No summer is complete without a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. “Wait! What?!” you say? “In 120 degree weather?! Never!” But let me tell you, the heat is what makes the entire experience in Sin City. It’s the hot desert sun that makes you want to lounge at the pool and drink cocktails and beers with your friends. It’s the heat that gives you that vitamin D you’ve been needing for 6 months. It’s the summer rays that make walking in and out of ice cold casinos all the better.
If you can get to Vegas any time of year, it’s great, but if you can stand the heat and find a great deal on hotels and travel during the summer you need to go. It’s what Las Vegas was made for!
I recently went on a boys trip to Las Vegas. Being from Southern California, it’s a quick 3.5-4 hour car ride (5 hours with stops if you’re recharging a Tesla like us) or a quick 45-minute flight that is over before it even started.
We’ve been to Vegas many times before. For California folks, it’s the perfect amount of debauchery away from home. But this trip was a little different. We wanted to try and do things we hadn’t experienced in Vegas before.
STAY – Vdara Hotel & Spa
We’ve typically stay in the hustle and bustle of one of the Las Vegas Strip’s busiest hotel/casinos. But this trip, we wanted to get a different experience so we opted to stay at Vdara, which is an exclusively smoke-free hotel only that is even pet-friendly! Vdara is nestled on the strip, yes, but a little off the beaten path between ARIA, Bellagio, and The Cosmopolitan.
Vdara is an MGM Resorts property that has a very chic, but relaxed feel. One of our favorite things to do while in Vegas is to spend hours at the pool taking naps, cooling off, and getting tipsy—Vdara is a great place for this. You won’t get the party-like pool DJ experience like at other hotels, so if you’re looking for that place you may want to check out one of the neighboring hotels. Vdara is very laid back. It is iconic for its luxurious aqua-colored umbrellas that cover nearly the entire pool area. It’s the perfect haven for getting away from the rowdy Las Vegas Strip or to recover from a night of bad mistakes and stories that will never be repeated.
Vdara also has a cool new addition to their guest services. They have robots that bring you tasty bites and drinks from the hotel’s Market Café. Fetch and Jett are two relay robots that Vdara just introduced in late June to its guests. We were lucky to see them in action wandering around the lobby. If you stay at Vdara, order yourself something and watch them in do their thing!
EXPERIENCE - Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay is one of the attractions in Vegas I’ve been wanting to visit for years! It’s located on the South of the strip deep inside of the Mandalay Bay. If you’ve never been to an aquarium, of even if you have, this 45-60-minute self-guided walk discovering different sea life is incredible. Okay, so may you’re not a zoo or aquarium person, who cares?! Go anyway! It’s pretty amazing to see these creatures up close and personal. Unless you’re a scuba diver or get attacked by a shark surfing in Hawaii, you’ll never have the chance to check them out. Some of the highlights of the Shark Reef is the pool of piranhas, the sting rays, the luminescent jelly fish, and of course, the huge tunnels looking up and around at the various threatening sharks. It’s great for all ages and makes for perfect photo ops with the fish.
TASTE - Rivea
I have tried many restaurants in Las Vegas, but Rivea at the Delano has been one of the best I’ve ever had. The food is refined, organic, and the wait staff is attentive and knowledgeable about their dishes. Not to mention the entire restaurant is adorned with these incredible glass bulbs that make you feel like are inside a dream.
We tried a little of everything at Rivea:
Liberty Duck Breast with cherry, beets, and pistachios
Potato gnocchi with sage and parmesan cheese (not pictured because we ate it too fast!)
White asparagus with a sabayon sauce
Colorado Lamb Chop with a fresh herb crust and eggplant tian
Pizzetta with San Daniele cured ham and arugula
Jidori free-range chicken with seasonal vegetable cocotte
Strawberry & rhubarb tart with stracchino sorbet
Instead of telling you about each of them, all I can say is that everything was exceptionally delicious! The flavors melted together and each bite was a fusion of textures that was every bit a part of the meal.
Rivea is the perfect place to go, even if you just want to have a glass of champagne and take in the breathtaking views of the strip unlike any other on the strip. I can’t say enough how much we enjoyed finishing our drinks on the restaurant’s terrace overlooking the Luxor’s majestic light beam and speckles of light as far as the eye can see. It’s the perfect experience for those who want to do something in Vegas they’ve never done before.
EXPERIENCE – Seven Magic Mountains
If you haven’t seen #SevenMagicMountains on Instagram…you’re not looking hard enough. This art installation is a temporary feature that was created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. The work is comprised of seven large-scale towers of colorful, stacked boulders that are over thirty feet high. This burst of color in the middle of the desert is located just off of Interstate 15, so if you’re flying to Vegas, you may have to hitch a ride to see these beauties. If you’re driving in from California, it’s a quick detour that is well worth it. Thousands flock to the Seven Magic Mountains to appreciate the disruption in the natural landscape. If you’re headed to Las Vegas in 2018 be sure to check these out before they are no longer standing.
EXPERIENCE – Virtual Reality Powered by Zero Latency
Virtual Reality is something I never imagined I would be doing while in Vegas…so we had to try it! I’ve done some dabbling in VR before, but nothing of the magnitude that is Zero Latency. Nothing had prepared us for this out of body experience. For those of you who are not gamers, I included, this virtual reality is more than a game—it is a transportation to another world where you are at the center of your own universe. It’s like a movie and you’re the star. Your livelihood and your team depend on every step you take. Our experience with Virtual Reality began by getting a brief orientation and overview of the equipment. Once ready, we entered a large room with grids on the floor. We were given instructions on what to look for when we put our headset on and then we were off onto our zombie apocalypse.
