Saturday, May 28, 2011

Las Vegas - Top Ten

After spending a week in Las Vegas with "Mark and Theresa's MyFixitUpLife", I found plenty of good in Sin City. Here's my Top Ten:

10. Fly at Night

OK so maybe you aren't in charge of making the flight schedules for Southwest or US Airways. But if you can help it, fly into town at night. There's nothing that I've experienced in aviation that really compares to the view. For the last hour of the East-to-West coast cross country flight, the ground is in complete darkness (mix of farmland, desert and mountains) until the final 2 minutes of the flight when she appears in all her splendor.

9. Walk the Strip (or atleast some of it)

While it's easy to get lost inside one of the many megalithic casinos - wandering around drink-in-hand, chips-in-pocket - you should really make time to walk the strip. It seems obvious, I know. But with cab stands outside every exit door, often times it's easier to simply hop a ride to your next destination. But if your lungs and legs are up for the cardio, I'd recommend starting at New York, New York and making your way all the way down to the Wynn. (Pssst: be sure to avoid the "escort" card hander-outers).

8. Pure Nightclub

I know I know... fist pumps and blowouts. I'm not much of a "clubber" either. BUT... Pure Nightclub (Caesar's) has won top-honors as the country's best night spot. It's the home of the Pussycat Dolls, the late-DJ AM, and velvet-roped celebrity parties. Bottle-service is available (at quite a premium) and includes a private booth for you and your friends, a personalized server, as well as your own 6'8", 380lbs. security guard. And, if the booth gets a bit stuffy, you can take the elevator to the tiki-torch lit rooftop and enjoy the views of the Eiffel Tower across Las Vegas Blvd.

7. Oxygen Bar at the Venetian

After a night at Pure, chock full of Jaeger-bombs and broken heels, you'll need a pick-me-up in the morning. There's no better option than the Oxygen Bar (err... cart, rather) at the Venetian. To be fair, they may exist in other casinos, but this is the one I fell in love with. You take your seat, strap on an oxygen tube around your ears and nose with your choice of flavored air (mint is nice), and proceed to receive a neck, shoulder and scalp massage. Yup. You'll be set for the rest of the day and you can proceed with a smile.

6. Roller Coaster at New York, New York

So if you're still not fully awake, bypass the coffee and swing by New York, New York and hop on the roller coaster. Granted, you can swing by Great Adventure or Dorney Park anytime, but there's something different and exhilarating about riding a roller coaster in a downtown city setting. It's pretty unnatural and your mind has a tough time making sense of it. For the shear uniqueness alone, this one comes highly recommended.

5. World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop

Chumlee, Rick, Big Hoss, the Old Man... you know 'em, you love 'em, you'll be surprised when you see the actual Pawn Stars' home. It's, well... a pawn shop. And it's surrounded by Bail Bonds, Cash Advance Centers and other pawn shops. It's really not the nicest area so I would definitely take a cab for this one, contrary to my previous recommendation. (To give you an idea it's about 2 miles north of the Stratosphere on the strip). Come to think of it, pawn shops are never in great areas. I guess it seems like an obvious statement. I mean, you'll never see a pawn shop on Madison Avenue. But I digress.

4. Bellagio Fountain Show

Whether you want to feel like part of Danny Ocean's 11 or just happen to catch it while participating in #9 (forget already? I'll wait while you scroll back up....), you'll be glad you were witness to the most impressive fountain display in 5 counties. It runs every 30 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes at night. Special bonus if you have a room at the Bellagio facing the fountains - your TV can tune into a channel that will sync classical music to the show.

3. Circle Bar at the Hard Rock / Pink Taco

There's a bar, circular in shape with a domed ceiling, at the heart of the casino floor of the Hard Rock, known for ghostly conversations. Because of the dome and the way sound travels, you can clearly hear the conversations of other patrons sitting fifty feet across from you. I know it sounds crazy, but it's true and was verified by the bartender (I know what you're thinking and no, it wasn't the booze playing tricks on me). And if you're hungry, head over to the Pink Taco on the other side of the casino floor for flights of high-end sipping tequila and fish tacos. You'll be glad you did.

2. Joe's Stone Crabs

Large Select Stone Crab Claws. End of story. It's the only time that it's OK to pay $60+ for 4 crab claws. Seriously. They're that good. Follow it up with a Bone-In Filet aka "The Original" cooked Medium Rare + (yes, they cook steak medium rare +). Creamed Spinach. Jennie's Mashed Potatoes. Bloody Mary. It's my last supper. It's my death row meal. It's gastro love... and there are only 3 locations (Vegas, Chicago and Miami). Should you find yourself within 100 miles as the crow flies of any location, you should feel compelled, nay!, obligated! to go. I mean it. If you take nothing else away from this blog please, please, PLEASE GO TO JOE'S!!! It's riiiiidiculous!!! Arrrgghh!!! (cough) ... sorry.

1. "O"

Simply put... the most amazing thing I've ever seen on stage. Ever. I've been to Broadway, seen Garth Brooks rise out of a piano, Billy & Elton at Madison Square Garden, Butch Walker (always awesome). I've seen a chandelier drop because of a phantom and a helicopter lower from the rafters in Saigon. I've attended Live 8, Conan O'Brien, The Daily Show and several school plays. But never have I seen anything even remotely close to the beauty, spectacle or scale of the opera-circus that is "O" at the Bellagio (this last sentence was intentionally "grand" and British sounding). "O" is the crown jewel in the Cirque Du Soleil lineup. Its stage is an 80'-deep swimming pool with a grated metal stage platform that lowers to reveal the water. It's haunting. It's dark. It's childish. It's everything. It's a must. It's the best. It's only better than Joe's because the Bellagio is the only place on Earth where you can see it. And I truly hope you do.

Ah, if only they sold Stone Crabs at the show...