vegas strip

If you follow me on Instagram (and by now, why aren’t you?), you might have seen that I recently traveled to Vegas. My mom and I originally planned to see Celine Dion at Caesar’s Palace, but she canceled just 10 minutes prior to our arrival. We were very disappointed but decided to make the most of our trip anyways, which inspired this post. Read on to learn how to make the most of 24-hours in Vegas.

woman in vegas

The weather in Las Vegas, Nevada in early January is similar to Texas weather. The highs were in the mid-sixties. The only difference is that the air is extremely dry. We flew into McCarran International Airport on Saturday arriving a little after 2 PM. From there, we caught a shuttle from the airport to Caesar’s Palace where we would stay until flying back home to Austin, Texas early Monday morning.

*Side note: Our trip was planned through AAA travel agency. If you have a AAA membership, I highly encourage using their travel agency. It made our trip very seamless. They took care of flights (we flew Frontier Airlines not my favorite but very budget friendly), travel from and to the airport, and event tickets.

celine dion sign

Tour the Hotels

A fun thing to do when you have time to kill in Vegas is touring the major hotels along the Vegas strip. Each hotel features it’s own shopping mall (massive malls with major brands and labels),  casinos, and some hotels even feature their own museums and exhibits.

The Bellagio Hotel features a Conservatory and Botanical Garden just past the lobby area. From January 8th – March 3rd you can see their interpretation of the Chinese New Year. It’s a spectacular creation that’s worth checking out. You can view their full schedule here, it changes with the seasons. Bellagio is also famous for their fountain display which features water fountains that shoot into the air synchronized with classical music. It’s a magical display to watch at night. The fountains shoot off every fifteen minutes to thirty minutes depending on the time of day. You can view that schedule here.


Play the Slots

Who goes to Las Vegas and doesn’t gamble a little bit? I’m not a huge gambler, but when in Vegas, I’ll take a few chances. The crazy thing I learned about Las Vegas is that there are endless casinos. Every hotel you go into has a casino upon entry. Imagine being a kid and everywhere corner you turn there’s a Chuck E Cheese. That’s exactly how it feels. You spend some money on the slot machines, you earn (or lose) some and print out a ticket with ‘credits’. You can either redeem these credits for cash, or you can stick that ticket into the next machine for another shot at winning big.

slot machines

I went in with the intention of spending only $50. That might not sound like a whole lot, but there are penny slots and quarter slots. My mom and I spent so much time playing the slots. It was almost impossible not to. We’d go to our hotel room and once we came back down to hit our next destination, those slot machines (you have to walk past hundreds of them to get to the exit) pulled us in like a magnet. This can be a lot of fun if you have self-control and know your limits.

ALSO: My Top 8 Places to Eat while in Ecuador

Go See A Show

Las Vegas is the Mecca of live performances. There are many performers who have residencies in Las Vegas, so there is no shortage of entertainment. We originally went to see Celine Dion but she canceled her show ten minutes after we arrived at our hotel. If you don’t want to take your chances on Celine, there’s always the Cirque Du Soleil ‘Michael Jackson One’ tribute.

*If you have AAA you can get a discount on your tickets. This was major for us as the discount allowed up to get better seats closer to the stage all while paying less than we intended. The show is playing at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.

Eat Somewhere Fancy

When in Las Vegas, plan to spend a lot of dough. The biggest takeaway from the trip was the realization that Vegas is nothing more than a money vacuum. You literally land and immediately money is leaving your hands faster than lightning.

There are many great restaurants by celebrity chefs such as Chef Gordon Ramsey and Wolf Gang Puck. Our first night, we dined at Hell’s Kitchen. It just happened to be the opening night (official grand opening is Jan. 28th). And we had the pleasure of seeing Chef Ramsey himself! Just as we had finished eating and we were waiting for our check, my mother caught sight of him as he made a beeline for our corner of the restaurant. Chef Ramsey and his crew of about four people stood next to us taking in a view of the restaurant. He kindly took a photo with a patron that approached him and then he was gone. It happened so fast! I can’t guarantee that you’ll get to meet a celebrity chef on your trip, but you never know what might happen when you are in Vegas! Oh, and the food was delicious. I highly recommend the Meet Your Maker cocktail and the Red Quinoa Salad.

During our time there, we also dined at Lupo by Wolf Gang Puck at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. They have a wonderful happy hour menu and strong sangria.

Madame Tussauds

wax figure of jennifer lopez

This tourist attraction is well worth the twenty bucks we spent to get in. It’s a collection of life-like celebrity wax figures. You can take photos with the figures and learn more about that celebrities career. While you are walking the strip, be on the lookout for people giving out discount coupons for this attraction.

Enjoy Yourself!

There’s a reason Las Vegas is called Sin City! You’ll see some crazy (possibly illegal-that’s for another post) things, but it’s all good fun. My mom and I had a great time and I’d definitely go back again. There are so many things to do, you just have to find what’s worth it. You’ll notice that I left off a lot of cliche things like the High Roller at the LINQ. It’s a huge Ferris wheel that moves like a slug. Not my idea of a good time. There’s also the Oldd Towne portion of Las Vegas that we did not visit on this trip.

First time traveling to Las Vegas? What are you most excited to see? Be sure to leave your travel recommedations in the comments below!