No offense to all of my other trips and the wonderful people who went with me, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited for a trip as I am for the one I’m taking at the end of July 2023. And maybe that’s just because it’s the next trip that’s coming up, but it’s more likely that it’s because of my kick-ass Las Vegas trip itinerary and the fact I’m going with my dad! 

That’s right, I’m taking my pops to Vegas. I never call him, “pops.” but it felt right, okay? 

We’ve actually been together once before, but it was a mellower trip with my wife Kathryn and my mom. Don’t get me wrong — It was a great and I’ll always remember it as the first time I saw the Hoover Dam, and the only time I’ve seen the Grand Canyon.  

But this is going to be a true “guys trip.” And, of course, I’m tagging on two-ish solo days at the end as I like to do. That worked out perfectly last July when my wife Kathryn and I spent a couple of days together and then I stayed a little longer. We both agreed it was a great setup, so I’m trying something similar!  My dad’s actually doing his own thing after as well — meeting up with a friend in town for a few extra days. 

Anyways, we’re looking at five amazing days in my favorite place. My saint of a wife is going to take care of our two year old, but I’m working to make it up to her as best I can and I’m hoping she’ll have some support from family. 

My in-laws are so extremely anti-Vegas that they prefer I make up some other destination to tell them I’m going. But what a great excuse for Kathryn to get them to help with our son? “Please help me while my husband is off galavanting around sin city!! Oh the horror!” 

I’ve been dreaming up this itinerary for more than 200 days. I’ve got it all dialed into a calendar and I fall asleep thinking about it. I am continuously refining it. I think about it when I wake up. I think about it in the shower. I think… I think I have a problem ;p 

I’m a Vegas veteran and I’m well aware things have to be flexible, but planning the trip gives me joy and helps me get through the months without Vegas. Plus I just generally tend to be the planning kind of person. 

So without any further delay, here’s my anticipated itinerary for Las Vegas 2023: 

Thursday 

6am: Flight from MCI to LAS

We fly out of Kansas City’s new airport at 6am local time. That puts us in Vegas by 7am. It’s an early rise and makes for a long day, but it makes for a full day. You know I’m not keen to waste a second. Plus, with all of the recent airline snafus, being one of the first flights out gives us the best shot at actually leaving on time or at least being able to quickly pivot and not waste our whole day in an airport terminal. 

8am: Hotel — The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Benefiting from the time difference, we’ll land before most of Vegas wakes up (around 7am, I believe). We’ll head straight to the Cosmo to check in and then either grab breakfast at Eggslut or somewhere casual like Starbucks. If we’re really feeling it, I’ve also penciled in possibilities like the Peppermill, Cabo Wabo, or even The Henry. 

One Bedroom Fountain View 

Our plan is to get a one bedroom fountain view room. I can’t wait to show off the view and I just love the extra space this room layout allows. I’ll let my dad have the king bed for the two nights we’re sharing the room. There will be plenty of room on the couch in the living room area. After he leaves, I’ll have the bed to myself, so I can be patient. 

9am: The Las Vegas Sign

We’ll then uber over to the Las Vegas sign! Though I’ve been to Vegas many times, like so many other Vegas veterans, I’ve never actually gone to the sign myself. So we’re going to head over and get some touristy pictures. It’s ideal to go early in the morning, I hear, to avoid the long lines. 

10am: The Pinball Hall of Fame and Harley Davidson

This sets us up perfectly to go to the Pinball Hall of Fame just across the street. My dad is an unofficial Pinball Wizard and this should be a blast. It’s another first for me. 

If time allows, we’ll also take a short walk over to the Las Vegas Harley Davidson. He’s got a Harley and I think this will be a lot of fun. I’m hoping for an awesome souvenir Las Vegas shirt. Yes, I sell them here on the store, but we don’t have any Harley Davidson licensing (yet)! 

12pm: Dirt Dog 

This is my go-to Vegas eatery. My favorite food in a place full of celebrity chefs and Michelin-starred restaurants. I’ve never had a hot dog better than Dirt Dog, nor have I had Elote corn as good as theirs (even though I’ve recently had it at a Michelin-rated restaurant in Palm Springs). I can’t wait to share this experience with my father. 

Then, as we continue to wait for our room to be ready (most likely), we can check out the updated (or barely updated) Horseshoe and may even play mini golf at the place in the lower level (I believe it’s Twilight Zone-themed) and play games in the arcade if we’re not sick of games after conquering the Pinball Hall of Fame. We could also spend some time walking down part of what I call the Caesars run of the strip — Cromwell, Flamingo, Linq, Harrah’s. 

I have a few hours of flex time scheduled each afternoon and so that’s what this occupies. Who knows where Vegas will lead us. 

Hopefully to our room. 

