Tag Archives: packers

Townline – Green Bay

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Although we had a Green Bay address growing up, we lived on the outskirts, near the villages of Howard and Suamico. There wasn’t much nearby. We couldn’t even get pizza delivered. But the area has grown and expanded, so there’s now even a gas station less than four miles from my parents’ home.

You’ll also find a little pub and grill nearby called Townline. It was erected not long after I moved to Minnesota. What’s fun is that while the building is new, the tavern isn’t. You can read about the history here.

Because it’s so close, it’s a place we can easily get some grub and a pint when we are in town. I wasn’t intending to ever talk about it on the blog. But why not talk about an old (or newish, depending on how you look it) standby?

Our experience on our trip over the holidays was actually what prompted me to write this one…

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What completely surprised us is that Townline is open 7am until midnight every day. {But somehow I think that just means food. My guess is that they stay open until the usual 2am bar time for drinks.} And they have free Wi-Fi. The Monday morning before Christmas Eve was the perfect time for Rob to log in to work and put in a few hours. And we could order some breakfast! That’s something we hadn’t done at Townline yet. Mostly, because we had no idea that they served it!

Since I wasn’t the one working, I ordered a Bloody Mary. I was asked if I wanted the Breakfast Mary. Can you believe I ordered it after I was told it was made with bacon-infused vodka?

Breakfast Mary with bacon-infused vodka, cheese, beef stick, pickle, two slices of bacon, hard boiled egg and a beer chaser

Breakfast Mary with bacon-infused vodka, cheese, beef stick, pickle, two slices of bacon, hard boiled egg and a beer chaser

I usually don’t like bacon in things. I only like it by itself because in dishes and on foods, I feel it tends to overpower the other flavors. But this bacon flavor was subtle and well-balanced in the Mary! I would highly recommend it. Rob took my brother there the next morning and JR said it was the best Bloody Mary he’s ever had. I loved that a hard-boiled was part of the garnish. However, they must be either pickled or preserved somehow, because the egg had a strong vinegar flavor. Not my style.

I love eggs and omelets, so I couldn’t go wrong with my breakfast:

Omelet with sausage, onion, mushroom, tomato and cheddar served with hashbrowns and wheat toast

Omelet with sausage, onion, mushroom, tomato and cheddar served with hash browns and wheat toast

Rob went out on a limb and tried something he’d never had before – a Monte Cristo:

Breakfast Monte Cristo made with sausage and served with strawberry sauce

Breakfast Monte Cristo made with sausage and served with strawberry sauce

It was rich and so much food that he only ate about a quarter of it!

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But enough about breakfast. There are over 50 beers on tap here; but we don’t get too excited about that anymore. There’s rarely something new and interesting to us. That sounds completely snobby, but we’ve just had most of the selections available and know our tastes. But hey, we come from an up-and-coming craft brew mecca. And we understand that Townline needs to offer what suits their clientele. But, if there’s a local brew that is new to us that we can’t find in MN, we give it a try.

The menu at Townline is huge, but I’ve learned what I like to make a quick decision.

My two favorite things to order are:

~ Cajun Chicken Salad with Cajun Ranch Dressing

~ Friday Fish Fry {if we are in town on a Friday!}

Rob’s favorites are:

~ Lonely Guy Burger – fried onions, pepperjack cheese and enough garlic to clear the room on marble rye
*They also make a Lonely Guy Pizza and a Lonely Guy Omelet for breakfast!

~ Howard-Pulaski Burger – burger topped with a slice of kielbasa!
*Rob is saddened that they no longer have this burger. He thinks because kielbasa is no longer on their menu. He may just have to try the Howard-Suamico next time which is made with a brat patty!

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If you are in town for a Packer game, the Townline is a bit out of the way. I’d hop over to Kroll’s for burgers and fried-anything for a side. It’s across the street from Lambeau and you can’t miss it. It’s kind of an institution that you just shouldn’t miss!

Northeastern Wisconsin

I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk a little about the culture that is Northeastern Wisconsin, while I’m at it. It’s funny that it took me moving out of the area to realize that these things were uniquely part of the culture there. To me, while living there, it was just normal!

