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Top 10 highlights from my first trip to Las Vegas

10 June 2019

Last month, I went on my first trip to Las Vegas and stayed at The Mirage on the Strip. With the raw temperatures back home in Massachusetts in the high 50s and low 60s in early May, arriving to 85-degree weather in Las Vegas was a major bright spot. That being said, you don’t go to Las Vegas just for the nice weather. Here are 10 highlights from my first — but certainly not my last — Las Vegas experience.

10. The size of the Strip
When you hear people talk about the Las Vegas Strip or see it on a map, you don’t understand or appreciate how big it really is. I wanted to see as much as I could and cover as much of the Strip as possible. Staying at The Mirage, I figured I would head south near Park MGM and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and hit the resorts in between.

The first night my friends and I headed out and walked through several resorts and played at a few craps and blackjack tables. Time really goes quicker, because before we knew it, it was late into the night and we had barely made it through two or three resorts. There is so much to do on the Strip, and go through all the resorts is somewhat of an impossible task, which I found out pretty fast.

9. Cigar bars
The NBA playoffs were in the conference semi-final round during my trip. One of the ways I chose to enjoy an NBA playoff game was to hit Rhumbar at The Mirage. The cigar bar had seating inside and outside, but because of the weather it was an easy choice to be outside. The bar had several TVs so that any seat had a view of the game.

I selected a good night to go too, because that was the night the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trailblazers had their game go four overtimes. Not a bad game to watch with a cigar and a nice glass of scotch.

8. The Volcano
Located right outside the main entrance of The Mirage is The Volcano. I would definitely recommend making a quick, roughly 10-minute stop to enjoy the show it offers every night. It runs at 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Many gathered around it to watch fire shoot from all angles. Little was I expecting to feel how strong the heat was coming off the rocks and water.

Renovated in 1996, the volcano is more than 50 feet tall, and the balls of fire seen on the water during the show can shoot up to 12 feet in the air.

7. Bellagio Fountains
The Bellagio fountains are something you see in several movies based in Las Vegas. They are a must-see if you are in Las Vegas.

Videos and pictures do not do this free attraction, located just outside Bellagio, justice. Considering how frequent the daily show is, every 30 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes at night, it was pretty shocking to see the size of the crowd waiting for the fountains to launch water up in the air. Seeing the number of people anticipating what was about to happen made me think about how impressive the Bellagio Fountains must really be, and they were.

The fountains hold 22 million gallons of water in the 8.5 acres they take up. Due to evaporation and other causes, the lake can lose some water, so each year 12 million gallons of water supplement the fountains.

6. Blackjack at The Palazzo
Blackjack has always been my go-to game, and The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino was my favorite place to gamble.

Now, I may be a little biased since it was where I had some of my better success, but the atmosphere, the workers and people really made the difference.

Obviously, winning some money is going to put everyone in a good mood, but having a group of fun and entertaining people at the table with you ensures that. On top of that, the dealers were some of the best I have gotten in a long time. The next time I end up back in Vegas, playing at The Palazzo will be at the top of my list.

5. Nightlife
As I mentioned before, getting to all of the resorts is hard enough, but trying to get to all of the nightlife locations is out of the question. There were tons of places along the Strip to go out at night and enjoy a few drinks with friends.

1 OAK was the nightclub at The Mirage which we decided to go to, not only for the convenience factor, but because we had heard good things about it. It did come in handy that we were staying at the resort, however, since we did not have to wait in the long line or pay a cover charge. Being a guest at the hotel gave us the perk of being able to leave whenever and return to the club without having to go back in line as well.

I couldn’t even keep count of how many other bars and clubs we just passed by on the Strip, but another that was a great time to attend was Drai’s at The Cromwell, which has made a huge effort to become player-friendly in recent years. It was a multi-level place with a rooftop, which is where I spent most of my time. Being able to have a drink and enjoy the night with friends and a view of the Strip from atop the resort was something to really take in.

These were the two places that stood out the most to me, but, like I said, there are many more places to go out and find.

4. The Venetian sportsbook
My favorite sportsbook, not that I didn’t enjoy them all, was The Venetian Las Vegas sportsbook. As you walk in, you see pillars with odds on a bunch of future bets that you can place. When I was there, it was future bets for the Super Bowl in the upcoming NFL season.

Then you get into the main area of the sportsbook, which had a bar in the rear, and each individual seat had its own personal screen. There were several massive screens above the betting terminals in the front of the book, along with betting sheets to take back to your seat.

It was a great place to have a beer and hopefully watch your parlays and bets hit.

3. The pool
From my room, I had a good view of the pool. It was easy to see how crowded it was and when seats in the shade were open to go down and take one.

When I was down at the pool, it was hard to get up and leave when it was time to get ready for a dinner reservation or whatever I had going on next.

The poolside service was an added bonus, and I don’t think you can get much better weather than mid-80s and sunny while sitting at the pool.

It was the perfect way to relax, and if you do plan on sleeping by the pool, get a chair in the sun so you don’t cook in that heat.

2. The Kentucky Derby
On 4 May, one of the most controversial races ever took place. The 145th running of the Kentucky Derby had one of the biggest decisions made in history, and I was in the middle of chaos at The Mirage sportsbook.

With the favorite being disqualified for impeding another horse, Country House, who finished second originally, was named the champion at 65-to-1. Now you can imagine that people were still excited at first when Maximum Security (4-to-1) crossed the finish line. However, after a long review and then Country House was given the victory, the sportsbook erupted and you could easily tell who had Country House by the sound of their cheers.

Unfortunately for me, Country House was not my chosen horse, but to be at a Las Vegas sportsbook for a crazy event like that? It’s a day I won’t soon forget, to say the least.

1. Never a dull moment
You won’t ever find yourself in Las Vegas wondering what else there is to do or be bored at any time. You have pools, comedy clubs, bars, casinos and restaurants by the dozens all around you. Not once during my trip was I worried about filling time, because there was no time left to fill with everything my friends and I did.

Our trip wasn’t stacked with plans hour by hour, just walking around finding things to do was enough to fill our trip and constantly be doing something.

Would I do some things differently? Sure. Would I go back? Absolutely.
Dan Ippolito

As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports. Email him at, or follow him at @casinocity_dan on Twitter.
Dan Ippolito
As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports. Email him at, or follow him at @casinocity_dan on Twitter.