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9 Fun Things to Do With Kids in Las Vegas

9 Fun Things to Do With Kids in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is known by some as Sin City, but that moniker has not been fair for at least 20 years. Yes, it is possible to find plenty to entertain an adult in all the ways you can imagine (and some you can’t even). There is also a very strong family component to the Las Vegas Strip. We’ve taken our kids on enjoyable vacations there several times, and there are tons of fun things to do with kids in Las Vegas.

Whether your kids or big or small, we’ve got a bunch of options for you to consider as you make a list of things to do with kids in Las Vegas. Depending on where you plan to stay during your visit, some of these activities may be very close to your hotel. Regardless, it’s easy to get around with the Las Vegas Monorail trains that connect some of the destinations. Plus there’s always our good old friends Uber and Lyft, especially if it’s too hot to walk.

Vegas neon sign

Las Vegas is chock full of neon art, practically anywhere you look.

Fun Things to Do with Kids in Las Vegas

There;s even more fun things to do with kids in Las Vegas than we’ve listed here (in no particular order). But this is a good start. You may not have time to visit all of these activities, so there’s always a good reason to go back!

1. Roller Coaster – New York, New York Hotel & Casino

Rocking and rolling around and through the hotel and casino, this rollercoaster is legit. Complete with a full loop, the Big Apple Coaster begins and ends in a gaming arcade. The full carnival and electronic games here will entertain the family members who are too short to ride (or too chicken like me).

2.Bellagio Fountains – Bellagio Resort & Casino

Free to the public every 15 – 30 minutes, the Bellagio Fountains are choreographed to music favorites. Dancing waters mingle with water jets that spout 460 feet into the sky. The whole show is quite a spectacle.

Breathtaking views of the Bellagio Fountains from the top of the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas

3. Eiffel Tower – Paris Hotel & Casino Las Vegas

A slightly smaller version of the real thing in France, the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas includes a high-speed elevator to the top. A lookout platform allows guests unparalleled views of the Vegas Strip, the surrounding city and the mountains beyond.

4. Aquarium – Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino

The Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay is very well designed, complete with open tanks to touch manta rays and squishy sea cucumbers. Neon-colored fish swim in enormous tanks. Our favorite was the moon shaped jellyfish, which undulate in slow motion.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $19 for kids.

5. Bodies…The Exhibition – Luxor Hotel

Fascinating to many and gross to some, the Bodies…The Exhibition showcases real human bodies and organs preserved through a special process. The Exhibition provides an up-close look inside our skeletal, muscular, respiratory, and circulatory systems. They even show a healthy lung next to a smokers’ lung to show the damage smoking can have on our bodies.

Tickets are $32.

There are many discount tickets available if you search through our affiliate sites.

6. Cirque de Soleil – various hotels

There are a total of six Cirque de Soleil shows in Las Vegas, and five of them are suitable for the entire family. Our family favorites are “O”, which happens above and below the waters’ surface. The other is Michael Jackson ONE. ONE is set to Jackson’s famous hits and features impressive dances inspired by his performances. Read more about the best Cirque de Soleil show in Las Vegas for families here.

Ticket prices vary by show, and start at $79.

Zebras "O" Cirque de Soleil Las Vegas

These zebra creatures as a central image in the incredible “O” by Cirque de Soleil in Las Vegas – photo credit: Veronique Vial

7. Water Park – not hotel located

When the weather is hot (and Las Vegas can hit above 100-degrees in the summer), a water park is a fun way to cool off. Kids love Wet ‘n’ Wild Water Park Las Vegas because of the water tubes, lazy river and other daredevil slides and activities.

8. High Roller Ferris Wheel – The LINQ

The world’s tallest “observation wheel”, this enormous High Roller ferris wheel has become a staple of the Las Vegas skyline. It can be seen from the planes landing at McCarran International Airport and pretty much anywhere else in Las Vegas. Cabins that can host up to 40 people each are slowly rotated around the circle, with fun views and really good air conditioning.

Tickets start at $25 for adults, $10 for kids (children under 6 are free).

9. Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum – The Venetian Hotel & Casino

Famous the world over for the lifelike wax figures invented by Madame Tussaud back in the late 1700s. Madame Tussaud’s  Wax Museum in Las Vegas has something for all ages. Pose with Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper and Beyoncé, along with old Hollywood stars and modern sports celebrities.

Tickets start at $19.

Captain Jack Sparrow Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum Las Vegas

Captain Jack Sparrow was a huge hit with our kids at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Las Vegas.

Where to Stay in Las Vegas with Kids

We’ve stayed at several hotels on the Las Vegas Strip with our kids, and our favorite so far as been Vdara Hotel & Spa. Free of smoke, Vdara is also casino-free so they offer a cleaner and more healthy environment. All of Vdara’s rooms are large suites, with mini kitchens and a fold out couch for the kids.

Vdara is part of the MGM Hotels group, and rooms start at around $100/night.

