We had decided last year that for our 10 Year Anniversary we wanted to do Vegas. Vegas initially gets a bad rap from many due to its gambling and provocative scene nature BUT there’s actually tons of good clean fun to do if you’re more so looking for an “other” category of fun to enjoy.
I’ve been to Vegas before as an adult to celebrate a 23rd birthday with my girlfriends and RJ has been before but as a child so this would be our first time going together as adults.
First things first…we missed our flight out 😭😅. Yep, sure did! That has never happened before in all our traveling. I burst into tears too. In my previous post of our anniversary celebration I mentioned feeling overwhelmingly like our marriage had been attacked all year and this was a jab that hurt. Even though RJ went and immediately got us transferred to a flight that left only an hour later, it still took longer for the sting to die down.
Thankfully during this season I’ve also learned that being in a strong church community of women allows me to reach out for encouragement and prayer when I’m struggling to reign in my thoughts. I got loads of encouragement from two of my closest church friends who offered prayer, reassurance, and most importantly, truth!
Geared up with a right mindset, we got on the new flight and I eventually got my head lined up. Once we landed, our luggage had beat us to Vegas so it was a blessing to even have it arrive in tact. We grabbed the bags and headed straight to our hotel.
Our Lyft arrived promptly at the massive front entrance of the Aria hotel. I chose Aria because it had great reviews and it’s centrally located. I wanted us to be able to walk around easily when necessary. Another thing to be cognizant of when coming to Vegas casinos is the overwhelming smoke smell that can plague the floor. I’m happy to report that the Aria does a really great job of keeping the air cycling through so the smoke smell stays only on the casino floor.
Even though the hotel was bustling and somewhat busy when we arrived, check in was seamless. The lady at the front desk gave us a high floor and even gave us room number 10 to celebrate 10 years (a nice touch).
Our room was very nice! Plenty of space with a spectacular view of the strip. I especially loved the plush bed and the deep soaking tub. We took a moment to relax and take it all in and then it was time to find food!
A quick google search landed us on a spot called Jaburrito which is a sushi burrito spot located near the Flamingo hotel. The restaurant is legit. We are big fans of sushi so this was the perfect stop to get the lead out. We enjoyed a nicely sized burrito and finished it with a yummy mochi pop.
Once we were properly fueled, it was time to walk around and see what fun was to be had. We stopped in this shop called “I Love Sugar”. It’s like Willy Wonka in there. All the bright poppy colors, a gummy bear chandelier, and candy candy candy lining every wall. Y’all my teeth hurt just looking at all this candy lol.
Next we went to Cesar’s palace. I’d never been in there so it was fun to see all the statues and explore the massive grounds. We even found an empty chapel upstairs for mister to moonwalk in 😂 Jk, he can’t really moonwalk.
We hit up The Crystal Shops Mall and went into all the fancy stores: Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Tiffany Co. etc. Oh and in case you ever need to know, you can totally watch the beautiful Bellagio fountain show from inside Louis Vuitton. To go outside on the patio you have to make a store appointment with them though.
We made our way inside the Bellagio to look at that gorgeous ceiling of poppy colors before heading back to the hotel to chill before dinner.
Before we knew it, it was time to eat again lol. We got all dolled up and headed downstairs to catch a ride. RJ is a fan of Chef Roy Choi and he so happens to have a restaurant called Best Friend inside the MGM.
What’s cool about Best Friend is it’s very unassuming from the outside. It’s built to look like a convenience store to down play it for fun. The first room looks like stocked shelves of merch, but then we got to the back and it’s a whole different story.
On the inside of Best Friend it’s dimmer. There are huge bowls of potted plants hanging from the ceilings, the walls are lined with chill Cali vibe pics and there’s a DJ on deck with a great music selection.
We decided to go for the chefs tasting menu and it did not disappoint! There was so much good food! It was hard to pick a fave. We heavily enjoyed this dish they called “Slippery Shrimp” which was tempura fried shrimp smothered in a creamy sauce. They also brought some yummy tacos, kimchi friend rice, and Korean bbq short ribs 🤤. The cherry on top is the dessert though…this heavenly awesomeness called Date Cake. It’s moist, not too sweet, and was a perfect way to end the meal.
