Las Vegas, NV

places

Traveling for work can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand your trip is pretty much paid for but on the other you do actually have to work for part if not most of it. This is how all except two of my trips to Las Vegas, Nevada have been. All in all I’ve been about 7 or 8 times. Basically, I’ve been to alot of different places in Las Vegas – some expensive (like that I could not afford and work was paying) and some not-so-expensive. In this post, I want to tell you about some of my favorite places and some of the best places for your money if you decide to visit Sin City.

Favorite Places to Stay

I’ve definitely been spoiled in the hotel department when it comes to staying in Las Vegas. Because most of my trips have been for work I’ve had the pleasure of staying in the hotel attached to the convention center on the strip – The Venetian. The Venetian is one of the pricier albeit nicest hotel on the strip. It’s connected to the convention center as well as the Palazzo which houses a wide variety of shopping and restaurants (some of which will come up in this post). The Venetian is styled after Venice Italy. It features large marble columns, ornately painted ceilings and a full on replica of the canals in Italy. It is one the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever seen which makes paying for it worth it in the end. The casino is huge and is one of the only casinos I’ve seen in Las Vegas that offers a non-smoking area. The pool area is beautiful as well with water features and a full bar that will serve you poolside. They also have two full size spas outdoors that have waterfalls and also poolside service. All of their guest rooms are suites that boast full size bathrooms with jetted tubs as well as showers and full living room areas to relax in. This is not your basic hotel and will run you anywhere from $169 to $610 for their more “basic” suites. If you have the money to splurge it’s definitely worth it.

Another great place to stay that is a bit more budget friendly, while still being beautiful, is Paris Las Vegas Hotel. Now don’t get me wrong, Paris can still be expensive depending on the time you go and what room you choose. But for our particular trip, which was a week before Thanksgiving, we found this to be the nicest and least pricey option. The hotel is styled after Paris, France and even features a large replica of the Eiffel Tower out front. You can even take an elevator ride up to the top of the tower for a bird’s eye view of the city, or enjoy a fancy dinner at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant. The casino is adorable with an outdoor feel. The ceilings are painted as blue skies and the bars are set up as if they are outdoor cafes. Even the waitresses wear Paris-style outfits as they serve cocktails on the casino floor. Paris’ hotel rooms are nice and will be even nicer once they complete renovations. They aren’t all suites like the Venetian but are still a decent size with a larger bathroom than your average hotel. I’ve also had their room service for breakfast which was super speedy and delicious. I would absolutely stay here again if given the chance.

Favorite Places to Play

Gambling is a huge part of the entertainment in Vegas. Pretty much every hotel features a casino and everywhere you go you can hear the bells and whistles of the slot machines. I’m not a huge fan of gambling, but sometimes it’s fun to play some of the slot machines and get free drinks while you’re doing it. The best places to play the slot machines are in the Venetian and Palazzo because, in my experience, they still bring you free drinks while you play. I’ve noticed many of the other casinos don’t have cocktail waitresses come around as often which makes it much less fun to lose money while gambling. Another fun place to play slot machines is in what they call Old Las Vegas. This Las Vegas is off the strip on Fremont Street. It is lined with neon signs and some rather different sites than what you will see on the new strip. Fremont Street is home to a giant zip-line ride where you can sail above the entire boulevard of lights, and at night is home to a variety of live music playing up and down the street. The slot machines are fun because the drinks are cheaper, the games are older, and you get much of the feel of what Las Vegas must have been like back in the old days. Visiting Old Las Vegas is like being thrown back in time. Someday, I’d like to stay here as well to get a different feel of the other side of Vegas.

For fun that doesn’t include gambling I usually like to go watch the fountain show at the Bellagio. It’s an engineering marvel of water and lights with fountains set to different music depending on when you’re able to watch it. My favorite song to see is Andre Bocelli’s time to say goodbye. The fountain show is spectacular and definitely something you won’t want to miss if you visit Vegas. The best part? It’s absolutely free. Another fun thing to do in Vegas is to check out all the other design and work put into the other ritzy hotels and casinos. A couple worth checking out are the Bellagio and Caesar’s Palace. Both feature amazing design features such as Bellagio’s glass flower ceiling and Caesar’s Romanesque interior. Bellagio also features a conservatory and botanical garden which is redesigned each season. The work that goes into the garden is breathtaking. It’s free to walk around and check out the hotels and their different attractions. You could also stop for a drink at Bellagio’s piano bar near the lobby or play a few slots in either casino. Another fun bar to check out is the dueling piano bar inside of Paris. You could also watch from outside the bar through the large windows if you don’t feel like paying for a drink. Picture two large grand pianos playing tunes requested by the audience. I couldn’t believe the talent of the guys playing and the engagement of the crowd is fun to watch while also being fairly inexpensive.

