An Insider’s Weekend Guide To Experiencing Las Vegas Like a Local
16 Aug 2016 by Laura Downey in Celebrities, Cuisine, Decorating, Escape, Event, Fame, Films, General, Home, Hotels, Music, Pleasure, Restaurants, Sports, USA
Amigos, I’ve got the scoop on Las Vegas. But first, I’m going to need you to trust me when planning your next trip to Sin City. For one, I used to live there so I have street cred. Two, I still know all the major players from when I ran one of the top magazines in town. And three, I’m there once every three months so I stay in the know. Mark my word, this itinerary I have prepared for you is golden. You and your homeboys can thank me later.
According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, 42 million people visited Sin City in 2015. I remember wanting to vacation there after watching season 12 of The Real World: Las Vegas. Seeing seven strangers share a converted penthouse suite on the 28th floor of the off-Strip Palms Casino and Resort really excited me. But what’s even more stimulating is the fact that I recently had a chance to spend a weekend at the popular hotel. I decided to pack as much as I could into those 48 hours because sleeping in my opinion is high-key overrated.
Here’s how you can make your next trip to Las Vegas with the fellas pop. I’ve crafted a two-day agenda for boys who just wanna have fun.
Day No. 1: The Warm Up
If you and the crew are ballin’ out of control, book the Palms’ 3,000-square-foot Real World Suite for a whopping $10,000 per night. Decked out with a wet bar, pool table, three bedrooms and the original “confessional” from the MTV reality show, you’re sure to live large up in here. But for those who are ballin’ on a budget, no worries, the Premier room located in the hotel’s Ivory Tower—same tower as the Real World Suite—should do the trick. Think comfy pillow-top king-size bed, 46-inch TV, unique artwork and more. After you’ve freshened up, you’ll want to go downstairs to Social for a cocktail or two. Bar Rescue’s master mixologist, Mia Mastroianni, redesigned the drinks menu here. You’ll want to order my favorite, the S’mores Mudslide Meme. It comes with Baileys, Kahlúa and Pinnacle Vodka.
From there, walk on over to N9NE Steakhouse for one of executive chef Barry Dakake’s hearty steaks. Order the 10-ounce filet mignon with George’s creamed corn, lobster mashed potatoes and sautéed asparagus. Finish the meal off with the classic Tahitian vanilla bean custard creme brûlée topped with fresh berries. Be sure to request a corner banquette so you and the bros can keep an eye out for A-listers like 50 Cent, and Nicki Minaj —they have both dined at the upscale restaurant before.
End your first night with a breathtaking helicopter ride over the Las Vegas Strip. Book a tour with Sundance Helicopters in one of the company’s six-seater Airbus EC130 T2 choppers. Before you take off, toast with friends over a glass of complimentary champagne and when you return from the 15-minute excursion, which takes you from one end of the well-lit Strip to the other, savor another glass of bubbly with the boys.
If you’re still wired, go to Bound at The Cromwell. The lobby bar’s Grace signature cocktail is refreshing and worth having. It comes with vodka, pear pureé, apple and lemon juices, honey syrup, lemongrass and mint. Try to visit on a night when Patrick Sieben is performing. This guitar-playing genius will have you in the palm of his hand as soon as he starts covering Kanye West tracks.
Day No. 2: The Turn Up is Real
Start off your day with the brioche French toast lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar. It goes well with a side of sausage links and scrambled eggs at 24 Seven Café. As the sleepiness begins to settle in, mosey on over to Drift Spa & Hammam inside Palms Place Hotel. Relax in the steam room before meeting with your therapist for an 80-minute Swedish body massage. Once the knots have been worked on, a nice dip in the indoor heated pool will have you ready to hit the happening Strip. But before you do, grab a bite to eat at Café 6—it’s occupying the same space that Simon, late celebrity chef Kerry Simon’s restaurant once monopolized. We went for the chicken salad melt on sourdough bread with a side of sweet potato skinny fries. Don’t leave without having the Fried Cookie Cutter dessert though. Your inner fat boy will love you for life when you order a stack of deep fried Oreos with vanilla bean ice cream, Oreo crumbles, and chocolate sauce. You’ll never look at an Oreo the same way again.
