Last weekend, Jordan was invited to preach at a church in Las Vegas, and since he’d never visited the city, we figured we’d make a trip out of it.
And since I’ve gotten to visit Vegas a bunch of times (you can see a recap of my last trip here), I made plans for us to explore a balance of things both on and off the Vegas Strip. We landed on a Saturday around midday, so we headed to the Venetian to have lunch at Yardbird. We’d heard lots of good things about the location in Miami, but didn’t have time to try it on our last visit. So we were excited to learn about the Vegas location. We shared their famous chicken ‘n watermelon ‘n waffles, and it was on point.
From there we walked through the Venetian and Ceasars Palace, doing a lot of window shopping and filling up on the kind of mall life we never get in NYC.
We checked into our hotel in an area called Summerlin, which is about 15 minutes away from the strip. This was my first time visiting Vegas and staying off-strip with a rental car, and it gave me such a better appreciation for the city as a whole. In the same way I encourage people visiting NYC to make Times Square one quick stop on a list of many, I see how the strip is one small aspect of what makes Las Vegas.
As the sun was setting, we headed to the Neon Boneyard to learn some of the history of Las Vegas and to see a ton of salvaged vintage neon signs. Visually, it was all really dope to look at, and I can see why a lot of people choose it as a location for engagement photos and even weddings. It was also really cool to hear the history behind how Las Vegas was built up over time.I definitely kept falling behind the tour group as I tried to take pictures to capture it all. After the tour, we headed to the Paris hotel for dinner at Mon Ami Gabi. Since a lot of the hot spots in Vegas are restaurants we can find in NYC or other cities we’ve visited, I’m all about picking spots with the best ambiance. We requested a patio table at Mon Ami Gabi, which meant we were able to do a ton of people watching as we sat across the street from the famous Bellagio fountains. And any of you who’ve been to Vegas know that the people watching is interesting, to say the least. The next day was Sunday, which meant Jordan preached during four worship services. During his break, we grabbed lunch at DW Bistro, a restaurant off-strip, which a ton of locals recommended. The place serves Jamaican/New Mexican fusion food (who knew this could be a thing?). And you know it must be good when Carrot Top walks in and sits at the table next to yours, lol. Again, the people watching in Vegas is so good.On Monday morning, we hopped in the car and headed northeast from Vegas, to the Valley of Fire State Park. The park is a little over an hour’s drive, and as soon as we got into the park, the views became pretty stunning. Huge red rock formations stood in front of us, jutting up to the sky. The rock formations throughout the park were formed 150 million years ago from sand deposits. We parked the car to hike a bit, and while I didn’t show my apprehension to Jordan, I was seriously wondering if we would be the only crazy ones out there in the 100+ degree heat. Thankfully, we soon spotted other people on the trail, and the hike was well worth it.Walking around this place seriously felt like we’d gone to another planet.We also met a ton of European tourists, which made me think there are probably a lot of Americans who don’t know this place exists, or they just take it for granted. So much cool stuff to see in this country of ours!There’s even a section where you can spot petroglyphs/ancient art created more than 4,000 years ago by the Native Americans who lived in the area.So much to see and explore in this place, but also relatively small and easy to do for a day trip.We headed back to Vegas and spent the afternoon hanging by the pool at our hotel. And after a few hours of down time, we headed to the Bellagio for dinner at the restaurant Lago. Now, while the views of the fountains from Mon Ami Gabi were something special, sitting at Lago was completely unmatched — the only thing that separated us from the fountains was the glass wall next to our table. And the food was great too.The next morning, we caught an early flight out of Vegas to head home, feeling really grateful to have had the time together and to experience a side of Vegas that a lot of visitors tend to miss.
Photo of Yardbird food by Tracey-Ann Jarrett.