Guatemala City – The largest city in Central America

GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA: Guatemala City is the biggest city in whole Central America (by population) and the capital of Guatemala. After Antigua was destroyed by an earthquake in 1773, It became the capital of this country.

The name “Guatemala” means a place of many trees. This is one of the few countries in the world, interestingly, with the Atlantic one side and Pacific on another side. 3 of the most important volcanoes in Guatemala are Fire (Fuego) Volcano, Water (Agua) Volcano, and Pacaya Volcano. While Agua Volcano can be seen from the city, Pacaya is about an hour and half drive from the capital. Both of these volcanoes can be accessed and climbed by anyone.

Let me start by saying, Guatemala City is huge and very scattered, as far as the touristic places. To save myself some time, money, and energy, I booked a guided tour online before I reached Guatemala, called Guatemala City Tour. It was $29 per adult for a 3-hours tour. We were picked up by Gray Line Guatemala around 2:15pm and were dropped off a little after 5pm. It was a very rushed tour, especially because of the bad traffic conditions in the capital.

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A vendor in Mercado Central in Guatemala City

Some important facts: for US citizens, you don’t need a visa if you are going to be staying in Guatemala for 90 days. And 1 USD was about 7 quetzal during my visit in November 2019. 

 The capital is divided into 21 zones and Zone 1 is the historic center with old architectural touches. Getting in and out of Guatemala City overall is very time consuming because of traffic jams, especially during rush hours. “Chicken Bus” is a popular transportation system here for locals to carry goods from one market to another. But for tourists, I didn’t feel it to be that safe, especially if you don’t know the culture or language or if you are traveling alone or at night. 

If you can spare a couple days in Guatemala, visiting Tikal would be an ideal getaway to see a very important Mayan site. It’s recommended that you take a plane to Tikal, driving can be long and exhausting. I personally could not make it to Tikal…something to check out next time I am here. 

MY HOTEL: I stayed in “Oh Espana”…a bed and breakfast-style accommodation in Zone 13 in Guatemala City. The capital is divided into different zones; make sure to pick your hotel carefully, as some zones are not safe for the tourists. The owner lady and the cook were very friendly and helpful. Inside was very nice as well with a bed and breakfast feeling. Although a traditional breakfast was included, the location was not that great. It was in some kind of a military residential neighborhood…very safe and gated. But there were absolutely no restaurants or stores within walking distance. Thanks to my ramen cup noodles that I brought from home, which I had to eat for few of my dinners. It was only 3 minutes drive from the airport, and the hotel had free shuttle service…but again, I wouldn’t stay there again next time I go to Guatemala. 

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My Guatemalan breakfast at my hotel Oh Espana in Guatemala City

 

My recommendation, if anyone is going to Guatemala for a vacation, is to stay in Antigua. It’s about an hour away from the airport and costs about $20 per person for each way. You can book it online/Viator in advance for a better deal. But once you are there, it’s heaven. I know for sure, if I ever go back to Guatemala, I’ll stay in Antigua…especially Hotel Porta Antigua, which looked fantastic inside and out. 

TIME of TRAVEL: I visited Guatemala during the long weekend of Thanksgiving, 2019. I had 3 full days to roam around different parts of the country. 2 more extra days here would have given me the flexibility to visit Tikal, the famous Mayan ruins site in Central America. It gets pretty chilly at night and early morning around this time of the year. During the day time, you can go out with a t-shirt and it’s very pleasant. But if you are traveling with kids in November to Guatemala, I would recommend carrying a sweater.

EATING and SHOPPING: The day I spent some time in Guatemala City was the only day I had breakfast at my hotel with eggs, fried plantains, beans, freshly squeezed juice, fresh fruits, and locally brewed Guatemalan coffee. I never miss having fried plantains at any meal…something you may want to try when you are in this part of the world.  

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Some local food in Mercado Central in Guatemala City

One of the dinners that I had in Guatemala City was at famous Pollo Campero. It’s a local fast food chain for fried chicken and biscuits. There are plenty of street food options in Guatemala City, but I would be careful of their hygiene and the way they handle food. 