An favorite hotel for families is the Paris Hotel & Casino Las Vegas. The hotel’s replica of the Eiffel Tower sports amazing views of Las Vegas in all directions, and the restaurants and kid-friendly. Our girls loved the Creperie on the main lobby floor, where fresh crepes are made to order (nutella and whipped cream seemed to be a big hit).

Paris is part of the Caesars Entertainment group of hotels, and rooms start below $100/night.

At night, the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas shines like a beacon across all of Las Vegas

 

 

 


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Best Cirque de Soleil Show in Las Vegas for Families

Best Cirque de Soleil Show in Las Vegas for Families

Las Vegas is home to a variety of wildly popular Cirque de Soleil shows playing at various hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, but which is the best Cirque de Soleil Show in Las Vegas for families? There are a total of six Cirque shows currently playing in Las Vegas, more concentration than any other city in the world. Our family has seen them all (well, the kids have seen all but one) and we rank them here for you to consider.

Las Vegas Strip night lights

Ah, the Las Vegas Strip never disappoints – kind of like a giant carnival.

We are judging for the best Cirque de Soleil show in Las Vegas for families completely subjectively, using our own family’s experiences over the past couple of years. It’s possible that some shows might have changed for the better – or worse – but in general our guide will give you a good idea of what to expect.

Mystère Cirque de Soleil Las Vegas balance act

The concentration in this Hand to Hand Balancing Act was incredible in Mystère. (photo credit: Richard Termine)

One thing to remember in all this – any Cirque de Soleil show is absolutely chock full of amazing acts, and performers who defy nature and gravity. There are so many things for the senses to take in, it sometimes takes days to process the experience. They are all really that good.

But which is the best Cirque de Soleil Show in Las Vegas for families?

Cirque de Soleil Mystère Las Vegas

The costumes, actors and performances are out of this world at Mystère in Las Vegas (photo credit: Matt Beard)

Read on for our suggestions and available tickets:

Mystère

Location: Treasure Island

Mystère was the first Cirque de Soleil show to debut in Las Vegas, and was an instant sensation. After hearing the rave reviews, we even flew to Las Vegas specifically to see this show. It’s grand and wild and amazing and so much fun. Mystère birthed the Cirque juggernaut which would take over the world, and rightly so. With enormous inflatable snails that seem to sail across the stage and daredevil aerials, the show is mesmerizing still. As the grand daddy of all Las Vegas shows from the day in debuted, Mystère changed the way shows are staged and audiences interact with performers. Classic and still amazing.

Location: MGM Grand

KÀ Cirque de Soleil Battle scene Las Vegas

The battle scene in KÀ is impressive, considering these performers are hanging vertically. (photo credit: Cirque de Soleil)

was the first show we took our kids to see, and their eyes were wide with amazement before the show even started. The Cirque formula is brilliant, starting with fun entertainers coming into the audience before the show to warm us up. In the KÀ show, there is a moveable, tilting stage that challenges performers to defy gravity. Fancifully costumed acrobats appear to walk up a wall, drop from heights to depths at rapid speeds and more. This show contains a collection of connected acts that tell a story, hard for kids to follow but triumphant in the end.

“O”

Location: Bellagio Hotel & Casino

This is the water show you’ve probably heard so much about. Perhaps “O” stands for Ocean? Or possibly Outstanding? “O” has to be seen to be believed – it’s truly amazing what these performers can do in a very small amount of water. The staging is like nothing we’ve ever seen, as it provides the audience with a dual view above and below the water level. This Cirque show is on another level, and we’ve never seen anything like it before or since.

"O" Cirque de Soleil Las Vegas Bellagio

Performers dive into the waters of “O” by Cirque de Soleil at Bellagio in Las Vegas. (photo credit: Tomasz Rossa)

Zumanity

Location: New York New York Hotel & Casino

Zumanity Cirque de Soleil Las Vegas

Zumanity is too racy for kids, and is a more adult version of Cirque de Soleil. (photo credit: Pierre Manning)

This show is not for kids. Described by Cirque de Soleil as intended for adults only, Zumanity is sexy, racy, baudy and audacious – which is definitely a part of the Las Vegas experience. More burlesque than circus, Zumanity is one of those shows you either like or don’t. Perhaps we caught them on a bad day, because we did not love this show. In fact, it was a little boring. The Mistress of Ceremonies was a towering drag queen, and Cher knows we love a good drag queen. This one, however, did a lot of prancing and exclaiming but little actual entertaining. Nope to this one, kids or not.

LOVE

Location: The Mirage

LOVE is based on the music of The Beatles, and kids love the show because they recognize so many of the popular songs it contains. Staged creatively in four quadrants, the audience sits in distinct sections but all get to experience the show from their own perspectives. The use of gauzy drapes and suspended performers is impressive, and LOVE’s action keeps the audience riveted throughout. Our kids loved this show because there was something to see regardless of where you looked, and so did we. LOVE is very light, airy and uplifting.

