Las Vegas travel Vegas west coast

Vegas Pandemic Vacation

I just recently spent five days in Las Vegas (March 2021) and wanted to share my thoughts and takeaways from this trip. One thing is for sure, it’s not like it use to be. Besides the raging pandemic happening all around the world. Vegas has changed so much in the past five or ten years.

No longer do you hear the slogan “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas”. While you will hear that saying. It is no where as prevalent as it once was. The new slogan is “What happens here, only happens here”. To be honest, it kinda fits. Some of the different things I witnessed during my five days, I wouldn’t see anywhere else. Not in New York City. Not in Philly. Not even in the middle of no where.

It’s not that it is a bad thing. It is just a different kind of thing. Plus Las Vegas is a lot more kid friendly. Well, as long as you are not walking the strip at night. Well, maybe not even along the strip at all but I will get to that. Below I will be going over all my thoughts of this trip. From the flight, car rental, food, hotel, entertainment, and so much more.

Flight and Car Rental

For the past couple of years I have been flying with American Airlines. Not sure why I picked them but I usually don’t have any issues. This was also my second round trip with them in the past seven months. I just flew with American back in August when I went to Walt Disney World (Found out all about that trip here).

We booked a flight leaving out of PHL (Philadelphia International Airport) at 9:25am on a Saturday. Our return flight was scheduled as a non stop on Wednesday leaving Vegas around 2pm and arriving in Philly around 10pm. That was perfect since I was planning on going to work Thursday morning and had to wake up at 4am. Well about a week or two before we left our return flight got changed. We were still leaving around 2pm but were going to land in Charlotte and than continue on to Philly and not arrive till around 12:30am.

Needless to say I was not too happy with this change. I am not a fan of flying and neither is my daughter. However, there was nothing I could do.

Our flight going to Vegas was a good one and we even arrived a little early. We even got stuck on the runway in Philadelphia while they were resetting the computer and ended up not taking off till about 20 minutes later. So arrive early even after that was a good thing.

Currently meals are not being served but you are getting a little bag of cookies or pretzels and a small water. If you are planning on flying right now make sure you bring your own food and drink. You won’t be getting anything from the airlines unless you are in first class.

One more thing to note about our flight going to Vegas. It was a full plane. NO EMPTY SEATS. I must say I am happy I paid the extra $10 per person to pick our seats. It was well worth it so we didn’t have to sit apart. Going home our flight wasn’t nearly as full. However, I would say it was about half full.

Time lapse of plane landing in Charlotte

Just like all the flights I have taken during the Pandemic, we arrived early. We arrived early in Charlotte and in Philly. So overall, my flying experience wasn’t bad at all. Sure you have to wear the mask the whole time. In the airport and on the plane but I work in a Jail so I am use to having to wear a mask most of the day. Most of us should be use to it by now.

Now for the car rental. This I can say I wasn’t very happy with at all. I ended up booking an SUV with Budget car rental. I prepaid for it with my debit card a week and a half before we left. I didn’t need to pay anymore money for it (as far as I knew) and just needed to have a hold put on my debit card ($200) for anything that may of happened.

At McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas Airport), finding the buses for the car rental area is fairly easy. Getting to and from the car rental center isn’t a problem at all. There is a total of 10 different car rental companies to pick from. All your major ones like Alamo and Enterprise, to the “cheaper” ones like Budget or Dollar Rent a Car.

Of course Budget, the one I choose had a huge line. We must have waited in line for a half hour or more. When it was finally my turn I had a very nice lady that I was working with. However, I was not able to get the SUV I prepaid for since I didn’t have a credit card to use for the hold. Apparently, you have to have a credit card in order to book an SUV and not use a debit card. A debit card is fine for a car rental but not an SUV.

I don’t understand that one bit plus the car would have cost me more money. Thankfully, she didn’t charge me the higher cost and gave me a brand new car with only five miles on it. The head room sucked for me but other than that it wasn’t too bad.

Vegas Strip

Vegas Strip at Night
View from the Eiffel Tower viewing deck

Even if you have never been to Las Vegas, I am sure you can pick out some of the casinos along this famous road. Casinos like the Luxor (Pyramid), New York New York, Paris Hotel, Bellagio, Caesars, and so many more. Over the years it has pretty much stayed the same. Sure some casinos closed and others opened but for the most part it is the same.

