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

Best Outdoor Adventure Festivals in America

Are you searching for the best outdoor adventure festivals in the USA? Well, look no further because here, we’ve gathered the most popular musical camping festivals, designed to nurture the spirit of community as well as adventure in every traveler.

It’s no secret that we all enjoy the feeling of connection and community. After all, there’s not much which brings humanity together as compared to a shared experience. An outdoor adventure trip or festival tour in America will give you the appeal and spirit of togetherness in a highly concentrated form.

To make sure that you have the most enjoyable time, we have put together some of the best outdoor adventure festivals USA. From camping festivals 2019, to cool musical shows, we have a variety of ideas to brighten the hearts of every enthusiastic traveler.

  • Tasty Food in Chicago, Illinois

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Chicago is popularly known for its delicious foods, for instance, visiting the Michelin-star hotels. So, if you wish to sample these tantalizing foods, take an outdoor adventure tour to one of the largest food festivals not only in the U.S.A but across the globe. Some of the exciting things which also happen here include:

  • Live music
  • Lots of family fun-filled activities
  • Public art galleries

Other crowd favorites are bakeries, Famer’s Fridge kiosks, and even Connie’s Pizza. Lastly, the place offers comfortable accommodations for all those travelers who want to stay close to the fun-filled foodie festivals!

  • Enjoy the Best Music Shows in Austin, Texas

You may not know, but west coast festivals are not the only exciting events we have in the country. The city of Austin also has some remarkable music festivals, and artists love to flock to this place. The Austin City Limits (ACL) show is one of those extraordinary events for its impressive lineup plus it’s effortlessly cool. What’s more, here, you will get a diverse collection of music, even those in Indie.

There are also exciting food and arts markets which further make this event one of the largest and most popular outdoor adventure festival. The 2016 one, in particular, is mainly remembered for its ‘superstar’ collection of artists with personalities like

  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Radiohead
  • Mumford & Sons
  • Alabama Gulf Shore’s Hangout-the best of Musical Festivals

There are quite a few remarkable reasons why you should attend this outdoor adventure festival. Where else would you get chance of listening to great music from amazing and award winning artists as you enjoy the serenity of a sandy beach? Yes, this captivating festival is filled with fun and memorable moments with every single turn you take.

You’ll get to enjoy different rides, excellent foods, arts, tasty drinks, and beach volleyball. If this is not enough, take a trip down to the Gulf shores, an area filled with tons of mind-blowing activities. Once you’ve had your fun, the Beachside Resort Hotel is the best place for you to take a rest.

  • Michigan’s Rothbury Outdoor Adventure Electric Forest Festival

This hippie fest Michigan event is known for its sense of community sustainable initiatives. The organizers use it as an effective way of giving back to the society. However, it’s not only just another charitable event.

No! Instead, once you are here, feel free to relax at the Gold Rush Water Park, make some friends as you enjoy the attraction of the natural park to take over you. You can even decide to stay up and enjoy its late night parties!

  • American Folk Camping Festival in Maine

Bangor offers a perfect American camping festival as it appreciates the different cultures in America. Arts, historical narrations and music are among the activities you’ll enjoy in this event. You will also learn a great deal about the rich food groups, handmade arts and crafts as well as traditions.

Once you decide to take a couple of minutes from the festival, explore Bangor Museum’s local culture collection or visit the Opera house and see some memorable theatre performances. The Fairfield Inn will offer the best accommodation spot and feel free to take advantage of the hotel’s swimming pool!

  • Conclusion

Above are our recommended camping festivals 2019 to excite and inspire the spirit of adventure in every traveler. Now, we know that every outdoor adventure trip should be packed with highly engaging and exciting events. With these locations, you have the best chance of getting the most out of your trip.

So, from this list, which of these best outdoor festivals USA do you feel you should attend in 2019?

About the author: Catherine Wiley is an experienced hiker and traveler. She had an overnight hiking in Yosemite National Park, California. When she is not traveling, she is working on her main project https://gearexpertguides.com/

 

South America: 5 Must-Visit Places

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In many ways, Asia has overtaken South America as the favorite backpacker destination, but you would be crazy to overlook this continent full of towering peaks, ancient civilizations and dense jungles. Added to all this, you have bustling cities and awe-inspiring landscapes aplenty. The hospitality and kindness of the people are legendary, so now is the perfect time to go and see the place for yourself. If you don’t really know where to begin, here’s a brief overview of just five of the must-visit places that this continent has to offer.

Angel Falls, Venezuela  

Though Niagara Falls may still hold the plaudits as the most famous waterfall in the world, Angel Falls in Venezuela is nearly 1,000 meters high and is the highest uninterrupted waterfall in the world. However, deep in Canaima National Park with no accessible roads to get here, it is a remote natural wonder that feels like it is shut off from the rest of the world. You can even take a flight to witness it from above.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

If you start to Google ‘most incredible natural wonders in South America, Salar de Uyuni will come up again and again. The world’s largest salt flat is incredibly over 10,000 square kilometers. Staying in the Hotel De Sal Luna Salada gives you great access to the area. There is a sense of being in another world when you are in this area which features smoking volcanoes, colorful lagoons, and grand deserts.

