Archive for April 2012
Vegas isn’t exactly known as a hotbed of culture, but if you’re like me, once in a while it’s nice to go a little high class and check out real deal fine art. Thankfully, the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is right in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip for those of us who want a little enrichment!
The gallery has rotating exhibits, so new works come through regularly. I’ve been to a few of the shows and have been amazed at how different and interesting it is to see a painting in real life as opposed to looking at a page in a boring art history book.
Now through January 6, 2012, they have an exhibit titled Claude Monet: Impressions of Light, organized in partnership with the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. That museum has one of the biggest collections of Monet paintings outside of Paris (where the artist was born).
Monet is known as an Impressionist, which gives the perception of a scene, rather than a realistic version. When you step back, you get the “impression” of a face, or a boat on water, or a vase of flowers. When you get close up, it’s a zany collection of tiny brush strokes. It’s funny to me how Monet and his fellow Impressionists were considered so radical in their day, because the paintings look so beautiful and classic now. Maybe people 100 years from now will see what we consider outrageous and think it’s normal!
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Who hasn’t always wanted to drive a top-of-the-line sports car? With World Class Driving in Las Vegas, you can tour around in a Ferrari, Lamborghini or other exotic late-model auto. Yes, they actually let you get behind the wheel of these beauties!
On the Red Rock tour, you drive on an open road through the beautiful Red Rock Canyon for a total trip of about three hours in three different cars. This is the entry-level tour for only $399.
From there, you can choose the Hoover Dam tour (breathtaking!), which includes four cars and lasts about three-and-a-half hours; the US Tour, which includes 5 cars and goes for 60 miles; or the US Tour XL, which includes five cars and 120 miles.
All of the tours are spectacular – they get great ratings on TripAdvisor and have experienced drivers along to help you. No, of course you don’t get to race them or drive super fast, but it’s a blast just cruising around in one of these babies! So get out of the casino for a day and onto the open road. Vroom!
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Everyone needs a spa day now and then, am I right? For me, there’s no better place than Canyon Ranch SpaClub at the Venetian.
This 134,000-square-foot space is WAY more than a typical day spa. First, I start at the fitness center with a run on the treadmill or elliptical and some free weights. I might meet with the on-site nutritionist to go over my diet and get some new tips – they’re always up on the latest info here. You can also get help setting up an exercise routine or weight loss program. If I’m feeling super motivated, I might even climb thee 40-foot indoor rock wall!
Then it’s off to pamper myself in the Aquavana aquathermal oasis with massage fountains, steam room and sauna. Once I’m nice and chillax, it’s probably time for a delicious, healthy spa lunch at the Canyon Ranch Grill or Café. Shh, you won’t tell if I have one teeny glass of Chardonnay with my salad, will you?
The bliss continues with one of their famous treatments – I like either a massage or an energy therapy, but their list is pretty long (skin care, ritual baths, body wraps, etc.). Once I’m fully in ecstasy, I ease myself back into the locker room to freshen up for a night on the town!
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Anything underwater fascinates me, so I can spend hours at the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay.
This exhibit lets you get up close and personal with not only sharks, but also about 2,000 species including sawfish, giant rays, endangered green sea turtles, piranha, jellies and the rare golden crocodile. I watch in wonder as the mysterious marine life swims in their 1.6 million gallon environment. The turtles are especially cool, with their little legs zooming them through the water!
And get this: If you’re dive certified and a Mandalay Bay guest, you can SCUBA in the 22-foot-deep Shipwreck Exhibit surrounded by all of these impressive aquatic dwellers! How cool is that? They have limited reservations on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons with a dive guide. It’s $650 for one diver or $1,000 for two and includes admission for up to four guests.
I’ve seen divers in the aquarium and it looks totally mad, but I’ll stay on the other side of the glass for now.
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Nightclubs come and go, but one has been going strong since the mid-2000s – an eternity in Las Vegas. Maybe that’s because Tao Las Vegas covers all the bases – it’s totally pimped out with a restaurant, a dance club, a lounge and a beach club all in one!
Over the years, a parade of celebs have hung out here, from Bono to Madonna, Paris Hilton to Chelsea Clinton. Its fifth anniversary drew stars from both coasts. Kim Kardashian held her thirtieth birthday party here (I heard THAT was a night!). There are times it seems Hollywood has emptied out into the place. Some nights see more than 7,000 people through the doors!
And whether you want to just grab drinks and hit the dance floor or splurge on bottle service or a VIP table, you’re welcome to join the party.
The décor is part of the appeal. Giant Buddhas, women covered in flower petals dancing in tubs, and one of the best, most luxurious pools in Vegas make it crazy fun. So do the world-class deejays spinning hip-hop and rock mash-ups.
Yes, if you’re looking for the path to enlightened clubbing, Tao is the ultimate destination.
