Your wedding ceremony is about you and your fiancé so make it YOURS! There are no rules in weddings. Make it unique and meaningful to the two of you and it’s sure to be an unforgettable day. It truly is the little details that make the day personal. Check out some elements we included to make our big day memorable to us! (Note: There may or may not have been several pop culture references throughout our ceremony….psst there were LOTS!)Read More
After months and months of planning, you’ve made it to the final countdown. This is where the excitement butterflies start fo’ real because it’s crunch time. And while you can find fantastic wedding planning checklists online, we wanted to share some tips for final countdown that made an impact for us in the final stages of our wedding planning process.Read More
We loved the chance to have some fun with our ring bearer. Ring security is a great option for boys, especially if they are slightly older than typical ring bearer age, because it gives them a better sense of the importance of their role in the big day. Plus “the costume” for the job is a suit and makes wearing one more enjoyable if you’re playing the security agent role seriously.Read More
Asking your nearest and dearest to be apart of your wedding is almost as exciting as getting engaged, but coming up with how to pop the question can be a real struggle. Just remember your crew/clan/squad has been by your side through thick and thin. They love you as much as you love them, and they will be over the moon to stand by your side on your wedding day—gift or not gift. However if you are set on gifting, we wanted to share what we found for our wedding party asks in the hopes it would give you an idea for your own special asks.Read More
Make your guests feel welcome as soon as they arrive with a welcome bag filled with local goodies and personal touches. Welcome bags are a great way to say “Thank you for making the trip, we are so excited you are here, and want you to relax and enjoy yourself!” Plus they are really fun to put together. :)Read More
For us the biggest benefit of hosting an intimate wedding was in QUALITY! Quality time with guests, quality of food, quality of location, quality of service, etc. Being able to put an emphasis on quality, really gave everyone the unforgettable, luxe experience we wanted.Read More
Everyone’s priorities are different—from couple to couple and even from couple to their parents—so I’d recommend establishing your priorities as a couple first then discussing with your parents (especially if they are helping pay). Hopefully all the lists will overlap though there will likely need to be some compromises made.Read More
LeBraun and I had always pictured a late autumn / early winter wedding. We’ve never been summer people and the majority of our personal events, like birthdays and anniversaries, are in the spring. We always wanted to add an event to the fall for us to celebrate. Well that and the fact that my favorite month has always been October. Additionally I naturally run hot and anything above 75 degrees is almost too much for me.
So when our families gave us a date range of end of July through mid-August (mostly due to my dad’s job and the fact that the kids involved would be on summer holidays), we were thrown for a loop.
Luckily we’d discussed and always had our heart set on a small destination wedding.
We’ve been to several large-scale weddings, including my now brother and sister-in-laws wedding September 2017, where it felt like we didn’t get to chat or at least say “hey” to the majority of people in attendance, fully enjoy the meal, or spend enough time on the dance floor. And we were just guests.
We wanted to be able to fully enjoy our wedding day, eat the meal we had been craving since the tasting, have meaningful conversations with the guests that made the journey to celebrate with us, and not feel like we missed out on time with friends who we don’t see as often as we would like.
But the biggest draw was that we L-O-V-E new adventures and wanted to share out passion with those closest to us.
Why We Choose Maui
The short and short is that the weather is consistent and it felt exotic without being out of reach for most guests.
If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, it doesn’t feel like you’re still in the U.S. The Polynesian culture, breathtaking nature, surf and sand make it feel like you’ve found a private escape.
During August the weather ranges between mid-70s and 80s, much more bearable than the 100 degrees/100 humidity nightmare that Nashville experiences when summer rolls around.
Several major airlines offer flights to Maui (OGG-Kahului Airport) from the mainland and any U.S. guests won’t need a passport. And being able to celebrate with our nearest and dearest was very important to us.
One phrase we kept using during planning was “a memorable experience” for our guests, and not only does just the word “Hawaii” make people happy, it’s a great excuse for some time off and to check the islands off their travel bucket lists. Maui has something for everyone so no one will get bored. They can relax on the beach, try surfing, snorkel with sea turtle, go hiking in rainforests, take a catamaran around the island, and much more. All of our guests stayed at least six days. We ended up joking that the plan was actually to vacation with all our friends, with a wedding thrown in. :)
Weddings, in nature, often tend to be stressful so why not take a cue from the locals, slow it down, and enjoy the events on “island time.”
Another location we were seriously considering was the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia because it holds a special place in our hearts. It’s a place we’ve spent time every summer since we started dating; however, over the past couple years they have suffered terrible forest fires during the summer months. Since we wanted an outdoor wedding and to roast s’mores for dessert (which you can’t do with a fire ban) it wasn’t working.
Don’t let that discourage you though, they are tons of beautiful vineyards, orchards, lakeside and/or mountain-side spots for weddings in BC.
You’re In Maui, Why Not Have A Beach Wedding?
“Oh, yeah, wedding in Hawaii- real original!” - Peter Bretter, Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Getting married in Hawaii is not an original idea. There were even two other brides on the plane to Maui with us, both of which were getting married at beachfront venues.
As a couple we've just never been beach people, preferring ski trips to beach trips, and winter weather to summer weather. Not that we don't love the beach, there’s almost nothing better than walking barefoot on a beach and letting the sand squish between your toes.
