Las Vegas, Nevada, is one of the top tourist destinations in the world and with good reason. Entertainment, dining and relaxation are all within walking distance of upscale luxury properties.
First off, pack those bags and fly Southwest Airlines, which has proven itself to be a low-cost carrier.
The are many options for a places to rest but Delano Las Vegas is one of the newest MGM resorts with a VIP check in and is connected to Mandalay Bay offering all of the perks. The rooms are spacious even containing a separate guest bathroom inside this all suite property. Guests can partake in the spa BATHHOUSE right downstairs, complete with honey-and-milk treatments.
Having only opened this year, Delano will soon have a private watering area; however, in the meantime, use that relaxing wave pool located on the beach of the Mandalay Bay. An outdoor bar provides margaritas among other cocktails so save the souvenir cup for a discount on return trips.
Overlooking the lazy river is the Border Grill presented by Bravo Top Chef Masters Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, our lesbian chef with a talent for spices. The chilaquiles are savory; wash them down with a top-shelf margarita.
Another celebrity chef is nearby, with Rick Moonen and his Rx Boiler Room. He plays with grilled cheese and chicken pot pie nuggets everyday experimenting and keeping things fresh.
Directly downstairs is Playboy model and reality star Holly Madison's 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque hot spot. Spectators are transported back in time where prohibition will not stop revelers from sipping barrel-aged bourbon and ogling leggy dancers who periodically perform live.
During the day, tour ARIA's Fine Art Collection, where installations are located indoors and outdoors in this unique space.
The Shops at Crystals showcase luxury retailers from Prada to Gucci top brands are everywhere. After shopping take a break with Julian Serrano for upscale Latin cuisine. The sangria is rich with flavor and packs a punch so proceed with caution.
For lunch on the Strip, TLC's Cake Boss is calling. Buddy V's serves the kind of Italian comfort food that takes Buddy Valastro home to his Grandma's meatballs or his Dad's bucatini. Heydon't forget about the desserts before leaving a little piece of Sicily. If you are stuffed full of pasta, at least grab a cannoli for the road!
For dinner, Tender Steak & Lobster at Luxor is currently serving a sustainable menu. It is the only place in Vegas where bison is an option for a meal. Pass the wine and cheese, please!
Another excellent restaurant is Yusho at Monte Carlo, which offers Japanese street food with a twist. It is new this year and already winning awards. After 14 years at Charlie Trotter's as executive chef, Matthias Merges is one of the food industry's greatest talents. He adds a flair while keeping things relaxed and the service sticks to this style.
Southern Nevada sports a Pride Parade with some differences than many others in the country. It happens in the evening and early in September. This past September, singer Kristine W was the grand marshal; the year before a comedienne trio was featured with Kathy Griffin, Margaret Cho and the late Joan Rivers, bringing in the cheer on the corner of 4th Street and Bridger Avenue. It really has a small town feel to festivities, with a big downtown backdrop.
Daytime activities include a lively Pride festival every year with dancers, musicians and drag queens at the Clark County Amphitheater. There are more than 100 exhibitors with booths in the area.
A yearly circuit-pool party on the Sunday after the parade run by Gay Days Las Vegas happens at the Luxor bringing in crowds dressed in stylish swimwear.
The LGBT Vegas community is very transient, with so many travelers and is a bit spread out. There are gay bars to visit such as SHARE Nightclub or a country-themed Charlie's Las Vegas to make Chicagoans feel right at home. Remember that old saying, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?" Let's just say that is sometimes true.
There's a piece of Britney Spears to be found at Planet Hollywood and fanatics travel from all over the globe to see her. It is an experience for a specific generation that has landed her a large paycheck with no end in sight. She's raked in nearly $30 million in two years so far and she just signed a new contract, reflecting her hit "Gimme More." Her life really is a "Circus," as Spears face is currently marketed everywhere in town.
For an older music fan, there is nothing like revisiting the classic tunes of Michael Jackson offered by Cirque's One. The acrobats and hologram of the king of pop are simply awe-inspiring.
Say cheers to bottle service at Light nightclub, located just steps away from One. Cirque du Soleil also has a hand in this endeavor with roving performers and a DJ induced light show full of spectacle.
Take a walk to Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat by the Mirage Hotel and Casino. Rare white tigers and lions can be found there and would be extinct if not preserved in captivity.
There are VIP opportunities to pet, feed and take a photo with a dolphin friend or for the big adventurer spend hours training and riding this swimming mammal for the right price.
If this isn't enough to do there is always gambling with free classes offered at many of the hotels to get a beginner started.
Before returning home, brunch at Bellagio is a must, with the Fountains of Jasmine spouting a show for diners who have window views on the weekend. Have fun filling up on made-to-order omelets, sushi and pasta, and a separate roomful of desserts.
The Mojave Desert stays warm most of the year and has, on average, more than 300 sunny days each year. With cold weather approaching this could be the perfect time to make a hot getaway from arctic temperatures and enjoy a little fun in the sun.