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Las Vegas - Gaming Destination Diversions - Ultimate 3-Day Itinerary (Day 1)
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Welcome to Las Vegas Strip Drive
- Duration: 1 hour
- Address: S Las Vegas Blvd
No trip to Las Vegas is complete without both a daytime and nighttime trip down the famous Las Vegas Strip. Although the strip looks like a typical dusty city street during the day, it comes to life at night. You will start on the south end of the strip, visit the “Welcome to Las Vegas Sign”, turn north and travel as far as the Stratosphere before reversing your journey.
Breakfasts in Las Vegas range from simple pastry shops and cheap cafes to elegant buffets and gourmet feasts. Many of the strip casino/hotels offer excellent breakfast buffets, elaborate brunches and cafe choices. If you do not wish to eat at your hotel prior to beginning the day I have include breakfast options for each day near our starting point plus lunch options and dinner suggestions.
Disclaimer: Prices, Times and Locations subject to change in this dynamic city. Always check with the individual properties for the latest information.
MAP OVERVIEW OF STRIP
(Exit I-15 East on Tropicana Ave.) Begin at the intersection of Tropicana Ave. and Las Vegas Blvd. (between New York, New York and Excalibur), turn southbound (right toward the Excalibur), drive to the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign parking area on the left. The well-marked parking area is just beyond the emergency light for the Clark County Fire Station. It is located in the center median. (Currently there is no direct access on the northbound side of Las Vegas Blvd.) Plan at least a 20 minute stop.
From the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign parking area, continue south (left) on Las Vegas Blvd., U turn at the first opportunity. Head north on Las Vegas Blvd. (use the center lane), continue down the Las Vegas Strip past the Little Chapel of the West and the fabulous themed-hotel facades until you reach the Stratosphere Tower. Make a U turn here and return to New York, New York to begin your walking tour. Drive carefully. There will be lots of time to admire the awe-inspiring scenes later.
Tip: Traffic tends to be lighter on the strip during the early morning hours. Transportation to the “Welcome to Las Vegas Sign” is available via public bus from the bus stop located in front of the Excalibur.
Map: Day One Walking Tour
Description: Today we will start our walking tour at New York, New York, make our way to Mandalay Bay where we will board the tram and return to the Excalibur, then cross Las Vegas Blvd. to the Tropicana and visit the MGM and Showcase Mall before re-crossing Las Vegas Blvd. and making our way back to New York, New York.
New York, New York
New York, New York (NYNY) is located at the south end of the Las Vegas Strip at the intersection of Tropicana Ave. and Las Vegas Blvd. Heading south on Las Vegas Blvd., turn right (west) on Tropicana Ave. At the first light, turn right into New York, New York Hotel and Casino. Follow the signs for self-parking and take the sky bridge on parking Level 3 into the hotel. Follow the signs to the casino.
The escalator down to the casino level will be located to the right just across from Nathan's Hot Dogs. Our walking tour begins at the concierge desk located straight ahead.
The New Yorker Tower elevator is located in the arcade area. It will take you to the casino level. Proceed to the right past Il Fornaio's and the parking garage escalator to the concierge desk.
Make your way to NYNY by taxi, bus or monorail (MGM stop). Follow the signs for hotel registration. Our walking tour begins at the concierge desk.
- Price: $16.00 (for a single adult)
- Duration: 1 hour
- Address: New York, New York Il Fornaio Cafe/Restaurant
Our guests are usually to excited to sit down for a full breakfast on the first day in Las Vegas. We usually grab pastries and coffee at Il Fornaio Cafe or stop for a quick bite in the food court in Excalibur.
However, if you are looking for a convenient place for a full breakfast the American Cafe and Il Fornaio are located near the hotel registration desk within New York, New York.
