Vegas - Senior Style
February 24, 2011 6:14 PM   Subscribe

I'm taking my 65 year old Grandma to Vegas. She's never been. How can I make this the best trip ever?

My grandma and I are staying in the MGM Signature Suites for four days next month. She's never really been on vacation and has been looking forward to going to Vegas pretty much her entire life. I'm looking for both the stereotypical cheesy Vegas places and then some cool spots. I've been once before, but with a bunch of girls that only wanted to club, and I'm not really sure how to give her a good "vegas experience". I was planning on taking her to the Fremont District because walking through the streets was pretty fun. Any ideas would help, food, shows, things to see. Help me.
posted by Marinara to Travel & Transportation around Las Vegas, NV (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Does she want to gamble? Which game?
posted by mr_roboto at 6:16 PM on February 24, 2011

I've asked what she wants to do and she's pretty excited to do anything. She's never gambled before and probably only wants to spend 20$-30$ on gambling. If anything it'd be slot machines just so she can see what a casino is like. I've never played card games or anything so I wouldn't know what to do either unless its an easy thing.

She's just really overwhelmed with all the available things to see and its hard to narrow down to a couple things to do. I think I'm mostly looking for iconic and not-to-miss places that are fun to see.
posted by Marinara at 6:22 PM on February 24, 2011

You are awesome for doing this.

The MGM Signature Suites are pretty fancy - make sure to make use of the pool. Depending on how spry your 65 y/o g-ma is, it might be fun to just have a wander down the strip; all kinds of famous landmarks there. If health or heat are obstacles, take a taxi/limo down the strip at night and let the lady gawp at the craziness.

The Hoover dam is 35 miles from Vegas, and is well worth the trip, if she's into that kind of thing.
posted by Pecinpah at 6:27 PM on February 24, 2011

Take her to the Pepper Mill near the Sahara. The food is great.
posted by Stynxno at 6:27 PM on February 24, 2011

And after the Pepper Mill, you can play $1 Blackjack at the Sahara! I played the same $20 for 3 nights in a row.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:32 PM on February 24, 2011

I second you're awesome. Take her to the old downtown part of vegas.
posted by grak88 at 6:46 PM on February 24, 2011

Just walking the Strip gives you a pretty solid "Yep, I'm definitely in Vegas" experience. Right around Caesar's (which includes the Forum Shops--lots of fun window shopping or buying depending on your budget) there are a lot of the new iconic hotels. Caesar's, The Bellagio (the fountain show, especially at night, is definitely a must for a first-timer and it is free, and walking in to see the Murano glass ceiling is also kind of neat and also free), Paris and New York, New York are all right there. Gondola ride at the Venetian is pretty cheesy/stereotypical Vegas, but I don't know how much that is. There's also the observation tower at the Stratosphere. I've never taken one, but I think there are tours to see the Hoover Dam, which is about 30-40 miles outside of Vegas.

It has been a couple of years since I've been in Vegas, but the Sahara (down the Strip a ways) used to have $1 blackjack tables. If that's still the case, you can play cards for a fair amount of time without losing too much money (a lot of casinos have $10 minimum tables), and have the experience of having played blackjack in Vegas. (It is very easy--there are strategies about when you should and should not bet, but if you are looking for fun, all you need to be able to do for blackjack is add up to 21 and know the signals for the dealer--tapping/knocking the table for hit me, waving your hand over your cards to stay, that kind of thing. You can pick it up very fast watching the other players.)

From friends who have visited recently, I've heard really good things about the Cirque du Soleli show Love (set to Beatles music).

Vegas has soooo much in the way of food. Is there any particular cuisine she prefers? Or maybe even a favorite celebrity chef--most of them have restaurants in Vegas, so if she likes any of them from TV, maybe getting a reservation at their restaurant would be a little thrill for her? The stereotypical Vegas food experience is the buffet--you can go anywhere from the cheap "$10 for crab legs and prime rib" to fancy at the high end casinos. The breakfast/brunch buffet at Paris I remember being delicious (though I'm also a sucker for brunch) and it includes rooms and rooms of options--including a made-to-order crepe station.
posted by HonoriaGlossop at 6:47 PM on February 24, 2011

I'd treat it like a bit of a scavenger hunt. Plan some evening meals and then plan a thing or two each day to try to do. Big thing to keep in mind is that you can do an awful lot of walking in Vegas without even intending to, so keep that in mind when you look at maps and say "Oh that hotel is right next door!" Cabs are easy but spendy, the bus is a little crowdy but you can get an all-day pass for $7. Here are a few things I enjoyed in addition to the Fremont district which is neat because of the outdoor light show and very walkable area with a lot of olderschool stuff.

