A Very Vegas Holiday

Genie Davis December 12, 2011 No Comments

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Where can you find the glitziest Christmas trees? The most colorful holiday lights? A large indoor garden filled with holiday topiary? Massive banks of poinsettias? Venetian gondoliers caroling? How about Santa’s helpers in cute little mini skirts?

Las Vegas, baby, where else? With great shops to choose from in faux Venice or in the spectacularly high end shops of Crystals at City Center, Santa Claus is an even more ubiquitous sighting than Elvis impersonators in Las Vegas during the holiday season. Best of all, prices are low, low, low up until New Year’s Eve, when prices are higher than the top of the Stratosphere Hotel.

Las Vegas for Children?

Will your children love Las Vegas? Of course. What child doesn’t like neon lights, towering fountains of water “dancing” to music outside the Bellagio, the Tim Burton-esque flora and fauna of the indoors gardens, also at Bellagio? Afternoon magic shows cater to children of all ages; older children and parents who spring for show tickets will find Blue Man Group and several of the Cirque de Soleil shows running in town to be child-friendly and memorable fun. Holiday themes are incorporated into many of the shows, too.

Bellagio Fountains dancing Las Vegas

Nothing says the Holidays like the Bellagio Fountains dancing in time to holiday carols.

At City Center, when not browsing the emerald necklaces we weren’t really planning to buy at Tiffany’s, we enjoyed the sculptures of artist Dale Chihuly, whose medium of sculpture is primarily colored glasswork – awesome visually, and a kaleidoscopic draw for kids. Kids will also like strolling beneath the digital sky show of downtown’s Freemont Street, where street performers play holiday music.

Our Recent Accomodations

We’ve stayed at many different spots in Las Vegas in recent visits – The Vdara Hotel and Spa offers and excellent location on the upper end of the Strip and connects easily to Bellagio, Aria, and the opulence of Crystals at CityCenter mall. We like the upscale kitchenette, the sleek modern look of the rooms; some rooms are smaller than others though, and you’ll really need the one bed room units not a studio for families. Smoke and casino free, Vdara is quiet and well located. Large, spotless, and with a full modern kitchen describes the just-off-the-Strip Platinum behind Bally’s. We loved the huge kitchen and living room, plus an outdoor balcony with a view of the Strip. We were not keen on the location; it’s a long block and a half walk to the Strip even cutting through Bally’s, and not the most pristine block, either. The dining options were not fulfilling enough for us to stay on the property at night. We ended up retrieving the car and valet parking again on the Strip – if that doesn’t bother you, the room is a great value in terms of size and family friendly amenities such as a washer dryer.

Las Vegas glitters during the Holidays

Las Vegas glitters any time of year, but shines especially bright during the holiday season.

A little further – a fifteen minute drive or free shuttle ride away in Henderson Nevada - is the Green Valley Ranch. Large rooms in a not-too-large environment of less than five hundred rooms, we liked this more remote location especially at holiday time. Both family friendly and spa-oriented, we enjoyed having the Original Pancake House on site as a dining option after returning from a Strip visit one evening. Also adjacent to the property is a shopping complex with a carousel that kids loved. The District offers less upscale choices than say, City Center, the Forum shops at Caeser’s Palace, or the Canal Shops at the Venetian, but that carousel was a huge draw and it was less crowded. An extra bonus was what we thought was one of the best pizza places in Las Vegas, Pizzeria Napoletana here. A close second in our opinion is the Vegas outpost of Il Fornaio in the New York, New York hotel on the Strip.

And speaking of New York, New York, older kids will want to ride the high speed roller coaster, which will undoubtedly include a slow speed line to board. Small children will enjoy a run through the game arcades around it, or in the Circus themed arcade with free aerial acts soaring overhead at Circus Circus, at the opposite end of the Strip. For our family brief stops at these locations are sufficient, as noise level and crowds are high.

We prefer to take a little get away – and for the holidays you might even find a dusting of snow in the lovely Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, a different universe from Las Vegas showmanship and sound. The red rocks themselves are gorgeous, and caught in the right light, they “glow like neon on the main street,” at least according to my kids.

And of course all of Las Vegas looks like one big glittering holiday ornament any time of year, especially when seen from above. The best spots for viewing are the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower at Paris casino, mid-strip, the restaurant or viewing decks at the top of the Stratosphere at the far end, or head out to the pool deck at the hip, noisy Cosmopolitan and look straight out. No matter which angle you choose, you’ll find the Yule time season in Las Vegas.

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

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