Tag: "Grand Canyon"

5 day Las Vegas travel plan

Las Vegas is an ever-changing fantasy world of bright lights, fabulous hotels, glittering casinos, exciting shows, and breathtaking attractions. Vegas is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the U.S., ranking alongside Disneyland and Disney World. Over 40 million people come to Vegas each year to experience the nightlife and non-stop, live entertainment, as well as to visit Las Vegas attractions and day trip tours. There’s a definite appeal to seeing the Grand Canyon, a casino, and a live show all in one day.

Day 1 – Arrive at McCarran Airport and take the shuttle ($7 p/p) to the Mirage Hotel located in the center of the Strip. Our accommodations are quite nice, with up-to-date amenities and modern decor. After unpacking, we have lunch downstairs at the Paradise Cafe where we enjoy the weather at poolside. Reasonable prices and good menu variety.
Mirage Room Rates – $100 & up. Packages and promotions available.

This afternoon we are looking forward to a deluxe helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon, one of the most amazing natural wonders in the world. We have an incredible panoramic view of Hoover Dam, extinct volcanoes, and Lake Mead, as the helicopter gradually descends to the Canyon floor. We are now in the land of the Native American Hualapai where we have time to explore and take spectacular photos of our surroundings. We enjoy a complimentary picnic lunch & champagne before leaving the Canyon floor and returning to the hotel.
Tour (3-4 hours): Adult – £246, Child – £235. Round trip transportation/transfers from hotel included.

Back in our room, it’s time to relax before dinner tonight at Sushiloca restaurant, about 30 minutes from the Mirage. Pleasant atmosphere with authentic Japanese cuisine featuring sushi, sashami, and a wide assortment of specialty rolls. Friendly service and excellent chefs.
Hours: 11am-2am. Prices: $11-$30

Day 2 – Early morning breakfast at Cravings buffet in the hotel. Breakfast hours – 7am-11am. Price: $16 p/p. Off to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the thrill of a Richard Petty Driving Experience. We’re not quite daring enough to drive it alone, so we decide on a less-challenging 8-lap Rookie Tour. Rookie Tour – 9am or 1pm. Open – Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat, & Sun. Price – £317. A stop at the Race Shop and Gift Store and round trip transportation to hotel included.

It’s time for lunch and a visit to the Forum Shops, a famous Vegas attraction across the street from the Mirage. The Trevi restaurant in the Forum features a menu of traditional and gourmet Italian from pizza and pasta to Bruschetta and Carpaccio.
Prices: $20-$35. Hours: Mon-Thurs,& Sun, 11am-11pm. Fri & Sat, 11am-12am.

We stroll through the 3-story Forum of Roman statues, fountains, and swanky shops such as Gucci, Tiffany, and Vuitton, as well as many others catering to the budget-minded shopper. Cobblestone streets, reminiscent of Paris and Rome, and ornate spiral staircases leading to the painted ceiling of a Mediterranean sky add to the splendid decor of the Forum.

Shopping bags packed away, we join the fun of happy hour downstairs and a casual dinner at Stack. Appetizers and popular American cuisine, steak and seafood.
Cocktails, beer, & wine: $4. Avg Dinner Price: $50. Hours: Sun, Tues-Thurs, 5pm-10pm. Mon, Fri, Sat, 5pm-11pm.

Day 3 – We begin our day with a full breakfast at the Paradise before seeing more Vegas’ attractions. First on the agenda is a short walk south on Las Vegas Blvd to the LINQ hotel, which houses a fabulous auto collection of over 250 classic, muscle, and historically famous cars. Some of these are worth over $100 million, and all are actually for sale. Whether you’re a collector of antique cars, just like cars, or have only a casual interest, here is “history on wheels,” the largest classic car showroom in the world. We spend several hours here before lunch. Open daily, 10am-6pm. Cost – Adults, $11.95, Seniors & Children, 6-12, $8.

The Yardhouse restaurant nearby is a good place for a light lunch with beer or ale, about $15. Open daily, 11am-after midnight. Lunch 11-5pm.

Next stop, a visit to the world-renowned Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian; located in 14 cities worldwide, this is a must-see attraction while in Vegas. We take pictures beside our favorite celebrities (over 100 lifelike figures), watch the 4D Marvel Super Heroes movie, and spend most of the afternoon exploring the Museum.
Admission: Adults, $29.95, Children 4-12, $19.95. Hours: Open daily year, Sun-Thurs, 10am-9pm, Fri & Sat, 10am-10pm.

