Summer’s Worst Travel Accessory: The Barely There Short Shorts – Yahoo Travel

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Give the booty shorts the boot. Shun the short shorts.  A nefarious travel accessory trend has hit the streets this summer. Yahoo Travel explains why you should keep it in your pants. 

Summer's Worst Travel Accessory: The Barely There Short Shorts

(Photo: Thinkstock)

I love traveling in the summer for so many reasons but one of the main ones is the fashion. The cute outfits I can put together for any destination, the inspiration I get from other cities when I see what people are wearing and the individual styles I see. But this summer I’ve noticed a nefarious trend. Something so annoying and insidiously obnoxious that I felt I had to point it out: The barely-there, booty hanging out, short shorts. 

Once the weather started warming up, I saw a parade of shorts so small and so prevalent that I started to become concerned: Maybe these women thought their frayed jean bikini bottoms were actual pants? Or perhaps they had one of those crazy carnival mirrors at home where everything seems longer than it is? Maybe there’s a pandemic medical condition — where they can’t turn their heads and someone is playing a practical joke on them by swearing, “You like fine — everything’s all covered!” while laughing behind their backs? At first I felt bad and thought, Should I say something?

Related: 9 Swimsuits You Need For Hitting This Summer’s Hippest Beach Locales 

But then I finally realized that although it looked like these women got into a fight with some garden shears and lost, this was all by really sad and bad design. That the Daisy Dukes with ADD are the latest insidious, God-I-Wish-You-Wouldn’t-Do-That trend to hit the streets. Especially as it seems a lot of women are also doubling up on the functionality of these short shorts and also using them as underwear. Which gives any of us unlucky enough to be walking behind them on, say, subway stairs or an escalator an unfortunate gynecological view.

women-in-short-shorts

Lately, we’ve been seeing shorts that make these look like capris. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Related: The Perfect… Travel Jacket

It’s gotten so bad, Times Square in New York City is starting to make a Playboy cover shoot seem practically G-rated.

Lest you think, “Oh, this is just a crazy New York thing,” let me assure you it’s not. I’ve been optically attacked by this trend in Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Denver, Aspen, and San Francisco.

girl-in-daisy-dukes

The latest travel accessory: Daisy Dukes (Thinkstock)

I’ve seen `em hanging out in Dallas and swaying in the breeze in Miami. Even worse, some people think they are acceptable travel gear and are now sporting them on planes, trains and busses across the country and worldwide. I’ve seen American butt cheeks flapping at me in a church in Cannes and on the streets of Paris.

And yes, I know. I sound like a crazy old lady spoilsport. And that’s part of the problem. I think I hate these shorts so much because they make me feel old, even though half the women committing this fashion crime are my age. But still, it makes me feel old, as all I want to do when I see ladybirds prancing around in these tiny shorts is to channel my 80-year-old Aunt Dee and scream, “JESUS H CHRIST, PUT SOME CLOTHES ON HONEY, THERE’S CHILDREN ROAMING AROUND HERE!”

girl-in-booty-shorts

Have fun when you travel, but try not to wear shorts shorter than your bikini (Photo: Thinkstock)

Related: Travel Rant: The 14 Most Annoying People to Avoid at All Costs While Traveling

But really, it’s time to say “enough is enough.” Ladies, I beg you: put some underwear on, stop airing your tush and get some real shorts. Because, really — no one wants to see it except your boyfriend. And as I explained to that weirdo pervert on the train the other day, “Didn’t your mother teach you that some things should only be done and seen in private?”


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and Beyond: What’s New in Las Vegas Nightlife”,”summary”:”Vegas Baroque Old-school entertainment is the new thing in this constantly self-referential city. Instead, guests sip cocktails and nibble on shared small plates (including caviar, of course) amid lushly immersive entertainment from the mind of Ross Mollison, who created the sometimes funny, often-edgy Absinthe cabaret show at Caesars Palace. Those sorts of clubs where you can have dinner and be entertained.” Another old-is-new trend: burlesque shows that mix naughtiness with old-school entertainment. The Travel Channel recently named X Burlesque at the Flamingo one of the world’s 10 best burlesque shows.”,”body”:”

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A performer entertains as part of the cabaret-style show at Rose.Rabbit.Lie. (Photo: Courtesy of Rose.Rabbit.Lie)

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Whether you’re a first-timer or Vegas veteran, the ever-changing cornucopia of after-dark entertainment will keep you on your toes. Take it easy, find out a bit about what’s new, and jump in. In this town, it’s hard to go wrong.

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Vegas Baroque

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Old-school entertainment is the new thing in this constantly self-referential city. Many new acts have a vintage feeling to them, ranging from steampunk to pinup girl.

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“Vegas Nocturne” at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas made its debut in January, combining dining and entertainment. But this is not your grandmother’s dinner theater. Instead, guests sip cocktails and nibble on shared small plates (including caviar, of course) amid lushly immersive entertainment from the mind of Ross Mollison, who created the sometimes funny, often-edgy Absinthe cabaret show at Caesars Palace.

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It’s hard to describe the show, exactly (that’s the point), but it’s definitely a mix of old and new. Mollison has described it as “something like a Stork Club, or the 21 Club, which goes back to the ’20s in the Prohibition era. Those sorts of clubs where you can have dinner and be entertained.”

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Another old-is-new trend: burlesque shows that mix naughtiness with old-school entertainment. The Travel Channel recently named X Burlesque at the Flamingo one of the world’s 10 best burlesque shows. There’s even a Zombie Burlesque show (maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at sexy zombies in a world that already gave us sexy vampires).

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Attention to Craft

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Like many cities, Las Vegas is having a craft cocktail boom. But this is Vegas, which means mixologists compete to design creations ranging from tasty classics done right to over-the-top concoctions with unexpected ingredients.

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PRESS, poolside at the Four Seasons (on the Strip’s south end, in the same hotel complex as the Mandalay Bay), shakes up some of the city’s best cocktails. Everything in the Hemingway Daiquiri is fresh squeezed, and DRY rhubarb soda adds a touch of fizzy sweetness to the mojito. The Four Seasons also boasts one of the Strip’s best happy hour deals. At its Italian restaurant, Verandah, select cocktails and small bites are $5 from 4-7 p.m. And the quiet, cozy setting overlooking the pool couldn’t be a more welcome respite before a night on the town. 

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The cozy outdoor section of PRESS, the Four Seasons’ newest cocktail lounge. (Photo: Courtesy of Four Seasons)

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The Sugar Factory at the Paris Las Vegas combines drinks and dessert, adding liquid nitrogen and signature candies to its alcoholic confections. There’s the “Blow Pop” martini, topped with a “couture lollipop,” the Jolly Rancher martini, and the Strawberry Blonde martini. Be sure to share the goblet drinks (they’re big!) with a few friends. 

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The “Blow Pop” is one of a few Sugar Factory drinks made with liquid nitrogen. (Photo: Courtesy of Sugar Factory)

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If rum is more your thing, check out the Mojito Bar, which opened a little over a year ago in the Seafood Shack at Treasure Island (also home to Gilley’s Saloon, in case you’re a homesick Texan or in the mood for a mechanical bull ride). 

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At FIZZ in Caesars Palace, open since March, David Furnish (whose creative and life partner Elton John is no stranger to Vegas) has paired over-the-top drinks with opulent chandelier-and-silk décor. While not all of us will spring for the Fizz Deluxe—a $2,500 collection of premium liquors dusted in real gold—this is a swanky spot to have a snack and a drink before a show at The Colosseum next door. 

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The décor at FIZZ is classic David Furnish (Photo: Courtesy of FIZZ)

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The good drinks are not all on the Strip. The brand-new Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar in the Golden Nugget Las Vegas has more than 70 boutique Blanco, Anejo, Reposado, and Distintivo tequilas. Guests sip it straight or in a creative cocktail as they munch on tapas and Tex-Mex—leave room for delectable dessert sopapillas—in a laid-back atmosphere.

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The Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar house margarita (Photo: Courtesy of Golden Nugget)

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The Downtown Cocktail Room, in the surging Fremont East neighborhood, combines a big space—made cozy with red walls, mood lighting and leather armchairs—with an old-fashioned speakeasy vibe and expert mixology. The menu ranges from cheeky house creations like the Spaghetti Western (“much like the 1960s genre, this is an American bourbon directed by an Italian amaro”) to classic cocktails done right. It’s a go-to spot for a really good Manhattan or dirty martini.

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The Velveteen Rabbit reflects the arts district that surrounds it in both its cocktail menu and youthful, friendly atmosphere backed by whimsical décor (think thrift-shop finds and locally made art). Mixologists craft “Elixirs” with housemade mixers and herbal liquors, and the bar is rumored to make one of the city’s best Sazeracs. Its outdoor patio is a favorite local hangout spot on summer evenings.