Though to each his own. If you are considering a beach wedding do take in account that the sound of the breeze and the waves crashing does make it quite loud. But toes in the sand still does sound lovely…:)
All photography by [Teale Photography]
Destinations wedding planning isn’t always as easy, breezy as you’d expect. Make sure you know what you’re committing too (and how others may react) if you’re thinking about an intimate destination wedding.Read More
Just like every other girl on Pinterest I had a board dedicated to my future wedding, continuously pinning unique placecards, bouquets I liked, elements to add personality…etc.
However once we choose our venue + with the date range we were given by our families, (almost) all of it went out the window.
LeBraun and I had always pictured a late autumn / early winter wedding featuring deep burgundy and navy with copper accents. Perhaps even some snow outside. So when our families gave us a date range of end of July through mid-August we were thrown for a loop.
Luckily we’d discussed and always had our heart set on a small destination wedding. However with any destination wedding, especially one where you don't have family or friends already “on-the-ground” at the location, you have to put your trust completely in your wedding planner and their team—a things that sounds simple, but for a hands-on person like myself can be challenging and a true test in trust.
Thankfully we were blessed to have the fabulous team at Belle Destination Weddings & Events in Maui handling our event.
WHY DO WE NEED A WEEDING MOOD BOARD?
Making a wedding mood board is one of the most helpful activities you and your fiancé can do in the wedding planning process, and one I would recommend doing sooner than later. You can always update it, but it gives you a great jumping off point—helping to make decisions about the look of your day and define the overall vibe of the wedding.
It also helps focus in on what’s really important to the two of you for your big day, and makes communicating your vision to vendors way, way easier. Words can be misinterpreted easier than pictures.
Remember, elements don’t need to be exact, but need to help communicate your vision…things you like / don’t like, etc. Make sure to be thoughtful in your decisions. For example, if you’re wedding is in December chances are your centerpieces won’t contain sunflowers, even if your heart is set on it. They’re a summer flower.
To get started, try answering these questions as a couple or separately then discussing together. Remember the first rule of marriage is be willing to compromise.
- If you’ve picked a date: What time of year / season is your big day?
- If you’ve picked a location: What’s the weather like at the location during your date?
- If you’ve picked a venue or know what you’re looking for: Will the ceremony be inside, outside, or some of both?
- Are there any colors specifically important to you?
- What five adjectives would you use to describe your day? Here are some popular options: Rustic, Modern, Bohemian, Industrial, Classic, Vintage, Adventurous, Colorful, Minimalist, Bright, Exciting, Cozy, Romantic, Glamorous, Intimate, Casual, Formal, Elegant, Whimsical, Beachy, Carefree…
None of these words are exclusive and can be used in any combination; however I would recommend sticking to a max of five words so the direction doesn’t become convoluted. These adjectives will also be used to guide your mood board.
- When your friends and family look back at your wedding, how would you like them to remember it?
- What elements would you love or hate to see on your wedding day?
- Think about any weddings you have attending. Was there anything specific you loved or hated?
- Brides: Think about your dream gown. Is there a specific style or era of dress style you are drawn to? Elements like art deco beading or layers of ballgown tulle can lend themselves to different styles of events. Once you actually go to some bridal appointments you may even be surprised at which dress you say “yes” to. And shh…you don’t have to be obvious about your dress plans to your fiancé, just casual mention that you like, for example, texture if you’re looking for a gown with elaborate beading. Boys have no clue about anything, and that’s just the truth. :)
- Anything else that is important to you on your big day?
Note: You mood board will evolve over time as your event comes together. We added and removed things as we honed in on each element, but a mood board is perfect for referring back to when making decisions. Continuously ask yourself, "Does this decision reflect our overall vibe / theme?"
OUR WEDDING MOOD BOARD
Try and answer the questions above without reading through this next part first. I don’t want our decisions to affect your decisions.
Here’s how we answered each of the questions:
- If you’ve picked a date: What time of year / season is your big day? Summer, early-August
- If you’ve picked a location: What’s the weather like at the location during your date? Upcountry Maui, Hawaii with a temperature average of mid-80’s in August.
- If you’ve picked a venue or know what you’re looking for: Will the ceremony be inside, outside, or some of both? Ceremony and reception both outside. Since our venue was on an olive farm we would already be surrounded by tons of greenery and wanted to focus on greenery with floral accents (roughly 75% greenery / 25% florals).
- Are there any colors specifically important to you? Nothing specific.
- What five adjectives would you use to describe your day? Timeless, lush, fun, romantic + intimate
- When your friends and family look back at your wedding, how would you like them to remember it? Memorable, laid-back + joyful
- What elements would you love or hate to see on your wedding day? We would love to serve an interesting and delicious meal, incorporating local flavors—something you wouldn't expect at a wedding.
- Think about any weddings you have attending. Was there anything specific you loved or hated? Great music, delicious food, and a variety of seating / tables are musts.
- Is there a specific style or era of dress style you are drawn to? I love accenting my waist, emphasizing my boobs (tastefully of course!), and was definitely set on a flowy, large yet light, ballgown. When else can you wear a giant white gown? :)
- Anything else that is important to you on your big day? Having a top-notch photo and video team was important to us. I didn’t factor in to our mood board, but definitely was important for budget and timeline purposes.
OUR INITIAL WEDDING MOOD BOARDS
So without further adu, here’s what our initial mood board looked like. Since we were working with a team across the country, we wrote what we liked about specific images on our mood boards so avoid misinterpretation. We also added an additional page for floral and decor elements specifically since the planner was handling all vendor communication.
All these photos came from Pinterest. We don't own them.
