Las Vegas 2012 (Day 1)
Since Southwest Airlines ran one of their special vacation packages that included a discounted room and two show tickets, we decided to escape the Midwest winter and return to Sin City once again. For the first time, we rented an SUV and headed out to Red Rock Canyon where there’s a park with hiking and biking trails (and, of course, a nearby casino and hotel). On the way there, we stopped for more nourishment than anyone needs at Hash House A Go Go. The hip eatery’s “twisted farm food” includes an array of tasty breakfast fare like oversized flapjacks and waffles and farm scrambles. We thought waffles were unbelievably good, as were the crispy potatoes. Portions are big, so even if you’re looking for cool comfort food to combat that hangover, consider sharing with a friend. There are locations throughout Las Vegas (on The Strip, you can find Hash House at Imperial Palace or in downtown there’s a small one inside the revitalized Plaza Hotel & Casino), but there’s often a wait – the place is that popular.
From there, we headed to Las Vegas Cyclery where we bought a map of the mountain bike trials and rented a couple of Santa Cruz suspension bikes, which we subsequently dismantled and put in the back of SUV – no easy task though the quick release wheels helped. From the bike shop, it was a good 30-minute drive out to the single-track trails. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced rider, the trails are terrific and go deep into Cottonwood Valley.
The riders we met on the trails were all very friendly, so feel free to ask advice about which trails go where. And be sure to bring water – the desert will dehydrate you in a hurry. We later learned that Mcghie’s Biking Outpost conveniently located at the base of a trailhead also rents bikes. Next trip, we’ll rent the bikes there to save the hassle of transporting them. Plus, their rates are a bit lower.
On the way back into town, we stopped at the Red Rock Hotel and Casino, which had a beautiful pool area and great views of the mountains. That short stop inspired us to visit some of the casinos that we never get to see because they are off The Strip. We stopped at Sam’s Town (which is reachable by courtesy shuttles from downtown and The Strip), which features a huge indoor atrium complete with a waterfall some outdated, but oddly charming, animatronic wildlife creatures. The expansive casino/hotel also includes a huge bowling alley, an 18-screen movie theater, a Shepler’s western wear store and, of course, a buffet. We got a little history lesson while touring the three-level facility at a small kiosk commemorating founder Sam Boyd with photos and artifacts (including one of his pistols).
We then sucked down a few tasty dollar margaritas at the nearby Boulder Station (a sister property to Red Rock From that also boasts an 11-screen movie theater, five restaurants a concert venue–the Railhead) and moved on to the Eastside Cannery Hotel and Casino with its rainbow exterior lit with neon strips that change color. The interior was simple, clean and modern, including a concert hall (Smokey Robinson is scheduled to perform there on Jan. 13).
These casinos, while well off The Strip, are attractive to locals and groups. While we had fun exploring them, they aren’t unique enough spots that we’d suggest you spend significant time at any of them.
For more tips on traveling Las Vegas, check out our past posts.