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In keeping with the old-is-new wave sweeping the city, the MOB Bar in the recently opened Downtown Grand Las Vegas Hotel & Casino takes its cues from the Mob Museum next door. The cocktail menu includes a sweet-and-sour Smoking Gun and the Sicilian Kiss (Southern Comfort and amaretto). Velvet sofas and chandeliers complete the retro feel.

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Not a fan of the hard stuff? Banger Brewing has been serving up craft beers Downtown since the tail end of 2013. Five longtime friends started taking their Banger brew to local festivals a few years ago, winning over suds heads thirsting for a locally brewed flavor.

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The brewery offers 14 of its concoctions on tap out of a total of 31 recipes the friends have brought to fruition. “In four months, that’s a lot of variety,” co-owner Roberto Mendoza told Yahoo Travel. Specialties include summery watermelon wheat, lemon raspberry blonde and orange mint brews as well as a jalapeno-infused hefeweisen known as “El Heffe.”

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At the Palms Casino Resort, you don’t even have to be checked in to get your hands on a Vegas cocktail. The just-off-the-Strip resort recently inaugurated its Beverage Butler service: For $5, an elegantly dressed butler will make drinks for check-in line.

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The Beverage Butler at the Palms Casino Resort. (Photo: courtesy of Palms Casino Resort)

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Club Fabulous

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Las Vegas has long been home to some of the country’s best nightclubs. Built with late-night dancing in mind, the city’s upscale clubs cater to a young, freewheeling clientele looking to get their groove on. Here to help: high-profile DJs from both coasts who make regular appearances.

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At XS Nightclub in Encore Las Vegas, Lil Jon recently had the club jumping (others you’ll hear there include Skrillex, David Guetta, and Avicii) under the club’s 10-foot rotating gold chandelier with the elegant pool area as a backdrop. More casual summer Sundays have swimwear-clad patrons jumping in and out of the water to those same DJs.

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DJ David Guetta performs at XS Nightclub. (Photo: Danny Mahoney/XS Las Vegas)

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With 80,000 square feet on five levels and spaces running the gamut from cozy to cavernous, Hakkasan Nightclub in the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino is one of the city’s most immersive venues. DJs including Tiesto and Calvin Harris help leave the outside world behind, and you can start off dining next door at its 20,000-square-foot restaurant.

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The current buzz-generating Strip hotspot: Drai’s Beach Club • Nightclub, the latest from nightlife impresario Victor Drai, open as of Memorial Day weekend. Set atop The Cromwell (the Strip’s first-ever standalone boutique hotel), the 65,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor rooftop club takes up much of the hotel’s rooftop space.Wherever you turn you will be awed by the design, the technology, the music, the service, and most importantly, the experience. We have designed the club to be visual, sensual, sexy, and social,” Drai recently said.

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5 for Families at Aulani”,”summary”:”ʻOhana means family, and at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, every member of the family is included in the fun. From a family breakfast with Aunty and the Disney characters, to a rejuvenating massage for the entire family at Laniwai Spa, to ending the night together at the Starlit Hui show, your ʻohana will create lasting memories of your Hawaiian vacation at every turn.”,”body”:”

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ʻOhana means family, and at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, every member of the family is included in the fun. From a family breakfast with Aunty and the Disney characters, to a rejuvenating massage for the entire family at Laniwai Spa, to ending the night together at the Starlit Hui show, your ʻohana will create lasting memories of your Hawaiian vacation at every turn. For more information, visit www.disneyaulani.com

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Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: A Rocking, Rollicking Family-Friendly Roller Coaster Crowns New Fantasyland”,”summary”:”LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The lovable world of Sleepy, Doc, Grumpy, Bashful, Sneezy, Happy and Dopey comes excitingly to life in spring 2014 when the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train takes New Fantasyland guests on a rollicking, musical adventure into the mine “where a million diamonds shine.” The “crowning jewel” of New Fantasyland, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train represents the completion of the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history. Attention to Detail Inspired by the Disney animated film classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the story begins as guests cross a stone bridge and walk through a beautiful forest with the Dwarfs’ cottage in the distance. When designing the cottage, Walt Disney Imagineers – the creative team behind all the attractions at Disney Parks – referenced the film in order to plan details as intricate as the color combination of roof shingles, the slope of the roof’s eaves, the shape of a lantern, and especially the etched woodland creatures that decorate the house.”,”body”:”

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The lovable world of Sleepy, Doc, Grumpy, Bashful, Sneezy, Happy and Dopey comes excitingly to life in spring 2014 when the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train takes New Fantasyland guests on a rollicking, musical adventure into the mine “where a million diamonds shine.”

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The “crowning jewel” of New Fantasyland, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train represents the completion of the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history. The family-style coaster features first-of-its-kind ride vehicles that swing back and forth during the ride. Addying to the fun, the journey will be accompanied by music from the film classic and scenes filled with Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs and playful forest critters.

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Attention to Detail

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Inspired by the Disney animated film classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the story begins as guests cross a stone bridge and walk through a beautiful forest with the Dwarfs’ cottage in the distance. Then, they step into the attraction entrance and into the timeless story of the radiant and kindhearted Snow White and her forest friends led by the lovable Dwarfs.

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When designing the cottage, Walt Disney Imagineers – the creative team behind all the attractions at Disney Parks – referenced the film in order to plan details as intricate as the color combination of roof shingles, the slope of the roof’s eaves, the shape of a lantern, and especially the etched woodland creatures that decorate the house. Props – including lanterns, ropes, pulleys and buckets of shiny jewels – were inspired by items found in the mine scenes of the film. According to Walt Disney Imagineering, jewels appear throughout the mine in four different sizes and in six different colors: red, green, amber, purple, blue and clear.

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After passing through an interactive pre-show area with fun activities themed to mining – such as washing and sorting gems – guests will proceed to the mine train. Picks, shovels, barrels and hoists are scattered throughout the queue tunnel and at the load-in area.  

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“Rocks” ‘n’ Roll

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Guests board the specially-designed mine cars and launch into their journey through the mine. Each “train” consists of five mine cars, which seat four guests each. The individual mine cars are designed to reflect similar vehicles that appear in the film, hand-made of wood by the Dwarfs, shaped by an axe, and used to haul rocks and jewels.  

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As guests twist and turn through the mine, the cars rock back and forth, adding an extra family-friendly thrill element. Riders tour through the cavernous mine’s winding track – jutting outside to climb and dip through the wooded landscape, and then re-entering the mine at different points in the attraction.  

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As with any classic Disney “dark ride,” the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train features spectacular Audio-Animatronics – with cars slowing down so guests can spot favorite characters making an appearance in different scenes.

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New Fantasyland

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Representing the largest expansion in the nearly-43-year history of Magic Kingdom, the spectacular new space features attractions, dining, shopping, character interactions, recreation and more – laid out fairy tale-style amid waterfalls, grottoes, arched bridges, forests and circus big tops. A multiyear expansion project, New Fantasyland lies just beyond the existing Fantasyland in the shadows of Cinderella Castle.

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New Fantasyland comprises the Enchanted Forest and Storybook Circus areas. Walt Disney Imagineers brought to life beloved Disney stories and magical places, putting guests in the middle of Disney classics and new favorites – and making memories to last a lifetime.

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Guests are transported to a far-off French village to spend time with Belle and play a part in her story. They hop aboard a clamshell to venture deep into the undersea world of Ariel, take a rollicking coaster ride to barnstorm with the Great Goofini or spin through the sky with everyone’s favorite pachyderm – Dumbo, the Flying Elephant.

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Kids can take a cooling break among the circus wagons at the Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station where monkeys, elephants and camels squirt water and even Casey Jr. spouts clouds of mist. Shopping delights await at Bonjour! Village Gifts and Big Top Souvenirs. When the hungries hit, guests are able to choose everything from on-the-go eats washed down with LeFou’s Brew — a signature drink, at the quick-service Gaston’s Tavern — to elegant ballroom dining at Be Our Guest restaurant, nestled under the stars in Beast’s Castle.

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Opened in Fall 2013, Princess Fairytale Hall is the new regal home to Disney Princesses greeting their loyal subjects. Not only does Fantasyland double in size, Magic Kingdom castles triple. Across the skyline of the most popular theme park in the world,  the iconic Cinderella Castle is now joined by the distant ramparts of Beast’s Castle while stately Prince Eric’s Castle looms above the grottoed entrance to Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid.

