Going to the National Final Rodeo (NFR) sponsored by Wrangler was on our bucket list for years. My husband and I wanted to go but it always seemed out of reach. This year was different. During mid-summer and on a whim, we decided to go and began to plan.
I searched for the best hotel and ticket deals online. After much agonizing, I booked the hotel with the help of a friend’s discount, with our Alaska Air deal booked a flight, and Googled rodeo tickets. When I saw the prices I slammed my laptop lid closed and nearly cried. No way could the rodeo tickets cost more than everything else!
A couple days later, I got back on, browsed a bit, and clicked a buy button. We were on our way.
December 2nd came and we were on the plane, headed for the National Finals Rodeo and Las Vegas. Tall casinos, Hard Rock Café, The Bellagio fountain show, warmer weather than Northeast Washington. I could hardly stand it.
Day one. We arrive Friday afternoon and it was cold. Scarf and gloves cold. I checked my ticket to make sure we were in Nevada. My husband hailed a cab and we made our way to the Marriot. After checking in, we had a quick dinner on the strip before the rodeo––Chili’s has the best Margarita chicken!
With food in our bellies, it was rodeo time. We hustled back to the hotel room, dodging irritating promotional people, and I changed into my fancy cowgirl boots. The Thomas and Mack Center at UNLV was a forty minute and with the frigid weather, we decided to take a cab.
The rodeo was simply amazing as the crowd was respectful and as my husband stated, “They moved things right along.” One of the highlights was to watch Shane Proctor win bull riding. He’s from our area and one of our sons helps at his clinic for youth every year.
Our initial plan was to take a cab back to the hotel, but with huge lines we decided to hoof it. We are both active and knew the walk would be simple and pleasurable. Halfway through, I was thankful I’d packed gloves and a heavy scarf. By the time we arrived back at the hotel, my face and ears were iced over and my feet were killing me. Again, I checked our tickets to make sure we were in the right state.
Day Two. We walked the strip, watched the Bellagio fountain show, and took in Cowboy Christmas. When it was time to walk to the rodeo, my left heel throbbed. I pulled up my big girl panties and boots and anything else I thought qualified as “big girl” and took that first painful step. I was tired of getting nickel and dimed in this over-sized town and it was my idea when I book the room we could walk. The weather was gorgeous that Saturday and I was bound and determined to enjoy it. I remembered feeling like a colt’s first few spring rides at the start of the vacation and by day three, I felt like I was rode hard and put away wet with all the walking we did.
Overall, we had a splendid time. I did come up with a handful of dos and don’ts I’ll gladly share with you:
- Walk the strip and gaze at the architecture. It’s stunning.
- Go see Caesars Palace and other casinos. We don’t gamble but had a great time gawking, seeing everything we’d watched in the movies.
- Take in the fountain show at the Bellagio Casino and Hotel which starts at noon.
- The NFR is a must!
- Stop and listen to the street musicians.
- Take in Cowboy Christmas at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
- Eat at the Hard Rock Café. The Mango drinks and barbecue chicken are fabulous.
- Look people in the eye who promote any and everything on the streets. They’ll try and suck you in––hook, line, and sinker.
- Keep walking when people try and hand you info or cards.
- Wear comfortable shoes/boots, NOT pretty ones.
- Check for the best deals before you go.
- Always take taxis or shuttles. Walk as much as you can, even if you rent a car.
- Set aside two hours for Cowboy Christmas because it will take you two days.
- Leave the house without telling your bank you are headed for Nevada. And tack on California and Arizona and maybe New Mexico for the vendors at Cowboy Christmas. Your credit card will be denied, as ours was, and you’ll have to have them hold your purchases while you call the bank, like I did.
If you have attended the WFNR in Las Vegas, NV, please share how you traveled, your favorite hotels and restaurants, tips for planning your trip, and the best packages you have found. How did you get your NFR tickets, through hotels or third-party vendor?