You guys remember the True Life series, right? Making up new episode titles to mock certain aspects of our lives has been a long running joke among my group of friends (True Life: I was an Art School Cheerleader, True Life: My Best Friend is a Cocker Spaniel, True Life: I was Craigslist Scammed By a Senior Citizen, etc.) And now I have a new episode ready for production approval — True Life: I’m a Nevada Addict.
Since 2010, I’ve been to Nevada five times. That’s more trips than I’ve made to any other state other than the one I was born in. What can I say? Between Burning Man and the Las Vegas Strip, the Silver State just gets me. So when Travel Nevada invited me to come see another side of their fine frontier, I simply couldn’t say no.
Exactly one month after my girl’s weekend in Las Vegas, I was back again. This time, the itinerary was all about adventures off the Strip, which you’ll be reading about coming up this week. But the neon lights of Las Vegas are pretty unavoidable, and I was pumped to realize we’d be based on Las Vegas Boulevard.
I love checking out various Vegas hotels, and for this round I was tickled to be staying at Planet Hollywood, host of Britney Spears’ new two year residency (though honestly, Brit and I are kind of on rough terms right now considering this was the second time I scheduled a trip and then she decided not to schedule a show for the entire duration of my stay, which is kind of rude since seeing her perform live has a prime spot on my bucket list — but don’t worry Brit, I cleaned out your giftshop regardless).
I’ve made a habit of staying in the finest hotels along The Strip — The Cosmopolitan, The Aria, and Vdara — and the rooms at Planet Hollywood are indeed a bit older and smaller and the Casino a bit smokier than at those I’ve stayed in in the past. But it’s also vastly more affordable and has a killer location, good casual dining options, and a nice spa. And I mean seriously — THEY HAVE BRITNEY.
In reality though, we were so busy experiencing everything the area has to offer that we were rarely within the walls of the hotel. During the day we were out doing some serious comfort-zone pushing — stay tuned! And at night, after returning from the day’s action packed itinerary, we’d turn right around to explore the Strip.
Having recently caught my first Cirque show, Zarkana, I was excited to keep the ball rolling and catch a performance of KÀ. They were very interesting to compare and contrast, and I loved seeing how each theater was custom-built to reflect the performance. While Zarkana is light-hearted and circus inspired, KÀ is intense and has a strong martial arts influence. Of course, they have quite a bit in common as well — awe-inspiring acrobatics, fabulous theatrics, and intricate costumes and sets.
On another night, we caught a completely different kind of show, Véronic Voices. This felt more like a classic Vegas revue than anything I’ve seen before, and I loved the enthusiasm from the audience as Canadian-born Véronic performed as songs by artists as diverse as Adele and Mick Jagger. The tagline of the show is One Singer… Fifty Voices and I can’t count how many times I turned to the person next to me with my jaw gaping open — girlfriend is a talented impersonator and puts on a lively show. That said, I enjoyed the show much more when she was singing than when she was talking.
You can’t enjoy a good show on an empty stomach though, am I right? I had the chance to try an entirely new array of restaurants on this trip, but the standout for me was undoubtedly Chayo Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar. I’m a huge fan of down and dirty Mexican food and complicated fancy cocktails, and this place did both to perfection. But what I loved even more was the atmosphere, which hit the perfect balance between feeling like a special night out and not being stuffy in the least.
Also? Outdoor seating! Chayo lives in The Linq, which is basically my favorite thing to ever happen to Vegas — a brand new shopping, dining, and entertainment district that is based around an outdoor promenade instead of a smokey casino. I guarantee a stroll through The Linq is going to be a part of every one of my Vegas trips from now on.
The Linq’s star attraction is the brand new High Roller, the world’s largest observation wheel. Drool-worthy views of the Strip in all its neon glory? I was all over it.
The funny thing is that you really have to hustle to get into the pods on time, since they only slow down to pick up passengers and never fully stop. I was all loaded up with Sprinkles cupcakes (yup, they live in The Linq too, basically heaven) and almost lost a precious red velvet in the process.
But soon we were soaring — the thirty minute rotation flew by as we crawled higher and higher to a peak of 550 feet.
The views were almost comparable to the helicopter ride I took over the Strip last year. It was a really unique experience and I might just take a whirl during the day next time I’m in town.
This trip reminded me that there is nothing wrong with returning to a beloved destination over and over again, as long as you make an effort to mix it up a little. At least that’s what I said in my True Life audition tape.
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Many thanks to Travel Nevada for hosting me, and showing me a new side of Nevada! As always, you receive my honest opinions regardless of who is footing the bill.