Unbelievable. I was getting ready to go on my second trip to Las Vegas in the same year. I’d recently bumped up my commitment to this worthy cause from one every two years to become an annual trip. 

And when an opportunity to combine two of my favorite things — Las Vegas and Jimmy Buffett — presented itself, I couldn’t say no. Thankfully, the wife didn’t either. In fact, she encouraged me to take the opportunity! It’s been a heck of a couple of years. 

If I had my way, I wouldn’t have booked these trips so close to each other, but it was nice to leave the last trip without the deep sadness I’m used to. Knowing I was less than 60 days to a return was nice. 

But then, just about a week before I was supposed to leave on this October trip, Jimmy had to cancel the rest of his tour. The group of women from my local Parrothead club debated their plans — the 60+ girls trip and me — was in danger. In the end, they all canceled. 

I did not. 

So, with a refreshed agenda and a one day date change (arriving Saturday AM instead of Friday; leaving Monday night instead of Sunday), I set out on my next adventure.

Day 1: Saturday Morning

8:00am: Airport and Flight

I wasn’t feeling that great on the way to the airport. You don’t read these blogs to hear about the drive to an airport thousands of miles outside of Vegas, but it’s somewhat relevant to the story. See how I do the foreshadowing thing? My old English teacher would be proud. 

I arrived, as I tend to do, way too early so I didn’t have to worry. 

The flight was smooth. It was almost over too soon. I was already expecting this whole quick weekend getaway to be a blur, so I wanted to savor every minute. 

I spent my time jumping around between a book about Steve Wynn, The Vital Vegas and Five Hundy by Midnight podcasts, and Vegas-related music videos I downloaded earlier in the week. 

I never spoke to the middle-aged couple next to me until the plane landed in Vegas. Though I tried to subtly prove my Vegas fandom to them by proudly displaying all of my Vegas-themed entertainment choices on my tray table throughout the flight.

I left with the impression they didn’t care.

They asked about the time zone (were we in mountain or pacific time?). I let them know it was Pacific, then quickly Googled it to make sure I knew as much about my favorite city as I thought I did. I was right, of course. 

They then commented about their layover and I said they’d have plenty of time to make a $20 donation to Las Vegas on the slots. They said, “Yeah, that’s something we could do… if we wanted. I guess.”

Ewww, Yuck. Get away from me you non-believers!!!

Leaving the plane, I just couldn’t wait to enjoy the airport experience. 

I was not disappointed as the first shop to the left of the gate was the Neon Museum’s relatively new merch shop! Now, they didn’t have a Las Vegas Clutch or Vegas-themed pool bags like my store does, but they did have awesome licensed offerings and some great coffee table books I hadn’t seen before. New Christmas gift ideas unlocked!!

From my gate, I actually took the brief monorail ride to the baggage claim area. I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve done this. And I’m not sure why I did — given that it didn’t seem to save me much time or walking and forced me to be in a small enclosed area with a bunch of random people. Oh well. You live and learn. 

I didn’t have any bags to claim, actually. But I savored this moment as a right of passage when landing in Vegas. I stayed for a few minutes in the baggage area and savored the fact that I had finally made it. 

10:30am local time: Flamingo Las Vegas

When the car pulled up, it was a thrill to see the “Flamingo” name in pink lights — welcoming me with a glitter. 

As soon as I stepped out of the car, I could hear the thumping beat of the pool. I took a quick peek through the gates as I planned to spend the day there tomorrow. It was loud, but didn’t look too wild. 

As I walked inside the hotel area through the sliding doors, I sniffed for a special scent. I’m not sure I could identify one other than, “pool.” 

Does Flamingo have a unique smell? One I can buy from Retail Aroma? Not sure. 

This part of the hotel was somewhat bland and dated. A bit like an old mall. Vending machines on my left. Rack of coupon books (you better believe I took one… or two) near the doors.

Perfectly unassuming escalators took me up to the main lobby level. 

