Traveling to Las Vegas is one of my favorite places to visit. In fact, when I turned 30 we went to Sin City for my birthday. That was four years ago so it was long overdue for me to return and share my thoughts. For someone who visits Las Vegas once a year, you can never run out of things to do. Four years away from my favorite vacation spot made this a long-overdue trip. This wasn’t just a reunion with one of my favorite cities, but a reunion to see extended family.

Heading To Las Vegas With Two One-Way Tickets

When most people purchase a plane ticket, they tend to purchase a round-trip flight. I’ve found that it’s not always the cheapest option at your disposal. I highly recommend doing your research and contemplating two one-way flights. This is the approach I took on my recent trip traveling to Las Vegas. Taking this approach to airfare enables two things: financial flexibility and dual airline potential.

The financial flexibility factor is key here. Spreading those charges out over two bank statements lessens the strain on your wallet. However, please be sure to compare the cost of a round-trip flight to two one-way flights. Sometimes the round-trip flight will be the better deal. It all depends on the decisions of the airlines and being an educated traveler will only benefit you.

You can certainly buy two one-way tickets from the same airline or you can take the approach I went with. I purchased one flight from JetBlue and the other from Southwest. I tend to like this approach because both airlines are competing for your business. It’s why I don’t recommend staying loyal to one airline; a path I went down in the past.

How I Went About Selecting Which Airline To Travel To Las Vegas With

JetBlue was the airline I chose for traveling to Las Vegas. It’s one of my favorite airlines because I feel like they have the best in-flight entertainment options in the industry. I don’t need to bring my own device to watch movies, live TV, or listen to music. The convenience of a built-in TV is a nice perk from JetBlue regardless of flight class.

In-Flight TV

However, a complaint I have is the connection was very spotty at times. The program you were watching would drop and the touchscreen sensitivity in recognizing gestures was frustrating. In fairness, we were 30,000 feet in the air, and having free access to WiFi is such a huge bonus. Overall, JetBlue really offers a good customer experience. I continue to include them in my Rolodex of airlines that I’ll fly.

For the return flight home, I went with Southwest Airlines. By far they are the most budget-friendly airline. Unlike JetBlue which charges $35 to check in one bag, Southwest allows two checked bags free for all customers. Overall, that’s a savings of $70 for a round-trip flight when compared directly to JetBlue.

A budget airline makes it easier to travel but also comes with some limitations when in-flight perks come into play. The most notable difference if we compare it against JetBlue is the need for your own device for in-flight entertainment. A second is the need to pay for WiFi. I personally don’t pay for WiFi on flights. Although, it’s worth contemplating which airline you choose if WiFi is a necessity, especially as a business traveler. Finally, a lack of upgradeable seating options (i.e. first class, more leg-room seating) I find to be underwhelming. I can understand this not being in Southwest’s plans as it may be contrary to being a budget airline.

A Multi Hotel Stay In Sin City

While traveling to Las Vegas was a little different from a hotel standpoint. In the past, there have been times when I’ve stayed at multiple properties in one visit. However, it would be for one night at one of the two locations. I would then go to the next property for the remaining nights. This time around I spent multiple nights at two properties; both owned by MGM Resorts: Park MGM and The Mirage.

I had never stayed at either hotel previously. The first two nights of my four-night stay were at Park MGM. My initial impression of the hotel after walking around was that it was one of the smaller hotels I’d visited. Dining options felt minimal, but it’s understandable with a smaller hotel. Additionally, there are more options if you check out Nomad within Park MGM.

This portion of the review is Park MGM as a standalone hotel. With that aside, the gaming floor was expansive and the staff was very friendly and helpful. I enjoyed the pool area the most. There were three pools in total with a full bar in the center. I found the ambiance of the pool area to be very relaxing and enjoyable. It was not the high-energy atmosphere that you would find at Mandalay Bay or The Palms. Rather it was more subdued which I prefer. With the hustle and bustle that is Las Vegas, it’s nice to have someplace to go to wind down.

A Look at the Park MGM Room

We booked a standard two-bedroom room – for two free nights (sans resort fee) via myVegas loyalty points – at the hotel. We felt that the decor within the room didn’t really go together. There were a number of pictures behind the headboards of both beds acting as a backsplash collage of sorts. It seemed very misplaced and confusing to interpret what the intention was behind it, but I digress. The best feature of the room was the little couch area right near the window. It was big enough to sleep on which I did since we had multiple people in the room.