~GO PACK GO! Nearly everyone supports the Packers. On game day, everyone breaks out their Packer gear. Solidarity. No matter if we are sucking or not. Whether there’s a home or away game, the mall will be dead. Many streets will be, too. While there are some diehard Viking fans in Minnesota that I highly respect, most are fair weather fans, if at all!

~German and Polish influence – That’s why you see us on TV cooking up brats and kielbasa while tailgating at Packer games! Don’t forget the sauerkraut.

~Friday Fish Fry – You’ll find this at nearly every restaurant that isn’t a chain – every Friday. Not just during Lent. And it’s almost always is perch. I’ve never seen a fish fry made with perch in Minnesota. {Though I’ve had some of the better fish and chips in Minnesota than I’ve had elsewhere!}

~Chili with noodles – Really, it wasn’t until college that I realized chili was ever made without noodles. My mom always made it with spaghetti, right in the pot! I see that Townline offers it on their menu with or without.

~Double Bubble – This is the term for Happy Hour. It technically means that you can buy two-for-one cocktails, but is often used synonymously with Happy Hour now.

~The Old Fashioned – My mom has ordered Whiskey Old Fashioned Sours for as long as I can remember. It’s only been recently that she’d be able to order one in the Twin Cities and get someone who can make one that she deems worthy!

~Bubbler and Tyme Machine = Water Fountain & ATM. I once asked for a Tyme Machine at a movie theater in MN. (Before you could use a credit card to buy a movie ticket!) Yes, they looked at me like I was crazy. Especially because I kept saying it louder because I thought they couldn’t hear me behind the glass… I’m more careful about that one now. 😉

What are some parts of your local culture that you didn’t realize until you traveled or moved elsewhere?

Cheers~
Carrie

It Feels Like Vacation…

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You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been participating in the Food & Fitness linkup the last couple of weeks. That’s because we haven’t been home!

Well, actually, we are at home.

We aren’t on vacation, but it feels like we are on vacation. {Well, except for going to work 7:30am – 4pm weekdays.}

People, we have been out every night for the last week and a half. But I’m not complaining! I was looking back this weekend, wondering how I could get a hold of this runaway season and realized that this feels sort of like vacation. We are going out to dinner, meeting friends {old and new} and discovering new parts of our cities.

Instead of being stressed about when I’ll get those holiday cards out {sometime this week} and when I’ll finish Christmas shopping {almost done}, I’ve decided to embrace and relish in every moment I have with all of these friends we’ve made time to see. That’s the reason we planned it, isn’t it?! ‘Tis the season to be grateful for all of those important people in our lives.

In the past week, I have:

And it isn’t ending. My husband and I have something planned every night up until we leave for Green Bay for Christmas. And then I have planned to meet up with long {but not lost!} friends and family while we are there.

And I’m very happy about it!

Unfortunately, I haven’t been getting any fitness into my routine. Surely, there is no excuse. But I’m grateful that it’s making me realize that I need to make it a priority once “vacation” is over.

planning

Because I won’t be home even one night this week, I made lunches on Sunday and plans for potential breakfasts throughout the week:

  • Breakfasts: PB Toast OR granola with milk OR protein bar OR scrambled eggs with spinach
  • Lunch: Every lunch this week will consist of: cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, two halos, applesauce and a piece of dark chocolate
  • Dinner: This means that at dinner, my plan is to get in as many veggies as possible.

What do you slow down to embrace and enjoy the holiday season?

Cheers~
Carrie

His & Hers Gift Guide – What They’ll Actually Use

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This time of year, I’ve been getting a lot of searches that link to this post from last year: Top 5 Gifts for the Hard to Buy For Person Who Has Everything. I want to offer up some more gift ideas this year. But I don’t want to give away my surprises of what I’ll be gifting.

Instead, I thought I’d create a different kind of list.

