As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and this will be my final post in this series. And I’m thankful for that because these posts take FOREVER to do. That said, it was fun to relive our trip through them.
Our last official stop on our road trip was one of our tried-and-true favourite places – Vegas! We always try to get in a trip or two a year but this one was going to be a bit different as we’ve only ever flown into Vegas. I was excited to drive through the desert and seem copious amount of cactuses…or cacti, whatever the plural word is.
We set out around 10 am to avoid morning rush hour and had another semi-stressful drive through the freeways; the traffic was lighter than Sunday but there was still lots of it – at the time it made me appreciate our so-called traffic back at home but you know, now that a couple of months have passed the drivers here seem just as bad.
The drive to Vegas was interesting and very, very hot. In one section signs instructed us to turn off our air conditioning – we suspected because it was a very long but gradual incline up a hill and the temperature outside around 45 degrees celcius. It wouldn’t take much for your car to overheat so we obviously followed those directions. At one point the outside temperature gauge in the car registered at 50 degrees celcius which is absolutely nuts!
For the majority of the ride this was our scenery – it was definitely not the most scenic drive and there weren’t many cacti – the ones we did see were short and stumpy. I was looking for big tall ones so I was disappointed with that!
After a long and hot 4.5 hour drive, we arrived in Vegas – yahoo!
Where we Stayed
Aria is our go-to Vegas hotel. It has a fantastic location, the hotel and rooms are beautiful, and it’s stocked with awesome restaurants. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of our room but trust me when I say their standard rooms are awesome! I love the separate shower and double sinks in the bathroom and the beds are SO COMFY!
What We Did
We had nothing planned in advance of our trip so when we found out there were still tickets available for this show we decided to give it a try. It was basically a comedy show that Kevin Hart hosted that consisted of 4 comedians that he had worked with before he became famous. In essence, he’s paying it forward which was definitely nice of him. I’d say 2 of them were really funny, 1 was funny and 1 was just kind of funny. Kevin Hart did some sets in between and he was hilarious of course.
Wanna know a secret of mine? I LOVE Muppets! The Muppet Show was one of my favourites when I was a kid so this show appeared to be right up my muppet-loving alley. It was basically adult improv with muppets and the concept was great, but it kind of didn’t deliver. There were probably only about 30 people in the entire theatre that could hold close to 500 and when your show depends on audience interaction, that can be a big problem. I’m not sure why this show wasn’t successful in attracting people to it because it was actually pretty funny. Last we checked they had cancelled it which is too bad but not much of a surprise given our experience.
Aria has a pretty nice pool area so we would usually head out there in the mornings before it got too hot and crowded. Hanging out at the pool with a drink and a good book is my idea of a great day and something I love doing while in Vegas.
Where We Ate
This is one of the few restaurants in Aria that we hadn’t tried yet so we hit it up for lunch one day. It’s tappas style so you order a bunch of small plates and share them. We sat at the bar and ordered off of the bar menu; the highlights were the Spanish Chorizo and the Mushroom Risotto . I’d love to go back here for lunch or dinner on the restaurant side!
This is one of my favourite restaurants in all of Vegas. I don’t usually do this but I ordered the exact same thing I had the first time I was here a year ago – the 10 oz. Flat Iron Steak Frites. The steak is so tender (which is no easy feat with flank steak!) and it’s served with beef fat fries that literally melt in your mouth. We’ve dined at many steakhouses in Vegas and this is one of the best I’ve ever had – in fact I’d rank it as one of my favourite meals ever. Highly recommend dining here if in Vegas.
This is a Mario Batali restaurant located in the Venetian. I had the most amazing drink here – I can’t remember what it was called but it had in-house made Concord Grape gelato blended with wine (and potentially something else). Food-wise, I ordered the Bucatini that is apparently Batali’s signature dish and it was really good – the fresh pasta was some of the best I’ve ever had. I loved the atmosphere here too – we sat on the piazza (which is inside the Venetian mall) and people-watched which I’d definitely recommend!
This is one of the newest restaurants in Vegas, located in the Cosmopolitan. You have to enter the restaurant via a pawn shop which was….interesting. With so many restaurants in Vegas I suppose everyone is trying to differentiate themselves. This was small plate style too – they have a pretty interesting menu – we shared a few plates but the best was the Grilled Cheese, Smoked Bacon & Tomato Soup dumplings – they were nothing short of amazing. I tried to take a picture but it was too dark and it didn’t turn out. The vibe of the restaurant was really cool and the service was awesome – I’d come back here too!
On the road again
Sadly, our time in Vegas had to come to an end. Even though we usually make several trips to Vegas a year, I never get sick of it and and am usually sad to leave. This time was a little different however, 3 weeks away from home definitely makes you long to sleep in your own bed, give your dog a hug and eat a salad so I was ready to go home.
We drove home over two days, though Utah (pictured above ) with an overnight stay in Helena, Montana; we stayed in a….wait for it – Holiday Inn Express and I think that was the least amount of time I ever spent in a hotel room – we arrived around 9 pm and left at 6 am the next morning. It was a lot of driving but we just wanted to get it over with and get home.
Oh and I can’t fail to mention that as we were driving through Utah, we stopped at In & Out Burger because so many rave about it. Let me just say it was a HUGE disappointment – we ordered a standard burger and fries. The bun on the burger was really dry and the fries had the weirdest texture – sort of spongey/styrafoamy? I don’t understand the hype but at least now I can say I’ve tried it!
Road Trip Tips
If you’re contemplating a road trip, particularly a long one like we did, I’ve compiled some tips to help make your travels a little smoother:
- Visit grocery stores for snacks: It’s way cheaper than stopping for fast/restaurant food all the time. Plus it helps avoid inevitable hangryness. I loaded up on things like granola bars, bottled water, Vitamin Waters, crackers, fruit (i.e. bananas, apples), individual yogurts, etc – anything that would be relatively easy to eat in the car. We stored them all in an insulated cooler bag to keep them fresh and cool
- Wet Wipes are your friend: So essential for wiping your hands after eating but ESPECIALLY after using roadside bathrooms (shudder)
- GPS is a must: At first we weren’t sure if we really needed a GPS but I’m so glad we had one – we lost cell service in more areas than expected. Who knows where we would have ended up without it!
- Keep a phone charger in the car: We relied on our phones a ton for things such as referencing online guidebooks/maps and snapping pictures so they always needed to be charged; plus you don’t want to have to rummage through bags looking for one.
- Bring a backpack: Some of our hotels didn’t have safes in them and many of the places we visited warned us not to leave valuables in our car; in those cases we carried all of our valuables (passports, cash, ipads, etc.) with us in a backpack. Better safe than sorry!
- Wear comfy clothes: Sitting in a car for hours on end can be really uncomfortable – most times I threw on leggings and a sweatshirt with flip flops. I may not have looked super fashionable but I was definitely comfortable!
- Download music and lots of it!: Having good music playing really helps the time pass and you’d be surprised how quickly you can make it through all the music you own. We downloaded a ton of songs, playlists and albums before we left (thank goodness for Apple Music) and we listened to it all at least once!
- Take breaks: Kind of a no-brainer, but make sure you get up and stretch your legs often and as well as make use of the facilities – particularly if they appear to be clean! Also pay attention to those “No Services for ## miles” signs and make sure you stop if you even think you might have to go – speaking from experience… 😉
I hope you enjoyed my trip re-cap – it’s hard to believe this was so many months ago now! Time flies! Thanks to everyone who followed along!
Until next time!
Catch up on my other posts in my Summer Road Trip Series: