Las Vegas Reopens: Bigger, Badder, Better

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Las Vegas Cosmopolitan hotel Sunset hour. Jack Dunphy photos.
View from the Cosmopolitan Sunset Hour. Jack Dunphy photos.

Las Vegas is Back–With more to Offer than Ever

Floyver Las Vegas
Craft Cocktail at Flyover Las Vegas

By Jack Dunphy

The Las Vegas movers and shakers used the pandemic downtime to jazz up the city with new attractions and over-the-top experiences.

So if you think you know Vegas from earlier adventures, think again. Put those poker chips down and let’s explore what is new:

Flyover Las Vegas

Flyover is a fun and safe adventure for the whole family. You never physically leave the building but what a mental trip.

After being strapped into a chair you face a huge screen and seemingly take off. This experience is the closest you will ever come to being a bird.

In fact you are flying alongside birds and wingsuit daredevils and even a fighter jet as you soar over Las Vegas and the desert and the mountains.

Your chair moves to adjust to your flight path and as you fly into a storm a mist of rain completes the experience.

If that flight did not get you high enough craft cocktails are for sale after you land. The Prickly Pear Margarita settled my stomach.

Come back again for future flights – “Flyover Iceland” is planning on opening soon as is “The Real Wild West.”

Rail Explorers Las Vegas

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Rail Explorers

If you want to see the real Nevada desert and get out of the city for fun and exercise check out Rail Explorers. They also offer a rail explorer experience outside of Newport Rhode Island.

This experience starts at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City, about a 20-minute drive from the Strip.

Climb aboard a two-person open-air rail car with forward pedals. Not a bicyclist? No problem.

Rail Explorer Return
Rail Explorer Return

A gradual downward slope helps keep you moving and the electric assist assures you will complete the 4-mile route. A real train brings you back to your start.

Bliss Wedding Chapel

Bliss Wedding Chapel
Bliss Wedding Chapel

You might be having so much fun in Vegas that, what the heck, why not get hitched too?

Before taking the plunge you are welcome to visit the Bliss Wedding Chapel.

You can show up and the friendly staff will give you a tour. Preferably call ahead for a visit at 702-665-5577.

Top Ten Las Vegas Attractions: Vegas Freedom

The nondenominational chapel seats up to 50 people and caters to everybody. Speak a foreign language? Owner Brandon Reed will supply the service in the language of your choice.

He told me “if you are getting married it is good to know what you are saying to each other.”

Of the 30-plus wedding chapels in Las Vegas Bliss is the newest. Bliss Wedding offers numerous packages.

You want Elvis to sing at your wedding? Elvis will be there. Drive off in a Rolls Royce? You got it.

Already married but want to renew your vows? That too.

All costs are included in the price. However, a future divorce will cost you extra.

Tao Beach Club

TWaitress at Tao Beach Club Las Vegas
Waitress at Tao Beach Club in Vegas.

Do not expect sand at the numerous beach clubs in Las Vegas.

My visit to Tao Beach Club was an eye-opener. It was packed with bikini-clad 20-somethings.

A huge swimming pool, with fountains, draws the crowd into the water to splash while loud nonstop music keeps the party going. Even at 47,000 square feet, the place was standing room only the day I visited.  I would advise, however tempting the pool water is, stay out. Who knows what’s been in there with the huge crowd in the hot desert sun?

The nice thing about the Tao Beach Club is that recent testing revealed that it is the cleanest pool among all of the big Las Vegas pool clubs. Not sure we can advise you to take the plunge at MGM or the Cosmopolitan, but this one is clean and seems like the best bet..but it’s not cheap, $60 for a visit compared with $30 for the other casino pool clubs.

Rent your own open-air cabana overlooking the action and receive delicious food and drinks from the beautiful Tao waitresses.

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Fun at the Tao Beach Club

Expect a thorough metal detector plus search before being admitted i.e., don’t bring anything you’re not supposed to.

My friend got his headache medicine confiscated (and eventually returned).

Located inside the Venetian Hotel and Casino.

Area 15: Art, Music and Amusement

Area 15 describes itself as “A Wonderland of art, music, and amusement.” It is worth a visit because it is so unique with at least 16 different venues- something for everyone.

You enter a blue-lit dream space and choose your adventures from the central atrium.

I confirmed my lack of golf skills by hitting balls into the sand trap at “Five Iron Golf,” an indoor golf simulator.

In a separate room, Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings swirled about me with music and motion in a way I had never before experienced art.

The artists regularly change and Vincent Van Gogh will be their next 360-degree art display.

Birdly– a virtual reality experience. Strap on the virtual headset, lay flat in the Birdly, and take off with the birds into a virtual reality experience. Glimpse the future of entertainment here!

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Inside Area 51

Haley’s Comet: It is like an indoor zip line that zings you over all the other attractions.

The Liftoff: This ride gently lifted our group of 8, strapped in a big circle, 130 feet into the air for a panoramic view of Las Vegas.

Needless to say, there is much more to see and do at Area 15.

From ax throwing, audio-visual light show, infinity mirror room and into the world of nanoparticles at Particle Quest.

Craft Cocktails Are Everywhere

Craft cocktails seem everywhere in Vegas. Find city views, good food, cocktails, and a sunset at the Cosmopolitan Sunset Cocktail hour.

There is more: DJ Natty Rico kept the music coming.

What a nice surprise when he started playing his own saxophone on a memorable walk-around jazz performance.

Take your date to the Legacy Club at Circa Resorts and be prepared to hear “Wow”. The view from this 60th-floor lounge is magical.

The outdoor seating with gas-lit tables sets the romantic mood. Plenty of indoor seating too.

Dazzling tree in Area 15 in Las Vegas.
Dazzling tree in Area 15 in Las Vegas.

If 60 floors up are not high enough for you try the 66th floor Alle Lounge at Resorts World.

The Alle is indoors with floor-to-ceiling windows to dazzle you with their view.

The elegant mahogany woodwork gave me the feeling of being in an old English mansion library.

The Alle is a great place for a quiet conversation in an elegant setting.

Are you a first-time visitor or a pre-pandemic regular? Vegas welcomes you back with a new determination to make your trip the best.