People have strong opinions about Las Vegas, have you noticed that? I guess it’s kind of like Disneyland, some people love it and want to go there all the time, and some people would rather have a piping-hot biscuits-n-gravy enema.

I’m firmly in the pro camp when it comes to Vegas. It was an enormously exciting destination during my twenties, and then there was this amazing year when JB and I picked up and moved there. We’d only been together about six months, and neither one of us had ventured very far from our hometowns in Oregon, so the whole thing felt thrilling and a little terrifying and utterly exotic and I loved every minute of it.

We rented a cute house in the suburbs — I can still remember the address: Aspen Knoll Drive, Henderson — and spent our weekends bouncing around the Strip and hiking in Utah. We got engaged there, at midnight on Y2K. We didn’t stay long before job situations shifted and we packed everything back up in a U-Haul (in sweltering August weather, which I do not recommend) and relocated to Seattle, but it was a wonderful adventure.







(I like how the standout moments from our recruitment trip involved the gloriously cheesy Race for Atlantis ride and a titty bar.)

JB and I haven’t been back as a couple since we moved, but we’ll be there all next week on a combined work trip (JB has a trade show) and vacation. I know better than to think that visiting Las Vegas now will be anything like it used to be, but I can’t wait to see it again. If only for kid-free hotel room, which sounds like a nearly unimaginable luxury right this minute.

Also, I’m taking suggestions, if you want to share your favorite Vegas show or restaurant. I’m thinking about getting tickets to “O,” although I can easily imagine us doing nothing much more than wandering around people-watching then blissfully crashing for the night at 9 PM. I guess a few things have changed in the last fourteen years.


66 Responses to “Leaving (for) Las Vegas”

  1. Cara on January 8th, 2014 7:27 pm

    Cirque du soleil! I haven’t been to Vegas, but La Nouba in Orlando is wonderful. Go for it.

  2. Jennie Bradford on January 8th, 2014 7:33 pm

    Hi! Im all the way in Auckland, New Zealand and my husband and I went to Vegas for my 30th in April last year. Absolutely loved and can’t wait to go again. Bobby Flay’s Messa Grill was amazing, definitely recommend. Have a wonderful time! xxx

  3. Aimee on January 8th, 2014 7:36 pm

    We love Vegas and we don’t gamble at all! For our wedding, and my best friends wedding 2 years later, we enjoyed Zumanity at New York New York – Cirque’s burlesque show :) Very sexy and a nice little show to get your imagination going!!

  4. Valerie on January 8th, 2014 7:40 pm

    I’ve lived here for 12 years and will never leave. You need to get luv its custard. By the stratosphere behind a super seedy gas station. Its amazing. Also, the Beatles revolution is awesome. Vegas has changed so much from when you were here last. You’ll probably love just walking the strip. I always love when people come visit my town. I hope you have a great vacation!

  5. Valerie on January 8th, 2014 7:41 pm

    And, if you’re still running g and want a fun, challenging run try the red rock loop.

  6. TinaNZ on January 8th, 2014 7:48 pm

    Loved seeing these pictures, so interesting. I hadn’t imagined that LV houses would have such green lawns. Have a lovely child-free trip!

  7. Donna on January 8th, 2014 8:01 pm

    Dude, definitely go to the old strip, on a weekend night, although any night is cool….every weirdo in the world is there dressed up. I got my photos taken with the chippendale guys….and the nasty nuns were out!
    Hookers and blow baby!

  8. Anne on January 8th, 2014 8:18 pm

    Check out the Aria– it’s beautiful and both main entrances have awesome features (water walls and a giant sculpture of canoes). Our favorite restaurant was also there….Julian Serrano, for tapas. Have fun!

  9. Taryn on January 8th, 2014 8:21 pm

    Definitely see a Cirque show….and Madame Tussaud’s was silly but fun. It’s been a few years but my friend & I had a great girls trip. I’d love to go back!!