The Beatles LOVE Cirque de Soleil Las Vegas

The Beatles LOVE show in Las Vegas is an extravaganza, like this scene from Sgt. Pepper. (photo credit: Matt Beard)

Michael Jackson ONE

Location: Mandalay Bat Resort & Casino

Using Michael Jackson’s iconic repertoire of songs, Michael Jackson ONE has an uplifting plot that leads the audience through a transformation. Michael Jackson the performer had a distinct message to share about one love, life’s beauty, diversity and hope for humankind. This Cirque show follows this philosophy, with entertaining acts and performers including one amazing dancer in the Michael Jackson genre (space walking is indeed included). We’ve seen this show twice, and each time leave feeling better than when we entered.

Michael Jackson ONE Cirque de Soleil Las Vegas

Such amazing dancing in Cirque de Soleil’s Michael Jackson ONE show in Las Vegas. (photo credit: Aaron Felske)

So which is the best Cirque de Soliel show in Las Vegas for families?

Our family votes for a tie between “O” and Michael Jackson One as the best of the best. Both are amazing for different reasons, with so much to see it really is hard to breathe at moments. Your kids will love either one, and if you can swing it we recommend you see both shows on your next visit. Cirque de Soleil tickets in Las Vegas are not inexpensive, but you might be feeling flush from your winnings at the casino tables. So splurge away!

Michael Jackson ONE show Las Vegas entrance

Even the entry doors to the Michael Jackson ONE show in Las Vegas are designed in his style.

 

 

 


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Las Vegas for Art Lovers

Las Vegas for Art Lovers

Las Vegas has more to offer than great hotels, shows, food and of course gambling. In fact, Las Vegas is a place for artists and art lovers to gather and fall in love with the brilliance of modern art. From the lights of the strip to its architectural brilliance, visit Las Vegas for art lovers and the city’s landscape of art inside and out.

 

Bellagio Resort & Casino Las Vegas fountains

The Bellagio fountain are an art form themselves.

Las Vegas for Art Lovers

Here are a few places to check out in Las Vegas for art lovers:

Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art

Our family has spent hours watching the mesmerizing fountains at the Bellagio Hotel. The last time we were there together, we practically had to pull the girls away from the sidewalk kicking and screaming. When that gets old, go inside the hotel to check out the art gallery. It’s complete with premiere pieces and rotating exhibitions from around the world. The gallery has hosted works from the likes of Picasso and Warhol, as well contemporary artists like sculptor and eclectic artist Yayoi Kusama. The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is the perfect place to take the whole family when the neon lights of the strip get to be a little much.

man looking up at glass flowers on Bellagio Las Vegas ceiling

Triton was particularly amazed at the glass flowers on the ceiling of the Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

And how about that collection of artistic glass flowers on the lobby ceiling in the Bellagio main entrance? That creation by famed glass artist Dale Chihuly is a modern masterpiece. It’s called Fiori di Como, and is the artist’s interpretation of Italian flowers in the spring.

Neon Museum

Speaking of neon, art can take more forms than just paintings that adorn museum walls. The Neon Museum is a great example of non-traditional art. This non-profit museum houses and restores iconic Las Vegas neon signs. It’s amazing to see some of the old school marquis signs from the Vegas Strip, so close you can walk up and touch them. Some in this collection are so OG that you’ll have to watch scenes from old movies to even remember where they stood. Actually, the museum is very good at explaining the importance and history of each neon piece of art. This place is a goldmine!

Vegas neon sign

Las Vegas is chock full of neon art, practically anywhere you look.

The Arts Factory

The arts in Downtown Las Vegas range from showcases of masterpieces to stunning shops. The Arts Factory is a nondescript building from the outside, but when you walk inside you’ll be mesmerized. There are scores of  tenants that bring together art, entertainment, and even cuisine for a perfect artistic experience. Gaze on the photography of local artists in Perception Gallery, grab a drink between galleries at the The Urban Lounge, and check out Peace N Art Studio, a collaborative gallery of ecletic art. There’s something for every artistic taste at The Arts Factory.

black and white wallpaper of playing cards and other items

This cool wallpaper pattern at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas is truly art in and of itself.

Metropolitan Gallery Las Vegas

The MGLV is more than just a place to view local artists. With more than 17,000 square feet of space on Fremont Street, MGLV is the perfect place to apply to exhibit your own work. If you’re an art creator (not just an art lover), you’ll love this hidden gem in downtown Vegas. It also has space to host individual art for shows and sales (after application and fee). For the visitor, it’s fun to see what local artists are creating in Las Vegas. A nice way to mingle with real people outside of the casino world.

blank canvases are still art

Sometimes art does not framed the way we expect.

CityCenter

Vegas’s CityCenter is a work of art in itself. The architectural design of CityCenter, complete with gorgeous staircases and glass exterior, is home for a large public space of fine art. International artists’ pieces adorn CityCenter to make the 21st century space one of Vegas’s favorite art destinations. Here you can find stunning works by Frank Stella, Henry Moore, Jenny Holzer, Richard Long and more. It’s impressive how the curators have placed art in ways to highlight the architecture of the buildings.

