Sunday, December 2, 2012

Las Vegas is a Safe Bet Any Time of Year

I'm not going to write about the Las Vegas you probably already know--the gambling and drinking and partying.  Mostly because I don't do those things.  I am going to write about my kind of Vegas--one that is indeed an adult's play land, full of wonder and excitement and beauty.

There are more shows and restaurants and shopping than any other location on Earth. (That isn't actually a researched fact but I'm sure I'm right.)  Any thing that a human being would want to do can be found in or near there: outside adventure (racing in the desert at Desert Race car Adventure); natural beauty (the Grand Canyon at Grand Canyon National Park); man's greatest achievements (Hoosier Dam); man's greatest follies (Mob Museum); art; food--I could go on and on.  Las Vegas has it all for any adult on the list.  There are only two types of people who would not enjoy this vacation--non walkers and children.  To truly experience everything, a stout pair of walking shoes is in order.  It is nearly impossible to see and do anything in Vegas without walking a major part of your day.  Taking a taxi or the convenient public transportation (Deuce and Double Deuce) is nice but you still walk almost everywhere you want to go.  And, people, leave the kids at home.  While many of the shots of Vegas look like a kid might enjoy them with rides and carnival type atmospheres (Circus Circus Casino for example), there are hardly anything for kids to do and at nights, some really questionable characters come out. 

As far as the climate goes, there really isn't a bad time to go.  The summer might be the least fun with rising temperatures and huge crowds.  In my opinion, fall is really ideal since the pools are still open and the heat isn't quite so bad.  But,the holiday season is just jaw-dropping with no limits to Christmas and other holiday decorations.

To See: 

Of course, the casinos have to figure in any conversation about Las Vegas.  But, I didn't go there to gamble.  I actually tried it for about 10 minutes before I was bored out of my skull.  Maybe I didn't get the point but sitting and pushing the same little button and watching some numbers and pictures flash in front of my eyes at rapid pace just didn't seem entertaining.  Mind numbing, maybe.  One should really go to the casinos for the absolute pure wonder and delight that each instill throughout their unique buildings.  While you can travel from Paris (the best way to see the Bellagio Fountain Show is from the top of the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino) to Venice (the best Italian experience is eating under the"sky" at The Venetian Las Vegas) to New York (the famous inside and outside roller coaster is at New York-New York Las Vegas Hotel and Casino) in just a few steps, these are my favorites: 
  • The Wynn is more of a museum than a casino.  The gambling tables themselves are discreetly  set back within the buildings and tourists can freely walk through the most amazing shopping on the Strip.  More amazing than that, though, is the center garden area.  Located inside, this area has greenery and floral designs that have to be seen to be believed.  The decorations change fairly often but you could easily spend an afternoon just walking around looking at one amazing sight after another.  For more information, see The Wynn Las Vegas.
  • The Bellagio defines the word opulence.  Every wall and hallway and door oozes sophistication and class.  Even the chairs by the cheap slots are some of the nicest in all of Las Vegas!  My favorite part, though, would have to be the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.  Right in the middle of the hotel, an entire room is devoted to some of the most beautiful flora and fauna I have ever seen.  While it isn't a huge area, it more than makes up for that with spectacular displays that change with each season.  This area is typically packed with tourists and even waiting to get into the area is amazing because the lobby ceiling is also an art piece.  The chandelier is by artist Dale Chihuly and many of his pieces are scattered throughout the hotel.  The Bellagio also has the nicest swimming pool and although it is exclusively for guests, it is worth looking at.  Of course, what trip to Las Vegas would be complete without the spectacular Fountain show.  For true Vegas style, time your visit to Elvis's "Viva Las Vegas" or visit during one of the classical numbers for a show that is breath-taking and where the water seems to literally dance right before your eyes.   For more information, see Bellagio Las Vegas.
  • The Luxor is one of the farthest on the Strip but is worth the trek.  Just stepping foot into the immense lobby gives one the idea of what those Egyptian pyramids must have been like.  The inside is large enough to host a village but the real treat is the elevators.  Since the rooms are built on the inside of the pyramid, the floors are slanted.....which makes the elevators go sideways.  Truly a unique and unsettling experience.  While you're there, try out T&T (Tacos and Tequila).  They have dozens of tequilas--unique and pricey and their Blue Agave Margarita is the finest I have ever drunk.  For more information, visit Luxor Las Vegas.
To Do:

I am not going to suggest the top attractions of Vegas.  Anyone acquainted with the Internet can surely research those.  Instead, I am going to suggest a couple of out-of-the-way ideas that a one-time visitor might skip.  And, while it is impossible to do it all, put at least one of these ideas on your to-do list. 

