What a great trip this was. I split time between family and friends, getting a taste of local and tourist Vegas. Sometimes, slowing down in the middle of a busy Vegas day is exactly what is needed. This report is also available in audio format using the player above or wherever you get your podcasts. In the audio episode, I go more in depth on various topics below. Here we go:
I got into Vegas late, 1 am Saturday morning to be exact. I was staying with my sister that night/morning. The morning and afternoon were filled with the usual sibling ribbings present at every Bauer family gathering.
As a family, we visited Town Square’s Lazy Dog Restaurant. The appeal of Lazy Dog is that it allows furry friends to congregate on the patio. The food and cocktails are surprisingly good for a restaurant that, superficially, seems a bit gimmicky.
After lunch, I was dropped off at Delano to check in. My infatuation with Mandalay Bay’s sister hotel is well documented. I had two nights booked there. My Saturday night stay was booked with Hyatt points, transferred via Ultimate Rewards points thanks to my Chase Sapphire Preferred card account. I tried to check in using their automated, mobile system. Neither of the two machines, which sit to the left of the normal check-in stations, could pull up my reservation. Back in line with plebs I had to go.
I stayed in similar accommodations last year at the Delano. The rooms are bright and well appointed. My room on this trip showed slightly more wear than I think is normal for Delano. It wasn’t off-putting, but something to note. It still certainly had the luxurious feel I demanded as someone of my fame would.
I made a quick change of my wardrobe and met my family once again, this time at Topgolf. I enjoy the Topgolf experience. I frequent the Chicago Topgolf centers quite frequently, but the Vegas backdrop is hard to beat. The four of us, a youngster included, just opted to play their more relaxed, free-for-all point game. Each player gets 20 balls and tries to hit them in the various targets, racking up the highest score possible. I’m not sure how many games I won, but let’s just pretend it was all of them. The prices at the Vegas Topgolf are reasonable and service is efficient. If you’re looking for something different, perhaps a chance to escape the smoke-filled casinos, this is worth considering. You don’t need to be a golf fanatic to have a good time. Plus, there are plenty of bars and big TVs to make this a great option to catch a game after making some bets at a sportsbook.
I made my way downtown to say hi to some of the Vegas Vacation friends having dinner. My intention was to join them for some downtown gambling adventures. While they were eating at Pizza Rock, I stopped by for a quick craps session at Downtown Grand. It was, as to be expected, a slow night for them despite the busy weekend. There were only two of us at the craps table. Luckily, we both had monster rolls. I walked away with three times my meager buy-in.
This is when I should have reunited with the aforementioned group, but I completely forgot that the infamous Vegas Bunboy was to be making an appearance at Cosmo’s Chandelier Bar at about 9:30. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to finally give him a piece of my mind in person. Plus, I just love that place. I ditched my downtown friends for a chance at vengeance.
I traveled back to the Strip, finding an elusive open bartop spot at Chandelier Bar- my Vegas happy place. The bartenders here have no problem comping basic cocktails for VP players. I was able to enjoy an Old Forester old fashioned immediately after putting my money in the machine. My first drink ticket appeared after about 20 or so tier credits were earned. I thought the frequency with which they were awarded was fair. This was actually my second visit of the day, as I had a brief, unremarkable VP session here earlier in the day. I was thirsty for drink tickets. In fact, I had so many that I was able to give a couple away. I think the liquid karma paid off on this trip.
I was joined by longtime Vegas friends Taylor and Tara and, soon after, were graced with the precense of Keren of 360 Vegas fame, and the Bunboy himself. We had a great time chatting it up and watching me misplay easy vp hands.
I had to check-in to my room at the Delano for a second time because I booked the two consecutive nights using two different reservation systems. This second night I booked through Amex’s Fine Hotels and Resorts program. The room rate was right, and since I used FHR, I was able to get two $30 breakfast credits and a $100 spa credit. I burned through the breakfast credits at their casual coffee cafe, buying multiple Fiji waters to take back to the room.
After some coffee, I took a trip to center Strip to see if I could meet up with some other friends in town. Mississippi Rob and his lovely wife, Emily, joined me on the journey. We found the You Can Bet on That podcast team playing craps at Planet Hollywood. We also bumped into a few other notables there, including Chris from the Faces and Aces Podcast.
Needing a snack, Rob, Emily, and I went to check out the Linq Promenade. Rob and I grabbed a quick slice of pizza and we all made our way to see some of the changes inside the Linq’s casino. I was bummed when I heard that the Tag bar closed, but I found the renovations to be pretty good. The space has really opened up and has a much better flow than before. Some aspects may seem gimmicky, but it seems like a comfortable place for casual Vegas tourists. Rob and I even tried out the much-maligned Mario Kart arcade machine. I’m not going to say who won our head-to-head battle, but know that my title as supreme Millennial is still holding.
Having proved my video game prowess, I took a trip to the Palms to meet up with my sister and brother-in-law for a light dinner. We ate at Green St. Kitchen, a speakeasy with SoHo street art decor. A Banksy piece overlooked our table as we ate. We ordered some mushroom hot rocks, various sushi rolls, and server suggested Philly cheesesteak egg rolls off the Asian themed menu. I thought it was a fantastic meal. It’s a place with a cool vibe, a place that would definitely have me coming back to Palms again. And about the Palms- I really like what they’ve done there as well. The video poker as always been good, but the casino and restaurants there have some energy. As people become less enthusiastic about what’s happening on the Strip, Palms could be a nice alternative.
