What is it about fast and fancy cars that gets a person’s heart racing? Is it the feel of the engine rumbling underfoot? Or is it the look that others give when one of these sleek, chic vehicles rolls past? Whatever it is that lures people into the driver’s seat of these above-and-beyond cars, the pull is a strong one because lots of people pay a lot of money to drive exotic and muscle cars during their Las Vegas vacations.
Late last spring I was invited to get behind the wheel of a few different exotic cars for a spin through the Red Rock Canyon area with World Class Driving. This experience is very popular for a number of reasons, but one of the main things worth noting is that the driving experience with World Class Driving lasts nearly an hour and participants get to drive more than one car. This is a vast departure from many driving experiences, which cost hundreds of dollars and only allow participants to choose one car to drive (if they even get a choice). I honestly didn’t really care what I was driving, so I was content when they told me I’d spend time with a Lamborghini, a Jaguar and a Ferrari. I was particularly excited that one of the cars was a convertible because I’ve never driven a car with the top down and, now that I think about it, I’m not even sure I’ve ever even been in a convertible.
Let it be said upfront: I am an introvert. I attend events and parties because I enjoy them, but mingling with people — especially people I don’t know — does not come easy for me. So when I was invited to experience Project Dinner Table, a Las Vegas dining experience that has created quite the legacy for itself, I was both thrilled beyond words and a little bit apprehensive.
You see, the idea behind Project Dinner Table is this: People don’t tend to spend a lot of timing eating at the dinner table anymore. They’re too busy with work and running around and keeping busy in life. The idea that we don’t spend time with our families in this intimate atmosphere is magnified when it comes to interacting and communicating with strangers. Lets face it: We’ve become a society in which we live behind our smartphones, and even when we’re with each other, we tend to be somewhere else mentally. Project Dinner Table places up to 200 people around a giant dinner table, where they then spend the next several hours enjoying a leisurely meal and getting to know the other people sitting around them.
Project Dinner Table is the brain child of Gina Gavan, who seeks out the most creative places in Las Vegas and the very best chefs to provide an awesome and memorable experience every single event. There are about five Project Dinner Table events every year, and each is set in a different, unique location, and different chefs from around the city create the multi-course menu. Past events have been held at the Neon Boneyard Museum, Gilcrease Orchard, the local baseball stadium and The Smith Center, among many other places.
The helicopter skimmed above the earth, high enough so that we could see the desert landscape dotted with cacti and scrub bushes for miles in front of us, but low enough so that the shadow of the red Papillon helicopter was visible above the ground. The helicopter banked to the right for its initial descent, and then, suddenly, there it was: The Grand Canyon.
I’d been to the Grand Canyon several times before, both on the North Rim and the South Rim, but I’d never actually been in the canyon (though not from lack of trying; I’ve applied for back country passes to hike rim to rim but have not been selected). When given the opportunity by Papillon to take the Grand Celebration Tour, a Grand Canyon helicopter tour, to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, about five miles from the West Rim, I was ecstatic. Sometimes it can be hard for me to fully appreciate a destination if I’ve been there time and time again, but this was an opportunity to see a common destination (for me) from an entirely new perspective … and I got to share the moment with our foreign exchange student, which made it even more awesome.
Our morning started off ridiculously early with a pick up at Palms hotel at 5:00 a.m. Like many tour companies in Las Vegas, Papillon sweeps the Strip with a comprehensive hotel pick up so that people don’t have to worry about renting a car. At long last, we finally reached the Boulder City Airport, a small, regional airport, where we boarded our helicopter. We were given the front seats next to the pilot, which meant we had awesome views on the sides and in front of us. After a series of safety checks, our helicopter lifted a few feet off the ground and hovered for a few moments as we got permission to lift off. It’s been years since I rode in a helicopter, and I’d forgotten what a weird and unnatural sensation it is to hover above the ground. Admittedly, we were both giddy with excitement as we lifted off from the ground.
When someone asked me if I wanted to dine al fresco at TREVI, I had to double check to make sure that the restaurant was, in fact, located in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. Yes, TREVI is, in fact, in the Forum Shops, but YES, you can eat al fresco there. Oh, Las Vegas, how you continue to surprise me.
This Italian restaurant sits at the junction of three pedestrian walkways in front of an awesome fountain, which means that enjoying the outside views is both climate-friendly and incredibly picturesque.
I recently met up with a group of local bloggers not only to enjoy the ambiance of TREVI but also to taste a few of the meals and cocktails on the menu. I’m not much of a foodie, as you may know, but even I can tell when a restaurant has stellar menu selections. Among my favorites were:
Performers seem to be taking up residency in Las Vegas at an increasing rate. Hard Rock Hotel has been hosting performers for extended concert series for a few years now, and Celine Dion, Bette Midler, Cher, Elton John and Shania Twain have all called the Colosseum at Caesars Palace — and Las Vegas — home for at least a short period of time. At Wynn and Encore, Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill continue to draw sold-out crowds.
