I have to start off with a very clear disclaimer: I never thought I would choose willingly to go to Las Vegas on vacation. I mean, isn’t Vegas all about glitz, glamour and the casinos? This has never been a source of attraction for me. I’m the type of gal who believes the height of fun is experienced while crafting and watching a sci-fi flick on a Friday night in my PJ’s surrounded by home comforts, including hubby, some gluten-free snacks, and our oh-so-cuddly cat, Napoleon.
But after my husband and I told our neighbour about our desperate need for a short vacation somewhere – anywhere – he suggested we give Las Vegas a try. Not only could we really relax there, he told us, but there is a lot to see and do besides gambling! So, on a complete whim one night, while trying to decide where to go – and not getting anywhere on the matter – I blurted out, “let’s just go to Las Vegas!” And so it came to pass 🙂 And let me say, it was an AMAZING vacation – albeit short. I would not hesitate to recommend it as a destination vacation for couples or families. As a couple of geeky sightseers, Las Vegas turned out to be a dream destination for hubby and I.
With just three days to spare, we had our work cut out for us, but I think we chose well.
The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden
By far the prettiest location in Las Vegas, ‘The Conservatory’ as it is known, was absolutely gorgeous! Located in the famed Bellagio resort and luxury hotel, the gardens are transformed each season by a team of horticulturalists to provide beautiful displays. This season featured Japanese zen gardening that was breathtaking.
Hoover Dam & Lake Mead
What would a trip to Las Vegas be without a drive to Hoover Dam? Constructed in the early 1930’s, the dam is over 700 feet from top to bottom and has enough volume of concrete to stretch across the US! We were certainly eager to catch a glimpse of this enormous construction.
But on the day of our trip, it seemed that everyone in Las Vegas was heading that way. If I could have, I would have turned back (so glad we didn’t), but once you are on the road, there IS no turning back. So, we kept our patience, crawling along with the rest of ’em 🙂
And so we inched along, coffee in hand…
And finally arrived!
But with so many at the site, every parking lot was full – that is, with the exception of the uppermost lot. This was a blessing in disguise because of the view that awaited us there!
The entire dam could be viewed from our little parking lot perched at the very top of the site!
Directly on the opposite side of the parking lot was a spectacular view of Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam’s reservoir – the largest in the US in fact, when full. The area has been experiencing a drought for years, however, and so Lake Mead has not been at capacity since 1983.
If you take a close look, you can see where the water line was at one time, which is right up around the black tops of the land below.
Red Rock Canyon!
After spending some time taking in the stunning views of Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, we decided to carry on to Red Rock Canyon that same day.
Red Rock Canyon is a National Conservation area located just 17 miles west of Las Vegas. For both my husband and I, this was the highlight of our trip. In contrast to Las Vegas, which is geared toward entertainment and gaming, Red Rock Canyon’s attraction is its rugged beauty and sheer size. The walls of the Canyon are as high as 3,000 feet. And the Canyon itself is a mix of large red rock formations and sandstone peaks.
Before getting to the Canyon, however, you will need to stop at the Visitor Center. This is where hubby and I took in some stunning panoramic views.
After exploring all the indoor and outdoor displays about its cultural and geographic landscape (geek alert!), we set off for the 13-Mile Scenic Drive all around the Canyon.
Along the 13-mile route, there are several overlooks where drivers can park their vehicles and get up close.
And the desert terrain all around had a raw beauty all its own.
There was also some really interesting plant life – like something from another planet 😉
These are just some of the stunning views we took in while driving around Red Rock Canyon. As with any trip, photographs cannot replace the experience of being there in person. We hope to be back again one day to do some more exploring of the Canyon where you can go on hiking trails, trail rides on horseback and so much more! (See Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association for more).
Shark Reef, Mandalay Bay Hotel
For those of you who follow me on facebook, you already would have seen our trip to the Shark Reef at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Hotel. The Shark Reef is a large aquarium with a volume of over 1 million gallons of water with a variety of sea life. Talk about geeking out!
And there are not only sharks in this aquarium – all sorts of exotic and interesting fish can be found there as well.
A trip to Las Vegas would not be complete without a stroll down the famed Las Vegas Strip. We did so on the last day, taking in the architectural wonders of the downtown core. The center of entertainment in the city, the Strip did not disappoint.
And the palm trees were everywhere!
Seeing as it was our last day, we could only explore so much of the Strip. We really needed several more days. Next time!
Design Inspirations Galore
As a home craft and design enthusiast, I could not help but take some snaps of decor inspirations while in Las Vegas. It was a real feast for the eyes, from Navajo-inspired, handmade crafts…
…to beginner’s weaving kits!
Our hotel was also a constant source of design inspiration. I couldn’t get enough of it. There were all kinds of suspended displays, but this one was by far my favourite.
Our hotel room was also pretty spectacular. I loved the geometric motif that could be found both on the walls (of our bathroom!) and in the carpeting.
Leaving Las Vegas
We really enjoyed our brief stay in Las Vegas! It’s such a beautiful city with gorgeous surroundings. My only regret was that we did not stay longer. There was so much more to explore.
For more tips on what to do in Las Vegas besides gambling, here are some great travel articles to read:
Although we are home now, we will always keep a little bit of Las Vegas tucked away in our hearts.
Viva Las Vegas 🙂