Today i ticked off a couple of items from my bucket list, firstly to drive an American classic muscle car and secondly to go up in a helicopter. Fortunately in Las Vegas you can do both very easily.
The previous evening we had booked a Ford Mustang Convertible via the New York New York hotel concierge. We had expected it to cost quite a lot so our initial approach was more in hope than expectation but at around $90 for the day it was a bargain not to be missed. As we approached the hotel parking lot we spied the black Ford Mustang parked up and immediately got the hood down and jumped in. Initial thoughts were good, nice leather seats, a top of the range stereo and just enough room to fit our 6ft son into the back, it was only the 3.2 eco-boost engine rather than the meatier 5 litre GT but despite the lack of growl when we turned the key it still had all the toys and it looked the part.
We drove tentatively out the lot and into the Vegas sunshine and heat and onwards to our first destination, Lake Mead. After 30 minutes of cruising through and out of Vegas we had to pull over at a garage and get lathered in sun protection and put hats on, another 20 minutes and it up with the roof and on with the air con. Almost every travel guide and website tells you not to bother with a cabriolet in Las Vegas, the sun is too strong and the heat is too intense. Its easily ignorable advice but its also 100% correct advice and the drive was much more comfortable, if not quite as “fun”, with top up.
Lake mead Marina was odd ! we had imagined it to be full of the Vegas rich with expensive boats and people water skiing but it was actually quite a run down wooden marina with a few shanty buildings and a restaurant. We had some breakfast ( which was the usual pancakes and syrup etc and very good ), wandered for half an hour watching the fisherman do their thing and then headed back to the car to continue onto the Hoover dam. I guess we may of mistakenly gone to the working marina rather than the playing marina so too speak at Lake Mead.
The drive up to Hoover dam was fun. Lots of playing with the various engine and handling settings on the ‘Stang ( it will time your 0-60mph and quarter mile for example ) and lots of nice fast roads to test the car out on. The Hoover dam was as impressive as it looks in the various pictures and on TV and made for a pleasant stop. We took some photos, had an ice cream and returned to the car to head back to Las Vegas. Once back in Vegas we toured the older part of the city by car and went on a sight spotting tour of classic hotels and TV icons such as the Gold and Silver Pawn Brokers from Pawn Stars. We did a few more laps of the strip and headed back to the hotel for dinner and to freshen up for the evening tour.
After dinner we were picked up by minibus and taken to Maverick Helicopter Tours base where a night time helicopter tour awaited us. We sat through the safety talk and eventually headed out onto the tarmac where our pilot and Eco Start EC 130 helicopter awaited. I called shotgun and jumped into the front seat for the best view. We were only up in the air for about 15 minutes but the sights were stunning and the whole experience was amazing. The pilot kept us informed of what we could see down below us and seeing Las Vegas lit up from the sky was breathtaking. On touch down i managed to fall out of the helicopter after missing the step, which was a touch on the embarrassing side. We took a few photos discreetly as they didn’t like you filming or photographing on the air strip and headed back to the minibus to be taken back to our hotel.
The rest of our last evening in Las Vegas was spent wandering the strip and buying mementos along with a bit of gambling on the slots.
After 3 nights in Sin City i’m not 100% sure of what i think of it. Its a place i have always wanted to visit so I’m glad i can tick it off my list however i don’t think id miss it if i never returned. Personally i don’t think its the best place to go with a 13 year old child and maybe had i spent three nights here with “the lads” drinking and gambling i’d of felt differently. Hiring a Mustang and taking a Helicopter tour have definitely been the high lights of Las Vegas.
We originally drove route 66 and visited Las Vegas in August 2015 – i’ve finally got around to finishing of my Road Trip blog and written this from notes i made at the time