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Finding My Inner Vegas - A Newbie's Guide to Sin City

What Happens In Vegas.....?

Thanks to Lisa McDonald from TheSunshineIsIn for contributing this post to GoGirlfriend. We're a community-based travel blog and we welcome submissions from everyone. Whether you're a budget-baller or a first class only kinda traveler, we'd love to hear from you. Visit our Writer's Guidelines and learn how you can share your travel advice, stories and adventures!

Lisa does VEGAS!

Truthfully I didn't really know what happens in Las Vegas. I'd never been and all I knew was that I had built this trip up in my mind, and was worried that I would be headed for disappointment if Las Vegas wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

Carry-on wardrobeCarry-on wardrobeYou see I was heading to Vegas for my first time. I'm not a big traveler. I'm also not a big drinker or a big gambler, but I've always wanted to visit Las Vegas.

Being that I was only heading there for 3 days, I decided this would also be a great trip to try a carry on only wardrobe. I knew this would be a challenge as I was headed for the SGIA Expo (Specialty Printing & Image Technology  Expo), Cirque De Soiel and whatever else I could pack into my time in Las Vegas. 

Let the Adventure Begin

early departureearly departureMy Thursday morning start began with leaving home shortly after 1:00am. I was shocked to see the airport such a ghost town. It struck me that I was truly alone on this trip. It wasn't until about 45mins before the flight that the waiting area began to fill up.

On the plane I was too excited to relax, so I watched two inflight movies. First was Sherlock Holmes - Dark Shadows and the second was Rock of Ages. I really enjoyed both of the films, but I thought it was really funny that just as we touched down at the Las Vegas airport the final song of Rock of Ages came on. "Just a small town girl....."  It brought a big grin to my face. What was even funnier as I entered the airport the original Journey version of the same song came on over the speaker.

Vegas, I'm here!

Since I didn't have to go to the baggage claim I headed straight for the hotel shuttles. The shuttle was just about to leave, but since I was just one single seat and didn't have much in the line of luggage, I squeezed in. Along the way, the shuttle made several stops at various hotels, which made some of the passengers grumble about the long trip, but I loved seeing the outside of all these places I had watched on TV and films for years.

Treasure Island Las VegasTreasure Island Las VegasTreasure Island isn't as statuesque as the surrounding hotels, but that was fine by me. The simple architecture made it a relaxed atmosphere for this first timer. I had packed with my SGIA outfit at the top of my bag figuring I'd have to change in their washroom. Lucky for me, they had early check-in for SGIA attendees and I was right on time - and first in line again.

The SGIA Expo was being held at the Las Vegas Convention Centre, and it was very well attended. Thousands of people constantly flowed through the show all day. They even had a reception just for the Canadians that attended the show. After 5 hours of networking it was time to head back to the hotel.

First trip to the strip

taking in a Las vegas showtaking in a Las vegas showThat evening I went to the Sirens of Treasure Island outdoor show. The Pussycat Dolls meets Disney would be the best way to describe the show. After the show, I headed into Gilley's to enjoy the $1 drinks for Ladies Night. I was fine with the one drink from the bartender, but the waitresses were all in bikinis and chaps - this wasn't the scene for me. I started my first trek up Las Vegas Blvd. (the Strip).

After seeing the view from the outdoor escalator and noticing that everyone was outside walking around with cocktails and beer in their hands (which was hard to get used to seeing) I crossed the bridge into the Venetian Hotel, where I found the Indoor Gondola ride. For $16 I received a half hour gondola ride with serenades along the way.

After hearing such beautiful singing I thought that would be the highlight of my night, but then my travels brought me to Bellagio Fountains.

LasVegas Fountains at the Bellagio Hotel by f760270480

After that I headed to The Mirage to pick up my Cirque Du Soliel - Love tickets for the show the following night. I found a Facebook special a month earlier for $50. By then I started to lose steam - at this point I had been awake for 24 hours and was looking forward to hitting the hay. I headed back to Treasure Island and my waiting king size bed.