Coffee, chocolate, vanilla, jade jewelries, textiles, pottery, hammocks, masks, and wooden trinkets are some of the popular gifts to buy from Guatemala. When in the capital, check out their underground market, Mercado Central, to go souvenir hunting or to buy fresh produce. 

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A line of souvenir stores in Centro Historico in Guatemala City

PLACES I’VE VISITED: As I mentioned before, I only spent a couple hours in the capital city with a tour company. To get around the town, tuk-tuk can be a nice ride but it does have the reputation that drivers sometimes rob the tourists or charge absurdly high prices if not bargained beforehand. 

Museo Popol Vuh is supposedly one of the most famous museums with a nice collection of archaeological items from the pre-Spanish Mayan world. Also if you get time, Plaza de la Constitucion (Parque Central) and Plaza Berlin are couple other touristy destinations. 

  1. AVENUE of the AMERICAS: This is a long boulevard which we just drove by slightly stopping at a couple places for only a few seconds. This is a long stretch of corridor honoring countries who kept good relationship with Guatemala. We passed many statues of different presidents, politicians, writers from American countries like Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Chille, Argentina, Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and etc. A statue of the Pope, who came to visit Guatemala, can also be found here. This is one of the most important avenues in the city. 

Avenue of the Americas is located near a very rich neighborhood with luxurious apartments and residential houses. The park is closed on Sundays. 

2. AVENUE REFORMA: Like above, we didn’t stop anywhere on this long street of historic landmarks. Avenue Reforma was built in the late 1800s and throughout the 20th century, many more sculptures were added honoring notable people from the history of Guatemala. With about 2.26km length, it’s considered as one of the main thoroughfares of the capital. The boulevard has many statues of Guatemalan writers and past reformers. Two of the main statues that I remember our tour guide mentioned were Mother’s Day statue and a statue of the writer of 1st Guatemalan constitution. 

From the Avenue Forma, we passed by Mayan Language Institute, USA Embassy, and Iglesia Jurita which was a red Baroque style building…looked stunning from outside. 

3. ZONE 4: This is the civic center of the city with many of the important government and other buildings, like National Bank of Guatemala and Guatemala Tourism Building. Republic Plaza is a beautiful roundabout. We just drove by Zone 4 without stopping anywhere. 

4. CENTRO HISTORICO – Historic Center of Guatemala is located in Zone 1. This is one of the busiest areas in the city with elegant colonial style buildings. Many important government buildings can also be found here. There are some free guided/walking tours to explore Zone 1 – the historic center of Guatemala City.

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Historic Center of Guatemala City
    1. NATIONAL PALACE – Situated in Plaza Mayor, the National Palace was built between 1939 -1943. This was the most important building in the country at one point and was the headquarter of the President of Guatemala. The elaborate and imposing exterior of the building was designed in Renaissance and Spanish Baroque styles. We didn’t have time to go inside but there are organized tours that you can take you to get a peek at the interior courtyards, official rooms, wall murals, and decorative art works. 
    2. PASEO DE LA SEXTA/6TH AVENUE: This is a beautiful pedestrian zone in Guatemala City (a few minutes walk from the National Palace) with lots of stores and restaurants. Take a stroll on 6th Avenue to have a true cultural experience among Guatemalans. This is the heart of the historic zone in Guatemala City. There are few small parks around this area for locals mainly but a good atmosphere during day time to relax and do people watching. 
    3. CATHEDRAL of GUATEMALA CITY or METROPOLITAN CATHEDRAL: Built by the Spaniards somewhere from 1778-1850, this was a beautiful cathedral to visit. It’s big and bold inside and out. The marbles here were brought from Italy. 
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Metropolitan Cathedral in Guatemala City

5. MERCADO CENTRAL: This was our last stop of the tour. You can spend a good couple hours exploring this unique underground market in the heart of Guatemala City. There are plenty of fast food/street food restaurants here serving typical Guatemalan dishes for very cheap prices. Inexpensive clothings, shoes, and leather goods can be found here too. But what I loved here was that you can get all kinds of tropical fruits in Mercado Central for a very good price. We barely had less than half an hour to spend here and I was able to buy a jade pendant for my daughter for 75 quetzal. 