Machu Picchu, Perú

The ancient abandoned city of Machu Picchu in Peru was built in the 15th century and is one of the most iconic attractions in the world. Situated high in the Andes mountains, you can enjoy panoramic views around the area. Thousands of people flock here every year to complete a multi-day hike to finally reach the site. One way of attempting to escape the crowds is by arriving in the early morning to watch the sunrise over the peaks.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Of all the cities in South America, Rio de Janeiro is probably the one that captures the imagination of the most people. For one thing, it has the beautiful sandy beaches and crazy party atmosphere which many people love. The best views of the city come from the world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue which is certainly worth visiting. The city also has the world’s largest urban forest, so hiking up into the mountains is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a while.

Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

An entirely different city to Rio, Cartagena de Indias features well-preserved colonial architecture that will make you feel like you have stepped back in time. The city has a very clear energy to it, and you could easily spend a few days strolling around the colorful streets.

This guide gives you a brief overview of just what a special and diverse place South America is, so hopefully, you have been inspired to take a trip yourself.  

Get Off The Plane: Other Ways To Explore America

America is a huge country – Texas alone is the size of most of Europe – and there is too much to see in a single trip. Unfortunately, most people restrict their exploration of this vast country because, although traveling by plane covers a lot of distance, it can get expensive flying from one state to another. Fortunately, there are ways to travel that are easier on your budget, and let you see more of the country. Get off the planes and try these different methods of travel.

By Train

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Few people know that you can travel around the whole country by rail with a train pass from Amtrak.com. Amtrak offers USA Rail Passes for 15-day, 30-day or 45-day trips. If you’re savvy about using public transport in each stop on your tour, they’re an affordable way to see the country. The most scenic route is the California Zephyr from Chicago to San Francisco, which is one of world’s greatest train journeys. In around 48 hours you will cross the farmlands of Nebraska, scale the Rockies beyond Denver while you eat egg & bacon for breakfast in the diner, snake through rocky river valleys in Colorado and pass through the Sierra Nevada mountains to reach Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area.

By Boat

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You might not believe it, but there are some fantastic things to see along the coastline of the country. You can plan your perfect trip around the coast by buying a boat with help from boatfinancing.co, or you could get some friends together and split the cost of hiring a chartered boat for the duration of your travels. If you’re charting the course, you have full control over where you go, and how long you stay there. Alternatively, there are some amazing cruises that let you see more of the country; cruises to Alaska, Hawaii, or the Caribbean are popular, but you can also dock in New York or New Orleans. Not to mention the cruise itself has a lot on entertainment and activities on board, so you never feel bored while you’re traveling.

By Road

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The American road trip has been a popular genre in literature, and it features many coming of age stories, Unfortunately, some of the best routes have been forgotten in favor of the interstate or flying. It’s time to bring back this mode of travel and explore parts of the country you might never have seen before. When you’re planning your road trip, you can schedule as many pit stops as you want, change your route whenever you’re bored, and stay in a single place for as long as you like. The beauty of a road trip is that you can dance to the beat of your own drum. Just make sure you stay safe on the road.

If you don’t feel like driving, you can also take the bus. Book the Great American Crossing tour, and you’ll experience New York, Detroit, Mount Rushmore, and many more cities over the course of 21 days.

The Best National Parks To Go Camping in America

Looking for an amazing adventure? Consider camping in one of America’s breathtaking national parks! There are over four hundred of them dotted around the country. Each of them have completely different landscapes and things to discover. Here are just a few of the national parks to consider for your next camping trip.

California- Yosemite National Park

Expect to see waterfalls, valleys, meadows, woodland and wilderness in California’s incredible Yosemite National Park. You can go hiking, fishing, horseback riding and rock climbing amongst other things. Just the place for action and adventure! There are over thirteen campsites to choose from within the park; some can be booked ahead, but others are first come first served. And so you’ll want to get there early to avoid any disappointment. You could choose to stay in a deluxe lodge, go camping in an RV or simply take a tent. There’s something for everyone.

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Arizona- Grand Canyon National Park

There are two places to camp in Arizona’s breathtaking Grand Canyon National Park. You can take guided tours, see art exhibits and even take part in fitness opportunities. The ‘South Rim’ of the Canyon is open all year. It’s easier to get to since it has good transport links nearby but can become very busy especially in the summer. The North Rim, on the other hand, is wilder and more secluded, it can only be reached by road and is only open for a short season. Therefore if you do want to camp and see the spectacular sights of the Grand Canyon from this direction, be sure to book in advance.

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Colorado- Rocky Mountain National Park

At Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world. The sensational mountain environment gives you the opportunity to overlook alpine woods. You can go on wildlife viewing tours, and ranger led activities. Spend your days hiking, biking and picnicking, and at night camp under the starry sky. There are five different campsites across the park to choose from.

Washington- Kalaloch National Park

With an astounding view of the Pacific ocean, camp on a gorgeous site overlooking a driftwood covered beach. You can buy or hire camping supplies on site and can stay in either your tent or RV- or in one of the amazing lodges or cabins for more of a ‘glamping’ experience. These are stocked with kitchens and essential kitchen supplies. Perfect if you were looking for a slightly more convenient camping experience.

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Utah- Bryce Canyon National Park

See hoodoo rocks in mind-boggling formations along with caves and explore various trails. Visit at the right time of year and you can celebrate Utah Prairie Dog Day or the Annual Astronomy Festival while exploring the park. There are two campgrounds you could choose from, ‘North’ or ‘Sunset.’ There are no hook-ups for RVs here, so you get a true experience of being at one with nature. Both campsites are surrounded by Ponderosa Pine forests giving equal amounts of shade and sun.

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