This past October I traveled with a few of my oldest friends for a birthday trip to Las Vegas. Check out our itinerary for the ultimate visit to sin city!
My best friend, Joanna “Jobo” Linkemyer, and I are exactly two months apart.
My birthday is August 14th and hers is October 14th. We’ve been friends since we were 8 years old and lived next door to one another during our grade school and junior high years. We grew up in the small town of Lodi, California and did just about everything together. From taco night on Tuesdays around her mom’s kitchen table to summer vacations at Lake Berryessa… we became the sisters that each other had always wanted. So when our 35th birthday’s rolled around this past year, we decided to make the most of it by visiting the city that never sleeps.
Along for the ride was gal pals Valerie and Jessica. They both still live in Lodi and hang with Jobo daily. Valerie is in the wine biz and Jessica’s in healthcare. All three of these ladies are incredibly smart, beautiful and a complete blast to hang out with. Oh, and of course… Mama Sue came along with us too.
WHERE WE STAYED:
Our group opted for a two-room suite at Delano, Mandalay Bay’s newest all-suite hotel. Our accommodations were very spacious, clean and conveniently located to other attractions around the strip. Our main room had a wet bar, flat screen tv, working desk (which was a nice addition since I had to do some work in the AM hours), and a half bath. For seating, there was a large, comfortable couch and cozy arm chair in the center of the room. The bedroom had two queen-sized beds, plenty of hanging space and an insanely large bathroom. I’d highly recommend this hotel for groups of 3 or more.
Before staying in the suite with the girls, I actually stayed in a luxurious King room at Mandalay Bay for two days.
Similar to Delano’s suite, the space was immaculate. I’m talking about floor-to-ceiling windows, a gorgeous bathroom, and a bed so soft I felt right at home. I’ll definitely be staying here again when I return in 2020. Who knows, perhaps the girls and I will take an annual birthday trip to Las Vegas every year going forward! We had an amazing time.
A great perk of staying at Mandalay Bay is the access to their 11-acre pool paradise! On day #2, we nestled into a spot at their lazy river and soaked up the sun for the afternoon. This aquatic playground also has a large wave pool, spacious lagoons, a beach bar & grill, private cabanas and plenty of cocktail stations. Oh, and if you stay at the Delano there’s an additional pool area that’s open to their guests only!
Mandalay Bay also has a shark reef aquarium. I highly recommend it if you’re an animal lover or traveling with kids. It’s a pretty cool addition to the hotel. The main tank is 1,300,000 US gallons (which is one of the largest in North America) and they currently feature over 2,000 sea creatures!
ATTRACTIONS WE SAW:
There’s no doubt that Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the dessert. I personally love to gamble, but if that’s not your thing there’s plenty of options for entertainment. We didn’t schedule a visit to the Grand Canyon this time around, but that’s always a popular attraction (and on my bucket list for next time).
Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil:
I’ve seen my fair share of Cirque du Soleil shows… but this is the only one that I found myself quietly singing along to every tune. Very entertaining and well put together. Added Bonus: This show is located inside Mandalay Bay!
The Mandalay Bay Tram:
This dual-track cable car is absolutely free to the public. It swiftly takes passengers from Mandalay Bay to the other side of the strip. There’s pit stops at the Luxor Hotel, Excalibur and then it ends at the Tropicana. Once you’ve reached the ending stop, feel free to walk around and explore New York New York, The Cosmopolitan, Planet Hollywood, Paris, The Bellagio, Cesar’s Palace and The Venetian!
Please Note: The Venetian is about 1.8 miles from the Tropicana. So make sure to carve out enough time to walk around and sightsee in-between destinations. This stroll definitely works up an appetite… but wait till you get to the indoor Venetian canals and marketplace before you make a dinner decision. Trust me, you’ll be thankful that you waited.
All I have to say is this hotel is straight up magical. I’ve never had the pleasure of staying here, but walking around their indoor marketplace is definitely an experience every Las Vegas visitor should experience. It’s so unbelievably pretty… I just love soaking in the breathtaking views of the Grand Canal (and you can ride the gondolas, too!).
The Fountains at The Bellagio:
This water show runs every half hour from 3pm – 8pm and every 15 minutes from 8pm – midnight on weekdays. Weekends and holidays are a similar schedule, just make sure to check online before walking over to see them in action. Fun fact: The lake is 375,000 square feet… equivalent to three city blocks or eight football fields!
Downtown Las Vegas:
I’ve been to sin city many times, but this was my first time venturing over to the historic heart of Las Vegas. There’s a colorful LED canopy that blankets Fremont Street with vibrant light shows and music. If you dare, you can even zip-line across and to get a bird’s eye view. This place is bursting with live entertainment, dining options, and an array of cocktail bars.
We couldn’t squeeze in everything during our 4-day Birthday Trip To Las Vegas, but that leaves us plenty of things to look forward to! During our next adventure, I’d like to visit The Stratosphere Casino and Hotel, ride the roller-coaster at New York New York, visit Red Rock Canyon National Park, and tour Zak Bagan’s Haunted Museum.
WHERE WE ATE & DRANK:
The dining scene in Vegas has just about every genre of food you could ever crave and more. There’s coffee shops, buffets, ethic street food, culinary entertainment shows and celebrity chef experiences. Wether you’re looking for a quick bite to eat or a fine dining option, Las Vegas offers something at every price point.
Jello Shots at The Excalibur:
If you plan to do our same route and walk to The Venetian, swing by here and slurp up a shot! I’m not sure I’ve had one of these since my early 20’s, but they are definitely something I’ll get again!
Mercato Della Pescheria:
When you’re in the mood for pasta, this place is an absolute gem. Go for the Cacio e Pepe Alla Ruota, which they toss together tableside! Imported Bucatini, Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper… it’s the perfect, most comforting combo! This restaurant is located inside The Venetian at St. Mark’s Square. There’s live music and the ambiance can’t be beat.
Located directly across from Mercato Della Pescheria is another Italian eatery that we enjoyed for appetizers and wine. While Mercato Della Pescheria focuses on seafood and pastas, Canaletto’s menu features regional recipes from Venice. They have an extensive list of distinctive wines and vintage bottles, definitely worth checking out. We ordered the Fried Risotto and Salumeria Assortita, which came with sliced cured meats, housemate breadsticks, sottoaceti and Grana Padano.
Such a spectacular spot, I actually ate here twice. Once before the girls arrived and then again after they joined me for our birthday trip to Las Vegas. Overlooking the Lazy River off Mandalay Beach, this eatery is perfect for sipping margaritas and noshing on exceptionally delicious Mexican fare. Known as “Two Hot Tamales” on the Food Network, the menu here was designed by celebrity chefs, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger.
Top of Binion’s Steakhouse:
Located on the 24th floor is an old-school, mobster-vibe steakhouse that boasts some of the best views in Vegas. Their steaks are charbroiled over an open flame with your choice of temperature and seasonings. Entrées are served with your choice of veggies, baked potato or potato du jour and a freshly baked baguette. Come with an appetite, because the portions are HUUUUUGE (and delicious).
OTHER TRAVEL REVIEWS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
Where would you like our travels to take us next? I currently have five trips scheduled for 2020, but I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below! Make sure to follow me on Instagram, @sliceofjess, so you can watch our travel shenanigans on my stories!
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