seventeenth (repeat) stop: las vegas

I don’t know what it is, but anytime someone suggests a quick getaway to Las Vegas, I’m all for it.  Will I ever learn?  I honestly believe I’ve been to LV over 15 times in 5 years.  And, I promised my brother that I’d take him for his 21st this coming January.  I must be nuts.  The cool thing, though, is that every time I go to Vegas I stay somewhere different.  Hmmm…let’s see if I can remember every place I’ve stayed:

  • Treasure Island (for my 21st)
  • The Luxor (for my girlfriend Robin’s 21st)
  • Mirage (for my 22nd)
  • Monte Carlo (for my girlfriend Ali’s 21st)
  • Riviera Hotel & Casino (to see the Spice Girls!)
  • THE hotel at Mandalay Bay (bachelorette party)
  • Harrah’s (with Ali and Cassie to celebrate all our summer bdays)
  • NYNY (with Mike)
  • Bally’s (work convention)
  • The Palazzo (bachelorette party)
  • MGM Signature Towers (for Mike’s sister’s 21st)
  • Planet Hollywood (Swedish friends visit)
  • Tropicana (cousin’s weekend)

Ok, so I’ve been 13 times.  15 was a pretty good guess!  Anyway, Mike sat this trip out, as he is “over” the Vegas scene.  Still, I was determined to go!  So, I drove myself out to the Nevada desert for a weekend with my cousins.  

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Oh, hey Garth!  Wish I could see your show!

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Almost there!

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My first stop after meeting the girls at our hotel was to go immediately to Toby Keith’s Bar and Grill for lunch (and a margarita).  This is (yes, I’m admitting it) one of my FAVORITE places in Las Vegas, hands down.  Plus, the margaritas come in mason jars!

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After lunch and a nap, we were ready to start our evening!

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Mike “The Situation” even made an appearance on our trip!

sixteenth (repeat) stop: disneyland

Mike bought me park-hopper tickets to Disneyland/California Adventure for my birthday in June.  We hadn’t used them yet and as we were looking at what we had planned for our weekend, we realized there were no plans!  Good weekend for Disney, if you ask me.  Mike had never been to California Adventure and I was dying to ride the new Little Mermaid ride they just put in over there.  Plus, the park was decorated for Halloween/Fall…one of my favorite times of the year.

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We went to California Adventure first.  We went on Soarin’ Over California twice (Now Mike’s favorite ride, ever) the Grizzly River Run (Mike was scared, but he had a good time), and of course, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure (adorable).

After that, we headed over to Disneyland.  Most of the park was decorated with Halloween/fall stuff, and they even had a petting zoo! 

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 I decided to just observe…instead of pet.

Unfortunately, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride was closed!  But I refused to let that bring me down.  We hit up are usual favorites (Indiana Jones, Buzz, the rides of in Storybook Land…) and we also caught a great seat for the street parade!

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Front-row, sidewalk!

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My favorite part of the parade: the Princesses!

fifteenth stop: san diego

I’ve been bugging Mike to take me down to San Diego since I moved to Southern California.  It’s not that far of a drive from LA…and I hadn’t been since I was 8 years old! We finally agreed to head down over Labor Day weekend.  San Diego is gorgeous and we had a great time…until I got food poisoning on our very last night.  It was miserable, so I’ll spare you the details.  We stayed at a hotel in La Jolla and spent our first night walking around the beach and the shops in the downtown area.  On our second day we went to Coronado Island and checked out the famous hotel, and then spent the rest of the afternoon at Balboa Park.  I could have spent an entire week just at Balboa Park alone.  We went to Old Town San Diego for dinner (which was a big mistake…may I caution you to never, EVER eat at Casa de Reyes!!!!!!) and had to call it an early night after I became ill.  I hope to make it back to San Diego in the near future because there was so much to do that we didn’t have time for.

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Our first night in La Jolla.  The clouds were beautiful.

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Hotel Del Coronado…I hope to stay there one day!