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Mercado Central – an underground market in Guatemala City

 

 

What to Consider When Buying Your First Snow Skis

Skiing in a snowy mountainside can be an exciting adventure for someone who is getting into the sport. Though before you slide down the snow-covered slopes, you need to get snow skis that fit your level of experience.

But buying a snow ski for someone who does not have any experience can be difficult. Considering that even a seasoned skier might find themselves falling into the pitfalls of getting the wrong accessories, which will not only make their skiing experience uncomfortable but risky as well.

The Most Important Consideration When Buying Skis

There are lots of skis available in the market, and more often, people fall prey to its attractive design. One important thing to remember before buying such equipment knows your skills level. There are different types of skis from those that carve turns with fast charges to the surfy and bouncy skis.

If you’re a beginner, understanding the different types, how a camber and rocker work, and the right ski length will help narrow down your selection. Here are some essential details you should check when buying a ski:

  • Choose a ski based on terrain: Often omitted by beginning skiers, the ground should speak a lot about the type of equipment you should purchase. There are several skis available in the market based on the terrain where it is going to be used. This includes downhill skiing, free-riding, terrain park, and powder skiing.
  • Have a general idea about the length of the ski: Skiing experts always advise selecting a ski that reaches your chin to possibly the top of your head. You can also use a size chart when buying, for a precise fit.
  • Ski dimensions affect your skin quality: As a general rule, always look for snow skis based on your skiing style. For example, wider skis provide a bouncier and flotation effect in deep snow while angular skis are made for carving deep turns and groomed runs.
  • Know how a ski’s camber and rocker will affect your ski experience: The rocker of a ski is the early rise of the ski profile, found between a full camber and a reverse camber. If you prefer skiing on groomed slopes, a snow ski with a traditional alpine camber or one with a tip rocker might be fitting. But if you’re more on the daring side of the adventure and prefer deeper snow, a tail and tip rocker or even a full rocker snow ski will be the ideal choice.
  • Consider a separate or an integrated binding: A ski binding is a device connecting the ski to your ski boots. Built-in binding is more convenient and provides quality performance and suitable for beginners. For skiers with an intermediate to advanced skiing levels, a separate bind can be an optional choice.

Getting the best out of your skiing experience

Skiing is a beautiful sport that helps boost your mood, strengthen your lower body muscles, and improves your flexibility. But with all benefits, being prepared with the ideal equipment from gears to snow ski is a must.

Getting the right ski for your first adventure will not only help you gain a better skiing experience but provide a level of safety and comfort. Always understand that buying a ski takes into account specific criteria to match your level of expertise and the amount of experience you want to have.

 

 

Chichicastenango – one of the oldest Mayan Markets in Central America

CHICHICASTENANGO MARKET and LAKE ATITLAN, GUATEMALA: Visiting Chichicastenango Market is almost a must if you want to experience the unique culture and centuries old history of Guatemalan Mayans. This is a perfect place to talk to the locals, get a glimpse of their lifestyle, or just to enjoy their daily hustling while doing some shopping. 

There are 25 different cultures in Guatemala and 22 of them are from Mayan ethnic group. Unfortunately, (what our guide told us) Mayan language is only taught in private schools here now. 90% of the highlands people in Guatemala are Mayans and visiting Chichicastenango gives you a small window to that rich heritage. 

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A scene of Chichicastenango Market in Guatemala

This was my first excursion in Guatemala. I booked this online couple weeks before reaching the country. It was $75 per adult for a 12-hours of day trip from Guatemala City, organized by Gray Line Guatemala. We were picked up around 6:30am and were returned to our hotels around 7-ish in the evening. Lunch was included with the package. It was a small group of only 6/7 people in a big van. I won’t lie, this was a long trip and we were in the car for more than 3 hours before reaching Chichicastenango Mayan Market. But I have to say Gray Line Guatemala was a very friendly and accomodating tour company and I loved our guide, Juan Pablo. 

