Las Vegas isn’t just a place to visit just to gamble (even though there are plenty of unique places to gamble). Over the years Las Vegas has become a destination for just about every walk of life. Visitors come to Las Vegas for nightlife, shows, concerts, world-class dining, and so much more. There are plenty of one-off events throughout the year too.
There are plenty of resources that focus on concerts and shows for entertainment. I’m always looking for something different and recently came across the Las Vegas Film Festival. It’s understandable that not many who visit Las Vegas do so to sit in a movie theater. However, this is more than just watching a movie (or movies) that you can see anywhere. The movie selection at the festival is unique.
The 10th Annual Las Vegas Film Festival recently announced the initial lineup for the 2017 Festival. This year the festival will be held entirely at Brenden Theatres and the Palms Casino Resort from June 6 – June 11.
This year’s festival lineup includes a mix of feature films and documentaries that have been favorites on the international festival circuit, animated works, shorts, music videos, festival labs and local films that were produced in Southern Nevada or were directed by a local filmmaker.
Each of the feature and documentary films will be followed by a Question and Answer session with the cast and crew. This will provide guests with a unique movie watching experience. A festival pass is $75 per person and allows access to all screenings & festival HQ mixers. The VIP Festival pass is $175 per person and grants access to all screenings, parties, mixers, lounges, and includes early screening rsvp.
Below are some highlights of movies, documentaries, and animations that will be shown at the Las Vegas Film Festival. I attended many animation festivals in the past and that’s what I’m looking forward to the most. In fact, I’m so excited by this portion of the festival that I’m going on a deep YouTube dive to find some of the animations I saw back in the day. The descriptions below are from the festival organizers:
10 Days (Director: Nathaniel Katzman)
Estlin and Ellie reconnect on Christmas Eve after nine months of separation. However, they are both wary of jumping right back into a relationship and therefore propose a challenge: they must spend 10 days with each other before a decision can be made. The film is about relationships, the holidays and being young in New York. There’s plenty to laugh, cry, and pull your hair out about.
The 60 Yard Line (Director: Leif Gantvoort)
Based on a true story. Set during the 2009 football season. Ben “Zagger” Zagowski and Nick “Polano” Polano, best friends and co-workers, buy a house in the parking lot of Lambeau Field (home of the Packers), and are forced to pick between a football fan lifestyle and a girl. Lives change. There’s a cow.
Dave Made a Maze (Director: Bill Watterson)
Dave, an artist who has yet to complete anything significant in his career, builds a fort in his living room out of pure frustration, only to wind up trapped by the fantastical pitfalls, booby traps, and critters of his own creation. Ignoring his warnings, Dave’s girlfriend Annie leads a band of oddball explorers on a rescue mission. Once inside, they find themselves trapped in an ever-changing supernatural world, threatened by booby traps and pursued by a bloodthirsty Minotaur.
Gook (Director: Justin Chon)
Eli and Daniel, two Korean American brothers, own a struggling shoe store and have an unlikely friendship with Kamilla, a street-wise 11-year-old African American girl. Kamilla ditches school, Eli stresses about the store, and Daniel tries to have a good time. It’s just another typical day at the store until the Rodney King verdict is read and riots break. With the chaos moving towards them, the trio is forced to defend the store while contemplating the future of their own personal dreams and the true meaning of family.
Still/Born (Director: Brandon Christensen)
Still/Born follows Mary, a new mother who lost one of her twins in childbirth. As she struggles with the loss of one of her children, she starts to suspect something sinister is after her surviving child – a supernatural entity that has chosen her child and will stop at nothing to take it from her.
California Dreams (Director: Mike Ott)
From acclaimed director, Mike Ott comes to the new documentary feature “California Dreams,” presenting five unique individuals in pursuit of a big life change. Through auditions set up in small towns across Southern California, the film shows genuine characters with big Hollywood aspirations who, for various reasons, have never had the opportunity to pursue it. No matter what the endgame is, whether it’s fame, love, or a fleeting shot at immortality, this bitingly funny film reveals the strange and entrancingly hypnotic grip that Hollywood has, in some way or form, on everyone.