  10. Emily on January 8th, 2014 8:23 pm

    If the Beatles Cirgque show “Love” is still on at the Mirage it’s awesome. And really you can’t go wrong on eating!!! We loved the restaurant in the back of the Bellagia, that I cannot remember the name of… The kitchen is in middle of restaurant surrounded by glass so you can see what all of the chefs are doing. Really fabulous. Have a wonderful time!! Viva Las Vegas!

  11. Laurie on January 8th, 2014 8:55 pm

    I have family in Henderson and I love it there. I suggest the Beatles Love Show at the Mirage, dim sum at Red 8 at the Wynn, the Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay, wander through the Cosmopolitan, and as an off-strip option the Vintner Grille in Summerlin is great, so is Hash House A Go Go (on Sahara). I love exploring Red Rocks, and also check out the Neon Boneyard.

  12. Laurie on January 8th, 2014 8:59 pm
  13. Type (little) a on January 8th, 2014 9:14 pm

    My husband and I were there in April and we loved it.We ate at the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar’s and it was OMFG amazing. I wanted to make love to the lamb chops.

    We also saw Penn & Teller and Zumanity. They were both great but if you can see only one go for Zumanity. It’s Cirque with boobs.

    I went back in Sept and ate at the buffet in Paris and the Seafood Buffet at Rio.

  14. Type (little) a on January 8th, 2014 9:16 pm

    BTW someone above suggested Hash House a Go Go. There is one in the Quad, and there is a new huge Ferris Wheel thingy called the Linq. It’s between the Quad( former Imperial Palace) and Flamingo. There are 10- 40 person gondolas and you get a view of the whole strip. It was supposed to be open by now.

  15. Koa on January 8th, 2014 9:34 pm

    My comment will be of absolutely no use, but I remember one trip there, with a work friend, and he was like, so, I have a guy, a limo driver, and, you know. What you want, he provides. And I was too young and stupid and responsible to take advantage of that offer. But it’s what sums up LV for me. What you want, it shall be. Enjoy!

  16. Melissa on January 8th, 2014 10:04 pm

    I’d recommend checking out day of half price ticket booths (there’s one at the big Fashion Square mall on the north end of the strip and one at the big M&M store in the middle of the strip). I have seen Beatles LOVE which is truly incredible and Zumanity, which is really cool and sexy and usually much cheaper than other Cirque shows. For food, I highly recommend Olives at Bellagio and Mon Ami Gabi at Paris if you can sit outside at both (and the weather cooperates). The food is great but it’s really more for the beautiful views. Have a wonderful time!

  17. Caleal on January 8th, 2014 10:49 pm

    Hash house a go go. Oh man. Delicious. As far as shows, Tony and Tinas wedding was fun but cheesy. And uhm. The coca cola store has like… Different soda flights from around the world. Like… 12 different sodas. Oh lord I’m a nerd. It was fun though.

  18. Angella on January 8th, 2014 11:06 pm

    Matt and I went to Vegas a few years ago (as you know) and all we did was walk the Strip, people watch, and eat at Denny’s/Chipotle, some tapas bar across from the Bellagio, etc.

    We did get tickets to “O” and loved it. LOVED it. It’s the only Cirque show I’ve seen live, but it was amazing.

    Also! You have to go to the piano bar at Harrah’s, across from The Mirage. Dueling pianos, and the entire audience singing along. It’s like karaoke, but 100 times better, because nobody’s looking at you.

    It’s my birthday next week — have an extra blast on by behalf.


  19. Cecily on January 8th, 2014 11:47 pm

    I’m a food girl myself, although, “o” is amazing, I lived there for a short time as we’ll.
    If you’re willing to go off strip Lotus of Siam is a great Thai place in an unsuspecting strip mall.
    Kabuto is off strip too but an amazing sushi spot. Ranked top 50 new restaurant in the us last year.
    Peppermill is a classic old LV coffee shop. On strip
    If you can expense it or afford it check out Picasso or any of Joel Robuchon’s spots.
    I second luv it custard!!

  20. Lauren on January 9th, 2014 12:28 am

    We tried Hash House a Go Go for the first time on our last trip & it was awesome! And if you’re a Beatles fan, LOVE is an amazing show, we loved it. Every time I go to Vegas, I’m always amazed at all the new stuff. Have a great time!

