Las Vegas, NV, USA (February 2022)


  • Stay
    • Linq Hotel and Casino, 3535 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109
      • We didn’t really have the chance to explore the amenities, outside of one restaurant, the coffee shop, and the casino. Not a bad place to stay but the size of the hotel makes trekking from the casino to the rooms a bit of a journey.
  • Eat/Drink
    • Black Bear Diner, 7680 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89123
      • This might be my surprise of the trip – and that is likely due to the fact that this comfort food chain (that started in Mt. Shasta, CA – which is a lovely place to visit and drive through) served up a ton of delicious food for a reasonable price. I would definitely come back here in the future!
    • Tiabi Coffee and Waffle, 3961 S Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89119
      • Alex and I stopped here to kill a little time before we picked Anna up at the airport and it was a nice place to grab a quick snack.
    • Pho Vietnam, 4215 Spring Mountain Rd #201, Las Vegas, NV 89102
      • Despite this being a Vietnamese restaurant, I saw they had beef chow fun (a Chinese American dish) and felt compelled to order it. And I did. And it wasn’t bad!
    • Eiffel Tower Restaurant (located inside Paris Las Vegas), 3655 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109
      • White tablecloth service. Dark, romantic interiors. And gorgeous views of the strip. Oh, and pretty darned good French food, if that’s what you’re looking for.
    • Therapy, 518 East Fremont Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101
      • Their website indicates they’re all about “Delectable, Mouth-watering Creations or Rehabilitating Hangover Cures and Bottomless Mimosas.” Now the poor placement of the or’s/and’s aside, this was a fun place to get brunch (and the bottomless mimosas are truly bottomless).
    • Park on Fremont, 506 Fremont St, Las Vegas NV 89101
      • Taking a walk from brunch, we came upon this bar with a lovely outdoor terrace and seating area. It’s apparently closed for renovations (opening spring 2023) but if it is anything like it was before, I would highly recommend it!
    • Evel Pie, 508 E Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101
      • Caveat: we got here after multiple bars and multiple shots. The pizza was good but this place was thumping and hard to hear. Also, there was a promotion that drew us inside (F*ck Putin Shots – Ukrainian vodka, the proceeds of which were being donated to humanitarian causes in Ukraine since Vladimir Putin had just announced his horrible invasion) – and that promotion worked. The vodka was horrible but I was happy to donate to that cause.
    • Chayo (inside the Linq Hotel and Casino), 3545 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109
      • Our plans for dinner got waylaid but some inadvertent passing out so our plan B was getting Mexican food in the hotel. The meal wasn’t bad but the place was super dark and loud.
    • Ruby’s Diner (located at the airport), Harry Reid International Airport, Terminal D, 5757 Wayne Newton Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89111
      • Got a hangover? Need a fix? This is your place.
  • See/Do
    • The Nerd (bar, video games, bowling, and a bucking bronco – don’t ask), 450 E Fremont St Suite #250, Las Vegas, NV 89101
      • The bar crawl app we paid for sent us here and our first impressions were super sketchy. The escalator didn’t work. The shopping mall this place was in (on the second floor) reminded me of this one level in World War Z, the videogame, in which a shopping center is overrun by zombies). That said, we had a blast here over a couple rounds of bowling concurrently with a few rounds of drinks.
    • Fremont Street Experience, 425 E Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101
      • Even if you just walk around here and don’t partake in the zipline, it’s a lot of fun.
    • Gambling at the Linq
      • It’s pretty much the same as gambling at any casino on the strip – it just features reasonable table minimums.

Trip Background

Last fall, upon finding out one of my best friends (Anna) was getting married, the conversation quickly turned to the bachelorette party. Her request to Alex (her man of honor) and me (a groomsman) was to plan a party in Las Vegas – and having done this twice before meant I was up to the challenge.

Anna and Alex, in Manhattan in 2012

After finding a date that worked for the majority of the attendees, I set about curating a list of activities that would work for a group of people from different parts of Anna’s life who had never gathered before together.

Day 0 (February 24, 2022)

When you live in and fly out of Chicago, any February day is a crapshoot at best. When I got to O’Hare International Airport, the snow was falling and I was immediately concerned that my flight would be delayed. We boarded and as I watched the snow gently fall upon the plane, we were informed that we would be delayed while the plane was de-iced. To my relief, the process was over relatively quickly and soon we were off.

While most of the attendees were due to arrive on February 25, I decided to arrive early to spend time seeing my cousins, their kids, and my uncle/aunt who all live there. I spent the night at my cousin Liane’s house with her and her son Benny (and my Uncle Benson), swapping stories and catching up on life.

From left to right: Me, Uncle Benson, Liane’s son Benny, and my cousin Liane

Day 1 (February 25, 2022)

My first full day began with more family time as I caught up with my other cousin Michael over breakfast at Black Bear Diner. Keep this place on your radar for a meal as it’s delicious and serves huge portions. I opted for a tasty omelette with hash browns and a biscuit, and it landed on our table almost immediately after I ordered it (not literally – embellishment intended here).

