How to Do Family Time in Las Vegas, Nevada – Glitz, Lights, and oh yes, Buffets

There are many ways to experience Las Vegas – the most typical of them being going with your friends and experiencing the fun of a never-ending cycle of day drinking, pool time, evening shows, concerts that go into the late night, and endless food. But what happens when you hit up Vegas with your family instead and it’s the winter time as well? Well for me, it means you may not be able to have fun into the wee hours of the night, but there is always room for excitement and I’ve laid out how here.

Time we visited: January 2017
Type of travel: Small family (this type of travel included my two parents and my brother)

THE BASICS:

THE STAYING OPTIONS

If you want cheap, you can always do AirBNB outside the city and drive in, but I always always recommend to people that you stay on The Strip if you’re going to be in Vegas. That’s where the action and fun is and walking around that area at night never gets old.

Hotel prices range from cheap to exorbitant and prices really fluctuate from season to season. Since I was going with my family this time, we splurged a little and stayed at The Palazzo. This hotel is designed with an Italian Renaissance touch and the rooms were absolutely gorgeous. All the suite space was nice too 😉

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TRANSPORTATION:

My go-to transportation in America is Uber and Lyft. They are always reliable and now with them being so popular, there are Uber and Lyft pick-ups everywhere.

However, if you ever venture out and decide to do nature things, I always recommend renting a car.

KIND OF A PROLOGUE

Now I’ve been to Las Vegas several times. My cousins and I actually spent a good chunk of our childhood there – winters and summers. As kids, we would run around Circus Circus in the daytime and then be left in the hotel rooms at night while our parents ventured out to try and win some dollars. As we grew up and crossed the legal age, our Vegas trips actually became the Vegas trips you hear about. In all those times, I’ve always gone with my big family and the adults would hang out and my cousins and I would mostly do our own thing. Needless to say, this was my first time going as a legit family trip and I was a little baffled at first at what to do.

So I did the one thing that I always do when I’m confused – research. And after having an amazing three days with my family in Vegas, I’m sharing my itinerary with you all!

SUGGESTED THREE DAY ITINERARY:

Day 1:

  • We arrived in Las Vegas around noon and we all decided to kick off the day in a relaxing way by just getting checked into our hotel and then finding some lunch. Our itinerary for the first day mainly involved checking out Old Downtown Vegas.
  • Lunch: Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips. Now there are so many dining options in Las Vegas on the strip depending on the type of food you want and how fast you want that food. Now this Gordon Ramsay place specifically was a good option for lunch for a family on the hustle – fast and filling. Obviously the thing to get here is the Fish & Chips but the unique thing about the place is that you can get more than just fish options; there’s also shrimp, sausage, and chicken. There’s different chip flavors here and the best part is the six different types of sauces (which of course I tried them all). My favorites being Curry & Mango and Sriracha Aioli. It’s a small, crowded spot though so seating will be hard to find!

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  • Container Park: By the time we were done eating, it was well into the afternoon. The way I like to structure my trips with my family is seeing as much as we can while not doing too much because it would honestly just stress the heck out of them. Now the Container Park is on the famous Fremont Street so we basically started at that end and made our way down throughout the night.
    • This place is a very unique area of Vegas made from shipping containers. It looks like someone went nuts with the junk around the city and made something artsy. It’s an open-air shopping center with a few place to eat and a playground and treehouse for kids to run around. Honestly, it’s probably a pit stop for about an hour depending how much shopping you do.
    • Best part? The 55 foot steel Praying Mantis at the entrance. This was originally created by Kirk Jellum and Kristen Ulmer for the Burning Man festival and wow does it impress. At a certain time in the evening, it becomes entertainment as it shoots fire into the sky!

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  • El Cortez Casino: You can’t leave Vegas without gambling and my family loves to gamble. I for one – call me boring – don’t like it. I love watching people but I have zero luck at the slot machines and the tables. I lose $50 and I weep. Probably because I’ve always been a poor student or now a poor resident. But anyways, the best place to gamble in Old Downtown in my opinion is El Cortez Casino – it is the longest running casino (opened in 1941) and THE CHEAPEST! Compared to many other casinos, they have a lower buy in rate for all the tables.

