Sunday, May 29, 2016

Family-friendly Vegas

Getting ready to fly!
In mid-March, I was scheduled to be in Las Vegas for a professional conference. I decided to take a couple of days off and arrive early, with hubs and little man, to enjoy the city a bit. (It had, after all, been about five years since my first visit.) I was worried, though. Would Sin City have enough family-friendly activities to keep us occupied for a few days? The answer was an unequivocal YES.

We flew in that morning and checked into the Paris Las Vegas hotel and casino. This is the same property hubs and I stayed in during our last visit, and the reason we chose it still holds true - it's located smack dab in the center of the Strip, right across from the Bellagio. It's very convenient to make your way around the Strip from here. Plus, from a price standpoint, it's very reasonable. (And incidentally, I like the French aesthetic and their on-property restaurants. So there's that.)

The wall of made men at The Mob Museum

Once we got settled, we headed over to Vegas Indoor Skydiving for a bit of adventure! Clay and I were going to try indoor skydiving for the first time. (Hubs, unfortunately, wasn't eligible to fly, due to an old shoulder injury. Sad face.) We arrived, signed waivers, and then watched a short training video. Then, we suited up and headed into the wind tunnel room.

Once they turned the big fan on, Clay was the FIRST flyer to volunteer! He jumped into the air stream with absolutely no fear, and the instructor helped him spin like a top in the wind! So fun! Then, it was my turn. The wind is really strong, so strong it almost snatches the breath from you. But you feel wonderfully weightless. We each got two flights before our session was over. It was a lot of fun, and I recommend it!! (As an added bonus, Clay and I felt a total love-fest for each other before, during and after doing it. Maybe all of the endorphins??!!)

The fake electric chair vibrates when you throw the switch!

After skydiving, we freshened up at the hotel and caught a cab to the Excalibur. We had tickets for the Tournament of Kings dinner show. We got there early, so we played video games in the arcade until it was almost time for the show to start. (They had Pac-Man! The Bradshaws go old school!) When you purchase your ticket, you have an assigned seat. So even though you'll see a long line forming to get in pre-show, you don't have to worry. You can wait until 5 or 10 minutes before the show begins to enter. (This is good to know if you're bringing children. They can play video games in the attached arcade until shortly before the performance, instead of squirming in their seat.)

Then, we filed into our seats. We were on the front row of Russia, and the view was amazing from there. (Note that if you're on the front row, you'll have more interaction with the performers, in addition to an occasional flying dirt clod from a passing horse. Consider yourself warned!)

The Neon Museum
Once seated, your server will take your drink order and serve your tomato bisque. Then, the show starts! Merlin is the MC, and you'll be introduced to all of the Knights of the Round Table. The show is action-packed and fun, with music, dancing, riding, jousting, hand-to-hand combat, and some fun pyrotechnic effects. Costumes are amazing. During the show, your server will return with chicken, potatoes, and broccoli. You'll finish up with an apple pastry. (The food is good, but it won't be the best you'll have in Vegas. What makes the evening great is the show! Very interactive, and plenty to see.) Recommended for families!

After the show, it was off to bed. The next morning, we had a quick breakfast (pastries and fruit) at Cafe Belle Madeline at the Paris. Then, we caught a cab to The Mob Museum.

The Mob Museum is located in a historic building, a former city post office and court house. (The court house still remains intact, and it's one of the rooms where many of the mobsters you'll learn about were actually tried. There's a really good film about their trials that you view in that space.) It's bigger, with more to see, than I initially realized going in. We got there shortly after 9 a.m. and didn't leave until after noon.

We really enjoyed the exhibits on the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, early Vegas, the electric chair from Sing Sing, and the videos on how you can spot a casino cheat. The whole museum is really well thought-out, and many of the exhibits are interactive. Lots of video, multimedia and other visuals.

The museum is not recommended for those 10 and under. As my son is eight, we took a chance. There was one room we skipped - a room detailing (in sometimes graphic ways) how many of these mobsters met their end. A helpful placard on the entrance to that room offers a warning, and we were able to route ourselves around it. Other than that, this was a great destination, even for the smaller set!

The Bellagio fountains - the purest thing in Vegas
After such busy morning, we were starving! We opted for lunch at S+O, because we wanted real food. Hubs had the french dip, my son got spaghetti, and I had salmon with mashed potatoes and veggies. The food was GREAT, service was speedy, and the price point was reasonable.

Fortified, we were off to our next attraction - The Neon Museum. (If you purchase tickets to both The Neon Museum and The Mob Museum together, you can save a few dollars. Also, be aware that you must book guided tours of The Neon Museum in advance.)

The tour takes place outdoors, and we were lucky to have a beautiful day. Our tour guide was fun and very knowledgeable about the pieces in the museum and the history of Las Vegas. He pointed out iconic signs, explained how they came to be at the museum, and showed us some of the pieces the museum has painstakingly restored. We took tons of amazing photos, marveled at the artistry of the signs, and learned a ton! I highly recommend this place. It gives you a unique flavor of the history of Las Vegas.

View from the top of the Eiffel Tower
We returned to the Strip in time to watch the Bellagio fountains play to a Michael Jackson song. (Clay LOVES Michael Jackson.) We walked around the Bellagio to see the indoor gardens, then headed back to the Paris for dinner at Yong Kang Street, where we sampled dumplings, fried rice, and other dim sum. We still had a ~little~ energy left, so we bought tickets to the Eiffel Tower Experience. From way up there, we watched the twinkling lights of Vegas and saw the Bellagio fountains make their spectacular patterns from above.

Then, to bed!!

More to come . . .

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