I’ve never written about Las Vegas’s Hawaiian Marketplace before because honestly, I’ve been very apathetic about it. Once my initial curiosity wore off, there was really nothing to draw me here. As far as themeing goes, the Marketplace’s so-called Hawaiian theme was pretty weak. When it was built, it was touted as a replica of the International Marketplace in Waikiki. I’ve actually been to the International Marketplace in Waikiki. I don’t see the resemblance.
But last July, when I was staying at Planet Hollywood, I decided to give it another chance. The verdict?
The day we’ve all been waiting for is here! (Okay, maybe not all of us have been waiting for it, but many of us have.) The High Roller, the observation wheel that is the focal point of the Linq development, is now open for business. Three cheers for more stunning views of the Las Vegas Strip!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t there for its opening, but my
roving reporter brother Lee was. He and his wife were able to take advantage of the free rides being offered last weekend during the “soft opening” and later went back when they started charging. Here is his “boots on the ground” report with some initial photos:
2013 was a good year for me when it came to breakfast in Vegas. Usually, my breakfasts are just meals for fueling up for the day, a way to stop my stomach from growling and give me the energy for all the walking around Las Vegas I do. But somehow, I hit all the best joints in 2013: Bouchon, Morels, Ri Ra, and Border Grill (okay, technically that was brunch, but still). This week, I get to write about another favorite new breakfast spot in Vegas: The Pyramid Cafe at the Luxor.
The Pyramid Cafe surprised the hell out of me. After my abysmal experience at the Luxor’s buffet, I didn’t have a lot of hope that the cafe would be any better. At best, I thought it might have the kind of so-so food you typically find at a 24-hour cafe in Vegas. In other words, nothing to write home about. I was very, very wrong.
Out in the Nevada desert, at the foot of the mountains, just past Red Rock Canyon, there is a little town called Bonnie Springs Old Nevada. This isn’t a town you live and work and raise a family in. Bonnie Springs is one of those family-friendly tourist-oriented replica Old West towns with reenactments of gunfights and hangings and such—all for a reasonable admission price of $10. Good, clean, cheesy fun, in other words.
They offer trail rides (through Bonnie Springs Ranch), a petting zoo, and train rides (during the winter). There’s even a saloon and restaurant on site (with reportedly good food, though I didn’t try it). Families with children are bound to get the most mileage out of this place, but don’t discount it for the adult solo traveler. For the right person with the right attitude, it can be a worthwhile outing from Las Vegas. You just need to know what to expect—and what not to expect.
When I stayed at the Luxor, I took advantage of the many great eateries at Mandalay Bay and Mandalay Place. One of those was Ri Ra, the Irish pub and restaurant in Mandalay Place. Going to Ri Ra feels like going to my neighborhood bar, because in a way, I am. We have a Ri Ra here in Burlington, too (there are 11 locations around the country). Still, this was the first time it had been convenient for me to visit the Las Vegas location.
I wish I could tell you what Ri Ra is like at night, when it’s packed to the gills, the beer taps are flowing, and the bands are lively. But my visits to Ri Ra were for its breakfast. There’s just something kind of neat about eating breakfast in an Irish Pub; it makes me feel like I’m traveling overseas. (Here in the U.S., bars aren’t usually the first places we think of when we go out to breakfast, are they?) On both days, I chose to eat at the bar. Or I should say “one of the bars,” because there are several of them here. In fact, you might almost say this is one of the most solo-friendly restaurants in Las Vegas, based on the vast number of bar stools available.
Breakfast wasn’t a busy affair at Ri Ra. I was the only person eating at the bar on both days. Perhaps that should have made me uncomfortable, but it didn’t. I enjoyed chatting with the bartenders, looking around at the décor (painstakingly detailed to look like a traditional Irish pub), and listening to the Irish music playing in the background. It made me want to book a trip to Ireland right away.