The American Cafe:
Open 24 hrs. Average check - $16. Go on a culinary journey with food from coast to coast, all in one American setting under a 90X20 foot US Map. (Note: We usually split a plate here). http://www.newyorknewyork.com/restaurants/america.aspx
Open 7am – Midnight. Average check; $16 - $30. Full breakfast menu with seating on the interior patio at their restaurant. The restaurant is located under the escalator to the self parking garage near the entrance to Time Square and the Village Eatery. The bread basket receives rave reviews. http://newyorknewyork.com/restaurants/il-fornaio.aspx
New York, New York to Mandalay Bay
- Price: FREE
- Duration: 2 hours
- Address: 3790, 3850, 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. S
New York, New York
Address: 3790 Las Vegas Blvd. S
Tip: Ask the NYNY concierge for his secret map detailing the facade of the hotel. We will use it later in the tour. (Update: Since recent changes to the hotel the concierge is waiting for new maps-Summer 2015 )
New York New York Route to Excalibur
Welcome to the Big Apple; the “other city that never sleeps”. This tribute to New York is abuzz with excitement. We will proceed down Manhattan's Park Ave. Recent casino updates removed the bridge that spanned the reflecting pond and stream along with Central Park's trees draped in twinkling lights that shaded the casino floor. Las Vegas as a whole is tending away from themed casino interiors to more eco friendly interiors with simple clean lines, bold colors, flashy technological displays and a club scene that appeals more to the Millennial generation.
Continue walking to Times Square where the overhead marque displays “what to do today in NYNY”, stock quotes and more. Ahead, the Village Eatery is flanked on the left by Gallagher's Steakhouse, a NYC landmark since 1927, (the window display showcases their prime, dry-aged beef) and The Bar in Time Square on the right, home to the famous dueling pianos.
Tip: The Time Square Bar is usually packed so arrive early if you want a seat during the evening performance. Schedule/seat reservations.
As you head away from the concierge desk, the casino floor will be to your right and the escalators to the Coney Island Emporium, Roller Coaster and self-parking will be ahead of you and slightly to the left. The American Cafe, Il Fornaio Cafe and Il Fornaio Restaurant and Patio are on the left.
Walk between Gallagher's and The Bar in Time Square, then veer to the right just passed Starbucks, passing between the restaurant on the left and sports book on right to the casino exit. Go left and U turn to cross the 300-foot long recreation of the Brooklyn Bridge featuring open air seating at the front of NYNY. Exit the bridge to your left. Continue walking south to the Statue of Liberty.
The Statue of Liberty - NYNY
Above you are the facades of 12 iconic New York-style skyscrapers all one-third scale, including a 47-story Empire State Building. (We will get a better view of the facade later in the tour). America's symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty towers over the Strip. This 150 - foot replica is the largest replica of the statue in the world. It resides in a 450,000 gallon harbor.
Continue around the corner past the memorial plaque honoring firemen everywhere. Proceed up the escalator and cross the sky bridge over Tropicana Ave. to the Excalibur Hotel and Casino.
Sky Bridge to Excalibur
Excalibur Hotel and Casino
Address: 3850 Las Vegas Blvd. S
Excalibur Casino Route to Luxor
Before you stands a mighty castle with banners flying, home of the “Tournament of Kings Dinner Show” where an invitation to dine at King Arthur's table is a time-tested tradition of the highest honor”. Did you know Excalibur is the #1 purchaser of Cornish Game hens in the US? Check out the knights in shining armor, hanging banners and original stained glass panels depicting medieval times as we pass through the casino on our way to Mandalay Bay.
Moving Walkway into Excalibur
As you exit the sky bridge, veer to the right and proceed down the moving walkway, under the mythical draw bridge and into the realm of King Arthur.
Once you exit the walkway proceed to the left to Dick's Resort, then turn left. When you reach the center walkway, the escalators will be located to the left. Take the escalator to the second level, turn right and follow the signs for the moving walkway to the Luxor and Mandalay Bay.
You will pass by The Buffet, formerly called the Roundtable Buffet and the Steakhouse at Camelot . The Castle Walk Food Court will be to the left. If you did not grab a bite at NYNY get energized for the walk ahead with a delicious Krispy Kreme doughnut accompanied by a fresh cup of coffee or a snack at McDonald's. Proceed to the moving walkway, cross the sky bridge and descend into the tomb of the Pharaohs.
