Back in December, while in the middle of Toronto winter my two girl friends and I randomly brought up the idea to take a trip to Vegas. I was totally in, but I’m also not the person who will make the first move to get the show on the road. My friends on the other hand are great at taking the initiative. It was talked about it through text for about five minutes, and before I knew it they both had their flights booked! I’m super lucky and get amazing flight deals through my boyfriend, so there’s no way I could turn this one down.
This was my first time going to the south-western part of the U.S. (am I saying that right?). I found it weird how the three-hour time difference really affected my sleep patterns when only going from a few days (in combination with very late nights) – it’s VEGAS BABY! I had approximately 12 hours sleep in four days…
Being a twenty four hour city, our average bed time was 4am making that 7am Toronto time, which is my normal wake up time. My body didn’t know what to do and just wouldn’t shut down as much as I was tired. I still felt good during the day, but by the evenings I was exhausted. Either way it was a blast!
Now cue that post-vacay depression ….. wahhh.
Like every true girl’s trip, there had to be a theme song that we played a minimum of 37 times a day. I love having that one trip song, because there’s nothing like the nostalgia thinking back every time it’s played after.
We stayed at Treasure Island Resort & Casino on the Vegas strip. Apparently it’s considered a “family friendly” hotel, but we got a great deal on the room for four nights and were really happy with the location. The family component didn’t affect us in any way as there was still a mix of people. Even being an older hotel, all the rooms and amenities were nicely up to date. The hotel had everything we ever needed from Casinos (not like we’re gamblers), rental cars, shopping, CVS, Starbucks, restaurants, bars, lounges, shows and really anything you could think of!
We quickly learned that there are extra charges for anything and everything in Vegas. I flew in early Thursday morning and my friends didn’t get in until late that night. I was able to get an early check-in for a fee, it was still worth it. I mentioned at check-in that it was my first time in Vegas and asked if they could offer anything – why not try, right?! We ended up getting a better room on the 25th floor that overlooked the North end of the strip along with a bunch of 2 for 1 vouchers for restaurants and drinks.
Going back to services fees, one day I called housekeeping for a fork and they wanted to charge $12 dollars to bring it to the room – needless to say I put on my shoes and headed to Starbucks for a plastic one, oh well.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area:
I’m the type of person who loves seeing different landscapes when I travel. At first we wanted to check out the Grand Canyon but that’s still a 4-hour drive, which is a lot for one day when our trip when only a long weekend. We ended up renting a car in our hotel and taking off on a drive 35 minute down the road to a beautiful dessert park – Red Rock Canyon. The drive there was amazing. I must have said I love this about 72 times on the way. It was my first time in the desert – so obsessed.
I’m also such a heat girl, which is crazy because I’ve grown up in Canada my entire life – I swear I’ll never get used to winter – ever. I don’t do winter sports, I easily get cold and the drearily days leave me feeling very down with low energy. Canada, I love you dearly but I could totally move somewhere that is warm year around.
The drive to Red Rock was easy and so refreshing to not have to fight traffic like in Toronto. I was the driver and had no worries at all.
To enter the park, it’s only $7 USD per carload for the day. The park consists of 13 miles of scenic road where you can pull off to take in the landscape and do 43 different hiking trails. One thing I love about the desert heat is you don’t sweat… okay and cactuses – wait cacti? Whatever they’re called.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, Red Rock offers dune buggies, horseback riding, rock climbing and more. We just opted to the scenic drive and hike. I’ll definitely go back the next time I’m in the area. There are so many trails we didn’t get to because we got a late start to the day and only had the car until 4:30pm.
Food & Drinks:
There’s no shortage of food in this place, but one thing I quickly learned is there aren’t fully grainless options unless you want to spend an arm and a leg on a big steak dinner or eat salad all trip – what’s the fun in that?! The great thing is everywhere we went was very accommodating with gluten free options, I never felt left out!
Since I knew it was getting to Vegas 13 hours before my friends, my plan was to find a good restaurant with Wi-Fi where I could finish up my new site and get it launched! I ended up at Mon Amie Gabi located in Paris Las Vegas – thanks to some recommendations from you!
I was very impressed and have nothing but great things to say. They have a full gluten free menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner which even includes options such as pancakes and french toast! It’s very clear that everything is made fresh in house. They also have the most amazing homemade GF bread – literally the best I’ve had EVER. I was feeling something on the healthy side knowing I’d want to indulge later in the trip, which is why I didn’t go for anything too crazy and opted for their cobb salad (plus a glass of Sangria to start the trip off right). From the food to the atmosphere, it didn’t disappoint.
(My afternoon office as I put the final touches on the new goinggrainless.ca!)
The best thing we ever did was rent the car. After leaving Red Rock, we hit up Trader Joes and Walmart for food and drinks. Canada doesn’t have Trader Joes and I had a mini freak-out of excitement when I saw one in passing (my friends think I’m crazy), so naturally we had to stop in. I have to go every time I’m visiting the U.S. I was able to stock up on all the healthy essentials; kombucha (obvs), premade salads, dips, and some healthy snacks to keep in our room since we had a mini fridge. I don’t think I would have been as happy this trip if it weren’t for this. We also headed to Walmart for cheaper bottled water and alcohol – all those things on the strip is easily double the price and not as healthy.
On my Uber ride back to the airport at the end of the trip, I was talking to my driver about renting the car and he mentioned he gets a lot of people on the strip even taking Uber’s to Walmart to stock up since it’s not too far away – highly recommend doing so! You can still eat out, but won’t leave at the end feeling gross and in need of a major detox.
