Travel: Viva Las Vegas

As I prepare to leave for Vegas this week, I am inspired to post about my love for the real city that never sleeps.  My love affair with Las Vegas began when I was 7, and my extended family took a trip to Las Vegas.  I’ve celebrated many a milestone in Vegas.  I was at the club at midnight for my 21st, drove straight there after graduating college, and spent every birthday there ever since.  Now it’s my boyfriend’s little sister’s turn.  She turns 21 this week, and we’re taking her to sin city to celebrate right.

Las Vegas is a shape shifter a cameleon.  It can be the city you want it to be.  Most people know Las Vegas as sin city, but there’s more than just sin going on in this lively city.  With critically acclaimed restaurants featuring world famous chefs, top rated spas, live stage performances, and shopping locations Vegas can fulfill your every desire.

When I visit Vegas there are a few things I have to do.  Here is a list of my top Vegas destinations:

meeshme.comSurrender: Nightclub Encore Hotel

Attempting to get me to go to a Hollywood club these days is a dangerous mission.  I did the Hollywood scene early on in my 20s and enjoyed it, but now it’s just tired.  However, mention going out in Vegas and I’m always game.  There’s something different about the atmosphere, the people, the music that makes it more enjoyable.  My biggest issue with staying out past midnight these days is that my heels become unbearable.  Unless you’re up for buying a table, or get invited to one, standing around all night becomes painful.  Which is why I love Surrender.  Partially indoors, partially outdoors, this club has something for everyone.  The inside is beautifully decorated, but the outside is amazing.  With LED lights, water fountains, and a pool reflecting light, the scenery at Surrender is worth the price of admission.  There’s always a hot DJ performing, and the crowd is well mixed.  Palm trees and bright lights make you feel like you’re in Miami.  The best part of the outdoor area is that there are places where you can sit and rest your feet, even if you don’t have a table.  Drinks don’t come cheap at around $18 a cocktail, but then again you are in Vegas.  The indoor dance floor is small, but that’s because party goers can dance anywhere they like in the massive outdoor area.  To buy a ticket or book a table reservation visit here.

chateau2-500x300Chateau: Nightclub Paris Casino

Located at the top of the Paris Casino Chateau is as romantic as a Vegas club gets.  The Paris Casino itself is a wonder to behold.  The replica of the Eiffel Tower is a wonder, and the Arc de Triomphe truly makes you feel as though you are driving around the streets of Paris.  To enter Chateau you walk up a beautiful stairway located inside the casino.  When you first enter Chateau it looks like any other Vegas club.  The black walls, DJ stand, and dance floor are nothing out of the ordinary.  Then you take a trip to the balcony where the magic happens.  Located beside the Eiffel Tower replica, the balcony provides a view of the entire Vegas strip.  Big bulbs light the Chateau sign above the bar.  The light from the bulbs reflected on the white furniture turns the entire balcony gold.  You can’t leave Vegas without experiencing this view.  To book your table visit here.

encore spaThe Spa: Encore Casino

I literally couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I first walked into the spa at the Encore spa.  I was there to workout, but was distracted by the amazing furniture and attention to detail.  The couches, the lighting, it’s reminiscent of a Moroccan palace.  One of the best ways to enjoy Las Vegas is to purchase a spa service.  Practically every casino features a spa where you can enjoy massages, facials, and spa amenities like hot tubs, saunas, and steam rooms.  When you’re in need of relaxation the spa at the Encore is just what you need.  Feel like a princess for the day at this lavish indoor spa facility.  Prices for massages range between $150 and $250 on weekends, facials are priced at similar rates.  The spa offers waxing services as well.  If you’d like to stay in shape while on vacation, the gym at the Encore is located within the spa.  The facility is smaller than other casino gyms, but features brand new top of the line equipment.  You can also request a personal trainer.  To view the whole Encore spa service menu visit here.

margaritavilleMargaritaville: Restaurant Flamingo Casino

Enough with the pricey destinations right?  Margaritaville is not the destination when you’re looking for class and eligance.  Margaritaville is the place to go when you need something hearty to soak up all the alcohol you drank the night before, or when you want to continue drinking throughout the afternoon.  The giant volcano located next to the bar erupts throughout the day as they play the Margartiville theme song.  Don’t sit too close to the giant glass next to the volcano.  A dancer takes a slide down into the glass filled with water, swishing a way and getting you wet.  The best nachos I’ve ever had are found at Margaritville, along with a pretty amazing margarita.  These nachos come piled as a high as a mini mountain.  Definitely for sharing, this cheesy dish comes with your choice of steak or chicken.  Order these nachos and you won’t be disappointed.  To view the full menu visit here.

