Anthony Bourdain’s TV show The Layover covers short stays in cities. Usually in the shows, Mr. Bourdain focuses on places to eat and drink in a day or two, with the idea being these are things you could do if you’re in these places for an airplane layover or a stopover to another place. En route to Utah, my family and I stopped for a night in Las Vegas, Nevada but this was the polar opposite of what you might see on The Layover. Neither my husband nor I gamble, we didn’t have much time for a show, and we had our middle-school daughter with us so we were somewhat limited with our options. We wouldn’t be partying in clubs, in other words (which honestly, was fine with us).
Basically, we had an afternoon, that evening, and until around early afternoon the next day to kill in Vegas. After a cross-country flight, we were tired and hungry so after checking into the Stratosphere Hotel (simple, no-frills, but clean and relatively close to most things), we decided to just walk around and take in the scenery. My husband and I had been to Las Vegas before, once with our even younger (at the time) daughter, so we had at least an idea of what Vegas was like. My husband had also been there prior to meeting me and had done the whole party in Vegas scene.
We decided to keep this visit simple and just check out some of the other casino/hotels, but first we stopped at Bobby’s Burger Palace. I ordered the Crunchburger, a cheeseburger with potato chips piled high on the top. It was fresh and crunchy and exactly what I expected, which is a good thing. My husband said his burger was too well-done even though that’s not what he had asked for and he wasn’t impressed. I’ve been a fan of Bobby Flay’s ever since I used to watch the TV show Brunch with Bobby, and had wanted to visit one of his restaurants but this was my first opportunity to do so (I know I’m a bit behind the times on this one). I’d like to try his other restaurants as well.
Next stop was the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, or rather in front of the Bellagio, where we waited for the fountain show. Then we waited some more, until finally an announcement was made that the show would not occur that evening due to the weather. So much for freezing in the arctic winds that had moved into Vegas for the evening in the hopes of catching the fountain display. Disappointed that our fountain-loving daughter wouldn’t be able to watch the spectacular show, we headed inside the Venetian and admired the scenery and reminisced about our vacation to Italy several years ago. We also took a short stop inside Caesar’s Palace but didn’t stay there long. Our next stop was Paris, where we promptly found a bakery and ordered three pastries and longed to visit the real Paris and France someday. By then, we were all utterly exhausted and ready to get back to our hotel room and call it a night.
The next morning, we wanted to go back to the Bellagio for the fountain show but we were told the first one of the day wouldn’t be until noon since it was off-season there. So we used our credit as Stratosphere guests to go up the tower and enjoy the views from the top at 1,149 feet. While we were there, we saw a young woman jump from the top, from SkyJump, which costs $119.99 ($99.99 for Stratosphere guests) and lasts less than 30 seconds. I’m sure it’s something you would never forget, though. There are three other thrill rides at the top of the tower, Big Shot, X Scream, and Insanity.
Finally, having had our fair share of Vegas, we went to pick up our rental car and were handed the keys to this:
Not exactly what I had in mind for driving to the national parks we would be visiting in Utah and later the Grand Canyon, and for a second I thought about asking if maybe we could get an SUV instead. I wasn’t sure how appropriate a convertible sports car would be driving around the mountains in Utah and Arizona, but I could see my husband’s inner 16-year-old coming out so I didn’t say anything. The car was every bit as cramped and uncomfortable as I thought it would be, but on the bright side, my husband had a blast driving it.
So we took off in our bright yellow Camaro and found a spot for lunch away from the main strip at a place called Nozomi. It was quite possibly the best Japanese teriyaki I’ve ever had. My husband said his sushi was average, but “average sushi is still really good.” If you’re ever in Las Vegas and want a delicious Japanese meal, I suggest you try their teriyaki.
With full bellies, we were off for further adventures in Utah and our brief stint in Las Vegas was over. Proof that you don’t have to spend a single dime gambling to have a good time in “Sin City.”