It was a bit of a longer walk to the main part of the casino and hotel lobby than I expected. 

But I passed an oxygen bar, display and store for Ru Paul’s Drag Race, one of those quick massage places, and a bunch of shops. One was pretty tacky, typical souvenir stuff. Another was a bit nicer and had a bunch of Christmas and Flamingo-themed items. Couldn’t wait to go there. 

I made my way to the lobby and, terrified of the check in line (I’d heard horror stories), looked for where to go. 

I found it and the line didn’t seem too bad, but was taking quite a while anyways. I was ready to get to my room and enjoy! I was told, however, that since I had checked in on the app (I did so before even leaving my home town), I could find a bank of self-service machines to skip the line. 

I looked and finally spotted them in the corner. I jumped out of line and headed right over. 

This ended up saving me a ton of time. I didn’t need an real-life agent because I had paid extra for an updated, strip view room and was fine with whatever they’d give me. 

The eighth floor assignment wasn’t so bad. Now, had it been even a few floors lower I may have gone back to speak with someone. 

The elevators were right behind the reception area and easy to find. There’s a huge bank of them, but they are kind of just open to the public. I was aware of this and didn’t love it, but seemed safe enough at noon on a Saturday. Cosmo doesn’t even have security checking key cards at the elevators. Though I’ve always assumed they have enough “undercover” security that it’s just taken care of in the background. 

When I got to my room, I was first thankful that the door worked totally fine! If you read my last Las Vegas trip report, you’ll remember that a wonky door at Planet Hollywood would start a slew of early issues with my room that would eventually turn out to be just fine. 

I was impressed with the room overall. It was bright and simple with various Flamingo elements throughout. It wasn’t the most amazing thing I’d ever seen, but absolutely met expectations. 

The best part? I had the most amazing dead-center view of Caesars palace and the strip. And, you’d think I had a King bed (they were sold out of those when I tried to book) instead of two queens, because there was lots of room near the window and a nice place to sit. 

A central view of Caesars palace from across Las Vegas Blvd in a room at Flamingo Las Vegas

I organized my stuff, sanitized every surface I could find, and took lots of pictures and videos. 

By the time I was settled in, however, I didn’t have enough time to do my pre-meal art crawl as planned in my October 2022 Las Vegas itinerary

So, I sat and admired the view while enjoying a bit more of my book and podcasts about the very city I was looking out over.

Then it was an Uber to Cosmopolitan to really kick things off. 

11:45AM: Cosmopolitan & The Henry 

This was great — my Uber driver was a local. And I mean, born and raised local. He was older and had actually worked pretty closely for Steve Wynn at one point. This came up as I told him about my fascination with Vegas and its history and the book I was currently reading. I just wish the ride was longer! 

We pulled into the Cosmo drop-off area and I was as thrilled as ever to see the giant silver letters with, “COSMOPOLITAN” on the wall. 

I made it through the doors and was greeted with a blue-suited security guard and of course… 

The most amazing smell ever

I love the aroma of the Cosmopolitan. LOVE IT. 

I put on my glasses. I don’t typically wear these very often, but I brought them to enjoy the art. Now that I was in Cosmo, I also wanted to soak in every detail of the beauty around me. 

I still had a bit of time before my noon reservation at The Henry, so I went to the loyalty desk. I was thrilled to ask them for a new card because I had reached a new tier! 

Armed with my new card, I made my way to The Henry — scouting out my favorite Top Dollar machine along the way to make sure it was still safely in its place. 

The Henry was packed and people were waiting all around the desk. I checked in and felt like royalty as they called my name for my solo table just a few minutes later. 

I was seated around the back with a perfect view of the Casino. It was great! 

The dishes I spied on the tables around me looked amazing, but once again, it was the aroma that really brought it home. This place smelled like breakfast. Maple syrup, bacon, toast… just heavenly. 

The service was great at The Henry. I was excited to go all-out and get a few different things as I wanted an epic brunch. 

