Jen and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary last week by taking a trip to Las Vegas. It’s not actually the first time we’d been to Vegas as we had stopped there for one night while moving from Illinois to California in 2005. But this time, we weren’t already worn out from days of continuous travel. Also, we didn’t have a small flock of pet birds to look after. In a way, this was more like our first real time in the city of big lights and big casinos.
We flew from California to Las Vegas via the Santa Maria Public Airport. It’s actually the fastest, least expensive and easiest way to get from the Central Coast to Vegas. The Santa Maria Airport, while a bit bigger than the San Luis Obispo Airport, is still relatively small. Ours was the first flight out of the day and we may have been the first passengers to arrive.
The airport doesn’t have jetways, so we had to cross the tarmac to board the plane. We actually entered thru an aft hatch that opens under the tail. We hadn’t ever boarded a plane like that before. It kinda felt like walking up into a spaceship.
Jen really doesn’t like flying. Even tho flight times between Santa Maria and Las Vegas are pretty short, she still decided to make herself a mixed drink to help calm her nerves. (The Dasani was mine.)
Flights between Santa Maria and Las Vegas only take about an hour. We didn’t check any bags on the plane so once we landed, we exited the airport and picked up a taxi to our hotel, the Luxor Hotel Casino. Many of the large hotel resorts on the Las Vegas Strip are themed. Luxor has an Egyptian theme and was actually constructed as a pyramid.
Many guest rooms at Luxor are on the exterior walls of the pyramid. Inside the rooms, you can see the angled walls of the structure. Here’s our room:
The view outside our windows wasn’t spectacular but it was cool to see these little pyramids on top of the building next to the main Luxor structure.
Keeping with the Egyptian theme, the large interior of Luxor is filled with “buildings,” some of which are there purely for aesthetic reasons while others are there to house actual hotel amenities.
After settling in, we were in need of some food. Luxor has many dining opportunities but it seemed appropriate that our first meal in Vegas should be at the Luxor’s buffet appropriately called More. The buffet is massive and has nearly every type of food you can imagine. Jen was extremely happy to find that More had gluten-free carrot cake on the dessert bar.
After the meal, Jen was in need of a nap. She went back to our room to get some rest and I went into the casino to do some exploring. Here’s some more views of the Luxor’s exterior:
Later that night, we decided to go out and see the famous lights of Las Vegas. Luxor is located on the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, and we wanted to try to get up to the Bellagio to see its famous fountain show. Luxor is directly connected to two other casinos, Mandelay Bay and Excalibur. We headed north, eventually finding our way thru Excalibur. Outside, we were able to see the exterior of Excalibur:
From there, we could also see the New York New York Casino across the street.
Inside New York New York, Jen found her first real drink of the trip, a Long Island iced tea. One of the cool things about the Las Vegas Strip is that you can freely walk around anywhere with alcoholic drinks.
After passing thru New York New York, we headed across the street and began moving north once again. This is where we ran into Elvis! This particular Elvis was busking on behalf of injured veterans. He coaxed Jen into taking this picture, for which we gladly handed over a few dollars for his cause.
Las Vegas is in the desert, and we were there in the middle of summer. It’s HOT. Jen made pretty quick work of her first drink and was ready for another. We found a street-side “alcoholic slushie” vendor who was very accommodating in answering Jen’s questions, being sure to work around her allergies. Her second drink was a mango-rum slushie.
We weren’t sure if we’d be able to make it all the way up to Bellagio but Jen noticed the sign for the hotel in the near distance so we continued walking north, taking in the various sights and sounds of a busy night on the Strip. After some walking, we did reach the Bellagio and made it just in time to see a fountain show. This photo doesn’t do it justice:
After a walk thru Bellagio, we decided to head back to Luxor. It was a long night of walking and we were pretty tired once we got back. We grabbed some dinner from the Luxor food court and called it a night.
The next day, we needed to pick up some essentials so we walked north again to a CVS on the Strip. On the way back, we had to have lunch at Diablo’s Cantina. Here, Jen had her third drink of the trip, a cranberry vodka. We actually had a ticket for a buy-one-get-one-free drink, so the restaurant gave Jen a second drink to go.
Later that day, we took the tram that connects Luxor to the other casinos and went south to Mandelay Bay. Mandelay is another large casino and it holds a shopping mall along with its own collection of eateries. We discovered that a small Italian restaurant called Slice of Vegas makes gluten-free pizza. We were ready for another meal so this is where we had our official anniversary dinner. The food was great and it was here that Jen had her next drink, a glass of wine.
From there, we headed back to Luxor to do a little gambling and just relax at the hotel.
On our last full day in Vegas, we did some souvenir shopping at Mandelay Bay and Luxor. Jen had her final drink in the form of a watermelon-vodka slushie from Minus5 at Mandelay Bay.
Later that evening, we tried to get an obligatory “awkward selfie” on the Strip. The only camera we have is my iPad Mini, and it’s really not the best device for taking these kinds of photos. But we did the best we could!
Our flight back to California left early the next morning. We had an easy checkout at Luxor and were on our way back to the airport. Overall, it was a fun and relaxing trip. There are things we would’ve liked to have seen that we didn’t get around to so I guess that means we’ll have to go back to Vegas at some point in the future!