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Chichicastenango Market in Guatemala

MY HOTEL: I stayed in “Oh Espana”…a bed and breakfast-style accommodation in Zone 13 in Guatemala City. The capital is divided into different zones; make sure to pick your hotel carefully, as some zones are not safe for the tourists. The owner lady and the cook were very friendly and helpful. Although a traditional breakfast was included, the location was not that great. It was in some kind of a military residential neighborhood…very safe and gated. But there were absolutely no restaurants or stores within walking distance. Thanks to my ramen cup noodles that I brought from home, which I had to eat for few of my dinners. It was only 3 minutes drive from the airport and hotel had free shuttle service…but again, I wouldn’t stay there again next time I go to Guatemala. 

My recommendation, if anyone is going to Guatemala for a vacation, is to stay in Antigua. It’s about an hour away from the airport. But once you are there, it’s heaven. I know for sure, if I ever go back to Guatemala, I’ll stay in Antigua…especially Hotel Porta Antigua looked fantastic to me inside and out. 

TIME of TRAVEL: I visited Guatemala during the long weekend of Thanksgiving, 2019. I had 3 full days to roam around different parts of the country. 2 more extra days here would have given me the flexibility to visit Tikal, the famous Mayan ruins site in Central America. It gets pretty chilly at night and early morning around this time of the year. During the day time, you can go out with a t-shirt and it’s very pleasant. But if you are traveling with kids in November to Guatemala, I would recommend carrying a sweater.

EATING and SHOPPING: Our lunch was included in the package and it was in Chichicastenango Market. It was in a cozy, 2-floored restaurant, called St. Thomas. While I was waiting near the balcony on the 2nd floor and looking out the door to the local vendors on the street, I was served with some black corn tortillas with a bowl of soup. For the main dish I ordered chicken in papiene sauce (a pepper sauce) that came with potatoes and avocado on the side. While I didn’t really enjoy the chicken main dish, the soup and the black tortillas were amazing. The restaurant itself is decorated beautifully with colorful local decors and comes with very friendly waiters. 

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My delicious lunch – black corn tortillas with soup in Chichicastenango Market, Guatemala

FYI, with 10 different species of corn in Guatemala, I guess, trying out different types of corn is a must. 

Chichicastenango Market is a heaven for souvenir hunters, like me. It’s a colorful and attractive outdoor market with variety of items from fresh vegetables, fruit, and local dishes to textiles, wooden masks, potterries, and other decors. Most of the vendors here are Mayan women. Don’t forget or feel frustrated bargaining with each vendor…it’s their culture, so enjoy it without overthinking the process or fear of losing money or getting a better deal somewhere else. I bought 6 small wooden bowls for $20 and 5 table runners (combination of cotton and silk table runners) for $120, which I later found out, I probably could have gotten these a bit cheaper price. 

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Traditional Central American dolls in Chichicastenango Market, Guatemala

Coffee, chocolate, vanilla, jade jewelry, textiles, pottery, hammocks, masks, and wooden trinkets are some of the popular gifts to buy from Guatemala. 

PLACES I’VE VISITED: This tour was about 12 hours of long journey which highlights only 2 places…Chichicastenango Market and Lake Atitlan. I had 2 more extra days in Guatemala for which, I spent a day in the capital and my last day in historic Antigua.

  1. CHICHICASTENANGO MARKET: Chichicastenango Market was about 3 hours drive from Guatemala City. So you have to start the day very early. This is a Mayan market which is more than 500 years old and believed to be one of the oldest outdoor markets in Central America. The city of Chichicastenango itself a beautiful city on a small hill which we passed by upon entering and has about 60K people.
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Chichicastenango Market in Guatemala

After reaching the market, we pushed the crowded small streets of vendors to reach our first spot. It was the big indoor area where fresh produce and other local food items are sold. It’s very colorful and is an energetic place to see locals going on with their daily lives. Mostly Mayan women are the sellers in this market. This is a crowded place with lots of vendors, local buyers, and tourists. Therefore, this is a very common place (as we were told by our guide) for pick-pocketing…keep your belongings very careful here. 

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Indoor market of Chichicastenango in Guatemala, where fresh produces are sold

Next we were taken to St. Thomas Church. This Catholic church is located at one end of Chichicastenango Market and was built around mid to later part of the 16th century by the Spaniards.

