Only in Vegas

Only in Vegas

Las Vegas continues to dazzle me, no matter how many times a year I get to visit the entertainment mecca of the world. Whether it’s a week stay, a short weekend, or two-day mid-week trip, there’s something for everyone on any day. Though my recent trip was supposed to be three full days, it turned into just two because of flight cancellation due to weather. We made the best of the situation and spent nearly all 48 hours outside the room.

The hotel of choice this quick trip was the Palms, which is just northwest of the strip near the Rio. The Palms, built in 2001, was made famous a year later when MTV filmed a season of its reality hit series The Real World there. You can actually stay in the exact suite where they filmed the show for a mere $10,000 a night.

One interesting fact about the Palms: It houses one of the most expensive suites in the world — SkyVilla. Thirty-two floors high sits a 9,000 square foot suite with four bedrooms along with a butler, basketball court, and heated pool off of the two-story balcony. Cost? $35,000 a night.

Back to the “real world,” make sure when booking a room you request one with a view. Regardless if you only get a few hours of sleep, nothing is more satisfying than looking out your window and seeing the Vegas skyline, the pool or the mountains. The extra cost is minimal and it makes for great photos to add to your favorite social media site for all your friends to see. Leave your curtains open while you sleep. Those neon lights are too amazing.

Food is a biggie in Las Vegas because properties are now more competitive than ever. The casinos are now leasing spaces to the top chefs of the world to vie for your every dollar.

I continue to gravitate to a few favorites beginning with breakfast at Hash House A Go Go that has four locations in Vegas including one at the Rio and the Linq. It’s a “twisted farm food” concept born in Indiana that has received national awards and attention for dishes like its famous Fried Chicken Farm Benedict, which was featured on Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food.

A must-have each visit to the restaurant is the Tractor Driver Combo ($16.99), which gets you two fresh eggs, bacon, sausage or potatoes with one enormous buttermilk flapjack. There’s a high probability that you won’t be able to finish it, but it’s well worth the delicious effort.

Another must have is located in the Linq – Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar. Yes, that Guy Fieri, host of the popular Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, now in its 26th season.

Fieri, who was born in Ohio, graduated from UNLV with a Bachelor of Science in Hotel Management. He opened his first restaurant in 1996 and now has many scattered throughout the country as well as Guy’s Burger Joint on Carnival Cruise ships.

I usually side with his award-winning Bacon Mac-N-Cheeseburger or the Motley Que Sandwich (that he featured on his TV show), but this time I actually tried something new. As soon as I saw the Fireball Whisky Wings get delivered to a nearby table, I had to have them. Eight tender chicken wings tossed in Fieri’s house-made buffalo sauce infused with the popular Fireball Cinnamon Whisky. It’s a whole lot of heat, yet tasty, plus you can dip the wings in the blue-sabi (blue cheese and wasabi) dipping sauce. Hard to beat for $16.50.

If you are looking for a trendy starter, then try the Trash Can Brisket Nachos ($19.50). Included are corn tortilla chips, nacho cheese, jalapeños, crema, pico de gallo, burnt ends from their house-smoked beef brisket and chipotle barbecue sauce. All this delivered to your table in a mini trash can.

As many times as I have been to Vegas, I have never took time to see the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. The 25-foot-tall sign is about a half-mile south of Mandalay Bay and was designed by Betty Willis in 1959. With the Vegas strip as the background, it’s well worth the cab ride, day or night.

And finally, downtown Las Vegas has become one of my favorite, if not my favorite place to go while visiting.

Of course downtown was the original site of the gambling spots before the Strip took over, but revitalization began several years ago and now the Fremont Street Experience is the place to be.

 

Fremont Street was the home to the first hotel in Vegas (Hotel Nevada), first casino and now has a canopy called Viva Vision. At 1,500 feet long, 90 feet wide and suspended 90 feet 12.5 million energy-efficient LED lamps and is now the world’s largest audio-video system

Beginning at 6 p.m. and every hour on the hour through 1 a.m., Viva Vision lights up with HD images with a 550,000-watt concert sound machine.

While strolling through the streets, you can meet a cast of characters and street entertainers including one of the world’s tallest men, 7-foot-8 George Bell. It’s also a great place to people watch.

My last piece of advice — don’t be afraid to visit as many casino properties as you can. They may have the same slots and games, but no two prosperities are alike and you never know what celebrity you will see. A simple stroll in the Mandalay Bay ended with me taking a photo with baseball legend Pete Rose. Only in Vegas.

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