Monday, May 30, 2016

The Art of Maui Golf

Golf course design is an art form, and no place offers a better canvas than Maui. Idyllic weather, dynamic topography and screen saver-esque ocean views are the colors on these artists’ palettes. Golfers vacationing on this beautiful island don’t have to look very hard to find world-class courses. Here’s a list of our favorite courses on the Valley Isle.

Kapalua Plantation Course

Designed by legendary architects Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, the Plantation Course was built in 1991 on Maui Land & Pineapple Company’s pineapple plantation. This par 73 beast of a course measures 7,411 yards and features elevation changes nearly as drastic as the ocean views. The same hundred-year-old stone aqueduct used to irrigate the pineapples provides water to the lush fairways to this day.
(Greens fee: ~$300)

The Dunes at Maui Lani

You’ll have to navigate ancient alluvial sand dunes looping this 6,841-yard masterpiece. British Open competitors would feel right at home on this classic links-style course. Enjoy a fruity cocktail to wash down the gorgeous views at the course’s 19th, Café O’Lei.
(Greens fee: ~$80)

Wailea Golf Club Gold Course

A mainstay on just about every “World’s Best Courses” list, Wailea’s Gold Course was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. It is widely considered a “thinking player’s course” thanks to snaking fairways and postage stamp greens. Intriguing risk-reward choices may cause you to overlook the views of Molokini, the tiny crescent-shaped volcanic crater just off the coast of hole No. 8.
(Greens fee: ~$180)

Ka’anapali Royal-North

Another course designed by a Jones, the North course is the work of Robert Trent Jones, Sr. Its nearly 7,000 yards of tropical real estate never cease to impress. The clever layout makes great use of the West Maui Mountains’ foothills is reminiscent of the architect’s magnum opus, Spyglass Hill in Northern California.
(Greens fee: ~$190)

Waiehu Golf Course

Wrapped around large seaside hills and offering sweeping views of Kahului Bay and Waihee Reef, Waiehu Golf Course is Hawaii’s premier municipal course. The 6,330-yard, par 72 course allows golfers to focus less on carrying long distances and more on taking photographs of the breathtaking panoramas. The expertly maintained facilities are truly a work of art. It’s also one of the less expensive options on the island, so you’ll have more money in your budget for other Maui activities.
(Greens fee: ~$50)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Downtown Las Vegas: A Comeback Story

Once there was a long-neglected area of Las Vegas riddled with urban blight. The state as a whole was one of the hardest hit by the Great Recession. The housing market more than collapsed, and Nevada led the nation in unemployment. Its most populated urban core, Downtown Las Vegas, wasted away.

By 2012, residents and tourists alike were avoiding the decrepit streets of Downtown purely out of self-preservation, but by then, some powerful players came to the rescue. Outspoken former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, city council members, state legislatures, a tech billionaire and an organized group of area business owners under the banner Downtown Las Vegas Alliance proved to be the catalysts that brought the city’s center out of despondency.

With funding from the state legislature, city council declared Downtown Las Vegas a “redevelopment area,” diverting increases in property taxes in the area back into the neighborhood in order to attract new business and development and improve existing businesses and developments. City council also enacted programs such as “Quick Start,” which reimburses businesses up to $50,000 toward the cost of rehabilitating older buildings in redevelopment areas to bring them up to current building and fire code.

"The community is just beginning to reap what it started sewing nearly a decade ago, and the neighborhood’s future looks brighter than ever."

Zappos, an online shoe and clothing shop, and its CEO Tony Hsieh relocated to the old city hall building in Downtown Las Vegas in 2013. Seeing opportunity in the down economy and wanting to provide a better living environment for his employees, Hsieh invested around $350 million of his own money into reviving his new neighborhood, investing in real estate, tech startups, education initiatives and small businesses.

These early antidotes have taken hold and as of now, seem to have cured Downtown Las Vegas. The neighborhood is seeing an influx of tourists straying from the mega-resorts of the Strip, which sit outside the city limits. This is thanks to trendy new bars, shops and restaurants. Visitors to the city’s core can do some shopping at Downtown Container Park, enjoy dinner at swanky Triple George and take in a Broadway production at the $470 million Smith Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 2012.

