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:
I’m sitting in a brown wicker lounge chair, my feet propped up on a chaise, my sunglasses on, a glare coming off my computer screen. My balcony is eight stories up from the sand of Laguna Beach in California where groups of two, three, six, a dozen kids shriek in delight as they run toward the pounding waves, then rush away from them, trying to avoid getting wet. In the end, they’ll all be wet, a coat of sand between their toes and a layer of salt stuck to their hair. Their cheeks will have a rosy glow as they head toward the family cars or across the thoroughfare to their homes, towels held around their shoulders while moms gather up skim boards and flip flops and t-shirts.
I watch from my balcony, a glass of lemonade in my hand, my bare toes cool on the bare concrete. The sunshine heats my core, and I feel a smile growing across my lips. I’m not much of a beach girl, but this makes me happy. The scene playing out below me lifts any stress I brought into Laguna Beach. I feel light and unrestrained, like I’m holding a handful of yellow balloons.
When I checked into Surf & Sand Resort this afternoon, I did not expect to feel this way. A recent trip to Laguna Beach was grey and overcast, with a breeze that bit my skin. Obviously a resort can’t plan the weather, but this care-free atmosphere embodied in Surf and Sand makes it so easy to enjoy what nature freely provides.
I love the convenience of an all-inclusive resort. I appreciate the sense of a community at a hostel. I adore roughing it at a campground. And I relish the personal, one-of-a-kind experience and touch found only at bed-and-breakfast accommodations.
Whenever I book a room at a B&B, I have two immediate thoughts: First, it’s going to be so awkward staying in someone else’s home, a stranger in another person’s private space. And, second, I can’t wait to arrive — nothing compares to a B&B.
In Flagstaff, Arizona, we had our choice of chain hotels and staying at The Inn at 410. It was a no brainer. We immediately booked at The Inn at 410, a B&B that’s earned many awards over its lifetime. Gordon Watkins has run The Inn at 410 for many years. He and his staff are friendly, attentive and very knowledgeable about Flagstaff and the surrounding area. They’re available to answer questions during daylight hours, and Gordon lives on the property and is around when breakfast is being served.
We stayed two nights in the Dakota Suite, which was outfitted in a country western theme with Native American patterns, wood furniture and cowboy memorabilia. It had a bedroom and sitting room with a single bed as well as a large bathroom and some kitchen amenities (a small refrigerator, a few dishes, etc.). Flagstaff proved to be a bit colder than we anticipated, and we took advantage of the in-room fireplace to warm up. There is a large library of DVDs available at the inn, and a refreshment table with drinks and snacks is available in the lobby area all night long.
Nothing says nostalgia like spending the night on an authentic 1929 Santa Fe caboose. I love train travel, so when given the opportunity to spend the night in an old-school train car, I jumped at it. I could have chosen any random hotel in which to rest my head, but I love quirky stuff, so why not hop on board for something a bit non-traditional?
Williams, Arizona, sits on Historic Route 66. I’ve visited portions of this famous byway in Winslow, Arizona, as well as other towns, but Williams is steeped in the nostalgia that defines Route 66. The entire accommodation park at Canyon Motel & RV Park exudes this vintage vibe, and while the interior of our caboose was more heavily focused on train culture, there were certainly traces of Route 66 around the entire property.
So what is it like to stay in a caboose? In one word: Interesting. In a few more words: Unique, but a bit awkward. A train car, by its very nature, has a very defined shape, and that pre-defined shape leaves few options for arranging furniture and creating an environment that works well as an overnight accommodation. Caboose #1, which was our train car, can technically fit six people. There is a full-sized bed immediately upon entering the car. A tight hallway leads toward the back of the car, where a queen-sized bunk bed could fit an additional four people (two on the bottom, two on the top). A small bathroom with a shower fits between the two rooms of the car.
A few things I loved about staying at Canyon Motel & RV Park and in Caboose #1:
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.
Need to escape? Looking to be whisked away? Itching for travel inspiration?
Look no further than the backdrop for the Chapel of the Holy Cross, tucked into the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona. This is an active church but you don’t have to be a member to peek inside.
They are at every event, on every corner, in every parade. They’re decked out in festive hats; their eyes are hidden behind sparkly masks; bells bounce about on their costumes, announcing their presence. A genuine smile is on each face. A joyful “Happy Mardi Gras!” is the first thing any of them say before wrapping your neck with a string of beads.
The Mardi Gras revelers in Lake Charles, Louisiana, are an enthusiast group of folks who celebrate and share the festiveness of Mardi Gras all year long. They make appearances at community events and spread the sparkle of the Mardi Gras season long after the king cakes have been eaten and the costumes have been put away. But during Mardi Gras itself, the revelers are everywhere. They make appearances at all the planned community events in Lake Charles and even those that somehow spontaneously manifest themselves throughout the season.
They are a welcome sight, a reminder that Mardi Gras is a time to have fun, wear cheesy plastic beads and pull out all the gold, green and purple in your closet. You can’t help but smile when one of them pulls you close for a picture, then adds yet another string of beads to the your growing collection of Mardi Gras madness.