McKinney Gypsy Caravan

One part travel blog. One part nerdy history lesson.

Days 12, 13, 14 – Las Vegas, Nevada

Day 12

We left the hotel bound for Vegas- a 4 hour drive from where we were. We broke up the drive with a stop in St. George, UT at the Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum- as absolutely crazy display of taxidermy animals from around the world. Mostly game animals that were hunted for sport in a lot of cases. There was a trophy room with photos of a bunch of old rich white men. Big game hunters claim that they actually help grow the populations of these animals because by regulating the number of animals that can be hunted, it drives up a steep cost for a permit or tag and that the limit allows for population growth and the money contributes to saving disappearing habitat. I personally question it a bit….sounds a little self serving…but I’m not hunting expert by any means.

Some of the highlight photos. There were so many animals!

Norah bought a stuffed Alpaca from the gift shop. Kegan and I tried to convince her to buy the stuffed possum but she wasn’t having it…and it’s her souvenir funds.

The rest of the drive was standard Nevada desert… but surprisingly, there were TONS of Joshua trees. I wasn’t expecting so many.

We arrived to Vegas and did an obligatory Vegas welcome sign photo…but instead of waiting in the line of 40 people queued up for a photo Norah and I strategically positioned her from the side to get the sign in the background and we were on our way to get lunch!

We chose Shake Shack for lunch because its our favorite burger joint and its been a while since we’ve had it. They are starting to franchise outside of New York and just a few locations-so I’m holding out hope for one in Indy or Louisville soon!

We drove down Las Vegas Boulevard towards our hotel viewing some iconic Vegas hotels.

We stayed at The Venetian this trip because it was the only option I could use Holiday Inn points for. I had never stayed there and usually we aren’t that far south on the strip, so I hadn’t explored this area much.

Our room was sweet. Well, a suite. But sweet. 🙂 It had a huge marble bathroom and a separate sunken living room area with a panoramic window. At check in, it wanted me to upgrade our view for an additional $225/night. HA! no thanks. We had a view of the LINQ ferris wheel and the Flamingo. Not exactly great, but perfectly fine.

I initially thought filling 2-3 days in Vegas with a kid might be hard to do… but it wasnt. Tons of stuff around. Not CHEAP to entertain a kid in Vegas… but plenty to do.

First stop- the Minus 5 Degree Ice Bar at the hotel. This was an EXCELLENT choice after walking around outside Vegas. It made the ice bar bearable for longer and truly cooled us down.

This one is going to be fun in college. Watch out, people.

We talked Norah out of an overpriced gondola ride by promising her she could buy extra stuff in a shop instead, so before we left we stopped at Necter- a bath bomb store- and she got some goodies instead. I’m usually all about experiences over purchases but an $80 Gondola ride in the hotel is crossing the line ha

We kept walking in the Venetian through a lot of the main areas.

Norah has asked me for a hot stone massage for her birthday. Seriously. ha She keeps seeing ads for some casino or resort that offers the hot stone massages and she has decided this is what she needs in her life. As we walked through the Grand Canal Shoppes, they had massage chairs in the center and she asked if she could get one. I swear she melted into the chair. haha She’s a fan. She still clarified that she wants the hot stone massage for the full experience. ha

We went back to our room and chilled for a couple hours and enjoyed the space before it was time to walk across the street to Treasure Island for our Cirque de Soleil show we purchased. I have been stalking Beatles LOVE to open back up for months….legit, every 2-3 days checking for updates. They finally announced opening dates on July 2nd- starting in August. Boo.

The only 2 shows open right now are Mystere and O and Mystere was walkable for us, so we bought those so Norah could at least see a Cirque show. Personally, Mystere was the worst Cirque show I’ve ever seen, but that being said- its still a Cirque show, which is crazy feats of acrobatics and strength, mixed with strange conception art. This was no exception. A giant snail showed up at the end of the show and none of us still have any idea why. ha Norah did enjoy it, but it wasnt the over the top reaction I was looking for if she would have seen Beatles LOVE. Maybe next summer if we go out west for our “outer west” trip, we’ll only be a couple hours from Vegas, we can likely add a night in for that.

We made dinner reservations at Delmonico Steakhouse, Emeril Lagasse’s steakhouse. We wanted the seafood tower we had seen on posters around the Venetian, but we were a bit underwhelmed by quantity and quality of the seafood for the price tag. Would not recommend that purchase.

However, the steak-what they are known for- was amazing. I had the 9oz filet with seared foie gras on top and it was fantastic all around! Kegan got an 18oz porkchop that he said was cooked well. Norah got the special- potato croquettes with bacon and cheese.

Day 13

Our second day we started out really slow by sleeping in and hanging out in the room for a bit, then going for an early lunch at LobsterME – a lobster roll shop in the food court. I forgot to take photos. ha

Norah had been super excited to do a Virtual Room experience, so we booked noon tickets yesterday because they were fully booked when we tried.

This was a really cool concept. It was like an escape room where you work together to try to find clues to escape or complete the levels. But each person is in a VR headset in their own set up space, but once you have the headset on, all of the people in separate areas are all in your screen, so even though we were all split up, we could work with each other like we were all together in the game.

We got to take a virtual selfie at the end to show that we saved civilization.

After the virtual room, we walked down to Bally’s casino through the LINQ hotel, the Flamingo, a couple others… played a couple slot machines on the way and won a bit! like $40. Norah saw some showgirls with all the feathers and sparkly sequins on the sidewalk taking pictures with people and she was mesmerized. She now wants to be a showgirl when she grows up. ha

We thought Norah would love the Bodies Exhibit. Turns out, she says she liked it, but really I think it just freaked her out to see dead human bodies. She was always walking ahead of us and trying to get out faster. So…I’ll count that as a waste of money since I’ve seen the exhibit like 3 times already and Kegan had seen it, too. I was a little surprised because she is so macabre about different things- but she wasn’t a big fan of this.

