Hands down, my favorite place to visit is Las Vegas. I had been there three times before this latest trip which we’re going to discuss shortly. It’s always had this aura about it and represents a symbol of fun and the purest form of escapism that not many places come close to offering. With that being said, getting to travel with my family for my 30th birthday to my favorite vacation spot was a trip to remember.
Come Fly With Me, Let’s Fly, Let’s Fly Away
Frank Sinatra said it best, didn’t he? Not only is he synonymous with Las Vegas, but this song always gets me in the mood to get on a plane and fly somewhere. As someone who lives in NY, flying to Las Vegas is going to be the quickest and best option.
I chose to fly on JetBlue from JFK (my favorite NY airport) and left NY around 7:30 AM. For me, flying out early is the best course of action. First off, when you arrive at your destination, you’re there early in the morning with the whole day ahead. The last thing I want to do is take an afternoon or evening trip and lose one of my days in Vegas (or anywhere I’m traveling to for that matter) all because the flight took up the majority of the day regardless of time zones.
So why JetBlue? Ultimately, after researching various airlines and looking at flight prices (both direct and on travel agency sites like Kayak), JetBlue offered me the price I was most comfortable with. My preference was a price around $400 price which I’ve paid before, however, this time prices were higher than expected.
The first thing about JetBlue that caught me by surprise – since I hadn’t flown them in years, going back to college (2006-2010) – was how comfortable their main cabin seats were and how much leg room there was. For a while, I exclusively flew Delta and I wasn’t a fan of their main cabin product (I discuss in a long-form article here why I no longer am exclusive to an airline) in terms of comfortable seats and legroom. The JetBlue main cabin felt like Delta Comfort seats which are an upgraded option when flying Delta. If the JetBlue main cabin is this comfortable and accommodating, I am anxious to try their premium offerings.
The biggest mind-blowing benefit of JetBlue’s main cabin was the unlimited snacks which didn’t cost anything extra. The flight attendant came by with the snacks (which was a nice selection) and said, “take as many as you’d like”. This was so unexpected as I’m used to only taking one snack with nothing else the remainder of the flight. All you had to do was ask. I’m sure other airlines would do this too if you ask, but JetBlue was the first to make it blatantly clear upfront. That goes a long way in my review of the airline.
Couple the snacks with free movies, TV shows, live TV, and music available to all passengers on the plane. The movie selection was quite extensive in my opinion and while I didn’t watch the live TV, this was the benefit I found as an extra value add. If it was football season and I happened to be flying on a Sunday, I could watch the game. Go, Giants!
The LINQ Hotel and Casino
I always recommend you use Lyft or Uber to get to your hotel. I’ve never done anything else and word around Las Vegas is taking a taxi will cost you more money. Additionally, while I’ve taken a charter shuttle to my hotel in the past, there are people on those shuttles going to other hotels. You could be on that shuttle longer than you’d like, so I don’t recommend that option to everyone if you prefer a direct route.
Once I arrived at the hotel, I went to check-in. The look of the hotel was modern and appealed more to the younger crowd, especially at night. The music was always turned up at night when Vegas truly comes to life. It was certainly clear the age range that the hotel was targeting. It’s also one of the most affordable hotels on the Las Vegas Strip so it’s going to be financially reasonable for those that can’t afford a higher-end option like Caesars Palace.
The room itself was modern but had a typical standard hotel room feel – nothing too special, but you’re not going to live in the room when in Las Vegas. The three biggest perks of the room were having a refrigerator, a stand-in shower and pumps for shampoo, body wash and conditioner inside the shower. Having these pump suction cupped to the shower wall was so convenient and a very nice touch. I also am not a tub person whatsoever, so I appreciated a stand-in shower.
My only complaint was the bathroom door. It was a sliding door that didn’t have any locking mechanism to it. Considering I was sharing the room, this was extremely annoying because everyone wants privacy when doing their business. If you slide the door closed too quickly, its weight would reopen the door. You had to gently and slowly close the door to give yourself some semblance of privacy. This is the biggest improvement I feel should be made in the room as a whole.
Dinner, Shows, Gambling, the Hoover Dam and the High Roller… Oh, My!
For my 30th birthday, I wanted to “out-do” my previous Vegas trips and truly make this the best vacation and trip to Las Vegas. Well, to say we were successful in doing so would be an understatement because I had an incredible time.
Let’s start with dinner. Over the first two nights – the day before my birthday and the day of my birthday – we went to the Eiffel Tower restaurant and the Sinatra restaurant respectively. What blew me away the most was that both restaurants said Happy Birthday to me without me letting them know while at the restaurant. At first, I was shocked that they knew. Once I figured out how they knew, I was even more impressed with their hospitality and the classy touch by both establishments. When I had scheduled both reservations with the restaurant they asked me, “what brings you in?” All businesses are interested in learning how you heard about them so they know how to continue to leverage their marketing efforts. What they did with this information truly surprised me. The fact that I was coming in for my birthday made its way from the reservations department down to our server.