Park MGM Standard Room

In the bathroom, outside of hand lotion, there were no toiletries. I’m curious as to why toiletries weren’t provided in the room. This is the first time I can recall that I’ve experienced this in Las Vegas.

That issue aside, the water pressure in the shower was very good. There was also a stand-in shower which is something you’d expect from a modern-themed hotel. However, rather than a regular door for the bathroom, there was a sliding door. I’m still not understanding the reasoning behind these sliding doors. In my opinion, it doesn’t provide the full sense of privacy as a standard door does. This wasn’t my first experience with a sliding door. Previously, I saw this for the first time when I stay at The Linq Hotel & Casino.

Places To Eat At Park MGM

We did experience two restaurants within Park MGM. While we didn’t have dinner or lunch while there, we did have breakfast at Primrose and Eataly. Primrose was a nice, more elegant diner with good food. It’s a place I could recommend you check out if you’re planning to stay here. Eataly was quite expansive and certainly the flagship attraction of Park MGM as a whole. This is a “must-do” if you’re traveling to Las Vegas in the near future. With a plethora of restaurants to choose from, you can find something to your liking. It is pricey, but that’s Las Vegas in general.

Truth be told, I feel Park MGM offers little to do in the confines of the property. We spent more of our stay exploring other hotels within range. Those hotels consisted of New York New York, MGM Grand, Excalibur, and Luxor to name a few. These hotels are all under the MGM Resorts umbrella. It’s certainly beneficial to earn MGM Rewards points at multiple properties within fairly close proximity.

I’m grateful for the free two-night stay, but the next time I’m traveling to Las Vegas I’ll stay somewhere else.

Switching Hotels On The Las Vegas Strip Mid Trip

Switching gears to the remaining two nights in Las Vegas, I stayed at The Mirage. This was important to me considering The Mirage was sold by MGM Resorts to Hard Rock International.

The Mirage hotel is a beautiful resort both on the interior and exterior. I’ve spent time playing and eating in The Mirage but had yet to stay there. With its impending cease of existence, the timing of my traveling to Las Vegas couldn’t have been better.

The Mirage Hotel and Casino

My family and I were fortunate to get a volcano room view. It’s possibly one of the most iconic free attractions that have delighted tourists as a mainstay of The Strip. The soon-to-be distant memory was visible from the window of my hotel room. In fact, you didn’t even need to be near the window to know when the volcano went off. At night you could see the reflection of the flames against the building.

Speaking of the room, like Park MGM, we booked a standard room. The standard room at The Mirage is far superior in terms of space and aesthetics. The design is cohesive and classic which just fits my taste much more than Park MGM. My biggest complaint about the room is the bathroom. The water pressure in the shower was poor and instead of a stand-in shower, it was a bathtub. I’m just not a fan of bathtubs whatsoever. However, there were toiletries in the room which was a plus.

An Optimal Location Mid Strip

The Mirage is prime real estate as It’s centrally located on The Strip. You’re right in the middle of all the action where the city’s energy creates the mystique that is Sin City. As you approach The Mirage, you’re created by the memorable arches at the front entrance emblazoned with the hotel’s logo. Upon entering the doors, you feel completely immersed and transported into the tropics. The walkway separating the check-in desk and the gaming floor has a very Caribbean feel. Many visitors like to take pictures at this location. It certainly serves as a memento to remember The MIrage by when it’s gone.

As you make your way to the check-in desk, behind the employee counter there’s a huge fish tank. It serves as a nice distraction while you wait in line waiting to be assisted. These types of additions capture your attention. I’m perplexed as to why this historic hotel needs to be swept away. While Las Vegas is an evolving town, some properties I’d argue are what embody reasons for traveling to the city.

Starting The Day Off At The Pool

After dropping off our bags at the bell desk, we grabbed our bathing suits and headed immediately to the pool. My family and I spent hours by the pool. It was such an enjoyable spot at the hotel with drinks available at the ready whenever the desire hit you. From the stone rocks surrounding the pool to the waterfall, it’s breathtaking. It creates a great ambiance and further enhances the tropical theme. Let’s be honest, who also doesn’t like a pool area surrounded by palm trees? The pool was huge and if not for all the things to do when traveling to Las Vegas, why leave?

