Vegasuncovered’s Weblog

Vegas Uncovered a guide to the Las Vegas Strip

Day Trip from Las Vegas to the Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam is only 35 miles South East of Las Vegas and half a day is plenty enough time for a trip. The actual tour of the Dam unless you are a real engineering geek you may well find as boring as hell, engineering freak or not the Dam is well worth a Dam Visit 😉

We left Vegas at about 8am and drove straight out on US93 heading for the Hacienda which is the closest Casino to the Dam, we always stop here either en-route to Dam, Laughlin or on the way back from the Grand Canyon. We had the buffet breakfast its good not great but cheep and filling and then as per usual fall for the trick that the hope you fall for and stick a few dollars in the slots and some of these still use coin so it’s a real old time treat. AS we came out of the Casino we saw a sign saying Helicopter rides from $29, we thought that this would be a nice treat and seemed a good price. When we investigated of course just like everything in Vegas its not really $29 for what you want, the $29 flight only went over Lake Mead to fly over the Hoover Dam was $59 each but we could have the helicopter exclusively, we decided that this was worthwhile so after being weighed and asked if we had any weapons a car took us up a steep hill to get aboard the Helicopter. We both sat in the back and up we went, it was a very unnerving feeling and we seemed to do some “blue thunder” manoeuvres between an electricity pylon and the mountain as we swooped past the new bridge that they are building and on towards the Dam. The view was great we flew over the Dam and then after a another couple of combat loop the loop type manoeuvres we were over lake Mead and on our way back, about 6 minutes after taking off we were safely back on the ground. For me this was one of the highlights of our trip I loved it and it was worth every penny, although I was not completely happy when in the chopper it was going through my mind whether to go on it again 😉

We drove on to the Dam which was only about 15 minutes including the security check and then parked in the car park at the Visitors centre which is just the Vegas side of the Dam. It is $7 to park here and well worth it sure there are a few lay bys on the Arizona side of the Dam but it is hit and miss if you can get a place and also it can become a fair walk to the Dam and gift shop etc. The gift shop is well stocked and reasonably priced but the café I thought was quite expensive and the food not so good, we were pleased we had filled up at the Hacienda.

I think that we spent about 2 hours or so at the Dam this included walking over it and back taking a stack of photos and having a good look round the gift shop and taking a coffee. It’s a good day and the size is something that can not really be realised from photos or the television and I think that it’s worth the investment of ½ a “Vegas” day.

When we had finished at the Dam we carried on to Laughlin for the rest of the day and got back to Vegas about 10pm.

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February 17, 2009 Posted by | Casinos, driving, events, grand canyon, Holiday, hoover dam, Las Vegas, national parks, news, Travel, Uncategorized, Vegas, vegas tips | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Self drive day trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon

We had many friends out in Vegas for our wedding in September 2007 a few of us decided that we wanted to go to the Grand Canyon and as money was short the best way to do this was by car. I hired a 7 seater people carrier from Dollar which cost me £36 on a pre book including a tank of fuel a sat nav, all taxes and insurances for both myself and my Dad.

We picked the car up at 7.30am from MGM Grand and loaded everyone in it, myself, my bride to be, my brother in law, my mate and my elderly parents by time we got going it was about 0830. We headed out on the 95 and soon to the 93 we got to the Hoover Dam we stopped very briefly for photos and then headed on. We stopped for a healthy brunch of burger and chips somewhere on the Historic Route 66 in a sort of hardware come general store come cafe the food was good but the toilets were a little scary in a sort of deliverance way but not unclean, it may have been called the Roadkill Cafe. Slowly we boarded our trusty steed and carried on to the canyon.

We arrived at the gate and parted with our $25 that allowed unlimited entry for the next 7 days (useful NOT) and drove to Mather Point for our first view of the amazing natural wonder. We got back to the car as it started to rain and then the clouds opened we had thunder lighting and rain drops the size of golf balls we drove round to Yavapai Point I was the only one stupid enough to get out of the car I go drenched but managed to see the lightning coming down on the canyon this must for most people be a once in a life time experience. The rain stopped as abruptly as it started and the others came out to join me and had the joy to witness a most amazing rainbow stretched over the canyon. We got back to the car and drove to the Grand Canyon Village we parked up and sadly could not get a disabled parking space so had to park some way back but had another great view over the canyon, whilst we were viewing the canyon some kind souls in our group went into the bar at Bright Angel lodge and commandeered some tables. We had a few drinks and relaxed before heading back to Vegas.