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High-Adrenaline Side of Las Vegas”,”summary”:”A helicopter flies above the High Roller observation wheel and other brightly lit landmarks on the Strip. Always wanted to soar in a helicopter? Zoom around a NASCAR track? The SkyJump at the Stratosphere is the world’s highest controlled descent.”,”body”:”

\"The

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A helicopter flies above the High Roller observation wheel and other brightly lit landmarks on the Strip. (Photo: Courtesy Maverick Aviation Group) 

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Las Vegas is a bucket-list city, where adrenaline junkies can fulfill a half dozen lifelong dreams in a single weekend. Always wanted to soar in a helicopter? Jump out of a plane? Zoom around a NASCAR track? No problem. An ever-growing number of local outfits are springing up to give tourists that “I can’t believe I’m actually doing this” feeling. And most of the fun comes in bite-size chunks that have you back to your hotel in a matter of hours.\"image\"

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The SkyJump at the Stratosphere is the world’s highest controlled descent. (Photo: Courtesy SkyJump) 

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Sky’s No Limit

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Aside from the workaday world of commercial airlines, few of us spend much time airborne. But the clear, wide-open skies above Nevada’s vast desert are a blank canvas for artists in flight.

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Helicopter rides are a Vegas staple; hop aboard a Maverick Helicopter chopper for a short tour of the Strip (especially romantic at night, when the city glitters below) or a bird’s-eye sweep of the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. There’s nothing quite like that floating sensation as the craft lifts off like a giant dragonfly—any nervousness quickly turning to exhilaration.

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Other helicopter companies include Papillon and Sundance (try a Grand Canyon picnic). A number of successful helicopter operations have been shuttling first-time tourists around for years, so this is the perfect time to cross the whirlybird off your life list.

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Another way to see the Strip from high up: the Big Shot, X-Scream, and Insanity thrill rides that undulate along the Stratosphere’s 1,149-foot-tall tower (the country’s tallest freestanding observation tower). The most daring plummet straight down, bungee style, with SkyJump, the world’s highest controlled descent.

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Stratosphere’s Insanity dangles riders 900 feet above the Strip and spins them at 40 mph. (Photo: Eduardo Tavares/Flickr)  

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Perhaps the single most pulse-racing thing I can imagine doing anyplace, ever, is Sky Combat Ace, a one-on-one ride-along with a professional pilot in a fighter plane. Thrill seekers blast through barrel rolls, combat drills, and other aerobatics—or just take a spin (upright) in a vintage plane with an open cockpit. Don’t try this after a few cocktails, folks.

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Sky Combat Ace takes guests along on stunt-plane flights above the Nevada desert. (Photo: Courtesy Sky Combat Ace)

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Test the Laws of Physics

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You’re in a stock car revving a 600-hp engine, waiting for the flag to drop. And then you’re off, hitting the gas and shifting gears and letting your wheels grab the banked track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Soon you’re flying past the stands at over 100 mph—and you’ve never done anything like this before. Good thing there’s an instructor sitting next to you, telling you exactly what to do.

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That’s what happens at the Richard Petty Driving Experience, one of several Vegas companies that let you put the pedal to the metal without worrying about traffic lights. Climb into the driver’s seat yourself or ride with a professional if your goal is to just experience the feeling of screaming around a track at 165 mph (none of the amateurs have gone quite that fast yet). Alternatively, Petty’s American Muscle Car Challenge lets guests drive a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Dodge Challenger SRT8 392, or Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.

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It’s not just for NASCAR: You, too, can drive on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Photo: Courtesy Richard Petty Driving Experience)

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Another company, Dream Racing, also lets you drive exotic cars on the same NASCAR speedway. If Lady Luck shines on you, you’ll see fighter pilots training at nearby Nellis Air Force Base. Now that’s speed.

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Believe it or not, the g-force in a racecar is nothing compared to what Las Vegas’ most extreme roller coasters feel like. The newest, El Loco, zooms, corkscrews, and reverse-rolls around the Adventuredome indoor amusement park at Circus Circus (also home to the double-loop Canyon Blaster). After rides like these, hit the casino’s midway and big top to take a break while you watch other people do scary-looking things for a change.

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The indoor El Loco roller coaster spins riders through corkscrews and around quick corners. (Photo: Courtesy Circus Circus)

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Those with tetchy nerves and/or necks could consider something a little less stressful, maybe a zip-line ride with a gentle stop at the end: the mighty SlotZilla on Fremont Street. A new upper “zoomline” segment—114 feet above the ground and 1,700 feet long—just opened in April. You can book advance tickets online or, for a spur-of-the-moment screamfest above the crowds, just look for the giant slot machine towering in the middle of the sidewalk.

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One of the more notable Vegas crazes of late: high-powered gun ranges, where firearm fans (and the merely curious) have the chance to shoot munitions you can’t get at home. Each of the half-dozen or so ranges in town has its own focus. Gun Garage’s just-opened 12-lane indoor range is just off the Strip, which means you can wake up late, head over for a quick afternoon ballistics volley and be back in time for happy hour. Other options, like the military-style Battlefield Vegas, are more involved.

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Be Surprised

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The most intriguing new adrenaline-filled idea in town is Las Vegas: The Game. Basically, imagine a “Hangover”-style bachelor party—with your own friend as the bachelor. Working as an accomplice with Justin Oswald and Chad Hardy, the brains behind this operation, you can plan a night of complete surprises for your unsuspecting victim. Or the company will draw up a behind-the-scenes plan and keep you in the dark, too.

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Possibilities range from hiring a stranger to test your friend’s flirting resolve to playing along with a series of elaborate charades that build on each other for an entire night. The evening could include anything from a monkey to a showgirl—or both! You’re limited only by your tolerance for shock and how good a friend you are (and whether you still want to be invited to the wedding).

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Magic is in the Details When Vacationing with Disney Cruise Line”,”summary”:”On a Disney cruise, adults find relaxation and indulgence, children engage in magical adventures with their favorite Disney characters, and together as families they create memories that last a lifetime. Onboard the Disney cruise ships, guests find a vacation experience they feel was created especially for them. The Disney Cruise Line ships are modern classics that celebrate the legendary ocean liners of the past while combining innovative technology with magical Disney touches to create extraordinary guest experiences. The moment guests are welcomed aboard, they begin a journey complete with legendary Disney service and attention to detail, incomparable entertainment and unforgettable dining. Check out this video and discover how guests of all ages can have a great time aboard a Disney cruise.”,”body”:”

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On a Disney cruise, adults find relaxation and indulgence, children engage in magical adventures with their favorite Disney characters, and together as families they create memories that last a lifetime. Onboard the Disney cruise ships, guests find a vacation experience they feel was created especially for them.

\n

\"The

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The Disney Cruise Line ships are modern classics that celebrate the legendary ocean liners of the past while combining innovative technology with magical Disney touches to create extraordinary guest experiences. The moment guests are welcomed aboard, they begin a journey complete with legendary Disney service and attention to detail, incomparable entertainment and unforgettable dining. In short, an unparalleled vacation experience for every member of the family.

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Check out this video and discover how guests of all ages can have a great time aboard a Disney cruise. Make sure to visit the Disney Cruise Line Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/DisneyCruiseLine) and join the conversation by adding your comments. 

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Las Vegas: Explore the Great Outdoors Beyond the Strip”,”summary”:”A lonely road leads to the brilliant rock formations in Valley of Fire State Park. A bit of a leg stretch and a different kind of dazzle await in the recreational spots around Las Vegas. Yes, these are real evergreen trees, just an hour outside Las Vegas on Mt. Charleston. Las Vegas itself is set in a flat and arid valley, but the wild mountains cradling it are full of surprises.”,”body”:”

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A lonely road leads to the brilliant rock formations in Valley of Fire State Park. (Photo: Frank Kovalchek/Flickr) 

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Here’s something not many people do when they visit Vegas in summer — go outside for extended periods of time. It seems like the world’s craziest idea, but there’s actually a lot going on beyond the city’s core. A bit of a leg stretch and a different kind of dazzle await in the recreational spots around Las Vegas.

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How to get away: Rent a car at the airport. Many hotels have car-rental offices, making it easy to grab one for a day. Or let one of the city’s professional tour companies, such as Pink Jeep Tours, pick you up from your hotel.

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Anytime you leave the civilized (read: air-conditioned) confines of Downtown or the Strip, be prepared for heat. Yes, it’s a dry heat… some of the world’s driest. Bring lots and lots of water, a hat, sunscreen, and good walking shoes, even if you don’t plan to spend much time outside your car.

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Yes, these are real evergreen trees, just an hour outside Las Vegas on Mt. Charleston. (Photo: Terissa Meeks/Flickr) 

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Mountain Highs

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From the High Roller observation wheel or the top of the Stratosphere tower, moody mountains rise in the distance. Ever wonder what’s out there? Las Vegas itself is set in a flat and arid valley, but the wild mountains cradling it are full of surprises.

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One option for an escape: Mt. Charleston, an hour north of town. Locals love it, especially since its elevation (8,750 feet) guarantees temperatures about 20-30 degrees lower than those in the valley. At Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort (yes, a ski resort just outside Las Vegas!), summer activities range from hiking to mountain biking to disc golf, all against a backdrop of honest-to-goodness evergreen trees. Summer ski resort operations, including dining and the chairlift, are open on weekends and holidays from July 4-Sept. 1.

