The dates are an approximation; all I remember is that it was during summer vacation probably between 5th and 6th grades, or maybe 4th and 5th. I think I must have been about 11 years old and my sister was probably 9.
Having grown up in Los Angeles, I was always urging my parents to take us to Circus Circus, having seen advertisements in the Sunday comics for $9 rooms. That never happened and thus is not part of the trip report.
However, that summer we were going to Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion national parks. All of these are a (long) drive from LA, but for some reason my parents instead decided to drive to LAX, and fly the 4 of us to Vegas, where we rented a car to continue onto the parks. This had to have taken at least an hour longer than just driving to vegas back then, but that is how they rolled. Of course, as a kid I thought flying was way cooler than driving, and I wasn't paying, so I didn't argue.
We spent only one night in Vegas before leaving the next morning for the parks. They didn't have a hotel reservation in advance, so we got a room at the last minute at the Hacienda, probably selected out of a AAA tourbook.
Back then, parents were a little more laid back about letting their kids do their own thing, as I wish parents were these days. My parents went to see some show like Jubilee or something, and they dropped my sister and me off with some cash somewhere on the strip. The two of us went to the Dunes coffee shop and ordered the prime rib dinner specials for $4.95 each. I remember thinking it was one of the best meals I had ever eaten. And I distinctly recall feeling very grown up, very much in my element, and not out of place at all.
After dinner, we went across to Bally's, which had a movie theater that was showing "The Godfather". The movie theater there had couches instead of seats. We watched the movie, and I thought it was great, because by dinner time I realized I was already obsessed with Vegas. I don't remember if my sister liked it. I guess we must have taken a cab back to the Hacienda, or maybe my parents picked us up after their show.
We woke up very early the next morning, and I remember being able to see from the Hacienda parking lot (where the Mandalay is now) all the way up the strip, and the lights were flashing bright in the dawn. I was very disappointed to leave for the Grand Canyon.