OUR FINAL WEDDING MOOD BOARDS
As the planning process went on, we were able to narrow done on our mood board and really define the style with the help our planner, venue, floral, and decor teams. Note how the final mood boards (below) are more cohesive overall while still capturing our laid-back, timeless vibe.
Without these mood boards we wouldn't have been able to clearly communicate our vision for the big day. And since LeBraun and I are both terrible decision makers, having a visual aid helped us express what we were thinking to everyone involved.
WHERE TO FIND WEDDING INSPIRATION FOR YOUR MOOD BOARDS?
Inspiration can come from everywhere.
Use any combinations of your five adjectives for more tailored results on Google, Pinterest, and wedding websites (like Style Me pretty) searches.
Also use words relating to location, venue style, season, and size of event for additional results.
For example, we researched “vineyard wedding,” “orchard wedding,” “summer wedding,” “Maui wedding,” “intimate wedding,” and more.
These options should yield tons of results. Save your favorites in a folder on your computer or to a Pinterest board—something easy to reference. Once you feel like you’ve found your defining images, narrow them down and create an initial board that encapsulates the spirit of your event.
And don't think all your searches need to contain the word "wedding." Sometimes "party" or "event" can yield a wider range of results.
When you’re ready to get more specific, try the searches again but instead of following the adjectives with “wedding,” use “florals,” or “decor,” etc.
Add these to your initial designs and make sure to carry a copy with you to all your meetings and give a copy to each of your vendors. Just make sure to give them updated versions as you go along!
Happy mood boarding!
LeBraun and I’s first wedding anniversary is today and while some days it feels like we were standing in front of our family and friends on an olive grove in Hawaii saying our vows just yesterday, other days it feels like an eternity ago. I’m somehow always surprised how time sneaks up on me.
Everything that has happened in the last 365 days has been about shaping our future. Were there hard times? Of course. But those times were speckled few and far between through moments of happiness, excitements, love, and respect.
Now our “first anniversary” experience is probably not the norm. We’ve been dating since high school, have lived and traveled together, and have grown up together. Nonetheless each month you spend your life with someone brings new memories and new challenges.
So today were sitting on the patio of the house we’ve spent every Summer since we were 16 and 17 years old to chat about our first 365 days of married life. Lessons we learned, memories we made, things we’re looking forward to, and what a kick-ass wedding we had!
We don’t have all the answer about “how to be married” but we wanted to share 12 pieces of relationship advice we’ve really valued during our first 12 months as Mr. and Mrs.
1. Weddings go by fast but so does the first year of marriage. You’ll never get this time back so don’t forget to soak it in. Every year life gets crazier and the years get shorter, stay in the moment. Enjoy each moment for what it is—good, bad or ugly. It’s tough coming down from the wedding high, but look at it like the wedding is over, look at it like your marriage is starting.
2. Discuss finances. Not the most exciting topic but a crucial one. Just like two people became one at the wedding so must your finances. It’s the perfect time to set budgets, develop a savings strategy, and talk about expectations going forward.
3. Don’t stop dating your spouse. Plenty of couples forget this once they tie the knot, but it is so, so important. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day as you chores, do them together. What’s going on with you? Take the time to connect every day.
We love planning at least two formal date nights every month. It’s the perfect opportunity to bond over something you both love, and each planning one of the dates makes it a fun surprise for the other.
Here are some of our favorite dates ideas.
- Movie + dinner, always a classic. We like to go to the movie first then grab dinner so we can discuss the movie. :)
- Take a cooking class together.
- Stargaze. There’s nothing that will make you feel like a part of the universe’s grand design then cuddling under millions of tiny stars. After all you found each other in this crazy world.
- Go to the zoo. Amazing animals, need we say more?
- Browse a bookstore. We love going to the bookstore, finding books about places we want to visit, talking about our favorite books growing up, and taking home books about things we want to learn.
- Don’t underestimate a weekend getaway. Without the distractions of your normal day to day, you really can put the focus back on each other.
- Make your house, a home. If you just moved in together you probably have some duplicate items. Work together small area by small area to create a place that is the perfect combination of the two of you.
- Grab coffee and walk. Talk about your day, your week, funny things that happened, movies you want to see, things you want to do, the future…whatever you’re feeling that day. Just take the time to connect.
- Go to a museum or gallery. One thing that we’ve always valued in our relationship is our mutual love of learning and the opportunity to always be learning.
- Take a dance class together.
- Spa day, ‘cuz massages!
- Laugh together at a comedy club.
- Hunt down the “hot” food truck and grab lunch.
- Dress up and splurge on a nice dinner.
- Just get out of the house! It’s so simple to stay comfortable, especially after a day at the office, but break the routine and get some fresh air.
4. Never talk badly about your spouse to others. Once you’re aware of this, you’ll realize your guilty of it. Everyone is, but the important thing is now you know you can actively work to make this a priority. It’s so easy to vent about a spouse to friends or even online. Although most of the issues people vent about are —small annoyances that build up over time—and venting to friends is an easy way to avoid conflict with your spouse and experience some temporary relief, it actually causes you (and your friends) to begin to resent your partner. It’s only one side of the story. Work together to address and fix the issues that make you want to vent. Focus on the good in your relationship, build each other up, and then you’ll have something positive to put out in the world. Protect your spouse at all times, ultimately protecting your relationship.
