“The Hangover, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and shotgun weddings,” are some of the popular words associated when a person think of Las Vegas. This could not be more far from my reality, when I went to Vegas for the first time to celebrate my 22nd birthday with my dad. Yes, you read that correctly: I went to Vegas for the first time with my father. Not to fear friends, my dad is pretty cool parent and so is my mom. They’re those parents that still go to concerts and hit up clubs with their friends. So when my mom suggested my dad to join me on my birthday trip, I didn’t mind at all. I actually enjoyed my birthday trip because I had fun exploring a new city and I got to spend time with my dad.
So what on earth did we do on our four day trip in Vegas? Well, for starters, we ate a lot. We met up with some family friends and dined at 2 buffets. We went to see the Real Bodies exhibit, for those unfamiliar, it’s an exhibit that houses real human bodies and educates its visitors about the different systems of the human body. My dad and I also did a lot of walking, the whole Las Vegas Strip is about 4.5 miles and we walked most of it just for the fun of it. Allow me to delve deeper into the places we ate at and the attractions we went to see!
Where We Stayed | VDARA
A family friend was kind enough to let us stay in his timeshare at the Vdara Hotel. The Vdara is located on the Strip and is neighbored by The Cosmopolitan and The Aria. It is literally a 5-minute walk from the Bellagio. The Vdara is an all-suites hotel and we stayed in their Studio Parlor Suite, which has a kitchenette, 2 TVs, a living room divider, and of course, a bathroom. My favorite room amenity was the tablet and Bluetooth speakers. If you ever find yourself planning a trip to Las Vegas, I highly recommend staying at the Vdara because of the friendly, welcoming staff and the cleanliness and quality of the suites.
Where We Dined |A Buffet Showdown
The first buffet we went to was the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar’s Palace. I don’t keep up with the latest foodie rankings and places to eat, so I had never heard of the Bacchanal prior to coming to Vegas. According to Thrillist.com, the Bacchanal Buffet is the “standard against which all Las Vegas buffets are judged.” Honestly, this is the truth because Bacchanal truly has a wide array of different cuisines. Feeling like eating lechon? Bacchanal has it. Feel adventurous and want to try escargot? No fear, Bacchanal has your back! From Italian food to steak to Asian cuisine, this buffet will lure you in with their endless variety. Their dessert section is equally as impressive. From beautifully presented cakes and custards to 20+ flavors of gelato, a dessert enthusiast will feel right at home at the Bacchanal. My dad and I dined here with 3 family friends and we went at 3pm, each paying $64.99 since it was dinner. We ended up staying for about 3.5 hours! That is the longest time I’ve been in a buffet and it just reminded me that eating ate a buffet requires serious prep. An empty stomach, stretchy pants, and pacing yourself are essential if you want to get your money’s worth.
The following day, we had dinner at the Wicked Spoon Buffet at The Cosmopolitan. We weren’t planning on going, it was sort of a spur of the moment type of decision. Our family friends were nearby and the Vdara is right next to The Cosmopolitan so we thought, “Why not?” We went to this second buffet later, at 6 pm. The Wicked Spoon is cheaper than the Bacchanal, coming in at $49 per person for dinner on a Friday or Saturday. What makes the Wicked Spoon different from the first buffet is that the presentation of the food is a little nicer, with the food presented in individual mini plates and bowls. I personally thought the desserts were better than the Bacchanal because of the variety and taste of the gelato flavors (they had different combinations like strawberry balsamic, which I am all for). The desserts also included everything from tres leches cake to mango custard. In addition, Wicked Spoon also had different types of candy which, let’s be honest here, won me over.
So which buffet won this showdown? It was close, but in my opinion, Wicked Spoon won me over with their creative plating presentation and scrumptious desserts. I enjoyed eating at Bacchanal but I found the wide selection a little intimidating. I’d still recommend both buffets for the experience, but Wicked Spoon was my favorite.