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Attention, adrenaline junkies! Have you heard about SkyJump at the Stratosphere? It’s a controlled free fall from the 108th floor, 855 feet above the Vegas Strip. Oh. My. God.
A Jump Master gives you a quick run-through to go over all the do’s and don’ts and safety info. They strap you into this contraption attached to a cable connected to a descender machine. Guide wires keep you on course. The ground comes at you FAST, but just before you think maybe you’ll go “splat,” they slow you down and bring you in for a safe landing. The price for locals is $80.99, and don’t forget to bring your friends! You can buy a DVD of your jump, and afterward (or, maybe before), you might need to get a drink at the Air Bar or Level 107 Lounge.
If that’s too much for you, the Stratosphere also has other less scary, but still thrill-inducing rides like Big Shot, X-Scream and Insanity, the Ride. And it’s worth a visit at least for the Observation Deck, which was voted “the best place to view Las Vegas.”
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One of the only things that makes me happier than happy hour is a LOT of happy hours all in one place, so my friends and I can hit two or three in one evening!
Town Square Las Vegas, at 6605 Las Vegas Boulevard South (about one-and-a-half miles south of Mandalay Bay) has a bundle of bars and restaurants with bargain bites and drinks. We might start at Brio Tuscan Grille for their $3.95 “Tuscan Tasters” – including flatbreads, Tuscan lettuce wraps, or even a Brio burger – and $5 drink specials (LOVE their white peach sangria!). Happy hour runs 3-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Then it could be off to Double Helix Wine & Whiskey Lounge for one of their seven wines by the glass ($4-$7.50) and a “Grown-Ups’ Grilled Cheese” for $4.50. They also have a Garden Cucumber Martini for $5.50 that is cool, smooth and refreshing. Here, happy hour runs 3:30-7:30 p.m. daily, so sometimes we even hit it on weekends.
If I’m in the mood for a tall, cold one, I hoof it over to the Yard House, where they have literally hundreds of great beers on tap. During happy hour 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, domestic pints are $3.50, craft and import pints are $4.25 to $4.50 and goblets are $4.75 to $5. And, they have a huge selection of half-priced appetizers, pizzas and sliders, all of which pair really well with the brews!
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The heat is finally hitting us here in Vegas, but there’s an up side to the high temps: Pool clubs!
It used to be, we had to choose between holing up inside at the slots or mingling with all the tourists and little kids at the pools if we wanted to keep cool during our steamy summers. But over the past several years, the Strip has seen a wave of action with adults-only daytime pool clubs, where the party starts early. It’s a great way to show off all your hard work at the gym while letting off some steam.
One of my favorites lately is the Marquee Day Club Pool at the Cosmopolitan. It just re-opened Saturday, April 21, with its infinity pools and crazy crowds. Rental daybeds are $300-350 for up to 4 people and cabanas are $1,000 for up to 8 people, but you get the cost back in food and beverage credits – so it’s kind of a deal if you get some friends and want to have some fun! The DJs are awesome, too – Avicii rocked the house on opening night!
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When people think of Vegas, of course they think of gaming, shows and dining. But one of my favorite things to do on the Strip is shop ’til I drop!
A lot of visitors hit Fashion Show Mall or the Las Vegas Premium Outlets, and both have amazing stores (I’ve landed some killer deals at True Religion and BCBG at the Outlets). But one of my indulgences is Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. It has everything: Sephora right as you enter, for all of my makeup and skincare; Bettie Page, for cute retro clubbing gear; Bikini Bay, for hot swimwear for the day clubs; H&M, for kicking around clothes; and Steve Madden, for killer wedges and platforms.
Not to mention, you can spend the whole day here and never get bored. I check out all my top shops and then grab a bite and a drink at one of the fun restaurants. Sin City Brewing Co. is a great place to truly get a taste of the town – their beers are made and distributed locally. And call me crazy, but I never get tired of the indoor rainstorm show with its thunder, lightning and fog.
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Las Vegas is renowned for its fine dining and famous chefs, and I love to try them all! If you haven’t experienced Aureole at Mandalay Bay, it’s a terrific choice for date night with that special someone – especially if you love wine.
The restaurant has a four-story glass tower inside of stainless steel and glass that holds its wine collection – all 9,865 bottles held in Plexiglas wine racks! You can watch as “wine angels” get hoisted to the racks in a contraption inspired by Mission Impossible.
This too-cool setting is the backdrop for some of Vegas’ best cuisine. Charlie Palmer, who also has amazing restaurants in New York City, Dallas, Denver, and Healdsburg, Calif., among others, is one of the world’s top chefs. His American food, showcasing seasonal flavors, simply melts in your mouth. I could eat the chilled lobster salad every day, and I’m in love with the seared ahi tuna. Don’t get me started on the tempting desserts! Aureole means “ a circle of light or radiance surrounding the head or body of a representation of a deity or holy person,” and you really do feel like you’ve tasted a tiny bit of heaven when you eat here!
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