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Mt. Charleston offers hiking on trails in the summer and snow in the winter. (Photo: Trail Sherpa/Flickr)  

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The 50 miles of surrounding hiking trails in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area’s 316,000 acres of public land are open all summer. Hikers above 10,000 feet (Mt. Charleston tops out at nearly 12,000) might even encounter the elusive bristlecone pine. The gnarled tree can live for 5,000 years or more, despite the exposed high-elevation conditions it favors. After a few days amid the man-made spectacle that is Vegas, you might have to remind yourself that the pine-scented trees are real.

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Aside from lodging, the nearby Resort on Mt. Charleston offers food and supplies. Grab hiking maps from the general store and a boxed lunch from the on-site restaurant to combine the two in picnic form. The Mary Jane Falls Trail, a steep 3.5-mile round trip, is a local favorite, complete with a waterfall (more of a trickle in late summer) and a cave.

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Desert Adventures

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The desert surrounding the city has its own surprises (just keep in mind that it’s best to go in the morning or evening to avoid midday heat).

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In its own way, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is just as famous as any of the attractions on the Strip. Halfway between Las Vegas and Mt. Charleston, this hilly area’s canyons lead hikers into canyons and along (usually) dry streambeds while climbers scale the multicolored stone walls above. During the summer, you might want to see much of it from your car via a 13-mile scenic drive punctuated by a few short hikes to viewpoints. Or plan to arrive early or late, when the sun and heat is less intense, and explore on bicycle. A handful of bike shops offer rentals, including Broken Spoke Bikes.

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A climber ascends a route in Red Rock National Conservation Area. (Photo: Justin Johnsen/Flickr

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An hour northeast of Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park is one of the area’s biggest surprises. In striking contrast to the surrounding desert, which seems to go on forever, the park’s roads and trails lead from one strange red rock formation to another, with ever-changing vistas around every corner. Be prepared if you head out there, since water and amenities are scarce.

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Other outdoorsy opportunities are even closer. The 180-acre Springs Preserve, 3.5 miles west of Downtown, combines edification (botanical garden, solar-powered house exhibit) with fun (miniature golf, playground).  

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The Cure for Heat: Water

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Water, of course, is the antidote to heat, and you can head to Lake Mead for plenty of it. Sitting like a vast puddle surreally surrounded by treeless desert, the lake and surrounding National Recreation Area are surprisingly close. You can rent a boat, small or large, at one of the marinas. Or let someone else do the work for you. Lake Mead Cruises, for example, will take you on a paddleboat cruise all the way to Hoover Dam, at the lake’s southern end.

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Lake Mead is a blue oasis amid miles of desert. (Photo: xiquinhosilva/Flickr)

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For an entirely different kind of recreation, this July Cowabunga Bay, opens 15 minutes outside Las Vegas in Henderson. It has the largest wave pool in Nevada as well as rides like Zuma ZOOMa, a slide that drops 73 feet into a high-speed horizontal 360-degree loop. 

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Cowabunga Bay will be the Las Vegas area’s newest water park. (Photo: Courtesy Cowabunga Bay)

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Humans aren’t the only ones seeking water. More than 300 species call Clark County Wetlands Park home. Yes, you read that right: wetlands, 10 miles east of the Strip. It’s open daily, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. In summer, arrive early for the best (and least scorching) bird watching.

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Can you tell the difference?  “,”body”:”

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From a family breakfast with Aunty and the Disney characters, to a rejuvenating massage for the entire family at Laniwai Spa, to ending the night together at the Starlit Hui show, your ʻohana will create lasting memories of your Hawaiian vacation at every turn.”,”body”:”

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ʻOhana means family, and at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, every member of the family is included in the fun. From a family breakfast with Aunty and the Disney characters, to a rejuvenating massage for the entire family at Laniwai Spa, to ending the night together at the Starlit Hui show, your ʻohana will create lasting memories of your Hawaiian vacation at every turn. For more information, visit www.disneyaulani.com

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and Beyond: What’s New in Las Vegas Nightlife”,”summary”:”Vegas Baroque Old-school entertainment is the new thing in this constantly self-referential city. Instead, guests sip cocktails and nibble on shared small plates (including caviar, of course) amid lushly immersive entertainment from the mind of Ross Mollison, who created the sometimes funny, often-edgy Absinthe cabaret show at Caesars Palace. Those sorts of clubs where you can have dinner and be entertained.” Another old-is-new trend: burlesque shows that mix naughtiness with old-school entertainment. The Travel Channel recently named X Burlesque at the Flamingo one of the world’s 10 best burlesque shows.”,”body”:”

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A performer entertains as part of the cabaret-style show at Rose.Rabbit.Lie. (Photo: Courtesy of Rose.Rabbit.Lie)

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Whether you’re a first-timer or Vegas veteran, the ever-changing cornucopia of after-dark entertainment will keep you on your toes. Take it easy, find out a bit about what’s new, and jump in. In this town, it’s hard to go wrong.

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Vegas Baroque

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Old-school entertainment is the new thing in this constantly self-referential city. Many new acts have a vintage feeling to them, ranging from steampunk to pinup girl.

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“Vegas Nocturne” at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas made its debut in January, combining dining and entertainment. But this is not your grandmother’s dinner theater. Instead, guests sip cocktails and nibble on shared small plates (including caviar, of course) amid lushly immersive entertainment from the mind of Ross Mollison, who created the sometimes funny, often-edgy Absinthe cabaret show at Caesars Palace.

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It’s hard to describe the show, exactly (that’s the point), but it’s definitely a mix of old and new. Mollison has described it as “something like a Stork Club, or the 21 Club, which goes back to the ’20s in the Prohibition era. Those sorts of clubs where you can have dinner and be entertained.”

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Another old-is-new trend: burlesque shows that mix naughtiness with old-school entertainment. The Travel Channel recently named X Burlesque at the Flamingo one of the world’s 10 best burlesque shows. There’s even a Zombie Burlesque show (maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at sexy zombies in a world that already gave us sexy vampires).

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Attention to Craft

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Like many cities, Las Vegas is having a craft cocktail boom. But this is Vegas, which means mixologists compete to design creations ranging from tasty classics done right to over-the-top concoctions with unexpected ingredients.

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PRESS, poolside at the Four Seasons (on the Strip’s south end, in the same hotel complex as the Mandalay Bay), shakes up some of the city’s best cocktails. Everything in the Hemingway Daiquiri is fresh squeezed, and DRY rhubarb soda adds a touch of fizzy sweetness to the mojito. The Four Seasons also boasts one of the Strip’s best happy hour deals. At its Italian restaurant, Verandah, select cocktails and small bites are $5 from 4-7 p.m. And the quiet, cozy setting overlooking the pool couldn’t be a more welcome respite before a night on the town. 

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The cozy outdoor section of PRESS, the Four Seasons’ newest cocktail lounge. (Photo: Courtesy of Four Seasons)

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The Sugar Factory at the Paris Las Vegas combines drinks and dessert, adding liquid nitrogen and signature candies to its alcoholic confections. There’s the “Blow Pop” martini, topped with a “couture lollipop,” the Jolly Rancher martini, and the Strawberry Blonde martini. Be sure to share the goblet drinks (they’re big!) with a few friends. 

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The “Blow Pop” is one of a few Sugar Factory drinks made with liquid nitrogen. (Photo: Courtesy of Sugar Factory)

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If rum is more your thing, check out the Mojito Bar, which opened a little over a year ago in the Seafood Shack at Treasure Island (also home to Gilley’s Saloon, in case you’re a homesick Texan or in the mood for a mechanical bull ride). 

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At FIZZ in Caesars Palace, open since March, David Furnish (whose creative and life partner Elton John is no stranger to Vegas) has paired over-the-top drinks with opulent chandelier-and-silk décor. While not all of us will spring for the Fizz Deluxe—a $2,500 collection of premium liquors dusted in real gold—this is a swanky spot to have a snack and a drink before a show at The Colosseum next door. 

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The décor at FIZZ is classic David Furnish (Photo: Courtesy of FIZZ)

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The good drinks are not all on the Strip. The brand-new Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar in the Golden Nugget Las Vegas has more than 70 boutique Blanco, Anejo, Reposado, and Distintivo tequilas. Guests sip it straight or in a creative cocktail as they munch on tapas and Tex-Mex—leave room for delectable dessert sopapillas—in a laid-back atmosphere.

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The Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar house margarita (Photo: Courtesy of Golden Nugget)

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The Downtown Cocktail Room, in the surging Fremont East neighborhood, combines a big space—made cozy with red walls, mood lighting and leather armchairs—with an old-fashioned speakeasy vibe and expert mixology. The menu ranges from cheeky house creations like the Spaghetti Western (“much like the 1960s genre, this is an American bourbon directed by an Italian amaro”) to classic cocktails done right. It’s a go-to spot for a really good Manhattan or dirty martini.

