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Day Trip No. 2: Red Rock Canyon and Bonnie Springs Ranch

Day Trip No. 2: Red Rock Canyon and Bonnie Springs Ranch

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240 Part IV: Exploring Las Vegas

However, you should explore Red Rock Canyon by bike only if you’re an

exceptionally fit and experienced biker.



Taking a tour

You also can take an organized tour of the canyon. Gray Line (% 800634-6579 or 702-384-1234; www.grayline.com), among other companies, runs bus tours to the canyon. Inquire at your hotel tour desk.



Seeing the sights

Just off Nev. 159, you see the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center (% 702515-5350), which marks the actual entrance to the park. There you can

pick up information on trails and view history exhibits on the canyon.

The center is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The easiest thing to do is to drive the 13-mile scenic loop. It really is a

loop, and it only goes one way, so after you start, you’re committed to

drive the whole thing. You can stop the car to admire any number of

fabulous views and sights along the way, have a picnic, or take a walk

or hike. In fact, we can’t stress enough that the way to really see the

canyon is by hiking, if you’re up to it. Every trail is incredible, with minicaves and rock formations to scramble over.

You can begin from the visitor center or drive into the loop, park, and

start from points therein. Hiking trails range from a 3⁄4-mile-loop stroll to

a waterfall (its flow varying seasonally) at Lost Creek, to much longer

and more strenuous treks. Actually, all the hikes involve a certain

amount of effort, because you have to scramble over rocks on even the

shorter hikes. The unfit or the ungraceful should be cautious. Be sure to

wear good shoes (the rocks can be slippery) and bring a map. As you

hike, keep your eyes peeled for lizards, the occasional desert tortoise,

flocks of bighorn sheep, birds, and other critters.

On the way to or fro, if you feel the need for some munchies, stop at the

fancy Red Rock Resort, 11011 W. Charleston Rd. (% 866-767-7773). It’s

worth an ogle on its own (good star-spotting, so early reports say), but

within its food court is an outlet of our beloved submarine sandwich

place, Capriotti’s, which is perfect for a bargain meal or even a picnic to

take with you while you go explore the canyon.

After Red Rock, you can keep going another 5 miles west to Bonnie

Springs Ranch and Old Nevada. The latter is a kind of Wild West theme

park (complete with shootouts and stunt shows) with accommodations

and a restaurant — probably the best place to get a meal in this area.

Okay, it’s cheesy and touristy, but it’s fun — honest. If you’re traveling

with kids, we recommend a day trip to Bonnie Springs — but it’s surprisingly appealing to adults, too. It can even be a romantic getaway, offering horseback riding, gorgeous mountain vistas, proximity to Red Rock

Canyon, and temperatures 5 to 10 degrees cooler than on the Strip.



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Chapter 15: Going Beyond Las Vegas: Day Trips



241



For additional information, call Bonnie Springs Ranch/Old Nevada at

% 702-875-4191 or go to www.bonniesprings.com. Admission to Old

Nevada costs $20 per car (up to 6 people). Hours vary during summer

and winter, so call ahead, but it’s generally open from 10:30 a.m. to

5 p.m.

Bonnie Springs Ranch (% 702-875-4191) is right next door to Old

Nevada, with additional activities, including a small and highly dated

zoo, and a less politically distressing aviary on the premises.

Riding stables offer guided trail rides into the mountain area on a continuous basis throughout the day (10:30 a.m.–5 p.m. in winter, until 6 p.m.

in summer). Kids must be at least 6 years old to ride. It costs $55 per

hour.



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242 Part IV: Exploring Las Vegas



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Part V



Living It Up After

Dark: Las Vegas

Nightlife



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L



In this part . . .



as Vegas is a nonstop town, and when the sun goes

down, the city really lights up. Although Vegas has a

sophisticated side, it’s not exactly known for symphony or

ballet. Nightlife in Vegas means dropping some of your hardearned gambling dough on big, splashy production shows

and checking out the hippest clubs and bars. This part of the

book helps you plan your Vegas nights.



