Essential Bites and Sights in Sin City.
No matter how you tackle Sin City, Las Vegas is a wild ride, a neon and LED-illuminated wonder world of never-ending buffets, ever-flowing drinks and melodiously clinking slot machines, writes Mike Yardley.
A spur-of-the-moment drive-through wedding at 2am with Elvis reading your vows, perhaps? If there’s clear one takeaway about the place, it surely is don’t take Sin City too seriously. It demands a suspension of disbelief, as you feast, sometimes involuntarily, on the sheer gall of its multi-sensory spectacles. Here’s my hit list of trademark Vegas bites and sights. Heading to Fremont Street? Beyond the infamous and gargantuan-sized hotel buffets, Heart Attack Grill sets the benchmark for unabashed calorific, high-fat gluttony.
The provocative hamburger restaurant is where you'll find staff dressed as doctors and nurses, at the end of Fremont Street. Their Quadruple Bypass Burger, which packs a heaving 9900 calories, has been dubbed “one of the world’s worst junk foods” by the American Medical Association. Also in Fremont, the Golden Nugget Hotel is home to the world’s largest existing golden nugget, weighing in at 61 pounds and called the Hand of Faith. It’s free to view.
The Flamingo’s free-to-enter Wildlife Habitat is a gorgeous, lush natural escape for the hotel’s feathered friends. Within the 15 acre tropical paradise, the Chilean flamingos understandably remain the crowd-puller. One of the last old-style hotels on the Strip is Circus Circus, home to Adventuredome, which hosts an indoor theme park and free circus acts. There are actually 25 thrill rides within this complex including the Canyon Blaster and Chaos El Loco rollercoasters.
Further coaster action beckons at New York New York, where your thrill ride zips you through a replicated Manhattan skyline. The hotel is also home to Hershey’s Chocolate World, a two-storey destination of all things Hershey’s – from kiss pillows to custom-made candy bars. The Miracle Mile Shops Fountain is a novel aquatic experience, boasting illuminated water effects, eruptions and colour-changing fog, all choreographed to original music. Within the Miracle Mile, you might notice that the cavernous ceiling is artfully cast in gigantic projections of blue sky and passing clouds, underscoring the wizardry of illusion that Las Vegas personifies. One of the more recent arrivals to the Strip is The Linq Hotel and Promenade. Enjoy sizzling city views on board the High Roller, a spherical pod on the world’s largest observation wheel. In the Grand Bazaar Shops, don’t miss the Swarovski Starburst, a giant bejewelled confection of more than 9000 custom-cut crystals, that illuminates the skyline with a nightly sound-and-light show, at 9pm and midnight.
Another not-be-missed roadside extravaganza is the Mirage Hotel’s erupting volcano. Set in a lagoon with cascading waterfalls and palm trees, the recently revved-up volcano spews with smoke and fire 100 feet high, nightly at 8pm, 9pm and also 10pm on weekends. The Bellagio Fountains, a romantic masterpiece of water, music and light have become so lionised, they take top slot in the pantheon of vintage Las Vegas experiences.
After soaking up the fountain fabulousness, pop into Bellagio to revel in the latest dining experience to turn heads. Open since Christmas, Harvest by Roy Ellamar is the ultimate celebration of sustainable and seasonal farm to table freshness. You’ll love the elemental setting with natural wood flooring, hand-blown light fixtures and an exhibition kitchen. Dishes on the menu are defined by themes such as “garden” Ocean” and "ranch, while the snack wagon is a show-stopper. Your waiter will roll up to your table with this travelling cart of delights, presenting chef Ellamar’s "creations of the moment."
From the multitude of selections, I enjoyed ahi poke, Petrossian caviar and smoked salmon belly dip. For my main, I enjoyed charred Octopus, with harissa aioli, potato puree, and salsa verde. Needless to say the desert cart is a sinfully delicious assortment of treats. And make sure you sample their signature cocktails- the Strawberry and Lemongrass Infusion is a blinder. As I made my way out through the Bellagio’s marble-clad thoroughfares, I succumbed to one final temptation at Jean Philippe Patisserie, home to the world’s largest chocolate fountain.
Fast becoming a Las Vegas classic, the chocolate rises 27 vertical feet from the pump room, spouting forth white, medium and dark confectionery grade chocolate. After marvelling at the engineering, size up a take-home treat from the gleaming cabinets, in the city where self-indulgence doesn’t have a full stop.
Fashion in Sin City
Fashionistas should beat a path to Fashion Show Mall, home to every imaginable designer label. Ten million visitors flock to this mall every year, and in addition to the luxe boutiques, the mall stages daily catwalk parade shows. And be sure to survey Sin City’s horizons atop the new Stratosphere Tower, which is the tallest American structure, west of the Mississippi. If you’ve landed in Sin City by plane, you’ll know that McCarran Airport greets you with its staggering bank of 1300 slot machines. Yes, you could play on the pokies until you’re bust, without even leaving the airport. And many do!
The airport rakes in over $30 million a year from the machines. But there are some serious jackpots at stake on these airport slots. When I swung through Las Vegas recently, a local woman had just won a million dollar jackpot on the terminal pokies. She wasn’t even flying anywhere. Vegas visitors often remark how pounding the pavements of the two-mile long strip can soon take its toll on your feet. Rest your legs and jump aboard a hop-on, hop-off Big Bus Tour which threads together all of the sought-after locations on the Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas. Plus, you’ll enjoy the elevated views from their open-top double-decker buses. 24 hour and 48 hour ticketing options are available. www.bigbustours.com Home to the 10 biggest hotels in the world, finding a sharply-priced Las Vegas room isn’t difficult, although weekends tend to be more expensive. I booked my Las Vegas accommodation through Hotels.com, which was fast, efficient and packed with great deals.
Hotels.com Rewards gives you one free night after 10 nights booked– which can be banked for future holidays. Rewards members and mobile app users also have exclusive access to Secret Prices. I found the Hotels.com mobile app to be a simple, fast and secure way to book your perfect hotel, on the go. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? For more planning tips and insights, head to the official tourism website. www.lasvegas.com
By Mike Yardley. (September 1, 2016) More Sin City? Discover the vintage charms of Las Vegas.