12 things I love about America

things i love about america

Happy July 4th to all my readers across the pond. This post is dedicated to you.

Things I love about America

1. TV shows

You gave us Friends, Pretty Little Liars, The Walking Dead, The Big Bang Theory, Catfish, Sex and the City, The Simpsons – have I said enough?

2. Junk Food

I’m quite literally like a kid in a candy store (or sweet shop as we say in England). America has about 52864 flavours of M&Ms and Pop Tarts, we have about 3 of each and if we want anything else then we practically have to take out a bank load to afford them.

Ok, there might be a few exaggerations above, but still, you get my point.

M&M World Las Vegas
M&M World Las Vegas

3. The Celebrations

You guys go all out. Or at least thats what the movies lead us to believe. Halloween looks like so much fun with everyone dressed up and I’m a total sucker for the cosy Christmases and holiday spirit you guys bring.

4. Orlando

Disney, Universal, the amazing villas… the sheer excitement of it all. Orlando – you turned me into a theme park snob with your awesomeness! Plus we got engaged here, so it will always have a special place in my heart.

Castle at the Magic Kingdom

5. Las Vegas

Basically Orlando for adults. Vegas gave me the same kind of buzz too. Big, bold, brash – but I love it! We even have goals to renew our wedding vows there one day.

The giant slot machine at Ballys Las Vegas
Next to the giant slot machine at Ballys

6. Warner Bros Studio Tour Hollywood

I love, love, loved this place! I got to see the streets where they filmed Pretty Little Liars, tons of props from the Batman and Harry Potter movies, I saw the working set of The Big Bang Theory, got to hold an Oscar (they are heavy!) AND sit on THE Friends sofa in Central Perk!!!

You can sit on the Friends sofa at Warner Bros Studio Tour Hollywood

7. This

Marshmallow madness - no more picking cereal out of your marshmallows
Marshmallow madness – no more picking cereal out of your marshmallows

8. Breakfast cereal

Hell yeah Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms and Apple Jacks where I don’t have to pay £8 for a box!

Lucky Charms breakfast cereal
The breakfast of kings

9. Shopping

I did, like most people, indulge in a bit of shopping when I visited New York. But I’m telling you, you can get everything in America. Every nice thing I find on Pinterest is from the USA and when I was into jewellery making a few years ago, all the stuff I wanted came from the States. Which leads me to…

10. Hot Topic

I went there for the first time in Los Angeles and loved it, especially the Disney aisle. I bought myself a Cinderella inspired dress which I wore to a Christmas party. I got so many compliments on it. Which brings me on to…

Cinderella dress from Hot Topic

11. Disney

I grew up on a diet of Disney. I remember my parents taking me and my brother to the cinema to see The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King – I even had The Lion King soundtrack! Those movies are timeless.

Meeting Beauty and the Beast at Epcot
Somewhere between a beauty and a beast…

12. Pop culture

Movies, music, movies, music. In fact, this July 4th we’ll be having an American themed fancy dress day in my office and I’ve decided to go as one of the most famous American pop culture icons of all time – The King of Pop!

Happy 4th July y’all! Check out my USA Pinterest board

 

A view from the top: Stratosphere Tower – Las Vegas, USA

Following my post A View from the Top: Sky Tower Auckland, I thought I’d throw a #throwbackthursday at you, because I’m in a nostalgic kinda mood.

Stratosphere Tower – Las Vegas

The Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas

The Stratosphere is one of the many hotels that sit twinkling on the Las Vegas strip. If you’ve ever been to Vegas then you’ll know that each hotel has it’s own theme, e.g. there are gondolas at The Venetian, circus acts at Circus Circus and flamingoes at The Flamingo (well, duh!). The Stratosphere’s claim to fame is its tower – the tallest freestanding tower in the USA, standing at 1149 ft.

The Stratosphere Tower on the Las Vegas strip. Head up for the perfect view from the top!

Pros

The views from the 360 degree observation deck are fantastic. You get iconic views of the strip and it looks especially magical if you head up there at night time when you can see Vegas in all its glittering glory!

View from the top - the bright lights of Vegas from the top of the Stratosphere.
The photos don’t do it justice

Cons

The lights up on the deck indoors make it quite tricky to get decent photos without random glares in them and if you go outside, be prepared for it to be crazy windy out there (or at least it was when I visited) – I felt like I was going to get blown away!

The photos don't do it justice! View from the Stratosphere in Vegas
Not the best of photos!

Surprises

There are not only bars, restaurants and a sky jump up there but there’s also three thrill rides! There’s the Big Shot which shoots you straight up even higher, Insanity – where a mechanical arm spins you around 900ft above the strip and then there’s X-scream where you are catapulted off the tower edge! I couldn’t decide which would scare the crap out of me the most and just stuck to the thrill of the views!

One of the 3 terrifying rides at the top of the Stratosphere Tower
X-Scream

Verdict

It was just magic to see Las Vegas from this height and if I ever got to go back I would love to dine at the Top of the World restaurant. I would even go as far to say that I think The Stratosphere may be one of, if not the favourite of all my View from the Top adventures!

For more of my View from the Top series, click here.

Some of the hotels on the Vegas strip. View from The Stratosphere Tower.

A girl’s guide to… Las Vegas on a budget

Las Vegas isn’t perhaps the most purse-friendly of destinations but there is more to it than the movies will lead you to believe – it’s not all about getting drunk, getting hitched and gambling. If you don’t want to pour all your hard-earned pennies into the slots then there is plenty Las Vegas has to offer, and best of all, some of it is for FREE!