Entrance into the Luxor from the Excalibur moving walkway
Luxor Hotel and Casino
Address: 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. S
Luxor Route to Mandalay Bay
From the bottom of the moving walkway, proceed into the Egyptian pyramid. When you reach the main casino floor, turn left. Follow the overhead signs to the registration area. Turn right and proceed up the escalator to the second level for the best view of the famous Luxor Atrium.
From here the interior structure of the world's largest open atrium is revealed. Those terraced walkways reaching 36 stories into the sky above lead to the hotel's guest rooms. Can you spot anyone peering down at you? The exterior walls of the guest rooms are slanted to conform to the exterior look of the building. And, did you know there are no elevators in the pyramid? Travel up the interior of the pyramid is by “guest-only inclinators”, a type of elevator that slides sideways. Tower rooms with ordinary elevators are available for those who find the prospect of “inclinators” and 36 floors of open walkways daunting.
Continue walking to the right. We will pass the entrance to two exhibits: Bodies...The Exhibition and Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition as we circle the obelisk located in the center of the atrium.
Note: Should you not want to take photos of the Luxor and Mandalay Bay exterior features follow the wpassage through the Mandalay Place shops here. Proceed to the Mandaylay Bay Registration desk to pick up the walking tour.
Otherwise, U-turn around the central obelisk and proceed to the escalators located just past the ticket office on the right-hand side. Proceed down to the main floor and turn left to return to the main entrance.
Photo: Ticket Booth
At the main interior entrance, sculptures of ancient Egypt's mysterious Pharaoh's tower over those who dare enter into the chamber (casino) while colored, Egyptian hieroglyphics adorn the stone-textured walls. An incongruous model of the Titanic is also located in the passageway leading to untold riches inside the base of the pyramid.
Exit the Luxor Hotel and Casino via the main entrance behind you. Pass Anubis, ancient Egypt's jackal-headed god, who lounges before the casino entrance. Cross to the tramway. Walk behind the valet area, toward the tram for an interesting view of the sphinx. The size of this feature will simply amaze you.
Walk across the driveway to the Tram located behind here
Proceed around the bottom of the sphinx in the direction of the Excalibur (north) and take the first walkway down to the street level. Turn right (south). You will walk under the towering obelisk and cross the street to the entrance of the golden Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.
Walkway down to Las Vegas Blvd. from Luxor Tram
Luxor Hotel and Casino
As you walk in front of the Luxor there are some great opportunities for photos of the reflective onyx black pyramid, mysterious sphinx and towering Egyptian obelisk. Did you know with its identifiable pyramid shape and illuminating spotlight that emanates from its apex, the Luxor is one of the few man-made structures visible from space?
Entrance to Mandalay Bay
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino
Address: 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. S
Mandalay Bay Route with tram back to Excalibur
The entrance into Mandalay Bay is located at the corner of Mandalay Bay Dr. and Las Vegas Blvd. From the street corner, proceed through the landscaped gardens surrounded by lush foliage and rushing waterfalls, past the elephant reliefs, under the overpass, and across the narrow drive.
Turn left. Pass the parking entrance with the car barricade and proceed to the next entrance. It is located on the right.
We will enter the Mandalay Bay at the Beach Level. Enter through the glass doors with their signature golden elephant handles, turn left, pass through a second set of glass doors into the vestibule and head up the escalator on the left. Follow the signs to the hotel registration area (left off the escalator) to our first stop.
Entrance to Mandalay Bay
Striking architecture and lush tropical surroundings are the hallmarks of the 110 acre Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino located on the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip. It isn't hard to imagine you have entered into a Burmese colonial setting where chattering monkey's swing on thick vines, tigers lurk in the lush foliage and elephants walk.
Don't miss the beautifully crafted artwork behind the Mandalay Bay Reservations Desk, the hand-painted ceilings, and the view through the expansive window at the rear of the area. Take a moment to admire the exotic mechanical fans located above the exit doors to the street before heading to the rear of the property to visit the Shark Reef Aquarium and the famous sand beach and wave pool.Directions
The Shark Reef Aquarium and famous wave pool are located at the rear of the property. Proceed to the left at the hotel elevators. The casino floor will be to your right. Follow the overhead signs for the Shark Reef located near the Southern Convention Center.