3pm: Check in to the room and nap

I’m assuming we’ll be able to check in by 3pm and maybe have a short rest (or a gamble). In general, I’ve left the mid afternoons open for inevitable delays or additional activities. I’d also like to get in a nap on some afternoons as it definitely helps to stay alert amongst all of the physical activities, desert heat, and limited sleep. 

6pm: Dinner & downtown

We have reservations for Oscar’s steakhouse at the Plaza. I’m planning on treating my dad. I’m excited to see the new carousel bar and the expanded Oscar’s seating area. This will be my first time, though, so I’m hoping we can sit in the main dining room with a great view of Fremont. 

Afterwards we have the entire night free. We’ll walk Fremont street before it gets too late (and dangerous) and then head back to the strip for some gambling. 

I’m excited for my dad to see the madness of Fremont street and some of the history of the start of Las Vegas.

Back on the strip, we’ll likely do some gambling, we may see the Volcano show, or may see the fountains. 

Who knows how late we’ll stay up, but given the time difference and the early start planned for the morning, it may be the earliest time to bed in all of my Vegas history. 

Friday 

 

Friday is our only full day in Las Vegas together —  if you consider Thursday less than a full day. 

Anyways, on Friday we plan to wake up early and grab Eggslut or something similar. Then, we’re taking a short hike across the Boulevard to get a car for a long hike in the desert. 

8am: Rental Car (Planet Hollywood lobby)

We’re renting a car from the rental service at the bottom of Planet Hollywood (Enterprise, I think). It’s $70 all-in. I get a huge discount from my brother-in-law who works for them. So, I know it’s an Enterprise company, but they have several brands… I better double-check my reservation before I leave! :) 

9am: Red Rock National Conservation Area

Then, we’re going to drive out to Red Rock National Conservation Area. We’ll do some hiking (my dad will probably push to do much more than I can handle or expect) and sightseeing. We’ll take the scenic drive for sure. 

I’m looking forward to driving in the city and, at the very least, getting to ride in a car past all of the sights and sounds while I excitedly shout out everything to my dad. It’s just not the same in an Uber, eh? 

The only bummer with this is that the final round of paving for the much-anticipated F1 race is slated to take place on the strip around this date. So from what I’ve seen, the drive may turn into more pain than pleasure. 

12:30pm: Lunch at Black Tap (Venetian)

We’ll then take advantage of the free parking at The Venetian / Palazzo and eat lunch at Black Tap. I can’t wait to get a truffle burger and one of those obnoxiously huge milkshakes. 

Cheeseburgers and milkshakes are just my dad and I’s kind of thing. 

We’ll then explore the Venetian and whatever else we feel like in that direction (Wynn? Encore? Flight Club?) and then head back to Planet Hollywood to return the car. 

I’ve left more flex time in the afternoon (nap here I come). 

5:30pm: Superfrico

At 5:30pm (yeah, I know it’s early), we’ve got reservations at Superfrico. I really struggled with where to take my dad for this meal, and it seems like quite a great experience. The food? Maybe not so much. 

But that’s part of what makes this work so perfectly. We can just split a couple of things and not worry about filling up too much because we’ll likely still be digesting that massive cheeseburger and milkshake from earlier. Maybe all of that hiking will make us hungry again, though. Who knows.

I made the reservation early because it seems people tend to spend a long time here enjoying the entertainment. It’s going to be loud and adventurous. My dad’s traditionally not liked loud dining venues, so this might be interesting. 

7:30pm Maroon 5 Residency (Dolby Live Theater) 

We have tickets to Maroon 5 — doors at 7 and show at 8. Now, I tend to like a lot of Maroon 5 songs but forget that I do. I can’t say I’m like a mega fan or anything, but my dad and I used to listen to Maroon 5 when I was in high school, and so this is kind of like a full circle moment. Perhaps I’m making a mistake not going to a variety show or magic show with him. Hmmm… 

The show is at the Dolby Live Theater, so we’ll get to enjoy that casino and then also spend some time at New York-New York, if we so choose. If we get hungry again, there’s always spots like Secret Pizza (I’ve never been!), Posh Burger (nope, never been!) or Nacho Daddy (seriously, I’ve never been!) to try. 

The rest of the night is free for us to explore and enjoy as we see fit. 

Saturday

 

8am: Line for Wicked Spoon

I’m unashamedly going to see if my dad will get in line to save us a spot at Wicked Spoon for Saturday morning. In reality, he’ll be up way earlier than I will anyways.

9am: Wicked Spoon Buffet 

Despite all of my Vegas trips, I’ve never made it to a buffet. I’m so excited to give it a try at a high quality location like The Wicked Spoon. With my tier status, I receive a BOGO meal, so it should actually be a great deal. My dad and I have enjoyed buffet-type experiences in the past, so I think this should be fun. 

