Category Archives: Great Eight

Las Vegas Great Eight

The Great Eight: ‘cuz Top-Ten lists are tacky

1. See a Cirque du Soleil show
 
All of them will blow your mind and the real trouble is choosing which suits your fancy. The combination of a great recommendation and being a lifelong Beatles fan led me to see ‘Love.’ Located at the Mirage (coincidentally my favorite hotel in Vegas, or is it coincidence? Hmmm jury’s still out), the whole night of seeing ‘Love’ is an experience. Go eat at one of the incredible restaurants: Stack, BLT Burger, California Pizza Kitchen, Fin…(good luck choosing)…and then head over to Revolution, an all sensory stimulating bar rocking the Beatles pre and-post show to get you all kinds of in the mood for the Fab Four.
 
 
2. Tour the City Center
The largest privately funded construction project in the United States ($9.2 billion, according to Wikipedia); my jaw hurt from hanging open while exploring this massive complex made up of Aria, Vdara, the Mandarin Oriental LV and Crystals. Vdara and Aria are both LEED certified hotels (bonus!) and look and smell amazing. Yeah, I said smell. The Aria and I are linked for eternity by the olfactory sense. Walk into the lobby and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Also, Cafe Vettro has the best boneless buffalo wings in Vegas. (Sorry Hooters, you and I are quite incompatible) Aria’s restaurants and shops are breathtaking and I cannot wait to go back and spend more time exploring.
The Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan

Make sure you also pass through (and spend time at) The Cosmopolitan hotel and casino (adjacent to the City Center). My mind is still reeling from the contemporary luxury the place is literally “dripping” with.

3. Le Village Buffet at Paris for breakfast

My favorite meal of the day is breakfast and my favorite place to get breakfast is in Paris for Cabernet soaked pear halves, custom-made crepes and mouth-watering croissants. Sometimes I wake up at home and think about buying a ticket to Vegas… just for breakfast at Le Village Buffet.

4. Stay at Bally’s
The hotel with the most bang for the buck in Vegas: Bally’s. It’s the diamond in the rough of the dated hotels. The central location on the strip is excellent. The rooms are very basic and nothing special, but the beds are comfortable and clean. Who’s hanging out in their room anyway? It’s Vegas, baby!
blu pool @ Bally’s

The amenities are sweet: the blu pool @ Bally’s is bumpin’ on the weekends with loud jams poolside (although the drink prices are outrageous). If you’re on a tight budget, the buffet has an express buffet breakfast for $11.99. Ask for Alice at the reservations desk. She’s friendly, genuine and jovial; she’s been working in Vegas for nearly 30 years and kicks butt at her job.

5. Fremont Street Experience
There’s something so-very-nostalgic about taking a trip down to the Old Strip. Getting to see pieces of the The Golden Nugget opened in 1946 and it’s a staple of Vegas lore. I wandered the Golden Nugget a few years ago for historical value, and didn’t think it needed to be revisited. Boy, was I wrong! It has been completely renovated and it is the most unexpected surprise in Vegas. What a thrill to see the new life in the old place. Gorgeous updates inside and out, the entire place has a fresh, hip vibe. Our dinner at the Chart House with the gorgeous aquarium in the center was fantastic. I recommend the Edamame hummus and the Hot Chocolate Lava Cake haunts my dreams.
6. Bellagio dancing waters

One of the most famous shows in Vegas doesn’t feature the scantily clad or a rhinestone King impersonator or even a price tag. This free show flows with an unrivaled magnificence: the famous dancing waters at the Bellagio. You saw it in Ocean’s 11, and the movie magic isn’t even as cool as seeing it live. If you can only see it once, check it out at night.

Image belongs to Angie's Reviews - click to go to her site
Bellagio Dancing Waters

Enjoy the time portal transport you’ll ride on the way back to your seven-year-old-self, agape in wonder at the power of the water.

7. Take Time for Tequila
Go find the Tequila Bar tucked in the back of Bally’s.  It’s like a hole in the wall with a great happy hour, decent prices for food, excellent fare, a margarita in a fish bowl and it features the biggest plate of Nachos I have ever seen. (Note the size of the salt shaker for reference). Yes, please!
Tequila Bar at Bally’s
 
 
 
 
 
 
8. Diversify your dining and do different dishes at different digs
(How’s that for alliteration? Snap!) There’s no way to choose the best restaurant in Vegas. It’s an impossible feat. Instead, try a self designed “Tour of Vegas Cuisine.” Do a different course at a different restaurant in one night! It’s the perfect way to see and taste as much of Vegas as possible, while going on a grand adventure. My “Tour” looked like this: before dinner drinks at Le Centre bar in Paris-featuring 2 for 1 martinis (raspberry lemon drop is the bomb! Thanks Mr. Joshua!). Then we cruised for appetizers at Aria-flashback to the heavenly buffalo wings; then entrees at Cafe Bellagio where I loved the yellow curry salmon. Most important: dessert. Serendipity 3 at Caesar’s Palace. The Frozen Hot Chocolate seems like an oxymoron, but I’m saying you just have to overcome the double negative and just it. If I had room I would have loved to try the fried oreo sunday, but that just means I am destined to return.

Until next time… M

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Kaua’i Great Eight- Restaurants

The Great Eight: ‘cuz Top-Ten lists are tacky

Let’s face it, I love food. Particularly when someone does something special with it. Here’s a list of Great Eight restaurants that have repeatedly made me happy. The things I look for to qualify a restaurant for this list include: consistency across visits, diverse menu, fair value, deliciosity (yup, that’s a made up word for how delicious something is), atmosphere and service.