Part One – His

If you read last year’s post, you’ll know that my shopping for my husband is very difficult. He usually just buys what he wants when he wants it. And no matter how much thought I put into them, the gifts I get him end up in a drawer or on the shelf in the closet. So, instead, the HIS GIFT LIST will include items that Rob has either bought himself or has been given, but that he uses all the time.

Part Two – Hers

Here you will get a my Christmas Wish List. No, this is not a post to get what I want for Christmas. Besides, probably only one person I’m exchanging with actually reads this blog. And I’m pretty certain my mom is done with her Christmas shopping already. 😉 Instead, it’s just a list of things, that if offered to me this holiday season {or any old time}, that I would not turn down! It’s meant to give you ideas for women you may know like me.

Let’s start with the guys, since they seem to be the hardest to shop for, right? For additional ideas, please read Running with Racheal’s post from last year.

Great Gifts for Guys

{aka items Rob uses ALL THE TIME}

  • Smartphone – His iPhone is the one gift that Rob thanks me for throughout the year. He doesn’t know now, how in the world he ever lived without it. The thing is, it was a surprise a couple of years ago. He didn’t even know he’d want one. Because of the never-ending thank yous, it’s the gift that keeps on giving!
  • iPhone Wallet – Rob bought this for himself within the last year and it’s made his life so much simpler. When getting ready for work in the morning, he no longer has to go in search of his wallet and his phone. It’s all together now. He found his on eBay and there are several styles. His is pictured below. He gets compliments all of the time. They are cheap, too!
  • Extra iPhone Chargers – Rob found these cheap online, too. I never strayed away from my one charger that came with my iPhone. But once we got extra, it made life so much easier! I can’t tell you how nice it is to have one in my car, one to keep in my suitcase or carry-on, purse, one for the office and the living room. Rob keeps one at work, too. It was handy when we left one behind on vacation to have extras on hand. Only downfall: When we finally upgrade to iPhone 5 or later, we’ll have to buy all new ones. But no matter, these were seriously cheap.
  • Flashlight(s) – Laugh all you want, but whenever we need a flashlight we can’t find one. This year, a friend of ours put flashlights in our golf tournament goodie bags. Of course, they were meant to keep in our golf bags to look for lost balls. But since we are too lazy to look for them are such good golfers, we use them around the house. Now, if we had about 5 more of those…
  • Lounge Pants – I don’t know about you, but we live in comfy pants over the weekend. That is, until we leave the house, of course. We’ve received lounge/sleepwear pants for Christmas a couple of times and now I don’t know what we’d do without them. They come in many styles. Rob’s collection includes Guinness and ESPN lounge pants, among others.
  • Packer/Wolverine Gear – You can never have enough gear to cheer on your team. Just make sure it is the size, style and fit that your recipient likes. I’m just sayin’, when I get him this kind of stuff, it always gets used!
  • Hammock – Once upon a time, Rob bought a hammock from Hammocks.com. And on any beautiful day in the spring, summer and fall, I come home to him reading, relaxing or napping in that thing. The dogs join sometimes, too! We bought our friends, who invite us up to their cabin every year, one as a thank you gift. It’s a priceless gift, really. It may be hard to think about when it’s so cold, but that’s why they are on sale today! We recommend the Quilted Island Bay with metal stand. Rob’s tip: Get coupons and promo codes when shopping online by typing in “Hammocks.com Coupon” instead of just “Hammocks.com” to save extra dough!
  • Dinner out – Rob nearly always takes me out to dinner, so it’s a special treat when I buy. Sometimes, I’ll make my own little certificate stating such {as I explained in this post} or what restaurant I’m planning on taking him, like I did for his birthday one year.