The Rabbit Hunt (Short) (Director: Patrick Bresnan)
In the Florida Everglades rabbit hunting is considered a rite of passage for young men. The Rabbit Hunt follows seventeen year old Chris and his family as they hunt in the fields of the largest industrial sugar farms in the US. The film records a tradition by which migrant farm workers in the communities surrounding Lake Okeechobee have been hunting and preparing rabbits since the early 1900s.
CINEVEGAS PRESENTS AT LVFF
This year’s Festival will once again include CINEVEGAS PRESENTS AT LVFF, featuring a selection of films curated by the CineVegas team of Trevor Groth and Mike Plante.
Rat Film (Director: Theo Anthony)
Across walls, fences, and alleys, rats not only expose our boundaries of separation but make homes in them. “Rat Film” is a feature-length documentary that uses the rat—as well as the humans that love them, live with them, and kill them–to explore the history of Baltimore. “There’s never been a rat problem in Baltimore, it’s always been a people problem.”
Black Holes (Director: David Nicolas)
Dave is about to lead the first mission to Mars when he’s teamed up with a sentient melon, who claims to be the reincarnation of a fashion designer, upstaging his big moment and driving him to the brink of madness.
LOVE (Director: Réka Bucsi)
LOVE is a short film describing affection in 3 different chapters, through an impact on a distant solar system.
Luscious (Director: Xuecheng Xu)
A 2D motion graphics video looks at human nature, human instinct and the power of imagination. Minimally styled illustrations tell the story of a beautiful woman who achieves satisfaction by having a psychedelic, metaphoric, sensual journey during dinner in 1930s Shanghai.
Pearl (Director: Patrick Osborne)
Set inside their home, a beloved hatchback, Pearl follows a girl and her dad as they crisscross the country chasing their dreams. It’s a story about the gifts we hand down and their power to carry love. And finding grace in the unlikeliest of places.
Pussy (Director: Renata Gasiorowska)
A young girl spends the evening alone at home. She decides to have some sweet solo pleasure session, but not everything goes according to plan.
More films should be announced as the Las Vegas Film festival approaches. Visit LVFF.com for tickets and more information.
The Flamingo first opened on December 26, 1946, and is currently the oldest casino on the Las Vegas Strip. This legendary casino-resort is 70 years young! The Flamingo has changed a lot over the years and currently has a 77,000 square foot casino and 3,626 hotel rooms spread out over in two towers. This is one of the most popular casinos on the Las Vegas Strip because of its history, location, room prices, and more.
Being owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment only adds to Flamingo’s popularity by being part of the Total Rewards players club. This inclusion makes it easy for visitors from all over the country to access discounts and complimentary rooms. The Flamingo has been renovated in 1967, 1975, 1977, 1982, 1990, 1993, 2004, and most recently in 2009. However, you’ll often find small tweaks to the casino floor that make the property feel younger. I remember walking into the casino last year and all of the tables were rotated. It made sense for pedestrian traffic but was stunning at first.
Like most Las Vegas casinos, the Flamingo continues to evolve by holding onto what’s popular and adding new amenities with hopes they will become popular. X Burlesque, one of the most popular shows on the Las Vegas Strip, is celebrating its Diamond Anniversary in Las Vegas. That’s 15 years as the as one of the most popular topless revues in Las Vegas. The Flamingo will be rebranding the X Bar and Bugsy’s Showroom and will add some new photos of the burlesque dancing X Girls.
Caesars Entertainment is calling 2017 the “Summer of the Dragon” at the Flamingo. Due to popular demand Piff the Magic Dragon will extend his residency and make the Flamingo his home with more than 40 days of consecutive performances beginning May 22. You may know Piff and his sidekick Mr. Piffles from “America’s Got Talent” on NBC or “Vegas Nocturne” at Rose.Rabbit.Lie inside the Cosmopolitan.
The Flamingo is also stepping up the action this summer at the Go Pool. The weekend pool parties started a few years ago but it appears they finally have a steady flow of action for the summer of 2017.
They’ve already had a handful of Day Beats Saturday afternoon celebrity performances from Aaron Carter, Sisqo and more. The Flamingo recently announced some more afternoon performers at the Flamingo Go pool:
- Friday, May 26 – Coolio(!)