If you need another fix of the tropics at The Mirage, make your way out the back entrance. Right across from Rhumbar Tropical Ultra Lounge, you’ll find a tropical paradise complete with another memorizing waterfall and lake. It’s a spectacle to look at and admire the work that went into building something to this massive scale. You really don’t feel like you’re in Las Vegas as you gaze upon the peaceful serenity. Suffice it to say, I’m a big fan of The Mirage. I’m sad to see it go, but I’m thankful I was able to create this lasting memory with my family.

The Mirage waterfall via the side entrance

The Ups & Downs of Traveling To Las Vegas For Entertainment

Upon our arrival at Park MGM, we were lucky to be able to check into our room right away. I was pleasantly surprised considering you normally have to pay for early check-in. Once we settled in, albeit it was fairly early in the morning, we ventured off onto the Las Vegas Strip.

While I’m familiar with making my way around The Strip, I didn’t initially realize how far a walk Margaritaville was. This is always a must-do on every trip I take to the desert. I’ve had some fond memories and fun times here. From long conversations with my uncle over margaritas to my 30th birthday; playing cornhole with my uncle, sister, and brother-in-law. While Margaritaville isn’t exclusive to Las Vegas, this location has meaning to me.

This time around, we went for lunch and ate inside. I’ve never actually dined in the main dining room before nor have I had their food. Usually, I always go to the top floor where the outdoor bar and cornhole reside. However, once we learned we couldn’t order food from there, we resigned to the main dining room. They had classic bar food is how I would describe it, but still tasty nonetheless. When traveling to Las Vegas, Margaritaville provides a different experience than the location in Nashville which has country music artists. Both are equally fun, though.

Wine And Dining Abound

After lunch, we went back to Park MGM to relax and have a couple of drinks by the pool. Dinner later that night would be at Prime Steakhouse at Bellagio. I was looking forward to this restaurant the most during our stay. It’s a very expensive restaurant, but I really enjoy steak and I enjoy trying new steakhouses. Plus, having a great view of the Bellagio Fountains was an experience I couldn’t pass up. However, all the build-up of excitement and anticipation fell flat. It felt so flat that it’s a restaurant I cannot recommend anyone to go to.

Prime Steakhouse at The Bellagio

I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to experience some high-end steakhouses over the years. Unfortunately, this was the worst one I’ve been to. Never would I have thought that I’d feel this way about a place that hires the top chefs. Our waiter’s service certainly didn’t compensate for the underwhelming food. Our waiter was very pushy and kept inquiring about us ordering a bottle of wine for the table. We had stated no thank you, but he kept offering. I haven’t experienced this pushy service at steakhouses like Morton’s Steakhouse or Rare 650. Our party was 11 people. It’s possible the waiter was seeing the likelihood of a large tip. His service came off as trying to pad the bill rather than letting his service earn him his gratuity. I’m always for being a generous tipper, but something was off this time around.

Taking The Good With The Bad While In Las Vegas

In regards to the food, the steak was cooked perfectly in terms of temperature. It was not memorable compared to previous restaurants. The mashed potatoes I thought were the best aspect of the meal which isn’t saying a lot. I spoke to both my mom and uncle afterward and they felt very similar about the food as a whole. With that being said, it gave us a story to talk about. Even though it wasn’t positive, there were moments of humor surrounding the whole thing. We did get to see the fountains go off and the ambiance and overall look of the restaurant were beautiful. Even in disappointing experiences, you can take positives from them.

The Bellagio Fountains

To begin the next day, we had breakfast at Primrose at Park MGM. Since I live on Long Island, diners are very common and readily available. Primrose I feel was the most elegant diner I’ve been to. The location was a convenient spot considering it was the hotel we stayed at for the first two days. I recommend checking it out if you’re a guest of the Park MGM or within walking distance. I highly recommend you make reservations in advance especially if you want to eat on the outdoor patio. We had to wait for a little while until an opening was available, but it was worth the wait.

