Here is what I think: When visiting Las Vegas, there are a few ways to go about lodging. Stay in one of the older casinos in Downtown Las Vegas where you can take in the craziness of Fremont Street. Stay off Strip somewhere. After all, Las Vegas is a big city with so much more to offer than just gambling and the Strip. Or, you can stay right in the heart of the gaming, parties and silliness right along the Las Vegas Strip. I’m not saying there is a right or wrong way to do it, but staying in one of several properties of MGM Resorts Las Vegas worked for us.
I’ve been to Las Vegas one time. It just happened. I’ve never been dying to go to Vegas. An adult Disneyland isn’t my cup of tea. But when a big group of friends decides we should all go to celebrate a few 40th birthdays, I was on board. I’m not sure where I might have picked for lodging if it was up to me, but some of our friends decided many months before our trip that the party would happen at the MGM Grand. So off to the Las Vegas Strip and the magic of the MGM Resorts.
I’m familiar with MGM Resorts; we stayed overnight this summer in the Gold Strike Tunica, an MGM property near Memphis. It’s a great hotel, so I was confident everything at any of the properties of MGM Resorts Las Vegas would be spot on.
Staying at The Signature at MGM Grand
Instead of getting a room at the MGM Grand like some of our friends, a group of us decided to get a few of the suites at The Signature at MGM Grand, a property featuring three towers that are connected to the MGM Grand property. The prices were very reasonable, coming out to a bit less than $200 per night for a massive room with king-size bed, living room area and balcony overlooking the Strip.
Our room really was massive. The pull-out couch would have been Colby’s bed if he came with us on this trip. The kitchen would come in handy, too, for traveling families. We used the fridge for beverages. That’s about it.
Just off the entry way is a massive bathroom with a large walk-in shower and separate whirlpool tub. The large counter space had a flat-screen TV mounted to the wall, and the toilet room was separated from the space.
This also turned out to be our pre-vow renewal ceremony party spot where we could watch the sun set over the strip before cruising over to get married by Elvis.
Each of the three Signature towers has their own pool complex, and we did hang out at one of them for a bit.
Party at the MGM Grand
But our stay at The Signature gave us access to the massive pool complex at the MGM Grand where we could choose from five pools, a lazy river and plenty of hot tubs. A long hallway with moving walkways made the walk take less than five minutes to get to the MGM Grand.
I’ve already written this, but it bears repeating. I believe Las Vegas easily could be a great city to visit with a family. I think staying at the MGM Grand or The Signature at MGM Grand makes it all the better. Really, it’s like a beach vacation without the sand and saltwater.
We did spend a lot of time at the pool complex. This was, after all, our first real trip in five years without our son. It was great to relax by the pool without worrying about his whereabouts.
But I think what was a bigger priority to me was the food we enjoyed on this trip. We did eat at a few restaurants that were not in an MGM Resorts property. But most of our meals ended up being at the MGM Grand, The Mirage and Monte Carlo.
At the MGM Grand, we had a reservation for our large group of 10 at Crush. This restaurant has a sexy vibe that works well for couples on a romantic night out or for a group of friends. We had lots of small plates, great wine and even some good local Vegas beer. I was amused to even see a cider on the menu that said it’s made in Memphis. I live in Memphis. I didn’t know we had a cider.
Anyway, Crush was listed in a number of publications I trust, including Travel & Leisure naming it one of the best new Las Vegas restaurants in 2014.
Being the foodie I’d like to think I am, at the outset of the trip the idea of eating in the massive food court known as The District was not appealing. But the simplicity of stopping in for breakfast every morning before walking to the nearby pool or for a morning poker game worked well. Again, like I said, this place is like a massive Disneyland for adults.
There is also a nice sports bar with tons of beer choices just across the casino from the sports book. I spent a little time in both.
Moving on for more food
The Monte Carlo is just across the Strip from the MGM Grand, where we enjoyed great pizza at a good price at 800 Degrees Pizza, beer- and wine-flavored sorbet at BLVD Creamery, and a massive beer selection at The Pub — named by USA Today as one of the top spots for a pint in Las Vegas. And for what it’s worth, Thrillist named it as the Best Pub Eats earlier this year.
Both 800 Degrees and BLVD Creamery are on the outside of the casino fronting the street. That easy access to the masses makes the affordable prices even more surprising.
But the best meal of our trip came a cab ride away at Portofino by Chef Michael LaPlaca at The Mirage. This Italian restaurant was amazing. We don’t go out of our way to eat at Italian restaurants in the U.S. unless they come highly recommended. And I had read some really great things about Portofino as being one of the better meals on the Strip.
We loved it. Everything about it, from the wine to the food to the service. In fact, we even spent too much time there enjoying our desserts and were late to the Jubilee show we had tickets for at Bally’s.
I’m not saying a stay at any of the MGM Resorts International properties is the way to go. Who knows, if we would have chosen a dozen other spots on the Strip we might have liked those better. I will say from my experience, if you are traveling to Las Vegas for the adult Disneyland feel, centering yourself in or near the MGM Grand might be a good idea.