Art for Everyone

Whether you’re a budding artist, born with a paint brush in your hand, or an appreciator of fine art, Las Vegas is a great destination for art lovers. Check out the casinos, sculptures, and galleries that fill the Strip and downtown Las Vegas.

view Las Vegas strip at night

The view of the Las Vegas Strip from our room on the 65th floor at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas – not too shabby.

Las Vegas itself is an art form in an of itself, and we had fun finding a little piece of creativity everywhere we looked. Let us know what you find there – we’d love to add new places to our list!


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Parents Getaway Weekend in Las Vegas – No Kids!

Parents Getaway Weekend in Las Vegas – No Kids!

* A portion of our stay was hosted by The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, and the opinions expressed here are our own as always.

Sometimes it’s all just too much, and you need a healthy break from your kids. There’s plenty of research from highly educated experts that supports this, so who are we to argue? When Triton’s birthday and our 21st anniversary coincided this summer, we knew it was time for a parents getaway weekend in Las Vegas.

When exhaustion sets in from too much family, too many responsibilities, too many carpools, tutors, lessons and homework, it’s time. Time for the parents to have a moment for each other, for ourselves, for our sanity. And what better place for that escape than Las Vegas?

Welcome to Las Vegas Airport

You know you’ve hit the Las Vegas Airport from the flashing lights and slot machines that greet you as you deplane.

 

There are a few things to consider when planning your parents getaway weekend, so read on for some tips and recs.

Planning a Parents Getaway Weekend in Las Vegas

As soon as the thought occurs to you that it’s time for a break, it’s past due. You need to act fast. You and I both know that we just keep our heads down, persevering the daily grind until that big red thermometer in our heads hit overload. Rather than explode, go online and start planning. Or better yet, you can ask Alexa to do it – she comes well equipped to plan travel nowadays.

crystal drapes at Chandelier Bar Las Vegas

The Chandelier Bar at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas is draped with millions of crystals.

Checklist for Parents Getaway Weekend in Las Vegas

Plan in Advance

  1. Choose a hotel you would never stay at with your kids. Come on, do it right and spend some time with other adults and no crying kids – especially when they’re not your own. We chose The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, because it is distinctly for adults (no, not like that!) No roller coasters, no play areas, no kids menus.
  2. Book a suite. You’re in Vegas after all, so be a baller for the weekend and get a nice room. Ours had a terrace overlooking the Bellagio fountains, a fantastic view of the Strip from the 65th floor, and a giant bathroom with soaking tub.
    view Las Vegas strip at night

    The view of the Las Vegas Strip from our room on the 65th floor at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas – not too shabby.

  3. Book spa appointments at Sahra Spa & Hammam. A steam, whirlpool, sauna and massage will do wonders to loosen that crick in your neck you’ve had since your first child was born.
  4. Make dinner reservations early. Cool places book up fast, and if you want to see a show (see #4 below) you’ll need to schedule dinner properly to leave enough time to get there. On our first night (Friday) we chose to stay at The Cosmopolitan and eat at their delicious and quirky restaurant, Rose.Rabbit.Lie. This place is part cabaret/part gourmet restaurant/part Alice in Wonderland. Trust me, just go – you have to experience it to believe it. Tell Skye we sent you.
Skye Dee Miles at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

Skye performs most nights at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. supper club at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, and her show is spectacular.

Be Spontaneous

  1. If you’re up for it, grab an after-dinner drink at The Chandelier. Located back near the gaming tables, this three-story bar is draped in zillions of strands of crystals. It’s literally like sitting inside a giant chandelier. Order the Secret Cocktail – just trust us. You’re kidless!
    Secret Drink at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

    When you visit The Chandelier at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, order the secret drink – it’s a sensation.

  2. Play a few casino games. Remember, you’re a baller for the weekend – try roulette or craps like you know what you’re doing!
  3. Hit the bed (eventually).
  4. Rise and have some breakfast at Eggslut. Yes that is really what it’s called, and we’re not sure why. But their egg sandwiches are so damn good it really doesn’t matter what their name is. Salted chocolate chip cookie optional.
Sahra Spa entrance at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

As you enter Sahra Spa at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, this waterfall and stone walls form an optical illusion.

Make Time to Relax

  1. Go to the pool and lay around for several hours. Maybe bring your ear buds and listen to something other than Disney tunes. Or maybe read a trashy romance novel. Or maybe? Just maybe sit and do nothing, and remember what that felt like before kids.
  2. Head to the Sahra spa for that steam/whirlpool/sauna and massage. If you are lucky you will get Le’ Shaun as your massage therapist – she was (almost) the best thing about this entire weekend.
  3. After that spa experience, a little afternoon nap will be in order. Maybe try out that tub for two in the room?

Hit the Town

Cirque de Soleil Zumanity Mistress of Ceremonies

The spectacle at Zumanity was really sexy and like nothing we have back home, that’s for sure!