Mother And Son Bonding Time

After breakfast, I was grateful to have some one-on-one time with just my mom. We explored the various hotels surrounding Park MGM like New York-New York, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, and MGM Grand. This is one of my favorite things to do when traveling to Las Vegas. The MGM Grand was a hotel I’d been wanting to walk around and explore for some time. To my knowledge, I do not recall me visiting the hotel during my previous four visits. Suffice it to say, it was a must this time around. It truly is gigantic and there’s so much to see and do inside. I would really like to stay here during one of my future trips. The lazy river looks like a lot of fun!

Exploring The Hotels On The Strip

After walking through the aforementioned hotels, we needed a break. We stopped at the Whiskey Down lounge at the MGM Grand. It was a perfect atmosphere inside with dim lighting supporting a zen-like mood with plenty of seating available. There’s seating at the bar and the lounge itself with various seating arrangements. I liked the variety and we decided upon the couch-style seating. We visited during the afternoon so seating was plentiful. I would suspect that at night that seating is hard to come by and at a premium. If you’re planning on coming at night, plan accordingly and give yourself some time to grab the seats you desire.

The MGM Lion

My only criticism of the establishment is there are no doors to the lounge. It’s an open concept so you walk right in from the casino floor. I’d prefer there be a door to drown out the noise from the casino so you’re truly immersed. The music provided the perfect ambiance. I could have spent countless hours there but one needs to pace oneself! With that being said, we decided to head back to our hotel and go to the pool. Afterward, it was time to get ready for our first of two shows for the trip: Carrot Top.

The Best Comedy Show In Las Vegas Hands Down

During our exploration of the various hotels, we purchased tickets to see Carrot Top at the Luxor. I’ll be honest, even with the high praise of my uncle’s recommendation – he saw it before – I was skeptical. I love comedy, so I gave it a shot.

To my surprise, this was by far the best comedy show in Las Vegas. From the start to the end, I was laughing. Carrot Top is a comedic genius. I feel the most unique aspect of his act is not just the props he uses but the sub-text conversations. That cracked me up the most and with two thumbs I recommend you see this show.

At the conclusion of the show, we stopped to get something to eat at the Luxor food court. I had wanted to try out LA Subs but they were closed, unfortunately. I went with Bonanno’s Pizzeria instead at that point. The pizza was pretty good, but nothing compared to the pizza we get in New York. I’m definitely spoiled in that regard. After dinner, we concluded the second night walking around the strip and checking out the M&M store. Never in my life would I have expected a multi-level M&M store with every M&M-focused product that could think of.

One Final Stay At The Mirage

The third day of our trip would be our first of two days at The Mirage. Prior to departing Park MGM, we went to Eataly for breakfast. There are a plethora of food options available here and you can grab food here any time of the day. It’s not exclusive to breakfast. However, the prices are high here and after experiencing it this one time, it’s not one I would revisit. From a thematic standpoint, I like it conceptually. However, I think you can find a better bang for your buck elsewhere on the Las Vegas strip. After breakfast, we scheduled our Uber ride and made our way to The Mirage.

It was still morning when we arrived. So, we dropped off our bags at the bell desk and went to the pool. We stayed at the pool for a few hours surrounded by a beautiful waterfall streaming down a mountain of rocks.

While there were a lot of people there, it wasn’t chaotic and high energy. My drink of choice at the pool was a margarita. It just felt appropriate given the aesthetic of the surroundings.

The Mirage Staff Makes Good On Their Mistake

The Mirage logo near the front entrance

I’m certainly going to miss The Mirage. An iconic staple hotel from the ’80s and a historic landmark. I’m looking forward to seeing the plans for the Hard Rock, though. I am a huge music fan and guitar player so it ticks off those boxes.

While at the pool, we anticipated a text message from the front desk when our room was ready. While no text came, due to the inconvenience, we were provided a food credit. I appreciate The Mirage correcting the issue when checking the room status at the front desk.

A Night With Food And Gambling

What is the restaurant you ask? Well, had Thai food at Din Tai Fung located at Aria. I ordered the sweet and sour pork baby back ribs and a side of white rice. The food was pretty good, although the ordering process was a little odd. Rather than providing our order to the waitress, we were given a menu to check off which items. That aside, I’ve had Thai food off the strip before which to my memory I recall being tastier. However, that was a number of years ago and it was also the last time I had Thai food.