We stopped to get some fuel and some candy bars and then headed back down the 93 night came upon us long before we were stopped at the Hoover Dam security and by this point the whole party was getting very hungry. We stopped at the Hacienda Casino just over the Dam on the Vegas side and saw the buffet was $7.49 when we went to pay it was half price $3.75 including soft drinks! What a bargain this was, there was a carvery section, pasta, Mexican, chicken, salads, and huge array of deserts, don’t get me wrong its not Bellagio but it was clean, fresh and tasty and I would most certainly head there again if in that part of the World. After eating we had a quick burn on the tables and slots and then headed back to Vegas we arrived back at about 11pm and after seeing my parents safely to their room us young uns hit the casinos.

It was a long day but a very good one on top of the car hire the divided costs for fuel and park entry were about $12 each the only thing I would say is that next time whatever car we took we would allow an extra space as it was a little cramped.

August 14, 2008 Posted by | Casinos, driving, events, grand canyon, Holiday, Las Vegas, MGM, MGM Grand, national parks, news, sport, Travel, Uncategorized, Vegas, vegas buffets | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Las Vegas with 6 teens – Trip Review

Traciee Dee wrote this trip report after travelling to Vegas with 6 teenagers and very kindly gave me permission to post this on my Blog. I know that many people emailing about travelling to Vegas with minors and this will hopefully give you an insight from someone who has actually done it. What makes her report unique is that she actually writes it from a unbiased point of view being a frequent visitor to Vegas accompanied only by her husband this time she could see it very differently and writes without the biased often seen by people who take children to Vegas.

“I know there is much controversy about kids/teens in Vegas so I thought I would put in my 2 cents after our trip.

“My husband and I go to Vegas two or three times a year, quick 2 night trips and we always have a lot of fun and enjoy ourselves. We start early and usually are wiped out by 10:30pm as we maybe had our first Bloody Mary at 8am. We have never brought the kids before this trip.

Long story short, due to teen schedules and life getting in the way our original summer vacation plans had to be scrubbed and we had to coordinate a quick trip before school starts on Monday. Kids wanted to go to Vegas and just walk the strip and go inside all the casinos. My husband and I were traveling with 4 girls 15-17 and two boys 18-19. Three were mine, 3 were friends.

We spent one night in Laughlin then a day at Cottonwood Cove where we rented a boat which was a blast. Drove to Vegas and spent two nights at Circus Circus. We stayed in the West Tower which had been redone and the rooms were quite nice. We got a deal which included a $10 hotel credit, two for one buffet (did not use) and 2 for 1 Mexitalia which was quite good and coupons for Adventuredome. Kids enjoyed the Adventuredome and I did not think Circus Circus was near as bad as the reviews I had read. That being said I would not stay there unless I had kids. Tip to avoid doing the long check out lines is to call an hour ahead and do the express check in.

We did the roller coasters. Sahara $10 per person for 60 seconds, NYNY we had two for one coupons-ride is $15 per person and a few hours at Adventuredome which was $20 per person with the $4 coupon we had from the hotel. Had dinner at Toby Keiths one night and ESPN Zone the other. Kids enjoyed both. We walked the whole strip and in and out of most Hotels/Casinos. We also used that double decker bus thing which was a steal at $5 per person for 24 hours. Only downside to the bus was the adults who did not want to wait in line and almost caused riots trying to cut in front of the line. We stayed out and about till after 1am and noticed the freaky stuff starts about 11pm.

Day three we spent a couple of hours downtown on Freemont and then off to Buffalo Bills in Primm-which is a story in itself….

Bottom line kids had fun, but there was a lot they could have done with out. The freaky, creepy stuff which is of course all a part of Vegas.

For me it was a tough two days. Honestly, I hated it and would tell any parent (especially with female teens) to think twice about the trip. The kids had little freedom as I wasn’t about to let them step a foot outside the Adventuredome without me. My advice, if you do take your kids, stay with them 24/7. I love Vegas, but it’s not a place for kids or teens. I saw things though a whole new set of eyes walking around with my kids and it wasn’t pretty. Enjoy Vegas for what it is and take your kids someplace they can have a little freedom and enjoy exploring on their own.

Funny thing happened to us at Mandalay Bay. We walked downstairs to try and find the ‘beach’ one night. Out of an unmarked door walk two of the freakiest guys we had seen yet. Dressed in black leather, gobbs of make up, spikey hair, major tatt’s and surrounded by body guards the size of the Hulk. One of the kids is looking at a poster on the wall and says isn’t this the guy we just saw? Face to face with Motley Crew and did not even know it.”