Great Eight listology of food:

1. Kountry Kitchen – Kapa’a

There are two things I do really well: breakfast and ice cream. That being said, Kountry Kitchen might very well be the best breakfast place OF ALL TIME. There’s usually a line out the door for this tiny little gem, and I will wait hours to get my hands on some Hawaiian sweet bread french toast. I am so in awe of the breakfast genius in the kitchen that I can totally ignore the decorator’s rooster problem.

2. Brenecke’s Beach Broiler – Poipu Beach

Happy Hour with a pitcher of mango guava coladas with a beautiful view and a great staff. FRESHEST FISH. We love Brennecke’s!

3. Java Kai – Hanalei

Great local spot for lunch-delicious Panini sandwiches, magnificent smoothies and an extensive coffee menu. It’s extra yummy because you’re supporting a quaint local business!

4. Olympic Cafe – Kapa’a

One of the biggest menus I have ever unfolded. Almost too many choices. Then I realize, there’s no such thing as too many choices! Go here for beers, laughter and appetizers. Dinner’s great too, if you have room after the awesome Pupus (appetizers).

6. Scotty’s BBQ – Kapa’a

Love the setting, a beach-facing second story building with awesome roll-up garage doors. The BBQ’s excellent, but be prepared to pay a little more than you might be comfortable with if you’re on a tight budget. The portions are huge though, so splitting a meal is definitely do-able. We do Scotty’s as a splurge and eat our faces off.

7. Duke’s Canoe Club – Lihue

No trip to the Hawaiian islands is complete until you’ve made it to Duke’s: the quintessential aloha eatery. Located in the Marriott, Kauai Duke’s is gorgeous. They host a salad bar -such a rarity in restaurants these days- and I always encourage ordering fish for the main course. Don’t forget dessert: Kimo’s Hula Pie is a mile high, and legendary.

8. Lappert’s Ice Cream – Princeville

Anyone who knows my Mom and sister and I are aware of our status as ice cream professionals. We don’t mess around. Really good ice cream is hard to come by on these islands, and Lappert’s does it right. Sometimes I get such a craving for Tutu’s Anniversary that I dream I’m eating it in my sleep. It’s a dream-worthy combination of coconut ice cream with swirls of raspberry and lilikoi (passion fruit) sherbet. “Heaven, I’m in ice cream heaven!”

Kaua’i Great Eight- Adventures

The Great Eight: ‘cuz Top-Ten lists are tacky

It’s where Hawaiians go to retreat from Waikiki; great for honeymooners who aren’t looking for social ‘over-action’; movie buffs go here to tremble at the thought of a raptor lurking on the opposite side of the palm fronds. Kaua’i was my first island explored in the Hawaiian chain, and as such holds a special place in my heart. Kaua’i=the Hawai’i your imagination conjures.

Great Eight listology

for the Garden Isle:

1. See the Nāpali Coast by boat or by air.

By air: Jack Harter Helicopters – do the chopper with NO doors (it’s worth any and all terror that might ensue)

By boat: Holo Holo Boat Tours – Nāpali and Niʻihau Super Tour

2. Hanalei Bay

The best of both worlds; where the mountains meet the beach in a magical way.

The most beautiful bay in the world
Sunset, anyone?

3. Kalalau Trail (if you can’t do the whole shebang, at least make it to Hanakāpīʻai Beach)

11 miles each way. Treacherous terrain. Hawaiian history. Hippies, body aches and a beach at the end worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears. Bring it on! Be sure to get a permit to camp if you’re going the distance (Hawaii Camping Permits). For those that can’t do the complete holy grail of Hawaiian hikes, be sure to do the first two miles, do-able for most skill levels. There you’ll uncover Hanakāpīʻai beach, complete with sea caves, boulder hopping and a freshwater stream. Here you’ll feel a connection to the ancients as you stand agape at the majesty of the landscape.

4. Kipu Falls

Cowabunga! If you’ve ever dreamed of waterfall cliff jumping, this is the spot. Plenty of depth and cheering supporters to witness your ultimate leap. There’s even a ladder to make your way back to the top. There’s a rope swing, but be aware and make sure your halter top string isn’t tangled up with the rope… it will come off at the same time you do. Trust me, it may have happened to someone I know. Or me. I won’t confirm nor deny it. Just go jump off the falls, will ya?

5. Queen’s Bath

Volcanic cliffs form a fantastic landscape for climbing around the coastline in Princeville. A tough spot to find (the hike down originates in a residential neighborhood), Queen’s Bath is a swimming hole fit for royalty. A must see!

6. Waimea Canyon

Mark Twain called it the Pacific Grand Canyon. The landscape is so unique you might have to check yourself that you didn’t travel to some other planet. Don’t forget to keep going past the Canyon however… you’ve got to make it all the way to the end of the road to get the view atop the northwest mountains of the Napali Coast. Breathtaking.

7. Wailua Falls

A quick view from the top is stunning enough, but if you’ve got the gall, climb the slippery slope trail down to the base of this powerful waterfall for the real experience. The water’s cold and the trail is muddy but it’s an experience that will leave you feeling like a true explorer. For an added thrill, climb ’round the backside to feel the ultimate rush. You won’t be able to get all the way behind the falls (too dangerous), but close enough to feel the sting of the spray and remind you how water always wins.

8. Polihale Beach.

The beach at the edge of the world. It takes work to get here, but the scarcity of others and the uniqueness of this beach makes it a must-do for a true adventurer. Don’t forget your slippers though; we didn’t nickname it ‘hot foot beach’ for nothing.

Hey Go Kaua’i!