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  • Dinner: Paradise Buffet and Cafe – Unfortunately, I do not recommend this place. I think we all know that buffets may not be the greatest place to find high quality food, but Vegas is the one place I have found traveling where the buffets are worth the price. Mainly because they have some of the most creative buffets in the world. This place my family and I ventured into off Fremont Street was basically just because we were all so hungry and did not have the patience to go anywhere else – oops.
    • The options were subpar, many of the options that were promised on the menu weren’t even there, and the food quality was low low low. I may sound like a harsh critique and it may be someone’s else cup of tea, but when I’m traveling, the one thing that sours my mood is okay food at a heavy price.

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  • Fremont Street Experience: Besides The Strip, this is one of the best places to be at night. Every night, the street lights up in colors and music in a beautiful overhead light show. There are concerts in different parts of the street and you can go from casino to casino (like Golden Nugget) while enjoying the high spirit of Fremont! Not to mention, there is a SlotZilla zip line that runs across the majority of the street!
    • Viva Vision Light Show – lasts 6 minutes and runs every hour starting at 6PM and last show at 1AM. These times may vary with the season.

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Day 2:

  • My family’s day two of our trip was dedicated to exploring The Strip.
  • Lunch: Eggslut. I’ve been dying to try Eggslut for a long time. I’ve been to LA numerous times and have failed to get it each time just because the line is so long. Well there’s one in Vegas in The Cosmopolitan. And yes, the line was long again but it actually didn’t take us a while to get through it! We ordered the Sausage, Egg, & Cheese Sandwich, Fairfax Sandwich, and the Slut. I’m always afraid that with places like this, the food doesn’t live up to the hype but it was quite the contrary! The brioche bun was warm and delicious and the eggs (especially in the Fairfax Sandwich) was super fluffy and flavorful with the Sriracha mayo and cheddar cheese. The Slut which is an egg poached on top of potato was a good concept but probably too bland for me.

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  • Bellagio Gardens: There is a garden area in The Bellagio that changes its themes depending on the holidays. I was there near the end of Christmas time so I unfortunately missed out on the entire garden since it was under construction. Boo. So gonna need better timing for this one if you wanna see it!
  • Casino Jumping: One of the best parts about staying on The Strip is the ability to explore it at any time of the day. My recommendation to any new traveler to Vegas is spend some time wandering down The Strip, looking at the different hotels and admiring the different cultures. You can jump from hotel to hotel gambling and exploring and it would take up a whole day!
  • Bellagio Water Fountain Show: This is just one of those things you always see on TV when they broadcast commercials about Vegas. It’s beautiful during the day and at night! It occurs every half hour from 3PM. Every 15 minutes from 8PM.
  • Buffet Dinner: I always recommend to any Vegas traveler that you need to try one of their famous buffets before you leave. It’s for a pretty penny but the buffets here are done so well and range from extravagant preparations to endless amounts of seafood (and I’m talking about the kind of seafood you want (oysters, king crab, shooters) – not just snow crab legs and shrimp). Check out my post on the breakdown of buffets on The Strip!
  • Night Show: One of the greatest things in Vegas are all the different shows at night! If you have the money to spend, I highly recommend seeing one of these after dinner. Now there are so many ones to choose from and I’ll recommend two of them based on price range.
    • Cheaper: Zombie Burlesque
    • More Expensive: Any of the Cirque de Soleil shows – I watched Ka with my family which was absolutely amazing. Whenever I’m in Vegas next time, I definitely want to see O!
  • Night Life: No matter how late it is, there is always something going on in some part of Vegas so if you’re a night owl or want to party until the morning, there’s always bars, clubs, and concerts. But since I am writing a post on a family trip, I’ll tell you how my family and I wrap up the night. We gambled in the casino at The Palazzo where we stayed and my brother and I got drinks at the bar. Sounds boring but it was a good night for my family! You gottta do what’s appropriate for your family.

