48 Hours in Las Vegas
When the snow melts, the mountains close and the half-priced dinner specials begin, its official: the offseason is here.Sure, you could stay around and track mud into your house or get stuck in that dirt parking lot behind your office that has turned into an all-terrain vehicle haven, or you could go somewhere where the word offseason doesnt really exist someplace like Las Vegas.Its where sipping on cocktails by the resort pool in the sunshine melts away the sadness of the long-lost winter. Thats what the staff of Vail Villages La Botegga, an Italian restaurant, went there to do in late April. The restaurants owner, Steve Virion, has a tradition of showing his employees a good time at the end of the ski season. This year, he told them to find a way to Vegas, and hed take care of the rest. As a part-time employee there, I figured Id join in on the fun and write about the experience for the Vail Trail. Just dont expect any tales of what the La Botegga crew did in Vegas what happens there stays there.Whether your definition of sin includes drinking and gambling or venturing off the strip to see people strip, Vegas wont disappoint. It might, however, if youre basing your vacation on the advertisements you saw on Nickelodeon about 10 years ago, dubbing Vegas a family place. Weve all seen what happens to the Griswolds when Clark chooses Vegas as the next fun-filled family destination total family destruction. Sin thats Vegas. Just dont stay for longer than 48 hours, because thats about all the time thats necessary.
Vegas can be misleading to those who arent familiar with what people go there to do. I mean, cheap buffets, bright lights and even a couple of rollercoasters could trick any nave dad into thinking there might be something there for the whole family. An early evening walk down the strip, Las Vegass main drag of hotels and casinos, affirmed my inclination that this place isnt for kids I dont care what the citys marketing campaigns used to claim. Shady looking club promoters hand out business card-sized flyers featuring half-naked women and drink specials while practically barking at any decent looking, or non-conservatively dressed woman who walks by them. They shout obscenities and give vulgar stares, making most passers-by feel squirmy and just plain uncomfortable.I did see one family, stroller and all, trying to blend in with all the hustle and bustle on the strip. They were walking along, looking really out of place and on guard. The club-hoppers and drunks barely budged an inch when the family needed a little more sidewalk space to avoid getting tossed onto the street. Thankfully, this family was the only one I saw, or at least noticed, during my 48-hour trip.
With a restaurant scene on par with New York City or San Francisco, Vegas is for foodies just as much as it is for drunks, gamblers and bachelor parties. On previous trips, Id always eaten at the big-name places in the big-name hotels. Sure, the food is good, but youll spend $100 a head easily and it may or may not be all that memorable.Aside from $8 buffets that might send you to an emergency room, there are some affordable places to eat and most hotel concierges, if nudged properly, will give up the local secrets. Tell them you want something different, where food is the centerpiece, not trendy spaces and spotty service. And the hotels, while they offer everything from gambling, clubbing, dining and shopping, really are for sleeping too. You wont get a disapproving stare from the front desk clerk if you come trucking in at 7 a.m., either. Just close the blinds, which could block out the brightest of lights at any hour, and get some sleep before heading out again. And dont forget your sunglasses they are the one life-saving tool that will get you through the daylight hours.
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