Next activity was more Norah’s speed. Twilight Zone Black Light Mini Golf! We had a blast with this one. They were playing doo-wop music from the 50’s and everything had a party vibe. It wasn’t busy, so we could play at our own pace.

The same place had a couple duck pin bowling lanes, so we played some arcade games and then bowled a game.

Our last kid-centric activity for the day had us trekking back to the Venetian and then across to Treasure Island again for the Marvel Avengers: S.T.A.T.I.O.N. exhibit. Everything displayed in this was actual costumes and props used in the Avenger’s movies… so I had high hopes it would be worth the admission. It was fun… but it was crowded and there were so many of their computer screens broken and not working… and so much waiting in line- it was meh. If your kid is super into the Avengers, probably worth a stop. I think we kinda both said anything at Treasure Island in the future needed to be fully vetted before going. ha

Now it was time for our dinner experience I booked 3 months ago! ha I have been wanted to have Hot Pot for a long time, and what better place to try than a brand new fancy, modern, Vegas, over the top, opulent hot pot? We headed to The X-Pot, the newest restaurant at the The Venetian. It was an AMAZING dining experience. But definitely a one-time experience. I can honestly say in the entire time we were there- 2 hours- we were the only non Asian people, so you know it was legit hot pot food. 🙂

The restaurant of the future. These carts rolled through the aisles delivering hot soup broth and taking empty plates back to the kitchen. They didn’t replace servers, but worked with them to do the hard part of transferring boiling broth bowls through busy aisles, and the mundane work of clearing tables.
Langostine Sushi starter
Wagyu Tataki
Swan cake with roasted duck and black pepper sauce. The swans themselves were edible. We thought they were decoration but they were filled with minced duck and onion filling.
The chef add-on Wagyu sampler came out with dry ice rolling making it look incredibly posh. It included Beef tongue, filet, a Wagyu sushi bite, and a couple other cuts of beef to try.
Wagyu chunks and foie gras bimbimbap rice dish. We left it cooking in the pot for 10 minutes and it got super crispy rice.
The main event- our soup base broths were delivered. I got the Creamy Lobster base and Kegan and Norah both got the Mushroom base.
They sit the broth bowl into the space in the table and set the heat on the buttons on the side of the table in front of you.
Lots of veggies to add in and cook in the broth.
Wagyu ribeyes slices for cooking in the soup.
Norah didn’t get the tasting menu, she just wanted some pork meatballs to eat with her broth.
Wagyu meatballs we were instructed to cook for 5 minutes in our soup.
Black sesame tofu chunks – to me these didn’t have much flavor… but were interesting to try anyway.
Seafood selection of sea bass, tiger prawns and lobster for the broth.
They had a masked performer come through for a show around to all the tables. As he danced through, he would do a mask change so quick it was magic. It was fun.

Dessert was…interesting… haha. It was a chocolate mousse in the shape of a puppy.

The waiter said to eat the face first so he wasn’t staring at you while you ate him. haha

Norah was a fan.

After dinner, we planned to go downtown to Fremont Street and show Norah the overhead light show… but she was exhausted. She asked if we could go back to the room and make origami Yoda that she has a book about.. haha so when your 8 year old in Vegas asks to go to the room and relax, you go to the room.

We played around with the optical illusion floor off the casino floor while Kegan gambled his $100 he budgeted in a slot machine. It was gone in 5 minutes. haha He said he never even went above 100 once he started. Always disappointing! ha

Day 3

Today was check out day, so we hung out in the room until around 10:30 and then went searching for some breakfast or brunch. The Grand Lux Cafe had an hour wait, Bouchon was closed so we decided the food court was our best option. We just had croissants and crepes to hold us over because the lines were ridiculous for everything.

Norah’s favorite thing was the Virtual Room and she asked if we could book another slot today and do the second escape room …so we did. This one had us in outer space and a temporary or Indiana Jones style. It was fun.We took better virtual selfies this time!

We left the Strip and headed up the interstate a bit to Meow Wolf- an art installation I didn’t know was open in Vegas yet…but after we missed the one in Santa Fe, I was super excited to go to this one!

Neither of us had any idea what to expect at all so it was pretty fun to just show up and enter not having a clue what was going on. Ha

It was weird, like I expected- but really cool. The front of the exhibit was set up like a grocery store and it had aisles and aisles of real products you could buy. I photographed some of the funnier products.

The back of the store had random hidden spots to led back to a labyrinth of crazy psychedelic art areas. There was also some sort of missing person murder mystery storyline some people were tracking and listening to phone calls and opening files on computers… it was a LOT of info and art to process. Ha

Outside they had sculptures in the parking lot leading in so we checked those out.

They had a cool toy store inside along with a restaurant and bar and other side show sort of things you could buy. Norah bought sea monkeys and a toro-flex, some metal thing that she had obviously seen online because she was very quick to grab one! Ha

We grabbed Shake Shack again on our way out of Vegas to eat on the road as we made the 4 hour trek to our hotel via the Extraterrestrial Highway.

To understand why we would drive 1.5 hours out of the way to see Area 51 and Rachel, NV…you have to have Norah background. Ever since 2019 when people showed up to “storm Area 51” after a viral Facebook event campaign started….and it was all over YouTube and the internet, she has said she wanted to Storm Area 51. Haha

So… we fulfilled a dream! haha

Norah “naruto” running into Area 51. It makes you faster according to Norah.

Whew. Longest blog post I’ve ever done! Well done if you read all this! Ended in Cedar City and we’ll head to Salt Lake City tomorrow.

1 Comment

  1. the best blog ever!!!!! i laughed several times.

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