Nearby 18b Arts District has also benefited from the flood of cash. New art galleries, bars and restaurants have sprung up within its boundaries as well. Along Main Street, between Stratosphere and city hall, visitors will find a local brewery, a new coffee shop, a number of secretly chic bars and a host of locally owned furniture stores, clothing shops and antique dealers. During the first Friday of every month, the homely but lovable neighborhood welcomes thousands of residents and tourists for an art festival aptly named First Friday. The festival, now owned by none other than Hsieh, boasts live music, fun activities for children and great food and drinks for adults.

The Mob Museum, Neon Museum, Third Street revitalization and Life Is Beautiful “music and learning festival” have also been major contributors. The list goes on. There have also been talks of building a modern art museum to rival Los Angeles’ and a stadium or arena to house a Major League Soccer or National Hockey League franchise in Downtown. The community is just beginning to reap what it started sewing nearly a decade ago, and the neighborhood’s future looks brighter than ever.

The double decker city buses run straight from the Strip to Fremont Street and back, so go explore! There is much to love about Downtown Las Vegas. The once neglected urban core is being transformed into the community’s living room, and we’d love to share it with you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Vegas Conventions That Forgo Convention

Away from the millions of playing cards, beyond the buffet lines and past the buzzing neon lights, thousands of people are convening in Las Vegas for one reason or another, be it business, pleasure or dressing up in costumes. Sin City may be widely known as the “entertainment capital of the world,” but a lesser known title the city proudly owns is “convention capital of the world.” Each year, Las Vegas hosts hundreds of conventions in its more than 10 million square feet of convention space.

The usual types of conventions come and go. Gaming conventions, fashion markets and automotive trade shows are standard fare, but it’s the niche expos and conferences that round out the convention calendar and make Vegas the vibrant mix of eccentrics it truly is. Here are the top 10 strangest conventions held in Las Vegas.

10. Consumer Electronics Show

Put on by the Consumer Technology Association every January, CES is far and away the largest convention in Las Vegas with an average of more than 150,000 attendees annually. Exhibitors offer the usual high-end consumer electronics like giant tablets and fancy pedometers, but it’s not uncommon to come across oddities like a singing “Communication Android” or a machine that creates intricate artworks out of cappuccino foam.

9. Adult Entertainment Expo

Also held in early January (Coincidence? We think not.), the Adult Entertainment Expo is a festive celebration of pornography and sex toys. Think of the magic that happens at the nightclubs when attendees of AEE and CES collide. “Wait … YOU like Star Trek too?”

8. American Pyrotechnics Association Educational Conference

Don’t let the estimated attendance of only 150 for next year’s APA educational conference fool you. There’s going to be fireworks.

7. International Association of Fire Fighters Convention

For any woman who has ever dreamed of rubbing elbows (and other things) with a convention center's worth of fire men, now’s your chance. More than 1,000 fire fighters will be in attendance during the summer convention hosted by MGM Grand. Be sure to vote for your favorites for this year’s calendar!

6. US Open and National Championship of Table Tennis

USA Table Tennis will host the US Open of Table Tennis in July and the national championship in December at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For sports bettors, Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Linghui Kong are the odds-on favorites to win it all.

5. Handcrafted Soap Guild Conference

Yup. That’s a thing.

4. National Air Traffic Controllers Association Safety Conference

When hundreds of the world’s most stressed workers let their collective hair down in Las Vegas, look out. Ain’t no party like a control tower party!

3. National Scrabble Convention

While this is a rotating event, Las Vegas has had the true honor of hosting the competition twice, in 1987 and 2013. New Zealander Nigel Richards capped off his glorious run of four straight titles with his win at the now shuttered Riviera Hotel & Casino in 2013. Richards won a whopping $10,000 in prize money.

2. Black Hat

The yearly cyber security gathering brings hackers and information security specialists together with federal agencies and private corporations looking to recruit employees. 2016’s lineup of panel discussions and training courses include such hot topics as hacking vehicle networking systems (the cars that park themselves) and infrastructure hacking (what happened to Sony in run up to the release of its film “The Interview”). Hope you brought your RFID-blocking wallet!

1. MerCon

Sadly, this convention was short lived, but in 2011 Las Vegas’ Silverton hotel and casino welcomed one of history’s greatest gatherings, MerCon. The first ever mermaid convention saw around two dozen adults, men and women, dress up as merfolk, complete with giant leg-hiding tails that cost upwards of $4,000 to make. There was a mermaid pageant, swimming and diving workshops and a group swim in the hotel pool. It was as amazing as you are imagining.

