Our Las Vegas home away from home

Independence Day is a time for all Americans to reflect on the gifts of freedom that we've been bequeathed by our forefathers and to bask in the glory of our nation's place in the universe as a beacon of freedom to all. It's also a great time to go to Las Vegas to meet one of your all-time favorite entertainers in history. This past weekend Mr. Mickey and Drew did just that by heading to Las Vegas for a rendezvous with the one, the only, Mr. David Copperfield.

Not surprisingly, we're both gigantic fans of Sin City. We fell in love with the town when we did an entire Las Vegas issue in September, 2003. We've made regular returns and lately our hotel of choice is the Cosmoplitan -- Drew stayed there for New Year's Eve when he went to see Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett at the resort and Mickey spent his 48th birthday there while attending the bachelor party of one of his best friends.

What better spot than a penthouse with an eye-popping view of the Strip to be your Las Vegas weekend home-base?

Room Service!


Drew at Jaleo

A little dish of paella

You can't go to Las Vegas without making some big decisions about what to eat. Really the top chefs of the world are all represented so it's tough to narrow things down. Being vegetarians is also a special twist.
 
Our first delicious dinner was at Jaleo, which is the tapas restaurant of multiple-James Beard awards-winning chef Jose Andres. We had a vegetarian tasting and Mickey's favorite was the classic tortilla española. Drew loved the watermelon salad. Just when we both hit the wall and couldn't eat another bite we heard pans being banged and people shouting like there was some kind of celebration and two big strong men brought out a gigantic swimming pool-sized pan filled with Paella de Verduras. Yes they really love theater in Las Vegas, even at the dinner table. We couldn't resist and it was the tastiest paella we've ever had.

Dinner number 2 was at STK. We know what you're thinking. Vegetarians at a steakhouse? Well we had some carnivorous friends join us and the chef prepared a parade of vegetarian treats that started with a mind-scrambling sweet corn pudding and ended with some ultra sweet n sticky donuts.  Yum, yum, yum.

In an effort to walk off some of the calories we'd ingested we spent a lot of time walking up and down the strip. Really the wild characters you see there put Times Square to shame. Every few steps is a street performer or someone dressed in costume ready to pose for photos in exchange for tips. In one hour we saw a dozen showgirls, two Roman gladiators, 3 out 4 members of Kiss, two fake Chippendales and Michael Jackson. We also sauntered past a fake Eiffel Tower, the prancing waters of the Bellagio, a Coliseum and the famous original light-up sign of the Flamingo Hotel and Casino.

Our favorite gift shop at the Flamingo

Drew models his Flamingo fanny-pack in the Marie Osmond section of the gift shop

We have to admit that we have a real warm spot for the Flamingo. Sadly Las Vegas doesn't preserve its architectural history but we can imagine gangster Bugsy Siegel and his glamour girl ladyfriend Virginia Hill hanging out at the Flamingo back when Bugsy opened the hotel in 1946.
 
One of Mickey's favorite shows is Olivia Newton-John who performs in the Donny and Marie Theater when America's favorite brother-sister act are on vacation. Also we have to say the Flamingo has our favorite gift shop on the Strip. Mickey considers himself an expert on gift shops of all kinds and frankly most of them are not great. The big gift shop at the Flamingo is a bonanza of hot pink and sparkly gifts to take back for friends. Tank tops, midriff tops, fanny packs, kids' bathing suits. It's madness. Also they have a separate Donny and Marie section as well as a corner of Olivia Newton-John merchandise. That's what Mickey likes to see! The only gift shop that might be even better is the all-Britney Spears gift shop at Planet Hollywood. Like the Flamingo, whomever is stocking that store has imagination. Drew and Mickey came out of the Flamingo loaded down with goodies for ourselves and our loved ones. What happens in Vegas might stay in Vegas but a good souvenir lasts a lifetime!

The view from our terrace at the Cosmopolitan

Our final night in Vegas ended up with Drewps and Mr. Mickey lounging languidly on the terrace of our suite at the Cosmopolitan looking out over the magical skyline of Sin City. Really there isn't another city where everyone is on the same page: the 'let's have fun' page. That's what makes Las Vegas irresistible and will make us keep coming back for years to come.
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