5. Communicate with love and actually listen. This is probably the hardest one for me as I’m not a great speaker to begin with. For some reason I always expect people to simply understand. Since most people can’t read minds, I often end up keeping it to myself then blowing up (aka not the best strategy). We learned that it’s not usually what you are saying, it’s how you are saying it. Many “battles” could be avoided if someone has just said something earlier. Be straightforward with each other, but also gentle. Remember your s.o. is a person with feelings and opinions too. LeBraun’s system, if you will, is to start with a positive note, acknowledge my feelings/opinion and then kindly express his point of view/opinion. It does much less harm then pointedly saying “You didn’t do this, you didn’t do that…” And when your spouse speaks, don’t forget to LISTEN, not just hear. Golden rule of marriage: Treat your spouse how you would like to be treated.
6. Try not go to bed angry. I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but waking up next to your best friend is one of the best parts of marriage. Apologize quick and forgive quicker. We don’t like to say “Never go to bed angry” because arguments tend to take a nastier turn when both people who are already angry are also tired and grumpy. Most of the time, big problems turn into small ones with a little time and little sleep.
7. Don’t keep score. This is general relationship advice but now that our relationship is more formal/official legally, we feel it’s just as important to remember. We’re on the same team—team Shabraun. We say It’s not you vs. me, it’s us vs. the problem. There aren’t ”winners" and a “losers” of every argument, you’re a team so you’ll either win together or lose together. Don’t make assumptions on each other’s behalf. Discuss together, find a solution, and come out stronger.
8. Like because, love despite. You like because, and you love despite. You like someone because of all of their qualities, and you love someone despite some of their qualities. I cannot change my husband, just like my husband can’t change me. Yes, there are always little improvements we can make, but try remember you fell in love with who they are, not who you wanted them to be.
9. Remember your love story. Especially when times get tough. We think about how we met, our first date, our first kiss, our fiftieth date, our thousandth kiss, why I said yes when LeBraun got down on one knee. Remembering those moments reminds you what’s important and that your person loves you in the moments where they seem like they don’t.
10. It’s weird to use the “husband” and be called someone’s “wife” in day to day life. When I’m talking to someone I always feel self-conscious…and a little pretentious…saying things like “My husband and I really want to see that.” It really doesn’t matter what I say for the second half of that sentence, but I always feel like it comes off as “husssband” like I’m purposefully using a snooty, uppity voice and bragging. Of course I’m not, it’s just a transition like when we switched from boyfriend/girlfriend to fiancé. Either way it’s still feels weird to say so we stick to hubby and wifey. It’s feels a little less formal and works for us. P.S. Also it’s not that I’m bragging about finding someone to those who are single or not wanting to brag about how awesome LeBraun is. I do want to brag about him because he is the coolest person I know and I’m the luckiest girl in the world because he chose me. :)
11. Give your best to each other, not your leftovers after you've given your best to everyone else. Marriage is not 50/50, it’s 100/100. Each partner giving everything they’ve got.
12. Have fun and laugh lots. Everyone says “marriage is work” and it is is, but marriage is FUN! Tease, flirt, dance, sing, play, and makeout. Be a lot nice and little naughty. Never stop holding hands or saying “I love you.”
Laughter really is the best medicine. We love that we share similar humor style, we quote movies and shows in every day conversations, and we often say the exact same thing at the exact same time. When that happens it’s always followed by a exclaimed “Come on!” that is also often said in unison. Jinx, you owe me a coke. :)
Hot Summer days call for a chilled, creamy childhood favorite! I love how simple ice cream cookie sandwiches are to make. You do have to have some patience to allow the ice cream to set back once it’s sandwiched in the cookies, but the cookies are simple as you just adjust a simple boxed cake mix. Less time baking and more time munching!Read More
Designed with entertainment in mind, Las Vegas always has somewhere fun to go, somewhere great to eat, something amazing to see, and something for everyone. Let me help you navigate it!Read More
Fremont Street Experience
Fremont Street was and/or still is home to Las Vegas’ classic casinos and hotels such as Golden Gate Hotel, Binion’s Horseshoe, Golden Nugget, The Pioneer Club, and Eldorado Club. The street itself dates back to 1905 when the city itself was founded and has been showcase in countless pop culture from movies like Elvis’ Viva La Vegas and James Bond’s Diamonds Are Forever and music videos like The Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize??” and U2’s "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.”
The city has revamped the area into an unique entertainment district called The Fremont Street Experience. Buskers such as street performers, dancers, impersonators, and artists can be found along the street, while the Slotzilla zipline shoots people overhead. This area is renown for more affordable Sin City entertainment and is generally less crowded than the Strip, but I love the history behind it’s long-term tenants.
Visit The Oldest Casino In Vegas & Drink Where Sinatra Drank
@goldengatevegas | Address: 1 Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101
The city’s original casino—yes, the first casino in Las Vegas—established in 1906 has seen it all. The birth of Vegas as we know it, prohibition, crooners, and more! The Golden Gate Casino established shrimp cocktail as a Vegas tradition for pete’s sake! They’ve been around. It was the original hangout of the Rat Pack in the 1960s who reportedly frequented the wooden bar (still there today with a plaque dedicated to the threesome—Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin. So order Jack on the rocks and toast to The Chairman of the Board at the oldest bar in the city.
When the sunsets the lights on the ceiling of the Fremont Street Experience come on. Viva Vision takes over the sky and showcases one of the world’s biggest musical acts on the the world’s biggest video screen (It’s 1,500 feet long and 90 feet wide!) Check the schedule for showtimes during your visit.
Check the calendar for showtimes, but sets typically include a Dj and a live band. Free of course.
