eric’s 30th birthday, las vegas in february

eric and jess pendergrass on the LINQ ferris wheel overlooking Las Vegas

Since we did a big trip for my 30th birthday in January, it only felt right to do it again for Eric’s 30th. He couldn’t decide where he wanted to go but, at the last minute, I ended up finding a decent flight deal* to Las Vegas and realized we could get a comped room at the LINQ Hotel though my Caesar’s Awards program. Eric and I had both been to Vegas twice before but never together, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally experience the city just the two of us. 

Eric and Jess Pendergrass in an airport diner

We asked my parents to watch Ollie again and flew out from Maryland, so we drove up the coast during the weekend before. The cheap flight I found was a long haul that left stupid early on Tuesday morning and had one layover where we didn’t switch planes. This meant eight hours on the same plane but, with the busy few months we’ve had, it was actually a nice break for us to read, nap, and watch movies. We caught a taxi to our hotel, dropped off our bags, changed, and wandered around the casino for a few minutes. I quickly won $100, so we decided we were ready for dinner and walked over to In-N-Out.

Eric Pendergrass in Las Vegas

After burgers, we walked across the street to Caesar’s Palace and spent the rest of the night bouncing around different machines. 

Wednesday was Eric’s actual birthday, so after I woke up early to work a little, I snuck downstairs to the bakery to grab him a cup of coffee. Even though it was around 10:00 Pacific Time, we were ready for lunch and Eric wanted to try White Castle. It was unseasonably chilly for being in the desert, so we wrapped up and walked down to the closest location to see how it matched up to our favorite fast food tiny burgers, Krystal. They definitely hit the spot but it’s not the same. 😉

Eric Pendergrass eating White Castle in Las Vegas

We spent the afternoon walking around and over to the Bellagio before calling a Lyft to go over to “Old Vegas.” We walked around The Plaza and down Fremont as the sun was going down. For dinner, Eric had read about a restaurant in called Nacho Daddy… I don’t think I’ve had great nachos all that often in my life, but these were definitely the best. We wandered back down Fremont after in search of a good casino to post up in after.

Eric and Jess Pendergrass selfie in front of the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas

Eric wanted to play blackjack at a cheaper table, and we eventually found a nice $5 table at Fremont Casino. After watching Eric play for a while, I sat down beside him and got some chips of my own. We sat and played off our original bets for the next six hours, making friends with the people at our table and the dealers who rotated every half an hour or so. We eventually walked away with the same amount of money we sat down with, and walked back onto the dark street. We noticed another White Castle on the corner and stumbled in for a bad decision 3 a.m. snack before heading back to our hotel. 

Freemont Casino sign and lights in Las Vegas

We slept in Thursday and I worked a bit in the morning, before we spent most of the afternoon walking around different casinos. Eric had read good things about a place called Yardbird, so we made a late reservation and headed there for dinner. Granted it was a more upscale restaurant, it was hands down the best Southern food we ever had. We ordered everything to share and, at least everything we had, was the better than anything we’ve tasted living in the actual South. The cornbread, chicken and waffles, spiced watermelon, and mac and cheese were all outstanding. 

Mac & cheese, cornbread, chicken and waffles, and spiced watermelon from Yardbird in Las Vegas

We decided to head back to Fremont for our last night, wandering around until we ended up at the exact same table in Fremont Casino again. We weren’t quite as lucky the second night, but we had a good time losing our cheap bets until the early hours of the morning. 

Eric Pendergrass walking towards Paris Las Vegas

After really sleeping in and eating a lousy free breakfast, we stopped at Jimmy Buffett’s for a margarita and continued our casino hopping down the strip. We visited Paris, Bally’s, and The Cromwell before heading back to the room to change for the evening. We had all-you-can-drink tickets for the Ferris Wheel at the LINQ and someone had recommended we try to go at sunset. There was a line when we went to check in and I was worried we may have missed our window, but we were boarded into our car at the perfect time. The views were incredible and during the 30-minute ride around, we saw Vegas light up bit by bit as the sun went down. I had thought the ride might be a bit cheesy but it was stunning and a really cool way to see the city. 

Eric and Jess Pendergrass on the LINQ Ferris Wheel overlooking Las Vegas at sunset

We met a couple from England on the Ferris wheel and decided to go get a quick drink with them afterwards. After a couple shots and a round a corn hole with very loose rules, they headed to the airport and we went back to the room for a power nap. Since it was our last night of the trip, we managed to rally enough to visit the casino downstairs one last time and eat another round of burgers at In-N-Out. The next morning, we sleepily packed up our bags and made our way back to the airport for a (thankfully) nonstop flight back to Maryland. 

Eric's Casino and Jessica's Casino personalized dice

Happy 30th birthday to Eric! The world is lucky to have you. 

Jess and Eric Pendergrass

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