Viva Las Vegas!
So this blog is really about Portland and its surrounding areas. But what actually defines “surrounding?” Well, how about Sin City, as it’s known, which is only a sub-2 hour flight from PDX? Yes, I think this qualifies as, well, there are many reasons to visit the land of desert and gambling that the short hop from our #1 airport makes it oh-so-easy.
So why go to Vegas? Well, as an adult, the list of reasons might be long. For me? Heading to Vegas is all about four things: 1) So many amazing restaurants I can even count, 2) Incredible architecture, 3) Historical gambling locations, 4) Small shows. I will expand on all four of these items as I checked each of these boxes just this last weekend. Yep, I went down for 3 days with my wife…and what a great place Vegas is (we were reminded).
To be sure, the price of quality food in Vegas is not cheap. That said, you don’t eat at a high-end Vegas restaurant very often, so, when in Rome, it’s worth plunking down. And after three days there, I want to recommend one very, very special place: Mott 32. This new, Cantonese restaurant simply blew my mind. Found inside and at the east end of the Venetian, your stroll through La Piazza takes you to another world…finally arriving in “China.” Here are a few shots of the journey along the way.
From the clay pot-prepared shrimp to the Kung Pao Chicken, the sauces and protein quality was off the charts. Heck, the Kung Pao chicken alone is enough to draw me south. Very tasty.
Here are some more pictures of Mott 32. Great ambience, amazing staff/service, and delectible food. Yes, you might be willing to pay $200 for two to eat here. Can’t believe I’m saying it’s worth the price…but it just is.
O.K. Vegas is not old Europe, or historical Japan, but it does contain a number of architectural feats that should be celebrated. Indeed, this city of glitz really knows how to build up facades and bombastic structures. I am stunned each time I go, just by the sheer size of things. Check this picture of the New York New York hotel and casino on the strip there…it still just seems so huge! Of course, compared to the even bigger Caesar’s Palace, NY NY is but a guest house. I’m sure even Caesar himself would be firmly impressed:
Historic Gambling Locations
So you can gamble all over Las Vegas, even at the airport. Yet nothing compares to heading to “Old Vegas” and “Fremont Street.” In this part of town you can feel the history a lot more than on the Strip. In fact, it’s like stepping back in time. Down here you feel as if you could run into some of the old gangsters that started Vegas in the first place! Plus, the gambling odds are more in your favor. Specifically, there’s only one green zero on several of the roulette tables and many of the blackjack tables are considerably more “friendly” than what you’ll see in the bigger hotels. Definitely worth heading here. Highlight? The Neon Museum. So darn cool.
So there are a ton of “big shows” in Vegas that are well worth attending. From Penn and Teller to Michael Jackson’s One, these giant productions are, well, giant, and very well done. However, if you’re a fan of the more intimate, well, some of the smaller options around town are really worth seeking out. My favorite? Every Friday night there is a singer/songwriter performance on the casino floor at Mandalay Bay. We caught a Nashville Unplugged performance this last Friday…and it was so darn good. I mean these folks were responsible for writing hits for the likes of Chris Stapleton and Kelsea Ballerini, yet their own performances of these songs were literally on-par with their superstar liaisons! Titled, “The Story Behind the Song,” these performances rivaled and/or surpassed the talent we saw on much bigger stages. So seek out the smaller stuff…it’s lower cost (or even free) and there is talent x10!
Well, enjoy yourself out there…and maybe, just maybe we’ll cross paths in Vegas!