Mar 13

March 2013: Las Vegas Weekend Trip Report


Even though I have been to Vegas over two dozen times over the past decade or so, I still like to visit this city whenever I get a chance. I had some Southwest vouchers that were expiring in mid-March and this gave us the perfect excuse to plan a weekend trip.

We had already attended the Celine Dion concert in our previous trip and this time we wanted to see a Britney concert at the Planet Hollywood. But a few visits to the Ticketmaster website put that notion to rest when we saw how expensive the tickets were !! Finally as our trip drew near, we decided that instead of a concert we would attend a comedy show. I scored a great deal of 2 tickets for Laugh Factory at the Tropicana, Las Vegas for only $32 through Groupon, and we were set.

We arrived late at Macarran airport and after picking up our rental car we drove to Henderson, a Las Vegas suburb 10 minutes from the strip, where we were staying. I know….What kind of Vegas regular stays so far away from the strip? I was participating at the Marriott Megabonus promotion for this quarter and wanted a Category 5 Free Night certificate for the 2 nights of this trip.

Day 1:

After a quick breakfast, we decided to check out some of the strip attractions that we had never seen before. Believe it or not, between all the trips to Vegas for all these years, I had never been inside the Wildlife Habitat inside The Flamingo Hotel.

I really liked the place a lot. It was very calm and serene and since we were a little early in the day, not that many tourists had hit the area yet.

Flamingo Hotel Animal Habitat

Relaxing at the Flamingo Hotel

One of the many waterfalls at the Wildlife Habitat @ The Flamingo, Las Vegas

After Flamingo, we walked on the strip across to The Cosmopolitan, another hotel that I had never been inside. Believe it or not, this is a Category 8 Marriott property where a free night would run 40,000 points.

Walking across the overpass to the The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

Right by the entrance is the roadster by Liberace (yes the legendary pianist), adorned with hundreds of rhinestones.

Rhinestone studded car owned by Liberace at The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

Bling Chandelier @ The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

We walked around the hotel looking at various artwork and framed photos when we came across this “Dog Meeting” architecture.

Dog Meeting –  at The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

By this time it was around lunchtime and we decided to visit our favorite Thai restaurant in Vegas – Komol. This is located in the same shady, run-down mall parking lot of the so-called best Thai restaurant of USA, The Lotus of Siam (closed for lunch on the weekends).

Restaurant Review: Komol Restaurant, Las Vegas (coming soon!!)

After lunch we went back to the hotel for a little nap.

In the evening we got ready and drove to the Tropicana hotel (right next to MGM Grand on the Strip).

The Tropicana Hotel where the Laugh Factory is located

We were one of the earliest arrivals of the night and the usher led us to a table that had a pretty good view of the stage. The Laugh Factory at the Tropicana is a fairly small size theater and most of the seats have a decent view of the stage.

Pretty good view of the stage

There were 2 main acts for the show, one by the headliner Andrew Norelli and the other by Harry Basil (also known as The Movie Guy). There was also some bits by the host Tim Metivier.

Andrew Norelli was really funny. He based his bit around real life, dating and even some tech stuff (like Adobe). I was surprised to not see any profanity in the show and it was still hilarious.

Harry Basil did a lot of props and skits about movies, from Terminator to Titanic and even did part of the show involving the audience members. It was funny but not your usual standup comedy. I prefer more traditional standup style.

After the show, we had a drink at the Tropicana Lounge where you get a 2 for 1 drinks using the ticket stub from the show. Karen wanted to check out the Bellagio Fountain show and we drove there next. The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens had been revamped with the “Year of the Horse” theme of the Chinese New Year and looked much different than previous Las Vegas weekend trip.

Chinese themed decoration in The Bellagio

It never gets old !!

Bally’s and Paris Hotel in the background

It was fairly cold outside and there was even some windchill so we decided to head back to the hotel.

Day 2: 

After waking up a little late in the morning and a quick breakfast, we decided to head out for Red Rock Canyon. Its about a 30 minute drive from the strip  and before you know it, you arrive by this sign welcoming you.

Red Rock Canyon

There is a $7 toll to get on the one-way, 13 mile loop that goes by various vista points and allows you to take a lot of interesting hikes. One great thing about this toll road is that being uni-directional, it is very easy to just stop at different parts of this course (excluding the designated viewing spots) and just take a few quick pictures and move on.

One way drive has several picturesque spots

You can see so many different colors of the terrain and it was a real feast to the eyes. It was a partially cloudy day and some of the pictures don’t do the actual scenery much justice.

There were a lot of hikers

We spent the most amount of time at the first designated stop called “Calico 1”. This is the closest hiking area right by the parking lot and a lot of people of different ages were keen to hike the terrain here.

Posing against the canyon

Lots of places to take good pictures

We made it across the canyon !!

After spending about an hour hiking this stop, we drove onwards.

How much more red do you want?

One way loop makes it easy to stop wherever you want to take a few pictures

Definitely not our cup of tea

Nature is a great painter

After returning from Red Rock Canyon, we had lunch and still had about an hour to kill before heading out to the airport. Karen had read somewhere that there is an aquarium at the Silverton Casino & Spa and apparently there was some sort of “Mermaid show” that she wanted to check out. Well why not? 🙂

We drove to the casino which is a bit far away from the main strip. It looked like the average age of the patrons in this casino was about 15-20 years older than what you would see at the main strip. Not really a problem as we were there just to kill an hour of time.

Walking aimlessly around the casino floor looking for the signage to the aquarium we finally found it. It is smaller than the one inside the Forum shops by the Caesar’s Palace, though there were a large variety of fish including some big sting rays.

The large Aquarium inside Silverton Casino & Spa

While we were there a diver was feeding the fish and then the “Mermaid” joined in. It looked kinda cheesy but what do you expect? 🙂

Mermaid show at The Silverton Casino & Spa

Pretty soon it was time to head out for the airport. All in all it was a pretty enjoyable weekend for both of us and we will probably be back again later this year.


Cost (Total for 2 travelers):

  • Hotel: $188 (1 night each at Towneplace Suites Henderson and SpringHill Suites Henderson)
  • Rental Car for 2 days: $35 + $7 (toll for Red Rock Canyon)
  • Gas for Rental Car: $15
  • Long-term airport parking:  $12 (via Groupon)
  • 2 Regular tickets to Laugh Factory, Las Vegas show: $32 (via Groupon)

Miles/Points/Certificates Redeemed:

Miles/Points/Cash-back Earned:

  • 1 Free Night at a Category 1-5 Marriott property using Marriott Megabonus promotion
  • 1290 Marriott Rewards points for the 2 night stay
  • 1145 Southwest Rapid Rewards points
  • 338 Ultimate Rewards points for booking the 2 Marriott hotel from Ultimate Rewards Mall website

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