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Great Gifts for Gals

{aka gifts I would Graciously and Gratefully accept}

  • Socks – Not kidding here. As it grew colder this fall and I had to put the sandals away, I found that many of my socks were either missing a sibling or developed a hole. I’ve thrown away quite a few. I like fun, funky socks, but they can be hard to rotate within the wardrobe and Rob isn’t a fan. So even just comfortable black socks will do!
  • Turtleneck Sweaters – Are these out of style? I’m having such a hard time finding nice ones! I’m a freeze baby. So in the winter, I like warm sweaters. When I’m trying to overcome Pirate Eyes in the early, black a.m. of winter, I don’t want to have to think about my outfit before work. I want to put on a warm turtleneck sweater and dress it up with a scarf. DONE. Solid colors are best… and timeless.
  • Alligator Clips – This is the name Rob gave to a hair clip I used to rely on all of the time. I’ve lost it since our trip to California this fall and just feel LOST. I am all about low maintenance when it comes to my hair and rarely use a hair dryer. I used to twist it and put it up with my alligator clip when wet. Later in the evening or the next morning, I can wear it down without having to do very much with it! We’ve search stores everywhere for more, but just found them online under other names – beak clip, Japanese clip, concorde clip. There are lots of colors and styles to choose from!

Beak Clip

  • Opolo Mountain Zinfandel – This is one of our favorite wines, but it’s not really priced for everyday. So it’s a treat when we get it!
  • Davis Family Vineyards Pinot NoirGuy Davis knows his Pinot. I never actually liked Pinot Noir until I tasted his at his tasting room on a trip to the Russian River Valley. You can’t find it in stores, so you’ll have to order some. Might as well get a case while you’re add it. Your life will be transformed.
  • Davis Family Vineyards Wine Club Membership – Hell, why not just join the club? I did join the Davis Family Vineyards Friends and Family Club after that trip, but canceled when we needed to buckle down to buy our house. I should just get back in this club and swear never to buy a cheap bottle again and savor every drop of this wine. Quality over quantity, right?
  • Other Wine Goodies – I love this post by grapefriend, with some unique wine-related finds. In particular, I’m intrigued by the wine2go flask and the rewined carmenere candle.
  • Champagne – I love me some bubbly. But it’s extra special to receive a bottle of real champagne!
  • St. Germain – This elderflower liqueur is one of my all-time favorites. I haven’t met a cocktail I didn’t like when it’s made with it.
  • High Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil – At one point, we bought a Groupon to join an olive oil club. Each month for three months, we got high quality, expeller pressed Italian olive oils! We didn’t continue because it took us all year to use them. The third bottle is almost empty, so we’re in the market for more. I also love this idea of adopting an olive tree and receiving the olive oil produced from it.
  • Cheese of the Month Club – Um. I’m from Wisconsin. I’m a Francophile. No brainer.
  • Fruit of the Month Club – I’ve always wanted this! Fresh fruit delivered to my door every month, yes please! I’ve been eyeing the Arizona Orange Company for two years now…
  • CSA Share – I absolutely adored my CSA box in the summer! But it just proved to be too much food, even split with a friend. They had solo shares this year, but were more basic and sold out right away. If you want to give someone a CSA share, make sure the pick-up location and window is doable for them.
  • Donation to a Cause I Support/Admire – Like a Pet Rescue or Shelter, such as Homeward Bound, where I found Sophie almost 9 years ago and the Carver-Scott County Humane Society, where we found Shamrock this year. When friends of ours refused to let us pitch in for the timeshare and rental car when they invited us to join them in Hawaii, we donated to the Marine Mammal Center in support of the endangered Monk Seals on the island of Kaua’i. We were lucky enough to see them there.
  • Packer Gear – Can never have enough!
  • Packer Tickets – Hey, I am getting higher up on the waiting list; but if anyone can spare a pair, we’ll take ’em! {We support our team during winning AND losing seasons!}
  • Gourmet Coffee – I’m always willing to try a new brew.
  • Tickets to Evita – I love musicals and Evita will be in Minneapolis this year. I loved the music in the movie and have never seen it performed live.
  • Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake – Laugh if you must. I had a roommate with whom we bought these for each other’s birthdays! The Bonus is that the two of us shared it, so we both got to pick away at it All. Week. Long. It’s been years since I’ve had one, though, so maybe my tastes have changed. Wouldn’t hurt to find out!
  • Gift Certificates – I know some people think that these are impersonal, but I love them. They say to me, “I know you like to shop here, so pick out what you want!” or “We really loved this place and thought you might like it, too.” I also like to save them to use as fitness or weight loss rewards. Here are some great places for which to receive gift cards:
    • Sul Lago – Our favorite restaurant “South of the River.” The very first time we visited, we saw about a dozen or so people come in to order gift certificates at the bar!
    • Restaurants – We like to dine out, so any place we haven’t tried, under our Restaurant Impressions Wishlist will do. Otherwise, we always like to try other people’s favorites, so recommendations are welcome.
    • Kohl’s – I don’t buy clothes very often, but when I do it’s because I need something. Kohl’s is close and familiar. I like to save gift cards here as rewards to myself. I’ve found a lot of good deals on workout gear here, too!
    • Barnes & Noble – I don’t have a Kindle or Nook. I still read real books. But I really think B&N gift certificates are good for travel guidebooks. We love to travel. If you know someone is traveling somewhere, buy them the most current guidebook. Or, they can walk right into a store and flip through guidebooks to see which ones suit them best.
    • Spa – I don’t know any girl who wouldn’t appreciate a spa day or to choose their own spa treatment. Just a pedicure can do wonders.
    • Movies – We don’t go to the movies often, but when we do, we ask ourselves why we don’t do it more!
    • Car Washes & Oil Changes – Okay, this one sounds really impersonal. But truthfully, I hate spending money on this kind of stuff myself. So having a card to just use whenever it is needed would be so wonderful.
    • Amazon Gift Card – Well, because you can use it for ANYTHING!

