A few years back, I had a chance to visit Las Vegas; took a short break from the busy world and dove into the gambling city. It was May, the weather was perfect, around it’s 90 F, dry and not humid, as it usually is in Chicago. I’ve gone through lots of places, but here are some of the MUST-See-and-Do in Las Vegas!
Luxurious Green Valley Ranch Resort, Casino & Spa (from $169 per night, greenvalleyranchresort.com, 866-STAY-GVR) is all about understated elegance. A full-fledged Las Vegas-style casino hotel without the over-the-top theme-park decor, it’s an easy 10-minute cab or shuttle ride to action on Las Vegas Boulevard (aka the Strip). But you’ll be tempted to stay put and enjoy the array of restaurants, gaming action and luxury treatments and activities at the spa and fitness center.
Moderation can be tough when flashing neon signs steer you towrd all-you-can-eat buffets and free drinks. But bypass the prime rib in favor of Little Buddha at the Palms Casino Resort (4321 W. Flamingo Road). Done up in sexy shades of red, the decor is opulent, with massive Buddah statues and velvet stools lining the restaurant’s glowing bar. On weekends, feast upon light yet flavorful sushi and other pan-Asian treats while a DJ spins world music (from $6-$38; littlebuddhalasvegas.com, 702-942-7778).
After all those smoky casinos, you may need a dose of blue skie and fresh air. Just a 25-minute drive west of the neon glare, Red Rock Canyon (702-515-5350) is a Mojave Desert conservation area where petrified dunes, arches and cliffs come in a stunning palette of colors. There are more than 30 miles of hiking trails; try the moderate six-mile White Rock loop past trickling springs and rock fromations. Keep your eyes peeled for desert tortoises, wild burros and red-tailed hawks, and bring plenty of water.
Book tickets well in advance for the top shows. The latest sensations is Cirque du Soleil’s KA, at the MGM Grand (tickets $99-$150; 877-264-1844). This luminous production weaves pyrotechnics, acrobatics, martial arts and innovative staging into a spectacular experience.
After hours, make a beeline for the nightspots at the Palms. Drink in the views from an open-air deck hovering 55 stories above the Strip at Ghostbar (702-938-2666). Or maybe you’ll spot your favorite celeb in the VIP skyboxes at Rain Nightclub (702-942-6832), the hottest dance club in Las Vegas.
Bright and airy, the Spa at Green Valley Ranch is a world away from the clanging slot machines. If you’ve overdosed on desert sun, your antidote is the orange oasis treatment (80 minute for $180), a rejuvenating herbal cleansing scrub, orange blossom mist and enzyme protein rubdown. To soothe your stressed feet, opt for the glycolic peppermint foot massage ($80 for 25 minutes; 702-617-7570).
Or got to visitlasvegas.com
Las Vegas enjoys 320 days of sunshine a year, but in June through August temps regularly hit triple digits. Your best bet? Book between November and February, when the weather’s mild and the bargains sublime.
(Prices could have changed)