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The Velveteen Rabbit reflects the arts district that surrounds it in both its cocktail menu and youthful, friendly atmosphere backed by whimsical décor (think thrift-shop finds and locally made art). Mixologists craft “Elixirs” with housemade mixers and herbal liquors, and the bar is rumored to make one of the city’s best Sazeracs. Its outdoor patio is a favorite local hangout spot on summer evenings.

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In keeping with the old-is-new wave sweeping the city, the MOB Bar in the recently opened Downtown Grand Las Vegas Hotel & Casino takes its cues from the Mob Museum next door. The cocktail menu includes a sweet-and-sour Smoking Gun and the Sicilian Kiss (Southern Comfort and amaretto). Velvet sofas and chandeliers complete the retro feel.

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Not a fan of the hard stuff? Banger Brewing has been serving up craft beers Downtown since the tail end of 2013. Five longtime friends started taking their Banger brew to local festivals a few years ago, winning over suds heads thirsting for a locally brewed flavor.

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The brewery offers 14 of its concoctions on tap out of a total of 31 recipes the friends have brought to fruition. “In four months, that’s a lot of variety,” co-owner Roberto Mendoza told Yahoo Travel. Specialties include summery watermelon wheat, lemon raspberry blonde and orange mint brews as well as a jalapeno-infused hefeweisen known as “El Heffe.”

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At the Palms Casino Resort, you don’t even have to be checked in to get your hands on a Vegas cocktail. The just-off-the-Strip resort recently inaugurated its Beverage Butler service: For $5, an elegantly dressed butler will make drinks for check-in line.

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The Beverage Butler at the Palms Casino Resort. (Photo: courtesy of Palms Casino Resort)

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Club Fabulous

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Las Vegas has long been home to some of the country’s best nightclubs. Built with late-night dancing in mind, the city’s upscale clubs cater to a young, freewheeling clientele looking to get their groove on. Here to help: high-profile DJs from both coasts who make regular appearances.

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At XS Nightclub in Encore Las Vegas, Lil Jon recently had the club jumping (others you’ll hear there include Skrillex, David Guetta, and Avicii) under the club’s 10-foot rotating gold chandelier with the elegant pool area as a backdrop. More casual summer Sundays have swimwear-clad patrons jumping in and out of the water to those same DJs.

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DJ David Guetta performs at XS Nightclub. (Photo: Danny Mahoney/XS Las Vegas)

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With 80,000 square feet on five levels and spaces running the gamut from cozy to cavernous, Hakkasan Nightclub in the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino is one of the city’s most immersive venues. DJs including Tiesto and Calvin Harris help leave the outside world behind, and you can start off dining next door at its 20,000-square-foot restaurant.

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The current buzz-generating Strip hotspot: Drai’s Beach Club • Nightclub, the latest from nightlife impresario Victor Drai, open as of Memorial Day weekend. Set atop The Cromwell (the Strip’s first-ever standalone boutique hotel), the 65,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor rooftop club takes up much of the hotel’s rooftop space.Wherever you turn you will be awed by the design, the technology, the music, the service, and most importantly, the experience. We have designed the club to be visual, sensual, sexy, and social,” Drai recently said.

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Vegas by Day”,”summary”:”The Neon Museum preserves classic Las Vegas signs, like this one for the Yucca Motel. Best Museums On a recent flight to Las Vegas, I chatted with a frequent visitor. From lowbrow to high culture, Las Vegas is full of exhibitions, historical artifacts and installations. The Mob Museum is a vast repository in a striking 1930s-era neoclassical former federal building, the site of the 1950-51 Kefauver Committee hearings on organized crime (the restored courtroom is part of the tour).”,”body”:”

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The Neon Museum preserves classic Las Vegas signs, like this one for the Yucca Motel. (Photo: Courtesy Neon Museum)

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Las Vegas could be the ultimate night town, with shows and clubs and bars hopping nonstop into the wee hours. But there’s still a lot of daylight. When you’ve tanned enough by the pool, the city has plenty of daytime diversions to keep you entertained until the next round of excitement.

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Best Museums

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On a recent flight to Las Vegas, I chatted with a frequent visitor. “My wife and her sister come here all the time,” he said, “and they never gamble.” Instead, he said, they come almost entirely to visit museums. From lowbrow to high culture, Las Vegas is full of exhibitions, historical artifacts and installations.

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The Mob Museum is a vast repository in a striking 1930s-era neoclassical former federal building, the site of the 1950-51 Kefauver Committee hearings on organized crime (the restored courtroom is part of the tour). It tells the story of those who broke the law and those who enforced it, highlighting the big personalities on both sides.

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The history of Vegas is written in neon, and the Neon Museum has been a local favorite since it opened in late 2012. Set near Downtown, a jumble of colorful curves poking up behind the gates give a hint of the nostalgic treasures to come. The nonprofit museum’s best feature: its hour-long story-filled guided tour. And at $18 for daytime admission, this is bargain entertainment (advance purchase is recommended). Bring a hat and water because everything is outside.

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One of my airplane friend’s favorites: the Pinball Hall of Fame, a bit off the Strip on Tropicana. As the website explains, it’s “pinball and nothing but pinball for 10,000 square feet.” And yes, you can play the games. 

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Aside from the permanent (or as permanent as things get in Vegas) museums, the city hosts an ever-changing carousel of exhibitions. Options this summer include “Da Vinci: The Exhibition” at The Venetian, where some of the original Renaissance man’s drawings are on display—and others have come to life as three-dimensional models. 

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Models of Leonardo Da Vinci’s military machines are on display this summer, part of “Da Vinci: The Exhibition” at The Venetian. (Photo: Imagine Exhibitions/Powers Imagery)

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The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is showing “Painting Women: Works from the Museum of Fine Art, Boston,” an exhibition of women as both as painters and subjects. Enjoy the air conditioning as you take in brushstrokes of artists including Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Berthe Morisot—the gallery itself has a hushed atmosphere that’s a welcome break from the bustle outside. 

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Retail Therapy

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From souvenir dice to designer handbags, retail in Las Vegas runs the gamut. 

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The LINQ, nestled between the Quad Resort & Casino and Flamingo Las Vegas, is the city’s newest ode to the joy of shopping. Among its novelties: the first Polaroid Fotobar outside Florida, which lets tourists print and frame their camera or phone photos on the spot, and Nevada’s first Sprinkles, which brings a delectable reward (cupcakes and ice cream) for all that walking up and down the Strip. An enormous industrial-chic Brooklyn Bowl features bowling by day and live music on many nights. 

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Of course, the LINQ’s most notable (and visible) feature is the High Roller, the world’s tallest observation wheel, where clear pods affixed to the outside of a giant wheel give unbeatable views of the city from 550 feet up.  

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The High Roller observation wheel anchors The LINQ, a new shopping, dining and entertainment area in the middle of the Strip. (Photo: Brian Jones/Las Vegas News Bureau)

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Town Square, at the south end of the Strip (and accessible via a free shuttle), is not just about shopping. The open-air mall with a California vibe has the usual trappings, but in true Vegas style, it doesn’t shut down at sundown. Stoney’s Rockin’ Country is a western-wear store by day and a 19,000-foot saloon by night where you can take country-dance lessons, listen to live music, or ride the mechanical bull. Or head to the Baobab Stage Theatre for anything from African dance to burlesque.

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The open-air Town Square has familiar shops in a pleasant setting. (Photo: Courtesy Town Square)

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Bargain hunters can scour outlet malls, with deals on everything from Armani to Zales, just off both the north and south ends of the Strip. And as for that shop made famous by “Pawn Stars”: a handful of tour buses will take you there on their route, or you can find your own way to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop via the city’s Deuce bus (it has a stop a block away).

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Las Vegas Premium Outlets South includes designers such as Michael Kors and Coach. (Photo: courtesy Las Vegas Premium Outlets)

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One of the city’s most surprising shopping options: the new Downtown 3rd Farmers Market, held every Friday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. in a covered lot next to the Mob Museum. Grab fresh local goodies from some of the same growers who supply the city’s top restaurants. 

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And for cutting-edge original souvenirs unlike anything anyone else is taking home, check out the blossoming 18b Arts District between Downtown and the Strip. You’ll find everything from mixed-media sculpture at the Arts Factory to vintage furniture at Rick’s Restorations. Easiest way to find it: take the super-convenient Deuce or SDX buses to the Arts District stop at Charleston Boulevard.  

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Playtime

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There’s a reason Las Vegas is often called a playground for adults. The whole place is like an amusement park—on a giant scale.

