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By Ryan King

For my birthday this year, I wanted it all. Exquisite food, hypnotic shows, and as much decadence as I could muster without breaking the bank. In a word? I wanted Vegas. With such a fabulous time under my belt, I thought this issue would be the perfect place to share and recommend the one-of-a-kind experience of Sin City with our readers and I hope you keep my suggestions in mind the next time you venture west.

lareve-dreamtheaterGetting There

Flying from Denver to Vegas is quick and easy — especially with all the airfare wars going on with United, Southwest, and Frontier. I decided that Southwest was the way to go and I’d highly recommend them. Not only do bags fly free, but they also allow flights changes without charging any fees. On the other hand, Frontier has slashed their fares and if you don’t mind paying for everything individually, they are the most cost-effective way to get to the glittering oasis of Vegas.

Hanging Your Hat

I stayed at the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel, as I was told it’s right next to the “Fruit Loop.” No, the Fruit Loop isn’t unlimited bowls of cereal; it’s where several of the gay establishments are located. However, I probably wouldn’t stay there again … several other hotels on the strip are catering specifically to the LGBT community and they know how to do it right! Next trip I’m definitely going to check out the Encore Hotel. They have a concierge program that caters specifically to the LGBT community and what I’ve seen of the hotel is amazing! The Encore is part of the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel, created by Steve Wynn, the billionaire responsible for some of the revamping and modernization of the Vegas strip we see today. You can pick up a room at Encore for around $200/night this summer. The Cosmopolitan boasts an incredibly hip vibe with the amazing Chandelier Bar. Walking into the blinging, sparkling casino transports you to the time of Liberace and their current marketing campaign — Just the Right Amount of Wrong — says it all. Rooms at The Cosmopolitan go for $150/night. If you are sticking to a budget, check out Luxor Las Vegas. The Luxor brings an Egyptian theme for less than $100/night, but check out their specials for around $50! When the party gets hot, cool off at Temptation Sundays, the must-do pool party hosted by J. Son of Naked Boy News. 

Caviar TacosEating Out

If you stay on the strip you have to check out Culinary Dropout, sister restaurant of True Food Kitchen located here in Cherry Creek. Start your mouth-watering adventure with their soft pretzel bites and provolone fondue sauce. But make sure you leave room for dessert and the silky-smooth caramel custard topped with homemade caramel corn. You also want to head over to Le Cave at the Wynn where you will experience the American version of small plates from Chef Billy DeMarco. Trust me: the filet and its brilliantly-paired roasted beets melt in your mouth. End with the s’more-styled flat bread for warm-and-fuzzy flashbacks to camping trips as a kid. 

Now Showing

Vegas is full of shows vying for your attention. Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity at New York, New York is an edgy show that brings you sensuality and sexuality. It was one of the very first gay kisses in a show on the strip. Le Reve has been likened to Olympic synchronized swimming on steroids, but that vastly understates how amazing the show really is. Le Reve was started by Franco Dragone after he left Cirque in 2005, and is a show that has been transformed many times over the years. There are plenty of ripped, shaven-head guys that will leave you dreaming (which might be why it’s called Le Reve, which is French for ‘the dream’). If you are looking for a show-and-night-out combo, head over to Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at The Cosmopolitan. It’s a social experiment that blurs the line between theater, club, restaurant, and bar offering an unpredictable evening for those seeking the unexpected. Still too ordinary? Try The Dig. You get to drive around in bulldozers and excavators and it don’t get any more butch than that! After you have all your fun monkeying around with big machinery, head over to Share Nightclub. A hot mix of locals and visitors congregate there to shake it to the latest hits from local DJ talent. This ultra-lounge has a great dance floor surrounded by couches and VIP tables — definitely the place to be seen.

Vegas is truly designed to live up to its “What happens here, stays here” motto, so jump on Kayak or Southwest.com and get out to the strip! (We won’t tell.)