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Chapter 16



It’s Showtime!

In This Chapter

▶ Getting show tickets and information

▶ Uncovering the facts about Las Vegas showrooms

▶ Checking out the best Las Vegas productions

▶ Visiting the hottest headliner showrooms



L



as Vegas has a lot more to offer these days than the magic shows

and showgirls that helped build its reputation. Thanks to the wildly

successful (and quite avant-garde) Canadian circus troupe Cirque du

Soleil, you now have a wide variety of similar big-budget shows to tickle

your fancy. These days, the trend in major production shows is toward

bigger, louder, brighter, and more expensive creations — just the right

speed for Vegas audiences.

But never fear, this is still the town of illusionists and showgirls (creatures of illusion themselves). If you want to see big-time magic acts or

topless-dancer revues, you won’t go home disappointed. This chapter

walks you through your options.



What’s On and Getting Tickets

Unless you’re a pampered high roller, a reservation is a must if you want

to see a show. Some shows — especially those going on during peak

periods — sell out weeks in advance. You often can get last-minute tickets for a weekday performance, but Lady Luck will have to be on your

side to get them on weekends. You won’t have such luck for major concerts, boxing matches, and other big-ticket performances, so reserve

your tickets to these events as soon as possible. Order tickets through

Ticketmaster (% 702-474-4000; www.ticketmaster.com).

Keep your itinerary in mind when making show reservations so that

you’re not racing through your meal to make your show of choice. If the

show you want to see is on the Strip, plan for the extra time en route.

You don’t want backed-up traffic to bring down your good time.

The best way to find out what is happening in town when you’re visiting is

to contact the Las Vegas Visitor Information Center (% 877-847-4858;

www.visitlasvegas.com) and ask them to send you their Showguide.



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246 Part V: Living It Up After Dark: Las Vegas Nightlife

Shows on the Strip

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Cirque du Soleil’s O 10

Cirque du Soleil’s Viva Elvis 13

Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity 15

Criss Angel: Believe 17

Disney’s The Lion King 18

Donny & Marie 9

Garth Brooks 1

Jersey Boys Vegas 3

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Legends in Concert 6

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Chapter 16: It’s Showtime!



247



Check the Web site for a calendar of Las Vegas events; you can search for

shows, sporting events, and more by date.

Other recommended resources:

✓ Vegas4Visitors.com, run by the author of this book, is a comprehensive online resource packed with unbiased reviews of hotels,

attractions, shows, dining, and more — plus a weekly column on

the latest happenings around town, gaming tips, and travel advice.

✓ What’s On, The Las Vegas Guide (www.whats-on.com) is a free

weekly publication found everywhere around Las Vegas. It’s chockfull of all the latest information on shows, attractions, hotels, and

restaurants. One note of caution: It’s not precisely unbiased journalism. It’s all paid advertising — but at least it tells you, up to the

minute, what’s happening where. Browse this magazine to find lots

of coupons and specials in the advertisements.

✓ Las Vegas Weekly (www.lasvegasweekly.com) and Las Vegas

City Life (www.lasvegascitylife.com) are free weekly publications that you can find at local newsstands and stores. They’re the

place for the hip to find tips on alternative culture and the like, but

they’re also more detailed than other publications when it comes

to listing who can be found at what club or lounge that week. Did

we mention that both are free? The Friday edition of the local newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal (www.lvrj.com) is another

good resource.

✓ The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce (% 702-735-1616; www.

lvchamber.com) will send you a packet of information about what

to do and where to go.

✓ Reservations agents at Las Vegas hotels can tell you what’s going

on during your stay. They can fill you in on all the hotel’s restaurants and give you details and times for any resident shows or

upcoming concerts. They may even be able to offer you a discount

on reservations. Sure, they tell you only about their specific property, but they know their stuff!

We include admission prices on every listing in the following section, but

use them only as guidelines. Recent show changes or special promotions

may result in slightly different prices than those listed here. Tickets generally cost $40 to $250 per person. Be sure to check to see if your hotel

offers discounts on shows (especially shows staged on the premises). If

you’re gambling, ask about discounted admission or even free passes to

shows and nightspots.

