One of the best things about living in the US is the freedom to go on road trips. Each city and state has their own character, landmark and terrains that makes your driving experience unforgettable.
I was about 3 months pregnant when we went on a road trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. Many Los Angelenos / Californians drive to Vegas for a quick weekend trip or special celebrations, with only a 4-hour drive – driving this route can be a really fun group excursion through the Nevada desert.
This time, my dad was in town so both my parents went with us for the Easter break. The best route from LA is through the Interstate 15 Freeway (I-15) heading North to Las Vegas.
You will drive past the San Bernadino County, several small towns and after passing the Mojave Desert the road will take you pass the Nevada stateline.
The most popular stop in between LA-Vegas is a small town called Barstow, where there are 2 factory outlets Tanger Outlets Barstow and Barstow Outlet LLC that covers affordable brands (such as Gap, Old Navy, Gymboree) to high-end brands like Coach, Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren.
Expect fast-food chains all around this outlet too, you can find In & Out Burger, Panda Express, Chilli’s and Starbucks. So if you’re planning for a pit stop, this is your best bet because there will be no better options along the way.
After about a 5-hour drive (the traffic was quite congested after passing the Nevada border), we finally reached Vegas!
Vegas is famous for its casinos, nightclubs, shows (concerts/circuses) and erhmm… girls (for hire). However, in my mind I just wanted to stay in a nice hotel room without paying a ridiculous price tag like what a 5-star hotel in LA would charge you.
I’ve stayed in Bellagio Hotel the previous year for about $110/night, this was a great deal for a 5-star hotel. In LA, a 5-star hotel could easily cost you around $350 – $500/night…
However with long weekends or public holidays, hotel rates in Vegas do go up at least 50%, but it is still cheaper than most 5-star hotels and worth the money.
This time around, Aria Resort & Casino Hotel had recently opened and people had been raving about it. The rates were not as expensive as Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, or Wynn Hotel so I thought we should give it a go.
Like many of Vegas’ 5-star hotels, Aria’s arrival and main lobby was beautiful. You can immediately hear the sound of slot machines on your way in just like a typical Vegas’ hotel lobby.
There’s almost never an empty line when checking into Vegas’ hotels, I’m blaming the long weekend.
Generous room sizes in Aria with Double Queen Beds.
The standard hotel room was excellent and met our expectations. We had more than enough room for 2 adults and 1 child. Just as I had planned, I wanted to spend most of my time to rest in a nice air-conditioned room and ordering room service.
My son couldn’t be more delighted – he’s a little homebody just like me.
In-room dining for supper at arrival.
In-room dining for breakfast =P
The pool area at Aria is large and even though it was filled with guests it didn’t feel cramped at all. We could always find a lounger or daybed in great spots near the pool.
There’s one corner of the pool that is kid-friendly (very shallow) – and the hotel also has a lifeguard on duty at all times.
We spent our 3 days in Vegas enjoying the hotel facilities, there are plenty of restaurants in the lobby and several quick serve counters that sells pastries, ice cream, crepes and desserts, we probably bought something from here everyday.
Another advantage of Aria is it’s direct access to The Shops at Crystals featuring luxury designers and premium stores such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, Tiffany & Co. Inside the Crystals’ building is also access to Las Vegas Monorail that can take you to other hotels such as MGM Grand and Bellagio.
Having a car in Vegas is definitely not neccessary, visitors should definitely take advantage of the monorail and convenience of Ubers.
Alternatively, if you only plan to explore the Las Vegas Strip, walking is always the best option!
A trip to Vegas is not complete if you don’t catch a show, our family has always been a fan of Cirque du Soleil so we had purchased tickets to see ‘O’ at The Bellagio the week before – which features an aquatic performance and theatrical acrobats.
It was a spectacular performance once again from Cirque du Soleil – however we thought Le Reve at Wynn Theatre – also an aquatic performance that we saw a year before, wins this category. Le Reve’s theatre was a 360 degrees theatre and features a thrilling high dive to an underwater tango – it was truly mesmerizing.
So if you have the options to choose between these two aquatic performances, go see Le Reve instead.
Le Reve – The Dream – at Wynn Theatre
I probably won’t be able to give you the top Vegas party scene and nightclubs but I can definitely give you the top hotels and places to eat!
Top pick of hotels – where to stay:
- Bellagio (check-out the water fountain show)
- MGM Grand
- Wynn Hotel
- Aria Resort & Casino Hotel
- Caesar’s Palace
My verdict of Las Vegas: Don’t spend more than 3 days unless you plan to party, eat or lounge by the pool all week long. The city is alive thanks to the Strip and that’s pretty much it. But if you want to experience nice hotels at an affordable price then Vegas is your go-to city.
Family friendly: Vegas has become more kid-friendly by opening more family adventure water parks and amusement parks, such as Adventuredome, The Aquarium at Silverton, CSI: The experience, Discovery Children’s Museum and many more.
Visit Vegas Attractions for Kids for more details on these spots.
It’s settled, Vegas is no longer just a playground for adults.