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West USA Holidays

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West USA Holidays

It might sound like a difficult feat to claim somewhere really does ‘offer it all’ – but the west coast of America really does. Home to sandy beaches, large metropolitan playgrounds, distinctive vineyards, breath-taking hillside views, glamorous casinos, theme parks, famous film locations and all-year-round sunshine. There’s not much you can’t get up to in the western states.

Whether you want to learn first-hand why California is the epitome of cool, or fancy trying your luck at a casino in Las Vegas, it’s up to you. Families, couples and groups of friends visit this inexplicitly amazing part of the world every year and come home singing praises.

And don’t forget to travel off the beaten path. The western states offer more than just their famous neon signs and theme parks – from the vineyards of Napa Valley, to the deserted towns of the Nevada desert.

Highlights

A shopaholic’s guide to Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a city famed for glitz and glamour so it’s no surprise that it is home to some impeccable shopping. Here, shopping fanatics will find a swarm of trendy outlets where they can find themselves lost in rails of designer threads, all-American high-street favourites and hard-to-find independent labels. It’s the perfect way to spend the daytime hours before Las Vegas switches on its iconic lights to signal the start of its famed nightlife.

If you’re looking for some retail therapy while visiting Las Vegas, the two primary shopping destinations to take note of are Grand Canal Shoppes and Fashion Show Las Vegas. Here’s the low-down on what both of them offer.

Grand Canal Shoppes The Venetian | The Palazzo

This sophisticated array of shops and entertainment has made a home for itself in the Mediterranean styled The Venetian (part of The Palazzo Resort-Hotel-Casino). It boasts 875,000-square-feet of space with a larger than life Barneys New York as its main focal point. There’s 160 other stores to choose from including fashion-favourites Armani Collezioni, Kate Spade New York, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Burberry, Michael Kors, Fendi, and Christian Louboutin.

Aside from treating themselves to some gorgeous new clothes, shoppers can also enjoy award-wining dining and in-mall entertainment. Resident culinary superstars include CUT by Wolfgang Puck, Table 10 and Delmonico Steakhouse by Emeril Lagasse, db Brasserie by DanielBoulud, B&B plus Burger & Beer by Mario Batali. You can even treat yourself to as Gondola ride through Las Vegas’s very own Venice.

Essential stats:
Location: The Venetian | The Palazzo, where Spring Mountain Road meets Las Vegas Boulevard
Number of shops: Over 160
Opening times:  Sunday – Thursday 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. and 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday

Fashion Show
Claiming the accolade of largest shopping destination on the strip, this larger-than-life shopping centre clocks in at 2 million square feet. Fashion lovers will adore the collection of clothing stores such as Victoria’s Secret, Saks Fifth Avenue, Superdry, Gap, Nordstorm and Topshop. Plus, they’ll love the chance to pick up some new cosmetics from Lush, Kiko Milano, bareMinerals and Bath&BodyWorks. Also remember to stop by Macy’s department store!

The shopping centre is also home to a new alfresco dining area that includes a new walking pathway, lush landscaping, outdoor patio and dining terraces. Examples of delicious restaurants found on this mini-strip include Kona Grill, Benihana, Luke’s Lobster, Flip Flop Workshop and Davidoff of Geneva Cigar Bar.

Essential stats:
Location: Where Spring Mountain Road, meets Las Vegas Boulevard
Number of shops: 250 stores, 25 dining choices and 8 department stores
Opening times: Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday’s

Hints and Tips For Vegas First Timers

So, you’ve never been to Las Vegas. What’s kept you? Never mind – let’s stop talking, and start doing! The important thing here is that you’re ready for the time of your life, and there’s no better place to celebrate than Las Vegas.

First up – people watching. It may sound mundane, but with the cross-section of visitors and celebrities who come to Las Vegas, it’s usually primetime entertainment. There are several terrific vantage points on the Strip, including Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Las Vegas, a French bistro with the bonus of being directly across the street from the famous Bellagio fountainsSerendipity 3 at Caesars Palace also has a great outdoor view of Las Vegas Boulevard, not to mention some tasty treats. Elevated viewing with outdoor dining is always popular at Planet Hollywood – both at Cabo Wabo Cantina and PBR Rock Bar.
Cruising the Strip is required for any first-timer, by car or by foot, and since we’re on the Strip, now’s a good time to start. As you cruise, check out the enormous digital marquees for amazing shows you’ll only find in Las Vegas. There’s LOVE by Cirque du Soleil at The MirageRock of Ages at The VenetianTournament of Kings at Excalibur and Le Rêve – The Dream at Wynn Las Vegas. The people back home will expect you to see at least one of them. Check out legendary magic duo Penn & Teller at the Rio Hotel for a one-of-a-kind Las Vegas experience.
Be sure to get out and have a little fun exploring, too. Stroll through the open-air street party that is Carnaval Court at Harrah’s, or let out a few screams riding the roller coaster at New York-New York. The new LINQ entertainment and shopping street meanders between the LINQ Hotel and Casino and Flamingo Hotel. With new restaurants, shops and performance venues, this family-friendly destination will soon be home to the High-Roller Observation Wheel.There’s so much to do in Las Vegas besides gaming, but if this is your first time in town, you almost have to play a little. Many hotels offer free lessons for novices – the Golden Nuggetamong them. While you’re downtown, check out the assortment of restaurants and bars that make up the Fremont East District and the new Container Park, made entirely of shipping containers; and be sure to drop by the historic El Cortez and the all-new elegant Downtown Grand hotel.
Hungry yet? Las Vegas used to only be famous for buffets. Nowadays, you can also enjoy the culinary creations of any number of celebrity chefs; but as a first-timer, a buffet is in order. The Bistro Buffet at the Palms will satisfy your palate with international selections, while the Bayside Buffet at Mandalay Bay features a diverse selection of tastes, with sweeping views of a tropical water garden. Celebrated for its expansive selection of gourmet offerings, the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace will leave everyone at the table wanting more.
Looking for adventure? We’ve got you covered; whether you like thrills by air, land or sea. Start with the SkyJump at the Stratosphere. At 108 stories, it’s the longest controlled free fall of its kind. Soon, you’ll be able to experience Slotzilla – a spectacular high-flyin’ attraction where you get hooked to a harness and zip line right over the crowds on Fremont Street and under the giant video canopy. Not daring enough? How about swimming with the sharks at the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay?

