When you say relaxing parents’ weekend away from the kids, your first thought usually isn’t “Vegas”. But our recent trip to Vegas proved to me that not only can you make it a fun, exciting location, it can also be a relaxing trip that lets you take the time to reconnect. It’s all in how you plan it. Recently we spent four days in Vegas WITHOUT the kids while they were away visiting the grandparents. We picked a hotel that had amenities that we loved. But when we wanted good food, fun or excitement we couldn’t find at the hotel, the strip and all its options. Check out what we did and what you should do if you want the perfect parent’s weekend in Vegas.
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Where to Stay
Where We Stayed
During our recent trip to Vegas, we stayed at the MGM Grand. It’s a massive resort right on the strip, across from the iconic New York New York. We booked a Standard King on points and picked the location because it had an incredible pool complex with a lazy river. But we discovered so much to love about the place. The concierge was amazing about helping us get restaurant reservations and spa appointments. We ate at a number of high-end restaurants, but we also ate at the food court and mid-level restaurants and didn’t really have a bad lunch or dinner (Unfortunately, we didn’t really find a breakfast place we liked in the resort). The room was comfortable with blackout curtains letting us sleep in every morning. There is still daily housekeeping service, something you don’t find much post-COVID. And being central and on the strip, we were easily able to get to their other resorts on the strip by walking, taking the bus, or grabbing a quick Lyft when we didn’t want to be in the heat.
Other Recommended Options
This isn’t our first trip to Vegas, and we have stayed in several other places we highly recommend.
If you want Pure Luxury: Bellagio – Very central to the strip, and this is a top-tier hotel. The rooms are comfortable and the bathrooms are huge. In addition, their service is top notch.
If you want affordable on the strip: Flamingo – The Flamingo is an older hotel, but it’s one of the cheaper on the strip and it’s right in the center. If you are going to Vegas to be out and about, and not in the room and resort, this is a good affordable option.
If you want the resort experience away from the craziness of the strip: Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa – I was skeptical when I stayed here for a girl’s weekend, but it ended up being amazing. Food options are great, it had the most amazing pool complex, and it’s right by the Red Rocks National Park. Since it’s off-strip, the rooms are bigger and cheaper, as well as the spa service. You need a car or Lyft if you want anything off strip, but if you want to be a bit further away from the chaos, this is an excellent option.
What to Eat
One of our weaknesses when traveling is spending money on good food. We love to eat out and at quality restaurants. We are always searching for restaurants with the top recommendations. On this most recent trip it was no exception and we had some amazing meals. Our top places:
Morimoto – This place is special for us. 20 years ago, my husband proposed to me at Morimoto’s original restaurant in Philadelphia. Since then, he now has 19 restaurants around the world. We were lucky and able to get reservations at Morimoto’s right in the MGM Grand. We ate the most amazing tuna tacos and pork sticky ribs. We also ate oysters that went down like butter. We had the most amazing fried rice and chose to share a chef selection of sashimi. And as an ode to the night we were engaged, we ordered unagi as our last savory course. The staff loved our story of the engagement and brought out champagne and dessert to celebrate our 20th engaga-versary.
Nellie’s Southern Kitchen – This was our last meal in Vegas and one of the best. Having a new executive chef, this guy brought his grandmother’s and mother’s Southern cooking to an elevated status. The food is so rich and so flavorful. My husband ate Chicken and Waffles and said it was the best fried chicken he’s ever had. I ate Shrimp and Grits and it was one of the most flavorful and rich dishes I’ve ever eaten. The only regret we had was that it was so rich I couldn’t finish it, and we were leaving the next day so I couldn’t take it home. And you will want to take the basket of biscuits and dump them in your purse to eat them all. I should have brought a bigger purse…
SuperFrico – This was a last-minute surprise. We had wanted to go to Mayfair Supper Club, but we couldn’t get time when there were performances. Our concierge suggested SuperFrico, where we could get a reservation. It was Italian food, and we had just eaten Italian, so we weren’t excited. I could not be more wrong. This turned out to be much better Italian food than the highly recommended restaurant we had eaten at the previous day. It had the best burrata salad, we wiped the plate clean. And my Beef Cheek Rigatoni was so incredible and rich. One of the best pasta dishes I’ve had in a while. But the reason we came was actually not the food, it was the show! The dancers brought the night out, dancing in the halls and on the tables. It was such a fun show and atmosphere.