  1. Get dressed up – do this for each other. Just like you took a little extra time to look good when you were dating, this is the time to brush the kids’ cookie crumbs and snot rags aside and clean yourselves up – it’s Saturday night!
  2. Hit a restaurant, see a show, go dancing at one of the many nightclubs along the Strip! At one point on Saturday night, we taxi’d over to see Zumanity at New York, New York. This is Cirque de Soleil’s adult-themed show, and it was certainly that. Definitely NOT for kids or the faint of heart. Outrageously sexy women and men romp around the stage doing suggestive things, all corralled by a Master/Mistress of Ceremonies – a 6-foot-something drag queen in red stilettos. Our retinas are still burning from things we can never unsee.
  3. Back at the Cosmo, hit up Milk Bar for a little dessert snack. I tried the Crack Pie and had to go back for me (go figure). Triton tried the soft serve chocolate pretzel flavor – salty and sweet with a little crunch thrown in.
    dessert at Milk Bar Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

    The Crack Pie at Milk Bar in the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas was so good, we kept having to go back for more. Go figure!

  4. Go dancing at Omnia, or not. Drink more, or not. Maybe go to the room, order a bottle of bubbly from room service, and take in the view of the famous Vegas lights from your private terrace balcony. Remember The Cosmopolitan’s tag line: “Just the right amount of wrong”. Live!
  5. Wake up, eat some Eggslut, pack up, and return home to those gorgeous kids. You’ll be rested, relaxed and ready to help with that f*@#ing common core math homework again.
    Fairfax Sandwich at Eggslut Las Vegas

    The Fairfax Sandwich at Egg Slut is the perfect antidote for the mild Las Vegas hangover you might be feeling.

Have a blast and let us know how it went! We love to hear your stories….


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Helicopter Tour of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas

Helicopter Tour of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas

*This post was sponsored by Maverick Helicopters and The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.

Our family is fortunate to have seen some amazing views from very high places, such as hot air balloons in Turkey and helicopter tours in Kauai. However, nothing tops my recent helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. It was a breathtaking experience, hosted by Maverick Helicopters for a group of us staying at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.

As many times as we’ve been to Las Vegas, we never realized how close The Strip is to the Grand Canyon. These two places could not be more different from one another, and Maverick Helicopters helped us see both from new perspectives. The trip was about four hours of fun, with so many sights crammed into that time that I got lost in all the beauty.

Departing from McCarran Airport

We boarded for our helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas by boarding at McCarran International Airport. Opposite the regular passenger terminals sits a group of hangars, one of which is dedicated to Maverick Helicopters. Flying a fleet of more than a dozen helicopters from this location, Maverick also has bases on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Maui and soon to open in Kauai.

safety briefing at Maverick Helicopters

Our Maverick Helicopters pilot prepped us with a safety briefing before we boarded.

It’s an easy shuttle ride from The Cosmopolitan to the Maverick hangar (they even come to pick you up at your hotel), where guests wait comfortably for a safety briefing and then boarding.

Soaring Away

With seating for seven passengers plus the pilot, the helicopter was surprisingly roomy. Surrounding by windows our sight lines were wide open, and as we ascended straight up into the sky, the Las Vegas Strip came into full view in all its glory. After a brief pass over the southern end of Las Vegas Boulevard, we headed straight out into the desert towards the Grand Canyon.

not a doggie bag

Is this a doggie bag, or something else? Good thing we didn’t need it – the ride was smooth and easy.

The ride was exhilarating. We dipped and soared across the the rooftops of East Las Vegas, low enough to see people in their backyards and yet high enough to see mountains on the horizon ahead. As we moved forward, our pilot took us on a wide turn in the sky that brought an amazing sight into view – one of the world’s most famous engineering achievements.

 

heading to Grand Canyon by helicopter

Heading out towards the Grand Canyon, there were plenty of gorgeous vistas before we ever got there.

The Hoover Dam

We had a chance to visit the Hoover Dam last summer on our great road trip of the Southwest, but this view from high above was just mind blowing. Our helicopter swooped around the canyon and approached the dam from the lower side, where the Colorado River flows out the bottom of the dam to continue on its’ way. Lake Mead sits above, blue and expansive, with Hoover Dam holding all that water firmly in place.

Maverick Helicopter tour of Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam looks so impressive from above, with its fortress barrier and engineering marvels.

As we soared above the dam, our pilot turned our vantage point to look south this time. Hovering over Lake Mead, we could see the top of the dam, the incredible drop to the river far below, and even little people standing on the top of the dam looking down. One of the most beautiful sights was of the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which spans the canyon with impressive arches in front of Hoover Dam. The photo opportunities were endless.

Lake Mead and Hoover Dam from above

Looking across Lake Mead from above, we could see Hoover Dam holding all the water with the Colorado River below.

Touching Down in the Grand Canyon

We powered on, reaching the crevices and deeply gouged earth of the Grand Canyon in just moments. The color of the earth changed color from dingy grey to a deep ochre red, with interesting variations in tone that are hard to notice close up. From high above, we viewed geological formations, striations in the canyon walls of color ranging from chalky white to blood red, and straggly plants trying for dear life to hang on to the steep walls.

Drinking Veuve by the Grand Canyon

Sitting about 300 feet above the Colorado River, we were descended into the Grand Canyon and resting on an ancient plateau.