Monday, May 23, 2016

A Guide to Simple Smartphone Photography

In a place like the Hawaiian Islands, it’s nearly impossible to take a bad photo. The entire state is picturesque. Just point and shoot with a smartphone’s camera. But following these simple tips will take your Hawaii vacation photos from “oh, that’s nice” to “wow, you took these?!” Don’t worry. We’re not getting into things like the dual wave-particle nature of light… whatever that means. This is the simple guide to smartphone photography.

Light It Up

The most important aspect of photography is lighting. Using natural lighting is always better than using the flash. Even in low-light situations, try keeping the flash off. Tapping the darker portions of your smartphone’s screen causes most smartphone cameras to adjust the exposure, or the amount of light that reaches the camera’s sensor.

If photographing scenes with sharply contrasting light, such as dusk landscapes with bright skies and darker foregrounds, try using the HDR setting. This automatically blends multiple shots of varying exposure to create one dynamic image. However, this will not work if the subject is moving. You can turn the HDR setting on or off from either the camera app or the settings menu of most smartphones.

As a general rule of thumb, photograph subjects with the sun at your back. There are some interesting photographs to be taken with the sun directly ahead of you, silhouettes for example, but this can be tricky to master. Also, approximately an hour before the sun sets and the first hour of sunlight in the day are known as “golden hours.” The light during these hours is softer and covers subjects with a golden hue like the dancer in the photograph above. So play around with varying light to get a better eye for how it will affect your photographs.

He Was Framed!

Aside from the lighting, people will most often take notice of the photograph’s composition, how the objects photographed are arranged within the frame. Aim for some symmetry among subjects and environment. Most smartphone cameras allow users to toggle an on-screen grid on or off. Try turning the grid on and positioning main subjects at the points where the grid lines intersect. This will help to keep the photograph balanced.

The main subject of the photograph above is Hana Highway. The small amount of flora in the foreground nicely frames the highway, leading the viewer's eye to the coastline. The objects within the image work well to balance each other out. Experiment with including objects in the foreground when photographing a large object in the distance.

A Change of Perspective

People normally view objects at a height of between 5 and 6 feet, so mix it up a bit by changing the perspective. The photograph below offers added depth because the ground-level perspective matches that of the subject. This technique works well when photographing children and animals especially.

While it's usually a good bet to meet the perspective of the subject, try also photographing tall subjects, like that uncle who played college basketball or palm trees, from a lower angle. You'll notice that shift in perspective gives the subject a more heroic feel.

Edit Later

Many smartphone cameras allow users to apply filters to and adjust the aspect ratio of photographs as they are shot. However, images can always be edited after the fact. Take plenty of standard, landscape photos (holding the camera horizontally) first and edit them later.

The top photo on the right is the original image. The bottom photo on the right is the original image converted to black and white and cropped slightly. The black and white version is striking, but you would miss out on the gorgeous colors of the original image if you only shot it in black and white. There is plenty to love about both shots. Take unfiltered, wide-angle shots first and edit later.

Remember while you're on vacation in Maui, experiment with natural light during different times of day. The first and last hours of sun are typically your best bets. Move subjects around in the frame and try adding or removing objects to create a unique variations of the same photograph. A change of perspective is always welcome. Instead of backing as far away from a waterfall to squeeze as much in the frame as possible, photograph it from the ground up, which might result in a more dramatic image. Finally, edit later. Your smartphone's camera probably offers a gaggle of cool features that can be applied while shooting. However, those features are probably offered in the editing app as well.

Consider these photography tips during your next Maui trip, and you'll have more likes, hearts and retweets than you'll know what to do with. Share some of your best photography advice in the comments section, and check out our other blog posts for suggestions of places to take your camera and more helpful travel tips!

Friday, May 20, 2016

One-hour Vegas Attractions

You just had lunch at a buffet and there’s still plenty of time to kill before your dinner reservation and show. There’s not enough time to tour the Hoover Dam. You’re not going to spend the afternoon gambling. You’ve already seen the Bellagio fountain show a half dozen times. What is there to do? We’ve got you covered. Check out our list of Las Vegas’ best one-hour attractions the whole family will enjoy.