serendipitySerendipity: Restaurant Caesar’s Casino

I first obsessed over a frozen hot chocolate from Serendipity in New York.  I was on a family vacation, and was miserable.  I had become deathly ill during the trip, and had an icicle fall from a building and hit me over the head (don’t ask). Nothing was going my way.  I couldn’t eat anything, nothing tasted good, and my brother insisted on going to Serendipity because it was in one of his favorite films.  The New York location is tiny, but charming.  I ordered my frozen hot chocolate, because I had seen it in one of my favorite films One Fine Day.  It was amazing.  Fast forward a few years later, and a larger Serendipity location was built in Las Vegas in front of Caesar’s Palace Casino.  The restaurant isn’t as charming as the New York location, but serves all the same treats that make the original so famous.  Still nothing beats my frozen hot chocolate.  If you’re in a hurry, the window located at the back of the restaurant serves quick items to go.  To see a full menu visit the website here.

wynn buffetWynn Buffet: Wynn Hotel & Casino

You can’t leave Vegas without eating at a buffet, it’s a staple.  Practically every casino has one.  I’ve heard people swear by the Bellagio buffet, the Mirage buffet, the Paris buffet, but they are all wrong.  The buffet at the Wynn hotel is by far the best.  The buffet at the Paris Casino is charming.  I was excited to dine there, because the inside reminded me of Fantasy Land inside the Disneyland park.  cobbled floors, lamp posts, and charming homes make up the inside of the restaurant.  It’s such a shame that the food doesn’t hold up to the decor.  The Bellagio buffet was boring, and the interior was nothing special.  The Mirage buffet is great for seafood, but again nothing to die for.  Then there is the Wynn buffet with it’s huge flower bouquets, vibrant colors, and amazing food choices.  There are many more choices for the health conscious eater as well.  Buffet prices vary depending on time of day, but it’s typically around $30 per person.

Fashion-Show-Mall-Las-VegasFashion Show Mall

Located next to Treasure Island, and across from the Venetian hotel, the Fashion Show Mall has everything you need.  There are plenty of malls and store locations on the strip, but the Fashion Show Mall has it all in one place.  No matter how much I travel I always find that I’ve left something behind.  Whether you need a party dress for going out, flats to walk around the strip in, or a swimsuit to hit the hot tub, the Fashion Show Mall has what you need.  If you’re looking for a good deal check out the outlets on your way into the strip.

I hope you get a chance to visit the strip soon, and check out these incredible destinations.

 

 

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Valentine’s Day: Done Disney

Meeshme.com

Happy Valentine’s Day

Anyone who has known me for even about five minutes, knows that I love Disneyland.  My very first birthday was celebrated there, and pretty much every year since.  My mom has worked for Disney for the past 17 years, and my boyfriend now works there as well.  Maybe it’s the fact that I never want to let go of my inner child, or that my love of big ball gowns makes me resentful that I wasn’t born a Disney Princess, but I always feel happy when I spend a day in or around the parks.

All my time spent at the parks have made me somewhat of an expert.  It’s no secret that many girls love Disneyland, many men however dread walking past that turnstile.  That being said, Disneyland is truly a romantic place.  It’s the reason why so many girls want to be taken there on a date.  Why not treat your girlfriend to a Valentine’s Day at the park? If you work on during the week, you can always celebrate a weekend before or after.  Can’t pay the hefty admission ticket price? No worries, Downtown Disney offers plenty of romantic dining experiences, and parking is free for five hours with validation.