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Right outside St. Thomas Church in Chichicastenango Market, Guatemala

While outside of the church was packed with flower vendors on the stairs and countless people nearby, this is a very simple church inside with a calm and peaceful courtyard. Interesting fact and a beautiful scene in this church is that, you can see both Catholics and Mayans are doing their own rituals and using it equally. While the beautiful incense were burning and spreading mystical smell, we saw Catholics were praying closer to the main altar and a Mayan woman walking on her knees to the altar. This was beautiful to watch as they kept their own heritage while being very respectful to the other believers. 

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Inside St. Thomas Church in Chichicastenango Market, Guatemala

One of the most beautiful places in Chichicastenango city is the colorful cemetery where we didn’t go but saw from the hill from a bit far away. The color of the tombstone in that cemetery represents the favorite color of the person who passed away. 

In the market, especially near St. Thomas Church, it’s very easy to get lost. In fact, for a few seconds, I couldn’t find my group and was frantically looking each direction for them. Thanks to our assistant tour guide who saw me and told me where they are. Use some basic cautions when you are there, especially if you have kids or traveling with a large group.

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Some locals of Chichicastenango Market in Guatemala

2. LAKE ATITLAN: The drive from Chichicastenango Market to Lake Atitlan was about an hour and fifteen minutes in the district, called Solola in Guatemala. We stopped at San Francisco Panajachel town to visit Lake Atitlan and spent anywhere from 30-45 minutes by the lake, just walking around the lake, taking some shots, and checking out the Mayan market. 

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Lake Atitlan in Panajachel, Guatemala

The lake, in a massive volcanic crater, is surrounded by mountains, especially 3 volcanoes around the lake. We were told by the guide that the lake is 23km long and the deepest point of the lake is 350 meters. 

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Lake Atitlan in Panajachel, Guatemala

Overall, I wasn’t a big fan of Lake Atitlan for the effort and time it took to get there from Chichicastenango Market. Lake Atitlan is a beautiful place with mountains and volcanoes, but the long winding journey was not fun and if I knew, I would have just gone with half a day to Chichicastenango Market.

Things You Have To Get Right When Travelling Around

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https://unsplash.com/photos/mCFh7lGQo1U

Travelling the world is something that everybody should have the pleasure of doing. Obviously, you’re free to do whatever you want in this life (within reason); if you’d like to stay in your hometown for the entirety of it, then that’s fine. Seeing what else the world has to offer can do so much for an individual, however, so it’s a highly recommended thing. 

If you’ve ever been tempted into hopping to the other side of the planet in order to be amongst different cultures and creeds, then you’ll know that it’s not exactly a case of getting on a plane and leaving everything behind. 

Keep Everything As Comfy As Possible 

You’re going to be heading out of your comfort zone when you travel to an unknown area. While it’s good to be out of your comfort zone, you’ll still need to have a few things around that will keep you content. Constant discomfort won’t be good for your mindset, so make sure you make things easier for you. For instance, you’ll probably want to have the right backpack and the correct footwear. These kinds of things might seem pretty basic, but if they’re not handled, then you’ll notice their absence.

Don’t Forget Anything!

It’s very easy to forget certain items whenever you leave the house, right? Well, you’re going to be leaving the house for a significant amount of time if you choose to go travelling! Make sure you have absolutely everything you need. Make a list and go over it a bunch of times. When you’re packing, be sure to triple-check everything.

If the situation is appropriate, then you could always hire a moving company to help you out. Sure, it’s not the most orthodox approach, but some movers do specialize in long-distance travel. You can always Learn More by heading online and checking out some of your local moving companies. 

Bring The Right Company 

This is pretty important. If you’re going places with your friends, you might want to make sure you bring the correct ones. We all have people in our lives that we can only spend so much time with, right?! It sounds harsh, but even our best pals can get a little frustrating if we spend too long with them! Choose someone (or a group) that you’ll be able to be around for an extended period. We talked about keeping things as comfy as possible, and this is just another example!

Get Insured!

You never quite know what can happen to you or your things when you’re away on your travels. You’re getting away to enjoy yourself and to take in new experiences, but that doesn’t mean you and your items are going to be invincible. Valuables might get stolen or lost during transit. You may fall a little ill when away from your natural habitat. Flights around might even get cancelled, and that’s no good for you. 

