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Is Vegas even possible when you’re crunched for time? Yes, yes it is. Don’t believe me? Here’s the list of places my friends and I managed to visit, a few places we could have squeezed in, and a sample 3-day Vegas itinerary guaranteed to get you enough of the city of sin where you won’t feel cheated. (Download the sample itinerary at the end of the post).
Planning the Trip: Travel Pirates and Travel Zoo
Backstreet Boys + Vegas Residency = Automatic Trip to Vegas
My friends and I were dead set on seeing BSB in Vegas. (Yes, I still cater to my teenage self every once in a while. She is eternally grateful). The problem was how were we going to do it in a way that was affordable and, more importantly, quick. We all have full-time jobs, families and shit to do. And so the hunt began for a bargain on a short trip to the city of sin.
We found a deal on Travel Pirates that allowed us to book airfare and hotel through Hotels.com for $283.56 a person for two nights. Travel Pirates is a host to a number of solid deals, handpicked by its staff. You’re not going to have a ton of luck finding something personalized, so don’t be disappointed if you try to search there for a Vegas deal now and find zilch. Have patience. Deals pop up all the time.
Travel Zoo offered up some deals on things to do while we were in Vegas, and I took advantage of the reduced price tickets for the famed High Roller (more below). Make sure to check the site out, because you can often get steep discounts from purchasing through them.
Day 1: Landing and Getting Shit Done
I was on a mission. The minute we landed, we knew we were making two stops: first, food… Because you know, ew, plane food. Plus, there are so many decadent places to eat in Vegas! Two, seeing one of the major attractions, even though we were landing pretty late. Who needs sleep on vaca anyways?
If Food and Being EXTRA is Your Thing
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right? All that means is, “Let’s eat like a jerk and pretend it never happened.” My friends and I decided on something not so exciting (In-N-Out Burger, because we don’t have them on the East coast), but if I could do it all again, I would have visited…
Pizza doesn’t sound very exciting, but the novelty of a super-sized pizza is too much to resist. An entire 30” pie might be too much for you and a couple of friends (or a village, for that matter), but you can buy a single, gigantic slice. Really, it’s huge. The slices are larger than the size of your head. Pin-Up Pizza is open until 4 am, so late-night cravings be gone!
Fat Tuesday-Sized Drink
One thing that threw me off about Vegas—and really, why I was surprised is beyond me—was that EVERYONE was drinking in the streets. You could even pick up alcohol in the drugstore. So, in the true spirit of “Let’s drink in the streets,” my friends and I stopped at a Fat Tuesday-like establishment on the strip for over-sized daiquiris. (If you’re unfamiliar with Fat Tuesday, it’s a place that sells… Well, over-sized daiquiris). Bottoms up!
World’s Largest Ferris Wheel
It seems like every few years someone steals the title of world’s largest Ferris wheel. The Singapore Flyer previously held the title, and before that the London Eye, but the title currently belongs to the LINQ’s High Roller, right on the Vegas strip. I think it is criminal to ride the observation wheel at any time other than nighttime, because you miss out on an amazing view of the city lit up like a Christmas tree. Like I mentioned prior, I managed to snag a deal through Travel Zoo for a cheaper admission ticket, which was great.
Best part of the High Roller? You can partake in a happy half-hour. Booze and heights sound like a good time. Good thing it’s fully enclosed.
You don’t know Vegas if you don’t know the Bellagio, so please, for all that is sacred in this world, make sure you catch the water show. Do it when the sun is down for the full effect and make sure you get loads of video and pictures. It’s a staple for everyone’s Vegas trip, if only to say you tried to replicate the epic scene from Ocean’s Eleven. Check their site for the fountain show times.
Home for Our Short Stay
After we finished running around at the wee hours of the morning, we laid our heads to rest in a Planet Hollywood room. I’ve read mixed reviews about Planet Hollywood, so let me set them straight. One, it’s really in the perfect location right in the heart of the strip. Two, the rooms are more modern than some of the older hotels—I’m looking at you MGM—and the bathrooms looked brand, spanking new. Three, yeah, sure, their gambling area was a bit thin, but I wasn’t there to gamble. Pick your battles.
Day 2: The Sights and Sounds
My crew and I skipped out on a hearty breakfast on day 2, since we knew we were going to be heathens at the Wynn buffet later in the day. Instead, we killed some time at some more Vegas attractions you HAVE to say you’ve seen.