Make a quick stop at the alcove just past the Aureole Restaurant to view the special four -story glass and steel rack where “flying wine angels” hook up to a series of pulley's and ropes to retrieve your special bottle from among the 50,000 bottles of wine and the classical reliefs that adorn the wall to the left as your veer around the corner at Starbucks.
Continue to follow the signs for the Shark Reef Aquarium and Southern Convention Center. You will pass a wall of windows with cushioned benches before it. From this vantage point you can watch as the swimmers brave waves up to six feet high. You will also be able to see the lazy river and the three pools that make up Mandalay Beach.
If you do not plan to take in the Shark Reef Aquarium today return to the restaurant area. Otherwise, continue walking to the left until you reach the Shark Reef ticket booth. Enjoy the predators of the deep.
Mandalay Bay Shark Reef
- Price: $18.00 (for a single adult)
- Duration: 1 hour
- Address: 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. S
Hours: 10am to 8pm Sun – Thurs.; 10am to 10pm Fri – Sat.
The Shark Reef: North America's only predator-based aquarium and exhibit
Touted as the only predator-based aquarium when it opened in 2000, The Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay will immerse you in deep blue waters where you will be surrounded by sharks, sawfish, giant rays, endangered green sea turtles, piranha and moon jellies. Walk through an acrylic-enclosed tunnel into an old shipwreck where 2,000 creatures from the world's tropical waters make their home in 1.6 million gallons of seawater. Be amused as children and adults alike tread lightly over the glass viewing portals located on the deck of the ship that allow you a peak at what is beneath you.
Plan at least one hour for this “diver's viewpoint” activity. Hand-held audio devices enhance your enjoyment of the 14 exhibits.
Directions: Return to the casino restaurant area. Turn to the left.
Red Square Las Vegas is located directly ahead flanked by a headless statue of Lenin and its famous subzero Vodka Vault with the motto, “better red than dead”. Do you know the location of Lenin's head? It's somewhere inside Red Square. Find out where when you check out the video menu. Open after 5pm.
If you do not want to wait until you reach the MGM for a meal, you passed several good choices along the path from the lobby to the restaurant area.
The Bayside Buffet: Open daily. Cost: $17-$32
The Noodle Shop: A traditional Chinese restaurant featuring authentic Cantonese and Mandarin dishes. (Average Check - $23)
Fleur: Enjoy the world's finest tastes presented on small plates - by Top Chef Master Hubert Keller or the Beer Brunch on Sunday. 11am-11pm (Average Check - $50) http://www.mandalaybay.com/dining/signature-restaurants/
To return to the Excalibur: From Red Square, proceed to the right through the passage next to the iridescent fountain. As you enter the main casino stick to the wall to your left and circle around the casino. You will pass the Mandalay Bay Box Office, the Mandalay Place shopping mall escalator, (Minus 5, the original Las Vegas ice bar is located at the top), and the voodoo art that decorates the walls of the House of Blues. The tram entrance is located just past The House of Blues on the left.
Mandalay Bay to Excalibur
- Price: FREE
- Duration: 15 minutes
Duration: Runs every 3-7 minutes, 24 hours a day
Route: Excalibur to Mandalay Bay with stop at Luxor
Location: Tram stations at each stop, follow signs
To access the tram, proceed up the escalator and turn to the right. Take “Track 2”, an express tram to the Excalibur. The Track 2 tram entrance is located at the back wall directly ahead of you. Trams run every 5 to 7 minutes. For the best view sit or stand on the far side, opposite the door where you entered. Upon arrival at the tram station follow the exit signs to the sky bridge level. Take an immediate right and cross Las Vegas Blvd. via the sky bridge to the Tropicana Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.
MGM and Lunch
- Price: FREE
- Duration: 1 hour and 45 minutes
- Address: 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S
Tropicana Las Vegas - a Double Tree by Hilton
Address: 3801 Las Vegas Blvd. S
Mandalay Bay Tram to Tropicana to MGM
From the Tropicana sky bridge you will have an opportunity to get some great skyline shots of NYNY, the MGM Grand Lion, Excalibur and the Tropicana. The entrance to one of the oldest properties on the Las Vegas Strip will be in front of you as you exit the escalator at street level.