After dinner, I found my friends at, of all places, El Cortez. We mingled there briefly before determining it was probably best to make our way elsewhere. We found the rest of our group playing craps at the Cal. While not the ideal place to roll the dice given their inexplicable limit of 2x odds, the table was pretty much all ours. We had a couple of monster rolls during the session, helping me fill up a rack. The Cal would have suffered more if their odds rules were more generous.
Feeling hungry from a good run of good luck, Taylor, Tara, Han, and I went over to Downtown Grand for a late night snack. I happen to think their wings are quite good and, much to my friends’ annoyance, had been talking them up all night. They were as good as I remembered.
I’m not one to let a spa credit go to waste, so the day before I made an appointment for a Monday morning facial. Is there a better way to start the week? I submit there is not. The spa at Delano was a welcome way to ease into my final full day in Vegas. I relaxed with some fresh coffee while I waited for my appointment to start.
I’m not big on massages. For some reason they’ve never done anything for me. I figured I’d give a facial a go at the suggestion of the Fanwife. I actually found it to be quite nice. While the masks were doing work, the practitioner (?) used the time for a quick arm and shoulder massage. After my session was over, I took advantage of the hot and cold plunges.
Feeling radiant, I spent the rest of the early afternoon wandering center Strip, fining Mark and Dr. Mike playing craps at Caesars. The ever benevolent Dr. Mike even paid for my Earl of Sandwich purchase.
A few hours and several steps later, it was time to check in at the Aria. This was my first time staying at the luxurious center-Strip resort. A big thanks to Han for acting as my chauffeur from Delano. Another big thanks to me for having a Gold card and being able to skip the snaking line at the main desk.
I thought the room was incredibly nice, very much what I hoped Aria would be. The bed is easily the most comfortable I’ve had in Vegas. The powered curtains are certainly a nice touch.
My night at Aria included credits similar to my that at Delano. The exception was that instead of a spa credit, I had a $100 food and beverage credit. I took advantage of this during a very nice meal at Carbone with friends Han and Eric. While I haven’t eaten much Italian food in Vegas, this was the best yet. We had large, shareable plates of rigatoni, meatballs, and veal. Everything was delicious. I was the only person brave enough to order desert. Carbone takes an interesting twist in their house old fashioned, using rum as the main spirit. My cocktail curiosity always gets the best of me, so I tried it. It was a nice change my usual bourbon consumption.
After dinner, we carpooled to Ellis Island, for yet another 360 Vegas Vacation meet up. EI’s only craps table was packed with VV participants. The rolls weren’t has hot as others on our short trip, but we had fun nonetheless. There was a lot going on at EI, with people scattered between table games, bar top video poker, and karaoke. I simply enjoyed joining in the banter between the other podcasters and VV friends.
Taylor convinced me and Canadian Chris to give $1 group video poker ago, playing together by combining our money. It may have been the worst sequence of video poker I’ve ever seen, but at least we had fun.
I did a had few more rounds, glad-handed some folks, then made my way to Park MGM to round out my night. I hadn’t seen it since it was renovated. My first lap didn’t yield any major annoyances with the rebranding. My second lap wasn’t so forgiving. I discuss this quite a bit more in the podcast episode, so give it a listen if you want to hear some more thoughts. In short, I think it’s unimpressive but not as offensive as others make it out to be. I don’t think everyone is remembering how incredibly drab Monte Carlo actually was.
Han met me at Park, excited to show me Best Friend. Best Friend has a similar vibe to Palms’ Green St. It was a speakeasy vibe with some eccentric decor. Most importantly, the food and cocktails are on point. Han let me try one of his tacos. I was impressed. Best Friend is a true bright spot for Park MGM.
Final days in Vegas are usually solemn. I never seem to have enough time to do anything substantial, so I try to keep some quick rituals. One is an early morning short walk in the area around my resort, just to take in a little bit more Vegasiness before heading home. The other, is to take $20 and play a few hands of $1 video poker. At $5 a hand, it usually goes quickly. It’s a rare occasion when this yields positive results, but it’s a fun way to make a quick, final push. This day was one of those rare occasions. I hit 4OAK after 4OAK. It got to a point to where I felt I couldn’t lose. That’s a dangerous place for a gambler to be. Ultimately, I walked away with just over $650- easily the best video poker session I’ve ever had. It was so good and unexpectedly long, that I broke my own rule of getting to the airport ungodly early. I, of course, made my flight. Thank you TSA PreCheck.
As I mentioned before, the full podcast audio provides more insight and thoughts that wander as much as I did on this trip. Thanks again to everyone I saw. You know it’s tough to name everyone, so us podcasters and writers rarely try. Know that if I did talk to you, I thoroughly enjoyed our interaction. I used to think Vegas is what made Vegas great. Really, I think it’s the people we find in Vegas that make it great. Safe travels. I hope to see you all soon.