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?

Jeff Heilman

“These trendsetting boss babes bewitch the bar with alchemy, art, and hyper-creative cocktails,” said Mariena Mercer-Boarini, who after leading the cocktail program at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas for the last decade, is now focusing on her cocktail consultancy Wander*lush. Harnessing the face-numbing power of her revolutionary Verbena cocktail, her new flavor- and sensation-enhancing Electra powder is “the second-best thing to do with your tongue.”

Housed in a former garage, Jammyland Cocktail Bar & Reggae Kitchen is for Caribbean fare and inventive cocktails. Adjacent to the Arts Factory Building, The Garden Las Vegas (www.thegardenlasvegas.com) is a new “ultra-lounge” from local LGBTQ nightlife veteran Eduardo Cordova.

Chinatown’s culinary star is also rising. Long dominated by a melting pot of Asian restaurants along Spring Mountain Road, the community west of the Strip has seen an expanding menu of choices in recent years.

Chef James Trees, Las Vegas, Nevada Chef

Chef James Trees
Photo: Peter Harastys

Vanguards include Brian Howard’s nationally acclaimed Sparrow + Wolf (www.sparrowandwolflv.com) and Khai Vu’s East-meets-West District One Kitchen & Bar and new Latin-Japanese Mordeo Boutique Wine Bar. Other hot tickets include EDO Gastro Tapas & Wine; Modern French-inspired Partage; and Modern Thai eatery Lamaii. The Golden Tiki (www.thegoldentiki.com) is a 24/7 Vegas classic.

The culinary landscape of Las Vegas is becoming one of the most diverse in the USA. According to Contursi, whose tours also cover The Arts District and Chinatown, and who introduced his self-guided Finger Licking Foodie Tours during the pandemic, “It takes research and legwork. Let GPS, rideshare and wanderlust be your guides.”

History and culture are always at the mercy of continual reinvention in this desert citadel, but there is always a plethora of amazing experiences just waiting for visitors to discover.

Las Vegas isn’t concerned with what we were yesterday or with what we are today,” once noted the late Hal Rothman, chair of UNLV’s History Department and foremost Vegas authority of his time. “It’s tomorrow that entices us.”

Raquel Reed, Las Vegas, Nevada

Raquel Reed
Photo: Radiant Inc.

Dazzlers in the current $16 billion investment wave include the under-construction MSG Sphere, a futuristic entertainment orb with revolutionary audio and visual systems, and Elon Musk’s subterranean Tesla “hyperloop” transport system under the expanding convention district, and potentially the Vegas core itself. Amid shiny new things, vintage landmarks shine even brighter.

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