I'm starting off my blog with a maiden post about my current Vegas MUST DO's. Basically those things that if you ask me what to do here I will enthusiastically and perhaps a little bossily exclaim "YOU HAVE TO GO!"
Originally I was I was going to make it a top 10 list, however I jotted down my seven no brainer suggestions in about 2 seconds and then after a few days of trying to think of three more activities I get just as excited about thought to myself "May as well make it seven, Top 10 lists are all the rage right now anyway and I've never been one to follow the crowd.
SO without further ado here is my first list of MUST DO ACTIVITIES here in Las Vegas. (In no particular order)
1. THE BELLAGIO
As you may know most locals aren't really big about hanging out on the Strip. However if there is one property I think everyone who comes here MUST SEE it's the Bellagio and all the best attractions there are FREE.
The Fountains. They are probably the obvious thing you may have heard about and they do NOT disappoint. Running every 15-30 minutes the fountains are synced to a rotation of different songs and I am NEVER sorry to get stuck at traffic light in front of them. They are glorious to see anytime, but for the absolute most stunning experience try to see them on a windless night. (When our dramatic desert winds blows they can't shoot those bad boys as high)
Here is the schedule for your planning pleasure:
The next thing to catch is the Bellagio is The Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. Located just past the lobby this exhibit changes seasonally and usually will not fail to make your jaw drop. Integrating live planting with floral sculptures the experience can be like standing on the world's most massive Rose Parade float and leave you wondering "How do they do this four times a year?! " Here is a link to installations of seasons past:
Finally if you're headed to the gardens be sure to look up as you cross the lobby and take in artist Dale Chihuly's Fiori di Como, a stunning installation of handblown glass flower blossoms covering the ceiling. Here is an article for the Las Vegas Review Journal about the most memorable art installation in Las Vegas:
2. THE GOLDEN TIKI
In an unassuming strip mall in Chinatown step through the massive wooden door and into a magical other world. Here you can live out your childhood dreams of being a Goonie aboard One-Eyes Willie's pirate ship, on an adventure with the Pirates of the Caribbean or just feel nostalgic for those childhood trips to Disneyland sucking down Dole Whips outside the dearly departed Tiki Room. This place is a treasure trove of tiki wonders, complete with inspired tiki concoctions, boozed up dole-whips and living pin-up girls serving up your cocktails. Many nights you can also catch great dj's serving up classic surf music, and live bands. Bonus: the unassuming strip mall is full of great places to eat before you get your rum on.
3. FREMONT ST
I always assume Fremont St is a gimme for those visiting, but I am shocked at the number of people who don't bother to trek down there. Fremont St is the home to the original Vegas and in the past several years has experienced a real rebirth becoming a go to area for savvy visitors and locals alike. At the West end of Fremont from The Plaza Hotel down to the Golden Nugget you will find the entire street has been closed down to traffic and covered with a giant light canopy making one long plaza for exploring and fun. The canopy is aglow with light shows nightly yet offers no competition for the original lights of the old Fremont St casinos. If you think the lights on The Strip are glorious wait till you catch a load of this. Live entertainment plays on several stages nightly along with a bevy of street performers from the sublime to the sublimely awful.
Past the covered portion of Fremont trek down to the East end of street which is in the throes of an evolution of small bars and restaurants steadily extending farther and farther down the street. Make sure you make it down to The Container Park. Located caddy corner from El Cortez (one of the city's most historic casinos) it's marked by the giant praying mantis extending far into the sky which entertains visitors with a huge streams of fire shooting from it's antennae after sundown. The park is home to a bevy of "micro" bars, shops and restaurants built out of shipping containers and centered around a giant tree house with mega slides. Perfect for letting the kids run amuck while you sip a cold one. The park becomes 21 and over after 9 pm
4. THE MOB MUSEUM
While you're downtown around Fremont make sure to stop into the Mob Museum (aka The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement) The history of this town resolves heavily around organized crime in the in the middle of the last century. Here in the gorgeous old courthouse 3 floors of exhibits take you from the birth of this dusty little town to bringing down the Mob and cleaning up the city in addition to some great history of organized crime as portrayed in film. The museum is a don't miss for any history buffs and in true Vegas style offers alcoholic refreshments and is open late. Please note: due to some of the graphic content in here I would NOT recommend this as an option for small children.
5.THE PEPPERMILL FIRESIDE LOUNGE
Located on Las Vegas Blvd around the Circus Circus the Peppermill is QUINTESSENTIAL Vegas. Step past the diner and to the back into the neon lit lounge. Covered from ceiling to floor with tropical foliage, purple & pink neon lighting and the star of the show here... the water filled fire place. Hello, best of the 80's! Sit back in one of the low plush banquets, sip a glass of bubbles in your best Vegas outfit and regal in the fact that right now YOU. ARE. FABULOUS.
6.RED ROCK CANYON
Beyond the bright lights of it's nightlife Las Vegas actually sits smack in the middle of the stunning Mohave Desert. Do yourself a favor and get away from it all by heading a mere 20 minute to the edge of town and checking out Red Rock Canyon. One of the top rock climbing destinations in the world Red Rock Canyon offers a tons of hiking, a beautiful driving loop inside the boundaries of the National Park and short family friendly (or hangover friendly) hiking/picnicing oppotunities in Calico Basin. Consider stopping by Bonnie Springs Restaurant for a rustic lunch with some Wild West flair and thier army of peacocks and chickens chillin' around the property. You won't believe you're only a half hop and a skip from the strip. Don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for the wild donkeys roaming the Canyon!
7. CIRQUE DE SOLEIL
Ok, so I admit it. Until I saw it for myself I always thought the Cirque de Soleil shows that permeate this town were nothing but another tourist trap. Boy, was I ever wrong. In 15 years in New York City I have never seen a show that I felt so strongly that EVERYBODY needs to experience the thrill of at least once. These shows with themes ranging from classic vaudeville, musical icon tributes and even erotica (!) are feats of excellence in the artistry of dance, acrobatics and theatrical staging that will leave you in absolute awe. Find one that appeals to your sensibilities and run don't walk to the theater.