Las Vegas is the birthplace of many legendary excursions – from Swingers to The Hangover. Who knows? You could be the next to leave your mark on Las Vegas.

USA Holidays - Colorado, Aspen - resting on the ski slopes
Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado: A Non-Skier's Luxury Guide

Downtown Aspen, at the base of the mountains, is a beautiful place to explore. You’ll find high-end brand name stores, diverse restaurants and art galleries including the visually stunning Aspen Art Museum.

Aspen is truly very chic, and the “rock star” vibe on the mountain continues into the walkable downtown area, where many of the shopping, dining and nightlife options are concentrated. Visitors will find more than 100 restaurants and bars, and at night, downtown becomes even more romantic, as the trees light up like Christmas. Downtown Aspen won’t bore shopping enthusiasts either – far from it. With high-end stores such as Burberry and Ralph Lauren and charming boutique shops, the selection is nearly endless. There are also many art galleries that feature works by local artists. You can easily spend more than a day shopping at upscale boutiques that carry international name brands and local high-end lines. You’ll also find all the skiing and snowboarding gear and clothing you might need.

A single ticket gives you access to all four mountains – take the gondola up to admire the spectacular natural scenery while enjoying a delicious meal at the top of the mountain. One such restaurant is the Cliffhouse, featuring great Mongolian barbecue and stunning panoramic views of iconic Colorado peaks and Maroon Creek Valley. Another favorite atop Aspen Mountain is Sundeck, where you can replenish your energy with its variety of menu items and panoramic views. Take in the views of the beautiful mountains covered in pure, white snow while enjoying lunch on the spacious patio.

Après-ski in Aspen includes healthy and delicious dining choices, as many downtown restaurants incorporate ingredients that are fresh, organic and harvested nearby. For what could be the best meal of your life, dine at the award-winning Element 47, located in The Little Nell, a five-star, five-diamond hotel. Try the tantalizing cocktails concocted by a top mixologist, dinner prepared with the freshest, high-quality local ingredients and accompanied by wines recommended by the master sommelier.

Denver, Colorado: 4 Essential Foodie Experiences

1. Denver Beer Trail
Craft beer is part of Denver’s culture. Top-rate brewers and creative small-batch flavors means you won’t taste the same beer twice. Established in 1859, Tivoli Brewing Company is Colorado’s oldest. Taste the original recipe at the Tivoli Tap House, housed in the original brewery building in Downtown Denver’s east side. Or check out Ratio Beerworks in the artsy-meets-industrial RiNo (River North) neighborhood, popular for its outdoor patio and a rotating schedule of food trucks. Explore any of the other 27 breweries on the Denver Beer Trail, most in the walkable downtown area.
Local hotspot Prost Brewing Company uses exclusively German equipment and ingredients for its brews. Try one of their popular lagers. Prost is the only German-style lager brewery in the state.

2. Farm-to-Table Dining
Denver’s restaurants have been in the farm-to-table scene for years. The emphasis is on locally-sourced produce, meats and dairy. TAG Restaurant in historic Larimer Square mingles Asian flavors and Latin inspirations. Try the OG Taco Sushi or the Colorado hanger steak.
Locals and visitors are flocking to The Populist in RiNo, so you may want to make reservations. This popular restaurant is known for refreshing flavor pairings, great portions and reasonable prices.

3. Taste of the Old West
Denver may be a hipster’s paradise, but the food still embraces its pioneer past. Hearty Western food should be on your Denver dining itinerary. Try sweet buffalo meat or farm-raised elk at the Buckhorn Exchange. Founded in 1893, it’s the city’s oldest restaurant. The ornate interior adorned with antique guns and mounted game heads adds to the “Wild West” experience.

4. Markets and Food Halls
No gastronomic jaunt through Denver is complete without exploring some of the city’s fantastic food markets. In RiNo, The Source is reminiscent of a neighborhood farmers’ market. Along with baked goods, meats and flowers, this market features a full bar, beer and spirit vendors and an art gallery. Denver Central Market boasts a small, intimate venue with friendly communal seating, a central bar, high-quality vendors and an ice cream shop that can’t be missed. Or, experience the collective eatery concept at Avanti F & B (Food & Beverage), a two-story food court that serves as an incubator for up-and-coming restaurants. There are two full bars and great outdoor seating as well.
You can always get back to basics at Denver Union Station, where a traditional farmers’ market offers a bounty of colorful produce and fresh meats, sometimes sold by the farmers themselves (Saturdays only; seasonal).

West USA Destinations