Work off that buffet meal with some quasi-athletic activities on the Strip. The newest addition to the Las Vegas golf scene, Topgolf, located behind MGM Grand, features four levels of hitting bays, two pools with private cabanas and RFID-equipped golf balls that automatically keep score for each golfer. Pole Position Raceway, less than 2 miles from the Strip, offers indoor electric go-kart excitement. The karts boast a maximum speed of 45 mph, pretty fast considering you’re sitting only a couple of inches off the ground. There are also a slew of shooting ranges on and near the Strip that allow visitors to fire everything from pistols to chain guns.

Shopping (window or otherwise)

If you prefer karats to karts, Las Vegas is home to some of the world’s best shopping. CityCenter’s Crystals gives shoppers plenty of options, including North America’s largest Louis Vuitton. Around 40 high-end retailers and a number of public art installations are sure to kill an hour or two. The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood are other high-end options for shoppers. For the other 99 percent, Downtown is where you’ll find the Las Vegas North Premium Outlets, a popular outdoor mall with 150 stores, and Container Park, another outdoor mall housing all locally owned businesses and made entirely of recycled shipping containers.

Amusement Rides

Perfect for kids and kids at heart, the Strip’s amusement rides provide a break from the usual Las Vegas attractions. Stratosphere’s Big Shot ride has been a favorite for 20 years and worth the price for the views it offers. Other notable amusement rides can be found at the Adventure Dome at Circus Circus and New York-New York’s Manhattan Express.


For travelers seeking out culture in Sin City, you’ll find a breath of fresh air at Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, which hangs rotating exhibits on loan from institutions like Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. While on the property, you’ll also want to swing through the conservatory and botanical garden. One of the city’s best kept secrets, Neon Museum houses more than 200 historic signs in its Neon Boneyard. Hour-long tours are available seven days a week and are entirely outdoors, so come prepared. More pop culture-minded museum goers will enjoy a visit to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, located at The Venetian.


Get in touch with your wild side at one of Las Vegas’ animalistic attractions. Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage gives visitors an up close view of its majestic white tigers, black leopards and lions. You can also paint with the habitat’s dolphins, whose style lean more toward Pollock than Monet. Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef Aquarium is another fun option. It takes about an hour to view all of the aquarium’s 2,000 creatures. If you’ve yet to get your fill of lions, the Lion Habitat Ranch houses MGM Grand’s former menagerie. Located in the southern portion of the valley approximately 30 minutes from the Strip, this nonprofit organization is open Friday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Scenic Views

Shutterbugs looking to capture that perfect shot of Las Vegas might just find it at one of these locations. Paris’ replica Eiffel Tower is the best place to watch the Bellagio fountains, and once the sun sets, the views of the Strip are spectacular. The 550-foot-tall High Roller is currently the world’s tallest observation wheel. Each passenger pod provides unique Strip views and cool cocktails. Yes, there’s a bar on board. Stratosphere is, of course, another great option. The observation deck atop Stratosphere is a great place to take photos of the Strip skyline in its entirety … well … sans Stratosphere.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Vegas Pool Survival Guide

The Vegas pool scene, especially to the uninitiated, is like navigating rough waters. You need to chart your course before you set sail, come prepared and make sure you bring plenty of life preservers. With the right strategy, a day or two at your resort’s pool will be some of your fondest vacation memories. Our Vegas pool survival guide will have you navigating the day clubs like Magellan.

The VegasDaze Pool Survival Guide is your key to navigating the Vegas pool scene.Have a plan of attack. Having a loose plan for where you will all be and when you’ll be there is the easiest way to avoid frustration. If you’re reserving a cabana, make the reservation well in advance. If you are arranging transportation other than a taxi or ride-share, don’t wait until you’re three daiquiris deep to secure your ride. Getting a group of poolside revelers to limo pickup is worse than herding cats. Communicate these plans to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Aerial shot of the Caesars Palace poolTreat the day poolside like a camping trip. You’ll be out in the elements, left to your own devices. You can’t leave your campsite to retrieve a flashlight from home, just like you can’t leave Mr. Six-pack Fireman buying drinks to charge your phone in the hotel room (side note: invest in a portable charger). Bring sunscreen and use it! No one wants to flirt with the drunk, sunburned man … except maybe the drunk, sunburned woman. Packing a change of clothes is also a good idea. This will prevent you from having to walk across the casino floor in flip-flops and a bikini.