- Saturday, June 3 – Live performance from Mya
- Saturday, June 24 – Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray) hosts
- Saturday, July 15 – Platinum-selling rap duo Ying Yang Twins
- Saturday, July 22 – DJ’s from Mars live set
- Saturday, July 29 – Yazz “The Greatest” (Hakeem Lyon on the Fox television drama, “Empire”)
- Saturday, August 5 – Singer/songwriter Montell Jordan performs
The price is right for these daytime performances. Tickets for Flashback Friday and Day Beats Saturday shows are $10 for Flamingo hotel guests and $20 for non-hotel guests. The Go Pool will also have a couple Night Jams concerts. The first two concerts announced are Sugar Ray on Sunday, June 25 and Everclear on Sunday, July 16. Tickets for both concerts are $33.25. Visit gopoolvegas.com for more information on tickets, performances, and cabanas.
This just in… As we were posting this, Caesars Entertainment announced that they would begin a $90 million renovation of 1,270 rooms.
Don’t forget, the best rates for Flamingo can be found by clicking here.
Not everyone who visits Las Vegas today comes for gambling. The lavish shows, massive nightclubs, five-star restaurants, different sights, golf courses, fantastic bars, shopping, spas and so much more can keep anyone occupied for a day and night.
Many still enjoy gambling in Las Vegas but it’s not the main reason why people visit Las Vegas today. This wasn’t always the case. Gambling used to be the main reason to visit Las Vegas. This was an activity special to Las Vegas and then it wasn’t. Not too long ago, casino gambling was only available to a few states in America. Now you can gamble in almost every state in the country. However, there’s still nothing like gambling in Las Vegas.
Just because you can do something everywhere, doesn’t mean you should do it everywhere. There will always be something special about the casinos in Las Vegas. The variety of casinos cannot be replicated. It’s not everywhere you can gamble with dancing girls and cross the street to gamble under a multi-million dollar chandelier.
Las Vegas isn’t the same kind of outlier it used to be. That doesn’t mean the casinos are square buildings that all look and feel the same. Here are some places to gamble in Las Vegas that are unlike gambling anywhere else in the United States.
Video Poker at The Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan
There may not be a more beautiful setting in the world for video poker players. You won’t find the best odds at these video poker machines. Regardless, this is among the most fun places to play video poker in Las Vegas. Just about everything at the bar is available complimentary while you’re playing video poker at a pace deemed fast enough for the casino. Even their $16 signature cocktails can be comped. The video poker bar is located on the first of three levels under the fabulous chandelier with over 2 million crystals.
Blackjack at The D Las Vegas
There are party pits with loud music and dancers all over Las Vegas. Many of those party pits offer worse rules than other parts of the casino. The house edge in some games may be worse and the minimum bet may be than you might want to play. Almost the entire table game area at The D is a party pit. The music is loud, the drinks come quickly, the minimum bets are low, the gambling rules are fair, and the dealers dance in-between dealing shifts. Blackjack games often start at $10 when the dealers are dancing and pay 3-2 when you’re dealt blackjack, which is better most other party pits. This is one of the most fun environments to gamble in Las Vegas.
Sports Betting at Cosmopolitan
Sports betting is unique to Nevada casinos. This unique environment goes to another level when you visit the sports book at The Cosmopolitan. Once hidden on the second floor, the sports book was moved to the first floor. The sports book has a center bar with a sports ticker and video poker. There are multiple large viewing areas on either side of the bar which also offers free games like shuffleboard, billiards, and foosball. A few steps away is a small pit of blackjack tables. Of course, you can just sit back and watch the games with a wager as low as $5.
Craps at the Golden Gate
This small old school casino-hotel is operated by the same people that operate The D. The casino floor is a similarly fun with dancing dealers. However, the close quarters create a unique energy that isn’t found in any other casino. Forget the dancing dealers and play the most fun craps game in Las Vegas. The minimum bet is $5 and you can place 10x free odds on your bet. The game is so much fun that even the dealers are in on the party.
Gambling At A Pool – All Over Las Vegas
Being inside of a casino all day can get old for some people. The summer is the perfect time of year to head outside to do a little gambling. There are casinos all over the Las Vegas valley that offer some form of gambling outside. You can play $5 blackjack in the shaded bar area at Red Rock Resort where drink service is super fast since there aren’t many tables. You can play poolside craps at the Flamingo and Plaza for a minimum bet as low as $5. If you prefer being inside of a pool and gambling there’s swim-up blackjack at one the many pools at Caesars Palace and Hard Rock.
