In many parts of the world (including my home state of Nevada!), playing online casino games are a fantastic way of passing the time. But if you enjoy playing online, why not try your hand playing on the Las Vegas Strip? Take a holiday in order to enjoy the real deal! Everybody knows about Vegas from the hundreds of films and TV shows that show off the pure fun and excitement you can have in the city. I lived there on and off for seven years, and I can assure you that it never gets tired — the electricity you feel when you walk onto the casino floor really can’t be beat!
Bring on the bright lights!
Seven years off and on in Sin City, and I never tire of neon. So imagine my excitement when I was able to squeeze in a long weekend in Macau during my most recent Asian adventure. After a week in Hong Kong, where I took in such sites as the Big Buddha, I headed with my mom and two brothers to “Asia’s Las Vegas.” One of my brothers has been a professional poker player in China for years, so has spent “some” time in Macau. And my mom, herself a savvy gambler, had met him there before. Me? I was ecstatic to see if for the first time! Having edited three local Vegas magazines, I’ve written/edited a lot of stories about Macau over the years. (My favorite: Bridging the Gap between Vegas and Macau by Steve Friess.) For Vegas locals, watching Macau explode has been fascinating. It’s no secret that the area’s passion for games of chance fueled mega-winnings for the casinos over there — and helped keep the Vegas outposts afloat during the US recession.
We stayed at Venetian, and it looked so much like the one in Vegas (that I know like the back of my hand) that I often found myself headed to a bathroom or something that didn’t exist. I had been told that Macau was small, and I really needed only a day or two. WRONG! We were there three days, and I wanted even more time! It’s true that there are less restaurants (and only one show!), so some non-gamblers might get bored. But not this one — I wanted to see everything!
Other than that, the biggest difference was the weather. You’ve heard of the smog in some parts of Asia — the skies in Macau were indeed grey, a far cry from the bright sunny dessert weather I’m used to in Vegas.
Next up? Mainland China!
Yes, it’s true — I am hanging up my stilettos and deserting the desert. It was a long, hard decision, one I had been mulling over for about six months. I did some Hail Mary-type plays in the end to see if maybe I could save my comfortable, happy life here. Alas, I did not get the humongous raise I gunned for (I said it was a Hail Mary), and Prince Charming did not ring my doorbell (ok, maybe becoming a homebody while I tried to figure out where I could move to doesn’t count)… But the universe was stubborn. In fact, the ol’ uni was sick and tired of whispering that my time here was done, irritated as I proved to be just as headstrong. So it threw bricks — the weekend getaways that usually rejuvenate me to return home? This time, on an innocent girls’ trip to Napa and San Francisco, I learned that I wasn’t going home, not really. My life as I knew it had come to an end.
“Why don’t you just move here?” an old friend asked me during happy hour in the Castro.
And I answered, “Why don’t I?” as breezily as if he’d asked me if I wanted another drink.
So here we are. I am at last… Leaving Las Vegas.
Being the editor of a magazine that represents all things luxury Vegas has meant three years of not only a demanding work environment, but also a life as a 24/7 spokesperson of sorts for not only the publication, but the city as well. All of this has been the most wonderful experience. But the “100 percent all the time,” all-encompsing-job schtick has meant one thing to me in the past few days since I ended this chapter in my life: Whoa, saying good-bye was way more emotional than I thought! Enter, my very last cover party. After throwing soirees with stars such as my favorite Las Vegas Strip icon Celine Dion, country idol Shania Twain, and Dancing with the Stars beauty Brooke Burke, I have come to relish the excitement. My very last one? Chrissy Teigen, the most stunning of swimsuit models
I, of course, turned it into a going-away party of sorts for myself.
When I wrote about my favorite Las Vegas steakhouses and places to eat sushi on the Strip, I was surprised by how many people cried foul — they wanted a list for off-Strip places, too. Well, ask and ye shall receive… While Vegas is too spread out for me to possibly include every single local sushi spot (Las Vegans love their sushi), I’ve taken some time to compile as many as I could — and even enlisted some professional assistance from my friend Guy, who has the same taste in food as me and hangs out off-Strip way more than I do. Did I mention his six-year-old loves sashimi? Living in Las Vegas is a balancing act between the wallet-busting, delicious, gorgeous cuisine of the Strip, and the “normal” spots that don’t demand every meal be a major production in both attire and budget.
As you would probably guess, I like both!
I get such a kick out of the fact that just a few miles down the road, a Mediterranean-style village of shops and (mostly Italian) restaurants boasts a go get ’em-style spirit and idyllic plans. Yes, Celine Dion lives there when she’s performing at the Colosseum. But Lake Las Vegas once had so much more to offer! These days, it is getting back on its feet. Hotels like the Westin are putting a lot of effort into creating programs for exploring the man-made lake and surrounding areas. I was lucky enough to hit the ground on foot while doing some fun work for the esteemed AFAR travel magazine, which is based in San Francisco. Personally, it quickly added a few destinations to my Vegas bucket list: Bernard’s Bistro (Chef is beloved by all locals for not deserting his business during the rough recession), and the Italian hot spots Luna Rossa and Sunset & Vines. It turned out to be a wonderful afternoon. Someday, Lake Las Vegas will reach great heights! In the meantime, the area has awesome outdoor sports (it is also very close to my favorite adventure activities, zip-lining and off-roading in Boulder City), and is building a tight community. I can’t wait to visit several times in the next few weeks — and to see where it goes in the future!