Some shows may not necessarily be obscene, but they may include

adult themes or skimpy costumes. It used to be that you could tell the

difference at a glance by looking for shows that offered discount admission for kids, but very few of them do these days, even those that may

be good for a family audience. Double-check the content before taking

the young ’uns to any show.



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248 Part V: Living It Up After Dark: Las Vegas Nightlife

The Inside Scoop on Las Vegas Showrooms

Most showrooms these days are nonsmoking and have preassigned seating. And most shows take place in the large hotels, so you’ll find free

self-parking or valet parking unless otherwise noted.

If the show you’re going to see has maitre d’ seating, it’s likely that “Old

Vegas” rules apply; you may be able to haul out some extra cash to tip for

a better seat. If you decide to take this route, plan to part with $5 to $20

per couple, depending on the original price of your ticket. One method

you can try is to tip the captain who shows you to your seat rather than

the maitre d’. This way, if you’re led to a satisfactory seat, you don’t have

to tip anything. But if you want something better, discreetly show the captain what you’re prepared to tip. What can we say? Money talks.

If the venue charges extra for drinks, and you plan to have a few while

you enjoy the show, you may want to reconsider. These shows usually

charge very high prices for even the most modest cocktails. A better

option may be to have a couple of drinks beforehand and then a nightcap later at a more reasonably priced bar.



Las Vegas Productions A to Z

Given the spectrum of nightlife in Las Vegas, ranging all the way from

glitz to sleaze, choosing what to do at night is a highly personal matter.

The shows listed here are the most noteworthy of the pack. You can find

other big shows in the major hotels, but we’ve seen them all so you

don’t have to. Why waste your time and money? That’s why we’re here!

Most productions rearrange their showtimes every so often, and many

go dark for a week or two here or there throughout the year. Be sure to

call in advance to ensure a production is playing when you think it is.

Wow, look at those prices! They are . . . well, excuse us while we go lie

down, as we feel a little faint. ($255 for Donny and Marie? Dearie me.)

Thank goodness for the multiple locations of Tix4Tonight (% 877-8494868; www.tix4tonight.com). Each day at 2 p.m., these outlets put

unsold seats for that evening on sale for half-price. Are they going to

have front-row seats for Cher the night you’re in town? Unlikely. But you

may get a shot at decent seats for Cirque and who knows? Maybe there’s

a pair in the back for Ms. Sarkisian, too. Or just play a wild card and see

what comes up. Naturally, this service is popular, so you probably have

to get in line a couple of hours before it opens.



Barry Manilow

Center Strip

You don’t have to be one of the almost obsessive “Fanilows” to be totally

won over by Barry Manilow’s latest Vegas show at Paris Las Vegas. His



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Chapter 16: It’s Showtime!



249



voice is still crystal clear and his songs can now safely be viewed as the

pop gems they are, without the irony or eye-rolling that has accompanied

them for most of the years since they were actually popular. From the

sway-along “Daybreak” to the powerful “Weekend in New England” to such

megahits as “Mandy,” “I Write the Songs,” and (of course) “Copacabana,”

the show is a retro wonder made all the more enjoyable by Manilow’s

natural charm.

3655 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (in Paris Las Vegas). % 800-745-3000. Admission: $95–$250

(plus tax and fees). Showtimes: Fri–Sun 7:30 p.m. at intervals throughout the year.

Showroom policy: Nonsmoking with preassigned seating.



Blue Man Group

Center Strip

Yes, there are men in this show, and yes, they are blue — not emotionally

but literally, having been dipped in azure paint. This is not a typical Vegas

show. It originated in New York City, where it’s a still-running, highly successful performance-art show for the masses. Cheese is involved, as are

marshmallows, paint, and a whole lot of crepe paper, not to mention

printed and electronic non sequiturs, and some exquisite and unusual

percussion music. So, what’s it about? Nothing. Call it slapstick Dada. It’s

every bit as pointless as the many revues playing around Vegas, and it’s

also about 1,000 times smarter. You’ll laugh yourself silly.