Day 2 in Las Vegas

After getting some much needed rest I started my next day by heading for the Hoover Dam. The cost was $65 but I knew that I would kick myself if I didn't go see it. The trip didn't leave until noon, which left me time for the buffet restaurant for breakfast and a relaxing morning by the pool.

Hot (Hoover) Dam! 

Lisa at the Hoover DamLisa at the Hoover DamWhen we arrived at the Hoover Dam Homeland Security pulled we went through inspection and security checks, similar to the airport. From there we had our "green screen" photos taken with the Hoover Dam magically inserted as the backdrop. Our tour of the power plant was over quickly and everyone on the bus was excited to purchase their overpriced green screen photos. I headed outside to take my own outdoor shots of me at the enormous Hoover Dam.

All you need is love

Las Vegas showtimeLas Vegas showtimeAfter a day in the sun it was nice to freshen up at the hotel before heading out to the Cirque show. I walked to Paris Las Vegas to see about getting a spot at Gordon Ramsey Steak. They said they were full for the night and couldn't take any more reservations for the weekend, but I could come back early evening the next night and get a first come first serve spot at the bar where they serve the full menu. 

Next it was off to The Mirage to grab a bite to eat before Cirque's The Beatles Love Show. I had run out of time for a full dinner but knew there'd be food inside the show. They opened the souvenir shop just as I arrived and I found a souvenir t-shirt in my size marked down to $19, which made my so happy that I didn't spend my cash on the green screen Hoover Dam photo. Turns out the only food they served inside the show was snacks, so that night I had popcorn for dinner (so glad I had the buffet earlier that day).

The show was strange and wonderful but after another full day it was time to head for bed.

Final Day

whats in Las Vegas?whats in Las Vegas?The hotel was rowdy so waking up the next day, I was more than a little tired. I grabbed a Krispy Kreme donut for breakfast and went for a quick swim to wake up. I had a lot to do before heading home that night.

On my travels, I found a fella doing live spray paintings on the strip. After enjoying a Bloody Caesar at the very entertaining MacKing Comedy Magic Show I headed for the Miracle Mile Mall where the 4pm showing of Nathan Burton Show was being held inside the Saxe Theatre. Nathan Burton is known for TV appearances including Coming Home and America's Got Talent. He had a very glitzy high energy Comedy Magic show which was very different from the MacKing Show but just as enjoyable. 

Last trek to Treasure Island

Viva Las VegasViva Las VegasI decided to see if I could get into Gordon Ramsay Steak, but the bar was tiny and loud and I wanted to relax before my departure. Next time!

Back to the hotel once more to have one more big meal then it was time to grab my luggage and then head to the airport. This time I had no trouble sleeping on the plane,.

I loved my Las Vegas experience, and though it was different than the typical casino trip it was fantastic and I would hop back on the plane to Sin City tomorrow if I could.  To see more of my trip, please visit my Facebook photo album.

To learn more about travelling alone do what I did and read Julia's post on Travel Safety Tips For Women Travelers.

 Lisa McDonald

Lisa McDonaldTweets as @Those2Girls, part of a Tiara wearing duo that organizes the "Stuff To Do With Your Kids" in KW weekly blast and co-hosts MeFest. You can also find Lisa creating content for The Sign Depot or writing one of the many blogs that can be found on about.me/LisaMcDonald .In 2010 she was quoted in Scott Stratten's book Unmarketing, and was later listed as one of Canada's 100 Most Digitally Connected Women. It's a title she is proud of but would much rather refer herself as Everyone's Cheerleader!

Tell us about your experiences in a new destination and the sights and activities that rocked your boat? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook and let's start talking! 

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The magnificent Bellagio Hotel & Casino is located on Las Vegas Boulevard. Built to resemble the town of Bellagio off Lake Cuomo in Italy, the Bellagio Hotel is best known for the Fountains of Bellagio and its synchronized water-dancing show, visible from many vantage points along the strip. A longtime member of the Leading Hotels of the World, the 30-story luxury Las Vegas hotel features lavish rooms, all designed with Italian marble floors and furnishings. http://www.vegasherewego.com

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