You’d think that two non-gambling Vermonters who aren’t huge into nightlife would pretty much hate Las Vegas. Not these two flatlanders. 🙂 Not only did we get married in Vegas and return every year for the annual WPPI Convention; we’ve also been actively house-hunting in the area (we finally agree on a neighborhood – hello Centennial Hills!) as the plan is to become winter birds and part-time Las Vegas wedding photographers at some point down the road.
We booked an AWESOME condo on the strip at the Vdara, which not only gave us free valet service and no resort fees but also put us within easy walking distance from our favorite bar: the Mandarin Bar at the Mandarin Oriental. Killer views and killer mojitos & a fairly relaxed dress code. I keep forgetting to bring my camera so you’ll have to trust me on the views.
So what do we do when we’re in Vegas not drinking Mojitos? We do tons of things off the strip, see a Cirque show every time and sample as many restaurants as we can. Here’s what we did this year:
Horseback Riding in Red Rock State Park with Cowboy Trail Rides. This was beyond amazing and so much fun, despite the somewhat chilly temps. We had an amazing time, the horses were incredibly surefooted and the guide was just super. We did the 90 minute noon ride but will definitely do one of the longer rides next time we’re in town. So.much.fun. I was also totally stoked for not falling off my horse while taking this video.
We also spent an entire day hiking at the Valley of Fire, just like we did the day before our wedding 15 years ago. Check out my snazzy spider hip holster! No more carrying a full frame camera around my neck. Also awesome while hiking since I have my hands free when rock scrambling.
Valley of Fire is about an hour outside of Vegas but there’s virtually nothing around it. We keep wanting to try out the famous Road Kill Grill on the north end of Vegas but alas, it’s always closed on Sundays. Well … not all was lost because we found Tacos el Gordo (I’d be nothing without TripAdvisor!). It’s Mexican Street Food, three lines inside the store, and you only get whatever they’re serving in the particular line you’re in. It took us a while to figure out the system but decided to stay in the “Vampiro” lane, which turned out to be an excellent decision. Food was fresh, truly authentic and delicious! For future reference, you want to divide and conquer by sending each person to queue in a different line!
Another highlight was our trip to the Neon Museum, where a guide will give a tour about every hour (note that you have to stay with your tour and can’t just roam around). So very cool to see so much of Vegas’ history, hear about the neon signs’ backstories and learn some lesser known facts about Sin City.
We also saw Cirque’s “O – the Aquatic Show” and were once again blown away by the sheer athleticism of the artists and gravity defying stunts.
Our favorite was hands-down Yui Edomae Sushi. Damian found it while looking for Japanese restaurants and it’s apparently the restaurant local chefs go to when they eat out. We had high expectations and Yui Edomae surpassed them easily. For starters, the fish is flown in daily from Japan. The (Japanese imported) rice is hulled on site b/c of the difference in humitidy between Japan’s and Vegas’s climate. The soy souce ages for two years. The list is endless. Each course was carefully prepared, presented and explained and every single bit was oh so yummy! It is not cheap by any means; as a matter of fact, it’s the most expensive restaurant we’ve ever been to, but it was 100% worth it. We’ll be back for sure.
Texas de Brazil. If you love meat, just go there. All you can eat meat, everything from lamb to pork to beef and everything is just so damn good. Everything is fresh off the BBQ and you simply signal by flipping over the coin on your table for more food. Flip to “red” when taking a break. We almost rolled out of there and had to take our desert to go.
Weera Thai Restaurant was amazing as well. It is located inside a strip mall, very casual and the food is authentic Thai. Huge portions and it’s a safe bet to stick with heat level 2 on the 1-5 scale. They also had Plum Mojitos when we were there and they were delicious! Definitely a place you want to go to when traveling with a group and eating family style.
Lazy Dog Restaurant: we stopped by here after our horseback riding trip for a lunch (and while reconning the area of our future winter home). Dog friendly patio and delightful Mac & Cheese. Also nice Happy Hour specials.
Kat & Damian
your Vermont & Las Vegas wedding photographers