We dress for dinner tonight and taxi to the Top of the World restaurant in the Stratosphere hotel tower. The wine and 3-course meal of lobster & prawns, small filet, and dessert are superb. The Top of the World is a unique experience in fine dining, with an extensive menu of gourmet contemporary and international specialties and amazing selection of wines. Enjoy great views of the city 840 feet below as the restaurant slowly revolves 360 degrees. Hours: 11am-11pm. Prices: $50 & up. Special 4-course tasting menu, $90.

Day 4 – Starbucks opens early, so we go downstairs for espresso and pastry before joining the 90-minute cruise on Lake Mead. This is a delightful cruise on a paddle-wheel boat past Boulder Island to Hoover Dam. We have two hours to explore this man-made wonder of engineering, visit the museum, and Observation Deck. A bonus stop at Ethel M’s Chocolate factory and Botanical Gardens on the way back to the hotel. Light lunch onboard and round trip transportation to hotel included. Lv at 8:30am, 45 minute ride to Lake Mead, entire excursion about 7 1/2 hours. Price: £64 p/p.

We relax before going to Treasure Island for dinner at the Kahunaville restaurant and the spectacular 90-minute performance of Mystere Cirque du Soleil.
Hours: 7pm & 9:30pm. Price: $79 p/p.

Day 5 – We get an early start with a full breakfast downstairs at the Carnegie Deli, open 24 hours. Avg prices: $15-$20. There’s still plenty of time to watch the dolphins play and explore the world of lions and tigers at Seigfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, a popular attraction at the Mirage. Carnegie Deli, open 24 hrs, $15-$20. Seigfried & Roy’s, 11am-5pm, Adults – $19.95, Children 4-12 – $14.95. Before returning to our room, we decide to check out the casino; who knows, we might get lucky!

We dine tonight in the warm, romantic ambiance of Tuscany decor and soft, classical music at Portofino in the Mirage. After dinner, wetake a short flight over the sparkling lights of Las Vegas at night. A glass of champagne and a ride in a deluxe helicopter are a perfect way to end the evening. Individual headsets & complimentary round-trip limousine service included.
Hours: 12-15 minute narrated flights from 6-9pm, Winter, 6-10pm, Summer. Price: From £57 + $5 fuel charge p/p.

Las Vegas is an adventure, a fun-filled, memorable experience for anyone, whether you come just once or return again. Although the energy, glamour, and glitz of Vegas remain the same, chances are you’ll discover something new and different each time you visit this exciting city.

Sharon L Slayton

Travel idea: Camping at Dog Friendly National Parks

More than 40 million people in the U.S. go camping each year, and about the same number have at least one dog, as much a part of the family as the kids. When summer arrives, schools are out, and it’s vacation time for many families across America. Camping, a tradition since the late 1800’s and even before, became more popular by the 1930’s as Americans found the pleasure in exploring nature and spending time in the great outdoors. Visiting a national park sounds like a great idea, always educational and fun for the whole family, but dogs love a camping adventure and want to go too. Fortunately, most national parks permit dogs on a leash, 6′ or less, at all times, subject to Federal regulations and individual park rules and restrictions

Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine was the first national park established east of the Mississippi. There is a wide diversity of the environment from mountains and forests to lakes and shore within the group of islands which form the 45,000 acres of the park. Dogs will love camping at Acadia where they are allowed on more than 100 miles of trails, as well as on the 45 miles of historic carriage roads. They are restricted, however, from beaches, lakes, steep hiking trails, and trails where peregrine falcons are nesting.

You can camp with your dog at Blackwoods, open 1 May – 31 Oct, or Seawall, late May-Sep. There are approximately 300 campsites, restrooms, running water, a dump station, and shuttle bus service, but no hookups at Blackwoods. One vehicle, two tents, and up to six people are permitted at each campsite. Entrance fee – $20/night for 7-day maximum.

The Seawall campground on the western side of Mount Desert Island, the largest part of Acadia, is about a 10-minute walk to the ocean. Each of the 122 campsites allows tents and RVs up to 35′ long. Seawall has drinking water, flush toilets, campfire rings, and a dump station, with free showers and camping stores about a mile from the campground. Shuttle bus service is also available. Entrance fee – $14-$20/night, 14-day maximum.

Duck Harbor (Isle au Haut) is a one-hour ride on the ferry from the mainland. Although dogs are not allowed to stay in the Duck Harbor campground, it might be fun to take him along for a day trip of exploring. A $25 special permit is required to go to Duck Harbor.