Favorite Places to Eat

Visiting new restaurants is hands down my favorite part about travelling. I love experiencing new food and trying new places and Las Vegas is one of the best places for that. They have so many different restaurants ranging from run-of-the-mill to Michelin star rated. Whether you’re looking for Italian food, a good burger or something exotic you’re sure to find it there.

For breakfast I love HEXX kitchen + bar located inside of Paris. Their interior is super modern and hip and I loved the variety in their menu. One of my favorite items was their fresh fruit plate, which I know, sounds basic, but is so over the top. It came with a bunch of mini banana muffins and a coconut whipped cream that was out of this world. Also, it’s huge! I’ve never seen a bigger fruit plate in my life! It went perfectly with my bottomless mimosas. I’ve recently learned that my favorite lunch spot in Las Vegas is no longer there after 6 years (super sad face!). So, the next time I go, I will try to update this post with a new lunch spot.

One of the best dinners I’ve ever had was my 30th birthday dinner at Sushi Samba inside of the Palazzo. Sushi Samba is one of my favorite restaurants in Las Vegas and I try to visit every time I am there. Their menu features items that are in a Japanese-South American fusion style. My favorite part is that they also offer an entire vegan menu which can be difficult to find in fine dining. The atmosphere inside is amazing as well with street-style art on the walls, crazy sculptures you walk through to get to your seat, and giant paper lanterns hanging from the walls. If vegan isn’t your thing, have no fear, because they offer a wide variety of meats and sushi items to suit everyone’s taste. Seriously, I went with my dad who is a hardcore meat eater and my friend who is a hardcore vegan and no one left disappointed. They also offer gluten-free items as well as a brunch and a kids menu which I have never tried but I’m sure is out of this world. Next on my list for them is to try their some of the Japanese Whiskey from their extensive drink list. It can get a little pricey to eat here for sure, but the food you are getting is second to none and is an unforgettable experience in and of itself.

Las Vegas can be a super fun place to visit without costing too much money if you plan it out properly. I’d say the most expensive and most dangerous part of the city is the casinos with their many slot machines, the trick is to learn when to walk away. This isn’t to say that you can’t win, though. My husband and I paid for almost our entire trip with winnings off of a single slot machine alone, so definitely don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. Overall, it’s a great city to visit for relaxing as well. There are endless things to do and see, but the hotels can also be so nice that you might not want to leave. I’ve been many times, like I said before, but I think I would go again for sure. It seems like there is always something new to experience in Sin City even if it’s not a show or another casino. If you get the chance to check it out I totally recommend checking out the places I’ve mentioned above.

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Nashville, TN

places

I’ve never been a big traveler, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve found joy in visiting new places when I can. Luckily, my job allows me to travel now and then, mostly to Las Vegas, but this year our big tradeshow was in Nashville, Tennessee. I had never been to Nashville before, but I was so excited to visit a new place, especially a new place that was so focused on music and the history of music. We were scheduled to be there for a week. This gave us enough time to work as well as get some personal time in to explore the city. We stayed downtown near the convention center – known as Music City Center – since that was where our tradeshow was. Fortunately, this put us within walking distance of the famous Broadway strip which is where we spent most of our free time.

OMNI Hotel

We stayed in the OMNI hotel downtown and it was incredibly nice. Had I not been on a company trip I wouldn’t be able to afford a whole week here by myself. It’s a 5 star hotel with all the amenities you’d expect from a hotel of that caliber. We hardly spent any time in our hotel but it’s worth mentioning since they are basically connected to the Country Music Hall of Fame and are walking distance to the Music City Walk of Fame Park and many other cool tourist attractions. One of my favorites was the Hatch Show Print shop which is located inside the hotel. You can see all of the old screen printing supplies and posters from when country music was blowing up in Nashville. They even have a museum dedicated to it, which I didn’t get to check out but would definitely add to my list for the next time I’m able to visit.

