Looking for a getaway in Virginia?

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Riverfront house in Heathsville, VA

For booking click here: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/8123738

In early August a group of friends and I decided to take a weekend off and rent a house in Heathsville, Virginia to decompress from our work lives D.C.  We found this house on AirBnB and it worked out pretty darn well for us, so I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to get away from the hustle and bustle of the work week.

Located two and half hours from D.C., this house easily held the 9 of us staying there.  The host was very generous, attentive, but also left us alone to enjoy our weekend once all the rules were covered (there weren’t very many).  It should be noted that the house is the owners actual residence that she rents out, so it’s furnished like a real home and not a summer home.  Here are the details of the house.

  • 4 bedrooms (2 queens, 2 doubles), 1 living room with queen pull out couch, 2.5 bathrooms
    • great historic architecture; each room is “themed” by different countries the family has lived in.  For example, the son’s room was British themed, one of the adult bedrooms was Australia themed, etc.
    • It’s a bit of a hike for the two people who get the kids rooms upstairs FYI, and the ceilings are pretty low in those rooms
  • Fully stocked kitchen with plenty of dishes, silverware, and cooking supplies
  • A/C in every room except the hallways which was key since it was ridiculously hot out
  • Grill on the back patio for use
  • Sun room (which we didn’t use because it was too hot)

In addition to the house itself, the property offered several activities for us to entertain ourselves with.  (The videos below were provided by Kristal Ernst Przeklasa)

  • A beautiful salt water pool with basketball hoop was where we spent most of our time
    • There is a Bluetooth speaker attached to the pool house which provided the tunes for the weekend, along with plenty of towels and chairs provided by the host
    • One thing to note:  At the height of summer, the salt water pool gets pretty warm.  Like almost bathwater warm.  So if you want to go for a icy, refreshing swim, you’ll need to do that in the morning
  • A soccer net and huge field to play football/bocce/croquet/etc. surrounds the property
  • There’s a quick walk to the river (although down a steep and rocky hill, so be mindful of that) with the owner’s kayaks, and cages for crabbing available

In the immediate area there’s one neighbor who isn’t very close, so noise isn’t a factor.  The house is also a 10-minute walk to Athena Vineyards, which wasn’t anything to write home about in terms of their wine, but the $5 tasting of ALL their wines (I think it was 8 total) is a steal.  They are however turning it into a cidery at some point.

If you need supplies, such as food, sunblock or bug spray (something only I and not necessarily the group needed because all the f**king bugs were attracted to me), there’s a Wal-Mart and Food Lion a 10-minute drive down the road.  (Some of the photos were provided by Victoria Zapata and Chad Barrington)

Las Vegas, NV

In general, I adhere to the saying “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” so I won’t go too much into the details of my time in Sin City – but I will give you all a general idea of the things we did and saw.  If you do Vegas right, you’ll only really need about three or four days before you get drained out.

Tip if you’re going to Vegas from L.A.: If you can afford to fly, then fly and don’t drive.  Google will tell you the drive takes around 3 hours.  With all the traffic, the drive ended up taking us like 7 hours from L.A.

Truly a city that never sleeps

They don’t call it America’s playground for nothing.  The city is an absolute shitshow, especially on the weekends.  People are spilling in and out of hotels (most with libations in hand), the streets are filled with Transformers, Victoria Secret Angels, Michael Jacksons, you name it, and the Las Vegas “slappers” are out in force trying to get you to take one of the porno pamphlets they slap in your face.

When we finally did get ourselves settled in (it was around 10 PM), the night was just starting.   The hotel we were staying at was Treasure Island.   Located relatively close to the middle of the strip (the prime hotel locations are places like the Bellagio and Cosmopolitan), TI has been completely renovated and the new rooms are surprisingly modern for what looks like an older hotel on the outside.   If you stay there, try and get a room facing the back or side or else the fire and explosions of the nightly “Sirens of TI” show go off right outside your window.  (Note: The show itself is pretty cheesy, so I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it.  But if you happen to be in the area, it’s free so you may as well check it out.)