  21. parodie on January 9th, 2014 1:58 am

    I was there last summer and it was way more fun than I expected. We saw Mystère (Cirque show), because I couldn’t get tickets for O, and it was really excellent. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a way to go wrong with a Cirque show in Vegas, and if I had the funds I’d stay several days and try to see them all… :)

    Have a great getaway!

  22. Sarah on January 9th, 2014 4:06 am

    Go see Absinthe. It’s so very, very funny. And so very, very non-PC.

  23. mcconk on January 9th, 2014 7:16 am

    OMG people. I just went to that Hash House website, and now I want to go back to Vegas just for that. Drooool. I got married in Vegas 18 years ago; haven’t been able to go back since. I know it has changed so much now I probably wouldn’t recognize it. I’m jealous you get to go. Have a blast!!

  24. Beth on January 9th, 2014 7:17 am

    I absolutely love Vegas. I second the recommendation on Absinthe – one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time. However, if you’ve never seen “O” it is worth it (although its been years since I’ve seen it). Restaurants – recent and old favorites are Bouchon in the Venetian, Mesa Grill, Border Grill, Todd English’s new Pub at City Center, and Gordon Ramsay’s new Pub at Caesar’s. The restaurant at Bellagio recommended by someone above is called Sensi and it is awesome – great homemade flatbread. Have a great time!

  25. H on January 9th, 2014 7:23 am

    I’ve never been there, so I can’t help you with suggestions. However, I wanted to tell you I hope you have THE best time. ENJOY ENJOY ENJOY!!!!

  26. Barb on January 9th, 2014 7:30 am

    We rented a cabana for the day at the Bellagio…talk about people watching!!! We had a great time!!!

  27. Laura on January 9th, 2014 7:43 am

    Cannot recommend seeing LOVE enough. Beatles, Cirque de Soleil…..whats not to LOVE???? :)

  28. Anonymous on January 9th, 2014 8:06 am

    Make sure you see at least 1 Cirque performance! “O” is by far the best one. check the 1/2 price ticket places along the strip, they always have tickets 20-50% off.
    Also, Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay and the new Gordan Ramsey Burger place are great!

  29. Jessi on January 9th, 2014 8:14 am

    What hotel are you staying at? I lived there for 5 years and a lot has changed. I was just there in December – the Ferris wheel wasn’t open yet. I recommend Mon Ami Gabi at Paris for lunch and Mesa Grill for dinner. Burger Bar is supposed to be great. Totally nerdy but there’s an atomic museum not far from the strip that’s cool. And of course Red Rock for hiking but there’s probably a lot of snow (for Vegas) up there. Oh, the suspension bridge over the hoover dam is open.

  30. anne nahm on January 9th, 2014 8:18 am

    A. Hot biscuit & gravy enema is now on my Top 10 list for funniest expressions ever. THANK YOU.

    B. We went to the Venetian last year, and found all their luxurious, endless pools were a maximum of 4 feet deep. It was ridiculous and surreal, (and I guess smart, from the hotel’s insurance perspective) to see all these adults crammed into a tricked out wading pool.

    Watching everyone standing around, drinking, in waist high water, I figured (like so many other wading pools) the pool was probably about 75% pee, so we didn’t go in. Which was too bad, because Vegas was hot as a muthaeffa.

  31. Jaime on January 9th, 2014 8:44 am

    I third the recommendation for Absinthe, especially if you can’t get Cirque tickets. It’s VERY raunchy (a little too much for my husband, who is secretly a prude), but you’re up close to the show and that makes the acrobatics even more amazing. You can see how hard they are working to do what they do.

  32. Janet in Miami on January 9th, 2014 8:56 am

    I took the 45 minute helicopter ride from McCarron airport into the Grand Canyon for a lunch. Most spectacular thing I have ever seen, and even though the helicopter made me sick as a dog, (I knew it would, but I had to do it anyway) it was more than worth it.

    In case anyone is wondering, if motion sickness is a problem for anyone on the helicopter, the helicopter folks are more than prepared with appropriate air sick bags and disposal systems that leave zero footprint in the Canyon landing area. There are at least a few people sick on every trip – they’re used to it. LOL

    HAVE FUN !!!!