I started with a Champagne Supernova cocktail. I savored the heck out of it. It was beautifully presented. I smelled it, I sipped it, I took it all in. 

Champagne Supernova – $17 – Vanilla vodka, peach vodka, coconut chai syrup, lemon juice, bubbles. 

It was pretty acidic, but tasted balanced. Maybe an unusual mix of alcohols for me (more on that later). 

Thankfully, I was able to order a single pancake along with my California omelet entree. I was prepared to purchase an entire pancake entree if I had too. 

I also got an extra side of Bacon (so worth it… crispy and melt in your mouth!). 

I’m telling you — I wanted an epic brunch like from a bufett, but with the service and quality of a full restaurant. I was doing whatever I needed to achieve that. Plus, knowing how my trips usually go, I knew this would probably be my largest meal of this solo trip.

A condiment spread at The Henry restaurant at The Cosmopolitan

They presented a nice array of amenities to go with my meal — hot sauce, jam, ketchup, butter. It was simple and gorgeous. 

When my meal finally came, it was everything I wanted. 

It was some of the best breakfast I’d had in a long time and it was in my favorite place, too! 

A breakfast spread at The Henry at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas — California omelet, bacon, pancakes and more.

I saved myself from eating too, too much, but ordered a second drink for the way out. 

One final thing to note here is that I’m finally smart enough to make sure my expenses go towards my loyalty account. I wasn’t staying on the property, so I couldn’t charge to the room, but I was able to give them my card and get some credit.

A brief side note about The Henry if you didn’t know already: It runs the opposite hours of most restaurants. It’s a late-night / overnight restaurant. And I don’t mean it’s open super late and into the morning. I mean, it opens at 10pm and closes the following 2pm. For these servers, I was coming in near closing time after a long shift.

Off to do a bit of gambling before my art crawl!  

I was going to play the Buffalo Gold Revolution game that had taken me for so much money on my last trip, but I either couldn’t find it, or it has moved. 

My second top choice was the “High Stakes”-themed lock-it-link. I found a low-rolling machine and lost $40 before calling it quits. I was kind of starting to feel not-that-great. Maybe just a bit tired. Hard to tell. 

I went upstairs via the beautiful escalator by the Chandelier bar. 

Of course, one of of the first things you see is Milk Bar cookies, so I purchased a few for Kathryn (she asked me to make a stop for her if I could).   

2:05pm Art Crawl

I made my way towards Aria via the Crystal’s shops. I stopped to admire the new construction that had come so far. They’ll soon be done with a new retail addition in the place where the Harmon tower was once built (and immediately condemned) a few years prior. 

Noble 33 motorcycle on display at Crystals in Las Vegas

Stopped at small display for an epic motorcycle. I entered to win it, but… I haven’t heard back so they must have lost my number.

I made it to the small courtyard between Crystals and the Aria and immediately sensed that something was different. 

The statue by Henry Moore is no longer at The Aria Las Vegas

It took me a second, but I realized the sculpture by Henry Moore was missing! See a picture of the sculpture here. It’s always one of my favorite. My wife knows this. I always make the stop. What a shame. 

I then walked around the corner to go in the front lobby entrance and was saddened to see the water feature was dry. I get it. Vegas is running out of water. But it’s sad to see the feature dry and all the more so when you understand the reason why. 

I enjoyed the fall display in the lobby and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Aria. I even captured a few pics to use on the Las Vegas Merch Co. Instagram page

The 2022 Fall lobby display in the Aria Las Vegas

My MGM players card worked (thankfully I didn’t have to stand in line for a new one) and so I played a small bit of Heidi. 

I quickly lost $20 (she never lets me win) and I went on my way. 

I also visited the “back” of the Aria with the essentials shops, access to the nightclub, rooms, etc. 

I wanted to see two pieces of art there.

The buddha at the Aria Las Vegas

The first is the giant Buddha whose belly everyone likes to rub. I abstained as that’s not my gig. 