Eiffel Tower gave me a free dessert which I didn’t ask for and the Sinatra restaurant gave me a birthday “thank you” card for dining with them. A very classy gesture by both restaurants. Oh… I had a delicious NY Strip steak at both restaurants. Steak is one of my favorite foods to eat when dining out!
Moving onto the gambling… which worked out in my benefit this time around! I’ve always enjoyed games like Blackjack, Three Card Poker, Video Poker, and Craps. I was fortunate enough to get to play them all and make a profit of $200 for this trip. My first time coming out ahead since my first trip to Vegas when I made about $120. Regardless of whether or not I come out ahead, for me, you’re paying for entertainment. It’s not for everyone, but I enjoy the games. If I lose it’s okay, but if I win it’s a bonus. The key is never to gamble more than you can afford to lose. I had some birthday luck on my side!
When it came to the shows I saw, I did something I had never done before and saw a show each night I was in Vegas. Four shows in total! Most of the time I’ve only seen two. I guess you can say I lived it up! Not to mention, I’m very grateful for everything I was able to do during this trip. The shows we went to were The Laugh Factory, Piff The Magic Dragon, Donny and Marie, and Masters of Illusion.
I highly recommend the comedy shows at The Tropicana where The Laugh Factory is hosted. It’s always entertaining and very funny. It had been my first time back to The Laugh Factory since my first Las Vegas visit and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a very affordable show and it lasts a solid amount of time to make it worth checking out. The comedians they have performing are always rotating so going back multiple times can guarantee you a chance to see new performers whenever you choose to go.
Piff The Magic Dragon, who was on America’s Got Talent, was hilarious and leveraged his dry sense of humor. The magic wasn’t as great in my opinion and the theater was extremely small inside of The Flamingo. Having seen his performance from America’s Got Talent, I had thought the show would be a little better than it was; it was very short too. However, he’s not the headliner in The Flamingo so I wouldn’t have expected him to get a larger theater. I think one of the downfalls of this show was there was a completely plastered woman at the show who when brought up on stage was more interested in being the performer than the participant.
The headliners at The Flamingo were Donny and Marie Osmond. We saw the Donny and Marie Show and I did not expect this to be as great as it was. My mom had wanted to see this show and to say we were impressed would be putting it lightly. The length of the show was perfect and Donny and Marie did a great job engaging the audience throughout. It was a big theater and you could see the stage no matter where you sit. Having seen old episodes of the Donny and Marie show, I had wondered what they were like in person and I’m glad I got to experience this.
The last show I saw was The Masters of Illusion at Bally’s. What made me so excited to see this show was the fact that I used to watch this show on TV when I was a kid. Secondly, since it’s still on TV, I caught some of the new episodes and was glad to see the show come back albeit in a new format. When I saw it was available to see in Las Vegas, I jumped at the opportunity, especially with the fact that magic was a huge hobby of mine growing up and is still something I have a huge appreciation for. There was a nice mix of stage magic, card magic, grand illusions, and a good mix of personalities from each magician and their corresponding acts. It was a nice sized theater and it was a nice touch that all of the magicians met outside with the audience after the show.
To change things up a little bit, we left the strip and went to The Hoover Dam. It was an interesting experience as it was the first time I did a tour off of the strip. I mostly like staying on the strip, but getting to see this man-made structure was incredible. While we couldn’t go inside the dam on this particular day (which would have been the best part), we did get to take plenty of pictures and learn about the Hoover Dam’s history. All very interesting, but for me, I tend to get more into historical tours that center around the Civil War. Also, there was only so long you could look at the structure. It kind of reminds me of what I’ve heard people say if you go and visit the Grand Canyon. The tour did come with lunch for everyone which was a plus.
To wrap up the most notable experiences from my fourth trip to Las Vegas, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the High Roller which is a gigantic Ferris wheel right behind The LINQ. The coolest part of this attraction was if you choose to ride at night, there’s an open bar and it takes about a half-hour for the Ferris wheel to make a full revolution. You’ll get great views of the Las Vegas strip and plenty of opportunities to take pictures. There’s about 10-15 in the pod with you and if you’re thinking it must be cramped with that many people, it’s not at all. There’s plenty of room for everyone. We were fortunate too that we had a very personable and friendly bartender on our pod.
As obvious as it seems, this trip to Las Vegas was memorable. The amount of extended family I was able to spend time with along with my immediate family being there made this trip one I’ll never forget. Las Vegas has a way of leaving long-lasting memories and I highly recommend you visit if you’ve never been there before.
One thing is for sure, even after being there four times, there’s still so much more I want to experience. It’s just one of those places you never run out of things to do. I think that’s a huge selling point for any vacation spot and why so many people travel to Las Vegas each year.
Have you visited Las Vegas before? If so, what are some things you’ve done there? Additionally, if you’ve never visited, has this article given you some ideas or increased your excitement to want to go? Finally, what would you like me to do to improve these reviews for you? I want these reviews to give you ideas and encourage your thirst to go out there and travel more.