  33. Mary on January 9th, 2014 9:00 am

    Go see Santa Fe and the Fat City Horns. We try to catch their show every time we are out there. Used to be on Monday night, now Sunday. Show starts at 10:30 but it is worth staying up for.


    Tickets are $10 and are available through the box office at The Palms.
    Doors open at 9:30pm, seating is “first come, first serve.” There is NO RESERVED SEATING. Thanks for your cooperation and understanding.

    “Let The Healing Begin!”

  34. JMH on January 9th, 2014 9:32 am

    There is a crepe stand in Paris..or in between Pairs and Bally’s (they are connected) that makes really delicious crepes…both sweet and savory. Check it out if you can.

  35. MM on January 9th, 2014 9:50 am

    “O” is the best Cirque show ever! Buy tickets directly from the hotel (The Bellagio) for better prices & seats. We’ve seen many Cirque shows & this one is the best. Every restaurant at The Bellagio is amazing (best Eggs Benedict ever). The Penn & Teller show is great. Enjoy your kid free trip!

  36. Jennie on January 9th, 2014 9:54 am

    Ah, Vegas people watching is my favorite of all the people watching. We go every year or so and love it just as much as you do. (We even talked about moving there ourselves, back when we were dating and I sometimes wish we had, even if just for a year or so, like you two.)

    I liked “O” a lot but actually liked Zarkana better. (You really can’t go wrong, though.)

    The Wynn buffet is pricey but kind of worth it (it’s really just incredible). Go as hungry as you possibly can.

    I also love Nine Fine Irishmen (in NY, NY), Mon Ami Gabi (in Paris, but sit on the patio if the weather cooperates!), The Burger Bar in Mandalay Bay (first time I went was just so-so but the last time was AMAZING).

    Have a wonderful trip!

  37. Kathleen on January 9th, 2014 10:44 am

    My husband and I are huge fans of people-watching and doing some gambling. So, aside from the normal Strip stuff, some of our fave memories are on Fremont St:
    There’s putt-putt inside a bar at the Plaza.
    You can now zipline down the street. (I want to do this someday!)
    There’s a mechanical bull at a bar down there. (Hilarious people-watching here)

    Also, not sure if this would interest you, but last time we were there, we got a car so that we could explore a few things off the strip and not downtown:
    The Pinball Hall of Fame! (We found all our fave old pinball games.)
    The Las Vegas Ski Resort

    We aren’t really foodie people (we’d rather spend our money in other ways), but we did once enjoy a lovely dinner at Canaletto at the Venetian.

    Hope you have a great, full of adult-fun trip!

  38. Erin on January 9th, 2014 10:56 am

    Le Reve at the Wynn is absolutely amazing! It’s like a cirque show, but it’s performed on and in the water. I can’t even describe how frickin’ awesome it is!

  39. Megan @ Mama Bub on January 9th, 2014 11:45 am

    Go see O! It’s amazing, but so are most of the Cirque shows. Ka was meh, and the Criss Angel show that’s loosely affiliated with Cirque du Soleil is so, so terrible. Other than that, have a great time!

  40. Corina on January 9th, 2014 12:31 pm

    Seconding the recommendation above for Lotus of Siam for AMAZING Thai food in a completely unpretentious setting off-strip. .

  41. Kris on January 9th, 2014 12:42 pm

    I cried at the end of our performance of “O”. It was the first Cirque show I’d ever seen, and the romanticism literally took my breath away – I have never, ever been so captivated. Also, the Cirque/Beatles show “Love” is pretty amazing.

    And I love to sit in front of Bellagio and people watch while the fountains are playing. The water itself is breathtaking; but there’s something magical about watching people take it all in for the first time.

    Have a fabulous trip & read lots of books over decadent room service meals, too. That’s what I love about Vegas – it can be everything for everyone. Crazy nights, if you’re so inclined? Go for it! Quiet nights with an early bedtime? All the better to rest, my pretty. Whatever you want Vegas to be, it is.