There’s always something new around the corner in Las Vegas. The Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum was founded in 2002 and moved to Neonopolis in downtown Las Vegas in 2008. I’d like to think I know everything, everywhere in Las Vegas but I had no idea about this gallery.
Neonopolis is located at 450 Fremont Street and next to the Slotzilla zip line and across the street from the Fremont Street Experience. This three level complex is now home to Denny’s (and the Denny’s Wedding Chapel), Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum, Fremont Arcade, Banger Brewing, Nerd Bar and much more.
If you’re a tourist you might not be aware that downtown Las Vegas is actually synonymous with art. The Arts District in Las Vegas is located in-between Fremont Street and the Stratosphere. There are plenty of art galleries and stores on the Vegas Strip. However, the Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum is the only art gallery located in the touristy area of downtown Las Vegas.
The Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum features over 20,000 square feet of exhibit area. The space includes the main gallery, a special exhibitions gallery, and a small works gallery. The non-profit gallery provides exhibit space for local, regional and International artists to display their current work. You can actually donate money to show your own art.
Beginning Thursday, June 1 Cirque du Soleil will have its annual art exhibition at the Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum. The Collective is a collection of artworks created by the company’s performers, technicians, and staff in Las Vegas. This is the 12th year of the art exhibition. Serving as a creative outlet for employees, the exhibit will be on display for a limited time, June 1 – 30 from Wednesdays through Saturdays from 12 – 5 p.m.
“Residents will have the opportunity to ‘get to know their neighbors’ as we reveal another side of our employees through their artwork,” said Lou D’Angeli, Vice President of Marketing & Public Relations for Cirque du Soleil. “In hosting The Collective each year, we are able to shine the spotlight on their unique talents, creating an even greater connection between us and the community.”
This art show isn’t just for locals. Tourist will enjoy The Collective display that includes Cirque du Soleil-owned art pieces, props, and costumes from various productions along the Vegas Strip. Among the items featured will be a Jester-patterned aluminum chainmail shirt by Michael Rawlins of “O”, a 3/4 scale animatronics robot by Preston Altree of Michael Jackson ONE and memorabilia from the Cirque du Soleil shows on The Strip. The full list will be announced at a later date.
The full list of items will be announced at a later date. You can visit mglv.org for more information. The Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum entry fee for this show is only $5.
Art isn’t the only thing on display at Neonopolis. Banger Brewing offers free tours of their brewing facilities daily. These tours are limited to 8 people so reserving a space in advance is recommended. Thankfully, you can make reservations online at bangerbrewing.com.
It took less than a year for a Las Vegas casino to offer an all-inclusive(*) package after I recommended someone try it last year. On September 30, 2016, Travel Vegas posted a blog titled “Here’s An Idea: All Inclusive Packages To Las Vegas.” Low and behold, less than six months later the Rio is offering an Eat | Drink | Stay All For One Price deal called “Total Deal.”
In theory it’s an all inclusive deal. Upon further review, it’s not quite a deal but it’s close. Here’s how it works:
Upon arriving at Rio you will receive a punch card to verify beverage purchases and a wristband that will identify each you as being a Total Deal guest. You must charge all food purchases to your room account and provide your server with your Total Deal punch card to receive your beverages. Here’s the catch, you can only eat at select restaurants.
Carnival World and Seafood Buffet, All-American Bar & Grille, Hash House a Go Go, and Sports Deli are the only options open to you. You cannot eat at Voodoo Steakhouse, Royal India Bistro, KJ Dim Sum, Pho Da Nang Vietnamese, Guy Fieri’s El Burro Burracho, Smashburger, or Starbucks. You can’t get coffee at Starbucks. Your food spend at the three restaurants is capped at $250 per day (for two people).
For beverages you can only have well and domestic beverages at Rio’s bars and lounges with the exception of Purple Zebra and Showroom Bars. This is valid for 12 drinks per person each day. No premium cocktails, spirits or beer are offered.
All Total Deal guests will receive access for two for one night at Voodoo Lounge. Spa treatments, shows, attractions and other meals and drinks are extra.
Rio is not responsible if you lose a wristband. In other words, you’re SOL if you lose the wristband. This doesn’t seem outrageous but you should know about it. Finally, gratuity is not included so make sure you have money set aside to tip everyone that you’d normally tip even if your food or drink is part of the package.