The Tropicana recently underwent extensive renovations to convert its rhythm and vibe to that of a vibrant and exciting South Beach, Miami resort. It is worth the short walk to take a quick peak at the beautiful stained glass ceiling above the gaming tables. It is rumored to be “up for sale”. The Tropicana was renowned for its long running show “Les Folies Bergére”. The show ended its outstanding 49 year run in 2009.
(Note: The Mob Experience at the Tropicana closed its doors; visit The Mob Museum near Freemont Street for an inside look at the history of the mob.)
Passageway to corner of Las Vegas Blvd. and Tropicana Ave.
Exit the casino. Cross the driveway back to the sidewalk. Turn right, toward the sky bridge escalators to the MGM Grand. Take the passageway on the left leading to the curb on the corner of Las Vegas Blvd. and Tropicana Ave.
(Now is the time to dig out that data sheet you picked up from the concierge at NYNY, if available). How well do you know the New York City skyline? Make a contest out of identifying the buildings in the facade. Shoot some photos of New York, New York, Excalibur and the MGM from this popular photo spot.
Return to the sidewalk, continue up the escalator on the left and cross the sky bridge over Tropicana Ave. to the massive MGM Grand Hotel and Casino for our next stop.
Address: 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S
From the Sky Bridge, the entrance on the second level of the casino will be ahead of you, down a short flight of stairs and to the left as you cross Tropicana Ave.. When you enter the casino you will be on the mezzanine level. Proceed down the interior escalator on the right.
Update: The Lion Habitat was replaced with the Tap Sports Bar. The Lion Habitat's 35-foot glass walls offered guests maximum viewing capabilities including the experience of standing under the lions. The habitat housed direct descendants of the MGM Studio's marquee lion, LEO. You can still watch the African lions and cubs eat, play, sleep and groom themselves at the Cat House. The lions live in comfortable accommodations on the 8.5 acre ranch 12 miles from the MGM. http://thecathouse.us/
If you are looking for an activity at the MGM consider the CSI Experience ($28) where you can participate in solving a triple murder. Follow the signs to the pool which is worth looking at, too. Look for discount tickets or combo offers for a better value.
MGM Lunch Recommendations: http://www.mgmgrand.com/restaurants/
MGM Grand Buffet: Located directly across from the former Lion Habitat. Lunch: 11:00am - 2:30pm. ($19.99) http://www.mgmgrand.com/restaurants/mgm-grand-buffet.aspx
Wolfgang Pucks: ($18-$22 including beverage). At my favorite place, my husband and I split the large Chinois Chicken Salad with Candied Peanuts, Crisp Wontons and Chinese Mustard Vinaigrette (large portions), order a glass of wine and finish by sharing the yummy Chocolate Beignets with Caramel Dipping Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream. The wood oven pizzas are good, too. Located across from the KA theater gift shop. http://www.mgmgrand.com/restaurants/wolfgang-grill-bar-restaurant.aspx
Food Court: Typical fast food options. Follow the signs for the pool and MGM Garden Arena.Directions
From the Tap Sports Bar, walk between the escalator on the left and Centrifuge Bar on the right. Exit the casino through the double doors at street level. The Rainforest Cafe will be to your right. Turn left toward the intersection of Las Vegas Blvd. and Tropicana Ave. for a close up view of the 100,000-pound MGM lion above you. Return to the MGM entrance.
Las Vegas Strip Walk
Now let's stroll north down the strip toward M&M World where you will discover one of the “best” hidden attractions of Las Vegas. It is simply a walk down the Las Vegas Strip.
Along the way you will rub elbows with a variety of nationalities, run into a few celebrities like Elvis and Marilyn willing to pose with you for tips, meet a lot of “characters” (Superman, Big Bird, Sponge Bob) and be entertained by talented and not so talented junkyard musicians peddling CD's. Look for a street vendor handing out the Mac King Comedy Show coupons in front of the Showcase Mall.
