Las Vegas Wanderlust

by Jeff Heilman
Las Vegas, Nevada at Night

With so much to see, taste, explore and experience, is it any wonder why Las Vegas continues to be one of the most popular destinations for travelers from around the world?

In its International and Las Vegas Hilton days, Westgate presented the ultimate Vegas dinner show—Elvis Presley. Today, visitors can combine Barry Manilow and other entertainment with award-winning cuisine at Edge Steakhouse or Fresco Italiano. Executive chef Steve Young, who began his Vegas career in the French-speaking kitchen of three Michelin star L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand, has elevated both restaurants to become popular Vegas eateries.

Italian food, live entertainment, and gaming are original dance partners in Vegas, starting at the Pair O’ Dice (1931), the first club on the future Strip.

Keeping the sauce and the groove on since 1949, Bootlegger Italian Bistro (www.bootleggerlasvegas.com) is a 24-hour family-run gem with matriarch “Mama” Maria Perry, 102, still on hand. Her daughter, Lorraine Hunt-Bono, whose group “The Lauri Perry Four” opened Howard Hughes’ Landmark Hotel in 1969, provides the showbiz lineage and more, including serving as Nevada’s 32nd Lieutenant Governor.

Seven Magic Mountains (Photo: PradaBrown)

Continue south on the Boulevard to Seven Magic Mountains (www.sevenmagicmountains.com), Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone’s desert installation of seven towering dayglow-painted limestone totems.

Where to next? Chinatown’s renowned Las Vegas Little Theater, or the Liberace Museum Collection? The 1913 Pioneer Saloon, Southern Nevada’s oldest bar with its Carole Lombard memorial wall, or 24-hour Planet 13, the world’s largest marijuana dispensary?

AREA15 Art Island in Las Vegas, Nevada

AREA15 Art Island
Photo: Peter Ruprecht

 

After 34 years of visiting Las Vegas, fanning out has only deepened my bond with this town. There’s always something exciting ahead, like AREA15 (www.area15.com). Opened in September 2020, this much anticipated “experiential retail and entertainment complex” looks mindblowing. Creative partners include Blue Man Group co-founder Chris Wink, who in the role of Director of Content and Cool Shit, is introducing projects like “Wink World: Portals to the Infinite,” described as “equal parts psychedelic art house and carnival funhouse.” Santa Fe, N.M.-based interactive art pioneer Meow Wolf has created the surreal Omega Market supermarket experience.

L.A.’s Lost Spirits Distillery, described by Smithsonian Magazine as “a high-end Willy Wonka experience for adults and a Disneyland for drinkers” is also setting up here.

With so much to see, taste, explore, and experience, is it any wonder why Las Vegas continues to be one of the most popular destinations for travelers from around the world?

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