Live or Visit! The Las Vegas Difference

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By Gabe Goldberg

Retirement is by definition a time to “live differently”, trading lifelong habits and activities for new adventures. That transition offers new lifestyles and places to live, including areas never visited or considered. Perhaps surprisingly for non-gamers (gambling, that is, for which the city’s best known), Las Vegas is an ever-changing year-round grownup theme park, offering an astonishingly diverse mix of activities, entertainment, sightseeing, and — maybe surprisingly — relaxation. Living or visiting here likely offers more (and more varied) experiences than anywhere else you’ve lived or visited.

Many hotels host exhibits — art, science, history, etc. — that would do museums proud. The Venetian’s “Da Vinci — the
Genius” highlights the man’s mind and breathtakingly ahead-of-his-time imagination, illustrated with artifacts, documents, and (my favorites) working scale models of scientific and engineering principles he conceived. (Hurry; this closes January 27, 2013.)

From more modern times — only a century ago — The Luxor’s “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” leads visitors on a visually and emotionally stunning tour through the “unsinkable” ship’s construction, launch, passengers, initial cruising, iceberg encounter, and sinking. The epilogue, of course, was the huge loss of life and survival of a fraction of souls on board. Ship’s and passenger’s objects recovered and full narration tell a gripping story.

CityCenter — a new megaconstruction with hotels, shopping, theaters, restaurants — features a dozen+ major artworks cataloged in a brochure for free self-guided tour.

The Mirage - Yoga Among the Dolphins

The Mirage - Yoga Among the Dolphins

Relaxation, fitness, and serenity beckon at multiple oases of calm. The Mirage’s “Yoga Among the Dolphins” class meets in an underwater dolphin viewing area and accommodates all skill and experience levels. You’ll learn and practice yoga positions with a background of the graceful sea creatures. Caesar’s Qua Baths & Spa offers a catalog of refreshment and rejuvenation such as Roman rituals, color series, massage, and body pampering. Qua itself is a multi-room wonder of heat, cold, jacuzzi, scents, tea program, and more.

Las Vegas highlights I’ve enjoyed include the “Pinball Hall of Fame” (having, in my youth, spent uncounted quarters on such
machines); shooting galleries (where my wife and I fired Glock pistol and Uzi machine gun); and the Atomic Testing Museum (permanent exhibit on history, science, and technology of atomic testing programs plus temporary displays such as “Area 51 – Myth or Reality”).

For thrill seekers, the Stratosphere hotel tower — 1,149 feet tall, the tallest US freestanding observation tower — offers a sky-high mini-amusement park and SkyJump with 855 foot free fall.

Visiting Las Vegas needn’t be all urban streets and bright lights. Many areas and sights are easy day trips and have abundant nearby accommodations. Red Rock Canyon is a desert beauty with mighty cliffs, critters, waterfalls, and plant life. Touring Hoover Dam and nearby Boulder City lets you explore one of the country’s most majestic engineering feats. The Powerplant Tour explores electrical generation; the longer — and fascinating — Dam Tour includes the powerplant and passageways within the dam itself.

Las Vegas is justifiably famous for fine dining. Japonais at the Mirage blends exquisite, innovative sushi and sashimi with treats from a charcoal grill, including several dishes featuring Wagyu beef from Kobe, Japan. And Caesar’s Bacchanal takes buffet dining to new heights, highlighting nine chefs in open kitchens preparing more than 500 items representing seafood, Mexican, Italian, Asian, and more. And the pastry island wows with made-to-order crepes and souffles, creme brûlée, warm baked bread pudding (my favorite), gelato, cookies, cobbler.

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