This superman-style zipline launches guests from the world’s largest slot machine past classic hotels and casinos, and above the pedestrians below. I’ve never personally done it (for no reason other than I have done ziplines before) but it seems to be pretty popular as there are always people zooming overhead.
Fun & Free (Albeit Slight Cheesy) Activities
If you’re here for the Fremont Street Experience, you’ve got to get the entire Fremont Street Experience, am I right? So don’t forget these unique (and FREE) attractions.
Get Up Close With One Million Dollars Cash
Ever wonder what $1,000,000 looks like? Well wonder no more. Stop by Binion’s to see their million dollars cash pyramid and get your photo taken with it. It was cool to see though I found it underwhelming so if I ever won a million dollars I would ask for it in $1 bills…bigger pyramid ya no?
Marvel A Golden Nugget At The Golden Nugget
Now this isn’t any old golden nugget, it’s the Hand of Faith, the biggest golden nuggets in existence, and it’s on display in the lobby of the aptly-named Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. It was discovered in 1980 in Australia and weighs more than 61 pounds!
See Some ‘Jaw’esome Sharks
On your way to see the Hand of Faith nugget, walk by the 200,000-galloon shark tank aquarium in the center of the Golden Nugget’s pool—complete with five different species of sharks and several species of fish! Non-hotel guest can swim at the pool (and use the slide through the tank) for a small day fee. Guided tank tours are also offered on Wednesdays and Sundays. Check the website for the most up-to-date pricing and time information.
Play The World’s Largest Keno Board
You can’t miss it! It’s on the side of The D Las Vegas. The board shows live Keno games in real time as they happen in the casino’s Keno Lounge.
Get A Photo Of Vegas Vic
Continuously manning his post outside The Pioneer Club casino since 1951, Vegas Vic remains the world’s largest mechanical neon sign standing at 40 feet tall! Despite the mechanical parts no longer functioning (his arm and cigarette), his a Fremont Street icon and pretty good lookin’ for a 67-year-old if you ask me.
Enjoy Antiques & Curiosities at Main Street Station
Address: 200 N Main St, Las Vegas, NV 89101
Grab a map from the front desk and take a self-guided tou r through the hotel’s collection of antiques and oddities from around the world. Main Street Station’s collection includes bronze doors from The Royal Bank of Kuwait, Chandeliers from the Figaro Opera House in Paris, Louisa May Alcott’s Pullman car, and even a portion of the Berlin Wall which is located inside the men’s restroom (women can asked to escorted to see it)!
RELATED: Classic Vegas is…well…classic. For the Strip experience as we know it today head to south to Las Vegas Boulevard. My Las Vegas Strip Travel Guide is coming SOON!
The Neon Museum
@theneonmuseumlasvegas | Address: 770 N Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89101
Located less than one mile from Fremont Street is one of the most unique tours / most Instagrammable places in Vegas, the Neon Museum is a non-profit “dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs for educational, history, arts and cultural enrichment.” Hour-long guided tours by local guides take you through the history of neon trends and sign design and its effect on the city of Las Vegas, with collection pieces dating from the 1930s till today. Book in advance, though walk-in are accepted pending availability.
Downtown Container Park
@containerpark | Address: 707 Fremont Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101
Comprised of up-cycled colorful shipping containers, the park “contains” restaurants, bars, a cafe, boutiques, salons, and even a treehouse-inspired jungle gym for kids. Their stage hosts fun local events each month including Karaoke In the Park so check their website for events during your stay.
Pinball Hall of Fame
Address: 1610 E Tropicana Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89119
Another place to escape the heat off the beaten path is the Pinball Hall of Fame, which is exactly what it sounds like, a museum dedicated to restoring, preserving, and sharing old school entertainment. There is an impressive amount of machines in the space with 25 and 50 cent options. It’s a lovely dose of nostalgia, plus entry is free.
@themobmuseum | Address: 300 Stewart Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89101
The history of Sin City is closely tied to organized crime and The Mob Museum explores this history with real story accounts and authentic artifacts. The museum also explores organized crime around the world that still exists today. NOTE: It’s a bit graphic so just use your discretion if visiting with young children.
First Friday Las Vegas Art Walk
@firstfridaylv | Address: 1025 First Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101
This free monthly cultural and arts festival hosts more than 100 local artisans, food trucks, live bands, and more. Occurring on the first Friday of each month (hence the name) from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Life is Beautiful Festival
@lifeisbeautiful | Address: Downtown Las Vegas If you’re around mid-September, you may have the opportunity to attend the annual three day celebration of love music, art, food and ideas. 2018’s lineup including The Weeknd, Florence + The Machine, Odesza, Arcade Fire, and several more household name acts.
@vegenation | Address: 616 Carson Ave #120, Las Vegas, NV 89101
Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or allergy-free, you’ll love VegeNation! Their dishes are packed with flavorful, fresh, and wholesome ingredients, and they serve a wide range of options so there is something for everyone from tacos to pizza to pub favorites. No one will leave disappointed!
What to Order: Their menu is seasonal, but if available get the Chicken Pot Pie Gnocchi, Hot Tamale, Buffalo Cauliflower Wings, and the Brownie Sundae! I’m drooling just talking about these.
Their slogan is “Never a dry chip” as in your nachos will be smothered with all the goodness of cheese, sour cream, guac and other toppings! Win-win! Plus they offer fajitas, burritos, bowls, tacos and other Mexican favorites. AND They’ve got a vegan menu! They’ve got a vegan menu! We’re talking vegan queso, chik’n, and more! Sorry for all the exclamation points, but everything was so good we ate there two days in a row on our last visit.