While the rooms look like they got a little work done to them, the casino itself isn’t really anything to write home about.  The pool area is decent, and the expected club music and drunk flashing occurred, but as far as pool parties go – Treasure Island’s was pretty tame, but fun (tame for Las Vegas you must realize is a crazy, shitshow anywhere else.  The word shitshow is clearly being used a lot in this post).

One thing you should definitely check out is a Cirque du Soleil show at some point and TI has one of the oldest running performances called Mystere.  If you’re unfamiliar with Cirque du Soleil, it’s one of the most impressive acrobatic shows around – you’ll see feats of strength, balance, and agility that you wouldn’t think are humanly possible.  The members of the cast really are some of the best performers and straight up athletes you’ll ever see on stage.  One part of Mystere that blew my mind was the performance of two bodybuidlers who (and I’ll try to explain this as best I can) slowly, lifted each other in crazy positions using only one arm or leg, or hamstring or whatever to form what could best be described as bizarre, homoerotic sculptures.

Aside from Treasure Island here are few other highlights:

STK
We decided to treat ourselves to a really nice dinner on one of the nights, and STK was the choice.  STK is the steak restaurant at the top floor of the atrium in Cosmopolitan.  Take your time walking up there and you can see the amazing chandelier bar that is 4 levels encased in a ginormous chandelier.  You’ll also pass the notoriously swanky club “Marquee” which is literally the hottest place to be in Vegas right now.  You’ll see no shortage of young ladies in dresses that are no bigger than my neck warmer flowing into the club and masses of dudes in their best collared shirts who have no chance of getting in unless they’re ready to drop like $2000 or are arm in arm with a cadre of hotties.

Chandelier bar at Cosmopolitan

Back to the restaurant – we made it to the top finally – and had a reservation for 11:00.  If it’s the weekend don’t plan on sitting at your reservation time.  When all was said and done, we finally got our table at 11:45 – let’s just say it was the nighttime version of brunch.  Although the restaurant is a “steak” restaurant, it didn’t have that quiet, fancy feel.  The music was so loud that even when we were sitting in our booth, our seats were vibrating from the bass.

The prices are expensive, so be ready to pay out a handful.  However, they weren’t any more expensive than a nice steak place in any other city.  Because I was already past my budget for the trip, I went with the 12 oz. skirt steak, which probably is their most affordable, but not as high quality cut choice.  I can only imagine what the $50-$60 steaks must be like because the skirt that I ordered was actually really damn good.  Extremely juicy, and came with its own steak sauce (You don’t need to pay for one of the extra ones on the menu, the standard dipping sauce is quite good) which gave the steak a very robust, meaty flavor.  The mac and cheese side was also well done, served in a tradition iron cast bowl with the perfect proportion of cheesy, creamy, bread crumby goodness.  Grade: B+ only because I don’t like not being able to hear any conversation and when my table is bouncing while I eat.

Dealertainers at Imperial Palace
Who doesn’t want to play blackjack with Michael Jackson, Elvis, or Lady Gaga as your dealer? Don’t get scared off by the construction as they remodel the hotel – the Dealertainers are worth checking out as they perform on stage and stay in character as you try to hit 21.

River through the Venetian
No need to travel thousands of miles to see the rivers through Venice.  Vegas provides their own version of it at the Venetian Hotel.  Like everything else in Vegas, it’s absolutely ridiculous in the best way.   Shops line the indoor river as gondolas flow back and forth through the hotel.

Lion Habitat at MGM
Make sure to walk through the MGM Hotel not only to see the indoor amusement park, but to walk through the Lion Habitat.  If you time it right, you’ll be able to see the lion caretakers in the habitat with the majestic animals and hear their talk.

Just chilling with some napping lions

Fountains at Bellagio
Due in part to the ending of Ocean’s Eleven, the Fountains at the Bellagio have become an icon of Las Vegas.  Chances are you’ll walk by the hotel several times since it’s located at the middle of the strip and if you time it right, you’ll catch one of the fountain shows that run every 15 minutes.

There’s no way to get all the activities that one can do in Las Vegas into one blog post (and I obviously left the naughtier bits out).  When it comes down to it, there’s no shortage of things to see or places to have fun.  It’s like the entire world shrunk into one city – everything is big, bright and in excess.  You just have to experience the sensory overload for yourself.  Go play.