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Speaking of giant, one of the Vegas activities on TripAdvisor is Dig This!, which lets grown-up kids play with the construction equipment they had toy versions of when they were little. The Nevada desert replaces the backyard sandbox, as you climb into Caterpillar cockpits and bulldoze to your heart’s content. If you think this is just for the guys, you’d be wrong—many of the construction fans are women.

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In the midst of an urban renewal, Downtown is a less expensive and more intimate alternative to the Strip. One of the latest additions: Downtown Container Park, named for the shipping containers stacked atop each other to create a boutique shopping and dining area a couple blocks southeast of the Fremont Street Experience. The architecture alone is worth a visit, but even better is the outdoor play park, complete with a 33-foot slide, that welcomes both kids and adults.

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Container Park’s whimsical touches include a praying mantis that shoots fire. (Photo: Mike Bindrup/Flickr

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High-Adrenaline Side of Las Vegas”,”summary”:”A helicopter flies above the High Roller observation wheel and other brightly lit landmarks on the Strip. Always wanted to soar in a helicopter? Zoom around a NASCAR track? The SkyJump at the Stratosphere is the world’s highest controlled descent.”,”body”:”

\"The

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A helicopter flies above the High Roller observation wheel and other brightly lit landmarks on the Strip. (Photo: Courtesy Maverick Aviation Group) 

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Las Vegas is a bucket-list city, where adrenaline junkies can fulfill a half dozen lifelong dreams in a single weekend. Always wanted to soar in a helicopter? Jump out of a plane? Zoom around a NASCAR track? No problem. An ever-growing number of local outfits are springing up to give tourists that “I can’t believe I’m actually doing this” feeling. And most of the fun comes in bite-size chunks that have you back to your hotel in a matter of hours.\"image\"

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The SkyJump at the Stratosphere is the world’s highest controlled descent. (Photo: Courtesy SkyJump) 

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Sky’s No Limit

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Aside from the workaday world of commercial airlines, few of us spend much time airborne. But the clear, wide-open skies above Nevada’s vast desert are a blank canvas for artists in flight.

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Helicopter rides are a Vegas staple; hop aboard a Maverick Helicopter chopper for a short tour of the Strip (especially romantic at night, when the city glitters below) or a bird’s-eye sweep of the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. There’s nothing quite like that floating sensation as the craft lifts off like a giant dragonfly—any nervousness quickly turning to exhilaration.

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Other helicopter companies include Papillon and Sundance (try a Grand Canyon picnic). A number of successful helicopter operations have been shuttling first-time tourists around for years, so this is the perfect time to cross the whirlybird off your life list.

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Another way to see the Strip from high up: the Big Shot, X-Scream, and Insanity thrill rides that undulate along the Stratosphere’s 1,149-foot-tall tower (the country’s tallest freestanding observation tower). The most daring plummet straight down, bungee style, with SkyJump, the world’s highest controlled descent.

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Stratosphere’s Insanity dangles riders 900 feet above the Strip and spins them at 40 mph. (Photo: Eduardo Tavares/Flickr)  

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Perhaps the single most pulse-racing thing I can imagine doing anyplace, ever, is Sky Combat Ace, a one-on-one ride-along with a professional pilot in a fighter plane. Thrill seekers blast through barrel rolls, combat drills, and other aerobatics—or just take a spin (upright) in a vintage plane with an open cockpit. Don’t try this after a few cocktails, folks.

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Sky Combat Ace takes guests along on stunt-plane flights above the Nevada desert. (Photo: Courtesy Sky Combat Ace)

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Test the Laws of Physics

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You’re in a stock car revving a 600-hp engine, waiting for the flag to drop. And then you’re off, hitting the gas and shifting gears and letting your wheels grab the banked track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Soon you’re flying past the stands at over 100 mph—and you’ve never done anything like this before. Good thing there’s an instructor sitting next to you, telling you exactly what to do.

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That’s what happens at the Richard Petty Driving Experience, one of several Vegas companies that let you put the pedal to the metal without worrying about traffic lights. Climb into the driver’s seat yourself or ride with a professional if your goal is to just experience the feeling of screaming around a track at 165 mph (none of the amateurs have gone quite that fast yet). Alternatively, Petty’s American Muscle Car Challenge lets guests drive a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Dodge Challenger SRT8 392, or Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.

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It’s not just for NASCAR: You, too, can drive on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Photo: Courtesy Richard Petty Driving Experience)

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Another company, Dream Racing, also lets you drive exotic cars on the same NASCAR speedway. If Lady Luck shines on you, you’ll see fighter pilots training at nearby Nellis Air Force Base. Now that’s speed.

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Believe it or not, the g-force in a racecar is nothing compared to what Las Vegas’ most extreme roller coasters feel like. The newest, El Loco, zooms, corkscrews, and reverse-rolls around the Adventuredome indoor amusement park at Circus Circus (also home to the double-loop Canyon Blaster). After rides like these, hit the casino’s midway and big top to take a break while you watch other people do scary-looking things for a change.

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The indoor El Loco roller coaster spins riders through corkscrews and around quick corners. (Photo: Courtesy Circus Circus)

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Those with tetchy nerves and/or necks could consider something a little less stressful, maybe a zip-line ride with a gentle stop at the end: the mighty SlotZilla on Fremont Street. A new upper “zoomline” segment—114 feet above the ground and 1,700 feet long—just opened in April. You can book advance tickets online or, for a spur-of-the-moment screamfest above the crowds, just look for the giant slot machine towering in the middle of the sidewalk.

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One of the more notable Vegas crazes of late: high-powered gun ranges, where firearm fans (and the merely curious) have the chance to shoot munitions you can’t get at home. Each of the half-dozen or so ranges in town has its own focus. Gun Garage’s just-opened 12-lane indoor range is just off the Strip, which means you can wake up late, head over for a quick afternoon ballistics volley and be back in time for happy hour. Other options, like the military-style Battlefield Vegas, are more involved.

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Be Surprised

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The most intriguing new adrenaline-filled idea in town is Las Vegas: The Game. Basically, imagine a “Hangover”-style bachelor party—with your own friend as the bachelor. Working as an accomplice with Justin Oswald and Chad Hardy, the brains behind this operation, you can plan a night of complete surprises for your unsuspecting victim. Or the company will draw up a behind-the-scenes plan and keep you in the dark, too.

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Possibilities range from hiring a stranger to test your friend’s flirting resolve to playing along with a series of elaborate charades that build on each other for an entire night. The evening could include anything from a monkey to a showgirl—or both! You’re limited only by your tolerance for shock and how good a friend you are (and whether you still want to be invited to the wedding).

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Las Vegas: Explore the Great Outdoors Beyond the Strip”,”summary”:”A lonely road leads to the brilliant rock formations in Valley of Fire State Park. A bit of a leg stretch and a different kind of dazzle await in the recreational spots around Las Vegas. Yes, these are real evergreen trees, just an hour outside Las Vegas on Mt. Charleston. Las Vegas itself is set in a flat and arid valley, but the wild mountains cradling it are full of surprises.”,”body”:”

\"Leaving

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A lonely road leads to the brilliant rock formations in Valley of Fire State Park. (Photo: Frank Kovalchek/Flickr) 

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Here’s something not many people do when they visit Vegas in summer — go outside for extended periods of time. It seems like the world’s craziest idea, but there’s actually a lot going on beyond the city’s core. A bit of a leg stretch and a different kind of dazzle await in the recreational spots around Las Vegas.

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How to get away: Rent a car at the airport. Many hotels have car-rental offices, making it easy to grab one for a day. Or let one of the city’s professional tour companies, such as Pink Jeep Tours, pick you up from your hotel.

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Anytime you leave the civilized (read: air-conditioned) confines of Downtown or the Strip, be prepared for heat. Yes, it’s a dry heat… some of the world’s driest. Bring lots and lots of water, a hat, sunscreen, and good walking shoes, even if you don’t plan to spend much time outside your car.

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Yes, these are real evergreen trees, just an hour outside Las Vegas on Mt. Charleston. (Photo: Terissa Meeks/Flickr) 

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Mountain Highs

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From the High Roller observation wheel or the top of the Stratosphere tower, moody mountains rise in the distance. Ever wonder what’s out there? Las Vegas itself is set in a flat and arid valley, but the wild mountains cradling it are full of surprises.

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One option for an escape: Mt. Charleston, an hour north of town. Locals love it, especially since its elevation (8,750 feet) guarantees temperatures about 20-30 degrees lower than those in the valley. At Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort (yes, a ski resort just outside Las Vegas!), summer activities range from hiking to mountain biking to disc golf, all against a backdrop of honest-to-goodness evergreen trees. Summer ski resort operations, including dining and the chairlift, are open on weekends and holidays from July 4-Sept. 1.

