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Las Vegas and the Mirage Hotel & Casino

On our most recent trip to Sin City, we actually didn’t gamble a single penny. Imagine that! Who would have thought? The city of slot machines and card tables didn’t see any of our hard earned cash. That said, we did a lot of other fun stuff.

When you discuss Las Vegas with people, it’s usually a reaction of “love it or hate it”. Some of our friends go there twice a year, while others would never imagine setting foot there. We tend to fall in the middle of that camp. Las Vegas is not on our top list when planning vacations. However, once we are there we have so much fun. You just gotta ignore half the people who you are forced to walk among on the streets. 😉

This time, we ended up staying at the Mirage Hotel & Casino, drove to Lee Canyon for a day’s worth of skiing, did a bunch of shopping, ate & drank, and even had time for a show and sightseeing.

The Mirage

This is our first time staying at this hotel. We’ve walked by it before and even stopped for a while to watch the volcano. But we’ve never entered the property until this trip. It’s a typical Las Vegas hotel – with decent rooms, a huge casino floor, several restaurants, and a couple of attractions for non-gamblers. We’re not gamblers, and unfortunately we were forced to walk through the casino every day…in fact, every time we had to come and go. This really sucks, because it’s smoky as hell and crowded. Fortunately, there’s some breathing room in the middle where there’s an oasis of some sort – flowing water through rocks topped with plants and flowers. A nice touch! Outside the casino you’ll find Sigfried and Roy’s Secret Garden. Pay the entrance fee and you’ll have a nice walk among a few animals and a dolphin pool. It’s a nice break from the smoky casino, but I find the animals are kept in way too small enclosures. The best part of the Mirage, I have to say are the restaurants. We ate at three restaurants that really suited our tastes and needs: a rustic breakfast joint with great early morning options, and delicious higher-end Italian restaurant with outstanding service, and a CPK for those times of meal indecision. That said, being an AVIS preferred member, I also enjoyed they had a presence in the lobby. Despite the great restaurants, we will probably look for a non-smoking hotel next time we visit Las Vegas….unless the Mirage invites us back at a really good rate. 😉 In addition to that, I’d like to give a quick shout out to the staff at the Mirage….you were top notch!

Lee Canyon

Yes, you can ski during your Las Vegas vacation…well, at least if you go during the winter half of the year. Lee Canyon, previously known as the Las Vegas Ski Resort, is found one hour north of the Strip. Getting there can’t be any easier. Smooth freeway and highway driving without the twisty roads you might be expecting from mountainous areas where you go skiing or snowboarding. However, you can’t really compare to other famous resorts. Don’t expect a large mountain with excellent snow and a plethora of runs. Here you’ll find modest snow and a handful of runs. That said, it’s an awesome place for beginners and for those times you want to go snowboarding but don’t have time or the money to plan a separate winter sports vacation. You don’t need to bring your gear. Bring a warm jacket and some pants and then you can rent all other gear on-site. They also have a cafeteria selling the usual fast food….hamburgers, fried chicken, fries, chili and such. If you pre-buy your tickets online, you’ll most likely get a discounted price….and it’s very reasonable! Oh, and bring five bucks in cash for the parking fee.

High Roller

No, I’m not a High Roller. But that is what the Las Vegas ferris wheel is called. Located at the end of the promenade of the LINQ hotel & casino is this gigantic ferris wheel. At 550 feet, it’s the tallest ferris wheel in the world. And boy is it worth it! If I ignore the 45 minute waiting in line to get on, it was truly the best experience on the Strip. The ride cost $30-50 for adults with a discounted price for kids. Daytime is cheaper, but I recommend going in the evening. We all know how ugly Vegas is in daylight. The ride itself is 30 minutes and it is super smooth. The capsules rotate individually, so you are always horizontal. If you are a group and like to party, you can reserve a capsule with a bar. Make sure to use the bathroom before you enter the capsule. There is one located on premises. You might think that you could hold it for 30 minutes, but knowing you are locked into a capsule so far up in the air might trigger some nerves and needs. Just sayin!

Mystere

What’s a Vegas trip without a show? I’ve enjoyed shows in the past. Our friends we were traveling insisted on watching Mystere, at the Treasure Island hotel. Mystere has a long history in Vegas and I’ve heard good things about the show. I had high expectations. However, having high expectations turned out to be a bit of a bummer. Sure, it was funny and had great acrobatics, but that’s about it. There was no plot, no storyline….just kind of a “hey, see what I can do”. Everything felt so disconnected an incoherent. It didn’t help that some of the acrobats missed their stunts. Our friends still enjoyed it, and if you like acrobatics, this is might be a show for you. But if you want something more…something deeper that is similar to the ‘Ulalena show on Maui, then I recommend you find something else.

Enjoy!

Btw, in terms of shopping, I recommend leaving the Strip. Head to the different premium outlets, IKEA, REI, etc.

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