All I truly need for Christmas is health, love, spending time with family and reconnecting with old friends.

However, sometimes we just fret over that perfect gift for a loved one. So I hope these his and hers lists inspire you with ideas for the rest of your shopping this year. Or sit down and make out your own list. You might just come up with something for someone else!

What is a gift you wouldn’t turn down?

Did this post give you any ideas for someone else?

Cheers~
Carrie

Buffalo Tap – Savage

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There’s a lot that’s led me up to this post:

  1. I was able to knock a beer off my IPA Wishlist recently here.
  2. I recently talked about the best places to take out-of-town guests, partially due to this establishment’s Juicy Lucy.
  3. I experienced the most recent Packer win at this fave Packer bar.

So there you go. It’s time.

The Beer

I was really surprised when my husband told me that he wanted to go to the Buffalo Tap recently because he said he’d read on Facebook that they were were carrying bombers of the Stone R&R Coconut IPA.

“What?” I asked. “Do you remember my IPA Day post? That beer’s on my wishlist to try!”

Naturally, we went.

And let me just tell you, if you want updates on new beers, wines, dishes, specials or happy hours, it’s a great idea to follow your favorite bars and restaurants on Facebook or Twitter. I personally don’t do that. Well, I do some, but I don’t see every post. But that’s only because my husband does. I make him in charge of that! And it’s a great tip he’s given you!

615Our verdict? The beer was a good IPA in its own right. However, we were disappointed because we couldn’t find even the slightest hint of coconut in the aromas or the flavors. It seems a little much that Stone took the time to bottle and market this beer that way. And we love Stone!

But unbeknownst to us, Buffalo Tap had a beer we adore on tap that day. Only, we’ve only had it in the bottle before!

Creme Brulee STout

Do you see the Crème Brûlée Stout?

It is undeniably incredible in the bottle, but even better on tap. That keg went fast because we didn’t get back to “The Tap” again before it was gone. In fact, it can even be difficult to find this beer in the bottle. So if you do… You. Must. Try. It. Nom Nom. It’s made by Southern Tier, the same brewery that brings us the infamous Pumpking Ale, which is another one You. Must. Have. if you find it on tap like we did here last year and here this year.

In general, the beer here is ridiculously overpriced, especially if you want a specialty beer. For example, on Game Day a couple of years ago, I remember seeing a tall Guinness or tall Surly for $10. Your domestics aren’t too bad, but sometimes I feel like you need to take out a mortgage to get something special…

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Sample Beer Prices

But let us count all the other reasons Buffalo Tap is a hit, whether or not you bring out-of-town guests.

