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A Few Days in Vegas

Updated on June 15, 2010

What Do You Want from Life

By Andrew Thompson

“What do you want from life?” is the refrain of The Tubes’ hit song in the mid-70’s. A stroll on the strip in Vegas brings this question to life – and whatever it is, you can find an interesting sample of it before you leave.

Vegas is an interesting slice of the other side of the American dream – opulence, risk taking, glitzy drama, sex, comedy, travel, music – it’s all right there in one nice package you can tap into for a very fair price. Well, at least it’s a fair price to get there, sleep and get home. You will spend your trip money on what you do – not on the travel.

The accommodations on the strip are high class at reasonable cost. We stayed at Bally’s, which turned out to be far less than my favorite spot, but had a very nice room with a large granite tiled bathroom, and enjoyed amazing lamb chops at Al Dente, Bally’s choice for Mediterranean fare. This dinner alone made the stay worthwhile!

Bally’s spa was similarly first class in every way.

Then there was the outdoor pool “event”. I was a little shy about the younger, raucous crowd dancing in the water at first, so we kind of kept to ourselves. But with the heat, you couldn’t stay out of the pool. It was sizzling hot! Once we got in, we enjoyed the music and had a very fun time with the rest of the crowd.

Which brings me to another point about Vegas – throughout most of the year at least, the weather is underrated. People go to Vegas to gamble and be entertained – but to any Midwesterner, dry heat is itself a fantasy – and that’s what Vegas has, dry, desert heat. Though it was early June, though, but for those few hours at the pool, it was very pleasant all the time. I have noticed the temperatures touching triple digits since our return, but there was nothing to complain about while we were there – it was ideal.

Now, to the real Vegas! If Bally’s wasn’t my favorite spot, without question, The Mirage was. Why? Simply, the experience was phenomenal. People go to Vegas to gamble and be entertained – that is exactly what we did at The Mirage – and it was a winner on all counts.

It’s interesting. While the dealers at Planet Hollywood were rather unfriendly, actually rude, the dealers at the Mirage couldn’t have been any more engaging. It was fun to be at their tables. I mostly played Blackjack and Craps, and had small but nice winnings at both.

I’m not a big gambler. It was the entertainment I most enjoyed. For purchasing two tickets for the Cirque de Soleil production, "Love", we were given two for one drink passes to The Beatles Revolution Lounge, which has to be one of the coolest bars I have ever been in. Between the lava lamps, the eclectic mix of Beatles music, and the furnishings, it was a memorable experience all in itself. I would put a stop at Revolution on the “A” list for your next trip to Vegas.

“Love” itself was nothing short of amazing. People say you cannot go wrong with a Cirque de Soleil production. I believe them. But as a fan of the Beatles from many long years ago, Love was a unique treat. The effects used to intersperse the music and the live performances with special silhouette image appearances of the Fab Four were almost beyond comprehension.

An evening at the Mirage taking in Love and a cocktail at Revolution is worth the whole Vegas experience.

Our trip was short, but there was still more fun. We happened to be there the weekend of the Belmont Stakes and got to bet the ponies and watch them run. Unfortunately, the wrong “Bird” crossed the finish line first, but it didn’t spoil the rest of the day. The Red Wings actually won that night and looked to be ready to walk away with the Cup (they later faltered of course).

One challenge to sports betting in Vegas is just picking the right spot. We went to the ESPN Bar in New York, New YorkNew York, New York and did our betting there, but if I had it to do over again, I would spend my “sports” time at Caesar’s Palace. The size and quantity of screens at Caesars makes for a very intense experience, and the atmosphere is buzzing.

We took in one other show as well, and I have to say, it was another “can’t miss”. Granted, our choice, Peep Show, is anything but a family entertainment, but it will keep you laughing and amazed for 90 minutes of burlesque that redefines the genre in a keenly tasteful manner - c'est le Peep . One more for the “A” list.

We did eat of course while we were there too. Generally the food ranged from good to great, but the one meal we had that was unforgettable was right in the Bally at Al Dente.

I was not so enamored of our jaunts through Paris or even the view from the top of the tower. For me, the view of Bellagioand its wonderful fountains is best taken in up close, or even from the inside. The Bellagio has one of the most comfortable and truly family friendly environments you will find in Las Vegas. I could stay there any time.

There was much left to see when we departed, but the little time we had gave us lots of good memories and a few excellent reasons to plan our next trip out. When you go Vegas, I hope you have as much fun as we did – and share your own stories when you get back.

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