(Note: Campsites are specifically marked.) Campground reservations – 877-444-6777

Visitor Centers:

Hulls Cove – 15 Apr – 30 Jun, 8:30am to 4:30pm; Jul & Aug, 8am to 6pm.
Park HQ – Open year round, 8am to 4:30pm; Apr – Oct, Mon thru Fri. (Winter camping hours vary.)
(Note: See nps.gov/acad for more information.)

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is simply awesome. With a spectacular panorama of color at sunrise and sunset, an amazing variety of plant and animal life, and incredible scenery, it is truly one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The South Rim is open year round, subject to fire danger restrictions, weather conditions, and road closures. You and your dog are welcome to check out the view along the two ½ mile Greenway trail along the Rim. A well-behaved pet can go along with you on the 3/4 mile guided Geology Tour. Dogs are restricted, however, from park buses, lodging areas, and trails along the North Rim.

One of the most popular campgrounds that allows pets is Mather, located within Grand Canyon Village. Mather, about a mile from the South Rim, offers 327 camping sites among the Ponderosa pines for tents and Rvs. Mather can be crowded and is usually full by noon. Each campsite has room for up to three tents, a fire grate, and picnic table, with drinking water, dump station, and restrooms on the campgrounds. Laundry, showers, bank, pay phone, and other amenities available at the Visitor Center, a short distance away. Summer hours 8am-5pm. Campsites – $18/night, 7-day maximum. Reservations Required: 877-444-6777, or online at recreation.gov/

Desert View has 50 campsites for tents, small Rvs, and travel trailers, for a 7-day camping limit. Each campsite permits up to six people, two tents, and two vehicles or 1 RV/trailer, and your dog. Be sure and include water with your camping equipment and wood or charcoal for cooking on campsite grills only. Only certain types of firewood can be used, “certified” wood is sold at the Visitor Center. There are only two water faucets, no hot water, and no hookups. Showers are available for a fee at Mather campground, 25 miles away. Overall, you can consider Desert View offers very basic camping.

Camping fee – $12/night/7-day maximum. ATM machines are conveniently located near the campground restrooms. Reservations not required, so come early.
Entrance fee – $25/vehicle for seven days. Visitor Center – 8am-8pm (summer hours)
(Note: See nps.gov/grca.)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited and one of the largest in the U.S., encompasses more than 522,000 acres of forest, mountain trails, and an amazing variety of plant and animal life in this part of the Southern Appalachians. Free entrance to the park.

Located on both sides of the North Carolina and Tennessee state lines, the main entrances are at Gatlinburg, TN and Cherokee, NC. There are nine designated campgrounds including Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, and Smokemont. Campsites have individual fire grates, picnic tables, and restrooms on the campgrounds, but no showers, hot water, or hookups. Fees vary from $14-$23/night at each campground. We will look at two of the largest, Cades Cove and Elkmont, with individual campsites for up to six people, two vehicles, and tents. Both require reservations for a maximum of 14 days and permit motor homes up to 40′ and trailers up to 35′. Both have food storage lockers and dump stations onsite or nearby. There are specific restrictions on firewood, but bundles of “certified” firewood can be bought at Cades Cove and Elkmont. Keep in mind this is bear country, and all food must be stored in your vehicle or storage lockers.

Cades Cove, in eastern Tennessee, is an ideal choice for viewing wildlife with more open areas in this part of the park. You can find everything you need at Cades Cove Campground Store from groceries, souvenirs, and camping supplies to a variety of express food and beverages. Hours – May-Jul, 9am-7:30pm. Aug, 9am-7pm. Sep-Oct, 9am-6:30pm.

Elkmont campgrounds, 8 miles from Gatlinburg, date back to the early 1900’s as a summer resort in the Appalachians. The 220 campsites range in price from $17-$23/night, 7-day maximum, and reservations should be made in advance for this popular campground open until 29 Nov. Limited selection of camping essentials available at the campground concession.

Your dog cannot be left unattended at the campsite, and he is allowed on only two trails in the park, the Gatlinburg and the Oconaluftee River Trail. The first trail follows the Little Pigeon River about 2 miles through the forest from Sugarlands Visitor Center to the edge of the town of Gatlinburg. Sugarlands is an interesting part of history, which you may want to explore further. Check at the Sugarlands Visitor Center if your dog can go along, or if any kennels is available. Visitor Center Hours – Jun-Aug, 8am-7:30pm. Sep & Oct, 8am-6:30pm. The Oconoluftee trail through the forest is about a mile and a half walk beside the river to the town of Cherokee. Visitor Center Hours – Jun-Aug, 8am-7:30pm. Sep-Oct, 8am-6:30pm.
(Note: Detailed information at nps.gov/grsm.)

Surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature, camping is healthy, inexpensive recreation. Whether it’s the shore, the forest, or the mountains, you’ll escape those hectic travel arrangements and the stress of everyday life. Leave behind the modern conveniences, and inconveniences; your dog will enjoy it as much as you!

Sharon L Slayton

Travel plan for Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, and San Francisco

I start school in September. As a poor student, I’ll have less money for traveling but I don’t want that to stop me entirely. I’ll be based in Tallahassee, Florida, and I’ll try to get to a few places in America and maybe South America or Central America. So time to start dreaming up American holidays and – as many of you know – I like to check out different tours to get some well-planned itineraries to start from. For a British perspective, I found a site promising luxury holidays in America and started to search for their itineraries.

So if you were to check out this page for USA tours, you would find the following itinerary: New York -> Washington DC -> Chicago -> Scottsdale -> Grand Canyon -> Las Vegas -> Los Angeles -> San Diego -> San Francisco. That’s a beautiful itinerary for someone with 22 days to spare. I’m thinking I can just take a part of that travel plan. For example three places I’ve never been: Las Vegas -> Grand Canyon -> San Francisco.

My travel plan:

Day 1: Las Vegas

I start here first because it should be a very easy airport to fly into. For lunch, try Mon Ami Gabi in front of Paris – Get a table on the patio. Excellent food and great place to people watch. If you time it right you’ll see the fountains at Bellagio during your meal.

After that, how about a Vegas-style nature walk? The MGM Grand’s lion habitat is open from 11am to 10pm. The Mirage has its white tiger habitat (by the Las Vegas Boulevard entrance). The volcano erupts at the top of each hour from 6pm to midnight so you may want to come back later in the evening.

What you have to do at some point before leaving Vegas is see an Elvis show. I’m told that there’s a good free one in the Riviera Hotel but I can’t find confirmation on their website. This part of the travel plan could use some more research.

Day 2: Las Vegas

For brunch, try Bouchon in the Venetian hotel. It’s a Thomas Keller restaurant and it’s excellent. While there at the Venetian, you could do a gondola ride, but I’d feel weird doing it in Vegas when I skipped it in Venice (a regret I must admit, but it was pretty pricey as I recall – Vegas is probably less expensive).

After you’ve eaten, walk off those calories at the Fremont Street Expereince. Fremont street has stuffy casinos and vendors if you’re a shopper. The huge LED canopy covering 5 blocks of Fremont Street does something special every hour on the hour.

Back to the strip to check out Circus Circus. Different acts perform each half hour from 11 a.m. to midnight. They only have about 60 seats and you can’t reserve one. But the news isn’t all bad – it’s free and 15 minutes before a show starts usually gets you a seat.

Days 3 and 4: Grand Canyon

I really want to raft the Colorado River here and camp overnight. My wife isn’t so sure but I have some time to talk her into it. It’s hard to really itemize this part of the itinerary, but the tour I linked to above has some good ideas like a sunset tour of the South Rim for some stunning views.

Day 5: San Francisco

Head down to the Fisherman’s Wharf where there’s sure to be something for everyone. Pier 39 is a festive marketplace with more than 110 stores, 12 Bay view restaurants and loads of outdoor stuff like the Aquarium of the Bay, bike rentals, street performers and a Carousel with famous miniature San Fran landmarks. If fun and laughter don’t suite your fancy you can always hop on an Alcatraz Cruise from Pier 33 that will take you to Alcatraz Island. In case you don’t already know, Alcatraz used to be the home of some of America’s most notorious criminals like Al “Scarface” Capone and the “Birdman” Robert Stroud.

San Francisco has a great Asian influence and being right on the water, sushi in this city is to die for. Take yourself out for dinner in Japantown or J-Town as the locals like to call it, to Kiss Sea Food Japanese Restaurant (1700 Laguna St.) The restaurant is a little small so be prepared to wait in line or make sure to head there early.

Day 6: San Francisco

The site I linked to above has some more cool ideas. One is a guided bicycle tour of the Waterfront, Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito, including a ferry trip to return to the city. This sounds like a lot of fun. They also have a scenic seaplane flight (weather dependent) over the beautiful San Francisco bay for views of the cityscape, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge. It also occurs to me I don’t have a single museum in my itinerary. The Walt Disney Family Museum is one option, but I think I would prefer the Asian Art Museum.