Next on our nightly adventures, we headed over to the High Roller for our happy hour slot, but not before taking some pics in front of the Usher show sign. We didn’t see the show, but hey when in Vegas 🤷🏾♀️
Walking towards the High Roller, it looks like a Ferris wheel from a distance. Once up close you can tell they’re actually viewing pods to see the strip from a perfectly enclosed egg shaped structure. To go full circle takes about 30 mins. I booked us the happy hour version which is a special pod housing a bartender that serves unlimited drinks all included in the ticket price.
We hopped in our pod *you literally have to hop on because the pods don’t stop moving so you have to jog a tiny bit to catch it* and got the party started. Two other couples were in our group and all celebrating either a birthday or anniversary.
Overlooking the city we sipped our drinks and watched the sparking lights dancing all over the buildings. It really is a fun way to enjoy a proper Vegas view; I highly recommend it. Afterwards our bartender gave us drinks to go and sent us on our way. It was pretty late for us so we finished them up while we waited for our Lyft and called it an evening.
The next morning we were up and ready to dig into our actual anniversary day celebrations! We exchanged diy anniversary gifts. Hubby gifted me with a picture slideshow of all that we’ve done in 10 years . I gifted him with my infamous “Top 10 Things I’ve Learned About You” list.
It was really nice to connect for a moment before starting our day. We made ourselves some mimosas and headed down to the spa area for some fireside chats before heading to the pool/hot tub area.
What’s cool about the Aria is they have a heated pool and in Vegas the fall isn’t too cold so it actually felt nice outside even though it was 68 degrees. We lounged around the hot tub having convos about how Viki from iRobot might have had a point in her 3 laws safe methods for ensuring humanities survival 🤔
After a couple hours of lounging, it was time to head back to the room for a quick bit and chill before heading out for dinner later that evening. We had a full night planned so we rested up well.
Me and the mister got all decked out for a fancy evening at Hell’s Kitchen. Embarrassing confession time, we’ve never really got into Hell’s Kitchen the show BUT we have been fans of Master Chef so we were interested to see what Gordon Ramsey had to deliver in terms of menu.
We arrived and were seated at a lovely central table. It was nice to be able to view the open kitchen. All the buzz got me hype to try out some delicious bites. I ordered the the Fall Prix Fixe Menu which included scallops as a starter, the famous Beef Wellington and sticky toffee pudding for dessert.
Hubs got a ribeye with the mac n’ cheese and mushroom medley. The scallops were the best I’ve had! They melt in the mouth like butter. I really enjoyed my Wellington too. It’s like having filet mignon wrapped in a buttery croissant 😋 The sticky toffee pudding was the perfect finisher for the meal. It was gooey, rich, and I can never say no to a dollop of ice cream on top.
After dinner, it was time for a quick wardrobe change and a ride to MGM to catch our show. What’s funny is while we were downstairs in the ride share lobby, some complete stranger came to tell us that Tina Knowles was outside. She said she just HAD to tell someone. I guess we looked like the perfect candidates.
We glance over and sure enough there she was. She might have been staying at the Aria too. I’m sure our stranger was looking for a much bigger response from us being let in on this siting lol. Even though it was cool to see her in person, we kept it moving and progressed to catching our ride.
So back in 2008 there was this show I use to watch with my cousin called America’s Best Dance Crew. He and I may or may not have been ever so slightly OBSESSED with the season 1 winners the Jabbawockeez. They have a show in Vegas so here I was only 14 years later finally seeing them live.
They were just as amazing as I remember. A full 1.5 hour performance of the best dance moves! They even had a portion of crowd interaction and karaoke which was fun. I would absolutely go see them again and highly recommend it for an all around great time.