August 8, 2008 Posted by | buffets, Casinos, circus circus, driving, entertainment, events, Excalibur, Holiday, hotel upgrades, Las Vegas, Mandalay bay, MGM Grand, news, Stupid, Travel, Uncategorized, vegas shows, Vegas Strip | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas – My Review

Mandalay Bay

Mandalay Bay Las VegasMandalay Bay

3950 Las Vegas Boulevard South

Las Vegas

NV 89119

+1 (702) 632 7777

Mandalay Bay Las Vegas

Location This is the first or last resort on the Strip depending on how you look at it. It overlooks the airport and out towards the mountains. Its nearest neighbour is the Luxor and that is about a 10 minute walk. Luckily there is a monorail that links you to Luxor and Excalibur; this makes the location of Mandalay Bay the ideal resort for people who want easy access to the action of the Strip without being right in it.

Theme Tropical Island is the theme here, with a swimming pool the size of 9 football pitches complete with lovely palm trees and jungle type foliage. Pseudo bird and animal sounds as you enter the property along with loads of water features and a classy beach resort feel.

Mandalay Bay RoomRooms The rooms and suites at Mandalay Bay are lovely the smallest are a whopping 550 sq ft which is as big as suite in other properties. The rooms are all remodeled and are chic and comfortable. The rooms here in terms of quality are up there with Bellagio and that step above MGM Grand. Mandalay Bay has wider choice of room and suite type than most other resorts but whatever level you are in you will be pleased with your choice.

Attractions Shark Reef has been voted the best tourist attraction on the Strip. It is similar to a Sea Life centre with a walkthrough reef containing real sharks. The pool is worth a look, and Mandalay Bay is now up there with Caesars and MGM Grand as far as being a big shot boxing venue. I did not see an amusement arcade, nor do I expect there to be one hiding in a nook or cranny as you get the feeling this is a resort for grown ups.

Pool Amazing truly amazing its hard to believe its man made, if this is not the best pool in Vegas its very close. It has waves a real beach, waterfalls, lagoons you name it this pool has got it.Mandalay Beach, Las Vegas

Shows and Entertainment Mandalay Bay has the hit Abba musical Mamma Mia as its only production show, baring in mind how far up the Strip it is this is quite surprising. However Mandalay Bay also has the Mandalay Bay events center and arena and is host to many huge names as well as sporting events in particular boxing.

Dining The dining options at Mandalay Bay are huge lets start with the Bay Side Buffet (B$15.99, L$19.99, D$26.99 champagne Sunday Brunch $23.99) has a stunning view over the marvellous pool. Better still the food was great including a mountain of smoked salmon that we rapidly mined. This buffet feels up market, the food is probably not as good as Planet Hollywood but the setting is great and so I think this buffet more than justifies its high price tag. There is not only a 24hr Coffee shop here but also a 24hr noodle bar; great for those of us that craves sweet and sour at 6am!! There are another 8 or so more expensive restaurants including Trattoria Del Lupo – a very expensive Wolfgang puck restaurant, several very expensive seafood eateries, a couple of South Asian places to keep eating in line with the theme and Red Square the only Russian restaurant in Las Vegas. In depth information on Mandalay Bay dining here.

MandalY bay, Concerts on the beach

Gaming 135,00sq ft including 2400 slots from a nickel upwards and loads of table games Mandalay Bay has a spacey, airy and refreshing casino. Not feeling bustled or cramped is noticed and enjoyed here. Although there are a lot of slots here, there are not loads of nickel machines here, Mandalay Bay is aimed at upper middle Californians and they are not too keen to attract too many low rollers like yours truly.

Drinks service We played on nickel and quater machines here and did not find the drinks service as good as elsewhere. That said the drinks we did get were some of the best in strength – up there with the Las Vegas Hilton.

Overall A great resort it has everything great bars, great places to eat, great clubs, best pool in Vegas and nice spacious feel. This resort gives quality and expects quality back it captures a far number of the young rich beautiful people from LA.

Good points Amazing pool The tropical feel, the theme is done very well without being over the top and does make you feel very fresh and clean. Oh yes and rich!!!

Bad points Location it’s great to get to from the airport or I15 from LA ,as it’s the last casino on the Strip but it’s a pain if you want to visit several casinos in one evening you need to have a car or use cabs.

Top Tip Look around and you will notice that this is the Montecido from the TV show Las Vegas, watch out for Danny and big Ed.