(A few of my fav Trader Joe’s finds)
After spending the day at Red Rock, we were ready for a solid meal. We ended up stumbling upon Yolös Mexican Grill in Planet Hollywood. This place is perfect for anyone who is gluten free. Almost the entire menu is corn-based and I had no issues with cross contamination.
We ended up ordering Taquitos, Tacos, Nachos and a pitcher of sangria to share. I cannot tell you the last time I had a taquito. They were AMAZING. Actually the entire meal was great, there was so much food we couldn’t finish it and the prices were very reasonable.This was a super rich meal and I definitely couldn’t eat like that the whole trip. Like I always say – it’s all about moderation! I didn’t feel guilty at all.
On the way out of Yolos, the sever told us they do karaoke at night and give free shots to anyone who participates. We didn’t do that, but letting you know if interested! After a long day of hiking and that big meal, we ended up taking a nap (my one any only) from 9 -11:30pm. It was so rough getting up after that, but the night was still young!
Another good place we tried was B&B Burger & Beer at the Venetian, although I wasn’t totally impressed how they spoke about being gluten free, you know, the whole “is it REALLY an allergy” thing… anyways there were no issues and we were all happy with our meals.
B&B has gluten free buns available for an extra $1. I opted for the Turkey Burger with Sriracha Romesco and split the loaded fries with the girls. They shared The Drive-Thru Burger and Chicken Sandwich on regular buns.
Before making our way to B&B, we were on a mission for In & Out Burger – I’VE NEVER BEEN and was so excited to give it a try since they do lettuce buns. It turns out, they closed on the strip for Easter Sunday so we missed out. So sad, I guess there’s always next time. As much as I was disappointed, I can appreciate them respecting their employees on Easter Sunday.
Due to all the food we bought off the strip at Trader Joes and Walmart, we didn’t eat out for that many meals. This is how I like to travel. I never feel guilty when I eat out, but I really enjoy my own healthier choices. For review purposes, I wish I had tried more.
After our meal at B&B, I was in dire need of a coffee, so we made at pit stop at Bouchon Bakery, which is also at the Venetian, just before going over the foot bridge to cross the street to our hotel. French Macarons are my most favourite [sugary] grainless treat so I grabbed two for my plane ride home the following day. I went for Raspberry and Salted Caramel – the caramel may have been the best thing I’ve tasted in my ENTIRE life! Omg I need to go back just for that.
Pool Parties, Night Clubs, Casinos and Old Las Vegas
Quite honestly this was the bulk of our trip and I was really bad at remembering to take photos because we were having so much fun! We all love dancing and DJ’s so we were in heaven! We got lucky having connections to everywhere we wanted to go and didn’t have to worry about a thing. It honestly made the trip. From no lines, booths to cabana’s we were happy girls!
The first night we had a booth at Omnia in Caesars Place to see the DJ Martin Garrix. I hadn’t drank more than a couple drinks in months and am a huge light weight. My body hasn’t metabolized alcohol well for awhile now and let’s just say I was HURTING the next day. That set the precedence for the rest of my trip (for myself, not my friends). I get awful hangovers, even after a few drinks and there was no way I wanted to feel like that all weekend. I tamed it down after that.
That morning I pulled my life together (it was real rough, I was seriously a sight for sores eyes) and we headed off to Marquee Pool Bar in The Cosmopolitan. Like the night before, we were able to get personally walked in by the promoter and he brought us to his booth with unlimited drinks and our own booth to hangout for the day. I had about 2 sips of alcohol before switching to water and I was totally fine with it. We danced and had the best time all day long! I don’t think I’ve ever danced so much in my life (until the following day).
That night we got preoccupied and missed our chance for the club so we ended up heading to Old Las Vegas – oh boy what an experience that was! Let’s just say it’s a much different cliental than the strip. It mainly consisted of very … interesting … men making inappropriate comments at us. We took in the experience, then headed back to the hotel.
That bring said it was really cool to see the older side of Las Vegas. Toronto peeps – you know the flashy Honest Eds sign? It’s like that x39482309. They also have zip-lining in there that I was totally into, but it closed at 2 am, so none for me. I’m such a child – love rides.
On our last full day, we hit up Encore Beach Club at Encore, which was across the street from our hotel. Let’s just say, Marquee the day before was just the warm up for this pool bar! At Encore we had to get our bags check before going in (standard), I had a Benadryl in my purse because I sometimes get allergic reactions and they wouldn’t allow it in – that and my friends pack of gum. Weird. Anyways, again, whatever. We go with the flow.
This was another day we danced the afternoon away and enjoyed the heat. Again I only stuck to a few drinks for the day. Being so hot out, ice water was my best friend. Around 6:30 we got back to our room to have a spread of apps for dinner that we got from Walmart and Trader Joes.
(because it was Easter!)
That final night I was utterly EXHAUSTED! As mentioned, I really didn’t sleep this whole trip and being in the sun all day also really knocked me out. I was fully dressed to go out for the night, but last minute told my friends to go without me. I need some alone chill time.
One thing about me is I identify myself as an introverted extrovert. I absolutely love being around people, but also need daily “me time” to rejuvenate. All the factors combined – I was done that night. Nothing against my friends, we were really the perfect travel crew!
As far as gambling goes, it’s not something I do. I literally spent $1 the entire trip on one slot machine just to say I did it – I won 20 cents after spending a dollar (haha). One of my friends wanted to test her luck at blackjack, so it was fun learning how to play and watching her give it a go.
Needless to say, it was an awesome weekend. The real problem is there’s never enough time and so much to do there!
Coming Soon: My travel natural toiletries and grainless snacks!