Contrary to popular belief, Las Vegas has plenty of activities that don’t include gambling or finding a tiger in your hotel room. I’ve been to Las Vegas several times and I’ve experienced many different things. I’ve raced a Ferrari, attended shows (my favorite is George Wallace), and eaten at spectacular restaurants. I even got married at the Little White Wedding Chapel (where Michael Jordan and Elvis held their respective ceremonies). If you’re willing to go beyond casinos, all-you-can-eat buffets, and lounge acts, you can experience Vegas in new and exciting ways.
For the Family Man
Vegas isn’t the most kid-friendly travel destination, but there are many fun family activities throughout the city. I’d recommend staying at Circus Circus. The resort is undergoing a huge renovation and will have several new family entertainment options including world class circus acts and The Adventuredome Theme Park.
You should also bring the kids to the Mandalay Bay Beach. Voted by Trip Advisor as one of the best pools in the U.S., Mandalay Bay’s 11-acre tropical Sand-and-Surf Beach features a Wave Pool, Lazy River, and private cabanas that offer a relaxing, interactive and family friendly experience.
If you’re looking for a show that the kids will enjoy, try Tournament of Kings at Excalibur. Tournament of Kings offers a family-friendly Vegas show that is full of swashbuckling adventure, singing, sword play, and pyrotechnics (Warning: The Evil Knight may be a little scary to younger children). The best part of the experience is that you get to eat your meal with your hands.
For the Single Man
If you want to be close to the action, you should book at room at The Aria or The Cosmopolitan. These hotels are currently the hottest spots in town.
Begin your night at The miX Lounge. It’s a laid-back lounge that offers great food, drinks, music (on the night I visited, DJ Miss Joy provided the soundtrack), and panoramic views from 400 feet above The Strip.
If you’re looking for a more lively party vibe, head over to LIGHT nightclub. It is a feast for all of your senses. Celebrity DJs spin the music while Cirque du Soleil performers entertain the crowd from above. I was entranced by the light and video show that was perfectly synchronized to the music. If you’re adventurous you can try to squeeze on to the dance floor; however, it’s usually too packed for you to adequately show off your sweet moves. Instead, take in the ambiance, chill and go for the bottle service in the upstairs lounges if you can roll like that.
For the Foodie Man
Vegas has every type of cuisine the world has to offer and there are way too many fantastic restaurants to list. Some of my favorites include Mesa Grill, Cut by Wolfgang Puck, Bartolotta Ristorante Di Mare, Estiatorio Milos, and barMASA.
On my last trip to Vegas, I dined at AAA Four Diamond award winning restaurant Sensi in the Ballagagio. I enjoyed the experience because Executive Chef Royden Ellamar (Chopped winner) prepared a delicious 4 course family-style meal that included Crispy Rice Encrusted Gulf Shrimp, Tongue and Cheek (smoked wagyu beef tongue and braised veal cheek), Monterey Squid, Grilled Colorado Lamb Chops, and a fabulous desert tower. In addition to preparing a delvious meal, Chef Ellamar also visited our table to hang out and talk about the food. He’s totally committed to supporting local farms and buying locally sourced ingredients.
“It is very important to me to have relationships with the people that grow our food,” Ellamar said. “Being able to work with great ingredients and then transform food into a beautiful dish that people are excited to look at and ecstatic to eat, that is the best aspect of being a chef.”
For the Outdoor Man
Some of the best adventures happen off the Vegas Strip. If you’re the outdoors type, you should visit Red Rock Canyon and participate in the hiking and horseback riding activities.
Cowboy Trail Rides offers a Sunset Trail Ride and Western BBQ. This trail ride was a great experience. The serene dessert environment was a stark and refreshing contrast to the glitz and glamour of the Strip. I enjoyed riding through winding trails and enjoying the breathtaking landscape. Back at camp, I enjoyed cowboy games (hatchet throwing, roping, and horseshoes), a hearty steak dinner, s’mores, and a sing-along around the campfire. If you’ve never ridden a horse before or are nervous, don’t worry. They have babysitter horses that are trained to make your ride pleasant.
For the Fashion Conscious Man
Shopping in Vegas rivals fashion meccas New York, London, Paris, and Toyko. My favorite place to grab the latest fashions is The Shops at Crystals. Adjacent to ARIA, this high-end shopping center offers a collection of prestigious designer shops including Dolce & Gabbana Men’s, Tom Ford, Ermenegildo Zenga, Paul SMmth, Porsche Design, and Tag Heuer. If you consider yourself to be a connoisseur of fine fashion, visit Crystals and indulge.
For the Thrill Seeking Man
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I’ve raced a Ferrari in Las Vegas. I got the opportunity to do this at Dream Racing. This five-star driving experience at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the only place where you can get behind the wheel of a real Ferrari race car, as well as a selection of the best exotic cars on the market. If you want a genuine adrenaline rush, you must sign up for this experience on your next trip to Vegas. If NASCAR is more your thing, you should try the Richard Petty Rookie Driving Experience.
photos by Frederick J. Goodall
Disclosure: Nokia paid for my trip to Vegas.