Photo credit: Conde Nast Traveler
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We know what you're thinking a.) who doesn't love Vegas? and b.) why would you go to Vegas if you don't like it?
Well, a.) despite the $1.99 margaritas and the Bellagio Fountains. Las Vegas is definitely not for the faint at heart. and b.) maybe because you'd love to see the incredible beauty surrounding Vegas; you're on a business trip with a couple of days to spare; or because your cousin Bill decided to get hitched here could be a couple of reasons why you're currently hanging out in Sin City, even if it's not your thing.
Whatever the reason, we've got you covered! Here are a few gems from our recent trip to Las Vegas guaranteed to be loved by those that may not particularly enjoy a typical Las Vegas vacation:
EAT & DRINK
Turns out Downtown Las Vegas is becoming quite the culinary haven for those of us looking to stay away from the all you can eat buffets or the 1 million dollar throngs of insert famous chef here restaurants on the strip. They include:
Park on Freemont
It would be easy to blink and miss this gem of a restaurant tucked away in an unsuspecting building just east of the Freemont Experience. But walk inside the conventional looking building and you'll find yourself inside a charming saloon-inspired gastropub. Walk through the back doors and you'll be in a magical patio, twinkly lights included, with delicious food and a great selection of craft beer and cocktails.
Thai food isn't exactly what comes to mind when you're thinking of must try culinary experiences in Las Vegas, but then again, this isn't your typical Vegas guide. Just a few feet away from Park on Freemont, Le Thai focuses on simple but delicious thai food; curry, fried rice and stir fry dishes populate the menu, with a good selection of beer and must-try fried bananas for dessert. Meanwhile, the 50 seat restaurant provides an intimate atmosphere that feels like you're in your own neighbourhood's hidden gem; a perfect escape into a relaxing calm when you're feeling too much sensory overload.
This sleek gastropub takes comfort food to a whole new level with stand out items like bacon jam, chicken skins and cocoa-espresso new york strip, while the restaurant's drink menu features delicious craft brews such as Bad Beat Hoppy Times IPA and Maui Bikini Blonde Lager. A must try in yet another area of Vegas that is decidedly so unlike Vegas.
If you're looking for the most delicious brunch in the desert, look no further than Eat.. Delicious brunch options include truffled egg sandwiches, huevos motulenos and - because it wouldn't be Vegas without this staple - chicken fried steak. All locally sourced and made with the freshest ingredients, of course.
Lola's Louisiana Kitchen
One of the most authentic Cajun restuarants we've ever stumbled upon just happens to be - we kid you not - in Las Vegas. Bronzed catfish, Shrimp and Grits and Gumbo are just some of the A++ dishes that will leave you feeling like you're in NOLA.
This ain't no Vegas nightclub. Instead, it's a cocktail bar serving up delicious drinks with a great view of Fremont Street. If you can, booking a reservation in advance to the bar's speakeasy area is highly recommended.
Ok, we cheated. Because nothing screams Las Vegas more than Hugo's Cellar does. BUT in the most nostalgic way ever. Tucked away in the cellar of the Four Queens Casino, this is as classic Vegas as it gets; waiters dressed in three piece suits, Salad A La Carte, roses for the ladies. Treat yourself.
This downtown park contains a shopping area, galleries, restaurants, a playground and more built from shipping containers surrounding a giant playground. The container park regularly hosts special events, such as wine walks and craft beer festivals, as well as plays and family activity days. Definitely worth checking out!
A round of cornhole and some laughs at the Gold Spike
If you've ever wondered where the locals hang out in Vegas, this is it. This 24 hour spot has everything you've ever wanted in a bar: lots of outdoor space, good selection of beer, carnival games, live music, and an airstream (is the last one just us?).
Downtown Grand's Rooftop Patio & Pool
We loved, loved, loved our stay at the Downtown Grand Las Vegas. The rooms were spacious and clean and as an added bonus, the Casino attached to the hotel was incredibly quiet in comparison to the others in Downtown Fremont.
But the real gem of the whole place is the incredibly relaxing rooftop patio. Pool included!
If you're still not sold on the idea of staying in Las Vegas, you're in luck! The town is just a couple hours away from some of these incredible places worth exploring: Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Death Valley, Zion National Park, Joshua Tree, etc, etc. The world - as they say - is your oyster. Enjoy!
Ah, the NBA All-Star Weekend. Where tens of thousands of Basketball's biggest fans are set to converge on our beautiful city of Toronto giving us a chance to show everyone the incredible things this city has to offer.
So it would make sense that a group of Toronto taxi drivers - angry at losing business to Uber- have decided to use this weekend in protest to strike and snarl traffic.
But don't let this impending clusterf*ck ruin your time here. Here are a few ways to have the best time in the city while doing your best to avoid this taxi fiasco:
Take the TTC
Ok sure, so compared to other developed cities our size, we may not have the best transit system. Probably one of the worst for its locals, to be quite honest. But good news if you're a tourist staying in the downtown: our underground subway system is pretty concentrated in the core of the city, so you should have no trouble whizzing in and around the area.
Walk - Outside or Underground
The whole downtown is very walk-able and if the weather is bad, we have a pretty sweetunderground PATH system that stretches 30 kilometres and offers shopping, entertainment, restaurants and all kinds of other services worth exploring!
Get Out of the Downtown
In North America, if you've seen one downtown city core, you've probably seen them all. The best way to get a feel for how truly awesome and unique Toronto is is to explore all of our other neighbourhoods. Need help? Vogue named West Queen West the world's second coolest neighbourhood in 2014, meanwhile the New York Times thinks Toronto is one of the best places to visit this year and had high praises for our Junction hood. Speak to any Torontonian and they will gladly share their favourite parts of the city for that local flavour!
Sorry not sorry but when it comes to faster, cheaper and more convenient, Uber is the clear winner in this transportation battle. Download the app on your phone and use thispromo code for a free ride of up to $15.
Take the UP Express - For FREE
For anyone coming to this city via Pearson Airport this Friday, you might want to give yourself some extra time in the event our Taxi protest is a complete mess. But good news for those coming and going from Pearson airport February 13-15: the city's new express train from Union Station to Pearson airport is FREE this weekend!
A television festival in Austin, Texas with a Friday Nights Lights reunion?! Sign.us.up.(entertainment weekly)
Speaking of Austin, here's a must list of things to do (austin convention & visitors bureau)
Photo credit: Wejherowo.pl
Porto is jumping the queue in our list of top places to visit! (new york times)
Step 1: Read these novels. Step 2: Travel to the places in the novels. (guardian travel)
Focusing on a more modern aesthetic, the hotel's features will include a 2, 770 square foot lobby called The Hive with distinct zones for lounging, working, eating or playing, a front desk complete with a social media wall, as well as a complimentary "build your own" breakfast bar.
The hotel has already signed on 102 franchises with another 30 in various stages of approval in cities throughout the US, including Nashville, Denver, Portland and Chicago.
The first Tru hotel is expected to open in the US by the end of 2016.
Images: Tru by Hilton
When life gives you snow, you make an igloo and try to rent it out on Airbnb... (Vice)
... Or take out your snowboard and ride it down NYC streets (Daily Dot)
Romance is alive and well at Waffle Houses across Alabama (AL.com)