I'm not a party girl, nor a person who likes to drink a lot...or someone who likes spending money, so why would I want to spend part of my vacation in Las Vegas? Well, $30/night for a hotel room in the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino (one of the big strip hotels) is quite an incentive. Unlimited rides up to the tower and 2-for-1 unlimited rides on the extravagant "theme" rides on the top were also nice gifts included in the hotel price.
After spending the day in Death Valley we arrived in Vegas around dinner time. We entered the city by driving up the strip to our hotel and that was it for our Vegas Strip experience. Just from the drive-by though, I give Vegas great credit for making each hotel unique in design, accurate in its representations and bringing back great memories of Europe for me with the Venetian and Paris hotels. The exterior of the New York New York hotel was my favorite cause you couldn't tell which were hotel room windows and which were just part of the hotel's exterior design.
Walking into the hotel lobby/casino of the Stratosphere, it was a quite a sight for me. I'd never been in a casino before so my knowledge of them was limited to when Friends went to Vegas or the beautiful heist of Ocean's Eleven. Check-in took a half hour and I was surprised to see so many kids around. Las Vegas is sometimes thought of as an adult playground, so why would families choose to vacation here? It's not any cheaper than Disney World...I don't know, but if I were a kid, I'd rather be somewhere else.
Out itinerary had us staying 2 nights, and our plans non existent beyond the hotel reservation. We went to IHOP for dinner, a long 2 block walk from the hotel, and then spent the evening relaxing and watching some TV. We'd stayed in a few hotels so far but none were as nice as the Stratosphere and it was just nice to feel like we weren't roughing it for the entire trip. The beds certainly were a nice break from the tent we'd been in the last few days.
Next day, we spent an hour or so poolside and the skies were that impeccable bright blue. It was beyond relaxing in the sun, but with the powerful Vegas sun shining down, an hour was all we had in us.
We then grabbed a discounted lunch (courtesy of the hotel) which was too big for one meal so we saved the rest for dinner. Next was one of our two trips to the top of the tower. The Stratosphere tower is about 1150 ft tall which is about 2/3rds the size of the CN Tower and about 1/3 larger than the Space Needle. The elevator ride was crammed but quick, and we exited at the observation deck. Outside it was windy but the view of the Vegas strip and the surrounding neighborhoods was quite pretty.
After a little navigational issues in finding the correct entrances to the rides, we first braved "Insanity," a thrill ride shaped like a claw that spins you around while dangling riders over the edge. It actually wasn't that scary dangling over the edge, but they only spin you one direction and I don't do well with that kind of ride. So when that was over, once was enough and my stomach took a minute or two to settle. Next was "XScream" which is like the front of a roller coaster that shoots you over the edge, but stops before you really go over. I liked the premise but wasn't a fan of the ride. Maybe it was because we were in the back row so we didn't get the feeling we were supposed to, but who knows? The last ride, "The Big Shot" was AMAZING! This is where the unlimited rides deal came in very handy. Similar to many amusement park rides, "The Big Shot" is the 4-sided tower like ride that either shoots you up then drops really fast, or brings you up slowly before dropping you and bringing you back up again. This one shoots you up first and that thrill of going up that fast so high up was so completely awesome Molly and I couldn't get enough. That evening when we went back to view Vegas at night, we went on "The Big Shot" like 4 or 5 times.
Besides spending time chilling in the hotel room during the afternoon and eating our leftovers for dinner, we did dabble in a little gambling. It was Las Vegas after all. And we came out on the "plus" side after winning $10 in "Deal or No Deal"! Gambling is something think I could get quite addicted to if it were fake money, but since it's not, stopping after our big win was quite easy. We tested out a couple of games and learned the basic logistics of them, but they really need an instruction manual. Especially when you go into a casino thinking that games that look like slot machines still involved pulling a lever to play. We didn't go near any of the card tables.