Our pilot brought us down into the canyons, flying low over the Colorado River and between the high walls of rock on either side. It honestly felt like a video game, as we sped along with rocks whizzing by.

All of sudden, we came upon a cliff-side clearing, where other helicopters were parked in an area inaccessible by foot or boat. As we touched down, the wind from the rotors whirled up a cloud of red dirt spraying up to greet us. Safely on the ground, we stepped out of the helicopter and were greeted by picnic benches, umbrellas, and delicious Veuve Clicquot cocktails whipped up by The Cosmopolitan’s chief mixologist Mariena Mercer.

Mariena made us some killer Veuve cocktails, hanging out deep inside the Grand Canyon. Crazy cool!

Sitting on a rock, sipping Veuve and looking out over the Colorado River, I couldn’t help but get a little emotional. After all, how many opportunities do you have to helicopter into the Grand Canyon and touch down on a cliff side to take in the view? Yeah, me neither.

Buzzing The Strip

After the incredibly beauty of the Grand Canyon we were pretty quiet as we flew back towards Las Vegas, each passenger lost in our own thoughts. But we were delighted out of our reverie by the stunning view of the Las  Vegas Strip on the horizon. Sure enough, the pilot maneuvered us directly along the Strip. We flew over all the major icons of Las Vegas, including Fremont Street downtown, the Stratosphere, Caesars Palace, the fountains of the Bellagio, the tall towers of The Cosmopolitan, the pyramid of Luxor, and back to our starting point at the Maverick Helicopters hangar.

Las Vegas Strip birds eye view

Coming back into Las Vegas, we buzzed the Strip and flew directly over the hotels and casinos.

Back at The Cosmopolitan, I was so charged up from our helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas that I had to visit the spa for a massage. Luckily, the resort has an excellent spa called Sahra which was the perfect ending to an adventure filled day.

 


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Making Cake Truffles with Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar

Making Cake Truffles with Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar

*This post was made possible through the kind sponsorship of The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.

It’s not easy to become a famous chef by making desserts, and that is precisely what Christina Tosi has done big time. With her now-famous Milk Bar group of restaurants, she has turned the dessert world on its head with her amazing creations. While staying at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas recently, I had the incredible opportunity to attend a private session making Cake Truffles with Christina Tosi. I will never look at cake the same way again.

Making cake with Christina Tossi and Jon Bailey

It was so awesome to spend time with Chef Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar fame.

Meeting Christina Tosi in person was the real treat, and she is extremely approachable with a great sense of humor. I mentioned watching her as a judge alongside Gordon Ramsey on the hit TV show Master Chef, because my friend Claudia Sandoval had been the winner of Season 6! Christina loved hearing how well Claudia is doing (we bonded over Claudia’s ridiculously delicious Tres Leches Cake, but that’s another story and another cookbook).

Momofuku Milk Bar

Christina puts such attention to detail into each one of her creations, and the flavor profiles are intensely delicious. She has perfected the exact right balance of flavors, textures and aesthetics to produce gorgeous cakes that taste out of this world. Her focus is on flavors, infusing different combinations into every possible ingredient that enhances them beyond their original. For example, milk is never used plain – it’s always infused with some other flavor to add another opportunity to layer flavors into what becomes a complex combination of many elements. Whatever she is doing, please keep doing it because it works!

Birthday Cake by Milk Bar

Birthday Cake at its finest, by Chef Christina Tosi from Momokufu Milk Bar.

Making Cake Truffles with Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar

The story behind Christina’s now-famous Cake Truffles is amazing, but you first have to learn how she makes her cakes. Each cake layer is baked in a rectagular baking pan, and then circles of cake are cut from the pan. (This is ingeniusly done so that Christina can be assured the cake is cooked consistently through from edge to edge.) This process leaves cake scraps leftover, and she didn’t want to waste perfectly good cake. Thus, she invented Cake Truffles.

Making Cake Truffles with Christina Tossi

Chef Christina Tosi demonstrates how to make a Cake Truffle.

Now so popular that she has to make extra pans of cake devoted just to Cake Truffles, these delicious creations are available in her restaurants by the single or multiple. I came home with 12, and my family devoured them by the next morning!

Birthday Cake Truffles

Here is the general process we followed to make Birthday Cake Truffles with Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar fame, under her personal direction.

Making Cake Truffles assembly line

Our Birthday Cake Truffle assembly line, in which I was a cake crumbler.

  1. We crumbled up a pan of birthday cake into little pieces.
  2. Into the bowl of crumbles, we added some vanilla infused milk
  3. We mixed the milk and crumbles together with our hands, gaining a consistency that was sticky not clumpy.
  4. Using a scoop, we rolled the cake mixture into balls about the size of a ping pong ball.
  5. From there, the balls were dipped in melted white chocolate mixed with a bit of coconut oil to thin out the clumping factor. The chocolate coating seals in the moist cake and creates a crunchy hard shell for added texture.
  6. Then the ball is rolled in toasted birthday cake crumbs, which stick to the hardening chocolate and add a crunchy exterior.
  7. The balls are set aside to cool while the process continues.
    Birthday Cake Truffles with Christina Tossi

    Finished Cake Truffles cooling on the plate, as we perched nearby waiting to taste them. Mmmmmmm.