1. get your photo taken with a million dollars at Binions
2. See some Circus acts at Circus Circus
3. Walk through the Bellagio lobby and check out the fountains at night.
4. Treasure Island pirate battle is some goofy fun (nightly at 6, 8, 10)
5. Does she like roller coasters? If so, I suggest the one at NY NY (you can often get a ton of 2 for 1 coupon books at the airport for things like this)
6. If you've got a roomier budget, I'd suggest taking in a show of some sort. This isn't really my strong suit but I really enjoyed the Cirque du Soleil show that was playing when I was there (O at the Bellagio). Spendy but worth it.
posted by jessamyn at 6:49 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't be afraid to hire a taxi occasionally to traverse long sections of the strip. Those long walks can really suck the life out of you, not to mention your 65-year-old grandmother. And waiting for the bus can be a drag. What's a few bucks?
posted by intermod at 8:29 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

As far as entertainment goes, Vegas is tops in distracting you from the fact that you're cashing your paychecks to them. I would suggest asking the concierge or front desk upon check-in what special offers they can give you for shows or dinner. MGM is the home of , which I've not seen personally but my own grandma has and she loved it. In general, any Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas will be a great experience, though I wouldn't take my grandmother to Zumanity.

My mother is your grandmother's age and I would definitely not classify her as frail. 65 is plenty young to go walking along the Strip (much more visually appealing at night, but on the weekends you might as well as for drinks and porn flyers to be thrown on you). Will you have a car available? The traffic (horrible for residents, I know) is pretty conducive to raking in the sights without dealing with the broke lushes.

MGM has the lion habitat. Similarly, Mandalay Bay has a Shark Reef Aquarium. The Mirage has the Secret Garden, which houses Siegfried and Roy's white tigers.

For free entertainment, Excalibur has magic/"jester" shows on its upper entertainment level every hour. As previously mentioned, the Bellagio's water show is not to be missed. Caesar's Palace does an hourly "Fall of Atlantis" show at its forum shops. The Mirage has a volcano explosion (very 90s "oooh!" factor) and Treasure Island has some pirate show a few times a night (though that seems to have gotten since I've seen it). As you said, the Light Show at the Fremont District is a crowd-pleaser.

Dining is definitely not to be missed. Thomas Keller's Bouchon (Venetian). Nobu (Bally's). Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill (Caesar's). Alain Ducasse's Mix (Mandalay Bay). Andre Rochat's new Alizé (Palms). Joël Robuchon's Joël Robuchon (MGM. Seriously top-notch and priced to match. Or, L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in the casino is slightly more casual). Charlie Palmer's Aureole (Mandalay Bay). Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak (MGM). You get the idea.

Of course, if you want to go balls-out American style, buy a $50 all-day 7-buffet pass (and Vegas buffets can run the gamut, but these tend to be the nicer ones). (Not like I've done that. Seriously.)

If you're going to be spending money, try to make it a little harder for the casinos to take it. Buy tickets to a show. And as much as I kid, I do have a soft spot for the city. I would suggest joining the Vegas Groupon and seeing what deals you can snap up that way.

And if all else fails, do what the doktor says. Collect soap.
posted by therewolf at 8:42 PM on February 24, 2011

I went to Vegas a couple years ago with my parents and aunt and uncle (all about your grandma's age). Their main reason for going was to see Love (which was mentioned above). My mom is a huge Beatles fan, and they all really liked the show. If you can get tickets and your grandma likes the Beatles (or awesome acrobatics), then you should really go.