To conclude the night, I capped it off with a gambling session playing Electronic Craps at The Mirage. It’s one of my favorite games to play in the casino. I put in $100 and was able to leave up and play for a decent amount of time. I felt I got my money’s worth. Gambling is a source of entertainment where I never gamble more than I can afford to lose. What I like about Electronic Craps is the need not to physically handle the dice. You still have the comradery of playing with other people, though, which I like. Additionally, you don’t need to stand up the entire as you would with live craps.

Making The Last Day Count

As with any trip and traveling to Las Vegas is no exception – all good things must come to an end. For the final day, we were going to get as much in as possible prior to returning home.

Since it had been a few days I wanted to get a workout in. I know some of you reading this may be wondering why? I’m taking away precious vacation time, right? Well, it’s just a habit in my routine. It’s something I’m used to and like doing. Plus, both my mom and uncle also like to work out so they joined in as well.

Afterward, we headed to the pool one last time for a couple of hours. This second time around we went to the area of the pool closer to the rocks and water. We were closer to the middle of the pool compared to the edges of the pool where the exit resides. I can’t think of anything more carefree when traveling to Las Vegas than lounging at the hotel pool. A drink in your hand, and great conversation… sign me up! Just gazing around and seeing everyone else enjoying themselves adds to the positive atmosphere.

My Favorite Thing To Do On Every Las Vegas Trip

As we approached mid-afternoon we made our way back to our hotel room before heading to The Cosmopolitan. The Cosmopolitan is one of my favorite hotels on the Las Vegas strip. If we narrow that down even further I love going to The Chandelier Bar every trip. There’s a special drink – if you’re not already in the know – called a Verbena. It keeps drawing me back!

The Verbena at The Cosmpolitan's Chandeliere Bar

The drink is not on the menu. It’s one of those “you need to be told about it” in order to know it exists. Here’s your inside scoop! At this point, I’m sure many may already know about this drink. I don’t want to give away too much, but let’s just say that you’re going to eat a flower. I like to describe the flavor of the drink as a lemonade and Gatorade combination. You can find The Chandelier Bar on the second floor of The Cosmopolitan. What I love also is that this drink – to my knowledge – is only available at this bar. However, it is only available to get at The Cosmopolitan. If you’ve had a Verbena before, I’d like to hear how you liked it and your overall experience.

An Evening Filled With Laughter

With the evening quickly approaching, we made our way to the Wynn for Sebastian Maniscalco’s comedy show. My mom and I are huge fans of Sebastian and find him hilarious. I met a nice mother and daughter visiting Las Vegas from Canada. We had a nice conversation prior to the show. The show itself was funny, however, I find some of Sebastian’s previous comedy specials to be more up my alley. My favorite jokes that Sebastian had shared in his previous shows centered around his Italian family. I, myself, am also Italian so those previous jokes are very relatable. He had some of those jokes this time around, but I would have liked more. I recommend seeing him live if you have the opportunity even if you’re not traveling to Las Vegas.

Wynn Theater

After the show, we were hungry and grabbed a bite to eat at Charlie’s Sports Bar inside the Wynn hotel. There were TVs encompassing the entire restaurant. It made watching any game very easy no matter where you sat in the restaurant. For a sports fan like myself, this is very much appreciated. In terms of food, it’s typical burgers and fries bar food. There’s nothing really special about it, but it doesn’t mean the food wasn’t good. For a high-end property, it’s a good alternative if you’re looking for something more casual and cheaper.

A Trip To Remember

This trip traveling to Las Vegas was a memorable one. Yes, my 30th birthday trip to Las Vegas was memorable as well. However, what stands out with this trip is having a full two days at two hotels. Additionally, meeting up with a number of extended family members that I don’t have the opportunity to see very often. Additionally, this was my first time spending significant periods of relaxation at the pool. You would think with this being my fifth trip to Sin City, I would have previously done so. It was not something I had thought would appeal to me. Although, it turns out I do and look forward to doing so again on the next trip.

As this particular review comes to a close, I’m interested to hear from anyone who’s read it this far. Have you done a multi-hotel stay? It doesn’t necessarily have to be in Las Vegas. Have you had the chance to stay at The Mirage prior to its looming replacement? Are you planning a trip to Las Vegas anytime soon and will it be your first time? Whichever it may be, Las Vegas is truly a fun place, in my humble opinion. It’s not a place I’d live, but I feel the excitement arise whenever an upcoming trip is in the works. Is there a place that has the same impetus for you?

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