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Mt. Charleston offers hiking on trails in the summer and snow in the winter. (Photo: Trail Sherpa/Flickr)  

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The 50 miles of surrounding hiking trails in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area’s 316,000 acres of public land are open all summer. Hikers above 10,000 feet (Mt. Charleston tops out at nearly 12,000) might even encounter the elusive bristlecone pine. The gnarled tree can live for 5,000 years or more, despite the exposed high-elevation conditions it favors. After a few days amid the man-made spectacle that is Vegas, you might have to remind yourself that the pine-scented trees are real.

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Aside from lodging, the nearby Resort on Mt. Charleston offers food and supplies. Grab hiking maps from the general store and a boxed lunch from the on-site restaurant to combine the two in picnic form. The Mary Jane Falls Trail, a steep 3.5-mile round trip, is a local favorite, complete with a waterfall (more of a trickle in late summer) and a cave.

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Desert Adventures

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The desert surrounding the city has its own surprises (just keep in mind that it’s best to go in the morning or evening to avoid midday heat).

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In its own way, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is just as famous as any of the attractions on the Strip. Halfway between Las Vegas and Mt. Charleston, this hilly area’s canyons lead hikers into canyons and along (usually) dry streambeds while climbers scale the multicolored stone walls above. During the summer, you might want to see much of it from your car via a 13-mile scenic drive punctuated by a few short hikes to viewpoints. Or plan to arrive early or late, when the sun and heat is less intense, and explore on bicycle. A handful of bike shops offer rentals, including Broken Spoke Bikes.

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A climber ascends a route in Red Rock National Conservation Area. (Photo: Justin Johnsen/Flickr

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An hour northeast of Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park is one of the area’s biggest surprises. In striking contrast to the surrounding desert, which seems to go on forever, the park’s roads and trails lead from one strange red rock formation to another, with ever-changing vistas around every corner. Be prepared if you head out there, since water and amenities are scarce.

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Other outdoorsy opportunities are even closer. The 180-acre Springs Preserve, 3.5 miles west of Downtown, combines edification (botanical garden, solar-powered house exhibit) with fun (miniature golf, playground).  

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The Cure for Heat: Water

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Water, of course, is the antidote to heat, and you can head to Lake Mead for plenty of it. Sitting like a vast puddle surreally surrounded by treeless desert, the lake and surrounding National Recreation Area are surprisingly close. You can rent a boat, small or large, at one of the marinas. Or let someone else do the work for you. Lake Mead Cruises, for example, will take you on a paddleboat cruise all the way to Hoover Dam, at the lake’s southern end.

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Lake Mead is a blue oasis amid miles of desert. (Photo: xiquinhosilva/Flickr)

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For an entirely different kind of recreation, this July Cowabunga Bay, opens 15 minutes outside Las Vegas in Henderson. It has the largest wave pool in Nevada as well as rides like Zuma ZOOMa, a slide that drops 73 feet into a high-speed horizontal 360-degree loop. 

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Cowabunga Bay will be the Las Vegas area’s newest water park. (Photo: Courtesy Cowabunga Bay)

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Humans aren’t the only ones seeking water. More than 300 species call Clark County Wetlands Park home. Yes, you read that right: wetlands, 10 miles east of the Strip. It’s open daily, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. In summer, arrive early for the best (and least scorching) bird watching.

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and Beyond: What’s New in Las Vegas Nightlife”,”summary”:”Vegas Baroque Old-school entertainment is the new thing in this constantly self-referential city. Instead, guests sip cocktails and nibble on shared small plates (including caviar, of course) amid lushly immersive entertainment from the mind of Ross Mollison, who created the sometimes funny, often-edgy Absinthe cabaret show at Caesars Palace. Those sorts of clubs where you can have dinner and be entertained.” Another old-is-new trend: burlesque shows that mix naughtiness with old-school entertainment. The Travel Channel recently named X Burlesque at the Flamingo one of the world’s 10 best burlesque shows.”,”body”:”

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A performer entertains as part of the cabaret-style show at Rose.Rabbit.Lie. (Photo: Courtesy of Rose.Rabbit.Lie)

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Whether you’re a first-timer or Vegas veteran, the ever-changing cornucopia of after-dark entertainment will keep you on your toes. Take it easy, find out a bit about what’s new, and jump in. In this town, it’s hard to go wrong.

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Vegas Baroque

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Old-school entertainment is the new thing in this constantly self-referential city. Many new acts have a vintage feeling to them, ranging from steampunk to pinup girl.

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“Vegas Nocturne” at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas made its debut in January, combining dining and entertainment. But this is not your grandmother’s dinner theater. Instead, guests sip cocktails and nibble on shared small plates (including caviar, of course) amid lushly immersive entertainment from the mind of Ross Mollison, who created the sometimes funny, often-edgy Absinthe cabaret show at Caesars Palace.

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It’s hard to describe the show, exactly (that’s the point), but it’s definitely a mix of old and new. Mollison has described it as “something like a Stork Club, or the 21 Club, which goes back to the ’20s in the Prohibition era. Those sorts of clubs where you can have dinner and be entertained.”

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Another old-is-new trend: burlesque shows that mix naughtiness with old-school entertainment. The Travel Channel recently named X Burlesque at the Flamingo one of the world’s 10 best burlesque shows. There’s even a Zombie Burlesque show (maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at sexy zombies in a world that already gave us sexy vampires).

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Attention to Craft

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Like many cities, Las Vegas is having a craft cocktail boom. But this is Vegas, which means mixologists compete to design creations ranging from tasty classics done right to over-the-top concoctions with unexpected ingredients.

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PRESS, poolside at the Four Seasons (on the Strip’s south end, in the same hotel complex as the Mandalay Bay), shakes up some of the city’s best cocktails. Everything in the Hemingway Daiquiri is fresh squeezed, and DRY rhubarb soda adds a touch of fizzy sweetness to the mojito. The Four Seasons also boasts one of the Strip’s best happy hour deals. At its Italian restaurant, Verandah, select cocktails and small bites are $5 from 4-7 p.m. And the quiet, cozy setting overlooking the pool couldn’t be a more welcome respite before a night on the town. 

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The cozy outdoor section of PRESS, the Four Seasons’ newest cocktail lounge. (Photo: Courtesy of Four Seasons)

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The Sugar Factory at the Paris Las Vegas combines drinks and dessert, adding liquid nitrogen and signature candies to its alcoholic confections. There’s the “Blow Pop” martini, topped with a “couture lollipop,” the Jolly Rancher martini, and the Strawberry Blonde martini. Be sure to share the goblet drinks (they’re big!) with a few friends. 

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The “Blow Pop” is one of a few Sugar Factory drinks made with liquid nitrogen. (Photo: Courtesy of Sugar Factory)

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If rum is more your thing, check out the Mojito Bar, which opened a little over a year ago in the Seafood Shack at Treasure Island (also home to Gilley’s Saloon, in case you’re a homesick Texan or in the mood for a mechanical bull ride). 

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At FIZZ in Caesars Palace, open since March, David Furnish (whose creative and life partner Elton John is no stranger to Vegas) has paired over-the-top drinks with opulent chandelier-and-silk décor. While not all of us will spring for the Fizz Deluxe—a $2,500 collection of premium liquors dusted in real gold—this is a swanky spot to have a snack and a drink before a show at The Colosseum next door. 

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The décor at FIZZ is classic David Furnish (Photo: Courtesy of FIZZ)

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The good drinks are not all on the Strip. The brand-new Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar in the Golden Nugget Las Vegas has more than 70 boutique Blanco, Anejo, Reposado, and Distintivo tequilas. Guests sip it straight or in a creative cocktail as they munch on tapas and Tex-Mex—leave room for delectable dessert sopapillas—in a laid-back atmosphere.

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The Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar house margarita (Photo: Courtesy of Golden Nugget)

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The Downtown Cocktail Room, in the surging Fremont East neighborhood, combines a big space—made cozy with red walls, mood lighting and leather armchairs—with an old-fashioned speakeasy vibe and expert mixology. The menu ranges from cheeky house creations like the Spaghetti Western (“much like the 1960s genre, this is an American bourbon directed by an Italian amaro”) to classic cocktails done right. It’s a go-to spot for a really good Manhattan or dirty martini.

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The Velveteen Rabbit reflects the arts district that surrounds it in both its cocktail menu and youthful, friendly atmosphere backed by whimsical décor (think thrift-shop finds and locally made art). Mixologists craft “Elixirs” with housemade mixers and herbal liquors, and the bar is rumored to make one of the city’s best Sazeracs. Its outdoor patio is a favorite local hangout spot on summer evenings.

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In keeping with the old-is-new wave sweeping the city, the MOB Bar in the recently opened Downtown Grand Las Vegas Hotel & Casino takes its cues from the Mob Museum next door. The cocktail menu includes a sweet-and-sour Smoking Gun and the Sicilian Kiss (Southern Comfort and amaretto). Velvet sofas and chandeliers complete the retro feel.

