The Heartland Couple took their maiden voyage to the States in December 2017. It was even more exciting because they made this trip with 2 other couples. While it took some planning to stitch together an itinerary that everyone was satisfied with, it was all worth it as they had such an awesome experience together. This blog post is a review of their end-of-year 2017 holidays in the USA where they travelled to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Disclaimer: This is not a personal finance related blog post
Activities In Las Vegas
Of the 3 cities in the United States of America that they went to, Vegas easily stole the heart of Heartland Boy. It is a city that captured every figment of his imagination. From plush hotels, outsized casinos, family-friendly entertainment to racy cabarets; Vegas truly has an activity waiting for everyone and anyone. It is also the reason why it makes for an ideal destination for marriage and honeymoon. Here is a review of the list of unique activities that Heartland Boy experienced.
This is a high intensity first shooter indoor game that took place inside a gigantic warehouse. (about the size of a football field) The objective of the game is to successfully navigate an urban mission in a supernatural world swarmed with zombies. (the zombies are “actors” hired by the company) Think of it as a combination of escape + paintball.
Here are the factors that made the game really unique:
- An hour of briefing and training to familiarize with the weapons and rules of the game
- Use of air guns (weighing approx. 1-2kg) and magazines for reloading
- Teamwork is essential to comb through the abandoned houses
- No expenses are spared to create a surreal setting (eg sound effects, lighting, music)
- Company is run by ex-professional soldiers who are able to communicate in the “soldier” language
- Opportunity for Heartland Boy to live his dream of surviving a zombie apocalypse
Because of local regulations, it is nearly impossible to re-create an experience like Combat Ops in Singapore. For any thrill seeker holidaying in Vegas, Heartland Boy thinks this is a MUST-DO activity. If you want to save money, get one of those deals on Groupon!
Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend
Located in Arizona, the Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend are approximately 5 hours by car from Vegas. The team deliberately chose Antelope Canyon over its more popular sibling – the Grand Canyon. Antelope canyon is most famous for being one of the iconic wallpapers in Microsoft Windows operating systems.
For this day-trip, Heartland Boy booked a private tour which allowed the 6 of them to travel in greater comfort at marginally higher cost. The assigned driver doubled up as the tour guide for the day. He was extremely knowledgeable and flexible in his schedule. Do not be deterred by the long drive because the scenery and photographs will be absolutely stunning.
An experience in Vegas would not be complete without watching an adult-themed show. After much research online, the Heartland Couple booked tickets to Absinthe on Christmas eve. Unfortunately, Heartland Boy thought that the show did not live up to its expectations. At times, Heartland Boy felt that he was watching America Got Talent. Owing to their conservative Asian upbringing as well, they also could not understand some of the lewd jokes either. Therefore, Heartland Boy thought it wasn’t value for money. Nonetheless, it was still a good experience to chalk up in Vegas.
Food To Try In Vegas
The standout food that Heartland Boy tried in Vegas was Luke’s Lobster and Eggslut. Luke’s lobster easily serves one of the best lobster rolls that Heartland Boy has ever tried in his life. The serving was generous and the pricing very reasonable as well.
As a breakfast option, Eggslut is certainly not cheap at US$10 a sandwich. Yet, even during a non-peak timing of 11am, Heartland Boy had to wait over 30 minutes for his Eggslut. One of the items had already sold out by then. It goes to show that winners can be made even with simple ingredients such as brioche and free-range eggs. Of course it helps to have such a sexy name as well.
Activities in San Francisco
Besides the mandatory Golden Gate Bridge photo, another noteworthy tourist destination that they went to was Alcatraz Prison. It ranked first on Tripadvisor’s things to do in SFO as well.
They opted for the “Behind The Scenes” tour which started just after lunch and ended at night. That definitely added a more spooky feeling to this notorious prison. This segment even included retelling of famous stories as well as a meet and greet with ex-convicts! It definitely doesn’t sound too bad for a mid-career switch.
Golden Gate Park
One of their favourite activities when travelling overseas would be to visit parks. They are usually expansive, free and brimming with locals. In San Francisco, they visited the Golden Gate Park. It was a mild hike that allowed them to burn off the holiday calories amidst beautiful scenery. The park was so huge that it was almost impossible to comb through every nook and cranny in one day.
Having seen how beautiful the campus of Google is on social media, they absolutely have to make a mandatory pit-stop at Silicon Valley. Dying to get inside these complexes, they exhausted all sort of ideas but to no avail. Nevertheless, that did not stop them from visiting the office compounds of Google, Apple and Facebook that were open to public. Since exclusive tours of the insides did not materialize, they had to make do with photographs like these:
It was still an eye-opener and not too shabby considering that this was a free tourist attraction.
Food to Try in San Francisco
Easily ranked as one of the top 3 foods that Heartland Boy tried during the trip, the Cioppino by Sotto Mare was a delightful one-pot crustacean wonder. It was so finger licking good that Heartland Boy mopped up the sauce with the complimentary bread. It was the ultimate comfort food in cold wintry weather.
Monlinari Delicatessen has the honour of being a restaurant that Heartland Boy and the gang visited twice during the trip. It is an old-school Italian deli that serves takeaway traditional sandwiches. Think of it as Subway with a Michelin star.
Other honorable mentions are Mama’s monte cristo and Taylor Street Coffee Shop’s sailor hash. These were all unique brunch dishes that will be noteworthy additions to Singapore’s café scene.
Activities in Los Angeles
Universal Studios Hollywood
Even if you have visited Universal Studios Singapore, Universal Studios Hollywood is still worth a visit. They have attractions that are unique to Hollywood such as The World-Famous Studio Tour, Harry Potter, Hollywood Special Effects Show as well as The Walking Dead. Heartland Boy was made an absolute fan boy as he visited The Walking Dead attraction!
Six Flags Magic Mountain
Another theme park that they visited was Six Flags Magic Mountain. As an amusement park that specializes in roller coasters, it is definitely one for the adrenaline junkie. Heartland Boy was in awe of the various kinds of roller coasters that the engineers can dream up of. He also ticked many items off his bucket list on that day.
Food to Try in Los Angeles
The boiling crab was highly recommended by friends (mainly SIA crew) and it definitely did not disappoint. Every type of seafood that they ordered was cooked to perfection. Even though this concept is already common in Singapore, having it in Los Angeles means you need not pay sky-high prices for snow crab legs.
Conclusion of USA Holiday 2017
The only blip during the holidays was an unexpected flight delay on the return trip. Thankfully, Heartland Boy had purchased travel insurance and was able to make a successful claim. If you are interested in his full itinerary, do email Heartland Boy for it! He will be very happy to share it, just like his itinerary for his honeymoon in South Africa.