But I also enjoyed viewing the “Treasure Pagoda” by Tatsuo Miyajima.

The “Treasure Pagoda” by Tatsuo Miyajima at the Aria Las Vegas

I then went back through to Crystals and stopped briefly at a Van Gogh kiosk. They let me know that the 100% of the merchandise upstairs was 75% off. 

So I made my way to the shop and picked out a few Christmas things for my in-laws. They’d pass out if they knew I bought them in Vegas, but… they don’t have to know.

The immersive Vang Gogh experience at Cystals shops in Las Vegas

3:00pm: Sports betting, supply run, and crash. 

Back in Cosmo, I put $20 on Kyle Larson to win the weekend’s NASCAR race. I probably wouldn’t even have a chance to watch it, but its fun to put some money on it while I’m in Las Vegas — especially if I did get a chance to view it after all. 

Knowing that I wasn’t going to wake up very early tomorrow, I had to get my bets in today if I was going to do it. 

My plan was then to make it over to Bellagio to enjoy the conservatory and various art around that property. But I honestly wasn’t feeling that great. 

I went up the short escalator by their main sign next to Cosmopolitan. Then, I turned right around and went down. 

I was crashing or something. 

I needed to head back, get some supplies, and get ready for my evening plans. It was already 3pm and I didn’t have much time to waste. 

I crossed to the Planet Hollywood / Paris side of the strip and walked towards the CVS. It was going to be the best bet “on the way” to the Flamingo. 

Inside, it seemed sparsely stocked and it was as difficult as always to find a red basket to hold my stuff. 

I finally emerged with an assortment of RedBull, Beer, bloody mary mix, waters, and snacks. 

After being highly pressured to sign up for their paid loyalty program to save a few dollars off my purchase (and then pay like $9 a month for the rest of my life for something I’d never use), I escaped with arms heaving

Shit. This was going to be a longer walk than I realized (they all are in Vegas). 

Through the Grand Bazaar shops and under the Bally’s sign that was slowly being dismantled. Up over the bridge and back down. 

Past Cromwell and finally to The Flamingo. 

All. The. Way. To. The. Elevators. 

And I finally made it to the room. 

I dropped the stuff and the pain in my arms was like nothing I had ever experienced. 

Like… something was wrong. My arms cramped and felt terribly weak. 

I picked up my little bluetooth speaker to put on some music and my arm was so weak I dropped it. 

YIKES. 

I was feeling terrible. I attempted to revive myself with a quick lay in the bed and some Vegas music. I decided to cheat and pour a Vodka redbull.

I didn’t drink it. 

Instead, I gave in and threw up. 

I promise this won’t get graphic. 

But the point was that what seemed like just a few minutes later I was good to go

I LOVED my meal at The Henry, but did something upset me? I started to think back and I hadn’t really felt that great since the moment I left. Really, that acidic cocktail, though delicious, kind of gave me instant heartburn. Maybe it wasn’t for me. 

Hmm… I had also felt bad on the way to the airport. So maybe it was totally unrelated. Let’s go with that. 

This whole sucky process made me lose almost two full hours in the room. Terrible waste of time. That was the worst part. 

But It was over now and I was ready to party. Time for Fremont. 

I savored a final few moments of the most beautiful view and the beginning of golden hour (a photography term for the time of day with the stunning, perfect lighting that gets the best photos). I put one some fresh clothes (not a Las Vegas t-shirt, this time).

A view of Caesars Palace during sunset from the Flamingo hotel across the street.

5:00pm Fremont Street Experience

A quick Uber to Circa and I was off to start my cocktail crawl. 

My first stop was Vegas Vickie’s, of course! I’d heard so much about this place. Honestly, I was hoping to run into Scott Roeben (Vital Vegas) while I was there, but no luck. 

I sat at the bar with a nice view of Vickie herself and did try a pretty fancy drink — midnight run, or something like that. I can’t find in on the menu any more — at least from the pictures of the menu I can find online. 