Use Lyft to take you and your pals on over to Paris’ HEXX kitchen + bar for a 30-minute chocolate tasting tour with chef Matt Piekarski. The free tour, which is held inside an 1,100-square-foot exhibition kitchen, produces craft chocolate thanks to a direct trade partnership that the venue has with farmers in Venezuela, Peru, Tanzania, Ecuador and Madagascar. Although the bean-to-bar process is fairly new for HEXX (the establishment has been doing this for less than a year), the staff takes pride in making five bars for the masses. After the tour, it’s tasting time! We’re still torn between the chocolate from Peru (raisin and floral notes) and Venezuela (plum, peaches, red fruits, vanilla, caramel, and light acidity). You decide. Or bring some bars back for your babe and let her make the decision.
After the cacao tour, head over to Louis Vuitton inside The Shops at Crystals to check out artist James Turrell’s light installation titled Akhob (an Egyptian word meaning “pure water”). The exhibition, which is located on the fourth floor of the store, has two circular chambers where light in shades of orange, pink and blue gradually change. As you stand inside the enclosure looking around at what was once all-white walls, you’ll be mesmerized by the transition of colors. Call ahead and make a reservation to see this wonder. If you don’t have an appointment, you’ll never make it past security on the first floor.
If you’re starting to feel sluggish and guilty about all of the overindulging you’ve been doing, you can perk up in no time with the 100 percent organic and raw Bee Happy concoction from The Juice Standard. The drink comes with alkaline and coconut water, cashews, Brazil nuts, walnuts, local honey, cacao, vanilla bean, and pink Himalayan salt. Pick up a 16-ounce bottle from the brand’s newest location inside The Cosmopolitan.
Once you’re re-energized, you’ll be ready for a little moon walking before dinner. Grab the guys and spend the next 90 minutes at Michael Jackson ONE. The Cirque du Soleil show, which pays tribute to the King of Pop, is held inside Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Watch as acrobats fly high and bungee artists perform to hits like “Beat It,” “Dirty Diana,” and “Smooth Criminal.” You won’t be able to stop yourself from singing along and moving to the beat in your seat. Heads-up: if you’re sitting in an aisle seat in the main orchestra, don’t be surprised if a creepy ghoul pays you an uncanny visit during “Thriller.”
At this point, it will be prime time for a glass of champagne before dinner. You’ll have two options to choose from tonight. With its recent opening at Caesars Palace, the place to see-and-be-seen is at the 1,600-square-foot Mr Chow restaurant. When you check-in, savor a glass of Dom Pérignon in the champagne lounge before taking an elevator up to the second floor. It is there that you will be able to taste signature items such as the green prawns, Beijing duck, and hand-pulled noodles. Spend time chatting with the crew while noticing small touches like the fresh white orchids placed on each table, your tableside view of the Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis or the “moon show” that takes place every 20 minutes (hint: just look up at the ceiling).
If you’d prefer to dine at the Palms, grab a bite a Lao Sze Chuan. Chef Tony Hu’s traditional Chinese fare offers guests upward of 100-plus dishes (egg drop soup, sliced tender pork with garlic sauce, sweet and sour chicken, honey garlic pepper beef tenderloin, shrimp with broccoli). The must-try item on the menu is Tony’s chicken with three chili. Gather with friends in this authentic Asian setting (think Oriental-inspired furnishings) before heading upstairs to grab a drink at Ghostbar. Situated on the 55th floor of the hotel’s Ivory Tower, you’ll want to snag a VIP table and toast to the good life. Impress the team and take them out on the terrace to admire the city’s breathtaking view. While there, get hearts racing and have everyone step onto the infamous glass floor. If you can manage to stay on the glass for more than 10 seconds, look down. The view is exhilarating. And then look up. Sin City shines bright just for you.