I Turned 40! Or, How to Do Vegas Safely During a Pandemic

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This blog has developed a recurring theme about where we are supposed to be at a given time versus where we’re able to be due to the pandemic. We had big plans to spend my 40th birthday in France, but of course, that proved impossible. So we thought a lot about where in the United States might be safe and open enough to be fun during the pandemic and also feel like we were doing something special for my big day (40 is a milestone, you know). 

Chad brought up Vegas almost right away. We love Vegas. We’ve been twice before and always had a great time. But I wasn’t so sure. However, after some research, it seemed like the casinos and hotels in Vegas had adopted decent COVID protocols, so we decided to book it and keep an eye on it. And which hotel caught our eye while figuring out where on the Strip to stay? The Paris of course! If we can’t be in real France, we could at least enjoy a super-fake smaller version of it.

So, without more ado, here is how we did Vegas safely during COVID!

Get a Room with a View

We honed in on the Paris because it seemed like a pretty good value for a great location mid-Strip, but then saw that for a little more money than their basic room, we could get one with an “Eiffel Tower View.” Chad realized right away that any room with a view of their fake Eiffel would also have a view of the Bellagio across the street and its famous fountain show. And a view would mean even if we felt like we needed to eat all our meals in our room (spoiler alert: we did), it would be fun and not sad.

Also the room was a great size and nicely furnished, so this proved to be a great choice that I think we’ll do again even in non-COVID times. Every time we saw the fountain show it was fun and we were very comfortable in the room. It even had a desk for Chad to work from.

Mask Up and Have Fun

After checking in the afternoon of my birthday (a Sunday) and unloading, we ventured out onto the Strip. And realized just how bad the crowds were. Apparently, Vegas had only reopened fairly recently and of course, it was spring break season. So there were LOTS of people. Luckily we had our double-masks and we wandered a bit enjoying the sites of the crazy casinos. We didn’t really want to go in anywhere or even get a drink with all the people around, but we still had fun.

Eat Good Food (in Isolation)

For my special birthday dinner, we picked up crepes to go from the stand in our hotel. When in fake Paris, after all. A new friend had given us a very nice bottle of red wine for my birthday (thank you, Mina!), which went great with the crepes and the fountain show and the Eiffel Tower lights. It was a great birthday dinner. 

For breakfast and lunches, we just ate our own food we brought. Happily, our room at The Paris had mini-fridge for our yogurt and milk and hard-boiled eggs and such. Typically we did these meals picnic-style so we could people-watch everyone on the Strip and at the pool just below our room.

Our other in-room dinners were pizza from a by-the-slice place in the Miracle Mile mall paired with a salad kit from our grocery run and awesome tonkatsu ramen from a little place in the Grand Bazaar shops. Having a room with a view of the fountain show was the best thing we did to make our time in Vegas safe and special. We enjoyed all three of our in-room dinners a lot. 

Go Out in Nonpeak Times

We set a goal to walk the whole of the Strip during our three days in Vegas. After our first foray out on the Strip, we decided to use our usual late-morning walk to see if we could see a bit more with fewer crowds. But at 10 a.m., there were still plenty of people out and about. So I had the brainstorm that, since we like getting up early anyway, why not go out at 6 a.m. the next morning. Vegas is a city that never sleeps, so the casinos would be open, there would definitely be fewer crowds with all the partiers in bed (most of the people we saw out late morning seemed to be looking for breakfast), and it would be a great excuse for day drinking. Chad suggested mimosas, so later that afternoon we drove to a nearby grocery store and stocked up on a few things, including a bottle of champagne and small orange juice.

Driving back from the grocery store in the mid-afternoon, things also seemed a bit quieter out on the strip, so we grabbed a couple of beers we bought from the store and headed south. Once we got past the MGM, there were far fewer people and we had a great time checking out the Luxor. One of the best things about Vegas is the casinos really don’t seem to mind when you bring in outside beverages, so it is very cost-effective to wander around with a supermarket-bought beer.

The next morning, we got up bright and early as planned, made mimosas and set out. We had a fantastic time. There were almost no people around other than bored security guards and the morning light was beautiful. We walked all the way north to the Stratosphere over the course of a few hours and then got breakfast burritos at the $5 Cafe next door. 

On our way back down the Strip to our hotel, we stopped in Treasure Island, primarily to shed another layer of clothes (we’d worn our hiking base layer for the early morning temperatures but no longer needed it after breakfast). While waiting on Chad, I put $10 in a slot machine called Buffalo Gold. I figured it would make him smile to come out of the men’s room to see me playing slots. I lost $5 and then l went to change, leaving Chad by the Buffalo Gold machine. When I came out, Chad had hit a minor jackpot of free games that was slowly multiplying the $5 ticket I’d left him with. It went on and one and we ended up winning $223, a $213 profit. So we did exactly what the casinos don’t want you to do and quit while we were ahead! We bought celebratory Bloody Marys at the cheap bar at Casino Royale and then went back to our room for a well-earned nap.  

We decided that next time we’re in Vegas, we’re definitely going to do a morning outing like this. Even when there isn’t a pandemic, we greatly prefer Vegas without the crowds.   

Summary

We had a really fun time in Vegas and I felt like I had a very special 40th birthday. However, I reserve the right to celebrate it all over again with friends after the pandemic is behind us! In the meantime, I’m very grateful that Chad and I figured out how to have such a safe and fun Vegas birthday experience.

Paris Hotel & Casino – Getting an Eiffel-view room was what made our stay unforgettable. We loved being able to see the Bellagio Fountains across the street. The room was a great size, very comfortable bed, great shower, wifi for our two computers worked well, and there was a mini-fridge, which was helpful. Everything within the hotel seemed very clean and sanitized and all staff and most guests wore masks all the time. It was a great experience! (Review I probably won’t post anywhere because they don’t need it and I don’t want this secret about how worth it the view rooms are to get out!)

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