Best offers at Mandalay Bay

Click here for the offers travel agents will not show for Las Vegas Hotels

June 23, 2008 Posted by | 20 dollar trick, bellagio, boxing, buffets, Casinos, cocktail waitress, cocktails, driving, entertainment, events, Excalibur, free drinks, gaming, Holiday, hotel upgrades, Las Vegas, Luxor, Mandalay bay, MGM, MGM Grand, MGM GRand Arena, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Mirage, Monte Carlo, news, resturaunts, shows, slots, Spa, tipping, Travel, Treasure Island, Uncategorized, Vegas, vegas buffets, vegas comps, vegas events, vegas pools, vegas shows, vegas spa, Vegas Strip, vegas tips, vegas wedding, xxx | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Should I rent a Car in Vegas ? Tips on driving and renting cars in Las Vegas

THe Strip outside TIMany people ask me whether it’s worth renting a car whilst in Las Vegas and I think that the answer depends on how long you are in Vegas and what you want to do on your trip. I mean if you are going for 2 nights and your plan is to drink and party until 8am then its pointless, if you are there for a week and want to see some sites then it probably is. Coming from the UK the shortest time I am ever going to stay in Vegas is 4 nights at least half a day of my trip will involve shopping. Being a person who does not want to spend one penny more than I have to on anything the majority of this will take place at the factory outlet stores which is some distance from the Strip and as I don’t like busses and are not so keen on cabs then car is the best option.

Only a short distance from Las Vegas are some amazing natural beauties which are only accessible by either car or organised tour, not only is going by car cheaper but it allows you to create your own itinerary and move at your own pace. A car is useful for going to visit downtown, or if you are staying at Luxor say and you fancy going to Wynn then again car is the best option. I always hire a car its not expensive and I know that even if its sitting in the car park that I can go where I want when I want, I like having that freedom. I generally book from www.dollar.co.uk this I have found to be the cheapest rate that includes all the necessary insurances for UK drivers, it’s worth looking at Expedia as they compare Hertz, Alamo. Budget and National this good for Americans and other nationals alike.

Driving in Vegas
Our rental car in Vegas Driving in Vegas is not easy for the US but it’s a positive breeze compared to London in rush hour. The Strip has between 3 and 5 lanes each way and you need to pay attention to the signs as it’s pretty easy to be in the wrong lane to the annoyance of other drivers. You also need to look out for pedestrians just stepping into the road and other drivers just pulling out, there is so much to see and to draw attention off of the road and this causes many accidents.

Las Vegas Boulevard (The Strip) is usually busy, at weekends it can be near gridlock to avoid this instead of driving down the Strip use Industrial Road which runs parallel West behind NYNY, Monte Carlo, Bellagio Mirage etc or Koval or Paradise that run parallel to the West behind MGM Grand, Ballys, Flamingo etc this will save you mountains of time.

Top driving and car rental tips for Las Vegas

1. We get a cab from the airport to the Hotel when we arrive and collect the car from a hotel desk the next morning and drop it back the night before we leave and get a cab back to the airport. The costs are slightly cheaper but more importantly its quicker to walk to the desk in the hotel to collect and drop the car back than mess around on the courtesy bus at airport and the lines are always longer are the airport

2. Unless you take a rate that includes a tank of gas always return it full otherwise the rental agency will charge you way above normal rate for gas.

3. Pre-book your car in Vegas, not only is this cheaper but they often run out of cars.

4. All of the casinos one the Las Vegas Strip offer free garage and valet parking, unless it’s a Friday or Saturday night use the Valet you need to tip them when they return your car $2-$5 is fair.

5. If you are travelling from outside the US pre book a rate that includes all of the insurances and taxes this will save you a lot of money. Generally US citizens personal auto insurance will cover them fully comp on a rental.

6. Unless specifically stated at a junction, if its clear you can turn right on a red light

7. Nevada is pretty relaxed but don’t drink and drive you will go to jail.

8. Pay attention, its easy not to as there is so much to see but there enough pedestrians not paying attention all ready so if drivers don’t as well there will be more injuries


June 16, 2008 Posted by | bellagio, Casinos, driving, entertainment, events, Excalibur, grand canyon, hotel upgrades, Las Vegas, Luxor, MGM, MGM Grand, Mirage, Monte Carlo, national parks, news, shows, tipping, Travel, Treasure Island, Vegas, vegas events, vegas shows, Vegas Strip, vegas tips, vegas wedding | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment