than Starbucks upstairs, so we waited about 25 minutes at Starbucks and got a couple drinks to start the day. We then got ready, packed up and checked out just past the 11:00 deadline.

    We wanted to have a pretty full day to take advantage of our last day of vacation. First stop was the new location of the Pinball Hall of Fame. Hard to miss this sign:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-25-07 by Mark, on Flickr

    Once inside, it felt pretty much like the older location to me except it is much larger. We got $20 in quarters to split amongst us and that lasted almost two hours! Wow I had no idea we were there that long until I just looked at time stamps on my photos.

    Here’s a sampling of what I saw and/or played:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-25-24 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-25-48 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-26-03 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-26-27 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-26-53 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-28-49 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-29-25 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-29-46 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-30-11 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-30-42 by Mark, on Flickr

    We were all thrilled to see and pet the cat that apparently lives there!

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-28-16 by Mark, on Flickr

    As we were leaving, I joined the Yelp waitlist for a table at Nabe, and then got a notification while stuck in traffic on Spring Mountain that our table was ready. We arrived a few minutes later and they seated us with no problem.

    I’d never had hotpot before so we needed a little guidance from our friendly waiter. We also ordered our meats and some sushi to get started.

    This whole experience was a lot of fun, but also weirded me out a little having raw meats on our table right alongside other foods. (My mom was extremely scared of that sort of thing and instilled that fear of cross contamination in me as a kid.)

    I found the sushi to be a bit inconsistent. The very first roll I had tasted like a roll bought in a grocery store with ultra-dense, dried out rice. But then some of the other rolls and nigiri was outstanding! I highly recommend the Chanel roll and the yellowtail nigiri.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-33-53 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-34-06 by Mark, on Flickr

    The hotpot was really good, too. We got two broths – one was the spicy house special and our daughter opted for a more benign beef broth. Selecting and adding all the veggies was fun.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-32-33 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-32-47 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-33-04 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-33-28 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-34-26 by Mark, on Flickr

    We were stoked that each AYCE meal came with one dessert as well. My wife got a scoop of vanilla, my daughter got an affogato and I tried the Korean iced coffee, which was delicious.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-34-41 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-34-58 by Mark, on Flickr

    I think I would enjoy this more the next time with this experience under my belt. I felt a little bit of rookie nerves not knowing exactly how to do it all. I also might prefer to almost break the time into different sessions, eating sushi first and then hotpot or vice versa.

    Next on our agenda was to go check out Resorts World. Having heard it was a long walk from the parking garage to the hotel, I dropped my wife and daughter off at the Hilton lobby and went to find the self parking. Turns out it’s on the opposite side of the property entirely off Genting, not along the Resorts World road. And the walk really isn’t that far.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-21-13 by Mark, on Flickr

    Anyway, we reconnected in the Hilton lobby and started exploring. They got pulled into Nectar Bath Treats for some sort of exfoliant demo that they loved, so I took a bunch of pictures of Genting Palace, the high-end Chinese restaurant. Unfortunately I had forgotten to turn image stabilization back on, so many of my pics came out a little blurry.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-35-17 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_09-54-18 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_09-54-53 by Mark, on Flickr

    We wandered through the casino, taking in the beautiful sights and snapping pics.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_09-55-35 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-01-26 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-01-53 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-02-41 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-03-03 by Mark, on Flickr

    Egg chairs at Suns Out Buns Out:

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-03-22 by Mark, on Flickr


    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-03-45 by Mark, on Flickr

    Then we made it out to the retail/mall space, where we looked around some more.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-04-09 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-04-35 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-06-33 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-07-36 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-08-27 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-10-50 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-09-30 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-11-34 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-13-29 by Mark, on Flickr

    Finally we returned into the casino and took a look around the Famous Foods Street Eats food hall. Originally, my plan was to eat here for one of our dinners on the trip, but after hearing all the problems people were having in the first week or so with orders coming out promptly, I figured we’ll wait until another trip. I sorta regretted that after seeing it, but all of our meals on this trip were so good I don’t know which one I would’ve wanted to replace anyway.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-14-44 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-15-03 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-15-27 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-16-04 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-16-26 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_10-16-48 by Mark, on Flickr

    When the girls went in the bathroom, I found a 10 cent STP DDB game and slipped in a $20. They were back in no time, though, so I cashed out after only a few hands. I broke even but forgot to cash the TITO, so after we got the car, they dropped me back off to go back inside and cash it. I also got a player’s club card in hopes of some hotel offers being extended to anyone with a card, even though I put no play on it.