The other thing we all loved, which is totally cheesy, but awesome, was the Liberace museum. I've been there twice now, and it's actually really cool (lots of awesome pianos and cars to look at). My 60 year old+ family members had a really great time there.
posted by lexicakes at 9:25 PM on February 24, 2011

A superbly cheesy Las Vegas show is Big Elvis, who has a cabaret show at Bill's Gamblin' Hall (formerly Barbary Coast), which is next to the Flamingo, opposite the Bellagio. Best of all, the show is free.

A slot machine your grandma might like is the Wheel of Fortune which (at least when I was last in Vegas for jonmc's wedding) was in every hotel. To get to the 'Spin the Wheel' option, I recall you have to bet the maximum amount on the game, which also gives you the maximum number of options to win, I think it was 20 lines or something like that. The game seemed popular with older customers who weren't seasoned gamblers because they were familiar with the show.

I'd also recommend taking in a buffet at some point. The breakfast buffet at Caesar's Palace was particularly good.
posted by essexjan at 5:02 AM on February 25, 2011

PLEASE don't take her on the NYNY rollercoaster. It was easily the worst, most violent coaster I've ever ridden. I can't imagine taking someone in their 60s on that thing.

There was an excellent "get lost in" article about Vegas in the NY Times a couple of weeks ago that I highly recommend seeking out. I'm posting from my phone, so I can't really post the link now, but it shouldn't be too hard to find.

Have fun! This sounds like an awesome trip.
posted by arco at 6:19 AM on February 25, 2011

In addition to the Peppermill, check out the Hash House in Imperial Palace. It is fat eats, to be sure. Go hungry! Perfect hungover breakfast :)

If you are in MGM or passing through (perhaps checking out the lions?) the sports book makes an excellent spot to have a little rest. Nice plush chairs and ashtrays galore.
posted by utsutsu at 7:24 AM on February 25, 2011

There was an excellent "get lost in" article about Vegas in the NY Times a couple of weeks ago that I highly recommend seeking out. I'm posting from my phone, so I can't really post the link now, but it shouldn't be too hard to find.

Here it is! And it is a very good read.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:43 AM on February 25, 2011

The other thing we all loved, which is totally cheesy, but awesome, was the Liberace museum.

Sadly, the Liberace museum closed October 17th, 2010 (press released PDF). I'll never forgive my husband for not taking me on our honeymoon!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:47 AM on February 25, 2011

It's been a long time since I've been (and I was a teenager back then), but I remember the Coca-Cola and M&M museum/store being really fun. They have a room where Coca-Cola is shot into your cup from several feet away, and you can drink sodas from all around the world. I also seem to recall huge mosaics done entirely in M&Ms.
posted by joan cusack the second at 10:45 AM on February 25, 2011

Have fun with grandma, and "good on ya" for doing it.

The Signature Towers at the MGM are a surprisingly long walk even staying indoors straight to the MGM Grand. You'll not want to go back and forth too many times a day. It's far enough that there are peoplemover belts in a few places. But access to the Signature gets you some nicer pools, and a nice quiet place to have a small meal (bottom floor of #2 tower).

The most astounding, amazing Cirque show is "Ka", conveniently for you it's in the MGM Grand. Definitely see at least one "big" show while in Vegas. Other Cirque or Blue Man Group shows are all good and grandma friendly. I have a big show currently in Vegas, and I still recommend Ka.

As others have said, don't be shy on hiring a taxi. You'll be on your feet all day and all night anyhow, and you don't need to add miles and miles of miles and miles. Unless you're crazy and/or looking for exercise, like me. Jogging the strip is great fun at almost any hour.

As others have also said, *do* spend the money for a few top-notch dinners. Do your research. What some think of as top-notch, you might think is just a big hunk of cow flesh.

Las Vegas is awesome for people watching. That's my favorite activity while there. I don't gamble, and mostly don't drink while there, and still love wandering around. Have a great time!
posted by lothar at 10:51 AM on February 25, 2011

Spa it up! Book a treatment for each of you, go early and spend a few hours enjoying all the fancy amenities. The Venetian's the one I remember, but MGM was huge and very luxurious.
posted by cyndigo at 11:02 AM on February 25, 2011

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