When all was complete, we had to taste our creations of course. They were beyond delicious.

There were three other teams at our session, all making different flavors of cake truffles. One was a chocolate brownie cake truffle, one was a salty/sweet combo of chocolate, pretzels and peanuts, and one was a lemon cake with raspberry coating that was just stupid good.

If you would like more detail, you can view the recipe for Milk Bar’s Birthday Cake Truffles on their website.

Milk Bar at The Cosmopolitan

If you don’t feel like making Cake Truffles yourself, you can always mosey up to the Milk Bar at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. Chef Christina has set up an awesome outpost there, where her guests sample creations beyond anything I have described here.

Christina Tossi's Milk Bar in Las Vegas

Mosey up to the Milk Bar at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas for a sweet treat or two, or three…

Now back home in my own little kitchen, I am definitely going to try this with the kids. Sophia loves to bake, and she will enjoy coming up with interesting combinations of flavors to make her own Cake Truffles. We’ll keep you posted!

Me and the gang made Cake Truffles

Part of Chef Christina Tosi’s vibe is these colorful headbands, which we all wore as we made our creations.

 


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Secrets Finds at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

Secrets Finds at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

*This post was made possible through a sponsored experience in partnership with The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.

One of the things I like most about The Cosmopolitan Resort & Casino in Las Vegas is the interesting combination of mystery and discovery they weave into every corner of the property. I had the opportunity to stay there again recently, and found several new secret finds at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas to share.

Under new management, The Cosmopolitan has undergone some interesting transformations. The rooms have been renovated, the restaurants upgraded and the casino floor is amped up to new heights. Amid all this, the air of mystery that has always surrounded The Cosmopolitan drew me in even further.

Here are some secret finds at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas that you can hunt down yourself:

Room with a might fine view at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.

Room Location – It’s not really a secret, but the rooms facing north on the high floors of the Broadway Tower give you some of the most amazing views of the Las Vegas Strip you can find anywhere. In fact, I don’t think you can find these views anywhere else. From my room on the 62nd floor, I looked out over the spectacle called the Bellagio Fountains and right up the Strip all the way to the mountains far beyond. At night, the lights were spectacular and the energy pumping. These are the things that make Las Vegas so incredible, and in my room at The Cosmopolitan I was smack dab in the middle of it all. Ask reservations to help you find the right floor and room – terrace studio fountain view.

Paella cooks in huge pans at Jaleo

The Chef at Jaleo restaurant at The Cosmopolitan stirs up a mean batch of gorgeous paella.

Secret Dining Room at JaleoJaleo at The Cosmopolitan is one of the fantastic Spanish-inspired restaurants by celebrity Chef Jose Andrés, and it does not disappoint. The food is authentic and out-of-this-world delicious, served in a beautiful dining room with an open kitchen that burns fragrant orange wood under gigantic bubbling paella pans. However, few know of the “restaurant within a restaurant” É by Jose Andrés, which is located just past the bar in the back left corner. A small door opens into an exclusive dining room that seats just 8 people, with a different menu and intimate vibe. Reservations need to be made far in advance.

Secret Bar & Lounge in Stitched – At the back of menswear haberdashery Stitched, through the beautifully hand tailored plaid sport coats, sharp suits, fun ties and made-to-fit shirts, there is a secret lounge just waiting for you. Outfitted with comfy leather furniture and a wall of private lockers stocked with rare bottles, the lounge offers guys (and their gang) a place to hang out and relax whether they are being fitted for custom tailoring or not. We enjoyed a nice glass of Maker’s Reserve and casually learned how to tie a bow tie (no more clips-ons for me!). The staff has great taste and really got my style. I will be back to Stitched for some serious wardrobe upgrades.

Stitched at The Cosmopolitan

The Lounge in the back of Stitched menswear at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas was a welcome respite.

Decor in the rooms – Even in the guest rooms, prepare yourself for one of those find-the-object games we all played as kids, where you search for the image of a golf club or a pumpkin or some other random thing inside a black and white line drawing of something from an Escher painting. At The Cosmopolitan, it’s a little racier though. Some of the discoveries are fairly obvious, like the naked parts featured in framed photos over the in-room bar. But then you start to see things that make you go “huh”, like the subtle image of a nude woman in the wallpaper of the bathroom. See how many interesting and secret design features you can find – I was up to 5 by the time I checked out.

Secret Pizza – After all that late night carousing, drinking and winning at the blackjack tables, we were hungry again. Luckily we had been tipped off about the secret pizza spot with no name on the third floor of The Cosmopolitan, located down an album cover-festooned hallway that looks like you are headed towards the back of house. Suddenly, a door opens on your left and there is an old-school pizza joint serving up slices of all varieties. You can even get a whole pie to take back to the room.