So without further ado, here are some romantic dinner options Disney style:

The Blue Bayou

Blue bayou

The Blue Bayou

Ever taken a boat ride on the Pirates of the Carribbean? Then you have seen the Blue Bayou.  Yes, it’s that restaurant you can see from your boat before you take that first drop.  I had seen this restaurant over and over again for years, and always wanted to try it.  I just never got around to it.  I mentioned this to my boyfriend when we were first dating, and on my birthday he took me there.  I was so surprised, and excited.  The restaurant is much more magical than it appears from the ride.  The dining area is designed to look as though you are eating outside in the bayou region of Louisiana.  The entrance and waiting area are set in the facade of a New Orleans home.  When you walk past the doors into the “patio” you see what looks like outdoor dining.  The trees, twinkling lights, and bayou backdrop truly transport you to Louisiana.  Our table was positioned close to the water, but don’t worry you can’t even see the Disneyland tourists floating by on their boats.  The food was delicious.  They serve traditional Louisiana fare with choices of Jambalya, gumbo, and more.  See the full menu here.  As we finished our dinner my boyfriend said I love you for the first time.  He later referred the restaurant to his friend who purposed to his girl friend there.  The Blue Bayou is a truly a place for romance.

Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen

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Jazz Kitchen

If you like the sound of a Louisiana inspired dinner date, but can’t afford to splurge on theme park tickets, then visit Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen.  While I’ve never been on a date here, I have dined here with a close friend of mine.  The restaurant is beautifully designed with lots of attention to detail.  The fountain in the center of the dinning room ads a dramatic touch to the scenery.  The food and portion size are great, and the beignets  are to die for.  View the full menu here.  If you’re on a budget, you can visit the quick pick up location next door.  They offer many Louisiana favorites, and you can pick up a bag of the delicious beignets with powdered sugar.  Take your bag to go, and snack with your loved one as you walk down the strip and take a look at the shops.

Carthay Circle

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Carthay Circle

Located near the entrance of Disney’s California Adventure theme park, Carthay Circle is one of the newest additions to the theme park.  The restaurant depicts the same theater Walt Disney premiered Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs all those years ago.  The original theater is now gone, and the restaurant pays tribute to the movie that started the animation studio.  The restaurant is an ode to old Hollywood glamour, and the architecture is similar to the Spanish style reminiscent of that time.  The bar located on the first floor of the restaurant serves delicious cocktails as you wait to be seated.  The dining room itself is glorious.  The menu is varied with many California inspired dishes, and a few Asian inspired as well. To view the full menu visit here.  The ambiance is very romantic, and will impress any date.

Napa Rose

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Napa rose

Located inside Disney’s California Adventure Hotel, Napa Rose is a romantic dinner destination.  Entrance to this restaurant does not require an admission ticket.  The menu was created by the same Chef responsible for the menu at Carthay Circle.  Napa Rose has received several accolades since it’s opening in 2002.  The ambiance is very contemporary, but the dim lighting ads a touch of romance.  The wine selection is quite extensive, so wine connoisseurs take note.  With thick cut steaks, and fresh fish to choose from, you can’t lose at this modern restaurant.  To view the full menu visit here.

Other downtown Disney options include: The House of Blues, Catal Restaurant, and Naples.

Disney romance on a budget: Flo’s V8 Cafe. Great views of the Car’s Land Canyon.

No matter where you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, I hope it’s a magical one.

Valentine’s Day: Dinner

With Valentine’s day swiftly approaching, I thought I would share some romantic dinner date ideas with you.  I know it’s traditional to have the man plan the date, but let’s face it sometimes he needs a little help.  I admit I can be hard to please, so it’s much easier on my poor boyfriend if I give him at least a few options to choose from.

Over the years I have had the pleasure of dining at these locations, and enjoyed my experience well enough to share them with you.  If you live in Los Angeles you must give these restaurants a try, if not for Valentine’s Day on your next romantic dinner date with your man.

Smoke House

Smoke House

Smoke House

Located in Burbank, California near the Warner Brother’s studio lot, Smoke House might as well be a historic landmark.  Open since 1946, the Smoke House has been a popular destination for producers, celebrities and families alike.  George Clooney loved the restaurant so much he named his production company after it. The exterior of the restaurant looks like a charming old fashioned home, while the interior is cozy and romantic.  Unlike the lighting at your typical chain restaurant, the dim lighting is relaxing (and much more forgiving).  It doesn’t get much more classic than the Smoke House.  During Valentine’s Day the restaurant kicks it up a notch with special seasonal decor and a special menu.  The tables surrounding the fireplace are extra romantic, and can be requested when you make your reservation.  The menu offers traditional steakhouse fare.  You will have your choice of steaks, prime rib, seafood and chicken options, but what the Smoke House is really famous for is their garlic cheese bread.  Diners who sit down to dinner between 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on February 14th receive 25% off the Vday menu.  If you would prefer to go for drinks, or are looking for some entertainment, the Smoke House lounge offers live music Thursdays through Saturdays.  You can view the music schedule here.  If you are looking for a great place for Sunday brunch stop by the Smoke House Sundays between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Takami