We need to get in quick and get moving, though, because we’ll need to leave Cosmopolitan for Area 15 by 10:20. 

10:40am: Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart at Area 15 

I really enjoyed this last year with my wife and I think it will be quite a memorable experience for my dad. Or he’ll hate it. This place kind of seems to go one way or the other for most folks.

This time I’m going to get the boop card (yes, I think that’s actually what it’s called) so we can follow along the storyline a bit more. I think he’ll enjoy this part, but it will also add a new element for me since I’ve been previously. 

If time allows, we’ll explore other parts of Area 15 afterwards. 

I’ll need to be careful here because I know we’ll be having a blast together, but after Omega Mart we need to make it back at a decent time for us to part ways. My dad will join his local-living friend and I’ll start my solo adventure. 

I’m hoping the transition will be complete before 1pm. 

The Start of Solo Vegas

 

1pm: Prep work 

I’ll kick off my solo time with an incredibly exciting event — shopping. 

No, not for a new Gucci suitcase at the Shops at Crystals, but just gathering any restocking of supplies from CVS (I’m assuming we’ll work that in somewhere on the first day, too???). It will be nice to get this out of the way and not worry about it again. After that, any extra things I need will likely be purchased for a ridiculously high premium at the hotel. A price I’m generally willing to pay for convenience and to save precious Vegas time.

1:30pm:  Lunch at Hattie B’s / My Room ?

Depending on how I’m feeling, I plan to get Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. I’ve been really looking forward to this and I’m afraid that if I wait too long, I’ll run out of time. It’s one of the top hot chicken places from the decade I lived in Nashville. I miss it and can’t wait for some hot chicken tenders, ranch, macaroni and cheese, and delicious french fries. 

The only things I could see preventing this part of the plan are: Still being full from the buffet, running out of time, concern over heartburn (yes this makes me feel old). 

I plan to take lunch back to my room, relax on the balcony and maybe even take a bath with a view if I’m so inclined. As I write this, a hot bath after Hot Chicken sounds terrible. Hmm… perhaps I need to keep thinking. 

3:00pm: Resorts World

Here’s where my itinerary is still in a tiny bit of flux. I may go to The Chandelier Bar, some other Cosmo bar, or I may head straight to Resorts World. 

Resorts World’s casino bar is a can’t-miss part of this itinerary. So, if I’m running behind, I’ll head straight there. 

My plan is to get a seat at the center bar, enjoy some low-rolling electronic roulette, and get some fancy cocktails (not expecting anything to be comped at my level of play). Bar top electronic roulette isn’t easy to find, but boy do I love it. 

P.S. I’m kind of surprised, but Resorts World, for one reason or another, has started to make a repeated appearance in my Vegas trip schedules. I hear this frequently and it may be time we all start giving it a bit more credit.

5:00pm Fremont Street

Originally, I planned to try my first ever game of bingo at the Plaza this afternoon. However, I don’t think I can work out the timing to be just right. I’d either have to play the 3pm time or the 5pm time. 3pm is too close to my Resorts World activities and 5pm is cutting it too close to my 7pm show time at New York-New York. 

So, I’ll probably just walk around a bit, maybe hit up a cheap table game or something and possibly get some pizza downtown at Pop Up Pizza or Pizza Rock (or Evil Pie). The pizza will become a much higher priority if Hattie B’s didn’t pan out. 

It’s also possible that this part of the itinerary just gets completely skipped for time. 

7pm: Mad Apple at New York-New York. 

I try to anchor all of my days, especially solo days, with at least one major “event.” Usually, it’s a show. I’ve become more and more fond of New York-New York and have heard nothing but great things about the Mad Apple show, so I’m going for it! Plus, I keep forgetting that it’s technically a Cirque du Soleil show. So, that will be another first for me!

Sitting in the balcony seems like a great move to not be pulled into crowd participation (a nod to Tim Dressen at the Five Hundy by Midnight podcast, if you listen) and yet the view still seems great (and the price not so bad, either). 

This will get me to this side of the strip and set me off for a lively night, I think. 

From there, I’ll let the night take me. I’d like to see the dueling pianos, if I can. I used to love the ones at The Paris (and my wife did, too, which is a bonus), but I just heard they’re going away :( 

Depending on the MGM Rewards / Cosmo situation, I’ll try to save a lot of my play for Cosmo. Boy do I wish they’d merge so I had more freedom. I know most Cosmo loyalists feel the opposite. 

I’ll take in the Bellagio fountains from just outside Cosmo (I enjoyed dipping out from the side entrance to see them a few times during my last trip). I also hope to see them from my personal balcony, but that’s a lot to fit in. 

Otherwise, general Vegas stuff. Can’t wait to see what happens. 

Sunday

 

This is my last full day in Vegas for this trip.