What to Order: Lobster & Crab Nacho, Flaming Shrimp, Grilled Corn Off The Cobb, and Vegan Loaded Nachos
Hash House A Go Go
Website | @hashhouseagogo
Plaza Address: 1 South Main Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101 | LINQ Address: 3535 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109 | Rio Address: 3700 W. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89103 | West Shara Address: 6800 West Sahara Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89146
Hash House A Go Go serves brunch all day, do I really need to say more? I don’t have to but I will because we love Hash House! Their portions are generous and by generous I mean HUGE. Presentation is amazing. Menu selection is amazing. Food is fresh and scrumptious. You really can’t go wrong here.
Note: The LINQ location is by far the busiest so expect lines during prime times, but a short ride to another location will have you eating Hash House before your name would have been called on the Strip.
What to Order: Fried Chicken Egg Benedict, Chicken & Waffles, Big O’ Chicken Pot Pie, and Johnny’s Famous B.L.T. Mary (Yup, that’s a B.L.T.-inspired Bloody Mary)
Address: 707 E Carson Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89101
EAT has a bit of rustic yet cozy vibe, with plenty of light and a refreshing dose of greenery. Some folks stop in for a quick refueling, but most diners seemed to be lingering over breakfast and brunch while catching up with friends, family, and coworkers. Priding itself on fresh and sustainable ingredients, this is a lovely alternative to the many casino buffets.
What to Order: Golden-Brown Pancakes + Two Eggs Any Style (their potatoes are yum!)
Website | @peppermillvegas | Address: 2985 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109
While not technically in Downtown Vegas or the Strip, The Peppermill has been a staple of the city since 1972. From its old school diner vibes to neon lit Fireside Lounge, the staff is there to serve up your favorites 24-hours a day. Huge portions, reasonable prices, and friendly faces. The perfect place to soak up some of that confidence juice wink wink at the end of the night.
@velveteenrabbitlv | Address: 1218 S Main St, Las Vegas, NV 89104
Located in the Arts District, this cozy spot features a seasonally rotating unique cocktail menu. Vintage decor and a welcoming atmosphere make this a pleasant alternative to the Strip.
Makers & Finders Coffee
@makerslv | Address: 1120 S Main St, #110, Las Vegas, NV 89104
Trendy, local coffee shop in the Arts District for morning or afternoon pick me up. There was a decent amount of seating inside and outside. It was still buzzing mid-afternoon when we visited.
I’ve never eaten at Makers & Finders Coffee, but their menu has latin flair and it smelled pretty good. Someone near us had arepas.
@commonwealthlv | Address: 525 E Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101
A cool pub and local watering hole in Downtown Vegas where you can pretend not to be a tourist. Enjoy its eclectic decor, funky vibe, cool cocktails, and bistro-strung rooftop. Why are there not more rooftop bars in Vegas?
When we went there was a DJ playing old school jams. It’s definitely more chill than pubs on the Strip. Plus they have more than 100 beers!
Flock & Fowl
Website | @flockandfowl | Address: 150 Las Vegas Blvd N Suite 100, Las Vegas, NV 89101
Cozy yet sleek kitchen and bar specializing in Hainanese chicken and rice, a simple and flavorful Asian comfort food. The cocktails at the chic bar were well priced and delicious, and the lounge-vibe dining room had a compact menu of Chinese delights. BONUS—they’re able to make most items vegan friendly!!!
What to Order: Kaya Toast, Classic Flock & Fowl Hainan Chicken, and Chicken Wings
It's Vegas BABY! Let's do it up riiiight! Check out these helpful guides + itineraries.
So you’re planning a trip to Vegas…
Hmm can I please come with you? Seriously I love Las Vegas!
Right before our wedding we made our sixth trip to Sin City and every time we go I feel like there is still so much to left to discover, especially outside the city. One day, fingers crossed!
Most people assume the extent of Las Vegas is the Strip—bright lights, drinks, and shows filled with friends bonding over lost money and lost memories. And well all those things exists and have happened in Vegas, the city is so much more than that.
It’s a desert oasis brimming with world-class entertainment, restaurants, and shopping. Everything in extravagance.
The local vibe is chill. People open to new ideas and new experiences. It’s almost indescribable.
Of course I would love to spend a couple months exploring everything the area has to offer, but for most a long weekend trip here and there is all they can swing. So I thought I should start at the beginning—a long weekend itinerary for Vegas first-timers!
Although as a seasoned veteran I could go to Vegas, use this itinerary, and enjoy every minute of the trip.
I’ve compiled some of my Vegas must-sees and top activities into this 3-day, long weekend itinerary to help you make the most of your trip, spend more time enjoying yourself and less time researching places to go and things to see.
RELATED: FOR MORE DETAILS, CHECK OUT TRAVEL GUIDES
By all means if you are visiting Vegas for the gambling, do your thing, but you’ll quickly find that Las Vegas is much more than casino floors.
All photography by @studioist.
WELCOME TO FABULOUS LAS VEGAS!
You’re in Vegas, baby! With so much to do and see get ready for a couple jam-packed, but totally worth it days.
9 A.M. — Morning! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so start your’s at Bruxie (3782 S Las Vegas Blvd, South Tenant Block, Bldg D1, Las Vegas, NV 89109) with one of their waffle sandwiches. Yup, you heard me right…a WAFFLE sandwich.
10 A.M. — Walk the strip and take a quick trip around the world from the Eiffel Tower to New York City and Italy to Egypt. :) The city is synonymous with entertainment and there was no expenses spared when it came to development of the mega resorts that line the Strip.
