I just got back from a bachelorette extravaganza in Las Vegas – your run-of-the-mill 48 hour party and while I had a great time it reminded me that there is more to Vegas than the hotels and clubs on the strip. I asked my friend Krissy, travel mate extraordinaire and Vegas local, to share her favorite spots in the place she calls home. Whenever we met someone new while traveling through Europe, Krissy would constantly have to defend herself as a local from Las Vegas and try to make people believe that she did not in fact spend every night of the week at a club drinking, dancing and pulling the levers at the slots. So in an effort to vindicate herself, here are her top picks for unique activities in Sin City, both on and off the strip.
Favorite Restaurant: Vintner Grill
Vintner Grill prides itself as a “neighborhood gem that proves that there is more to the culinary scene than what is found on the Strip.” And while the food is amazing, it’s the ambiance that truly tops the experience. You walk in to find Humphrey Bogart somberly staring back at you as ‘The Maltese Falcon’ plays on a glass panel, Sinatra croons ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ and it hits you that somehow this Rat Pack-inspired soundtrack fits in perfectly with the simple décor of black and white with green accents. While the outside seating emanates more of a Moroccan flair as thin, white tents surround larger tables and colorful pillows accent the seating, lanterns adorn the trees and a fire pit illuminates the patio by night. The menu features American cuisine with Mediterranean flavors thrown in and while the the list isn’t extensive, each dish is spot-on. This is Vintner Grill.
Favorite Karaoke Duo: Ichiza and Zizzy
For a night out in Vegas’ Chinatown, start out at Ichiza for a yummy Japanese meal. After, head downstairs to Zizzy, a tiny but happening karaoke bar. Once you’ve commandeered one of the karaoke rooms in the back (and hopefully still have sake-induced courage pumping through your veins) strut up to the mic and entertain your friends with your most soulful rendition of Katy Perry’s “Waking Up in Vegas.”
Favorite Pool: Mandalay Bay Beach
The name says it all, between the real sand and wave pool, Mandalay Bay Beach, located at the beautiful Mandalay Bay Hotel, is as close as you’ll get to a beach experience in the middle of the desert. Be sure to grab a raft and float along in the lazy river, or if you’re feeling decadent indulge in some R&R with a day bed, bungalow or villa. The best bit: May through September the Beach doubles as a concert venue at night. Concertgoers are serenaded by popular performers from the comfort of their beach blankets or while wading in the “surf”.
I have yet to see these piano-fiends encounter a song they don’t know, or fail to get the entire crowd singing along with them. Located at Town Square, the musically inclined duos at Pete’s have personality to boot, teasing and playing-up the crowd into a high-energy, fun-loving bubble. Maybe that’s just the alcohol talking, but I prefer to think it’s a bit of both.
Favorite Show: The Beatle’s LOVE
Cirque du Soleil has yet to get it wrong, but team up impressive acrobatics with classic Beatles tunes and they have got it oh-so-right. LOVE is completely inspired by the lyrics of those famous songs because that’s all you really need. To produce a series of both real and imaginary scenes, an energetic cast employs everything from extreme sports to urban and freestyle dance to illustrate the beautiful lyrics. An added bonus is that this inspired show even incorporates the legendary foursome’s master tapes at Abbey Road studios.
Favorite Bar: Chandelier Bar
Just as the name implies this bar is designed to make you feel like you are inside a three-tiered, sparkling chandelier. Located inside The Cosmopolitan, one of the newest additions to ever-evolving Las Vegas Blvd., each level features it’s own signature cocktails. Far from run-of-the-mill drinks these are artisan cocktail creations. The menu is extensive and often seasonally inspired so put to rest your fear of monotony.
Favorite Brewery: Chicago Brewing Co.
Head here for something off-Strip. Located in the West part of the valley this neighborhood venue features a laid-back sports bar as well as separate restaurant area. But the real draw is their microbrews, namely – the Blueberry Vanilla Wheat. Come summer, when more often than not the thermometer reads 100°F +, try a pint of this fruit beer on-tap, now that’s refreshing. Better yet, grab a group and order a Brewzooka – a 100oz. beer tube, and your table can pull their own pints from the comfort of their seat.
Favorite Dance Club: Moon
While the prevalence of house music in clubs today signifies this techno beats’ popularity, personally I still prefer a varying beat I can dance to. So if you need a reprieve from the repetitive “unsk, unsk, unsk” and teasing remixes that change just at the exact moment you think you’ve finally recognized a song and rhythm … then head over to Moon. This penthouse nightclub occupies the top floor of the Palms’ Fantasy Tower and is only an escalator ride away from the Playboy Club.
Favorite Brunch: Brio Tuscan Grille
Check out their menu here – ‘nuff said.
This one is truly a toss-up. Serendipity’s frozen hot chocolate, served in one of their Goliath-sized glasses, is a sweet tooth’s haven. Alas, this Serendipity does not have the same cramped, kitschy feel and Tiffany-lamp-studded-décor of the original in NYC. So if I HAD to choose, I would opt for Max Brenner, where you can cozy up to a Hug Mug of one of their signature hot chocolate concoctions. Their gastronomical offerings are ideal for chocolate purists and connoisseurs.
Guest post by Krissy