Drink caps, dining limits, no transportation and other limitations don’t make this sound like much of an all-inclusive deal. That said, how often is anyone drinking 12 beverages and eating that much food in one casino every day in Las Vegas. According to Vegas Bright the packages start at $365 for two people staying just two nights. The prices will change depending on the dates chosen. My visit to the website today had no available packages.
The price noted above is $182.50 per day or $91.25 per person per day. This deal is a deal if you don’t leave the Rio. You’d have to eat all of your meals at the restaurants mentioned above, max out well drinks (or domestic beer) each a day, and visit Voodoo Lounge. It seems as though this deal is probably close to the appropriate value for what you’re getting. Remember, in Las Vegas, a “deal” isn’t necessarily a discount.
While this isn’t exactly what I had in mind last year, at least they’re trying. Let’s give Caesars Entertainment an A for effort but an E for limitations all over the place. The average of those grades is a C. The “Total Deal” seems like it deserves a C grade. It’s not great, but it’s not awful. If you’re a steak eating booze snob like me, you probably wouldn’t see any value here. However, if you like burgers, buffets, and Buds this might be fine.
You can book your all inclusive package HERE today.
You’re never more than a few minutes from a drink when you’re in Las Vegas. The time to find a drink can be reduced in downtown Las Vegas where just about everything is closer than the Vegas Strip. There’s a drink for everyone whether you’re grabbing a yard of red slushy booze or sitting down for a craft cocktail that has so many ingredients that takes five minutes to create.
There was a day when drinking in Old Vegas was limited to well drinks and draft beer. That’s not the case any longer in downtown Las Vegas. Not only are there some great standalone bars but the casino bars have gotten better. Here’s a look at some of the best places to grab a drink in downtown Las Vegas.
You can find a mixed drink at any casino bar. However, not every bar can craft a delicious cocktail where every ingredient is carefully measured and poured. You’ll have to leave the casino in downtown Las Vegas to find some of the best cocktails in town.
- Commonwealth – Watch the bartender carefully make a cocktail, sneak away to the semi-private Laundry Room or just grab a beer and head outside to the second-floor deck,
- Downtown Cocktail Room – Dark and viby lounge with a unique cocktail menu. The drinks are delicious and different than you’ll find in the casinos. Good luck finding the door on your first visit.
You can find mass distributed beer everywhere in downtown Las Vegas. Heck, you can get a football filled with Coors Light. While a football of beer is fun, there’s something to be said for a delicious craft beer.
- Banger Brewing – Fremont Street’s first craft brewery makes their beer on site. Sit and relax with a flight of beer or grab a strong beer on to go. They offer free tours if you’re curious about beer making.
- Pizza Rock – Fantastic craft beer selection at great prices. Visit during Happy Hour for discounts on already low prices. The food is a great addition but you really can’t beat these prices in downtown Las Vegas for craft beer.
Just about everything in downtown Las Vegas is less expensive than the Vegas Strip. Drinks are no different. Here are a couple of options for extremely inexpensive drinks. You won’t find the fanciest drinks in town but you’ll find some good low priced options to get the day rolling.
- El Cortez – They have cheap beer and drinks every day with even more special Happy Hour deals. You’ll even find top shelf drinks $5 (as of this writing a Patron margarita is $5).
- Fremont – This casino is located right by the 3rd Street stage at the Fremont Street Experience. This is the stage where many of the free concerts are held. Run into the casino for $3 Corona, Bud Light or Heineken in between songs.
Casino bars in downtown Las Vegas are great because they’re still serving up complimentary cocktails while you gamble. I’m partial to one casino because they offer two very different great casino bar experiences.
- The D – Longbar – Energy, excitement, loud music, flair bartenders, new TV’s and a good beer selection highlight this bar on the main casino floor. This is a great bar to get the party started or to watch the games in downtown Las Vegas.
- The D – Vue Bar – Great video poker, mellow vibe, and heavy pours are the highlights of this bar on the second floor of the casino. The video poker pay tables are better at Vue Bar than most in downtown Las Vegas casino bars – including Longbar. This is one of the best places to play video poker while drinking.
