Vegas, baby – I’m back! It’s only been a couple of years since my last visit and I was really looking forward to a bit of sensory overload over the next three days. Where else in the world can you spot an Elvis look-alike sauntering by at any given time of day, or dine-party-shop in an Eiffel Tower, Pyramid or ancient Rome? And if that weren’t enough, pounding the sidewalk while sipping a three-foot-high neon margarita is not only acceptable, it’s pretty much the norm.
I’ve been coming to Sin City for a long time now and each time I return I am simply in awe. The city keeps raising the bar with the latest luxury hotel, or Cirque de Soleil show, or upscale restaurant. The list goes on and on.
My trip this time around had a purpose, and that was to run in the Rock N Roll Las Vegas Marathon. Race aside, anything else I could squeeze in over the next few days was a welcome distraction.
I was fortunate enough to stay at an all-time favorite, the glamorous, Italian-inspired Bellagio hotel. After being greeted by a pleasant check-in clerk (and receiving a bonus surprise gift bag for runners), a walk through the impressive 14,000 square-foot Bellagio Arcadia was in order. This expansive display of horticulture, set to a harvest theme, is a one-of-a-kind feast for the eyes created by talented horticulturists and designers. The Bellagio boasts many unique features but my ultimate favorite by far is still the dancing fountains. Who can resist the angelic voices of Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman singing ‘Time To Say Goodbye’ timed perfectly to synchronized fountains?
Must-try: The ‘poppin’ spicy crab roll at Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant. Featuring watermelon pop rocks, you will literally have a mouthwatering explosion in your mouth.
If you LOVE to shop, Vegas has something for you, with price points that can accommodate all pocket books. I started with Nevada’s largest shopping mall, Fashion Show. This is an eye-catcher located directly on the strip. The mall is within walking distance of most strip hotels and a regular go-to for me. They boast over 250 chain and department stores and there’s always a sale somewhere – who can resist a sale?
If outlet shopping is more to your liking, my usual visit is the Premium Outlets. The Premium North mall is an outdoor complex and, being the sunny and warm day that it was, walking around was really a treat. Getting a bit of outdoor sunshine is a welcome reprieve from the overly air-conditioned malls that make your teeth chatter. I find the selection of stores impressive, from mainstream to designer high-end. My tendency is to get carried away and forget, in the best of times, to pace myself, which is precisely why I saved the outlet shopping for post race day.
Las Vegas Marathon
I think for most people, running in a marathon race in Las Vegas is probably not on their top 5 or even top 10 list, for that matter, of things to do whilst staying in the entertainment capital of the world. Honestly, it wasn’t my thing either when I first started coming. In the world of running, however, conquering new roads is part of the fun (not to mention the bragging rights that go along with it). The Las Vegas Marathon takes place the weekend of Nov. 12 and offers a distance for all runners from 5k, 10k, half and full marathons. It’s one of the oldest marathons in the United States and this year they celebrated a special birthday – its 50th.
I’m no newbie to this course and am happy to say I have now successfully completed my fourth half marathon run on the infamous Las Vegas strip.
Here are some of the highlights that were unique to this year’s Rock N Roll Las Vegas Marathon 2016:
• Pre-race entertainment by none other than legendary rapper Snoop Dogg
• More than $2 million dollars raised for charity at the ‘World’s Largest Nighttime Running Event”
• 35 running couples tying the knot while running the course
• This year’s marathon winner was the first man to win a full marathon dressed as Elvis (only in Vegas!)
• Running with 40,000 runners from all 50 states and 83 countries, who took to the pavement and ran under a supermoon! Pretty cool, right?
Las Vegas has extended its offerings and has become so much more than the gambling city it was once upon a time. Today, the city offers award-winning restaurants run by celebrity chefs, first class shopping with the world’s most luxurious brands along with high-end spa resorts and golf courses. That being said, it truly offers something for everyone.
On my next visit (yes, there’s always a next visit), I hope to cross off a few attractions off my list that are just opening:
• The Park, featuring the T-Mobile Arena for concerts and sporting events
• Liberace Garage, showcasing legendary automobiles from his stage acts
At the end of my whirlwind weekend I’ve left town convinced I’ve had the time of my life, and there’s only one place it could be. Las Vegas!