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Day 3:

  • Our third and last day was dedicated to leaving Sin City and exploring Nevada nature. Now my parents did not want to go too far so we decided to stick close by and head to Red Rock Canyon. We wanted to do Hoover Dam too but it was a lil too ambitious for one day since they are opposite directions.
  • Transportation: I highly recommend you get a rental car if you plan on exploring Red Rock Canyon. Actually, it’s probably more of a requirement if you want to do the 13 mile scenic drive which was our plan!
  • Lunch: Flock and Fowl. We needed to get out of Vegas a bit and try something else since we had the car with us, and we ended up at the perfect restaurant. Flock and Fowl is a restaurant that specializes in one of my favorite dishes: Hainanese Chicken Rice. If yall don’t know what it is, it is basically rice cooked in ginger and garlic served with roasted or braised chicken with veggies and a dipping sauce. And perhaps some soup. I know it sounds so simple but just wait until you try it. Here we ordered the Signature Hainanese Chicken Rice with traditional Hainanese Chicken and Roasted Spring Chicken. It came with cucumbers, ginger scallion sauce, chile, soy sauce. You can add a fried egg, Chinese sausage (my fav!), or chicken bone broth.
    • We loved our food so much that we knew we needed something to go for our small road trip. Hence, we ordered the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Bao because I am a sucker for all things bao. And it was soooooo good!

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  • Red Rock Canyon: This is a gorgeous conservatory area about 15 miles away from Las Vegas. The area is a popular place for hiking and climbing, but for my less than athletic family, there is a gorgeous 13 mile scenic drive for $7 per car. Really a great deal! Along the scenic route, there are many safe spots to stop at and capture some beautiful photographs. There are also areas that are easier to hike around. The rocks are absolutely gorgeous and even more breathtaking in the sunset!

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  • Buffet Dinner: That night my family and I hit up the Rio buffet. Not as great as the Bacchanal buffet but it was decent in the fact that we were incredibly hungry.

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OTHER PLACES TO EAT/DRINK (I’ve only listed what I’ve also tried or was recommended to me by trusty people):

  • Chandelier Bar at The Cosmo – this bar is so incredibly gorgeous! A must stop by for sure if you have the chance!
  • Earl of Sandwich – it’s opened late and it’s a damn good sandwich
  • Lotus of Siam – easily one of the best Thai restaurants I’ve ever been to in America. You have to order the Nam and the Crispy Duck Panang Curry
  • Hot n Juicy Crawfish – I haven’t had the food at this Las Vegas location but I’ve had it in Washington D.C. and it is HANDS DOWN my favorite Cajun boil place in America.
  • White Castle – one of my favorite fast food chains!
  • Secret Pizza – my cousins and one of my best friends raves on this place. Just because it’s an adventure to get there, it stays open super late, and they serve great pizza. This is my next stop if I’m ever back in Vegas. Located on the 3rd floor to the right of the elevator and looks like an arcade.

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So what are your recommendations, to-dos, and where to eats in Vegas? Share below!

Happy traveling,

-Monica

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5 Comments

  1. March 3, 2018 / 07:17

    Your family looks adorable! My favorite photo is the fried chicken at red rock canyon haha. I will definitely go to Vegas one day. Thanks for these awesome suggestions!

    • March 3, 2018 / 12:03

      Hi Viola! Thank you!! That fried chicken bao was so good! And having it on the road made the scenic drive even more worth it! Hope you enjoy Vegas in the future!

  2. March 3, 2018 / 14:04

    We’re heading that way next month and even though we plan to spend most of our time outside the city, this definitely helps for our day there. We’re hoping to see a show but haven’t decided which yet.

    • March 4, 2018 / 11:55

      Hi Michelle! I hope you all have a great trip! I definitely recommend one of the Cirque du Soleil shows if you’re still trying to figure out a show in Vegas!

    • March 4, 2018 / 11:56

      Hi Michelle! I hope you have a great time on your trip! I definitely recommend the Cirque du Soleil show if you are still looking! 🙂

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