Las Vegas delivered big time. I have never had more fun or been more inspired by this city than I was on this recent trip. So weird, because I arrived so depressed and sad from LA.
Funny how that works out sometimes.
Read on below for the highlights of my 4 day Las Vegas adventure. These are all must-sees for your next visit. And also proof positive that there’s way more to Vegas than gambling.
Gabi Coffee & Bakery (5808 Spring Mountain Rd #104)
What an amazing surprise!! This gorgeous Korean café opened six months ago, off the Strip in the Chinatown district (which I also want to explore more on my next visit).
Gabi was also just voted best place to co-work by LV Weekly.
- The exterior is non-descript, no signage whatsoever. I definitely thought my Uber driver was lost. But once I opened the big wooden doors, I was in heaven. I had found my tribe!
- Staff is incredibly friendly and all the design elements are phenomenal.
- I was here mid-morning so did not order any food but what I saw looked delicious. The central greenhouse is where they bake their breads and pastries and do food prep.
- The attention to detail is outstanding.
- Big shout out to manager, Josh Lee, for being so kind and forthcoming with information about the concept. Also, based on what I read, instagram has been hugely instrumental in getting Gabi on people’s radar when there is no signage and no advertising.
- And finally, make sure you check out the bathrooms – super cool!!
- I will definitely come back for lunch on my next visit.
Planet 13, 2548 W Desert Inn Rd (open 24/7)
GAME CHANGER. The world’s largest cannabis superstore opened in Vegas on November 1st, the day I arrived. It’s just off the Strip, close to the Wynn.
I’m not a consumer but I was excited to check it out – and I especially wanted to go with a few people who are experienced customers. Based on their feedback, this is groundbreaking for the category and potentially for retail in general.
Here’s what I loved about it:
- It’s big and flashy and fun (as it should be in Vegas).
- The staff is friendly and helpful.
- Nothing about it feels furtive or sketchy, photography and Instagramming is encouraged.
- One peculiar thing: your credit card can only be used in conjunction with their Linx Card.
Currently, just under half of their 115,000 square feet of space is being used.
- There are plans for a coffee shop, a tasting room for marijuana-infused beer and wine, a lounge for consuming marijuana on-site if that is legalized and space for food.
- The store expects over 2,000 people to visit every day, spending $75 per person. From what we saw, they will have no problems hitting their goal.
The Palms Casino Resort Art Collection (4321 W Flamingo Rd)
Damien Hirst’s shark work dominates the new Unknown bar at the entrance to the hotel. Hirst not only designed the bar, he also installed several of his dot paintings and designed the bar’s matchbooks, coasters and cocktail napkins.
I lucked out with a personal behind-the-scenes tour of the collection but there is a brochure available that details all the works and where they are installed throughout the property. If art is your thing, it’s worth spending an hour or so here.
Other outstanding works included Basquiat, Kaws, Warhol, and some fabulous Dustin Yellin pieces.
My favorite, however, is the newly installed wire-frame sculpture of a Lamborghini created by British artist Benedict Radcliffe. It’s located in the driveway near the valet station.
While the art is amazing, the casino itself is a bit lackluster. I’ve read their strategy is to be a local’s casino. Lots of emphasis on gambling, little interest in attracting the cool crowd that might actually appreciate all this art.
By way of background: This used to be cool hotel before it fell on hard times. In 2016, the Fertitta brothers and Red Rock Resorts (the parent company of Station Casinos), bought the Palms from the Maloofs and started this major renovation. The Fertitta brothers are major contemporary art collectors and the works installed throughout the property comes from their personal collections.
The Cosmopolitan Hotel (3708 S Las Vegas Blvd)
Based on this visit, I would say it’s got its mojo back – and then some! To be as fabulous as it was on the day of its launch (8 years ago), is MAJOR.
Rooms have been updated and they added a food court with some amazing restaurants e.g. Pok Pok, District, Hattie B’s.
Whatever is new and happening will show up at the Cosmopolitan e.g. Egg Slut, Milk Bar, Beauty & Essex (which has never been my favorite but the food at this location is stellar). They’ve also just added a Dry Bar which is extremely helpful.
Kudos to my favorite hotel in Vegas.
Downtown Las Vegas Street Art
This is why I keep coming back to the Life Is Beautiful Festival. Since it’s inception in 2013, I’ve attended 4 times.
And big shout out to Charlotte Dutoit, founder of JustKids, for pulling this off year after year, not only in Vegas but all around the world.
Based on my wander through downtown last Saturday, major works currently on display include:
For those of you who are Vegas-averse, I say give it another chance. There is so much happening here! The energy is amazing and no place is as dedicated to the NEW as this city in the desert!
And big shout out to Luciana Ramsey and her big, loving, crazy Italian family for organizing her 50th birthday extravaganza in fabulous Vegas. So much fun!
5-stars all around.