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Balboa Park

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Ending the trip in Old Town San Diego…see you soon!

fourteenth stop: the magic castle

The Magic Castle, located in Hollywood, is a private nightclub for magicians and the clubhouse for the Academy of Magical Arts.  My Aunt used to have a membership to the castle and always talked about how fun it was to watch the magic shows.  My family came down from Nor Cal to visit me during my dad’s birthday weekend, and we really wanted to take him somewhere fun.  I suggested the Magic Castle, since we had never been before.  Typically, you can only get in if you have an annual membership card, or if you know a magician who can get you in.  Luckily for us, the Magic Castle was running a Yelp deal for a 1-month membership.  

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*photo found in Google images

One of the cool things about this place is that you have to dress up.  No jeans, no sneakers, no flipflops.  They take their dress code seriously! We booked the Sunday champagne brunch at the castle before we saw the shows.  The food was great and the shows were very entertaining.  We had a wonderful time!  I hope one day I’ll be able to go again…hopefully I can find a magician to be friends with :)

thirteenth stop: san luis obispo & the madonna inn

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The Madonna Inn has been on my “must-see” list for years!  I finally got the chance to check this one off my bucket list.  At the end of June, a few of my close Nor Cal girlfriends drove down to SLO and I drove up from LA to meet at the inn.  When I arrived, our “Elegance” room was decorated with birthday streamers and a fun candy sign.  It was pink. And it was perfect.  The girls and I had plans for the whole weekend, all revolving around shopping, food, and drinks.  It’s so fun to go away for just a “girls weekend”.  If I could do it every month, I would.  I love to travel and be with my friends!!

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The stained glass on our “Elegance” room door.

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The girls saying “good morning” to the horses at the Madonna Inn!

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Starting the morning off right with a perfectly pink breakfast.

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Mission San Luis Obispo

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My fabulous Madonna Inn birthday cake! YUM-MO!

twelfth stop: the americana at brand

Last weekend my mom flew into town from Los Gatos.  After I picked her up from the Burbank airport, we skipped going back to my apartment, and instead stopped in to the Glendale Americana at Brand. The Americana is one of my favorite places in Glendale.  I think it’s because it reminds me of Santana Row in San Jose, a place I used to frequent A LOT when I lived up north.  There are tons of shops, restaurants, boutiques, apartments and condos, a great farmers market, and a beautiful movie theater.  The theater alone reminds me of a hotel!  This is the kind of place I like to go for “girls’ time”.  I love the water fountain & water show, which I think happens every hour on the hour.  It reminds me of the Bellagio water show in Las Vegas!  

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eleventh stop: las vegas

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Ok, seriously, how has it taken me this long since moving to LA to do a roadtrip to Las Vegas?  It’s only 4 hours away!  Well, I guess it’s because I was waiting for my friends from Sweden to come into town.  They flew into San Francisco, toured Northern California, and then drove to LA.  After a few days exploring Hollywood and Santa Monica, Mike and I followed them to Las Vegas for a weekend full of fun…and margaritas!  We stayed at Planet Hollywood and our rooms were great!  Each room had a specific movie theme…and I forget what mine was…something about fighter jets?  I didn’t have any interest in that, though Mike sure enjoyed it.  We spent our first night having dinner and drinks at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and exploring the strip.  We went to Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden at The Mirage on Friday, and got to see dophins, lions, leopards, etc.  I’m not a huge fan of “zoos/caged animals”, but I actually enjoyed seeing these amazing creatures. I felt a little better when the trainers explained that the animals spend most of their time outside of the cages, and they switch them out every few hours so they can be “free”.

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The rest of the weekend was spent getting pedicures (girls) and visiting Hoover Dam (boys).  We went to the nightclub, XS, at The Encore, and saw the Cirque du Soleil show, "O" at the Bellagio, which was incredible!  Oh, and did I mention we had front row seats?  Amazing experience for sure, one I will never forget!

View from our seats: (taken from http://www.bellagio.com/o-cirque-du-soleil/o-cirque-du-soleil.aspx)

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tenth stop: coachella valley

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit some of our offices down in Coachella Valley.  I had never been there before and was very eager to make the trip!  Luckily, my Grandparents own a home in Indian Wells, so I was able to extend my work trip down there through the weekend so I could visit with them.  I had no idea how beautiful it was there!  The scenery is just gorgeous - and nothing like I’d seen before.  Huge mountains and lush landscapes - really amazing.  

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