Grab n Go
Casinos are great but there’s so much more to the Fremont Street Experience. Walking the mall of the casinos, watching bands and the Viva Vision light shows can be nicely complimented with a drink. Grab a beer, frozen drink, or mixed drink in a souvenir cup and enjoy VEGAS BABY!
- The D – D Bar takes the Longbar outside with a good selection of beer, frozen drinks, souvenir containers, and dancers across the bar. The location next to the Third Street stage is great for concerts but you may end up hanging closer to the bar to make sure the dancers are safe.
- Golden Gate – Very similar to D Bar but next to the First Street stage. This is a great place to start your trip down the mall of casinos.
Las Vegas was made for drinking outdoors. The weather is beautiful most of the year so why not enjoy it? Between bars, casinos, restaurants, and malls there are more places to drink outside in downtown Las Vegas than ever.
- 4 Queens – The patio bar is right on Fremont Street. Watch a show on the 3rd Street stage or enjoy some of the best people watching in Las Vegas. Drinks are cheap and there are tacos nearby.
- Gold Spike – The backyard at Gold Spike is chock full of games from giant cornhole to massive beer pong. If it gets chilly at night, but snuggle up near one of the fire pits. The outdoor part of this bar is one of the unique adult playgrounds in Las Vegas.
This year the Life Is Beautiful festival takes place Friday, September 22 through Sunday, September 24 in downtown Las Vegas. Gorillaz, Muse, Lorde, Chance the Rapper, and Blink 182 will headline the music portion of the three-day festival. There are plenty more popular artists performing at the festival this year. Here’s the lineup announcement.
Since being introduced Life Is Beautiful has become a part of the evolving culture in downtown Las Vegas. Over the years musicians like Kendrick Lamar, Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, and the Foo Fighters have graced the main stages of the festival. Hundreds of more bands have performed at Life Is Beautiful over the years. You can see a list of performers here.
While music may be the calling card of the Life Is Beautiful festival there is so much more. The Life Is Beautiful festival is more than just another concert. This is a music, arts, culinary, and learning festival is spread out all over the Fremont East section of downtown Las Vegas. In addition to bands you’ll see, hear, and taste food, science, art, comedy, and more.
Life Is Beautiful will have an interactive art experience once again. The festival will bring back the popular Art Motel installation. It will be reimagined by Santa Fe art collective Meow Wolf. The festival will bring back the popular “Crime on Canvas” art exhibit. Festival guests can view and purchase original artwork and rare prints by local, national, and international artists. The gallery will display work by Matt Skiba, Mark Ryden, Shag, Tara McPherson, Shepard Fairey, Brandon Boyd, and more.
The education portion of Life Is Beautiful will be highlighted by another appearance from Bill Nye (the science guy). Thousands saw Bill Nye’s 2015 appearance where when he talked about the changing world and being a speck in the universe. You can watch the 30-minute talk below.
The comedy showcase will return to the festival with performances by comedians that you may be familiar with if you watch Comedy Central. Matthew Broussard, Mike Lawrence, and Jo Firestone headline the lineup this year.
Food, Drink, And More
There will also be a culinary and cocktails section at Life Is Beautiful where you can enjoy food and beverages created by famous chefs and mixologists. Even more entertainment and art and entertainment will be announced leading up to the festival.
Downtown Las Vegas
The festival isn’t the only thing that makes Life Is Beautiful a unique experience. Life Is Beautiful isn’t contained to one giant space like other festivals. Everything is spread out throughout the urban areas of downtown Las Vegas. You’ll have to navigate a huge map and many street blocks to find everything. You should wear comfortable shoes for walking. The location is part of the fun for many people that have attended in the past.
You can find more information on tickets and performers at lifeisbeautiful.com.
It seems as though the spring in Las Vegas only lasts for a few weeks. It’s my favorite time of the year but it’s the beginning of a great time of year. The next few months will be the best time of the year to enjoy the sun and warmth of the desert. Let’s get ready to eat and drink outside starting with the most important meal of the day – breakfast!
There may not be a better start to the day that a delicious cup of coffee with a nice meal in the sun. Actually, there is something better – enjoying that cup of coffee outside in Las Vegas! The weather in the morning during the spring is beautiful. During the summer the weather in the morning often feels like the only time we should be eating outside. Those 100+ degree temperatures can be a bit much for dining sometimes.