If any of these instances (or anything else negative) should arise, then you’re going to be in a pretty awful situation. That’s where travel insurance will help you out. You obviously don’t need to take some out, but you can never be too sure. They’ll be able to cover you should anything go awry. 

 

Vegas, Vegas Everywhere

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA: I don’t even know why I am blogging about Las Vegas. This is one of the world class tourist destinations in the world and somewhere around 40 million people visit Las Vegas every year. So chances are that everyone who is reading it have been there at least once maybe (mostly for the North Americans). 

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Walking around at night

But I do recommend one thing in Vegas, other than just hopping from one casino to another and trying out all sorts of food or shopping in expensive stores; that is please get out of the city and enjoy the beautiful mountains and valleys that Nevada has to offer. Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, Grand Canyon, Sedona, Death Valley…some of these places are only half an hour to a few hours of drive and they have majestic landscapes, spectacular mountains with lots of activities to do. These ideal getaways, especially if you are traveling with kids. 

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Vegas life

I went back to Vegas after about 15 years and it looked almost exactly the same as I remember from 2004. Maybe new hotels here and there or slightly more crowded. But overall, the essence of Las Vegas was still the same…energetic, noisy, hustling, and fun. Yes, it’s an exciting city to be in for any age. For those who are not into gambling like me, believe me you will find something you’ll like everytime you are in this Sin City. 

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Vegas, Vegas, and more Vegas

OUR HOTEL: We stayed in Stratosphere Tower or The Strat this time. It’s a bit off the main strip of Vegas, but Uber or public buses are there to take you around. It’s surrounded by many shops and restaurants. Inside the hotel, cafes, steakhouse, buffet, and Starbucks are there. Stratosphere also has Skypod restaurant, extreme rides (like skyjump), observation deck, and rooftop pool. If you are a fan of King of Pop, Michael Jackson, Stratosphere’s theater also arranges MJ Live Tribute Concert every evening. Stratosphere’s buffet is also way cheaper than many other casinos. Depending on the day/night of the year, it’s usually somewhere around $20 per adult. 

TIME of TRAVEL: My daughters and I were in Vegas during their winter break of 2019. We stayed there for 4 nights and 3 full days to enjoy as much possible in and around the city. This is a great time to see the Christmas and holiday decorations in each hotel and casino. The temperature is not as warm as I thought it would be. It was around 50s during the day but at night, it drops down to 40s. So carrying a sweater is a good idea. 

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Gorgeous day near Venetian in December

EATING and SHOPPING: I guess you don’t have to worry much about finding a restaurant in Vegas. Everywhere you look on the boulevard, at least 10 restaurants will be there in every direction. Since my girls and I are big In ‘N Out Burgers’ fans, we ate twice there…on the Linq Promenade. Shake Shack is another excellent burger place you can try. We also had dinner buffet at Stratosphere, called Crafted Buffet. It had all the variety of delicious food yet is cheaper than most of the buffets in town. For around $25 per adult and half the price of kids…we had excellent dinners there twice. Another few places I would recommend, if you are into celebrity TV shows, is trying out celebrity chefs’ restaurants. Bobby Flay, Iron Chef Morimoto, Wolfgang Puck, Giada, and etc…they all have some kind of big of small restaurants in Vegas. Gordon Ramsey has few of his own eateries here too. For one of the lunches, we tried Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen in Caesar’s Palace. My daughters’ baked salmon, burger, and finally…my lobster risotto, phew…I can never forget the taste of that risotto. To finish it off, we had sticky toffee pudding…it was a perfect sweet treat to end the course. We had to wait in line for half an hour but the service is pretty fast and the whole restaurant is themed around the TV show “Hell’s Kitchen” and with blue and red team.   

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Lunching in Hell’s Kitchen in Las Vegas, NV

Souvenir shops are almost everywhere in Vegas. We liked the unique ones on Linq Promenade and other factory shops (see below). By the way, In ‘N Out Burgers also has a factory store somewhere around The Strip. Every hotel/casino has their own souvenir shops and other brand name clothing stores too, if you are into brand names. 

