Bellagio, San Gennaro Feast, Heart Attack Grill, The Mob Museum

Bellagio, San Gennaro Feast, Heart Attack Grill, The Mob Museum

My best friend A decided to spend her birthday with me in Vegas last week. It was her first time here. It was a spur of the moment trip so neither of us was prepared. But I think she had a good time. I know she was tagging me on Facebook and Instagram but alas, I won’t see it for a couple more weeks. Also, don’t get too excited, she’s not a party animal. We did the walking and dime store driving tour, narrated by moi, which I think was more suitable for her.

She came in on Wednesday and she brought me a cheesecake from my favorite store in our hometown, Cheesecake Kitchen. I didn’t even think to ask her; she just knows me so well! I bought her a Wizard of Oz perpetual calendar to go with the Wizard of Oz poster I got her awhile back. I hope she uses it. It’s really cute.

muh cheesecake!
muh cheesecake!

My only concern was that she drove from Modesto straight to Vegas without stopping, not even for gas. She had a rental car and it got good gas mileage, but I’m shocked she didn’t stop to stretch her legs or use the bathroom or anything. According to her, she didn’t eat or drink the whole way down. As an active road trip participant, that is a VERY bad idea but she did it on the way back too. She doesn’t drive that long that much so hopefully, she’s learned her lesson! I could probably write a whole article on how to road trip properly. I LOVE driving.

Celebrating the temp Muhammed Ali exhibit at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee: celebrating the temporary Muhammed Ali exhibit at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts

After she checked into her Air BnB, which was halfway between my house and the Strip, we parked at the Monte Carlo and took the tram to the Bellagio. Monte Carlo is undergoing major reconstruction, so the decor is construction walls and all that. But it’s got cheaper parking fees and I know that property like the back of my hand. Anyways, I took her to the conservatory and then she wanted to see Fiore di Como by Dale Chihuly. I was basically killing time until the San Gennaro Feast started.

2017 San Gennaro Feast
2017 San Gennaro Feast
Posing on the jackrabbit at Craig Ranch Park
Posing on the jackrabbit at Craig Ranch Park

San Gennaro Feast was being held at the Craig Ranch Regional Park. San Gennaro is the patron saint of Naples, Italy. It was the first time I had ever gone to San Gennaro, even though I’ve been living in Vegas for over 12 years! There were so many options to eat! Lots of booths to shop at, carnival rides. I had chicken parmesan and then a dozen cinnamon donuts for dessert. We didn’t stay out too late since Thursday was her only full day to enjoy the city.

National Register of Historic Places: U.S. Post Office and Courthouse
The Mob Museum uses the building registered on the National Register of Historic Places: U.S. Post Office and Courthouse

On Thursday, we went to the Mob Museum. It was my first time there and of COURSE, there was a school group going through. Thankfully they give you a wristband so you’re welcome to come and go all day. The Mob Museum used to be a post office/courthouse for the city. It’s a stone’s throw from Fremont Street. The location is choice. You couldn’t have asked for a better location.

A view of downtown from the Mob Museum's porch
A view of downtown from the Mob Museum’s porch

While we waited for the school group to finish their tour, I walked her over to the Heart Attack Grill. It used to be Jillian’s, an arcade that doubled as a live music venue. During my emo stage, I spent a LOT of time at Jillian’s. It was a trip going back now that it’s the Heart Attack Grill. The restaurant has that Dick’s Last Resort vibe: vulgarity is an aspect of the experience. You really have to have a thick skin when going there.

Heart Attack Grill's bar
Heart Attack Grill’s bar

I was pounced on for not wearing the mandatory scrubs they give you. The waitress nurse didn’t see me when she was fitting A. So another waitress attacked me for not wearing one. “Attack” is a strong word. Yelled at very forcefully is being kind. Like, I’m not the one who forgot I was there! That’s part of the experience though.

Heart Attack Grill menu
Heart Attack Grill menu

I don’t normally eat very early in the morning so I had no appetite yet. Which is just as well: if you don’t finish your food, they spank you. It happened a few times while we were there. I was telling A that some fellas probably didn’t finish their food on purpose so they could get spanked by the hot waitresses. There’s maybe 1-3 items you can share but the rest you HAVE to finish on your own, in the restaurant. Can’t take food to go, cash only.

Decor of Heart Attack Grill
Decor of Heart Attack Grill

A ordered fries and a root beer. I helped her finish those because 1) I was allowed to, and 2) who am I to turn down french fries?? We went back to the museum, sort of being lazy and enjoying the great weather. She came at a really good time, weather-wise. May is on the cusp of spring and summer weather, and that week was perfect.

the mob museum exterior
the mob museum exterior

The Mob Museum itself was fantastic. I had been meaning to go for a long time but I could never fit it into my schedule. Thankfully, A was down for going. This is how we spend our time together: being nerdy and going to museums to soak up knowledge. Just by virtue of being a history geek, I picked up on a lot of the history of Vegas and Clark County on my own since living here.

Connecting the Dots: the Mob across the U.S.A.
Connecting the Dots: the Mob across the U.S.A.

Replica of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre
Replica of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
An electric chair from Sing-Sing Prison
An electric chair from Sing-Sing Prison
The mob is an octopus
The mob is an octopus
The courtroom, where many mob trials took place
The courtroom, where many mob trials took place

For a city that builds and implodes every few decades, the city lives and breathes history. People get this idea of what Vegas is, but really, it’s like any big city with issues. But our story is unique because it was built on the greenback, legally or illegally. What can other cities say that? I highly recommend going, if you’re ever in Vegas. Take a couple of hours, get out of the heat and away from the crowds, and experience our unique origin story.

Inside the vault in the gift shop
Inside the vault in the gift shop

After, I was exhausted from how busy we had been for the day and a half. On the way home, I drove from downtown and gave her my dime store driving tour. I’m surprised at the trivia I know about the city. I guess the combination of concierge-ing and staying up to date by reading the paper and knowing the history of the city helped. I introduced A to the revelation that is Raising Cane’s (there aren’t any in California) and dropped her off at her rental. She didn’t like the secret sauce though, and I almost kicked her out of my car lol. I ended up going home and relaxing, still too excited to nap though.

Ma treated us to a buffet at Red Rock for dinner, and I pigged out. I hadn’t eaten more than a banana and Red Bull for breakfast (remember, I skipped lunch). I don’t recommend it, but I was so looking forward to the buffet that I decided to wait. I realized it was too long because I could see myself shaking while I was holding my drink. Oops.

She wanted to see the Bellagio fountains at night (we had missed it the other times we were on the Strip), so I drove back down there. We walked from Monte Carlo to the Bellagio again but walking isn’t ideal for A. She noted that every time she hangs out with me, she walks everywhere. I walk where the parking is. If it happens to be a few blocks from our intended target, that’s not my fault. You can’t experience everything in a car, sometimes you have to be in the thick of it.

Besides, I wanted her to see the lights on the Strip, rather than cutting through the casinos like we did the day before. We got there for the last fountain show, so I’m glad we were able to catch it, having missed it the other times we were there. I dropped her off late, almost 1AM. She left at almost 7AM the next day. She got back to Modesto around 2 or so, without stopping again. She’s mental.

But I love her anyway. My pedometer and Health app noted that we walked 4 miles roundtrip, both days. I already walk almost 2 miles with Jack every day but let me tell you, 4 miles is a LONG time.

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