So when CeeLo Green moved into town for his new show called CeeLo Green is Loberace a few weeks ago, I was instantly intrigued by yet another Las Vegas resident. This past weekend, I had the chance to see his performance for myself, and I instantly found myself pulled in multiple directions about how I felt about the show.
First, a description of the show from Planet Hollywood’s website:
CeeLo Green, the conductor/ringmaster of “LOBERACE,” will take fans on a ride through colorful decades of music, stopping at legendary moments in time from Prince and Blue Magic to The Rolling Stones, from new wave to disco and beyond.
Visually, the production will combine CeeLo Green’s flamboyant sense of style and over-the-top creativity, magnified and intensified, with his soulful voice covering some of his favorite music, as well as original songs, in a just for Las Vegas show.
Las Vegas is cluttered with Elvis wannabes and walking renditions of rock stars, pop icons and other celebrities. Some make their money busking on the sidewalks, and others take to stages across the city as impersonators. I’m not wild about Elvis or Britney Spears, and if I want to see someone in concert, I want to see the real thing.
And so it was with a bit of curiosity, a little hesitation and an open mind that I accepted an invitation to see Million Dollar Quartet, the newest show to open at Harrah’s Las Vegas. The official summary of the show:
The Tony Award Winning musical, Million Dollar Quartet is set on December 4, 1956, when an extraordinary twist of fate brought Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley together at Sun Records for one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll jam sessions in history.
Million Dollar Quartet brings that legendary December night to life with the extraordinary story of broken promises, secrets, and the once in a lifetime celebration of four friends that is both poignant and funny. Relive the era with the smash-hit sensation featuring an incredible score of rock ‘n’ roll, gospel, R&B and country hits, performed live onstage by world-class actors and musicians.
Need to escape? Looking to be whisked away? Itching for travel inspiration?
Look no further than your next destination, wherever it might be. I took this picture of our foreign exchange student a couple weekends ago in Red Rock Canyon near Las Vegas. Though I love the bright blue desert sky and his enthusiasm to jump from rock to rock rather than take a hiking path, I like the concept behind the photo even more. There’s always somewhere else to go, something else to discover and another way to be moved by the world around us.
When it comes to shows in Las Vegas, it’s pretty safe to say I’m smitten by Cirque du Soleil. Granted, not every Cirque-branded show has been a big hit in my book (I’m not a big fan of Zumanity and I have no plans to see BeLIEve), but most of the shows I’ve had the chance to see have been beyond amazing.
Las Vegas’ newest Cirque du Soleil show, Zarkana, which opened a couple months ago at ARIA, encompasses everything I love most about Cirque: Awesome music, stunning costumes, artful make-up, creative staging and lighting, surprises, humor and, of course, acts that left me slack jawed, nervous and downright impressed. Cirque excels in big, beautiful and bold productions highlighting acrobatic talent, and while some of the company’s productions in Las Vegas have recently been aligned with certain themes or people (the Elvis and Beatles shows are two examples), Zarkana goes back to the roots of what I think people really love about Cirque.
Just when I thought I’d seen it all in Las Vegas, Rock of Ages moved into The Venetian. This crazy, over-the-top performance embodies the idea of go big or go home … so, to stand the test of survival, Rock of Ages is definitely going big.
Here’s the skinny on the story: It’s set in LA’s Sunset Strip in 1987. Drew, a boy from Detroit hoping to make it big as a musician, and Sherrie, a girl from a small town pursuing an acting dream, meet while working together in a bar that faces destruction from a development firm. Though there is a (slightly weak) plot that moves this story forward, that’s not what makes Rock of Ages so much fun.
This show is about the hard rock music we loved from the 80s, big hair, neon and torn up clothing and quirky advertising messages. It features 28 songs just about every 80s child knows (and may or may not love): Don’t Stop Believin’, We Built This City, The Final Countdown, Can’t Fight This Feeling. It’s beyond singable, and audience members are encouraged to buy into the fun by singing along and, at times, waving the flashlight-fronted lighters that everybody gets when they walk into the theatre. By the end of the show, people are on their feet, singing along with the cast and sharing a knowing smile with their neighbors. We all shared the 80s the first time we lived through it; now we’re living it all over again.
If you didn’t know it was there, chances are you’d never know to look for Las Vegas Toy Shack. My husband and I happened upon it one evening when we were poking around the quiet corners of Fremont Street, but it wasn’t until I was assigned to write a story on the shop that I truly realized what an awesome store Las Vegas Toy Shack really is.
Las Vegas is known for the Pawn Stars show, and, in fact, that famous pawn shop is located in the downtown area. This toy store is owned and run by “the toy guy” from Pawn Stars, and this store reflects his love and knowledge of vintage and collectable toys of all shapes, sizes, ages and genres. From a wall of Hot Wheels cars and a cabinet of lunchboxes to action figures and boxes of comic books, there is absolutely something in this store that will make every person say, “I remember …“