Breakfast is an early meal for me. Brunch and lunch are often too late for the first meal of the day for an early riser. There are a good number of restaurants open during the day but not everyone is ready to deliver a really good cup of coffee and satisfying breakfast. A great breakfast is more than just the first meal of the day.
All of these restaurants are located at casinos on the Vegas Strip. For better or worse not every good restaurant to eat breakfast outside has a view of the Vegas Strip. I’ll note the strip views because that can make the Las Vegas experience much more Vegasy. Sometimes you want that kind of start to the day and other times you simply need to breath fresh air while drinking that first cup of coffee or Bloody Mary.
Mon Ami Gabi (Las Vegas Strip view at Paris Las Vegas)
This is one of the best breakfast restaurants on the Vegas Strip whether you’re indoors, outdoors or in the atrium in between the two. The coffee is spectacular and the glazed bacon will melt in your mouth. The view of the Vegas Strip and Bellagio are unmatched. There is usually a wait for patio seating but everything about breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi is worth the wait.
Tom’s Urban (Las Vegas Strip view at New York-New York)
Tom’s Urban isn’t known as being a breakfast restaurant but it should be. The entire restaurant isn’t always open for breakfast so you’ll typically end up sitting outside. You’re far away enough from the traffic so you don’t smell any fumes, yet you’re close enough where you can do a little people watching. Coffee drinkers will love that they serve Peet’s coffee.
Country Club & Tableau (Wynn Las Vegas)
Country Club is located just off the golf course at Wynn. This is one of the most serene settings for a beautiful breakfast outside. The food and service at Wynn are typically among the best in Las Vegas. The settings are so relaxing that you almost forget you’re in Las Vegas once you sit down at either restaurant. Sometimes we all need a break from the action.
Bouchon (The Venetian)
Bouchon is one of the most popular breakfast restaurants on the Vegas Strip. Their fresh baked goods are to die for. When you think of a fabulous French breakfast this is the experience you’re expecting. The restaurant is sort of hidden from the madness of the massive casino. Just walk over to the elevators for the Venezia Tower and head upstairs for a pool deck view and fresh air.
Veranda (Four Seasons at Mandalay Bay) – The quality and service you’d expect at Four Seasons
Stripside Cafe (Las Vegas Strip view at Caesars Palace) – It’s outside and on the Vegas Strip. Can be a bit pricey for some.
Sambalatte (Las Vegas Strip with a limited view at Monte Carlo) – Not a restaurant but great coffee with outdoor seating on the Vegas Strip.
A lot has changed in Las Vegas but there’s one constant. Visitors love seeing shows. Whether the shows are free or if the shows cost money more than half the people who visited Las Vegas in 2016 saw a show according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Visitor Profile.
The survey shows that 52% of all visitors to Las Vegas saw a show last year. While that’s a lot of people it’s down from recent years…down a lot. In 2013 the study shows that 72% of all visitors saw a show. That number has decreased every year since that study took place.
More visitors saw big-name headliner shows and impersonator or tribute shows in Las Vegas in 2016. That’s more than any year from 2012 to 2014. Approximately one of every six visitors (almost 17%) who saw a show in Las Vegas saw a comedy show. That’s a large increase from previous years and could increase this year with the inaugural Crapshoot Comedy Festival.
According to the Visitor Profile, fewer visitors than in the past saw lounge acts. This doesn’t just represent fewer people, it was a far fewer people. In 2016, only 43% of visitors who saw a show in Las Vegas went to see a lounge act. That is down drastically from 87% in 2013.
The average expenditure on shows and entertainment in 2016 was $67.55. That’s an increase from 2012– 2015. In a different study, the Las Vegas Advisor says that the average show ticket in Las Vegas was $92 in 2016.
The same report shows the average ticket for a show at the Axis Theater inside Planet Hollywood was $195.67. That was the highest ticket price in Las Vegas last year. Axis Theater is where you’ll see residencies from Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull, Backstreet Boys and others.
The times are changing. This survey was the first year that the Visitor Profile tracked how many people who visited Las Vegas saw a DJ perform. More people saw a celebrity DJ perform (8%), then saw a couple Las Vegas staples. Only 6% of show goers saw a celebrity impersonator or tribute show and even fewer, 4%, saw a magic show.