A private cabana is worth the cost. Reserving a cabana, which can be done through your hotel’s concierge, means you have a party headquarters complete with a model hostess who will pour the included booze. Additionally, your belongings will be safe and there are televisions. More importantly, “Let’s head back to my private cabana for some drinks” sounds like a line that will work every time. Ordering five drinks at the bar will run you approximately $75. The included cost of bottle service will just about break even, but you don’t have to flag down a bartender.

Aerial shot of the Flamingo Hotel's poolThere is an art to pregaming. Yes, you can save some money on expensive drinks at the poolside bar, but that doesn’t mean you need to entirely front-load the booze. Ease into the afternoon. You’ve got a long day and night planned. Vegas is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll have more energy and hang around that all-to-small window of perfectly inebriated dance moves longer. The goal needs to be “keep it classy.” A beer and a shot in the hotel room will set you in the groove. Then you can focus on staying hydrated.

We get it; your mantra this weekend is “turn down for what?” But hold off until after midnight in the nightclubs before going full Lil’ Jon. Stick to the plan, and you’ll avoid being the friend who spent the night bowing to the porcelain gods. But if all else fails, browse VegasDaze for tickets to the Strip’s hottest shows and attractions.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Hollywood in Paradise

For movie buffs, traveling to the Hawaiian Islands is a peek into Hollywood’s tropical backlot. Many silver screen favorites were filmed on the picturesque islands, such as “Avatar,” “Punch-Drunk Love,” “Blue Crush” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” The state is even home to a government-owned and operated film studio. We count down the top five movies filmed on the islands and where you can find the set locations.

5. Raiders of the Lost Ark
The 1981 classic that launched a beloved franchise opens with the iconic Peruvian temple scene. They aren’t exactly in Peru though. Director Steven Spielberg chose Kipu Ranch and the Anahola Mountains in Kauai as a substitute for the Amazon rain forest. Would-be archaeological adventurers can take a tour of Kipu Ranch by ATV. The tour even includes an Indiana Jones rope swing!

4. Jurassic Park
Another Steven Spielberg thriller that launched a franchise, much of Jurassic Park was filmed on the islands of Oahu and Maui. One of the most iconic scenes featured Dr. Alan Grant and the kids running from a stampede of Gallimimus through Kaʻaʻawa Valley on Oahu. You can recreate the helicopter arrival scene by taking this helicopter tour of Maui, which includes aerial views of Keopuka, also known as “Jurassic Rock.”

3. Endless Summer
The seminal surf movie from 1966 made waves across the world. Bruce Brown, Mike Hynson and Robert August brought the sport of surfing to a new audience with their chronical of the pursuit of “the perfect wave.” During their round-the-world odyssey, the trio made a brief stop in Hawaii. A pair of breaks past the Waikiki reefs is featured in the film. Rent a surfboard from one of the many shops along the beachfront, and find your perfect wave.

2. Tora! Tora! Tora!
This 1970 epic still stands as one of the greatest dramatizations of the attacks on Pearl Harbor ever set to film. The majority of the movie was filmed on location at Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu. Three years of meticulous planning resulted in five Academy Awards nominations. No trip to Hawaii is complete without a pilgrimage to Pearl Harbor.

1. Blue Hawaii
Elvis’ 1961 musical is an enduring homage to the golden age of the Hawaiian Islands. The movie’s soundtrack shot to No. 1 on the charts thanks in part to Presley’s rendition of “Blue Hawaii.” Most of the film was shot at Coco Palms Resort on the island of Kauai. Hurricane Iniki damaged large swaths of the gorgeous hotel, resulting in its closure in 1992. Travelers can still visit the site, located along Kuhio Highway on the eastern shore of Kauai.

Honorable Mentions
Point Break (1991, Maui), Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987, Maui), Pearl Harbor (2001, Oahu), Tropic Thunder (2008, Kauai), South Pacific (1958, Kauai)

Did we miss any? Find a list of all movies filmed in Hawaii on the website of the state’s film office. Share your favorite Hawaii-centric movies in the comments!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Good Food, Better People Watching

Las Vegas’ weekends until triple-digit temperatures are numbered. Carpe spring weather and enjoy dinner at one of these excellent outdoor dining spots. Top-notch people watching, cool cocktails and sunny afternoons is a Vegas trio that ranks up there with the likes of Frank, Dean and Sammy or Siegfried, Roy and the tiger.