Tip: Be careful about taking cards from the annoying street flickers (unless you are willing to pay for a “good time”). You will find their “R- rated wares” littering the streets.
3D Movie – I Lost My “M” in Vegas at M&M World
- Price: FREE
- Duration: 1 hour
- Address: 3785 Las Vegas Blvd. S. Showcase Mall
Movie Times: Top of the hour, 20 minutes after and 40 minutes after the hour. Movies play from 10 am -- 6 pm. Sunday through Thursday and 10 am. -- 8 pm. Friday and Saturday.
Duration: 10 Minutes
M&M World - What is your favorite color?
If you love M&M's stop in and visit a few of the recognizable M&M characters like Red, Green and Yellow. At this monument to all things M&M, located in the Showcase Mall choose your favorite candy coated delicacy then catch the free 3-D movie, "I LOST MY 'M' in VEGAS" starring Red and Yellow. Open daily 9 am. - 12 am. The movie is located on Level 3 just across from the “Design your own M&M's” machine.
A visit to Coca Cola World next door will educate and entertain you as you follow the history of this international favorite. The entrance is located next to the huge Coca Cola bottle that dominates the facade of the Showcase Mall. Sample flavors of Coke from around the world on the second level.
Directions: Return to MGM and cross over the sky bridge to NYNY. You will enter the casino on the second level.
Check out the new Hershey's Chocolate store on the right featuring a chocolate "Statue of Liberty" as you enter NYNY. Then on the way to the parking garage if you are still looking for adventure, proceed to the second level Big Apple Coaster and Arcade. Follow the arrows on the floor to the Coney Island style “Roller Coaster”. This exciting roller coaster twists, loops and dives around and through the resort at 67 miles per hour. It features the first-ever heart line roll, which provides a sensation similar to that felt by a pilot during a barrel roll in an airplane. Lockers are available for your valuables. Roller Coaster Hours: 10:30am to mid-night daily. Individual tickets: $14.00.
This completes our daytime tour. Rest or enjoy the pool at your hotel before heading out for this evenings adventures.
Buffet and Las Vegas Show
- Price: $100.00 (for a single adult)
- Duration: 4 hours and 30 minutes
Tonight would be a good night to visit one of the famous Las Vegas buffets and catch a special show. I recommend “Cravings Buffet” at the Mirage and “Mystere” at TI (Treasure Island) or any of the numerous Cirque du Soleil productions available.
Mirage Cravings Buffet: 3pm-9pm (Dinner - $$$$) http://www.mirage.com/restaurants/cravings.aspx
New: To Go Box Option $16
Other Mirage offerings: Samba Brazilian Steak House, BLT Burger, California Pizza Kitchen http://www.mirage.com/restaurants/
My personal favorite of the Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil shows is " Mystere". The company's first permanent production in Las Vegas is located at Treasure Island (TI). The powerful athleticism, high-energy acrobatics and inspiring imagery come to life in this intimate theater as aerial artists and drums fall from sky above you. Price: $69-$119. 7:00 pm. & 9:30 pm. Saturday through Wednesday. Please arrive 30 minutes early for pre-show entertainment. Check the website for other dark periods and Special Show and Dinner Packages. Note: Book in advance when considering this option. Discount pricing is available.
Good Buffet Alternative: Treasure Island - TI Buffet ($18-$32 pp) http://www.treasureisland.com/restaurants/the_buffet.aspx
Good show alternatives are:
Jubilee at Bally's (Vintage Las Vegas Showgirls-Adult) 7:00pm & 9:30pm Sun., Tues - Thurs ($60.25-$122.75) Mon. 7pm, Sat. 9:30
Blue Man Group at the Monte Carlo (Comedy) Nightly 7pm & 10pm ($74.95, $99-$149) http://www.venetian.com/Las-Vegas-Shows/Recurring/Blue-Man/ Update: Moving to Luxor in November 2015
Le Reve - The Dream at the Wynn (aerial feats) (from $105) 7pm. & 9:30 Dark Wed. & Thurs. http://www.wynnlasvegas.com/Shows/LeReve/Photos