 

PLACES WE’VE VISITED: Below are some of the things we did in Las Vegas. Next time, we are definitely going to the downtown area where the world’s largest LCD display can be seen with laser show and all (at least that’s what I heard). Checking out few other casinos/hotels would also be nice for next trip, like Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, or Paris. If you are here for a longer time, drive to Sedona, AZ…a red rock city which makes a great getaway from this busy place. 

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My lobster risotto in Hell’s Kitchen in Las Vegas…I can still taste it in my mouth.

 

Below are some of the places we visited, things we did, and shows we watched in Vegas:

  1. THE LINQ PROMENADE: This is a busy pedestrian zone near the Linq Hotel which is packed with unique shops and restaurants. In ‘N Out Burger is here too, if you like their burgers. Lots of street artists, including magicians, can been seen performing on the promenade. Different activities, like zipline, ferris wheel ride, etc can be done here too. We went back there twice, because it’s just nice to walk around here and window shop at different stores or just do people watching. 
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Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, NV

2. FACTORY STORES: Few of the fun stores we visited in Las Vegas that my kids absolutely enjoyed were M&M World, Coca-Cola Store, and Hershey’s Chocolate World. 

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Hershey’s Chocolate World, Las Vegas

M&M World and Coca-Cola Store are side by side near New York New York Hotel. And Hershey’s Chocolate World is right opposite of the other 2 stores. Fans or not-fans of these snacks and drinks must visit these exciting multi-floored shops just to check out what they have done inside and all the exciting items they sell. We ordered the international coke tray in the Coca-Cola store where you get to taste 16 different coke products from around the world for $15. 

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Our 16 flavors of coke from around the world in Coca-Cola Store in Las Vegas

3. THE PARK: Right beside New York New York Hotel and Casino, The Park is a delightful place to take a short stroll at night. It looked extra beautiful with Christmas lights and decorations everywhere.

4. SHOWS WE WATCHED: Las Vegas offers hundreds of different kinds of shows and performances all over the town. We caught 3 shows this time: David Copperfield’s Magic show in MGM Grand, Cirque du Soleil’s “O” in Bellagio, and MJ  Live – A Michael Jackson Tribute Concert in Stratosphere. You can book these tickets before you go or buy them at your hotel. Depending on the shows and nights, they can get booked pretty quickly.  

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Since we couldn’t take pictures inside the show

The only free show we’ve watched was Bellagio’s water fountain show, which takes place every half an hour and lasts for less than 5 minutes. There are other ones as well, which we couldn’t make time to go were 10 minutes free circus  performance inside Circus Circus, volcano by the Mirage, and many others. Almost every big hotel on the Strip offers some kind of free show or activities with little money. 

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Watershow in front of Bellagio, Las Vegas

 

5. CASINOS & HOTELS: New York New York was one of our favorites to visit for its cute little NY style alleys/streets like interiors. MGM Grand and Treasure Island was great too…nothing extraordinary. When I first visited Vegas 15 years ago, Caesar’s Palace was on my top list but this time, it didn’t appeal to me much. Nevertheless, it is still a great casino/hotel to check out. Bellagio’s Christmas decorations exceeded our expectations with its grandest and most creative ornaments. A whole section was dedicated to holiday celebration. From kids to adults, everyone was in awe after seeing Bellagio’s magnificent adorning statues, holiday figures, and colorful embellishments.

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Christmas decors inside Bellagio, NV

 

But to top everything, Venetian was our most favorite (no shocker). From outside, San Marco tower depicting Venice to inside Grand Canal Shoppes, gondola rides, and the whole nine yards…it’s breathtaking. Just being there feels like you are completely in a different world. Have some gelato while walking around the indoor mall.  

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Grand Canal Shoppe in Venetian, NV

6. RED ROCK CANYON: Taking a short trip to Red Rock Canyon is almost a must when you are in Vegas. Only half an hour from The Strip, this is a great outdoor heaven that you would not want to miss, especially if you have children. Please visit the right-sidebar to check out the things you can do in Red Rock Canyon. 

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Red Rock Canyon
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