Plenty of people consider a few days in Las Vegas a dream trip, but for me it’s more like a nightmare. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had some great times drinking, gambling and in general consuming the overall gluttony of Las Vegas. But after a 25 year career in sales and marketing that included more trade shows and conferences than I can count in the city of excess, I’m kind of over it. So this time I decided to go out of my way to find fun in Las Vegas that didn’t include pricey shows, excessive alcohol or handing my hard-earned money over to casino pit bosses – and what better way than to do an around-the-world trip all in one night? My friend Dawn was more than happy to partner with me in my quest.
Our evening starts at The Venetian Hotel and Casino where we’re dropped straight into Venice’s San Marco Square. We stroll along the Grand Canal, admiring the pretty things in the shops that line the canal. Brighton, Michael Kors, Barney’s NY and hundreds more all compete for our attention. Over and over we cross bridges, turning left here and right there. Just like the real Venice, we’re soon lost, but fortunately there are signs overhead pointing the way. The Venetian Hotel does an impressive job of mimicking the real city, even offering gondola rides along the canal.
With 41 restaurant options ranging from fast/casual to high-end steakhouses, it takes us a while to decide. We opt for Canaletto and start with melt-in-your-mouth carpaccio and a bottle of delicious red wine. Dawn orders the pasta special and I go for the salt-encrusted sea bass, which our cute waiter from Spain de-bones for me table-side. It’s a fantastic meal with great service, and well worth the price. There’s a fine line between abundance and gluttony, and so far we’ve ended up on the right side of the line.
Dinner over, we wander out of the Venetian Hotel and through the sumptuously decorated attached Palazzo Hotel. The taxi line is insane, so we call an Uber instead – one of many times during this trip we’ll be grateful to have this option. Take us to Paris, we instruct our driver, and off we go down the crowded Las Vegas Strip.
Once at the Paris Hotel and Casino, we immediately head to the special elevator reserved for the Eiffel Tower. We could go all the way to the 46th floor with its 360-degree views, but instead we opt for the bar on the 11th floor. We’re greeted by a charming bartender who is delighted to fill and refill our martinis with overstuffed bleu cheese olives. Sipping our cocktails and feeling rather glamorous, we wander over to the wall of windows overlooking the Strip. Bellagio is down below, and right on cue the fountains begin their half-hourly dance for us. It’s a scene straight out of a Hollywood movie, and we enjoy every minute of it until our drinks are gone and it’s time to head to our next location.
It’s a treat to head across the Atlantic without stepping on a plane or flashing a passport at immigration. New York New York Hotel and Casino is designed to mimic that great American city, with a mock Brooklyn Bridge, Lady Liberty and even a miniature Greenwich Village with fast-casual food like pizza, burgers and an Irish pub. But what I’m after is thrills, not food, so we head upstairs through the arcade to the roller coaster on top of the building. There’s no line, so I make a beeline to the first car for maximum thrillage.
The roller coaster, set atop the New York New York Hotel and Casino, reaches 203 ft. in height and I can’t wait. And that’s when Dawn decides to mention her fear of heights. Oh no! I feel terrible, but not so much that I suggest we don’t ride. Like a real trooper Dawn sucks in a deep breath and hops into the first car. Her knuckles are white and I can see through her make-believe smile for the photographer who snaps a shot of us before we take off.
Up we go. And up, up, and up some more. Even I feel a bit squeamish by now. And then it happens with a WHOOSH – a 144 ft. drop straight down into the neon lights of the Las Vegas strip. Everyone on the ride is screaming except for me. As the ride launches us into a 180-degree barrel roll at nearly 70 mph and the wind flies through my hair and makes my eyes tear up, I’m overcome by a joyful laughter that bubbles up uncontrollably from my gut and won’t quit for the nearly 3-minute-long ride.
It’s the perfect end to the perfect non-traditional evening in Las Vegas, and probably the only time in my life I’ll ever get to have dinner in Venice, drinks in Paris and sleep in New York all in the same night.
$150 Dinner for 2 at Canaletto, including an appetizer, 2 entrees and a bottle of wine
$42 Gondola ride for 2 at the Venetian Hotel and Casino
$50 Two martinis each at Paris Hotel and Casino
$14 Roller coaster at New York New York (cost is per person, unless you’re a hotel guest – then it’s two-for-one)
$30 taxi and Uber between casinos
PS – Don’t forget to check out my favorite spot at NYNY – the cool wall map of the USA in America Restaurant