The first real vacation (other than our honeymoon) my husband and I took together was in December of 2008. Before that we were saving to buy a house and just traveled on business or with our parents.
We decided to do a Vegas-based road trip the week before Christmas, flying home Christmas Eve to drive straight to my parents’ house. The final part of the trip was marred by receiving some very bad news, but the trip was well-planned and very successful until that point, and allowed us to perfect our whirlwind travel style ahead of our Grand Tour in 2010. Though we flew to and from there, I’m calling it a “road trip” because we did spend a lot of time driving.
Here is the basic itinerary:
Day 1 – fly into Vegas and pick up rental car late afternoon, drive across Hoover Dam and on to Flagstaff (about four hours)
Day 2 – Flagstaff’s Museum of Northern Arizona in the morning (anthropology and dinosaur bones!), lunch, then drive down to Sedona (about an hour), go hiking in Red Rock State Park
Day 3 – hike in Coconino National Forest, drive to Cameron, AZ (about 2 hours)
Day 4 – Grand Canyon South Rim (AMAZING!), drive to Vegas (about 5 hours, arrive fairly late)
Then 3 nights in Vegas, checking out on Day 7 (Christmas Eve)
During our time in Vegas, we saw a Cirque de Soleil show (loved it), spent a full day seeing all the elaborate theme casinos on the Strip (favorites were the Venetian and New York-New York, with Caesar’s Palace a close third) with dinner at Mon Ami Gabi in the Paris (a close fourth), and checked out “The Fremont Street Experience,” aka downtown or the old strip (very cool if you like a retro vibe, which we do).
Having a car the whole time in Vegas was really helpful for being able to access the old strip and the off-strip budget accommodations we chose ($36 plus tax per night for the South Point Hotel Casino and Spa, and it had a December promotion of $1 drinks that motivated us not to buy many overpriced Strip drinks, so no drinking and driving; review here).
Our hikes in Arizona were chilly but bearable, though the Grand Canyon was too snowy to see much of the trails, and I recall the weather in Vegas being quite nice.
We liked this vacation itinerary so much that we are doing a modified version of it next week! More on that then, but if you are looking for a good vacation value and plenty of natural splendor, you can’t do better than Vegas and one or more of our wonderful national parks.