Both sides of the Strip are lined with hotels, casinos, restaurants, shops, and attractions galore!
The mega resorts are design to be over the top…an experience in itself. They are also designed to keep people in so navigating these themed labyrinths can be tricky but is worth checking out what each has to offer.
The Strip is pedestrian-friendly and a walk down the Strip enjoying the atmosphere is an EXCELLENT opportunity for people watching. Trust me, the people watching in Las Vegas is perfection! Bonus: You can walk the Strip with your alcoholic beverage!
Do make sure to wear comfortable shoes are the strip clocks in at 4.2 miles in length.
Along the way keep an eye out for:
- The Bellagio Fountains
- The Fall of Atlantis show at The Forum Shoppes
- Flamingo Wildlife Habitat at The Tropicana
- Hershey’s Chocolate World Las Vegas at New York-New York Hotel & Casino
- Volcano Show, Salt Water Aquarium & White Tiger Habitat at The Mirage
At some point walk down the LINQ Promenade & take a spin on the High Roller. Located across from Caesars Palace, between the Flamingo Las Vegas and the LINQ Hotel & Casino, The LINQ Promenade is a lively laneway connecting Las Vegas Boulevard (the Strip) to the High Roller observation wheel. It’s packed with shopping, dining, and entertainment. Walk this pedestrian mall for the most direct route to the High Roller.
The aptly-named High Roller is the world’s tallest observation wheel, topping out at 550-feet tall. Offering the best panoramic views of the city anytime of day, a 30 minute ride around the wheel is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a drink with your friends and take some amazing photos. Note: Ticket prices increase during evening hours.
4 P.M. — Relax in the room for a bit before getting ready for the evening’s activities.
6 P.M. — There’s no excuse to eat poorly while in Vegas. The city is packed with some of the world’s best restaurants including one of our personal favorite’s Nobu (3570 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109). Yes it’s a splurge but hey, you’re already dressed up and in Vegas so I say TREAT YO’ SELF!
8 P.M. — Time for your first show in the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” Absinthe! This raunchy vaudeville variety show takes place in a circus style striped tent on the plaza outside Caesars Palace and features trapeze artists, burlesque dancers, comedians, and sideshow-inspired performers.
If your heart was set on a Cirque show, O is fabulous!!! I can’t speak highly enough of it. We were blown away by the beauty, athleticism, and creativity of all the performers. If you see O, just adjust the rest of the evening accordingly.
9:30 P.M. — Walk towards The Cosmopolitan, making sure to stop and watch the Bellagio’s world-famous dancing fountains. These fountains are magical + completely free I might add! Depending on the day of the week and time of day, shows will be every 15-30 minutes.
If you have time to spare, walk inside the Bellagio. Admire Dale Chihuly’s huge floral glass sculpture Fiori di Como on the ceiling of the lobby. This glass work…
Continue past the front desks to the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens for seasonal displays carefully crafted by their team of 140 horticulturists. The displays typically include thousands of colorful flowers, rare plants, and perfectly manicured bushes. It’s open 24/7 and is a great place for photos.
Lastly don’t miss the world’s largest chocolate fountain just down the hall!
10:30 P.M. — Cheers! Time for drinks inside one the largest chandeliers in the world! Chandelier is a three-story bar that is a must for your trip to Vegas. Enjoy one of the bar’s specialty drinks while surrounded by strands of dripping jewels. Open 24 hrs.
TBD — If you’re in need of a late night sweet treat, check out Milk Bar located on the second floor of The Cosmopolitan. This bakery puts playful spins on desserts and is famous for their Cereal Milk Soft Serve. You know when you have cereal and the best part is drinking the sweetened milk after…yeah it’s like that! Right now they don’t serve dairy-free soft serve at any of their locations, but they do have assorted gluten-free Birthday Cake Truffles, cake-cake, and cookies.
By this point you’ll probably be pretty tried and that’s fine, you still have two more full days here. If you’ve rallied and want to stay out, by all means be my guest. Enjoy yourself and be safe! (No impromptu visits to the tattoo parlor…etc)
VIVA LAS VEGAS!
10 A.M. — Get your brunch on—buffet style! Vegas is known for over-the-top, must-see-to-believe buffets and Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace is the holy grail, serving more than 500 dishes daily.
11 A.M. — Get your swimsuit on, order a mimosa, and take advantage of that year-round sunshine at your hotel's pool. I’d recommend a chair near some umbrellas or tree shade because the sun is strong. Don’t be a fool. Apply lots of sunscreen then relax.
If you’re staying at the Aria, check out Herringbone’s seafood-focused menu for lunch or small bites. Yum!
For a quicker bite, hop across the street to Nacho Daddy (3663 Las Vegas Blvd, Ste 595, Las Vegas, NV 89109) and load up on gourmet, piled-high nachos. Plus they have an extensive gluten-free and vegan menu. :)
3 P.M. — Shower, change, and get ready for this evening.
4 P.M. — Dealer’s Choice: Pre-dinner shopping, drinks, or gaming.
For shopping, depending on the experience and price point you’re looking for the Strip offers several options like The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian, Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, Miracle Mile Shops, The Shops at Crystals, and Fashion Show Mall.
For gaming, well by now you’ve probably realized there is no shortage of gaming options so head onto any casino’s floor and do what you do.
You may want to grab a snack while you’re out as dinner will be late tonight.
