It has taken almost three months to write a provocative expose of my 2017 return travel trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. Once I began jotting down my travels, the gun tragedy in Las Vegas took place and it took some time to understand the why of what just happened??? For decades, Las Vegas has, still and will always be the spot for gambling, shows, tours and a bevy of cuisine designed for your palate.
Stepping off the plane you are greeted with slot machines eager to suck you in the money pit. Before you even leave the airport to travel to the casino “strip” you can spend hundreds of dollars in slots. Well let me tell you, that was not my plan! After exiting the plane and waiting for my mother at the terminal to arrive to celebrate her 75th birthday, we were eager to move on with our scheduled itinerary. We checked into our suites and hurriedly dressed as we had about two hours before we whisked ourselves off to Oscars. Oscar’s restaurant is named after Oscar Goodman, a true to life character known as the “Happiest Mayor in the Universe”. Oscar Goodman served three terms as Mayor of the City of Las Vegas. During his tenure as mayor, he had many accomplishments in the heart of downtown. They include Symphony Park, the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, the Smith Center, a 350,000-square-foot performing arts center, for boutique hotels, high-rise residential units, businesses, medical and retail opportunities. Goodman also assists in rolling out the “red carpet” to welcome attendees of special events, meetings and conventions to Las Vegas. Oscars restaurant is located in the Plaza Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas, not too far from the famed “Vegas Vic and his friendly “Howdy Podner” greeting. Oscars is known for their “flavorful, tender and juicy, steaks”. Our tour guide took us on a tour of the Plaza Hotel that included the hosting of the 2017 Big Blues Bender Festival featuring the legendary soul singer, rhythm and blues, gospel singer Mavis Staple and other blues greats! Stepping onto the hotels tennis court were colorful murals on the hotel that display colorful characters waiting to greet you for a day of food, fun, relaxation and plenty of gambling! Oscars is also the location where the dinner scene from the movie “Casino” was filmed with legendary actors Robert DeNiro and Sharon Stone. The restaurant’s entrées and appetizers are inspired by family recipes and tailored to meet the tastes of even the most discerning diners. And of course, Oscar’s offers a wide variety of delicious, hand-crafted cocktails. To celebrate mothers 75th we ordered martinis, red wine, crab cakes and a scrumptious salad. Following dinner we crossed over to Downtown Las Vegas and perused the shops and excitement in the hotel square. To reserve your dinner reservation and tour visit www.oscarslv.com.
Next on the itinerary was the Michael Jackson Cirque Soleil extravaganza entitled, “Michael Jackson ONE,” inside the Mandalay Bay Hotel Resort and Casino. Wow, what a show to brag to your friends about! The choreographed dancers literally walked the walls and presented a show of musical hits, glitz and glamour! Cirque Soleil bills the show as “an electrifying fusion of acrobatics, dance and visuals that reflects the dynamic showmanship of the King of Pop, immersing the audience into the world of Michael’s music.” The show features hits and history from Michael’s days at Motown, his life and his career as a musical legend and genius. The acrobatic show catalogued his hits featuring his brothers on the tracks ABC to Man in the Mirror and more! Highlighting the show live and in living color was a hologram that pervaded the stage as if it was Michael Jackson himself presenting the audience with an all-inclusive concert. The audience stood, gasped, clapped and applauded the shows cast. This is a show you do not want to miss! For tickets visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/Michael_Jackson/Tickets.
After the weekend’s excitement, Tuesday’s itinerary took us inside the Rio hotel to sample Mexican fare at Guy Fieri’s El Burro Borracho Restaurant. Excitement escalated as we were headed to a Mexican lovers feast featuring signature style cocktails, house made guacamole with shrimp, salsas, the infamous canned nachos and more! We were greeted at the entrance by Sal the Manager. Sal is from Jersey and was very hospitable and eagerly greeted us with a smile and the history of the restaurant. El Burro Borracho Restaurants staff was overly hospitable and enthusiastic to take our order. Mouths watering we were revved up to taste the “Trash Can Nachos,” signature margaritas and shrimp guacamole made at the table right in front of your eyes! El Burro’s Mexican fare can be served mild, spicy or hot, hot, hot!!! As we enjoyed the authentically prepared Mexican dishes, the kitchen manager pleasantly entered the cooking station and created the nachos from scratch and voila into our mouths we almost swallowed the entire can!!!! You can’t go wrong with a Guy Fieri restaurant from burgers to Mexican, Guy is always on the cutting edge of appealing to your palate to beg for more! To reserve your spot visit www.caesars.com/rio-las-vegas/restaurants/GuyFierisElBurroBorracho.
