We go to Vegas every December, mostly to celebrate my dearly departed Mom’s birthday. She loved Las Vegas, especially the downtown area and her slot machines. We are going again to honor her love of Vegas, and some family time. I will miss her lurking around the slot machines as we gathered to have a meal at one of the casinos. She would often claim to have won a jackpot, so she could buy dinner for everyone. We all knew that she could not win like this year after year. But it was her pleasure to treat us to a nice dinner during our visit.
As you know, we always stay downtown, since she loved it here, and it always had cheaper (or often free) rooms, with more affordable and tasty food. Probably the newest venue downtown is the Mob Museum. Of course, the TV show, Pawn Stars, has also renewed interest in some of the surrounding areas of the downtown casinos.
What else is new? The old Plaza Hotel at the end of Fremont Street has been renovated and redesigned. I am most interested in the Smith Center for the Performing Arts at 361 Symphony Park Avenue. So far, the Nutcracker has been the biggest show there, although I hear Yo-Yo Ma is on his way here.
The Mob Museum is known officially as the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. This is the story of organized crime’s impact on Las Vegas and the state of Nevada. Of course, the names are as famous as the names of today. This includes Bugsy Siegal, Al Capone, John Gotti and more. They say it is a truly authentic experience, with no embellishments or glorification. It just so happens that it occupies the former Federal courthouse and U. S. Post Office in downtown Las Vegas.
Of course, the Mob Museum has a great pedigree. The creative direction comes from Dennis Barrie, who was co-creator of the Spy Museum in Washington, DC, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH. The museum has only been open since Valentine’s Day, 2012. Forget it, waste of time and money!!!
Even former mayor, Oscar Goodman has a restaurant in the remodeled Plaza Hotel, called Oscar’s, of course. It is known for the three “B’s” of Vegas, beef, booze, and broads. The joint contains memorabilia from Goodman’s 12 years as mayor of Sin City. The “Broads” part comes with visits from ladies who are willing dinner companions, to discuss the world of sports or politics, wine, or Vegas history. Sounds a little fishy!
Most of downtown has stayed the same, or has deteriorated. The day will come when they demolish the entire mess and start over. Fremont Street has been a big draw since they cleaned up the street (it still needs work), made it into a pedestrian mall, and added the huge four block canopy with light show. And the Golden Nugget is the featured hotel, a little newer, more food options, and a slightly, make that enormously better hipster vibe.
Unfortunately, this week is rodeo week. So, the entertainment will be twangers, like Merle, Shania, and Willie. The attire will be boots and Stetsons. The food, well, just look at it this way, the sushi bar will be available, while the steak joint will have a line around the block. Every December, it is the same old thing. When we hit valet parking, we have the only 4 door sedan, the rest are easy rider pick up trucks, the bigger the better. Oh, and the smoke, these guys (and gals) have never read the little warning box on the pack of cigarettes from the Surgeon General.
Look at it this way, we are here for just a couple nights, before heading first to St. George, then out to Summerlin to stay with dear friends. Life could be much worse.
We will also hit a few of our favorite places today, like the Blueberry Hill Pancake House for breakfast, then The Forum Shops at Caesar’s, the Fashion Show Mall, and the naked pool at the Rio (just kidding!).
My brother and his wife should be here sometime this afternoon. they make Vegas much more fun, since they like to play poker (rather well, I might add), and she loves to shop!