Welcome to quarantine! We out here fighting a speeding ticket we got in Nevada, and thought a throwback to this trip would be apropos, since not everything that happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Also, turns out most of Vegas is a complete lie. Shall we?
GENERAL TIPS – this trip was worth going with a crew, because many of the entrance fees were per car (not per person). Which brings us to our next point… rent that car. There are so many beautiful places that aren’t too far of a drive away, as well as lots of kosher food that can easily be accessed via wheels.
FRIDAY – got the rental, where we found out the Hoover Dam was temporarily closed for emergency repairs. Always great to hear one of the Earth’s greatest dams is in need of repair! We then ran to the Smith’s supermarket at 211 N Rampart Blvd to stop up on Shabbos and trip food – the Kosher selection here was HUGEEEE and super affordable. A giant piece of freshly prepared chicken for Shabbos was like $2, and they had delicious pareve cakes and kugels… literally anything and everything is at this Smith’s. About a 20 minute ride away was Red Rock Canyon, where you can drive your car along a path and stop every so often to hike or take pictures.
We had to peace out of that park pretty early in order to pick up more Shabbos food at King Solomon’s Table. We stayed at the Club Wyndham Grand Desert, which was basically around the corner from the Vegas strip. It was perfect for Shabbos because we had two full kitchens and tons of space… just a little tricky to get back in on Shabbos.
SHABBOS – we went through a run through of the whole building before Shabbos, to figure out how we could walk the strip but still get back into our room. We were able to keep our door discretely unlocked with a thin magnet, but had to venture out closer to the end of Shabbos because there was no way to get back onto our floor without riding an elevator. Most of the doors to the strip are manual, and to every escalator there’s usually a step option as well. Classic the Venetian which has mezuzahs all over the place and a Coffee Bean, was the one place we had trouble getting out of. We know those emergency exits super well now!
Motzei Shabbos we got delicious gourmet pizza at Ariella’s, which is in the same parking lot as a Trader Joe’s, in case you can’t keep away.
SUNDAY – we took a tour of Wyndham resorts in order to earn free travel vouchers anywhere in the world that we probably won’t get to use this year, so JOKES ON US! Drove to Zion National Park which was about a four hour drive away – stopped a lot along the way because the whole ride was scenic and breathtaking. We also passed through a bunch of states along the way and took advantage of the photo shoots.
There are many different trails within Zion, so make sure you choose the most appropriate one and bring good shoes! We drove at night to get to Page, the roads were empty and dark and we had to use the brights on and off BUT the best part was stopping the car on the side of the road to let the top down and see all of the stars in the clearest, quietest night sky you will ever experience.
MONDAY – Horseshoe bend was a five minute drive from our hotel room, so we went for sunrise (might be a better sunset spot though). It’s a really easy walk for anyone of all ages to do.
After going back to our hotel to chill and eat, we drove to Lower Antelope Canyon, which you can only experience via guided tour by a Navajo Native American (we did Ken’s and loved our guide Tray – he was a sick photographer on top of just being fun and knowledgeable). There are a few minutes a day, somewhere at the 10/11 a.m. mark where you can catch a sunbeam coming through these intricate formations, and we were able to quickly snap a few shots before it disappeared.
Stopped at a Walmart nearby to better prepare ourselves for our convertible on our way to Valley of Fire. We didn’t have much time at this park, but we were able to get to the Fire Wave, and see the petroglyph trail (art carved into dark rock by Native Americans). We thought there would be a large area at the end of the trail with the petroglyphs, but really they were all along the trail – just focus on any darker area and take note of drawings.
What better way to end a long day of hikes than by eating shawarma?? Shawarma Vegas was so so good, and they even made us garlic mayo when it wasn’t even on the menu. We couldn’t not be in the area and not stay on the strip, and staying at Harrah’s was definitely a one and done experience. There was security all over the place, and a lot of aggressive neighbors on our floor (probably most of the hotels are like this, because when in Rome). We gambled a total of $5 between the three of us, and then ate our losses away at the Ben & Jerry’s in house.
TUESDAY – started at the Neon Museum, also known as the Neon Boneyard. It was quite expensive for a tiny plot of land with the original Vegas signs, but the staff there made up for it by spilling all of the juicy history of Vegas, and the meaning behind the signs. For instance, the Vegas strip is not in Las Vegas at all – it’s a place literally called Paradise. To continue this mini history lesson, read the next paragraph, otherwise feel free to skip knowing how much you’re being duped when you come here.
Casinos put in ugly carpets so that you look away towards the ceiling, which is boring white… keeping your eyes on the machines at all times. Machines closest to the bathroom are programmed to win more, because everybody has to go to the bathroom at some point, and you’ll feel those positive vibes when you get there are see so many people winning. Lighting within the casinos is always set to feel like daylight, so there goes your circadian rhythm. The infamous lit up signs are only on lease ten years at a time, so every ten years new signs are put up and Vegas looks completely different. The hotels within Vegas also usually come up with a cohesive theme to tie all of the strip together, with the upcoming projected theme being sports. There’s so much more to say, but we’ll keep it at this 🙂
We then checked out the famous Welcome to Vegas sign (which never got copy-written and never received royalties from all the times its been mass produced. Okay okay, we’ll stop the history). Oh, there’s free parking there! We drove to the Seven Magic Mountains art installment, which was on the way to the Mojave Desert in California!
It’s part of a boom town, besides for the desert itself being incredibly vast and beautiful and impossible to trek through (bring some sort of light sled to slide down the sand dunes – our biggest regret was not having one). After stopping at the Joshua tree’s on the way out, we grabbed a snack at Coffee Bean in the Venetian, returned car, and ate instant soup cups with hot water we got from Starbucks. Our flight home was an entire experience on its own (imagine someone so drunk and high they try to pry the cabin door open mid flight because the ride was too long), but our plane was parked to AirForce One, which was pretty cool.
There was a crazy amount we didn’t get to see in the Vegas area that we already have written down – we can’t wait to go back!
Check out our Instagram page @thewanderingjews.blog for video content of what there is to see and do!