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Monday, August 23, 2021

Things To Do On Your Vegas Vacation Besides Gambling


I have been on vacation in Las Vegas so many times that I have lost count.  Why do I keep going back you ask? It is so much fun! Even for people who don't like slot machines and card games. I do like to play but don't really get to play as much as I think I will because there are so many other things to do and see.

I just got back from a trip with my daughter, Lisa. She gladly accepted the gift of a Vegas trip to celebrate her birthday. She also loves Las Vegas and she is not much of a gambler at all.

Even though both of us have been here many times, we always find new things to do and see and new places to eat.  This visit was no exception. 

What we saw and did:

Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay

We always hope to find ocean life that we have never seen before when we are visiting an aquarium for the first time. Shark Reef Aquarium didn't disappoint in that way. We got a kick out of the fish with their mouths wide open. How were they not getting a mouth full of water? 

Besides for fish, there was a shark tank to walk through which gave us a view of the sharks from every angle. There was also the biggest Komodo dragon we have ever seen in our lives. Who knew they could get to that size. 

The aquarium was very convenient to get to because it is located in Mandalay Bay which is right on The Strip. It is definitely something to do with the kids if you brought them along. But the aquarium is very small and we were done in about 20 minutes so we were glad we had free tickets and didn't pay the $29.00 ($24.00 for kids aged 5-12) admission for the timed ticket we had. An anytime ticket costs $36.00 ($31.00).

Follow this link to our blog post, Free Things To Do In Las Vegas, to find out how you can get your free tickets.

The Neon Museum

This unique museum houses over 200 restored Vegas neon signs with the Green Shack being the oldest and dating back to the 1930's.

Green Shack was a restaurant located downtown that was famous for their fried chicken.

You can visit the museum during the day and do a self-guided tour or wait until evening when the signs are lit up and follow a tour guide through the glowing maze of neon. With the guided tour, you not only get to see the signs in all their glory but you also learn about the history of them and of Las Vegas itself.  

This sign acquired from the Moulin Rouge hotel was designed by Betty Willis, the same person who designed the iconic Welcome To Las Vegas sign.  The history of this hotel was so interesting. We learned of it being the first racially integrated casino. Sadly, it went bankrupt within 6 months but not before the biggest names like Sammy Davis, Jr., Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong and many other incredible and well-known greats performed here.

Look here to find admission prices.

Note: We mistakenly took public transportation to get to the museum. The bus left us off in a frightfully, desolate part of town except for a few people who looked under the weather, to put it mildly. I was ready to get back on the bus until Lisa pointed to the museum sign just a block away and begged me to just walk there quickly. Really consider taking a Lyft or Uber here if you are going at night. Needless to say, we took one back to our hotel!!

David Copperfield at MGM Grand  

David Copperfield's was one show Lisa was dying to see and luckily was at one of the few venues that would be open while we were in Vegas.

The show was fantastic and what we probably expected. I don't think any magician uses larger props than David Copperfield does. Did you happen to see his TV special when he made the Statue of Liberty disappear? 

I don't want to give anything away in case anyone reading wants to go in the future. I would suggest, though, when you are looking to buy tickets, that you look for the type of tables that are in Row G and a couple of others. They are rectangular tables that seat four and everyone faces the stage. Me and Lisa sat in Row H at a very tiny round table. We had the seats at the front of the table and we turned our seats to face the stage but we were cramped up against the short wall in front of us. The two people who sat with us at our table were disappointed with their seats also. 

We can't complain too much, though, because some of the magic was performed in the center of the floor, so right in front of us.

Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage

We got here around 4:15 just in time to view a training session. Dolphins are very smart and talented creatures and it's always a lot of fun to watch them performing. If we happened to arrive after the training session, we would have been disappointed because there wasn't much else to see.


The handful of lions, tigers and leopards in the Secret Garden were so hot that most of them were napping.

We were happy that this attraction was also free for us from the same place we got the Shark Reef Aquarium tickets.

Tournament of Kings at Excalibur

Going to a medieval times show has been on my bucket list for awhile so I was happy that we could work this show perfectly into our itinerary.  Since we had to have dinner somewhere before we had to go to the airport for our trip back to NC, we thought it would be a great idea to go to the Tournament of Kings and see one more show while we ate before we had to leave Vegas.