A cocktail at Vegas Vickie's bar - Circa Las Vegas

Honestly, I didn’t love it, but I also didn’t find much else on the menu that caught my eye. The bartender was fine. The waitress who was serving the tables was awesome and super friendly. 

There was some sort of bright purple infused liquor on the bar. It was really interesting. I asked her about it and she got the bartender to tell me a bit more (honestly, I don’t really remember whatever he said). But the notable thing here was that he poured out half a shot for me to look at. 

I wasn’t asking for it, but once he did that, I assumed he was going to let me sample it. But he threw it out right after showing me. 

I don’t know if he thought twice about it or what, but it was so strange. Why pour out a sample size and then throw it away? I get not providing free product… but if that’s the case, just keep it in the bottle! 

It was like a terrible tease. 

And I don’t like to be teased. 

I didn’t hurt him on the tip for it, but had he given me that shot, his tip would have been much better. 

I left Vickies and wandered for a second. I found an All Aboard game that caught my eye. A few spins in I  won a $67 bonus!

A winning screen on the All Aboard slot machine at Circa Las Vegas

Almost instantly I got a text from one of my best friends. Before I knew it, we were on Facetime, I was up a small amount of money, and I was cheerfully walking around the casino on Facetime like my buddy was right there with me. 

What a great time. 

We even walked out onto Fremont street and continued the fun. 

After I hung up, I moved on to the next stop on my cocktail crawl — Whiskey Licker Up. 

I hadn’t ventured that far into Binion’s before, and you have to go (or at least that’s the way I found my way there) up a flight of fairly regal, old-timey stairs. It’s like four times the width of a normal staircase with a railing in the middle. 

Dark, aged wood. The works. 

I seriously could feel the history. I was suddenly alone on a corridor and the noise of Fremont street melted away. It wasn’t sad, but it felt a bit empty. Like I had stepped into another universe from 50 years ago and nobody else was there. 

6:48pm Whiskey Licker Up

When I got to Whiskey Licker Up, there was a pretty big dining room, and most of it had a view of windows that looked out onto Fremont. But the only way to actually see down onto the street and the action was to be at the rotating bar. 

It was pretty obvious that it was going to be tough to grab a seat at the rotating bar, so I sat at the inside bar and ordered some specialty cocktail. 

It was fine. 

Sugary and a bit artificial, but fine. 

So far, I was not impressed with cocktails on Fremont. Go figure. 

I took it outside and walked around some more. 

A view of the colorful video canopy at the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas

At one point I ended up in Golden Nugget and saw a brilliant solution to a problem in my room. 

See, I hate the paper “coffee” cups they give you in the room. It’s not like Cosmo where you have nice glasses to use. But I also didn’t get plastic cups to use at CVS — despite them being on my list. I could barely hold what I did purchase, after all. 

But I saw the huge stack of free plastic cups at the exits of Golden Nugget (so you can pour your canned or glass drink into a Fremont Street Experience-approved container). 

I “borrowed” several to use in my room. I felt pretty smart and rather victorious, honestly. 

I tried to take my time to enjoy Fremont street a bit longer than I had on my last trip. I was in too much of a rush and didn’t take the time to admire the performers and people watching opportunities. 

As per normal, I stopped and watched in amazement as the talented spray painting artist worked his magic. I’m going to buy one of those some day soon (I’ve said that for like four straight years).

A spray paint artist at the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas

After a stroll, I made my way to the Garage Mahal and Ubered to Resorts World for Katy Perry. 

This was the main event. 

7:30pm Uber to Resorts World and Katy Perry

Resorts world, as I’m sure you know, is made up of three separate hotels in a single mega-structure. So, my driver asked me which hotel I wanted to go to. 

Yeah… 

I had no idea. But a quick google search for the property map helped me identify the closest one to the concert venue. 

Despite that, once I arrived, I couldn’t find this place. I wandered all around and ended up on the opposite side. Finally, I asked a hostess at one of the restaurants and got pointed in the right direction. 

