Having never visited the states before, I thought it was about time to save some dollars and jet off to California for the all American roadtrip…complete with pancakes and machine guns…
Las Vegas – 4 nights
Where better to start than Vegas? I’m not a particularly keen gambler but you can’t help but be drawn into the madness of the place – it truly is America’s party capital with plenty to do at any time of day or night. Here’s my list of recommended activities.
- Hotels – we stayed at Flamingos which is one of the original old school hotels right in the middle of the strip. The room was pretty funky with some good geeky features like light switch controlled curtains and a TV in the bathroom mirror. All the hotels on the strip are notoriously over the top and walking around them can take a few days in itself – but is well worth it. Most things are expensive but there’s a lot of free stuff to see too like the Bellagio fountains and the Mirage Volcano.
- Gambling – Goes without saying, but you’ve got to give it a go. The bandits are fun but the real entertainment comes from the tables which are targeted at every budget. I lost at most of them but had fun handing over my money regardless – plus drinks are free while you gamble!
- Grand Canyon Helicopter Ride – This was one of the highlights of the trip – flying around the canyon is awe inspiring. The Hoover Dam from above is pretty cool too.
- Shoot Some Guns – there’s a couple of places tailored to tourists but we went for Machine Gun Vegas. It’s walkable from the strip, wasn’t as busy as the other places and had some good packages. Being British, I chose the SAS package which includes a hand gun, a semi automatic and an automatic…weirdly, the strangest for me was the pistol as I’ve never shot one before even though I was advised against holding it sideways "gansta style". that said, an automatic machine gun with laser sight was fairly awesome! Needless to say, those paper targets received a whooping. The girls in short shorts, thigh holsters and aviator glasses is a nice touch too.
- See a show – A lot of the hotels have shows, but my recommendation would be to see one the Cirque Du Soleil ones which are embedded in specific hotels. We went to see Ka at the MGM Grand and it was fantastic.
- Eat a Buffet – Most of the hotels offer all you can eat buffets and they’re great…One a day will keep you stuffed!
- Visit Fremont Street – The original Vegas and definitely worth the bus trip. Everything’s a bit cheaper and seedier than the main strip -much more my cup of tea. They’ve covered the whole street and there’s always lots going on.
Palm Springs – 2 nights
The next destination was Palm Springs, but rather than use the freeway, we picked up the bright yellow convertible Camaro (which didn’t make us stand out at all…) and headed into the desert. Stopping off at the Hoover Dam on the way was well worth while as you need to stand on it to truly appreciate the scale. The Mojave National Preserve was excellent – completely isolated and great scenery. That said, I’m not sure what we’d have done if we broke down – it was 109F and no civilisation for miles…There’s also a bit of the original route 66 you can drive along through Goff which is nicely American albeit a bit pot-holed.
Palm Springs itself is a super-chilled place and well suited to relaxing after the madness of Vegas. So much so that we didn’t really do much there except lounge about, eat at some of the fantastic restaurants and drink cocktails. It all winds up quite early there though which is a bit of a shock after the "get-anything-anytime" of Sin City…
Continue the roadtrip
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