Not Everything Stays in Las Vegas

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Exotic Blue Car in Las Vegas
Author Gabe Goldberg pictured next to one of the attractions that can be found in Las Vegas

By Gabe Goldberg

For years, Las Vegas has touted the slightly — and deliberately — naughty idea that “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. I’m happy to report that’s not entirely true. For example, after a recent whirlwind visit there and several previous trips, I’ve successfully brought home multiple pleasant memories, photos, souvenirs, and stories. As well as a desire to return!

Las Vegas is a dream city for large-scale show enthusiasts. Offerings include diverse resident Cirque du Soleil productions plus assorted awesome other performances. Among Cirque’s shows, “The Beatles LOVE” (playing at the Mirage) in particular resonates for those of us with ’60s/’70s connections. Combining Cirque’s reliably splendid staging with powerful Beatles-performed classic songs, it’s choreographed with acrobatics and stunning/engaging special effects to recap the foursome’s lives.

Elsewhere on the Strip (the main drag’s nickname), Paris Las Vegas hosts Jersey Boys, a rousing foot-tapping rendition of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons journeying from street corner to mega-success, with hits such as “Sherry” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry”. For an act combining nostalgia with current stardom, Donnie and Marie (Osmond — the real ones!) showcase their decades in show business at The Flamingo.

I enjoyed two big-boy (and girl!) highlights. First, Exotics Racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway features dozens of racecars (Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, etc.) for customer high-speed driving, as well as ride-along with professional drivers showing what these cars can do.

Second, Dig It Las Vegas put me at controls of a full-size (and power!) excavator, digging trenches, picking up basketballs, and carrying huge objects. Between them, Exotics and Dig It quite satisfied my inner race-car driver and construction-equipment operator cravings.

A bit — a few easy miles — off the Strip’s beaten path is historic downtown Las Vegas. Old school, it includes arcade streets reminiscent of beach boardwalks, with addition of newer treats such as overhead zip-line ride. The Mob Museum, billed as “National Museum of Organized Crime & Law Enforcement”, illustrates with artifacts and narration the rise and fall of gangsters and mobs — paying special attention, of course, to their local activities. An expert insider connection and board member is former Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman, whose pre-politics career was defense lawyer for mobsters.

For stunning high-altitude city viewing, there’s Paris’ Eiffel Tower (great at night with the Strip’s lights and action all around) and Stratosphere (at Strip’s north end, daytime landscape and landmark visibility to the horizon).

For a break from ticketed activities, there’s the Belaggio’s exquisite musical dancing fountains display, Treasure Island’s streetside pirate drama, and Forum Shops at Caesars’ larger-than-lifesize animated battle for Atlantis and nearby huge aquarium with feedings and behind-scenes tours.

Finally, it would be irresponsible not mentioning Las Vegas also being a dining paradise. Up and down the Strip, day and night, from bargain to sybaritic, there’s nourishment available — much of it 24/7. Two memorable meals were at the Aria’s Julian Serrano (Spanish tapas, dozens of intriguing small plates, big tastes, great for exploring and sharing) and MGM Grand’s Fiamma (multi-course Italian feasting, favorites and innovations, 700-bottle wine list, and dessert).

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