WHAT WE DID | SIGHTS
The main reason why I wanted to go to Las Vegas was to visit the Real Bodies exhibit at Bally’s. As I had previously mentioned, Real Bodies is exactly its namesake. It is an educational exhibit that showcases real human bodies and is organized in a way that combines the different body systems. For example, after the entrance, the theme of the first part is ‘BREATHE’, so the respiratory system is presented through the medium of the bodies. The following themes include hunger, movement, and life beginnings (fetal development). Since I majored in health exercise, I was genuinely intrigued and thoroughly spent my time looking at each model and presented fact. My dad also enjoyed this experience because of how informative and interesting each room was. I’d recommend the Real Bodies exhibit to science lovers and the general public because you’ll learn so much about the human body. We all have a body, so why not learn all that you can to make sure you keep it healthy!
The second thing I really wanted to do in Vegas was to see the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign at the beginning of the Strip. Little did I know prior to coming, how much walking is required in Sin City! The welcome sign was about 2.5 miles away from our hotel and I didn’t think it was that far. My thought process was along the lines of “if I can run a 5k, I can absolutely walk 2.5 miles to a sign!” The trip is doable, what caught me by surprise was how deceiving every building and structure is in relation to each other. Everything in Vegas looks like it’s right next to each other, but in reality, it could be miles away. Anyway, when my dad and I got to the welcome sign, we were greeted by a long line of tourists wanting to take a picture of the sign too! We were both tired by the time we got there, so we took picture from afar and walked right on back towards the Vdara.
I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the shopping malls in Vegas are. Beneath the domed, sky painted ceilings are various shops (both of the high end and ‘normal’ variety) designed to look like a replica of a European city. The malls in Vegas are so extra and aesthetic quality both intrigued and baffled me. Intriguing because I had never been in a mall like that and baffling because I can’t believe that a huge amount of money was spent just to fund its creation. I didn’t actually buy anything at the mall but I can see why businesses would do well if their location looked that grand. The shopping malls we wandered through were the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian, the Forum Shops at Caesar’s, and the Miracle Mile Shops.
Other than eating, walking around, and window shopping, my dad I and did go clubbing. It sort of happened serendipitously because we weren’t sure where to go clubbing in the first place. On the Friday night of our trip, we dressed up as if we were gonna go to a club and ended up walking to the Taco Bell Cantina, which was 5 minutes way. Let me tell you guys, the Cantina gets LIT AF. It is two stories: the first floor is where you order your food and drinks, and there is a display of the slushes (there is an option to add a shot or shots of alcohol). The second floor has more tables and a live DJ; it’s an open format setting so the second floor acts like a balcony that looks over the first floor. It is the perfect place to pre-game and get amped up for a night of dancing.
After hanging out at the Cantina, my dad and I walked over to the Aria just to look around the shops. As we were about to leave to go back to the room, we saw lines of people waiting to get into Jewel Nightclub. We went around and my dad ended up talking to one of the bouncers and said that we just wanted to check the club out. The bouncer got his boss and he gave let us cut the line and even gave us a paper to waive the cover fee. So yes, thanks to my talkative dad, we went clubbing in Vegas for free! The music was amazing and we danced for about 2.5 hours. Moral of this story: dress nice and don’t be afraid to talk to people!
The last attraction we visited was the High Roller Observation Wheel at The LINQ Hotel. This observation wheel is the world’s tallest observations wheel, it is 550 ft above the Las Vegas Strip. It was gorgeous views of both the Strip and the Valley and takes about 30 minutes to complete a full rotation. The best time to go is at night when the lights of the Strip are on. I found this to be the best spot to watch the Bellagio fountain light show; the only downside is not being able to hear the music but the views you’ll get more than make up for it.
SO, IS VEGAS WORTH VISITING?
Yes, definitely! Whether you want to gamble, shop, eat, or just go crazy, Vegas is definitely a place to experience new things and be adventurous. I truly enjoyed my first visit and I am happy that I got to experience it with my dad. On this trip, I learned that my and I are more similar than I thought and that I tend to enjoy trips more when I don’t make solid plans to see certain attractions. It allows me more freedom to do what I want, when I want to do it. I would love to go to Vegas again, but maybe next time with my friends, as that is whole different experience!