Rio Hotel/Casino, Las Vegas
Go off the Strip and visit the Rio! This is the first off-Strip casino to gain respect as a major Las Vegas player in over 30 years. That is a remarkable achievement. The Rio has a dramatic black glass exterior and has a stunning purple light show which is visible from all over the city. This is also a local's favorite. From the top of the hotel tower you have a great view of the Strip; and the Voodoo Lounge makes an excellent spot for an evening cocktail.
Masquerade Village was added in 1997 and it stages its own 'carnival' every two hours between noon and midnight, in which floats suspended from overhead rails pass above the casino floor while costumed rascals dance on the central stage. Beads are thrown 'Mardi Gras style' by the costumed participants from the floats. And no matter what anyone tells you, you don't need to lift your shirt to get the beads either. :-)
Being that this hotel is located off-Strip (on Flamingo), it would be tempting to just skip it. If your not driving, you can get a free shuttle bus from the northeast corner of Harmon Avenue and the Strip, near the new Aladdin.
See the Mardi Gras parade at the Rio (and for 10.00 you can be in it). Also don't miss
Madam Tussauds Wax Museum at the Venetian. Characters are all around you and you
can sit or stand next to them, take pictures.....they're not hidden at all. Unlike any other
wax museum you've seen, I'm sure! Lions at the MGM.
Fondest memory: Many, many fond memories but one that sticks out in my mind is the Tournament of
Kings at the Excalibur. What a blast; dinner, audience participation. Makes you feel
like you are living in merry old England.
Favorite thing: This is the Rio and the casino area. I don't think we were suppose to take pictures there but couldn't resist. This hotel is best known for it's seafood buffet with all the lobster, shrimp, clams and any other seafood you can eat. We ate mostly lobster tail and the heck with everything else. Mandalay Bay champaign brunch was also a favorite. Prices are higher at these two buffets but the quality of food is much better. Remember you walk miles while visiting Las Vegas so don't worry about eating too much.
Basically, I've been to Vegas too many times to count. Being from LA, Vegas is the premiere destination for getaway weekends. It's only a 4 1/2 hour drive from LA, and if you can avoid the cops, you can get there in less than 4 hours.
Fondest memory: If you like buffets, definitely check out Rio's Carnival buffet. Every foof and dessert imaginable here for a reasonable price. And the casino is one of my favorites too!