Like I said earlier, I visited Vegas in the beginning of March 2021. Now on Saturday and Sunday you would have no clue that a pandemic was going on. Most people walking the strip did have a mask on. However, there was no social distancing going on at all. Personally it didn’t matter much to me since I did have my mask on. What did bother me, it was shoulder to shoulder waking the strip.

New York New York Hotel and Casino Las Vegas,

It was packed on the weekend. Like so packed you couldn’t enjoy it in the current environment. Plus there were still a lot of restaurants closed and the ones that were open had limited seating due to social distancing guidelines. Only good thing was right before we arrived Vegas changed the restaurant guidelines. They increased the amount of people allowed at a table from four to six. It didn’t matter to my travel group since it was only four of us.

While walking the strip at some places were a bit of a challenge. Overall it was doable. Oh and make sure you shield your children eyes. You had showgirls walking the strip looking to get their picture taken with you. Of course, these aren’t free photos. But that wasn’t the issue. The issue was their ass hanging out. Very little covering their tops and nothing but a thong on.

For the gentlemen out there it wasn’t too bad. Although, there were a few that shouldn’t have been trying to squeeze into those outfits. However, not really something for kids to see. Surprisingly, my daughter never asked me about them once. She seemed too busy looking at all the different sights at the casinos.

One more thing to note about the famous Las Vegas strip. The smell of pot was overwhelming in certain places. If that is not your thing. You have been warned. There was a lot of booze, pot, and girls along the strip.

During the week, the strip wasn’t too crowded. However, the hours of many places were very limited. Very few places were opened 24 hours. A lot of places were even closed during the week. You just have to keep that in mind if you are planning on visiting Vegas in the next couple of months.


I miss the days when you could visit Las Vegas and hit the buffet up. Or wait around till 3 am and grab steak and eggs for $4. Sadly the $4 steak and eggs are long gone. Hopefully, the buffets return when the time is right. Also, we can hope the rest of the restaurants and food shacks open back up soon too.

Many of the restaurants were very busy and had over an hour wait. The fast food type places had long lines of 20 or more people waiting. It didn’t matter if it was noon or 8 at night. Getting food in Vegas during the Pandemic was a bit of a pain. However, the food was pretty good at the places we visited.

One place I was looking forward to trying was Dirt Dog. It was only a couple minute walk from the hotel I was staying at. The thing that makes these hot dogs special is they are Nathan’s hot dogs wrapped in bacon.

Dirt Dog Las Vegas, Dirty Chili Dog
Dirty Chili Dog from Dirt Dog

I ordered the Dirty Chili Dog. Boy was this thing amazing. It was smothered in chorizo chili, cheddar cheese, chipotle aioli, and bacon bits. When I visit Vegas again I will be stopping back at Dirt Dog. So many different hot dogs I wanted to try. Just walking by this tiny stand outside of Bally’s will make your mouth water with the wonderful smells coming from here.

Jaburritos was another place on my list of places to hit up. This place also did not disappoint. Here you will find Sushi Burritos. That’s pretty amazing if you ask me and the prices are not bad at all. Jaburritos is located within the Linq Promenade.

Long Beach Sushi Burrito, Jaburritos, Las Vegas

I ordered the Long Beach Sushi Burrito and it was amazing. The size of it was huge and kept me filled for most of the day even though I was walking over 25,000 steps a day. This sushi burrito has surimi crab, shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, cucumber, guacamole, won ton strips, romaine lettuce, chipotle mayo and eel sauce. It was a party in my mouth but it was a little messy.

Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips was another place we were looking forward to eating at. I loved watching Hell’s Kitchen, so I couldn’t wait to try something from him. This fast food style place is located at the Linq Promenade.

Now we ended up ordering both the fish and chips and chicken and chips. They were both hot and fresh. However, they really lacked any flavor and were pretty bland without any of the different sauces. The sauces I tried were amazing (Dijon Mayo and Southwest Ranch). Sadly, the fish and chicken didn’t have much flavor to speak of. For my mother this was the most disappointing place we are at.