I arrived to a huge line. Tons of people trying to get through. See the pic for an image of someone who, for a second, I swore was Shaq. 

And when it came my turn, of course my ticket didn’t work. After speaking with a supervisor and playing some tricks on my phone, I was finally in. 

This venue was pretty amazing. It actually reminded me of a performing arts center. Classy, new, modern, and lovely. 

Each level had its own bar. I was all the way at the top level (even these tickets were close to $100 all-in).  

I stood in line at the bar and ordered one of their Katy Perry-themed drinks. It was large and pretty good. I’d sip on that throughout the rest of the show. 

I had purchased my seats enough in advance that I managed to snag an aisle seat. This is a huge win so that at least I only had to be flanked on one side by someone I didn’t know. 

The middle-aged couple that was next to me was nice enough. They didn’t talk much, but seemed to have a good time. I’d rather have a quiet couple next to me anyways than a wild and crazy mess. 

Let me tell you. This show was AWESOME., I mean, the production value was killer. She was battling a bit of a cold or something (she let us know near the beginning of the show), but you could barely tell. The performance was stunning and I had a great time. 

The trailer park set for an act of Katy Perry's "Play" residency at Resorts World Las Vegas

Katy Perry just has so many pop hits that it’s a great show for a Vegas party. Thankfully, there were a variety of demographics in attendance. So I definitely didn’t feel out of place as a thirty-something guy on his own. There were, definitely, plenty of teenage girls there to see their idol, but again, they didn’t even make up the majority. 

I liked how the show was set up into various “acts” which each featured its own set design. Pretty cool. I thought the announcer was a bit out of place, but that’s really my only critique. 

This was, as Tim on Five Hundy by Midnight would say, a true “spectacle.” 

The farewell screen at "Play" - Katy Perry's Las Vegas residency at Resorts World. It's a bright pink screen with white letters that say, "Bye Bitch."

10:00pm Post-show at Resorts World

After the show, I patiently made it through the crowd and found my way to the casino. 

If you recall, my plan was to head to Gatsby’s. I was a bit worried I didn’t quite fit the bill or wasn’t dressed well enough. 

I got there and it was packed. I was, in fact, a bit intimidated. 

I decided to skip it. 

Instead, I landed at the center bar in the middle of the casino. It was beautiful, there was an open (and super comfortable) seat for me, and I really had a great time. 

One of the best parts was that they had video roulette as a bar top. I don’t play video poker, so this was refreshing. AND… I love it. Since the minimums were low, I played and played and enjoyed a couple of drinks. The second of which may have gone with me around the casino (and the empty glass into my bag. Allegedly.)

I was up on Roulette (I have one of those foolishly misguided, “unbeatable” strategies) — not enough to pay for both of my over-priced drinks, but enough to make me happy. 

11:00pm Mirage

From here, I Ubered to Mirage for my second “last trip” to the famed resort. I wanted to see the volcano show one more time. 

I did some gambling and ended up on the phone with two of my best friends. Before I knew it, it was approaching midnight and I was ready to catch the last Volcano show of the night. 

Well, somebody, screwed up and apparently that last show is at 11pm. I knew this, but somehow I just got it mixed up, I suppose. 

I walked over to T.I. and to admired the pirate ship. I went inside for just a minute and, after hanging up with my friends, went back into Mirage for a minute. I even tried a pina colada-flavored frozen drink sample. 

As a rule, I really avoid the frozen drink places. I think it’s tacky and sloppy. But mostly, I avoid it because it’s the fastest way to a sugar rush, crash, minimal buzz, and terrible hangover. 

I made my way back to the Flamingo and had another gamble or two. Then I pretty much crashed straight into bed. I skipped the Casino Royale and Linq (and definitely Harrah’s), which was unusual and a bit disappointing. But it was late. 

Really late. 

My phone shows my last gambling win at 3:49am. 

By 9am, I’d wake up with a perfect view of Caesars palace and, shockingly, feeling totally refreshed.