Wolfgang Puck – We ate here when we landed and wanted a quick dinner. The Chinese Chicken Salad was so amazing, with fresh produce, excellent chicken and spices, and it was all mixed together in a way that each bit of salad had a taste of everything. The Crisp Pork Belly was messy, spicy, and still so good that I kept eating them even having to drink water in-between each bite. We also split the Seabass, and the fish was so fresh and buttery.
There are a few other places we have eaten over the years and visits that fit the bill:
- Sol Mexican Cocina – Costal Mexican Dishes with excellent guacamole, fish tacos, and margaritas
- Grand Wok Noodle Bar – Good Chinese food with excellent handmade noodles
- Eiffel Tower Restaurant – In the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Las Vegas it’s an excellent romantic restaurant with French cuisine and a view of the strip.
- Rouge Room – At the Red Rocks, it had one of the best brunches around.
- Yui Edomae Sushi – In a strip mall way off the Strip, this unassuming storefront has one of the best omoskasi menus available, including Wagyu beef where you can find out the name of who you ate!
What to Do (Besides Gamble)
Relax at the Pool – If you are in Vegas from March to October, then you are in Vegas during pool season! Many of the resorts have lots of great features in the pool including waterfalls, lazy rivers, fountains, etc. There are adult only pools, pools focused on families, and more. And usually, you can buy a day pass to a pool at a resort if yours doesn’t have as exciting a pool. There is usually plenty of free seating, but covered or shaded seating is scarce. If you want to confirm shaded seating, then you will want to rent a covered daybed, or cabana for the day. If you have a group, the cabana is always a nice way to spend a day, and it comes with a server and some food credit. We did that as a group of six girls and it made it much more affordable. But as a couple, you will likely want to look at renting a day bed.
Relax at the Spa – Almost every resort in Vegas will have a spa. Get a Mani/Pedi, a massage, or a facial. The Spa at the MGM Grand had a jacuzzi, snacks, and a relaxation room to use before our massage. It also had nice lockers and showers to use. Note that the spas at the resorts will likely be on the more expensive side, but if you look online, you will find a host of more affordable spa services just off strip.
See a Show – Since Elvis started his residency in Vegas, shows have become synonymous with Las Vegas. At the time of this article, both Katie Perry and Kelly Clarkson are in residency. But there are also a number of Cirque Du Soleil shows. The first one I ever saw was in Vegas, and it was Zumanity during an anniversary trip. If you love amazing feats of acrobatic and body movement, set to amazing music and with a story, you will love any of these shows. There are also a number of restaurants that have entertainment during dinner. We loved our experience at SuperFrico, but we hear amazing things about the Mayfair Supper Club. And many of the restaurants we went to had a singer, piano player, or guitarist playing during dinner. Finally, don’t forget the free shows you can see in Vegas. Every 15 – 30 minutes the Bellagio fountains put on a show. (Note: Currently due to the Formula One Race, the fountains are not visible from the strip, but they should return once the stands have been dismantled post the race) You can also see the story of Atlantis at the shops in Caesar’s Forum.
Special Exhibits – Vegas is full of special exhibits and experiences. Right in the MGM Grand is the Hunger Games experience for fans. We also did the Television City Experience, where we got to watch a pilot that has not yet aired and provide feedback in real time. At Treasure Island there is the Marvel Experience where you can see costumes and other props from the movies. At the Venetian you can ride the gondolas like in Venice and New York New York you can ride a roller coaster that goes in and out of the casino.
Shopping – Vegas can be known for a lot of high-end shopping, but there is plenty of shopping available for more affordable brands. We spent a day walking the Shops at Caesar and an evening at the shops in the Venetian. You can wander through window shopping the high-end brands and buying a small treat more in your budget.
