Photo courtesy of Las Vegas New Bureau.
Everything I know about Vegas, I learned from my grandparents. (Well, almost everything if you omit those college-day all-nighters.)
Barbara and Viv started traveling to Vegas when it was nothing more than a few casinos, a top-billed lounge act and plenty of sand. There’s still plenty of sand in that Nevada corner, but Vegas only vaguely resembles the glittery, Rat Pack era of my grandparents’ generation. And, while I can appreciate all the sparkling hotels, dazzling amenities and exuberant fountain shows of today, I often wonder what it was like back when Dean Martin played at the Stardust and real quarters poured out of slot machines. Fortunately, nostalgia isn’t completely lost in Sin City. There are pockets of the cool 50s and 60s all over Vegas, from Historic Downtown to the bustling Strip. Here are a few highlights:
Experience Fremont Street
If you want a taste of Vegas back in the day, you need to start downtown on Freemont Street. All the legendary hotels and casinos are here: the Golden Nugget, Four Queens, Fitzgerald’s; not to mention all those cool animated neon signs. Eat your heart out Bellagio fountains – I’ll take waving cowboy Vegas Vic any day. A $70 million-renovation turned the famous street into a pedestrian mall with performance stages, live entertainment, and a graphic light show on the curved roof. And where else in Vegas are you going to find $5 blackjack tables these days?
When staying in Vegas, options are endless. Sure, you can get throwback digs at places like the Flamingo or Tropicana, but when I think Vegas, I think opulence. You know, a little Liberace here, a little Elvis there. I have to think Frank Sinatra would approve of the Italian grandeur that is The Palazzo. Midway on The Strip, the hotel and casino is close to the Forum Shops, The Wynn and The Venetian. All rooms boast suite-like amenities, huge bathrooms and plenty of living space. The ambiance is elegant and elaborate without being “theme-y.” Dining options are plentiful and varied, from casual sports bar fare at Lagasse’s Stadium, to fine dining at either Cut or Morels French Steakhouse and Bistro. I also suggest the stunning Lavo for a romantic-meets-rousing night out. The Palazzo also shares the award-winning Canyon Ranch Spa with neighbor The Venetian. Try one of their amazing spa treatments or do a little rock climbing on their indoor wall. I tell you, it’s harder than it looks!
Thank You Very Much
What would Vegas be without back-to-back entertainment? I love that the city has turned on to presenting Broadway-type shows so visitors can experience shows like The Jersey Boys, playing at The Palazzo. Taking audience members through the highs and lows of The Four Seasons’ career via their songbook, the production is a certifiable hit and ultimate crowd pleaser. If you can’t catch Frankie Valli live, at least you can get his life story and music eight shows a week. Down The Strip, the ever-impressive Cirque du Soleil presents a show built around the songs of another rock-and-roll icon, The King himself. Viva ELVIS at the new Aria Resort and Casino is an eye-popping, rollicking extravaganza with all the dance, acrobatics and flair one would expect from these theatrical geniuses. And when you’re not blown away by the breathtaking visuals, I dare you not to tap along to Elvis’ sting of classic hits. Maybe the good old days of Vegas ARE still alive and well.
MORE TO SEE AND DO IN VEGAS BABY!
Aria Resort & Casino
The Palazzo Resort and Hotel
The Hotel at Mandalay Bay
The Venetian Las Vegas
Richard Petty Driving Experience
Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
The Neon Museum Las Vegas
Stratosphere “X-Scream” & “Big Shot”
Maverick Helicopters Rides & Tours