Takami

Takami

Located in Downtown, Los Angeles Takami holds special significance for me.  It was the place where my boyfriend and I spent our first date.  The views from Takami are spectacular, with large windows overlooking the skyscrapers of Downtown L.A.  Whether you sit inside or outside, you will be able to enjoy the magnificent view.  I prefer to dine here for dinner, because the view is more spectacular at night.  I have to admit I am not a fan of sashimi, but I do enjoy a good roll.  The sushi rolls were delicious, and the portion size was reasonable for the price.  If you’re date isn’t into sushi there are quite a few non-sushi items to enjoy as well.  You can view the menu here. If you’re not hungry, stop by for a cocktail.  The cocktail menu is extensive and unique.  The restaurant is offering a special Valentine’s Day cocktail and desert for patrons spending the occasion with them.  Takami doesn’t come cheap, but it’s no more expensive than any other similar establishment.  The spicy tuna on crispy rice is $14 for example, and sushi rolls will cost you between $6 and $15.

Yamashiro

Yamashiro Hollywood

Yamashiro Hollywood

What can I say about this Palace in the hills.  Yamashiro means “Mountain Palace” in Japanese. It was the dream of the Bernheimer brothers in 1911 to build a hilltop mansion 250 feet above Hollywood Boulevard to house their priceless collection of Asian treasures. Hundreds of skilled craftsmen were brought from the Orient to recreate an exact replica of a palace located in the “Yamashiro” mountains near Kyoto, Japan. This dream became a reality in 1914.” To learn more about the history of this one of a kind restaurant check the history page.  I first came across this restaurant when I was doing a search for my boss.  He wanted to take his girlfriend somewhere romantic, and I found Yamashiro.  I finally ate here with my boyfriend on her 2nd year anniversary.  The restaurant itself is huge, and truly looks like a Japanese palace.  The view from our table was unbelievable with windows facing Downtown L.A., Hollywood, and Century City.  The sparkling lights of the city made the experience magical.  The menu is quite extensive, with plenty of pricey dinner options for the diner less interested in sushi.  We ordered five sushi rolls to start, and the fried chicken bites.  The chicken was delicious, and the breading was unlike any chicken strips I have ever tasted.  The sushi was so large, we couldn’t eat anything else.  The spicy tuna rolls on crispy rice were amazing, and much larger than the portions you get at other well known Japanese restaurants.  Most of the sushi was topped with caviar, but if that’s not your thing you can ask to have it served without it.  My favorite part of the meal was desert.  I am a lover of sweets, and my dessert was amazing.  We ordered the s’mores fudge brownie which consisted of a warm chocolate brownie, topped with toasted marshmallow, and accompanied by a graham cracker and cookie dough ice cream.  It was insanely good.  The restaurant is providing a special Valentine’s Day menu which you can view here, but it doesn’t come cheap at $99 per person.  During the summer the Japanese garden and pool bar are open as well.

The Castaway

Castaway

The Castaway

In the hills of Burbank sits The Castaway.  A hidden gem, the Castaway also features amazing views of the city.  The palm trees on the property combined with the architecture take you back to 1950s Hollywood glamour.  The location is so beautiful that many couples plan to have their weddings here.  I had the opportunity to have Valentine’s Day dinner here once before, oddly enough with my parents and brother.  It wasn’t exactly the most romantic dinner date, but I was still able to enjoy the great food and ambiance.  The menu features prime cuts of steak, seafood, and chicken dishes.  Soups, salads, and pasta dishes are served as well.  Dinner is naturally more costly than lunch, so if you are on a budget you might want to make it to the restaurant during lunch hour.  Steak dishes are between $30 and $38, seafood dishes are between $29 and $49, and pasta is between $17 and $38 for the seafood pasta.  To view their full menu visit here.  If you plan on visiting the restaurant on Valentine’s Day be sure to make a reservation.  The special Vday menu can be viewed here.

Check back with MeeshMe tomorrow for Valentine’s Day dinner ideas for those of you on a budget!