Go to a Pool Party or Club – I had heard about pool parties, so when we ran into a club promoter the first morning, I took the opportunity to get on the VIP list for the pool party at Wet Republic, right near the MGM Grand. This is essentially a club atmosphere but during the day and at the pool. We came early (to get in for free) and got drinks then entered the water. The music was fun and everyone was dancing in the water. There were also champagne sprays for those who wanted to participate. Since we got in touch with a club promoter, she offered to add us to the VIP list for a few other clubs during our time there. I’ll be honest, we are old and ready for bed by midnight most nights, so we never ended up going to a club. But if you have more stamina than us, I think it would be a fun way to do some dancing and have some fun.
Get Off the Strip
Most of the experiences you hear about are centered on the strip and what’s available in the casinos on the strip. But Vegas has expanded and there are now lots of high end and fun experiences off strip that you can attend. Many are an Uber ride away, but some require renting a car. Note that driving on the strip is NOT advisable, so it’s better to plan your rental car time accordingly or use a service like GetYourGuide to take a tour off strip.
- Fremont Experience – Billed as old Vegas, this is where the original casinos of Vegas grew. It has great eats, history, a new LED lights display and zip lining!
- Red Rock Park – A National Conservation Area right outside Vegas, it’s a beautiful national park with some gorgeous red sandstone formations. There is a 14 mile scenic drive that lets you see most of the park and stop at several scenic overlooks. There are also great hiking trails and rock climbing if you are the athletic adventurous type.
- OmegaMart – A unique immersive art exhibit where you’ll find Bog Water and Whale Song Deodorant as well as hidden rooms and trap doors, this is not a shopping trip (though you can buy what’s on the shelves) it’s an experience. We have yet to visit, but only because the kids showed me this place and they really want to go so I’m waiting for them.
- Hoover Dam or Grand Canyon Tour – While not close to Vegas, they are a short-day trip away and several tour companies will pick you up from your hotel on the strip and take you out to visit these unique locations. Note that the Grand Canyon visits are generally at the South Rim, not the popular North Rim that you access from Flagstaff, Arizona.
- Gold and Silver Pawn Shop – Are you a fan of Pawn Stars? My Dad is! Apparently you can check out their store, just outside the strip and buy your own piece of memorabilia.
What to Wear
Just to let you know, I’m a committed carry-on only girl, and I have always been able to do that in Vegas, but it can be hard. Vegas is a place where you want to pack your fun outfits and look your best when you are out having fun. A few good tips.
Pack Comfortable Shoes for Walking – You are going to walk so much more than you imagine. Sure, it looks like something is the next casino over. But after you walk the mile in your casino to get out to the street, walk down the street to the next casino, and walked into that casino to find what you are looking for, you’ve already walked 1.5 – 2 miles. I traveled in my Rothy Sneakers or Teva Sandals. My husband loves his Sketchers Go Walk Sneakers.
Pack a Few Fun Swimsuits – Pool Parties in Vegas have a dress code, and proper swimwear. You want to wear your cutest swimsuit. I wore this fun, sexy one piece from Amazon. But I also love my high waisted swim bottoms from Target with a variety of tops. You will also want a cute swim coverup for walking to and from the pool through the casino.
Think about the heat – From April until October, you will have to consider the heat when you are traveling. Sure, the casinos are air conditioned, but the minute you step outside you will die if you don’t plan. I packed a lot of shorts and t-shirts and tanks. My favorite was this Dry Wick Athletic dress from Old Navy.
Dinner/Show/Clubbing Clothes – Many of the restaurants and clubs have a dress code. Some require a jacket, and most are no jeans. My husband brought a jacket and pants for dinner and shows. I brought a few fun, packable dresses I got from Target and Amazon. Going out culture is big in Vegas and the nights are always active and alive. Make sure to pack a few different dresses, or pack lots of accessories to help change your outfit.
People think of Vegas as a party town for the young. But even as middle aged, parents of a tween and teen, we found a way to have a fantastic parents’ weekend in Vegas. It was relaxing, fun, filled with good food, good shopping, and a good show. It was what we needed to reconnect away from the new and different hustle and bustle that is parenting older kids. Don’t be afraid to go to Vegas to relax and reconnect. Indeed, it can be one of the best places to find all you want and more.
* Edited by SKS