The best thing about the VR experience was the mind control of the visuals. Even though we were in a secure room, the world of destruction, explosions, and infection were in our eyes. We worked as teams to shoot down flesh-craving zombies without ever physically leaving the room. The hardest parts were scaling a ramp and jumping into a helicopter for fear that we would fall to our death—but again, it was just virtual reality! Okay, I’m nerding out a bit. The experience was great and if you have never done something like this, I really recommend it. If you like thrills such as escape rooms, paint balling, and rollercoasters, I virtual reality will be some next level stuff.
WARNING: It is not for the faint of heart or those who suffer from motion sickness. VR by Zero Latency inside the MGM Grand is a MUST DO Las Vegas attraction!
TASTE – Michael Mina’s PUB 1842
If you’re hungry in Vegas, which I guarantee you will be after all that drinking and baking in the sun, chef Michael Mina’s PUB 1842 at the MGM Grand hits the perfect spot. This modern invention on the classic pub menu is a great place for lunch or dinner. PUB 1842 has some melt-in-your-mouth comfort food that will make you wish you weren’t getting full. Their assortment of unique whiskeys and beers on tap helped us make some food decisions, but don’t worry, if you’re not the savviest drinker, the servers know what to recommend!
What can I say about the food here, though?
I ordered the brisket with a side of coleslaw and a cornbread muffin. This brisket, with the right amount of BBQ sauce, was so tender it was like butter! I had to share with everyone, but that was great because I had half of the bacon burger and that was a cheesy-melty-goodness. Okay, I’ve used a lot of the word ‘melt’ here—that MUST be good! Hands down another of the best places to grab a bite away from the heat while in Vegas.
EXPERIENCE - Opium
If you really want to experience something out of the ordinary in Vegas, like that’s not already possible anywhere you turn, you need to check out Opium at The Cosmopolitan. Opium is an out-of-this-world variety spectacle that comes from, Spiegelworld, the creators of the highly popular Absinthe. Opium is a funky, psychedelic trip that is full of humor, acrobatics, sexy innuendo, and high octane visuals that will leave you wondering ‘WTF did I just watch?’ The show just opened earlier this year and has already gotten attention for one of the most eccentric and quirky acts on the Las Vegas strip. It is a “close encounter with a spaceship of fools” that will make your visit to Vegas like no other.
DANCE – Piranha Nightclub
Okay—so I know I said that this Vegas trip was all about new experiences, but Piranha is one of my favorite spots to hit up when I am in Sin City. The nightclub has two awesome dance floors, both with super hot go go boys. They love tips! Just sayin’. Separating the two dance rooms is a large aquarium full of piranhas, very in-theme. Most nights of the week, Piranha has drag shows that are currently hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni Shannel and Yara Sofia. If you opt to get VIP bottle service, you have access to the venue’s second floor balcony overlooking the dance floor in what is typically the Latin dance floor. And if you're as lucky as we were, you'll meet the NICEST queen known all over Las Vegas as Hot Chocolate. She commands the room with her presence and she makes Piranha memorable for all!
EXPERIENCE – Chippendales
One show we’ve always wanted to check out is Chippendales. This all-male revue has a long history of sexy male dancing that dates back to 1979. Flash forward almost 40 years and you have the hottest show that has been focal point of many nights for screaming and laughter as these muscle men take it all off—even the little bow ties. We always thought that Chippendales was one of those ‘girls only’ type shows that didn’t allow men to attend. Yeah, those exist. Attending Chippendales was never something we thought we would experience, but we were happy to learn that not only are men welcome into Chippendales, they have a very clear LGBTQ inclusive policy that welcomes people from all walks of life.
Their website reads:
When Chippendales revolutionized male stripping for female audiences, it was to create an environment where women felt safe and confident to have fun watching. We cater to a predominantly female audience but we have always welcomed LGBTQ to join our community. Chippendales prides itself on providing a fun and safe environment for all our friends to enjoy.
So we went, we saw, we enjoyed! These men are definitely fantasy material and they dance and play to the audience’s energy—even to the men in the audience. Hey, gays! There were at least 10 other guys in the audience so you won’t be alone if you go check out this awesome show.
Blogger and reality personality Perez Hilton will actually be joining the ranks of Chippendales as their next celebrity guest host on July 26th. Chippendales has had a lot of celebrity guests from Tyson Beckford to Nyle Dimarco. Perez will be in selected performances through September 2nd so check it out if you plan to be in Vegas this summer.
Okay...here's a little something from their Instagram:
EXPERIENCE – Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art
For the art lovers out there like me, a trip to the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is an unexpected sanctuary away from the chaos that Las Vegas can cause. The BGFA is a premier exhibition space where they claim “great art goes on vacation”. If you frequent galleries and museums, the BGFA is smaller than you might be accustomed to. Their current exhibition, Primal Water: An Exhibition of Japanese Contemporary Art, is on display through October 21, 2018. The show uses diverse media with water as a motif. The gallery describes it best with “The featured artists approach the theme water in a myriad of ways from documenting its absence, capturing its abundance, decontextualizing its existence, and exploring its relationship with humanity.” If you’re looking for something you can do at your own pace, you should take a trip to the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art.
This is just a small list of how you can have some new experiences in Las Vegas, but quite honestly, Vegas has so much energy and potential for a great time that every trip will be unexpected. Looking forward to returning from October 19-21 for Las Vegas Pride. It will be cooler temperatures, but it will still be HOT!
For more information check out www.visitlasvegas.com