I can’t tell you everything that happened in Vegas.
There’s at least one story that’s staying in Vegas. But of all the things that happened in Vegas, most of my weekend getaway with husband and friends was just fun, eclectic and suitable for all audiences.
Some people hate the glitz, over-indulgence, gambling and adult entertainment of Las Vegas, but those are exactly the reasons others go there as often as possible. You can find whatever kind of entertainment you want and there are some cool things to do away from the slots and tables — not that I don’t enjoy a little gambling.
So what is there in Vegas that you might not know about?
There are non-smoking, no casino, eco-friendly hotels! Our hotel, Vdara, is one of those. Of course, casinos were nearby, but it was nice not to walk through a smoke-filled casino just to get to your room. Vdara is one of the new MGM Resorts International hotels in CityCenter at the south end of the Strip.
There’s art! The canoes sculpture is at the entrance to Vdara. The Bellagio features this glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly on the lobby ceiling.
There’s romance! The fountains at the Bellagio are beautifully choreographed to diverse types of music. At night with songs such as “My Heart Will Go On” from the Titanic movie, it can seem quite romantic.
There are fine chocolates and pastries! Jean Phillipe Patisseries are wonderful for a sweets break. They have locations at the Bellagio and Aria hotels. The photos of the cakes, chocolate-covered strawberries and the giant chocolate flower were taken at the Aria.
There’s nature! Just about 15 miles west of the Strip is Red Rock Canyon, a beautiful conservation and recreation area with a scenic drive and miles of hiking trails. It’s a good place to work off some calories, breathe in the fresh air and get away from the happenings in Sin City for a while. (More to come about Red Rock Canyon very soon.)
There’s Afternoon Tea! While taking in the view through the floor to ceiling windows, you can have Afternoon Tea on Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s 23th floor. It is a very peaceful, Zen-like setting with sandwiches, scones, pastries and a wide selection of specialty teas.
There’s Vegas history!
What’s Vegas without Elvis impersonators and showgirls? You can find them in old downtown Las Vegas on Fremont Street. It’s crowded with tourists, but worth a stop to see some of the old hotel casinos like Binion’s Horseshoe and the Golden Nugget with their iconic neon signs glowing. You can also watch the light show on the canopy that’s been constructed over the street while people fly above on the zipline.
There are gourmet restaurants! Run by world-class chefs, there are many gourmet dining options. We had dinner at chef Shawn McClain’s Sage at Aria. It’s there that I enjoyed my first experience inhaling the fumes of recently-legalized absinthe that provided me (shown here with our friend, Kevin) with considerable fun and hours of uncontrollable laughter. The “sin” in “absinthe” seems quite appropriate.
Finally, there’s Sunday church! After playing a few slot machines at Mandalay Bay, we went to “church” at the House of Blues there. Did I go to church to redeem myself for sins untold? No, it was a gospel brunch, open to the religious and non-religious among us. There was a plentiful buffet of breakfast and lunch items, followed by an energetic bluesy “going to church” performance. The Gastons had many of us out of our seats moving our feet, clapping our hands and shouting “Hallejuah”! Then it was on to the Luxor for cocktails before heading home.
A weekend in Las Vegas is probably just the right amount of time to over-indulge, enjoy some gambling, explore off the strip and be a little bit naughty.