From there, I headed to the airport to play the role of team chauffeur, starting with picking up Alex (the best man). He and I had some time before Anna arrived so we went stopped at Tiabi Coffee and Waffle for a coffee. When Anna’s plane landed, we picked her up and took her to Pho Vietnam for a proper lunch. And yes, it’s a Vietnamese restaurant but I ordered the beef chow fun anyway – and it was excellent!

Therein followed a misadventure of our own making. Anna needed a shirt for dinner so we stopped by an outlet mall that she and I had been to on a previous Vegas trip. We dropped Anna at the door, then went to a nearby parking lot to wait for her call. About 45 minutes into our wait, we realized that she had left her cell phone in the car with us. Oops. We doubled back to the mall, I dropped Alex off and sent him on a scouting missing to find our missing bachelorette. At this point the timing gets blurry but I think he spent a good 15-30 minutes looking for her (as she had left the store). At some point, he finally found her, I picked them both up, and I reminded Anna to please keep her phone on her from here on out.

We parked the car at the Linq Hotel and Casino (which I later returned after realizing we wouldn’t want to be driving the next 48 hours) and got checked in as most of the party arrived. Our friend Melissa’s flight was delayed but we had a dinner reservation at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant (located inside Paris Las Vegas) so we headed over there to meet Melissa and get to dinner.

After dinner, we walked along the strip admiring the re-opening of Vegas and called it an early night after a drink in the room.

Day 2 (February 26, 2022)

The sun arose on the Nevada desert and it would prove to be a gorgeous day for us to explore. A round of coffees is how we started the mid-morning before heading over to Therapy for brunch. This place is known for its “Bottomless Mimosas” but I have to admit the food was damned good. Don’t come here expecting to be healthy – in fact, don’t come to Vegas expecting to be healthy (outside of a quick run in the hotel gym).

The rest of this afternoon entailed using a bar crawl app to move from place to place, playing games and finishing challenges. That crawl revealed some of the beautiful public artwork that now adorns the Fremont Street area. The last time I was down here, there wasn’t this much fun stuff to do or see – and it’s a testament to the people who have revitalized this part of Vegas, which Wikipedia affectionately calls “the second most famous street in the Las Vegas Valley” (after the strip, of course).

Taking a walk from brunch, we (figuratively) stumbled upon Park on Fremont, a bar with a lovely outdoor terrace and seating area. It’s apparently closed for renovations (opening spring 2023) but if it is anything like it was before, I would highly recommend it!

A couple of cocktails later, the bar crawl app nudged us along to The Nerd, a fun bar with bowling and video games. But our first impressions of this place were super sketchy. The escalator didn’t work. The shopping mall this place was in (on the second floor) reminded me of this one level in World War Z (the videogame) in which a shopping center is overrun by zombies. That said, we had a blast here over a couple rounds of bowling concurrently with a few rounds of drinks. We also made a rule that if you finish last in bowling, you have to take a shot. It’s amazing what some motivation can do.

The Fremont Street Experience had a lot of construction going on so even crossing streets was a bit of a challenge, but the energy and vibe of the area was a lot of fun. I actually look forward to going back on a future trip!

Now by this point, we’ve been to several bars. Earlier we had passed by Evel Pie and the smell of freshly baked pizzas was intoxicating. In addition, this weekend saw Vladimir Putin’s horrible invasion of Ukraine and this restaurant had a promo: F*ck Putin Shots – Ukrainian vodka, the proceeds of which were being donated to humanitarian causes in Ukraine since. The vodka was horrible but I was more than happy to donate – especially in an attempt to bring more joy to our party.

Eventually we returned to the Linq where the bachelorette needed a nap to recover. Seeing some of the party also crash (Alex was sidelined with food poisoning in the morning), I opted to head to the craps tables and brought a few of our party with us. Now most times I gamble in Vegas, I lose money or barely win anything. But on this night, I was feeling pretty good. After playing for a couple hours, I made one big bet and hit it – and triumphantly declared, “I’m out!” I left the table up $130 compared to both of my friends who lost more than that.

By this time, our plans to take Anna to a show had fizzled so we quickly came up with a Plan B and had dinner at Chayo (inside the Linq Hotel and Casino). The Mexican food we had wasn’t bad but I get the feeling our original plans would have been more fun.

Anna attempted to replicate the gambling success I’d had earlier by playing some slots – and I have never seen $100 disappear that quickly. 😦

Day 3 (February 27, 2022)

The next morning, like a bunch of truly old farts, we arose (sans alcohol), and said goodbye. There was one funny moment in which I discovered that the pizza shop/bar we’d taken shots at was on the news, sharing their story about their donations.

Several of us piled into an Uber and headed for McCarran airport (I still call it that), and enjoyed one last meal at Ruby’s Diner before boarding my flight and heading home.

Final Thoughts

The days of going berserk in Vegas are seemingly over for me – and I’m okay with that. The last time I was in Vegas with Anna, we saw Britney Spears with my wife and it was an amazing show. I think Las Vegas really does have something for everyone, and when I return with the wife and two kids, I know there will be a lot for us to do beyond the typical clubbing and raging til 6 AM.

p.s. I also discovered an amazing website – Splitwise – which we used to split the bills from the trip. If you try to do the math on whom owes what and get frustrated, use this website and you will thank me later!

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