From fountains to flamingos, here is a selection of activities to entice any budget-conscious traveller-

bellagio-fountains-las-vegas

1. Fountains of Bellagio

Perhaps the most romantic of Vegas’s attractions is the Fountains of Bellagio. Every day from 3pm (12pm on weekends and holidays) viewers are mesmerized by this extraordinary show of carefully choreographed water and light playing against a backdrop of music ranging from upbeat tunes such as ‘Viva Las Vegas’ to classical numbers like ‘Time to say goodbye’. Shows run every half hour until 7pm and then from 7pm until midnight, every 15 minutes, so if you don’t get such a good view the first time round its not long to wait until the next performance.

2. CBS Television City, MGM Grand Hotel

If you feel tired from traipsing the strip all day then Television City at the MGM Grand is a great way to rest your legs while playing a part in tv history. Participants are led into a studio to watch a pilot episode of a new tv series. Each viewer is given a dial to register how they feel during the show and then at the end is asked to fill in a questionnaire on screen. The feedback you give remains anonymous so you can be as honest as you like. The research results are passed on to studio executives, so if you are lucky enough to have previewed ‘the next big thing’ you can tell all your friends you had a small part in a big hit!

flamingo-habitat-las-vegas

3. Wildlife Habitat, Flamingo Hotel

The Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo Hotel is a beautiful place to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of the strip. As well as a flock of Chilean flamingos, the lush garden is home to swans, ducks, koi and turtles. The buffet restaurant overlooks the garden so stop here for a meal. There is also a gift shop just inside the hotel which is the perfect place to buy gifts for those with a penchant for all things pink!

4. Circus acts, Circus Circus Hotel

At the north end of the strip sits the colourful big top known as Circus Circus, and what circus would be complete without its acts? Every day from 11am on the carnival midway visitors can see regular performances from world class circus acts including trapeze artists, jugglers and acrobats. On the occasion that we stopped for an act we were treated to a performance by a graceful aerial acrobat suspended from the ceiling with little more than a piece of ribbon.

4. Sirens of T.I, Treasure Island

Vegas is famous for its shows and the swashbuckling Siren show at Treasure Island draws quite a crowd. The sultry Sirens sing and dance while sword fighting with a group of pirates aboard their ships. The sexy cast, impressive stunts and amazing pyrotechnics make this show a sizzler. Check the T.I. website for times and be sure to get there early for a good view as it gets very busy.

fremont-street-las-vegas

6.   Fremont Street Experience

Take the Deuce bus from The Strip and head downtown to the world-famous Fremont Street for a vintage Vegas experience. See the illustrious neon signs – Vegas Vic and Vegas Vicky – as you wander between the legendary casinos, such as Golden Nugget. You will be entertained under the bright lights by the free street performances, but the main attraction at Fremont Street is the free hourly sound and light show overhead. The whole experience is one not to be missed!

A girl's guide to Las Vegas on a budget

Cheap as chips!

Continuing on with the souvenir/Las Vegas theme from my previous post, here is a super cool souvenir idea for when visiting the bright lights of Vegas…

…$1 poker chips!

poker face

As the hotels and casinos ARE where most of the attractions are at, you’re likely to be visiting a fair few during your stay. Head over to the casino counter and ask to buy a $1 poker chip. Some cashiers may even pick a nice clean one out for you. One cashier even got the wet wipes out and cleaned one up for me, how thoughtful!

This is a fun souvenir that can cost anything from $1 upwards… it’s up to you how many casinos you decide to visit. My clever man decided that rather than letting the chips just sit around in a box, he would make art from them – how very inspiring! And why didn’t I think of that?

What a great reminder of our fantastic time in Sin City!

The holy mecca of gift shops

A holiday is the perfect way of letting your hair down, but sometimes when we’re enjoying ourselves in new, exciting surroundings we almost temporarily become someone else. A girly holiday in the sun can bring out the cheeky, chatty flirt in an otherwise shy and introverted girl, an energetic theme park based holiday can bring out the adventurous and lively side to someone normally at their happiest on a comfy sofa in front of the tv. And a tacky gift shop can bring out the wallet and insanity of an otherwise sensible spender! Yeah I’m referring to those impulse buys that seemed like a good idea at the time but when you get them home you realise they are just a hideous waste of money. Or just hideous full stop.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a memento of your travels and I’m a fan of kitsch but are you really going to play that didgeridoo/wear that sombrero when you get home or will it just sit gathering dust before being tossed into the nearest charity bag?

Having said that, who am I to be lecturing? I am that girl with a didgeridoo (albeit a small one) shoved in a drawer under the bed! Instead, let me tell you about the holy mecca of gift shops…

bonanza-gift-shop-las-vegas

The world’s largest gift shop!

Located on the Las Vegas strip, by the Stratosphere Hotel, is Bonanza. It is fabulously tacky selling everything from Las Vegas themed paraphernalia to ‘Polly the insulting parrot’ – but hey, it’s Vegas! If it wasn’t tacky you’d be disappointed!

I did purchase a couple of items there but refrained at buying a Trailer Trash doll… although a car dashboard hula girl would’ve been some cool kitsch!

In celebration of the tourist tat that we would only buy when intoxicated on holiday madness and the scent of sun lotion, I will be sharing with you some super tacky souvenirs and if anyone would like to feature their fabulous trinkets on this blog then send me a photo on email at quirkylittleplanet@gmail.com and tell me all about it!