Mon Ami Gabi  $$$
Paris – 3655 S. Las Vegas Blvd. – 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Oui, oui! This popular restaurant sits center stage directly across from Bellagio. Sample classic French dishes in the shade of the Eiffel Tower. The only thing missing is a cigarette smoking mime… oh wait.
Best Bets: Let them eat cake! You, my friend, will be dining on wild escargots with garlic herb butter paired with chicken and mushroom crepes with brie and kale.
Wow Factor: The oversized patio offers Strip-side dining reminiscent of a traditional French bistro and front row seats for the Bellagio fountain shows.

Carson Kitchen  $$
Downtown – 124 S. Sixth St. – 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

A new edition to the up and coming East Fremont neighborhood, this American cuisine-with-a-twist hot spot features swanky roof-top seating and clever alcoholic concoctions. End your night out at one of the many hip bars on the block.
Best Bets: Double down on American cuisine classics, “Devil’s” eggs topped with crispy pancetta and caviar and beef belly sliders.
Wow Factor: You might just get to rub elbows with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. He kinda owns the neighborhood.

Margaritaville  $$
Flamingo – 3555 S. Las Vegas Blvd. – 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.

Nothing cures a Las Vegas hangover like a juicy burger and more tequila! There are plenty of salt shakers to go around.
Best Bets: It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, so grab a Who’s To Blame margarita and a Cheeseburger In Paradise.
Wow Factor: Margaritaville’s beach bar inspired dining patio is just steps away from the High Roller observation wheel.

Park on Fremont  $
Downtown – 506 Fremont St. – 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

This corner bar with a “backyard” dining area sits on the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street. The quirkiness of the hip pub’s décor is matched only by its menu items.
Best Bets: You can’t go wrong with the Philly mac ‘n’ cheese, boasting a heaping helping of sirloin steak, sautéed peppers and onions and macaroni and cheese. Wash it down with some Kentucky Crack, the bourbon version of a Moscow mule.
Wow Factor: Come for the food and drink. Stay for the secret, adult-size seesaw… definitely Instagram worthy.

Umami Burger  $
SLS – 2535 S. Las Vegas Blvd. – 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Umami Burger combined three of our favorite things: beer, burgers and sports betting. The often touted micro-chain’s latest location also features an outdoor beer garden along Las Vegas Boulevard. These are certainly knife-and-fork burgers. Come hungry.
Best Bets: Get down and dirty with a truffle burger and a whole slew of local brews on tap.
Wow Factor: Sports fans will love the in-house sports book. Umami Burger might be the best place to watch a baseball game on a summer afternoon. Play ball!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hiking Las Vegas: Explore the Beautiful Desert

The average temperature in the Mojave Desert jumps 20 degrees between the months of April and June, meaning May is the best time to get outside and enjoy the brief window of spring weather before the mercury spikes. There are plenty of great Las Vegas hiking trail systems around the valley. Ditch the slot machines, put that rental car to good use and slather on the sunscreen!

Red Rock Canyon

Las Vegas hiking doesn’t get much better than the trails within Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The numerous trails of the park vary in length and difficulty. The park entrance fee of only $7 per vehicle grants visitors access to 20 different trails along a 13-mile scenic loop. World renowned for its rock climbing, the park employs a full-time “climbing staff” to answer visitors’ questions, recommend routes and provide directions.

Calico Hills trail is rated easy to moderate. The 2- to 6-mile loop boasts stunning views of the brilliant rock formations stained a vibrant red by the oxidized iron deposits. Hikers can expect a 1- to 4-hour round trip. Ice Box Canyon trail is another popular hike in the park. Perfect for a hot day in the desert, this canyon sees little sun during the day, resulting in much cooler temperatures. The 3-mile trail is considered moderate, but hikers should expect plenty of rock scrambling. Efforts are rewarded tenfold when the trail ends in a waterfall feeding a pair of crystal clear pools.

Estimated cost of Uber ride from mid-Strip: $30

Springs Preserve

This 180-acre nature preserve in the heart of the Las Vegas Valley offers hiking and biking trails, an art gallery and interesting exhibits. Explore the nearly 4 miles of easy trails to discover native habitats, archaeological sites and historical displays. Highlights include a butterfly habitat and fully restored “railroad cottages,” some of the first permanent structures built in the valley for the railroad workers and their families.

