Sin City Explorations

This year for Spring Break, my boyfriend and I traveled to the one and only Las Vegas! The awesome thing about Vegas is that you can fill your trip with pretty much whatever you want, a sort of “build-your-own-vacation”. Of course, there’s the obvious like drinking, gambling, and partying, but there are things which don’t immediately come to many people’s minds, for instance: restaurants, sightseeing, and TONS of exploring! Since my boyfriend had never been to this iconic destination, we filled our trip with a little bit of everything, including some activities of particular interest: food and art.

Dine like a Queen (or King) all Day Long

When we began planning this trip, it was immediately decided that food would be an integral part of this trip. Good thing too, because this city has so much to offer. It wasn’t until we began walking from casino to casino that I realized just how many restaurants line the strip. I think it was the sheer number of options, paired with trying to find ones in our budget (many are super pricey) that contributed to our dinner the first night: good ole’ Chipotle. With the help of handy dandy Yelp, we perused through options for the days to come.

One of these options ended up being D.O.C.G. Enoteca in the Cosmopolitan. Offering Italian cuisine in an upscale, hip atmosphere, I would definitely recommend this option again. Together, we enjoyed the Ricotta Raviolini pasta and Soppressata Picante pizza which were delicious! The raviolini were a flavor explosion in every bite with perfect ricotta cheese, encased in fresh pasta, and drenched in a sweet tomato sauce. The pizza was equally delicious with fresh salami and roasted peppers in every bite. But truthfully, I think my favorite part of this evening experience was exploring the Cosmopolitan for the first time.

For those of you unfamiliar, the Cosmopolitan is the newest addition to the Las Vegas strip opening in December of 2010, and it is the pinnacle of chic for this generation of Vegas. The centerpiece of this hotel and casino is The Chandelier, a three-story fixture surrounding an accompanying bar at all three levels, making it the perfect destination following our rich Italian meal:

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A little after dinner cognac, cheers!

Any successful Sin City food adventure would not be complete without, you guessed it, an all-you-can-eat buffet! To pick the perfect buffet, we consulted Google, searching for the best buffets in Las Vegas. To our surprise, we once again found ourselves at the Cosmopolitan for their signature buffet, The Wicked Spoon. I hate to type this, but OMG, let’s just say, there’s a reason behind this buffet’s #1 rating. Worth the trip alone, Wicked Spoon lived up to all its expectations, with 3 main perks:

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Perk #1: Everything is served in perfectly portioned amounts. This was great, because it allows you to try a bit of everything or just grab a lot of what you love. I took full advantage of this with multiple trips to the snow crab section! Also pictured above – I kept to a seafood theme – (from left) salmon with pear puree, shrimp risotto, shrimp cocktail, crab legs, and BBQ shrimp and grits, yum!!!

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Perk #2: Trying new things. I think this is the best overall part of buffets, the diversity of options, especially at a place like The Wicked Spoon where endless amounts some of the finest foods are at your fingertips. Pictured above is my favorite item  from the night, a cooked to serve seafood bouillabaisse stew with mussels, clams, and shrimp (I guess you can say I was in the mood for seafood)! Pictured below is another collage of options:wedge salad, hummus, tortellini pasta, gnocchi, and my favorite Mediterranean salad with balsamic blood oranges.

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Perk #3: Unfortunately I don’t have a picture to accompany this last perk (I was preoccupied with enjoying this plate), but you can say I served the best for last: dessert. The dessert bar at The Wicked Spoon is a 360º carousel of deliciousness, filled with everything your heart could desire from a full case of gelato, to fresh macaroons, and every flavor cake you can imagine.

We left our chosen buffet feeling like king and queen of Las Vegas for sure!

When we weren’t enjoying amazing food, we were exploring all the city has to offer even…

The Unknown Side of Las Vegas

Since this was my boyfriend’s first visit to Vegas, he had a long list of places he wanted to check out. Interestingly, one of these locations was the city’s Arts District. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t aware of an art district existing in Sin City, but I agreed to check it out.

Just 5 miles north of the Strip and symbolically right in between old and new Las Vegas, the Arts District is quite the eclectic place. The streets are lined with old buildings covered in elaborate graffiti art, unique antique shops, and hidden eateries. Though I am not traditionally a fan of street art, I was impressed by the scale and vibrance of some of the pieces we stumbled upon:

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The above slide show captures a little of what we saw during this excursion and includes what I consider the two main categories of street art. On one hand, graffiti has been traditionally used as a form of expression stressing a particular statement or sentiment. Many of these pieces were observed, particularly ones which addressed the nature of Las Vegas, a city composed of gambling, lust, and consumption. The other category I consider are street murals. My favorite piece of the day falls within this category – which you’ve already seen above – the rising sun with accompanying butterfly and patterned green background.

Apart from the art, the most interesting part of this neighboring district was experiencing Las Vegas as it truly is…the desert. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the strip, its easy to lose track of your greater surroundings. Walking around the Arts District, however, it was evident we were in the desert with a certain stillness produced from the arid climate and general flatness. The natural environment enhanced the eclectic nature of this location making it reminiscent to the illusive tone of places like Salvation Mountain.

From there we traveled north to check out Fremont Street to continue our exploration and stumbled upon…

Some Alien Looking Thing Ahead

Yes the desert and aliens go hand in hand, so I couldn’t help but draw this conclusion upon approaching The Mantis in front of Container Park in Fremont’s East District.

 

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This amazing project was imagined and funded by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of the successful Zappos.com. It houses a giant tree-house playground in the center and 39 restaurants, shops, and bars all within a two-story structure made of industrial containers. To find out more about this park you can check out the website here.

So…the trip as a whole

You can say we had a pretty successful spring break. Apart from all the excitement of the casinos on the strip, Sin City has a ton to offer. From great food to art and unexpected discoveries, you can truly make your Las Vegas vacation whatever you want it to be (I’ll be back for sure)!

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