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Not a fan of the hard stuff? Banger Brewing has been serving up craft beers Downtown since the tail end of 2013. Five longtime friends started taking their Banger brew to local festivals a few years ago, winning over suds heads thirsting for a locally brewed flavor.

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The brewery offers 14 of its concoctions on tap out of a total of 31 recipes the friends have brought to fruition. “In four months, that’s a lot of variety,” co-owner Roberto Mendoza told Yahoo Travel. Specialties include summery watermelon wheat, lemon raspberry blonde and orange mint brews as well as a jalapeno-infused hefeweisen known as “El Heffe.”

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At the Palms Casino Resort, you don’t even have to be checked in to get your hands on a Vegas cocktail. The just-off-the-Strip resort recently inaugurated its Beverage Butler service: For $5, an elegantly dressed butler will make drinks for check-in line.

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The Beverage Butler at the Palms Casino Resort. (Photo: courtesy of Palms Casino Resort)

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Club Fabulous

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Las Vegas has long been home to some of the country’s best nightclubs. Built with late-night dancing in mind, the city’s upscale clubs cater to a young, freewheeling clientele looking to get their groove on. Here to help: high-profile DJs from both coasts who make regular appearances.

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At XS Nightclub in Encore Las Vegas, Lil Jon recently had the club jumping (others you’ll hear there include Skrillex, David Guetta, and Avicii) under the club’s 10-foot rotating gold chandelier with the elegant pool area as a backdrop. More casual summer Sundays have swimwear-clad patrons jumping in and out of the water to those same DJs.

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DJ David Guetta performs at XS Nightclub. (Photo: Danny Mahoney/XS Las Vegas)

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With 80,000 square feet on five levels and spaces running the gamut from cozy to cavernous, Hakkasan Nightclub in the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino is one of the city’s most immersive venues. DJs including Tiesto and Calvin Harris help leave the outside world behind, and you can start off dining next door at its 20,000-square-foot restaurant.

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The current buzz-generating Strip hotspot: Drai’s Beach Club • Nightclub, the latest from nightlife impresario Victor Drai, open as of Memorial Day weekend. Set atop The Cromwell (the Strip’s first-ever standalone boutique hotel), the 65,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor rooftop club takes up much of the hotel’s rooftop space.Wherever you turn you will be awed by the design, the technology, the music, the service, and most importantly, the experience. We have designed the club to be visual, sensual, sexy, and social,” Drai recently said.

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Vegas by Day”,”summary”:”The Neon Museum preserves classic Las Vegas signs, like this one for the Yucca Motel. Best Museums On a recent flight to Las Vegas, I chatted with a frequent visitor. From lowbrow to high culture, Las Vegas is full of exhibitions, historical artifacts and installations. The Mob Museum is a vast repository in a striking 1930s-era neoclassical former federal building, the site of the 1950-51 Kefauver Committee hearings on organized crime (the restored courtroom is part of the tour).”,”body”:”

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The Neon Museum preserves classic Las Vegas signs, like this one for the Yucca Motel. (Photo: Courtesy Neon Museum)

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Las Vegas could be the ultimate night town, with shows and clubs and bars hopping nonstop into the wee hours. But there’s still a lot of daylight. When you’ve tanned enough by the pool, the city has plenty of daytime diversions to keep you entertained until the next round of excitement.

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Best Museums

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On a recent flight to Las Vegas, I chatted with a frequent visitor. “My wife and her sister come here all the time,” he said, “and they never gamble.” Instead, he said, they come almost entirely to visit museums. From lowbrow to high culture, Las Vegas is full of exhibitions, historical artifacts and installations.

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The Mob Museum is a vast repository in a striking 1930s-era neoclassical former federal building, the site of the 1950-51 Kefauver Committee hearings on organized crime (the restored courtroom is part of the tour). It tells the story of those who broke the law and those who enforced it, highlighting the big personalities on both sides.

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The history of Vegas is written in neon, and the Neon Museum has been a local favorite since it opened in late 2012. Set near Downtown, a jumble of colorful curves poking up behind the gates give a hint of the nostalgic treasures to come. The nonprofit museum’s best feature: its hour-long story-filled guided tour. And at $18 for daytime admission, this is bargain entertainment (advance purchase is recommended). Bring a hat and water because everything is outside.

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One of my airplane friend’s favorites: the Pinball Hall of Fame, a bit off the Strip on Tropicana. As the website explains, it’s “pinball and nothing but pinball for 10,000 square feet.” And yes, you can play the games. 

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Aside from the permanent (or as permanent as things get in Vegas) museums, the city hosts an ever-changing carousel of exhibitions. Options this summer include “Da Vinci: The Exhibition” at The Venetian, where some of the original Renaissance man’s drawings are on display—and others have come to life as three-dimensional models. 

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Models of Leonardo Da Vinci’s military machines are on display this summer, part of “Da Vinci: The Exhibition” at The Venetian. (Photo: Imagine Exhibitions/Powers Imagery)

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The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is showing “Painting Women: Works from the Museum of Fine Art, Boston,” an exhibition of women as both as painters and subjects. Enjoy the air conditioning as you take in brushstrokes of artists including Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Berthe Morisot—the gallery itself has a hushed atmosphere that’s a welcome break from the bustle outside. 

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Retail Therapy

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From souvenir dice to designer handbags, retail in Las Vegas runs the gamut. 

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The LINQ, nestled between the Quad Resort & Casino and Flamingo Las Vegas, is the city’s newest ode to the joy of shopping. Among its novelties: the first Polaroid Fotobar outside Florida, which lets tourists print and frame their camera or phone photos on the spot, and Nevada’s first Sprinkles, which brings a delectable reward (cupcakes and ice cream) for all that walking up and down the Strip. An enormous industrial-chic Brooklyn Bowl features bowling by day and live music on many nights. 

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Of course, the LINQ’s most notable (and visible) feature is the High Roller, the world’s tallest observation wheel, where clear pods affixed to the outside of a giant wheel give unbeatable views of the city from 550 feet up.  

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The High Roller observation wheel anchors The LINQ, a new shopping, dining and entertainment area in the middle of the Strip. (Photo: Brian Jones/Las Vegas News Bureau)

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Town Square, at the south end of the Strip (and accessible via a free shuttle), is not just about shopping. The open-air mall with a California vibe has the usual trappings, but in true Vegas style, it doesn’t shut down at sundown. Stoney’s Rockin’ Country is a western-wear store by day and a 19,000-foot saloon by night where you can take country-dance lessons, listen to live music, or ride the mechanical bull. Or head to the Baobab Stage Theatre for anything from African dance to burlesque.

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The open-air Town Square has familiar shops in a pleasant setting. (Photo: Courtesy Town Square)

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Bargain hunters can scour outlet malls, with deals on everything from Armani to Zales, just off both the north and south ends of the Strip. And as for that shop made famous by “Pawn Stars”: a handful of tour buses will take you there on their route, or you can find your own way to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop via the city’s Deuce bus (it has a stop a block away).

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Las Vegas Premium Outlets South includes designers such as Michael Kors and Coach. (Photo: courtesy Las Vegas Premium Outlets)

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One of the city’s most surprising shopping options: the new Downtown 3rd Farmers Market, held every Friday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. in a covered lot next to the Mob Museum. Grab fresh local goodies from some of the same growers who supply the city’s top restaurants. 

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And for cutting-edge original souvenirs unlike anything anyone else is taking home, check out the blossoming 18b Arts District between Downtown and the Strip. You’ll find everything from mixed-media sculpture at the Arts Factory to vintage furniture at Rick’s Restorations. Easiest way to find it: take the super-convenient Deuce or SDX buses to the Arts District stop at Charleston Boulevard.  

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Playtime

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There’s a reason Las Vegas is often called a playground for adults. The whole place is like an amusement park—on a giant scale.

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Speaking of giant, one of the Vegas activities on TripAdvisor is Dig This!, which lets grown-up kids play with the construction equipment they had toy versions of when they were little. The Nevada desert replaces the backyard sandbox, as you climb into Caterpillar cockpits and bulldoze to your heart’s content. If you think this is just for the guys, you’d be wrong—many of the construction fans are women.

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In the midst of an urban renewal, Downtown is a less expensive and more intimate alternative to the Strip. One of the latest additions: Downtown Container Park, named for the shipping containers stacked atop each other to create a boutique shopping and dining area a couple blocks southeast of the Fremont Street Experience. The architecture alone is worth a visit, but even better is the outdoor play park, complete with a 33-foot slide, that welcomes both kids and adults.

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Container Park’s whimsical touches include a praying mantis that shoots fire. (Photo: Mike Bindrup/Flickr

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Summer’s Worst Travel Accessory: The Barely There Short Shorts – Yahoo Travel

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