With many expenses in Las Vegas on the rise, something has to give. Of the 48% of respondents that didn’t see a show in Las Vegas last year, 10% said that seeing a show was too expensive. That’s an increase from 2012 and 2014. Those people should learn about Travel Vegas and other websites that offer discount show tickets.
I’m not asked to promote this website, but this is where I send friends and colleagues looking for discount show tickets. Even though I live in Las Vegas I’ve always fallen into the 79% of visitors who are busy, don’t have time or aren’t interested in shows.
That said, Absinthe, is the one show I’d make time to see. It’s unlike any other show in Las Vegas and I loved it. Part of what makes Las Vegas special is experiencing something new and different. That’s what Absinthe offers. As much as I love Britney Spears, I can play her jams on spotify (I’m listening to it now).
If you’re looking for something the pass the time, you might want to read the entire Las Vegas Visitors Profile. It’s fascinating to see how people spend their time and money.
Casinos in Las Vegas look different today than they used to. You may have noticed some changes on your last visit to Las Vegas. Frankly, the casino floors all around Las Vegas have evolved a lot in the past five years. Casinos are no longer exclusively gigantic rooms of slot machines and table games that they used to be.
You may notice that casinos are broken up into smaller areas. Many traditional gaming floors have specific gambling spaces dedicated to certain games. Some casinos like The Linq create “pods” that make this somewhat obvious to the naked eye.
A casinos like MGM Grand simply segments their main gaming floor by different table games and slot machines. This makes it a bit easier to navigate around the property. Some casino floors like Encore break things up by adding gaming lounges outside of the main gaming floor.
The casino floor at MGM Grand is so large (170,000 square feet according to their fact sheet) that the casino operator has taken the gaming space to another level. They’re combining all strategies in order to make a unique casino.
In addition to breaking up the gaming floor, they’ve added gaming lounges. Whiskey Down was one of the very first gaming lounges with a mix of bartop video poker and blackjack tables. Last year MGM Grand opened The Level Up gaming lounge. The new bar and gambling area offers traditional bar games with new and old casino gambling.
Planet Hollywood recently took a more loungy concept right to the middle of the gaming floor. They recently installed social and skill-based games from Gamblit Gaming in between the traditional table games and slot machines. This is currently a planned field trial for the new games. If successful, we can expect these games to appear in more casinos.
These skill-based games aren’t traditional casino table games or slot machines. The small area of three tables includes Gamblit Poker and Cannonbeard’s Treasure. Here’s a description of each game:
Gamblit Poker tests skill and speed while allowing players to win up to 240x their bet in a single hand. Each player starts with two cards, followed by a single deck of cards shown in rapid succession in the middle of the table. Players have to quickly virtually grab the cards they need in order to complete the best possible poker hand.
Cannonbeard’s Treasure engages players in a fast-paced game of cards, skill and naval warfare. This game is similar to blackjack but on a whole new level. Cannonbeard’s Treasure challenges players to fill their hand without winning or busting, initiating a burndown. During the burndown, a set of additional cards will be dealt. The player who gets closest to the objective, without going over, wins a chest of gold.
Between two and four players can compete against each other for a head-to-head gaming experience at these tables. Each gaming terminal offers a unique, multi-player – multi-game machine with access to a shared 42” touch screen, plus a USB charging port, purse hook and two cup holders for each player. I’ve played slot machines and bartop video poker simply because they have an outlet to charge my phone. This is a modern amenity that every game should have.
MGM Resorts has interactive tables which include some skill-based but non-gambling games at some of their casino bars and sports books. Almost every visit to The Mirage sports book takes me to these tables. I’ve wished that I could wager a few dollars on some of the games while relaxing with a drink and sports on TV. Gamblit Poker and Cannonbeard’s Treasure seem more appropriate for this kind setting than the middle of the gaming floor.
While Caesars Entertainment touts the new games as the first skill-based games in Las Vegas, they’re actually second. Earlier this year MGM Grand introduced a skill-based gambling version of Frogger at their Level Up lounge. If the field trial is a success, these games will be placed at The Linq and Caesars Palace.
Casinos aren’t what they used to be. There are new places to gamble and new games to gamble on. These skill-based games are still new to casinos but could become a new way to gamble. Like most new technology, the games are targeted to a younger customer. That said, I know plenty of older casino visitors that enjoy a relax, have a drink and throw a few bucks on a game of skill.
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