The Northwoods Feel

This isn’t important to me when dining out, but the décor is a nice touch when you are bringing out-of-town guests. To go with this theme, you’ll also find that they serve buffalo (hence the name) and elk. While I don’t generally eat either of those, it’s a nice option for others.

Minnesota and Wisconsin Food

The menu here is HUGE. Robert Irvine wouldn’t approve. But somehow, they make it work. The variety is also perfect when you have out-of-town guests with different tastes or just picky friends. Here are some things we recommend:

  • Cheese Curds – They have some of Rob’s favorite here. Choose original or spicy.
  • Bloody Mary – Technically a beverage, but it comes with a nice skewer of sides and a beefstick. Alongside you get a beer chaser {aka beerback}.
  • Juicy Lucy – As I stated in my post about where in the Twin Cities to take Out-of-Town Guests:

Forget Matt’s.

Forget the 5-8 Club.

Get your Juicy Lucy here – the Parmesan Patty Melt to be exact. Matt’s Lucy is a good dive bar burger that is worth trying, but our burgers at the 5-8 Club were absolutely horrible. On the other hand, the Parmesan Patty Melt Juicy Lucy at the Buffalo Tap is heaven. For those of you who don’t know what a Juicy Lucy is, think of an inside-out burger. It’s one with the yummy, gooey cheese right in the middle. This one is served on Parmesan Encrusted Bread. Need I say more? You just need a little patience because you don’t want to bite into it right away, or that cheese will squirt out and burn you. Give it some time to set. Then cut it in half. Drag the chips through any melty cheese that oozes out.

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This photo doesn’t do this perfect Parmesan Patty Melt Juicy Lucy any justice!

I’d also just stick with the chips. The fries are nothing to write home a blog post about.

My go-to healthy choice on this menu is the Cela Grilled Chicken Pita. {I substitute cottage cheese for the chips on this one.}

Grilled chicken diced and wrapped in pita bread with lettuce, tomato, cheese blend and cucumber sauce. Raw onion on request. Make it Buffalo Style by adding Buffalo Sauce and substituting ranch or blue cheese for cucumber sauce.

Tip: If you are looking for cheaper items on the menu, you can always go for the hot dogs or soup. They are still quite filling! Then, there’s the wine…

Packer Game Day

I love Packer Game Day at the tap! We get there early before the game starts because the downstairs area with televisions devoted solely to the Packer game fills every seat before kickoff. It’s like sitting in a roomful of friends!

There is a requirement to watch the game here, though…

BT-packTo be honest, I don’t blame them. If we are going to hold tables that could otherwise be turned during the lunch hour, it’s only fair. And $15 for at least 3 hours is nothing. In fact, Rob and I have known to drop way too much money here. Sometimes we’ll start with a coffee and Bailey’s (me) and a coffee and Rumple Minze (Rob). Then I’ll have a Bloody Mary since they are my favorite here. {Although, it’s been a while and they looked a little different when I saw others ordering them the last time I was there.} Then Rob’ll order a couple of beers and before we know it and have even had anything to eat, we’re up to almost $50.

One way to keep it more affordable when we are there for a game is to order wine instead. Seriously, you can get a bottle of Mondavi Cab for $12.95/bottle.

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While affordable, I had a harder time choking that stuff down this weekend than I have in the past. Maybe it’s because I was also drinking Diet Coke. {For some reason, I don’t like their tap water there; so I don’t drink it.}

Or you can take your chances and hope for a Packer Touchdown. Every time they score {a touchdown anyway, I’m not sure that field goals count}, you can get a Miller Lite for a $1. Our table was very lucky last weekend!

Packer Touchdown Beers

Packer Touchdown Beers!

You know me, I don’t tend to drink light beer, but if I’m needing a water or another Bloody Mary Chaser, I’ll take it. Or I’ll share. Remember, we’re all friends here!

GO PACK GO!

Where do you go to see your favorite sports team when it’s not televised on the main network stations?

Cheers~
Carrie

Vegas Baby Vegas!

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Well, we spent a long weekend in Las Vegas this past weekend. It was actually my fifth time there, so without realizing it, we took absolutely no photos!