  42. Gretchen in HB on January 9th, 2014 12:45 pm

    Pinball Hall of Fame, Erotic Heritage Museum, Bodies: The Exhibition at the Luxor.

    I am #TeamVegas and very jealous of your kid free vacation. Have fun!

  43. Maggie on January 9th, 2014 1:57 pm

    I saw O about 7 years ago, my first CdS, and LOVED it! I still want to go back and see it again, even though there are many more still to see. But that is definitely the one show in Vegas that I always recommend to people, because it’s the kind of show that fits a lot of different styles & interests. As for food, there are SO many great restaurants, so you really can’t go wrong, but one stand-out for me (if you are a lobster fan, anyway) is Nob Hill Tavern at MGM. They have a lobster pot pie that is to DIE for! Truffle mac & cheese is also delicious. Have fun!

  44. Kelly on January 9th, 2014 3:04 pm

    O is spectacular and the best Cirque show we’ve seen. Bouchon Bistro has completely fantastic food at prices that were pretty darned reasonable for Vegas food. Hooray, Mr. Keller for that feat! But you’re going to have a child-free hotel room with fabulous room-darkening drapes so you can actually SLEEP IN, so enjoy that the most! :)

  45. Casey on January 9th, 2014 3:54 pm

    Um… Brittney Spears has a new show going on in Vegas. It might be SUPER GOOD! I mean, you could go and review it for the rest of us…?

  46. sooboo on January 10th, 2014 12:21 am

    I feel similarly about Austin. My husband I and moved there for a bit after being together about 3 months and it was exotic and magical to us. Love the pics of your old house and 90’s Sundry! Have a great vacay in Vegas! I don’t have much to add suggestion-wise. The last time I was there I saw George Carlin, so it’s been awhile.

  47. Philip on January 10th, 2014 1:44 am

    Blue Man Group is pretty cool; I saw it three times in Boston and then once in Vegas, and thoroughly enjoyed it every time (though it did help that the Vegas one was somewhat different than the Boston one, due to the bigger stage letting them do other/more things).

  48. Amanda on January 10th, 2014 8:31 am

    ABSYNTHE. I think it’s at Cesar’s? It’s amazing. From the waiting area before the show (alligator skulls and bayou-esque hanging glass lamps, walls made of old doors and everything in rich, luxe jewel tones) to the actual show itself, set under an impossibly small circus tent with a stage that is LITERALLY 8 feet across in the center, with the crowd all around. If it’s still playing, you need to see Absynthe. Best thing I’ve ever seen. Hands down. And I have seen some *shit.* It’s like a combination burlesque/comedy/cirque du so cool. You’ve got to see it.

  49. meeshie on January 11th, 2014 7:05 am

    Go to the M for dinner. Its a bit pricey and its totally off strip.. its a locals thing. Go to the buffet. ITs.. dear gods. And its all you can drink wine and beer *grins*

  50. jody on January 11th, 2014 12:30 pm

    For crazy wonderful desserts, go to Max Brenner at the Forum Shops. I had a wonderful (sensible) egg white omelet lunch followed by something called The Spectacular Melting Chocolate S’mores Sundae. Seriously.

  51. Christen on January 11th, 2014 12:46 pm

    We stayed at The Platinum Hotel last October for our anniversary and freaking LOVED it. And I’m not a “Vegas person.” It’s a smoke-free, non-gaming hotel just off the strip, but easy to walk to Planet Hollywood and other spots. It’s relatively quiet and has an amazing happy hour (yes, I know you don’t drink but hear me out) which includes amazing deals on food. You can go there for an app before dinner, or just eat there and people watch. It was very popular for weddings when we were there and we liked sitting in the bar, having some food, and watching people gathering for wedding/pre-wedding photos. More modern ambiance, no slot-machine sounds…we dug it. Have fun!!!

  52. Shannon Molnar on January 13th, 2014 7:29 pm

    My husband and I have been nearly every year for the past 5 years. We are definitely in the pro camp as well! I think it’s a great (and relaxing) vacation – when done right!

    Hope you guys have a blast!

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