Las Vegas is not an obvious vacation choice for me. Don’t gamble. Don’t adore adult contemporary music. Certainly don’t relish baking in the desert sun. Yet, I had agreed to spend 4 days on the Vegas strip with my friends Marilee and Tim. What was I thinking?
As it turns out, there are things to do in Vegas besides feeding dollars into slot machines. Not that I didn’t end up gambling. How could I not? Slot machines greeted me at the airport and in every hotel lobby. It’s a wonder they weren’t in the bathrooms!
Besides parting with a few dollars at the casinos, I browsed in a lot of shopping malls. You name it. I could buy it on Las Vegas Boulevard. Reproduction furniture from the Victorian era. Crystal goblets. Diamond bracelets. Clothes for any occasion. The only things that I didn’t find were book and cookware shops, which are, of course, my favorite kinds of stores.
On my third day in Vegas Tim, who now lives there, provided some respite from the rampant consumerism with a trip to Red Rock Canyon. Located 17 miles west of the strip, Red Rock Canyon offered visitors 195,819 pristine acres deep within the Mojave Desert. It also provided a refreshing and much needed taste of nature in an otherwise highly unnatural environment.
Gracious guide that he was, Tim also took Marilee and me to the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Vegas. Premiering in 1995, Fremont Street boasted a 90-foot high and 1, 400-foot – or roughly 4 block — long LED canopy on which nightly light shows were displayed. Pretty flashy!
Back on the strip Marilee and I hit the nightly pirate fight and fireworks at Treasure Island and the outdoor fountain show at the Bellagio. We also saw the lion habitat at MGM Grand as well as the Canadian circus troupe Cirque du Soleil and its water-based show “O,” also at the Bellagio. “O” was utterly enchanting and a definite winner with me.
The three of us also dined out at an array of celebrity chef-owned restaurants. Wolfgang Puck’s Spago. Thomas Keller’s Bouchon. Todd English’s Olives. Emeril Lagasse’s Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House. We even squeezed in a lavish buffet dinner at the Wynn. Meals as good as these didn’t come cheap but most were worth it.
The best activity in Las Vegas? Without a doubt it had to be simply hanging out with friends.