I am not much of a gambler, so I once told Rob that if we ever went back to Vegas, we would each bring the same amount of money and he could use it to gamble and I would go to the spa. We would both come back home with the same thing – but I’d be much happier. 😉

I do play poker, though. I grew up in a family where it’s a focus of many holiday events! In addition, Rob and I host a monthly Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament with friends. We attend another friend’s event each month, too. So, I do know how to play. I just haven’t been very good as of late, so I didn’t have the guts to play in Vegas.

poker

Despite these hypothetical plans, our trip to Ireland this past fall set us back a bit. But I still intended on just enjoying my non-spa time! I knew we’d enjoy some time with my co-workers with whom we were traveling, maybe eat at a nice restaurant, walk the strip, wander around downtown a bit, perhaps see a show… and of course, watch the Packer-Vikings Playoff game! What? Have I really never told you that I’m a Packer fan living in Minnesota?

Rob and I at the December 23rd Packer game at Lambeau Field

Rob and I at the Packers vs. Titans game at Lambeau Field – 12/23/12

Back to Vegas…

This trip, we fell in love with the Video Poker machines – Double Double Bonus Poker that is. It was a good way to pass away some time in this city that never sleeps. We made $50 last a good 24 hours and even won $250 at one point. In the end, we didn’t come out ahead… But that is generally the case in Las Vegas, isn’t it?

Since I’ve been to Vegas a few times, I’ve put together a list of things for the first-timer to do, but based on what I personally have enjoyed the most. And so I don’t forget, I wanted to make a note on what I’d like to remember to do if I ever go back. There are so many other places in the world to explore, but if someone is going to send me to Vegas, I’m not going to argue!

Keep in mind that there is a so much to do in Las Vegas, whether you are a gambler or not. Still, gone are the days of spending a cheap weekend in Vegas, even if you aren’t a gambler.

If you are a first-timer in Las Vegas, you must:

Walk The Strip.

Bring your walking shoes! It’s a long haul. But you do have to check out each hotel and it’s accompanying casino. Each has it’s own theme and feel to it. Some of them are just beautiful. If you are staying someplace cheap, it’s nice that you can go into these hotels and dream!

Spend an Evening Downtown on Fremont Street.

The casinos here have an old school feel. However, the street itself is far from that. You’ll find performers, kitschy souvenirs and the ultimate people-watching. {But that is the case anywhere in Vegas!} The canopy covering the street offers an entertaining light show in the evening.

Still things downtown have changed a bit since we had last been there in 2006. {Or was it even earlier than that?} On this trip, we went downtown on a Saturday night to find music pumping, people dancing in the streets, alcohol being sold outside of the casinos and people who were just crazy-drunk having a good time. It took a bit to get through the crowd! Then I heard a loud buzz and looked up. Someone zipped right over my head. There were zip-liners! Yes, you can ride the zip line under the canopy on Fremont Street. I wonder how much one pays to do that.

Tip: A bus ride downtown from the furthest end of the strip should cost you under $5 versus a $25-$30 cab ride. If it’s just two or three of you and you aren’t in a hurry, you can save some dough that way.

See a Show. 

Well, how would I know? I’ve never seen one in Vegas!

Those of you who know me are probably surprised. I love plays, concerts and musicals. Not being much of a gambler, you’d think it would be one of the first things I’d be sure to do. It hasn’t happened… yet.

The first time I went was in college. We just had the day wrong for the cheapest show that we wanted to see and could afford. I think we only had another day left and it wasn’t showing.

Another time we were there for my husband’s best friend’s wedding. There were other festivities taking place that weekend!

When I went with The Traveling Vineyard for a Leadership Conference, a friend and I had originally planned to go to a show, but decided to spend the money on a nice dinner instead. We rarely saw each other, being from different states, so spending the time talking with each other over a meal and catching up was way more appealing. And it was absolutely the best decision ever.

Something that wasn’t in Vegas when I was there last in 2006 are the Half-Price Show Ticket Booths. There are several located along the strip. They also offer dining discounts as well. This trip, we checked the list of shows and didn’t see one that we were really excited about – at least not enough to wait in line for the half-price tickets nor pay full-price. Next time, though, the show will go on!