As the week progressed it was time for the all American Hoover Dam tour, compliments of Detours West! Hoover Dam is one of the many wonders of the world. Hoover Dam “is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the U.S. states of Nevada and Arizona. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.” Talking about historic! The tour bus was about an hour ride outside of Las Vegas, and borders on the towns of Clark County, Nevada and Mohave County, Arizona. The Tour guide was very informative and spoke through the bus acoustics pointing out landscapes along the way that held new subdivision, historic landmarks, casinos and remnants of days long gone by with memories of cowboys horsing around through the Wild, Wild, West! Hoover Dam took over five years to build and was a boost to the United States economy and citizens living in the western desert. Looking deep into the Dam you are amazed at the depth of the Dam and the remarkable men and women that climbed to extraordinary heights to complete the project. The tour consists of a walkthrough of the Dam, and a film that takes you on a journey into the Hoover Dams creation, political process, controversy and tribute to the American citizens that came from all over the United States to help build a structure that has lasted many lifetimes. For anyone planning on visiting Vegas, make The Hoover Dam top priority on the list of things to do while in Vegas! Detours West also offers Grand Canyon tours and National park tours from Phoenix and Las Vegas. To book now and for more info visit www.detoursofthewest.com.
Now this next venue will have you slap your momma (not literally, but if you’re eating and she keep talking to you with morsels in your mouth, you might have to pause and say mother, “really”!) LOL…. I’m telling you, when you converse about Las Vegas, Caesars Palace is right on the tip of your tongue. No matter where you go in the world the name Caesars Palace resonates throughout the land. With a pillared décor surrounded by roman statues and gold trim we headed to Bacchanal Buffet inside the famed Caesars Palace. Walking the lobby of Caesars Palace you are greeted with upscale shopping stores, gambling parlors and people from around the world staring in awe at the beauty of the structures and the coliseum concert hall that holds court to the legendary Celine Dion and the trappings of winning the slots for millions of dollars! Bucchanal Buffet is a synonym for ‘Buffet of the Gods” and depending on how many Gods you worship, you will not be disappointed. Without delay we were whisked to a VIP table and had to sit for a few minutes to really take in the atmosphere that was opulently and creatively adorned. The Gods consisted of a “Luxe, modern buffet offering 9 show kitchens and 500 daily dishes” at the buffet stations, filled with an array of delectable chow, mouthwatering appetizers and scrumptious palatable and flavorful breakfast, lunch and dinner stations. All I can say after a feast of this magnitude, is do not tarry for the Gods are awaiting your arrival! To make your reservation and for more info visit: www.caesars.com/caesars-palace/restaurants/bacchanal-buffet.
Rounding out the Las Vegas tour was Avengers Station where Marvel Comic Figures: Iron Man and his cohorts hold court in their “bat cave”. Inside the station is an “interactive, immersive journey far beyond Tony Stark’s machinations. On display is an extensive range of Avengers operational equipment such as Captain America’s uniform and shield, Bruce Banner’s laboratory, Vision’s birth cradle, Hawkeye and Black Widow uniforms and weapons, and Iron Man’s MK 45 suit and The Hulkbuster suit.” Wow! I was right at home maneuvering my way through the laboratory and took pictures in my lab coat ready to get to work! Avengers Station is a must see family viewing for Marvel Comic fans from ages 0 – 100! To find out more visit: www.stationattraction.com.
By the end of the week our stomachs were full and we had no choice but to slow it down with some light late night fare at “Las Vegas Strip’s first rooftop bar and grill. Beer Park featuring over 100 eclectic beers and cocktails, great food, and amazing views.” Sitting atop the Beer Park lounge were plenty of TVs to watch televised sports and mingle with friends. The Restaurant was packed with millennial’s giving the impression that they were either on their first trip to Vegas or enthusiastic to chow down with friends for a night of camaraderie and not having to worry about betting away their life’s savings! Beer Park’s staff passionately shared the history of the restaurant and quaintly sat at the table with us and shared stories of when and how they arrived in Vegas and how Vegas is the new apple of their eye! For more visit www.beerpark.com.
In summary, we have to give a shout out and honorable mention to the High Roller Ferris Wheel located at the LINQ Hotel & Casino. The High Roller is a 550-foot tall, 520-foot diameter giant Ferris wheel on the Las Vegas Strip and is The World’s Tallest Observation Wheel. Soaring 550 feet above the center of the Las Vegas Strip that features an Open Bar In the Sky! Due to the fear of heights, mother was not too enthused with this new wave Ferris Wheel; plus our stomachs again were full, so we took a rain check and plan to visit at a later date! What we can say is that it’s a sight to be seen and with an open bar on a Ferris Wheel you can’t go wrong! For more visit www.caesars.com/linq/high-roller
We are more than thankful to our host: The Las Vegas Convention Bureau (www.lvcva.com), Caesar’s Entertainment, Detours West, Oscars Restaurant and Plaza Hotel, Michael Jackson One Cirque Du Soleil Staff, Wicked Creative, Avenger Station and High Roller Staff.
Signing off from my second duty tour of what to do in Las Vegas so you won’t end up at Mike Tyson’s home with a tiger looking over your shoulders is your Urban Traveler reporter Lynn Jones!