    Our ambitious plan for the day included hopefully hitting up Bellagio for the conservatory and a fountain show and 2-for-1 gelato via myVEGAS, but seeing we got dessert already at lunch and it was past 5:00 by the time we toured Resorts World, it was time to start toward home.

    I seriously cannot believe how quickly six days passed on this trip, and I could easily have stayed another week or 10 days at this rate.

    The drive home was smooth and we made our customary stop at Freddy’s in Victorville for dinner.

    [​IMG]2021-07-16_04-35-31 by Mark, on Flickr

    I’ve heard a lot of people say that current Vegas isn’t for them, but to me, things seemed very much like a normal summer trip. I would recommend making restaurant reservations, and yes, some things are still closed that are normally open. For instance, while downtown, we wanted Lappert’s for dessert one night but apparently it’s only open Fridays and Saturdays right now.

    Finished the trip up $155 from a gambling perspective. Spent more than usual on meals but wow were they memorable.

    I can’t wait to go back!
    • Like Like x 11
    • Love Love x 8
  8. VegasBJ

    VegasBJ VIP Whale

    Aug 23, 2009
    usually Shadow Creek
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    M, sounds like a good time was had by the whole family!
    love the pics!
    • Like Like x 1
  9. cjcjcj

    cjcjcj VIP Whale

    Oct 18, 2016
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Great report thanks so much for all the pics!!
    2022 First Escape
    • Like Like x 1
  10. DaiLun

    DaiLun R.C., L.C., and A.A.N.G.

    Apr 24, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for sharing!!!
    Palazzo - break before 2nd HGS weekend
    HGS Weekend #2!!!!
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Catzilla

    Catzilla VIP Whale

    Apr 25, 2015
    It's Oregon not Oragone
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Wow! You packed a lot into your trip. Great job taking pictures. Lovely family! Thanks for taking us along.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. UnicornTX

    UnicornTX High-Roller

    Aug 27, 2003
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Loved all your photos! Thanks for taking us along.
    Daughter’s birthday and ‘tis the season!
    • Like Like x 1
  13. teacher10

    teacher10 Tourist

    Jul 10, 2020
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Amazin trip report. Thank you for sharing and bringing us along for the ride!!
    • Like Like x 1
  14. ynwa4life

    ynwa4life Tourist

    Jul 5, 2020
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Awesome report! Thanks for sharing!
    • Like Like x 1
  15. BobLasVegas

    BobLasVegas Low-Roller

    Jan 30, 2007
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Wow, loved the pics!
    • Like Like x 1
  16. booker

    booker VIP Whale

    Oct 26, 2009
    Coast of Washington State
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    What he said!.
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. TarainVA

    TarainVA Low-Roller

    Feb 13, 2019
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Wow, this report is amazing! I've only made it through a few days but working backwards. I'm headed to Area 15 and Resorts World in 2 weeks and appreciate all these gorgeous photos and tips. Really helps me narrow down what not to miss.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. eliza

    eliza VIP Whale

    Jun 9, 2014
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Awesome report! I loved all the pictures - especially the food pics. I also really love how much you and your family enjoy art - I'm so unsophisticated, but I'm trying to get better about appreciating it.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Chrisbeans

    Chrisbeans Low-Roller

    Jan 17, 2010
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Loved all the pictures! Adorable family! Sounds like an excellent trip and quality family time.
    • Like Like x 1
  20. 3OfDiamonds

    3OfDiamonds Vegas is Fabulous When You Degen Responsibly ;)

    Aug 29, 2019
    San Diego, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for the TR - a fun read and visual treat :thumbsup: Looks like everybody was enjoying themselves :) And your daughter is seriously stylin’ :cool:
    • Like Like x 1
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