Enjoy a Nice Dinner.

There are a few times that I’ve been to Las Vegas that I thought, “Wow. I thought this was supposed to be cheap here!” It’s not really the case. However, I also used to think that you could only have a nice meal if you went to an expensive restaurant. That’s not necessarily true now either.

If you need a cheaper weekend, you can find deals, hints and tips online about lesser-known casinos and restaurants; though many are out of the way. There are also more fast-food places between the hotels and casinos than I ever remember before. My husband likes to call Las Vegas “Disneyland for Adults”. There are so many shops and food courts now that I swear they are catering to the shopping mall teenager!

But splurging on a dinner can be a nice way to treat yourself on vacation. Have a favorite celebrity chef? Seek out their Vegas restaurant if they have one! Adore steak, Italian, sushi… {insert your favorite cuisine here}? Then find the best of the best and scope out the menu online to see if you might like to dine there. Two of my favorites from my TTV trip are Bouchon (The Venetian) and Mon Ami Gabi (Paris, Las Vegas).

But you still can get excellent food without dropping as much cash as you may have on that blackjack table. We had exceptional food at the following restaurants this trip. {Sorry! No photos this time!}

  • Burger Bar (Mandalay Bay) – Great specialty and BYO burgers and and above-average beer menu.
  • Zefferino (The Venetian) – We weren’t excited about the lunch menu, but were pleasantly surprised with what we ordered.
  • Rí Rá Irish Pub (Mandalay Bay) – We had better food here than we had in Ireland.
  • T&T – Tacos & Tequila (Luxor) – For some reason, I was craving some sort of Mexican or Tex-Mex since the moment we arrived. Extensive Beer Menu and undeniably the best queso fundido I’ve ever had. We both ordered enchiladas – chicken divociadas (me) and beef barbacoa (Rob). I think I’d be hard pressed to order anything else.
  • The Public House (Luxor) – This is where our group watched the Packers beat the Vikings. Even if they would have lost, we still would have been wowed by the Kettle Chip Nachos {beer braised short rib, smoked gouda fondue, tomato salsa} and the Filet Mignon Sliders {mini onion brioche, caramelized onions, blue cheese, hand cut fries}.

I also remember that  on a previous trip, I tried a dish with truffle oil for the first time. That was at the at Lupo (Mandalay Bay), a Wolfgang Puck restaurant. I also enjoyed one of the best martinis at the Red Square Bar (Mandalay Bay), as well.

There are just too many restaurants and so little time. So Rob and I decided we have to try new restaurants every time we go.

By the way, I swear Starbucks and Pepsi own Vegas.

Gamble.

Okay, so that one’s obvious. You just wouldn’t believe all the ways you can gamble. Play blackjack tables, roulette wheels, slot machines, video poker or in a poker tournament. Bet on sports or even Beer Pong at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall! {Oh how we miss you O’Shea’s!}

When you gamble, you drink for free. We tip a dollar per drink, unless we want them to come around faster. 😉 The little bloody marys I’ve had are actually pretty decent. Sometimes I sip slowly and make my second drink a bottle of Blue Moon. It’s my favorite Bloody Mary chaser. Such a bottle would be $6 otherwise if you belly up to the bar. That’s a win, even if I’m losing at the machine.

My plans for next time:

  • Get the guts to play in Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament. The ones at the Luxor were only a couple of tables and my boss assured me that they were pretty casual. I’m still intimidated.
  • Go to a show already!  Next time, I’ll look up all the shows in advance and make a list of the ones I’m thinking of seeing.
  • Have a list of nice restaurants and pick one to try.
  • Learn how to play craps. Many casinos have morning lessons to encourage people to play!

And one of the favorite things I’ve ever done in Las Vegas:

Watched the Bellagio fountain show from the balcony bar with a nice glass of bubbly.

That was a gorgeous evening!

~

Have you been to Las Vegas?

What are your favorite things to do?

Cheers~
Carrie