Food

The food everywhere was basically amazing. I had cat fish tacos for the first time at a place called Martin’s BBQ Joint. When we arrived there was a line out of the building which was enough to make us second guess going there, but soon realized that the wait (which didn’t end up being too terribly long) was totally worth it. Being a pescatarian was a little tough in Nashville but fortunately not as difficult as being a vegetarian. There is barbecue everywhere and loads of chicken wings. After hours Martin’s turns into a 3 story bar with cornhole, steel tip darts, pool and board games. They even had live music (which most places in Nashville do). Martin’s was definitely one of the best BBQ places we visited.

We also dined at City Tap House. They had a huge selection of beers (seriously, the beer menu alone was like 4 pages) and we had their shrimp and grits, oysters, mussels and their addicting elote street corn dip. Everything was amazing down to the service.

My favorite place ended up being a place that had opened only two weeks before we arrived – Downtown Sporting Club. They had axe throwing, cornhole (indoors and outdoors), and some of the biggest portions of food I’ve ever seen in my life. I ordered their wild mushroom pasta and swear I could’ve done the backstroke in my bowl. The food was absolutely divine and again the service was impeccable. It makes you wonder if there really is a thing to genuine southern hospitality (I’m looking at you California!).

Drinks & Live Music

Most of our free time was spent on the famous strip of Downtown Broadway. There are 3 and 4 story bars lining the strip with live music filling the air everywhere you turn. Most bars have rooftop areas where you can look out over the city or look down and people watch. Every floor of every bar had a different band playing live music, and walking down the street was like walking through different radio stations as you passed by. There are several bars owned by famous country musicians and a few that are famous for being around during the era of the country music boom. The neon lights go on and night and make you feel like you’ve been thrown back in time. Everyone is fairly pleasant and you’d be surprised at how little security there seems to be in most of the bars compared to a place like downtown Sacramento. Most bars sell bar food so you can snack while you drink and people watch, and surprisingly enough most of the rooftop bars even let you smoke – just like the old days! This area was definitely my favorite place to hang out during our trip and I can’t wait to go back and be able to spend even more time here perusing and listening to all the amazing talent that Nashville has to offer.

Shopping

Before I left for Nashville I had decided that I would reward myself with a souvenir. I hadn’t purchased anything new in 5 months and thought that this trip was the perfect time to buy myself something special. I knew I either wanted a hat or boots and when I went to look at my options, I was not disappointed.

Down on Broadway there are several shops that sell boots, hats, and other western wear. I finally decided I wouldn’t wear boots as often as a hat, so eventually I narrowed my search to places that sold hats. I had a pretty specific idea of what I wanted – something a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. Finally I found Goorin Bros. Their shop was smaller than the rest but specifically sold hats in different styles and sizes. I knew I had found the right place. I almost immediately found the hat that I wanted, but did decide to do a little more walking around town before settling just in case. After walking around to a couple different stores I knew that I would not find anything else that compared. I went back to Goorin Bros and bought my new hat. It was pricey, sure, but it’s something that I know will last a long time and will get alot of wear. If you’re looking for boots, hats or other western wear Broadway is definitely the place to go.

I absolutely loved the city of Nashville, TN. The people were so friendly, the music was loud and the food was delicious. I can definitely see myself making another trip to visit and go outside of the city a bit to see what else there is to explore. I hear their mountains and lakes are gorgeous, and I can only imagine based on all the greenery and nature I saw just while driving from the airport to our hotel. It’s not necessarily somewhere I thought I would fall in love with, but it really is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. If you ever get a chance, I definitely recommend you make a trip out there.

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Maui

places

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Travelling is one of those things that I have made a conscious effort to try and do more of this past year. Since about September of last year my husband and I have been to Kauai (our honeymoon), London, Las Vegas (he actually visited more cities than I did this trip), Oregon (for the kite festival!) and finally Maui. All places were amazing of course, but I found that while doing my research for Maui, that I didn’t find many blogs or sites offering a deeper insight into the actual non-touristy things to do (no more shopping, please). So I wanted to write my own blog post to shed some light for others on the beautiful things and wonderful foods that we got to eat while we were there in October, and let me tell you, we did alot!