A staple of the city skyline is the Paris, Las Vegas’ Eiffel Tower replica. There are a number of ways to experience it, so take your pick! You can check it out from the observation deck, dine at the Eiffel Tower restaurant in the tower itself, or gaze at it adoringly from the bottom in the hotel pool. I opted for the pool. Duh.
For the Thrill Seekers
Ah yes, some more replicas of sights technically not in Vegas, like the Statue of Liberty, but you have to see New York, New York for its inside/outside Big Apple coaster. The roller coaster’s claim to fame is being the world’s first to feature a 180-degree heartline twist and dive (what does that even mean!?), but it won me over by the mere fact that YOU CAN GET MARRIED ON IT. I shit you not. Check the site. Sure, anyone can stroll into a chapel to get married… How many of us would do it on a roller coaster?
When Hunger Strikes
On my flight into Vegas from Boston, I sat next to someone who was a higher up in food operations at the Wynn. Their buffet was recently renovated two years ago and he promised it was the best we would find on the strip. (Pretty FAR up the strip… But still on the strip). The towering flower structures certainly make it the prettiest and easiest on the eyes. The ambiance felt like we were at an upscale restaurant, and the buffet, as he promised, was incredible. Sixteen different stations with a variety of choices to please everyone’s taste buds. Dessert was a tad underwhelming, but all the carving stations and seafood made up for it.
Catch a Residency or Another Show
The whole purpose of my trip was to watch the Backstreet Boys’ rock their temporary residency at Planet Hollywood, and man, it was marvelous.
If 90s pop music isn’t your thing, no need to fret. At any one given time, there are an endless number of shows you can catch in Vegas.
Fellow travel bloggers The Spring Break Family suggested checking out KÀ by Cirque du Soleil. Contemporary circus? Count me in.
Whatever you chose, make sure to check out sites like Groupon and Travel Zoo in the case there are some discounts on tickets.
Ride a Mechanical Bull
The excitement of just leaving a Vegas show was clearly getting to my head… So much so that when we stopped at PBR Rock Bar for dinner and some drinks, I decided to take the waitress up on the free mechanical bull ride offer. And I was in a dress. Poor life decision? Check. It’s like what they say… “What happens in Vegas…”
Day 3: Finishing Up
The pinnacle of thrill seeking activities in Vegas is the Stratosphere Tower, which is a way off the strip, but entirely worth it. There are so many death-defying options for such little time! Jump from the tower and dangle 866 feet in the air on the SkyJump, blast up into the air from the tippity top of the tower with Big Shot!, catapult over the tower edge on X-Scream, or spin off the edge with Insanity. You cannot go wrong whatever you decide. Unfortunately, I missed out on all of this amazingness. It’s on my bucket list for the second round of Vegas!
Slotzilla Zip Line
Zip lining probably doesn’t sound terribly exciting after all of the madness going on at the Stratosphere, but it’s a close second. Much like the High Roller, you’ll want to ride the Slotzilla at night, so you can get the full experience of Fremont street, the lights and the video screen above you. Fair warning: the length of the zip line is short compared to most I’ve been on, and the pictures they offer you at the end are overpriced. Make sure your friends are on the street ready with their phones to get a pic and/or video! (My travel buddies failed me so hard on this one… We’re still recovering from this one).
There’s one menu item at Truffles N Bacon I dare you to try called “The Beast.” This—for lack of a better word—beastly meal is a gigantic 10.5 lb burger that is large enough to feed 6-8 people. It’s piled high with tater tots, pork belly and sunny-side up eggs enough to feed an entire village. The catch? You have to order 72 hours in advance and costs a whopping $85. Considering the amount of food, it’s worth it? Is the heart attack afterwards worth it? Probably.
And for Dessert… Creamberry
I’m really just going to leave this video here for you. I don’t think I need to explain. (I swear, I didn’t mean for this post to be so food-intensive, but how can it not? Vegas is so EXTRA!)
Saved the Best for Last
The Welcome to Vegas Sign
You could really see this last attraction first or last, but either way, you need to take a photo with the famed “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. There is parking there at the sign and usually tons of people trying to get their photo op in. Again, I’m more biased to see this attraction at night; however, the photo op didn’t prove to be as great with an iPhone. You could either see us and not see the sign, or see the sign and barely see us. I opted for the sign. Who cares whether you can see me?
Snag the Vegas Itinerary
You’ve been so patient, and here is your reward. Here is the sample Vegas itinerary I promised. Download it as a PDF or save the image below. Enjoy!