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SANE AND SERENE 24 HOURS IN LAS VEGAS

Do you have 24 hours in Las Vegas that you need to kill, and you’re sick of The Strip, tired of The Scene? Had enough bells, flashing lights, frat boys, bleached-blondes, gondolas, cigarette smoke, fake skies, fake pyramids, fake boobs, Celine Dion, overpriced clothes, overpriced food, overpriced drinks, sequins, feathers, bling and buffets? I am offering an antidote.

24 HOURS IN LAS VEGAS: MORNING

Your first 24 hours in Las Vegas are actually not going to be spent in Las Vegas: you’re renting a car and heading to Hoover Dam. Do NOT do as I did and go with Fox Rent a Car to save a measly ten bucks: despite how it markets itself, Fox is located miles from the McCarren Rent-A-Car Center, and cars in this city are inexpensive.

Hoover Dam is an easy drive of only 30 minutes. When you approach, keep your eye out for the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge sign and swing into the parking lot for it. Completed  in 2011, at a cost of $240 million, it is the second-highest span in the country. Take the steps leading up from the parking lot to the pedestrian walkway for some quick exercise and an awesome view of the dam from above.

Hoover Dam

Continue on towards the Visitors Center, forego the $7 parking, and instead park on the other side of the dam for free: it’s a pleasant five-minute walk. Have doubts about seeing a stupid dam? So did I, but the engineering, view and art deco design are worth the trip. Between the fresh desert air and morning light, the experience was exhilarating.

24 HOURS IN LAS VEGAS: AFTERNOON

Come to think of it, the next couple of hours of your 24 hours in Las Vegas are not really in Las Vegas either, which is probably why this itinerary is so sane and serene.

Return to Las Vegas the way you came, taking exit #5 (Green Valley Parkway) to Whole Food Market to buy a picnic meal (as well as lots of water and some sunscreen). Continue west to Red Rock Canyon, 15 miles on the other side of Las Vegas. Skip the Visitors’ Center: the trail map provided upon entry provides detailed descriptions of the hiking trails, which vary in length and difficulty. Pick a trail, grab your picnic lunch (and water!) and go. The scenery is stunning and you might spy wild horses, eagles, coyotes or sheep.

Red Rock Canyon Las Vegas

 

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SANE AND SERENE 24 HOURS IN LAS VEGAS (part two)

24 HOURS IN LAS VEGAS: WHERE TO STAY

As much as I hate to promote anything associated with The Donald, stay at the Trump International Hotel, an oasis amidst the chaos that is Las Vegas. The property is within walking distance of the shops, restaurants and casinos but still removed from the madness.  Most important, there’s NO CASINO onsite, which contributes to a significantly lower riff raff factor than you’ll find at other properties in this city. The decor is tasteful — by Vegas standards, anyway — with the exception of a delightful homoerotic mural of naked men spanning the length of the front desk. Your guest room will be large and lush: they don’t skimp on the blond wood and marble here. An additional bonus: individual entry ways provide insulation from outside noises.

Trump International Hotel Las Vegas

24 HOURS IN LAS VEGAS: EVENING

Once you’ve checked-in, you’re going to need 1) a nap (you’re on vacation); and 2) a shower (everyone else is on vacation too: don’t ruin it for them). Afterwards, grab a cab to the Raku, one of the best restaurants in Las Vegas: this sushi place is all substance over flash. I liked it better than Nobu (less pretentious) and as much as my longtime darling, Uchi. My three guests and I put ourselves in our server’s hands — we instructed her to just order away for us — and feasted happily as she produced plate after plate of imaginative but straightforward food. The bill (including tip and tax) came to only $300, which is unheard-of in this city.

Raku Las Vegas

24 HOURS IN LAS VEGAS: LATE NIGHT (but not too late)

Top off your evening at the Mandarin Bar at the top of the Mandarin Oriental. The cocktails are delicious but pricey, however you can justify the expense because you saved all that money dining at Raku. Plus, the view of Las Vegas is spectacular, and this little paradise is far from the throngs. You can actually hold a conversation here!

You’ve got only 8 hours left of your sane and serene (no headache tomorrow morning) 24 hours in Las Vegas. Go back to The Trump and go to bed!

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