3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (in the Venetian). % 866-641-7469. Reservations accepted

up to 30 days in advance. Admission: $54–$143 (plus tax and fees). Showtimes:

Nightly 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Showroom policy: Nonsmoking with preassigned seating.

Children 4 and younger not allowed.



Celine Dion

Center Strip

The Colosseum at Caesars Palace was built for Celine Dion, and after five

years of performing here, she left for other pastures, turning the keys over

to the likes of Elton John, Cher, and Bette Midler. But Dion is coming back,

kicking off a new three-year residency scheduled to begin in March 2011.

Meant to “capture the romance of classic Hollywood movies,” she will be

backed by a full orchestra and the production will feature big-scale sets

and visuals effects. Dion will perform roughly 70 shows per year.

3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (in Caesars Palace). % 877-423-5463. Admission: $55–$255

(plus tax and fees). Showtimes had not been set at press time. Showroom policy:

Nonsmoking with preassigned seating.



Cher

Center Strip

Is it possible that all of evolution, all the history of civilization has led

to . . . Cher with her own show at Caesars Palace? Hey, don’t laugh! There



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250 Part V: Living It Up After Dark: Las Vegas Nightlife

is something truly momentous about her rags-to-gaudy-riches tale, overcoming adversity and reaching new heights in music, television, film

and . . . oh, heck. She’s got Bob Mackie outdoing himself for her outfits

(which she changes more than frequently), she tells self-deprecating tales,

she swears like a sailor, she sings her 40-plus years of hits from “The Beat

Goes On” through “Believe” with fabulous choreography and visual spectacle. Maybe she’ll even do “Half Breed”! If it’s after February, you may be

wishing you could turn back time — Cher’s run ends on February 5, 2011.

3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (in Caesars Palace). % 866-510-2437. Admission: $95–$250

(plus tax and fees). Showtimes: Tues, Wed, Sat, Sun 7:30 p.m. at intervals throughout

the year. Showroom policy: Nonsmoking with preassigned seating.



Cirque du Soleil’s KÀ

South Strip

“No, not another Cirque show!” we cried. But then we went to see this

glorious production, and “Yes, another Cirque show, please,” we said.

First of all, unlike most Cirque shows, it has a real plot: an epic saga of

royal siblings separated by betrayal, battling their way back to each other.

Second, it has an extraordinary stage, a hydraulic masterpiece that moves

and shifts in order to provide any number of different settings (a ship, a

mountainside, and much more) for the magical-realism martial-arts action.

Think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and similar movies as a stage show,

and you almost have the idea. It’s gorgeous, it’s touching, it’s smart, it’s

Cirque. Wow. Again. And some more, please.

3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (in the MGM Grand). % 866-774-7117. Reservations accepted

up to 90 days in advance. Admission: $69–$150 (plus tax). Showtimes: Tues–Sat

7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Showroom policy: Nonsmoking with preassigned seating.

Children 4 and under not allowed.



Cirque du Soleil’s Love

Center Strip

You could make a case that this particular Cirque production, conceived

with the help of Fifth Beatle/producer Sir George Martin and with the official stamp of the surviving members and their families, is best enjoyed if

you’re a Beatles fan. Given their record sales, of course, you could reasonably wonder if anyone isn’t, but never mind. Still, so many mop-top popculture references spun through the avant-garde Cirque machine may

make those without that particular knowledge feel a bit left out. Plus,

there aren’t any big centerpiece numbers, with the emphasis instead on

dance and scenic interpretations of Beatles tunes. It’s still a delight, but

there may be other Cirque productions you could choose first.

3400 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (in the Mirage). % 800-963-9637. Reservations accepted up

to 90 days in advance. Admission: $94–$150 (plus tax). Showtimes: Thurs–Mon 7 p.m.

and 9:30 p.m. Showroom policy: Nonsmoking with preassigned seating. Children 4

and under not allowed.



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