Admission to Springs Preserve is $18.95 for non-resident adults and $10.95 for non-resident children ages 5 to 17. Kids will love the interactive exhibits in the Nevada State Museum on site, and the whole family can grab nutritious meals at Divine Café.

Uber: $12

Wetlands Park Nature Preserve

Operated by Clark County Parks and Recreation department, Wetlands Park encompasses 210 acres along the Las Vegas Wash in the eastern valley. Visitors will find eight hiking trails, picnic areas and cycling access. There are both unpaved and ADA accessible paved trails within the preserve. Wildlife viewing areas abound as hikers can catch a glimpse of 212 species of birds and 70 species of mammals that call the area home. Be sure to bring along a camera because you’ll want to capture the natural splendor of these desert wetlands. The on-site Nature Center and Exhibit Hall are free to enter and open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Uber: $16

Mount Charleston

The highest point of Clark County at nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, Mount Charleston and the surrounding Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest provide a pine-filled reprieve from the busy Las Vegas Strip. Some of the best hiking outside of Las Vegas can be found here. More than 10 trails and a half dozen campgrounds welcome visitors. More importantly, temperatures on the mountain average as much as 30 degrees lower than in the valley.

Mary Jane Falls is one of the more popular hiking trails in the area. A round-trip of only 1.5-miles, hikers can spot plenty of local fauna, a variety of wild flowers and a pair of cascading waterfalls. The trail is considered moderate, and hikers should come prepared with additional clothing, plenty of water and appropriate footwear. The falls flow year round but are most spectacular during spring months.

Uber: $53

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Vegas Mother's Day Outings for Every Mom

Sporty moms, busy moms, outdoorsy moms, artsy moms. Whatever type of mom you have, we have the perfect Mother’s Day outing for her while on vacation in Vegas. Our brief “survey” will help you determine the best excursion for her Las Vegas Mother’s Day.

Foodie Mom

Is your mother’s DVR filled with hours of Food Network programming? Do your mother’s monthly wine expenditures exceed her car payment? Are your mother’s cooking utensils treated with greater care than the Shroud of Turin?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, your mom is a certified foodie. VegasDaze has partnered with the top walking food tours in Las Vegas, so you can take mom on the finest culinary adventure on the Strip this Sunday. Every tour participant is guaranteed samples of three to four dishes at each stop along the way. It’s the perfect way to sample all that this world renowned culinary destination has to offer.

Artsy Mom

Is your mother’s go-to pop culture icon Andy Warhol? Is your mother only comfortable with nudity when statues are involved? Does your mom consider Jackson Pollock to be more controversial than the Kardashians?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are the progeny of an artsy mom. When looking for attractions on the Las Vegas Strip for your Mother’s Day festivities, consider taking mom to the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. One of the city’s premier exhibition spaces, the gallery partners with museums and foundations from around the world to bring stunning collections to Glitter Gulch.

A free option, your mother will love the self-guided tour of Aria’s public art. Be sure to download MGM Resort’s guide to the various art installations on property. The resort also offers great restaurants for an afternoon snack during your stroll.

Sweet Tooth Mom

Is your mother’s purse the trans-Alaska pipeline of Werther’s Originals? Did one or more family vacation center around Hershey, Pennsylvania? Do the majority of mom’s meals end with dessert?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, mom’s got a serious sweet tooth. This Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of Ethel M Chocolate Factory’s free, self-guided tour. You and mom can learn how the famous chocolate is made. We know what you’re thinking, and yes, you can sample the goods. The factory also boasts a scenic 3-acre botanical cactus garden and a gift shop.

Adventurous Mom

Does your mom frequently drop esoteric “Indiana Jones” quotes? Do entries in your mother’s day planner include things like “sky diving,” “alligator wrestling” or “fight club”? Has a family brunch ever ended in a game of stabscotch?

If you answered yes to any of those questions (and/or you’re missing a finger), your mother is most certainly adventurous. Take Mother’s Day to new heights with a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon. Our vendors offer tours that depart from Las Vegas and land on the canyon floor for more exploration by foot. You’ll also see highlights such as Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Las Vegas Strip during your helicopter tour. It’s a true Southwest adventure.


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