Las Vegas


After three nights of camping in Death Valley, we decided to continue on to Las Vegas, which is only an additional ~2 hours east. We were aiming for a nice shower and a week of relaxation and feasting, and it was Thanksgiving, after all! Alex booked us a very nice stay at the new NoMad Hotel, which is located inside the Park MGM (formerly the Monte Carlo). We were originally planning to stay from Sunday to Thursday, but ended up extending the trip so that we could attend the Duke-Gonzaga game on Friday night. It was too good of an opportunity to see Duke play in Coach K’s final season before retirement.

The NoMad Hotel, originally from NYC (North of Madison). We really enjoyed our Italian condo-style suite here and all of the restaurants in the Park MGM building, including the very good cocktails at the NoMad Bar and Library.

First meal- Earl of Sandwich. Cheap and delicious. There’s been an Earl of Sandwich storefront “coming soon” in our neighborhood for over a year now. Not sure it will ever open!

The classic Bellagio fountains

Sunrise from our hotel room!

We had to go for a run since we were two weeks out from running a 10k race.

So begins our week of going straight from one meal to the next. Our hotel stay came with free breakfast every day, so of course we had to do that. Then, lunch at Eataly which was also in the same building.

Walking around the different hotels. Christmas displays at Bellagio.

Chicken dinner at NoMad Library.

A little jaunt to downtown Las Vegas.

Mothership Coffee, located in the former Fergusons Motel which has been converted into a bunch of new adorable boutiques.

Can’t stay on the strip for a full week, so off we go for a little trip back into nature. Red Rock Canyon. 

I spy a tiny little Alex.

Basketball game #1! UCLA vs. Gonzaga. #2 vs. #1 at the time. There were a whole series of NCAA basketball games this week coinciding with our stay. We had already planned to go to this game but later decided to stay for the Duke game too. UCLA lost badly, but it was still a fun game to attend.

Next day, free breakfast again!

Then we tried to go to the Wicked Spoon buffet inside the Cosmo… but we ended up in line for over three hours. Oh boy. 

The finally let us in, 30 minutes before closing time! We had to speed eat our way through the buffet!

Stuffed, we walked back through City Center, visiting this little James Turrell exhibit inside the Shops at Crystals on the way back.

Then it was time for a quick recovery before heading to dinner.

Roy Choy’s new restaurant, Best Friend. The front is set up like a convenience store.

Then they lead you through some plastic curtains, revealing a whole restaurant back there.

I only wish we could’ve enjoyed this meal more. Going to a buffet only a couple hours before was not the best play. Alas, we’ll have to come back.

Another day, another run!

Then we played the National Parks Monopoly game we picked up in Death Valley. Hours later, it ended in a draw, in classic form. We should really try the “quick game” version next time.

Thanksgiving dinner downstairs at the NoMad Bar. A tiny but delicious portion of turkey, plus some very tasty sides. This would be our first of three Thanksgiving dinners this week.

Back to Ferguson’s since all of the shops were closed the first time. I picked up some bath salts from the second shop below, Mike’s Recovery, as part of my client holiday gifts.

Spa time! Alex’s first mani pedi!

The House of Gaga display inside the Park MGM. Very cool, you can just walk in for free, and they have a bunch of her crazy costumes on display.

Then it was time for the grand finale to our week in Vegas– Duke vs. Gonzaga! There were a LOT of Gonzaga fans here since the team played multiple games all week. But Duke had a very strong showing too!

Since we only decided after we arrived in Vegas that we wanted to go to the Duke game, we were caught without any gear to wear. So we went to Ross! Alex considered this Kyrie Irving jersey, but I wasn’t so sure we wanted to rep the anti-vaxxer. We ended up with some appropriate blue shirts though. Alex’s was a Warriors shirt, and mine just said Nike. Close enough. 

My last chance to see Coach K before he retires! This was one of the most fun basketball games I’ve ever attended. The whole stadium was pretty evenly divided and evenly distributed between the two teams, so people were cheering no matter who the play favored. The whole place was so high in energy. This was apparently the most people ever at a basketball game in Nevada (no NBA here). And it was such a close game!

But in the end, DUKE WON! Woohoo! We knocked off the #1 team!

As soon as we left the game, we headed back across the street to collect our car and belongings, and we drove off to the next part of the road trip– Los Angeles! Stay tuned to see the rest.

Anna Wu is a wedding and portrait photographer based in San Francisco. She compulsively documents and blogs all of her daily adventures. Follow her on instagram and view more of her professional work at