After the show we were kind of pumped so we walked around. We took some pics in front of the non original Las Vegas sign and caught the tail end of the final Bellagio Fountain show which features Whitney Houston (RIP) singing The National Anthem. We certainly tuckered ourselves out and that was our cue to head back to the room. We needed to get plenty of rest for our final full day.
I have to say, the last time I came to Nevada I didn’t leave the strip. We didn’t want to repeat that mistake so this time we ventured away from the city focal point to see what else would be worth a visit. Our first stop was Lion Habitat Ranch.
Lion Habitat Ranch is a non profit sanctuary for mostly lions, exotic birds, and their resident painting giraffe Ozzie. What’s cool about this place is they offer giraffe feedings as well as lion feedings! But it’s different because you really get to be pretty close to the animals. Of course we couldn’t pass up that offer so we purchased a ticket and got with a trainer to feed our lion of our choice.
We chose George. He’s a 500+ lb male who has excellent table manners. He sat so majestic looking waiting for his food. The way they have it set up for safety is you get inside the enclosed gate fence and then you push food through a tube on a plexiglass shield. It’s really fun to try out. I had mister go first, then I went lol. We fed a total of one pound of meat to a hungry George. I’m sure that was more like a snack for him.
We also got to see Ozzie up close as well. He’s 17ft tall and still has room to grow since he’s only 8 years old. His legs are about 8ft long and he can kill a lion with one fatal kick! He also can pick up roughly 500lbs with his tongue! Thankfully he was too busy eating veggies and painting to be concerned about anything else.
After watching all the animals eat at the Lion Habitat me and RJ were pretty hungry ourselves. We stopped near the village at Lake Las Vegas for a burger at The Pub. It was pretty much a ghost town, but our server said come evening it would be just as busy as the strip.
We hopped back in the car and headed further out towards our final destination. I really enjoy nature. It’s where I see God and find myself rejoicing in who He is and what He has made. That’s why I was so adamant that our final stop was the Valley of Fire State Park.
When driving to the park, all the mountain ranges are basically a tawny brown; very muted and unbothered. Then once closer in, like a firecracker, all the sudden the mountains change to a deep burning orange red and terrain sharply shifts in appearance. The color change is pleasantly jarring!
We drove up to our first stop, The Beehives. These are known for their dome shapes and grooved outer layers which look hugely similar to actual beehives. On some of the interior of the rocky formations are these cubby holes which are perfect for climbing. We had a fun little photo session getting all up in those rocks.
Next stop on down the road was the Rainbow Vista Trail. What’s cool about these rocks is they’re multicolored and give off a beautiful rainbow effect. The contrast is breathtaking. My photos hardly do it justice.
We hiked the eerily quiet half mile down to the trail end where there’s a huge drop off! It’s just mountain terrain as far as the eye can see. It’s an awe inspiring finish to a long rocky road.
As the sun was setting we headed back towards the car. Hubby is not a fan of driving in the wilderness with no overhead lights lol. The final highlight as we reached the parking lot was a flock of wild sheep munching on the nearby bushes. These aren’t the fluffy white domesticated sheep that pop into mind. They’re more rugged and terrain matched in color. They snacked completely unbothered by our sneaking past.
Once back in the car, it was time to say goodbye to The Valley of Fire and the beautiful Nevada scenery. I learned a lot coming off site the strip and I think if I ever come back I’ll be coming to explore more mountains.
The next afternoon we packed up for our trip back to good ole Texas. We had a full time of food, entertainment, laughs, and just enjoying being in each other’s company without the kiddos. Vegas really showed us a great time. And we left right before the Halloween crowd set in so dodged a bullet there lol!
We’ve learned a lot over the last 10 years. We are still best friends and look to grow together in every way. Even though it’s been a trip we had been looking forward to for a while, the adventure was certainly worth the wait. A decade in, hard fought and won all by Gods grace! We’re looking forward to the next 10, and the 10 after that, and the 10 after that, and the 10 after that 🥰
Thanks for reading if you stuck it out this long! If not and you just want the short version, check out this compilation video the mister made of our trip. It pretty much sums it up lol!