Another resturant we ate at within the Linq Promenade was Virgil’s Real Barbecue. This was my mother and brother’s favorite place that we ate at during our Vegas trip. The barbecue here was smoky and delicious.

Each one of us enjoyed our meal. We ended up ordering ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and chicken fingers. All of the meat was flavorful and cooked perfectly. The only thing I wish I had was a little more sauce on my Carolina Pulled Pork. It was delicious not smothered but I would have liked a little more. My brother was perfectly fine with it the way it was. Oh and the baked beans were out of this world. I wanted to go back just to get some more of those.

As you can tell we spent a lot of time eating at the Promenade. The last place I ate at here was In & Out burger. I live on the east coast and have never had In & Out. I must say that I wasn’t too impressed with it. Don’t get me wrong the burger was tasty.

I just don’t get what all the hype is about. Would I order from here again? Yes, yes I would. But I don’t see myself going out of my way. One reason was it took too long to get my order. I didn’t order anything special and just got a double double.

Things to Do

Just about anything you could think about doing you will find around Las Vegas. You also have some pretty epic places located within a short drive of Las Vegas. Places like Zion National Park, Death Valley National Park, or the Grand Canyon. While we did take a drive out to the Grand Canyon one day. Most of our time was spend wondering the strip and visiting the different places in Vegas.

Our first stop was to the Titanic exhibit at the Luxor Casino. This was the main reason for this trip. My daughter loves the Titanic and wants to see anything to do with it. The Titanic Exhibit in Gattlinburg, Tn was the reason we visited there last summer.

I must admit it was a pretty cool exhibit to check out. So many different artifacts that were recovered are on display along with a huge piece of the ship. Yep, you read that correctly. There is a large piece of the Titanic in the Luxor. My daughters eyes were wide when we turned the corner and this came in view.

Just for that reaction made the whole trip worth it. I was very impressive. That wasn’t the only impressive thing within the exhibit. Everything was. To know that at one point, all the artifacts were laying at the bottom of the ocean. That is pretty amazing. One other thing to note about this place. You can get your picture taken on the Grand Stair Case. It makes for a nice photo to bring home.

Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage was another great place. Now I do feel that it is a bit overpriced. It is pretty small but the dolphin training session made up for it.

I will say that the white tigers were amazing to watch. I don’t think I have ever seen one in person before this so that was a great experience. They just looked so peaceful and majestic. While I do feel it was overpriced. I did get a decent value out of it.

Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat

But like I said the dolphin training session was spectacular. By far one of the best I have ever seen before. Plus you are really close to the trainers. So close you could reach out and touch them. Just don’t reach out and touch them.

If you are visiting Vegas and must do has got to be going up the Eiffel tower at the Paris Hotel. The viewing deck is over 460 feet in the sky and gives you an epic view of the strip below. If you time it right you can even see the Bellagio fountains going off at night. We didn’t even get a great spot to see the fountains but still were able to have a pretty decent view.

Fountains at Bellagio, Eiffel Tower Viewing Deck Las Vegas,

I never got a chance to go up during the day but I wanted to. The view was that good and unlike any other I would have gotten unless I took one of the 15 minute helicopter tours.

Grand Canyon West is only a short 2 hour drive from the Vegas Strip. If you have never seen the Grand Canyon before, do yourself a favor and rent a car and drive out there. The views are stunning and are unlike anything you have seen before.

Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon West, Person taking photos

One thing to remember is to stay away from the edge. There is no safety net. No railings. Just a long fall to the bottom. I can’t wait till I get a chance to visit the Grand Canyon at night. I just know I can get some epic photos at night. There is nothing around for miles and miles.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I had a great time in Las Vegas and can’t wait to do it again. Next time I might try to keep my daughter at home and find a nice girl to bring with me or a group of friends. Either way I know I will have a great time.

I just can’t wait till Vegas wakes back up and everything is like it was before. With changes of course. We will probably never get back to pre-pandemic levels. The fun didn’t stop with all the restrictions just a lot of places were closed. But good news is right around the corner. Things are starting to open back up. Things are starting to get back to a new sense of normal.

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