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04/01/2011 Entry: "Adam's guide to Las Vegas"

This year I'll take my 8th trip to Vegas in the past 13 year. I'm not claiming to be an expert, but I've stayed at some nice places, had some good experiences, and seen a fair amount of change.

I'm not a big gambler but I finally found a couple of slot machines that have been fun to play and at least broken even. There's a Monopoly series and another with an option called Hot Hot Penny. The thing that I like about these games is that there's a bonus round with free spins! It's like free money! Not all of the Monopoly games have it, but when you find one, it's gold! I literally took $9 to about $140 over the course of a couple of days. Woo!

I've now stayed at the Luxor, MGM Grand, Signature at MGM Grand, Bellagio, Venetian, and the Palazzo. I've been dying to stay at the new CityCenter properties, Aria, Vdara, Mandarin Oriental, and Cosmopolitan, but have not had a chance yet. I think the best approach is to set your dollar limit for a room and then pick. Personally I like the rooms at the Palazzo the best. Big, nice view, but there's nothing wrong with the Bellagio.

Mix, THEHotel at Mandalay Bay. Outside bar 64 floors up overlooking the Strip? Well that's awesome! Helicopters fly below you! Excellent watermelon martini. Prices nearly as high as the bar, but worth it for the view. Get there at 5 when they open because it's a hip happen night spot and there's a cover and I'm guessing you won't get outside.

Fix, Bellagio. Right on the edge of the Bellagio shops and casino. Get a seat on the edge and you'll have great people watching. Plus there's an incredible appetizer: Tuna Poke. Raw tuna, some herbs and oils, awesome!

Revolution, Mirage. AKA The Beatles bar since it's next to the theater where Love is showing. There's a small counter where you can sit and stare at the people walking from registration to the elevators. I don't remember anything about the drinks but it was one of the best people watching I've had ever. I'm sure part of it was because it was a late afternoon/early Friday visit and people were streaming through.

New York New York. On the 2nd level there's a nice promenade between the skyways that connect NYNY with Excalibur and MGM Grand. There's a bar that has a very non-Vegas like selection of bars. Grab one and keep walking. We call it Walking Beer.

The Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace. There's a dead end where the Atlantis show is. And back there is a cheap bar that mainly has frozen drinks. Another good place to grab a drink and keep walking.

Cleopatra's Barge, Caesar's Palace. Umm, yeah, it's somewhere inside the incredible large Caesar's. It's old school Vegas tacky. Sometimes there's a band playing and people dancing. Don't look for a drink menu here or I'm pretty sure the bartenders will have someone whack you. There's a sushi place across the walk way... you could eat there and get a nice view of the happenings. Oh and I do mean happenings.

Lavo, Palazzo. Nothing special drink wise (standard tasty but spendy drinks), but outside is awesome. Pretty much at the far north end of the Strip and directly across from Treasure Island so you can see the show without dealing with the public. Great view down the strip where you'll see Mix off in the distance.

Mandarin Bar, Mandarin Oriental at CityCenter. Haven't been there but read good reviews.

The Palms, The Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace. Awesome steakhouse, but eat "outside" and again there's great people watching. We were there once very late (as they were shutting down) and we saw tons of clubbers getting ready to go out for the night.

Buffets: I've only really been to the one at the Mirage and I got really full really fast. Angie said the Bellagio is even better! Hit the Luxor one back in the 90s, so that doesn't count.

Other places: I can't say that I've had bad food in Vegas. I can say that I've stuffed myself to the point of wanting to puke, or die, or both. I'm a big fan of eating, again, "outside", at St. Mark's Square. And there's a nice bar at the Postrio with some very good wines... so good the bartender once let us have Walking Wine.

CityCenter. I was there as a lot of it was under construction. But the shops were OMG exclusive and expensive.

Grand Canal Shops, The Venetian. It's almost like you are in Venice. Almost. Super cool watch store there. It's like a watch super store! And Barney's is there. And Christian Louboutin for all of your red sole needs. Oh and outside of the Palazzo there's a Walgreens!!!

The Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace. Always been my favorite, and still a nice experience although the Virgin Megastore is gone. The "new" part at the north end has some very cool boutiques, like James Perse and Theory, and a great sushi place.

Fashion Show Mall. OK it's big. But it's pretty much a standard mall. I'd skip it.

Ending note
I can't imagine being bored in Vegas. And I can't imaging lacking food and drink. It all comes with physical and emotional cost. Exciting to get there, relieved to be leaving.

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Copyright 2001, Adam Stanley