Breakfast in bed (or on the balcony, rather)

I’m excited to order room service and have it delivered up to the room. I can recover from the night before at my own pace and truly enjoy the privacy of the balcony. I’m already planning to order the omelet with hash browns as well as an extra side of Bacon. Coffee perhaps, too! 

Free time? 

Shockingly, I’ve not over-planned this part of the trip. I’ll need to take pictures for Las Vegas Merch Co. I hope to have got a lot of great images already, but may not have had many featuring actual products themselves. 

I also want to make sure I hit the Bellagio conservatory and Aria if I’ve not yet done so at this point. 

Otherwise, this might be a secondary option for Bingo at The Plaza, if I’m really feeling it, or some time at Beer Park, The Chandelier Bar, or even just a nice soak in the tub. 

3pm – throughout: Caesars Day 

I’ve deemed today Caesars Day. You may remember that I dedicated a night to, “Give to Caesars what is Ceasars” on the last trip. 

With my play needing to be consolidated for my greater focus on rewards programs (and even more so if the Cosmo merger has not happened), I’m going to try and refrain from playing much at Caesars properties before this. And, if I do, I’ll try not to use my players’ card. I’ve learned the counterintuitive tip that you’re better not to use your card if you’re just going to put in a small amount here and there. It messes up your daily value in the eyes of the casino (and thus your comps). 

So, I’ll go down the strip today and hit the Caesars properties for gambling, if I’m inclined. 

5pm: Late lunch / early dinner 

I plan to be around the promenade near the 5pm hour. I’ll either get Dirt Dog again (never a bad choice) or finally try Gordon Ramsay’s Fish and Chips. Or maybe I’ll go off the wall and find something else. Who knows?! 

7pm: Atomic Saloon

I’m really into all of the Spiegelworld stuff now, so I can’t wait to go to my second of their shows. This one, at the Venetian, should be another memorable one and set me up for a continued day near Caesars properties. 

9pm: The Volcano show

After the show, I plan to do my third final trip to see the Volcano. None of us know exactly how much time it has left, so I’m going to try and see it as much as I can! I may even catch a drink at Rhumbar! 

From here, I’ll continue my Caesars day festivities and work my way back towards the Cosmo to end with a combo of relaxing on the balcony and trips to the Casino. I definitely plan to stop by Casino Royale on the way.

Monday

 

Today’s my last chance to hit any must-see spots before I leave. My flight departs at 7pm and I did not book an extra night at the Cosmo. It’s been a minute since I’ve been in Vegas marooned from a hotel room, so fingers crossed I don’t regret not having a home base to run back to should I need. 

I plan to really hit a few MGM properties on this day. If I’ve had to minimize my gambling at MGM properties until now, this will be the time to be more aggressive. 

 

I’ve made a tradition of going to Luxor on my last day, but I want to see some new stuff (there’s not much of that remaining for me at this point in my Vegas fandom!). I’m going to actually go into Excalibur for the first time, then take the walkway to Luxor and then finally over to Mandalay Bay (another first-time place for me). 

Having inevitably left my bags with the bell service at Cosmo, I’ll then Uber back to grab my bags, smell the property one last time, and make my way to the airport. 

I could have chosen a flight that’s two hours later, but with recent flight frustrations for Southwest and the extremely late arrival time, I’ve opted to play it a bit safer. This should land me in Kansas City by midnight where I’ll be more easily able to grab an Uber ride home. 

There are lots of additional options for this day, like hitting up Beer Park or a final return to Dirt Dog. Time goes fast on this last day, so though I’ll be a bit grumpy about packing my things and vacating the room, it will be a good way to force me out at a decent time. 

I’m also unlikely to do an IV on this final day. I’ve done that in the past for the last several trips, but I’m not sure it’s so necessary any more. I hope I don’t regret it, but it will save me like $200+ WOW! 

Final thoughts

Overall, my only remaining conundrum doesn’t have to do with the 2023 Las Vegas trip itinerary but with divvying up my gambling budget. The first couple of days I plan to split with my dad and we’ll share the earnings evenly. This will extend my budget a bit and make things more fun for us working together. 

That said, the continued and unexpected separation of Identity and MGM Rewards has me disappointed. I was excited to gamble at any MGM property (Cosmo included) as much as I wanted (within budget) without too much thought. 

Beyond slots, I also was hoping to play a few table games here and there. My dad will, I’m sure, want to play some video poker as well. 

In the end, none of this is a major deal. I have comps for the dates I’m planning my next Vegas trip. To avoid sadness, as always, I’ll have it booked before this trip goes off. If I screw up my gambling allocation, hopefully my MGM comps will still remain for the dates I already booked (they do technically have the right to change their mind) and since that will be at an MGM property, I’ll play the heck out of those properties then and catch their attention. 

No matter what happens, it will be awesome. 

Viva Las Vegas!