Tickets start at $61.00 which is not bad if you consider you are getting dinner but bring some plasticware if eating with your fingers is not something you like to do. We ate our Cornish hen, roasted potatoes, corn, roll and apple pastry with our fingers and it was delicious!


The show was interactive and so much fun. If you have a couple of kids with you and are looking for entertainment the whole family will enjoy, this is that place. There were sudden loud noises at times during the performance so I wouldn't recommend bringing toddlers. I'll never forget, when my son was about 4 years old, we did the pirate show at Disney . He was not happy and very upset with all the cannons going off. We could not get out of there quick enough!

Where and what we ate:

Gordon Ramsey burger at Planet Hollywood

We started off sharing an appetizer at Gordon Ramsay burger, Beer Batter Onion Rings that were  sprinkled with parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Both the chipole ketchup and cheddar ranch dip were so good but we dipped mostly into the cheddar ranch. 

Lisa had the Crispy Cherry Pepper Chicken which was a fried chicken patty topped with crispy chicken skin, avocado, lettuce, marinated tomatoes and cherry pepper spread. I had the Ultimate Cheeseburger that was topped with three cheeses, aged provolone, dubliner and boursin.

We shared a side of Truffle Parmesan fries that came with truffle aioli and their house ketchup to dip them in. We can't stop dreaming about having these again!

The food here was so rich and decadent but not dripping with butter or oil, but it was very filling. We decided that the next time we get back to Vegas we will definitely eat here again but share a sandwich. We ordered way too much this time and had to ask for a doggie bag.

                                Hash House A Go Go at Plaza Hotel & Casino Downtown

I have eaten here before but Lisa hadn't so since we wanted to play bingo at the Plaza, we thought it would be a great idea to eat brunch here. I really wanted one of us to get Andy's Famous Fried Chicken And Waffles so Lisa could see it (it's a massive stack of waffles that is a least a foot tall) but we were still stuffed from eating at Gordan Ramsey's the night before.

Instead we had their delicious hashes.  I had the veggie with mushroom, artichoke hearts, sundried tomato and spinach and Lisa had the chorizo, jalapenos, cheddar cheese and fresh tomato hash. They both came with crispy potatoes, 2 eggs made to order and fruit. A tortilla rounded out Lisa's dish and I had one of the best biscuits I've ever had with a fruity dip that was the best part of the meal. I ate all of that but had to leave half of the hash. We were still trying to digest all the food from the night before.

Downtown Container Park

I have been here before but I wanted to bring Lisa to show her this outdoor mall with it's interesting art pieces made out of recycled materials and the shops and restaurants made out of shipping containers.

But what I really wanted to do here was to take Lisa to eat some really delicious Mexican food at Pinches Tacos, one of the many eateries at the park. My favorite dish here, and what I ordered along with two other tacos, is the Gringo which is a shredded beef taco in a hard shell with all the toppings. Lisa had chicken taquitos which she shared with me. I think I have a second favorite now.

Yum!

Vagabond at Excalibur

We had a reward coupon for BOGO Nashville Hot Chicken sandwiches, again from the same place we got the free entertainment. The chicken was cooked perfectly. The texture and crispiness of the coating and the moistness of the chicken was so amazing that I ate half of it even though it was way too hot for me. The chicken was topped with pickle slices and coleslaw which helped tone down the heat a bit but I finally had to trade a half of sandwich with Lisa for half of her fries. 

The $16.50 we spent after our BOGO coupon was a great deal for a great meal!

Excalibur's Brunch Buffet

Most of the Vegas buffets haven't opened since they closed because of COVID and none were open for dinner. Excalibur and MGM's were open for brunch and we had BOGO coupons for them. We actually had brunch all 5 days we were in Vegas so that we were able to skip lunch. It worked out fantastic for us.

Excalibur's buffet was very good. Lisa liked the choices she had at the omelet station and loved the chicken and apple sausage. I liked the Mexican section where I made a delicious masa egg breakfast burrito. But we both really loved the crepe station. I had a strawberry and whipped cream filled one the first day and apple filled the next. I was so surprised that I liked the apple one even more than the strawberry which is usually my choice when I have crepes.

If you have a choice of eating at Excalibur or MGM, we would highly recommend choosing Excalibur's.

Me and Lisa had a wonderful time in Las Vegas. We had so much fun on our first mother/daughter vacation. We can't wait to go back. After the spouses heard about the great time we had, I think our next trip will have to be a mother/daughter/father/son-in-law vacation!