  • The Auto Collection at the Quad Resort and Casino (formerly Imperial Palace) is showcased as "The World's Largest Classic Car Showroom" and it is truly spectacular. While I am not a gear head by any stretch of the imagination, wandering around looking at these beauties was a great time.  Some of the cars are valued at $1 million and there are many shoppers walking around looking to buy!  The 250 cars are valued at over $100 million and a new audio feature gives in depth information about each car. What is even more surprising is that the whole thing is free.  If you need to take a few minutes out of your busy day, stop by here.  I guarantee you'll see things here you won't see anywhere else in your lifetime.  For more information, visit The Quad.
  • You might think zip lines belong in the forests or woods but Zip lining Fremont Street is a must-do experience!  Fremont Street could be suitably named 'Freak Street' because this is where the most colorful people in Vegas hang out--with snakes, and chains, and piercings and anything else your imagination could think of.  Seeing all that from above is just too incredible.  Climbing five stories and then shooting down the street would be amazing on its own but what truly sets it apart is not what is under your feet but what is over your head--Viva Vision!  Viva Vision is like a music video on rocket overload.  Hundreds of feet long, the screen lights up with video and music feeds from classic rock (like Kiss) to more recent rock (like Bon Jovi).  Plus, the older, vintage signs have been installed so it is also like a neon museum of the Strip in its glory days.  It is truly an experience that only Vegas could bring.  For more information, visit, Fremont Street Experience.
  • Who would go all the way to Las Vegas just to waste one day at the pool?  If you're smart, that answer should be you!  The pools at Vegas aren't like your local YMCA variety.  They are more like oases, full of music, incredible food and drink and the best money and DJ's to rival any nightclub in Vegas.  The servers are really showgirls in skimpier outfits and each pool is meant to relax visitors.  Honestly, a day spent at a Vegas pool feels like relaxing in some faraway tropical location.  My favorite was at the Flamingo, one of the oldest on the Strip because it also includes a small zoo/aviary and the final resting place of Bugsy Malone.  For more information, visit Flamingo Las Vegas.
To Eat:

If you were to live in Las Vegas, you could literally eat at a different restaurant every single night and still have plenty of restaurants to choose from.  I am going to avoid obvious chain restaurants since you could indulge in that in practically any city and also avoid choices that are too expensive.  It would be possible to go broke during a single dinner in Vegas and since I am a modest schoolteacher, none of those options were available to me.  Here, instead, are my top three choices for a culinary experience that is one of a kind:

  • For breakfast, nothing can beat Hash House A Go-Go inside The Quad.  This restaurant has been featured on Man Vs. Food, so make sure to share all entrees.  Just trust me on this one.  Their panckaes are as big as tires and you can literally add any ingredient to it you can think of.  I did blackberries and granola and it was so good!  They also have a Snickers pancake that is pretty much sinful.  My favorite is the Waffles and Chicken.  Who in the world thought of this lovely concoction and why have I wasted my life eating other things?  It is literally as tall as a toddler and I am ashamed to say we ate almost every bite.  You will be full the entire day but it's worth it.  For more information, visit Hash House A Go-Go:  Twisted Farm Food.
  • For lunch, you can't find a more delectable menu than Chocolate By the Bald Man at Caesar's.    Honestly, any restaurant that has MAPLE SYRUP as a SIDE DISH should go to the top of any one's list.  A huge copper vat sits right inside the store, beckoning to all who enter with the smells of liquid chocolate.  Hints of spices of cinnamon and other exotic smells practically swallow the patron and no seat is a bad one.   The menu is pure decadence.  But, hey, this is Vegas, right?  For more information, visit Chocolate By the Bald Man:  Max Brenner.
  • For dinner, there is no view more spectacular than the VooDoo Steak and Rooftop Nightclub atop the Rio Casino.  Located a couple of blocks off the Strip, it is definitely worth the trip over.  The restaurant is on the 50th floor of the hotel and offers a romantic view that has to be the best in the city.  You can see up and down the Strip with views of every hotel and the busy lives far below.  The food is amazing and lives up to the height.  When you finish, go up one floor to the 51st nightclub.  This outdoor establishment has clear glass walls and it feels as if you are floating over the city.  An amazing experience.  For more information, visit Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.