The Zod & Drea Podcast & Travel Blog

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We live in Phoenix, AZ, so traveling to Phoenix is a hop, skip, and a jump for us. We hop in the car, and in about 4 to 4.5 hours, we’re already at our destination, with a really nice desert view that changes on the way there. It’s easy to pop in and out for a day or two and be back after staying in some decent places. And depending on when you go, you can get some screaming hotel deals. So, with family in town, we had to make the trip and see them. Here’s how our Las Vegas getaway went!

Hotel Preparation

Considering Drea and I are parents to a 3-and-a half-year-old, we have to make sure his comfort is a priority. Although he loves to travel, getting to the destination is not always smooth. I’ll mention what it takes to have a toddler comfortable for a 4-hour trip in the back of a car while strapped to a carseat soon. But we had to find accommodations for our Thursday and Friday night stays in Las Vegas. But here’s the deal: Mondays through Thursdays are generally cheap. Fridays and Saturdays are usually expensive for hotel stays. Sundays are in the middle.

The prices add up when you see what the expensive and ridiculous hotel and resort fees contribute to the final price. For instance, if I booked the Horseshoe Las Vegas (formally, Ballys) for Monday to Wednesday, the cost would be $29/night on Hotels.com. That’s two queen beds in a nice-sized room. Taxes are $8. But resort fees are $91! So, instead of the total being $62, it’s $156. Ugh! If you go on the weekend, like Friday to Sunday, it’s worse. It’s $319 for the same room, per night! The resort fee is the same, but the total is $814 with $85 in taxes and fees.

I used to live in Las Vegas for two years, so I’m not the type to pay all of that for no reason. And Drea is the same, so she booked the way we book hotels.

The Orleans Hotel & Casino

We usually stay off the Strip, but our usual spot is expensive on weekends (cheap on weekdays), so we looked around for what we could get that was inexpensive and with free parking! Many hotels now charge for parking, so you can add that to your final cost per day as well. Could be around $23/day. Yeah, it’s like that! If Las Vegas doesn’t get you at the slots, they will just stay there. We looked around for good deals for Thursday to Saturday, staying only two nights.

The Orleans is a New Orleans-themed hotel and casino with a bowling alley and movie theater inside. It’s really nice, actually, and the free parking is a bonus. It has a lot of restaurants inside and is pretty good for us and our toddler since we don’t gamble. So, the price of the entire stay wound up being around $280, which beats everywhere else for those dates. No added cost for parking although the fees still stuck. But under $300 was the deal for that week, and we took it!

The hotel had a large room with two queen beds, a modern TV, a big bathroom, and a chill area with a couch, a large chair, and a table, plus a work desk and chair next to the TV. Great choice for those two days!

To get to the Strip, you will need a car or Uber since it’s on the other side of RT 15, but it’s near Chinatown with a lot of great restaurants nearby. It’s a quiet area down the street from the Palms Hotel. Again…free parking!

Keep the Toddler Busy

Lorenzo is always the star of the show, and since we’re visiting family members who are in town (my sister, mom, cousin, and his wife), we have to keep the star busy! Like any little kid who gets restless, annoyed, and antsy, Lorenzo isn’t any different. We drove to Planet Hollywood to park (again, $23 since it was Friday and whether it was 1 hour or 24 hours). Planet Hollywood has Miracle Mile, which is a large circular mall inside. Keeping a child occupied with lights, colors, and moving shapes with interesting sounds will always keep him interested. And it did!

We walked around the area to waste time while waiting for family. Now, this is a kid who has been infatuated with the Eiffel Tower ever since we brought a mini version souvenir from Paris on our last European trip. So, when he walked outside to walk toward the Paris Hotel and Casino, he lost his mind!

“The Eiffel Tower! It’s the Eiffel Tower!” His day was made, and he posed for a few photos in front of his favorite structure (until he gets to visit the real one). We walked past a lot of characters on the Strip, but he was more interested in the Tower and pointing out Mustangs, Jeeps, and Dodge Challengers as they roared by hitting red lights.

Family on couch in Las Vegas hotel
Little boy looking at Bellagio fountain show

Bellagio Fountain Show​

We walked past the new Horseshoe Hotel and went up the escalator to head to the Bellagio. Lorenzo posed for pictures and, of course, pointed out the Eiffel Tower for the 100th time as it turned its colorful lights on. We walked down the Bellagio to head to the wall to see the next Fountain show. And that’s when things went awry.

Street vendors headed directly to Lorenzo with bubbles, lit balloons, and everything else to charm a child, which would force a parent to buy from them. Drea was a fast enforcer who shooed them away, but the damage was done! Saying “no” and knowing he couldn’t get the bubbles triggered Lorenzo into a fit in the middle of the Strip. It didn’t last as long as we tried to distract him until the show started.

We got to our spot, and as he squirmed and did everything to not cry out of frustration, I put him on my shoulders, and thankfully, the fountain show began. It worked as a great distraction as Lorenzo cheered the water bursting in the air! It was good enough to help get him in a better mood, but once it was over, he returned back to his annoyed state. It didn’t help when more balloons were spotted, so we headed across the street back to Planet Hollywood to distract him in Miracle Mile.

He was in a better mood for a while but had another fit when we went to my sister’s hotel room. He just broke down. Sometimes, that’s all it takes: saying no to a bright balloon or bubbles. He eventually calmed down, knowing we were going back “home” (his way of saying “hotel”). He calmed down and was excited once we got back.

Family next to Paris Hotel Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas
Son and father in Las vegas

We met up with family the following day without a hitch, and the star of the show was in a great mood. Once back at the hotel, he got some food and went to sleep. It looks like he just wanted some snacks and more rest after the long trip. This is much like what it takes when we travel long distances with him.

But we’ll make sure we bring some bubbles the next time we walk around the Strip with Lorenzo. It’ll definitely keep him chill and in a great mood. I’d recommend, while walking the LV Strip with a toddler (of which there were more than I’d expect at the time), I’d say just load him up with food, give him a LOT of sleep, and bring his favorite distraction despite LV having so many already.

We usually hit the indoor playgrounds (which we did) and parks but this trip was a little different since we were on someone else’s schedule to meet for lunch or dinner. But now we know (in case we want to walk around to see the sites) what to do if bringing Lorenzo with us. That’s the life of two parents with their only child.

Zod and Drea Photo in London

We're Zod & Drea

Hello! We’re a married couple who have this podcast and travel blog together. Join us in our travels and listen to what we speak about as we center Black and Brown experiences as parents, travelers, and a couple.

– Zod & Drea