7 - 7:30-ish P.M. — Check the schedule at Las Vegas’ newest venue T-Mobile Arena. The venue hosts everything from NHL games to UFC fights to music headliners.
Alternatively select another show or experience to enjoy.
10 P.M. — On the way back to the Strip, take a stroll through The Park between the Monte Carlo and New York New York. The newly opened urban area has several open-air restaurants and is especially hopping on arena event nights.
It’s time for dinner though and there are tons of restaurants around this area so whatcha in the mood for? There’s everything from Japanese sushi bars to steakhouses to gastropubs to the East Coast’s burger of choice, Shake Shack.
11 P.M. — “Hey guys, you ready to let the dogs out?” Heck yes! If you’re up for a late night, check out Hakkasan (3799 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109, MGM Grand’s five-leveled epic nightclub hosting artists like Tiesto, Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki, and Kaskade.
Or for one of the city’s infamous pool parties, head to XS for a unique nightclub/swim experience in and around the Encore’s pool, soundtrack provided by club resident DJs including David Guetta, Alesso, Diplo, and Marshmello.
Be advised there are strict dress codes for both nightclubs—no athletic wear of any kind including tennis shoes, shorts, and hats, no jeans with holes, collared shirts required for men, work boots, indecent swimwear, etc. Bouncers will turn you away at the door if your attire is not up to their standards.
TBD — Bedtime :)
Today is escaping the chaos, enjoying Old Vegas, and getting to know the laid back, artistic side of the city locals love.
10:30 A.M. — Breakfast at Hash House A Go Go (Plaza Hotel - 1 S Main St, Las Vegas, NV 89101). The menu is considered “twisted farm food” and the portions are huge so bring your appetite!
12 P.M. — One-hour guided tour of The Neon Museum & Boneyard (770 N Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89101). Don’t forget to book online in advance.
If you need a pick me up, check out The Beat Coffeehouse (520 Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101) then browse their vinyl record collection.
1:30 P.M. — Walk around, shop, and grab a drink at the Downtown Container Park (707 Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101).
3 P.M. — Late lunch of fresh plant-based street food from VegeNation (618 E Carson Ave Ste 120 Las Vegas NV, 89101). We made to visit overtime we are in town because it’s delicious!
Street art is everywhere is Downtown Vegas so make sure your camera is charged or space is available on your phone. I’m guilty of constantly being out of space.
4:30 P.M. — Explore the Vegas of yesteryears as Fremont Street was and/or still is home to some of the city’s classic casinos and hotels like Binion’s Horseshoe and the Golden Nugget.
The street is lined with buskers such as street performers, dancers, impersonators, and artists.
Make sure to get a drink at the wooden bar in The Golden Gate Casino, Las Vegas’ oldest casino. It was reportedly frequented by the original Rat Pack in the 1960s.
Along the way keep an eye out for:
- People zooming superman-style overhead from the Slotzilla Zipline
- The chance to get your photo with $1,000,000 cash at Binion’s for free
- The world’s largest golden nugget at…you guessed it, the Golden Nugget.
- The world’s largest Keno Board outside The D Las Vegas
- Vegas Vic outside The Pioneer Club
- Main Street Station’s antiques & curiosities collection
Here you will also find more affordable gaming options (i.e. $5 tables, not $100+ tables). More bang for your buck as they say.
7 P.M. — Grab a drink at the local watering hole, Commonwealth (525 E Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101), and enjoy its eclectic decor, funky vibe, cool cocktails, and bistro-strung rooftop. Definitely more chill than the Strip.
10 P.M. — Whenever your hungry, Flock & Fowl (150 N Las Vegas Blvd #100, Las Vegas, NV 89101), Evel Pie (508 Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101), and countless other unique, and some not-so-unique, eateries will be waiting.
11:15 P.M. — Take the party to a funky, more intimate favorite, the Velveteen Rabbit (1218 S Main Street, Las Vegas, NV 89104). With a seasonally rotating menu, vintage decor, and cozy atmosphere, you’ll fall in love with the hidden gems of Las Vegas.
For a totally different experience of the Fremont Street Experience from day to night, make sure to walk back through the casino-lined pedestrian street and don't forget to look up as Viva Vision takes over the sky. Showcasing the world’s biggest musical acts on the the world’s biggest video screen (It’s 1,500 feet long and 90 feet wide!) Check their website for the schedule.
Don’t get too crazy tonight as you don’t want to join the hoards of hungover people that will inevitably be at the airport tomorrow. :) Show them you can handle Vegas!
TILL NEXT TIME
- Did you end up on a roof?
- Do you have a new tattoo?
- Was blackmail material collected on you?
If you answered “no” to all of these then CONGRATULATIONS, you survived your trip to Vegas!
Before heading to McCarran to catch your flight, start your day by detoxing with a juice from Pressed Juicery on the second level promenade of the Aria, or for something more substantial an egg sandwich from Eggslut on the second level of The Cosmopolitan.
If you have time, get your picture with the iconic neon Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign on your way to the airport.
If you want to see more of the strip or top Vegas attractions during your stay, hop on a Big Bus Tour. Not going to lie you will look like a tourist, but hearing the history of the city and its attractions from a local guide without wearing out your best shoes is completely worth it. I’d recommend riding the tour for the entire duration, then planning your hop-on hop-off attack on the second go round.
n1. If you’re set on riding the High Roller in the evening take advantage of their happy hour specials and ride aboard a pod with a bar cart, enjoying unlimited drinks during your spin.
n2. Make sure to book show tickets and make restaurant reservations in advance for the most flexibility and availability.
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