The cookie at Egg Slut – Everyone loses their shit over the egg sandwiches from LA-famous Egg Slut, and I can attest they really are that good. It is completely worth it to stand in that line to get a Fairfax Egg Sandwich plus bacon, and honestly the line moves fast. But here’s a hint – get the cookie too. I know, I know, you don’t want a cookie for breakfast. Except you do. Because this salty-sweet dark chocolate chip cookie creation is to die for. And sometimes you just gotta live.

Eggslut Fairfax Sandwich

The Fairfax sandwich at Eggslut, served up daily at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. (photo courtesy of The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas)

Secret cocktail at Chandelier Bar – The centerpiece of The Cosmopolitan is the Chandelier Bar, designed and draped in millions of crystals that resemble an enormous chandelier (or maybe one of Lady Gaga’s dresses). To impress your friends, ask the bartender for the Verbena Cocktail, a creation of the Cosmopolitan’s Master Mixologist Mariena Mercer. The margarita-ish cocktail is remarkable due to the addition of the Szechuan Button Flower, floating on top of the liquor and ice. You must first eat the flower, which opens up your tastebuds and makes your mouth feel all tingly and numb. Then and only then do you take a sip of the lemon verbena-infused cocktail. It’s a taste sensation like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

Chandelier Bar secret cocktail

The secret cocktail at Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan is dazzling.

Surprising Presentations at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. – The uniquely named restaurant Rose. Rabbit. Lie. is themed loosely after a twisted adult version of Alice in Wonderland, where nothing is what is seems. It’s part supper club, part dinner theater, and the live entertainment is of very high caliber and really really fun – especially if powerhouse Skye Miles is performing).

Skye Miles performs at Rose.Rabbit.Lie.

Me and my friend Skye Miles as she entertains the fans at Rose.Rabbit.Lie.

The food is outstanding, but the presentation will knock your socks off (you have to try the Caviar Tacos, Lobster Fritters and Beef Wellington). These chefs work very hard to tantalize your tastebuds and your mind at the same time. Take the cocktails for example – one drink named “Birds of a Feather” was served in a tall, clear-glass bird sculpture, complete with glass straw for sipping right from the bird. Another drink called “Through the Looking Glass”, is a combination of tequila, other liquors and fresh citrus – all presented in a round spyglass contraption. Stunning! And don’t forget to order the Chocolate Terrarium for dessert. It will come to the table in a presentation you have very likely never seen. Get your cameras ready, because it’s Instagram time all up in this place.

Rose.Rabbit.Lie. serves up some wicked cocktails

The Birds of a Feather cocktail is served up at Rose.Rabbit.Lie.(photo courtesy of The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas)

The Chelsea concert venue – If you have never seen a concert at The Chelsea, you are missing out. The Cosmopolitan’s main venue is remarkably intimate with a max of only 2,500 seats. This way each guest gets to truly enjoy the act they have come to see, without sitting in the nosebleed section, or having to bribe some security guard to get you on to the main floor. This place is luxe and comfortable – and in true Vegas style, the cocktails are impeccable. Acts like Portugal. The Man., Dua Lipa, The Doobie Brothers and Duran Duran have all been on the concert schedule at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, and the fans go wild because each person feels so damn close to the stage.

I was only there for three nights, and I’m sure there are more surprising yet to be discovered. What secret finds at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas have you spied out? Spill please! After all, sharing is caring…

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Chicken Soup Worth More Than Its Weight In Gold?

Chicken Soup Worth More Than Its Weight In Gold?

My mama would be proud to know there is now a chicken soup more valuable than hers, In fact, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has made a bold new addition to the Talon Club Menu: a $688 soup that is literally worth more than its weight in gold.

I used to say my mom’s homemade chicken noodle soup was the best thing ever, and it did always make me feel better when I was growing up. However, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas‘ new version takes it to another level.

Valued at over $14,000 per gram, the Cordyceps fungus was handpicked in the Himalayan Mountains and traveled all the way to Las Vegas to create this Cordyceps Soup. The “caterpillar fungus” is historically rare due to its growth in select seasonal locations with altitudes of 3,800 meters above sea level in exclusive parts of the world where these special caterpillars can survive.

Our special ingredient, the Cordyceps fungus, is believed to have extremely powerful healing properties such as acting a natural cancer treatment, anti-aging supplement and even an aphrodisiac,” stated Bryan Fyler, Executive Chef of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Cordyceps Soup at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

The Cordyceps Soup at The Talon Club at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is worth more than its’ weight in gold. Photo Credit: Anthony Mair

Exclusively offered to the clientele of The Talon Club, a VIP private gaming room at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the Cordyceps soup features black-skinned chicken breast, longan berry, and red date in an earthy, tea-like broth with a quarter ounce of Cordyceps in every bowl. No noodles though.

This soup is priced at just $688 per bowl  a small cost for all those potential benefits (especially if you’re winning at the blackjack table). The restaurant sold approximately 100 servings in 2017.

Well, wouldn’t my mama be tickled to try that!

The Cosmopolitan soars over the Las Vegas Strip.