Vegas 24: Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay

Have you ever been watching “Shark Week” and thought, “I’d give my left arm to swim with those powerful beasts.” Well, don’t say that too loudly, because at Shark Reef Aquarium inside Mandalay Bay, you can get up-close-and-personal with the ancient predators, no cable subscription needed.

Housing more than 2,000 animals including sharks, exotic fresh and saltwater fish, massive sea turtles and more, Shark Reef offers an aquatic experience of a lifetime. Fun fact about the Shark Reef Aquarium, when divers swim in the tanks, they wear stainless-steel mesh (think knight) attire. As hard as it is to believe, the metal helps the divers not look like food.

Think you can handle swimming with over 30 Sandtiger, Sandbar and White Tip Reef Sharks? Slide into your wet suit, because Shark Reef Aquarium allows certified divers to swim amongst these gorgeous creatures.

Don’t believe us? Check out the video below. Follow “Vegas 24” host, Roberto Raad (wait, he’s really scuba certified?!) and his date (wait, Roberto landed a date?!), as they explore Shark Reef Aquarium’s numerous exhibits. And if that’s not enough, Roberto suits-up and actually swims with the sharks! We know it’s “Shark Week,” but c’mon, Roberto! We haven’t felt safe in the water since ’75… thanks a lot, Steven Spielberg.

If all of this shark talk has you whipped into a frenzy, swing by Vegas.com to check out all of the great Las Vegas attractions or to learn more about things to do in Las Vegas.

https://www.facebook.com/Vegas/videos/10155642440617157/

Hard Rock sells its Vegas land casino – and announces a new iGaming initiative

Earlier this year, many of us were surprised to discover that Hard Rock, the company behind the Hard Rock Cafe chain, decided to sell its Vegas hotel and casino to Virgin. Virgin Group head Richard Branson announced the takeover in a press conference last March and claimed that the resort will be rebranded as a Virgin property by the end of 2019.

Great news for Virgin, without a doubt, but why would Hard Rock pass on an income stream in the gambling capital of the known universe?

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Pivot to iGaming

It looks like the company may have ditched its premises as part of a pivot toward iGaming, as reported by casinos.co, that would let it keep a foothold in Nevada’s gaming industry without having to own and operate any real estate.

Rather than engaging in a struggle to keep up with the costs of operating a large resort in one of the most expensive property markets on the planet, Hard Rock has moved to a new focus on digital.

That’s not a nationwide direction – the Seminole, Florida Hard Rock casino is still very much here to stay, with new construction recently announced, and the Atlantic City Hard Rock is now open.

But for Vegas at least, it looks like Hard Rock has decided to go online.

What’s that going to look like?

It’s hard to say. Hard Rock Online hasn’t launched yet, but we do have some preview information – and some blatant speculation.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and GIG

The software

First, what will the casino be built on? Hard Rock partnered with the Gambling Innovation Group to develop its software, representing GIG’s first venture stateside from its predominantly European base.

The App

Will there be one? Many mobile users prefer native apps to the mobile web, so without one the appeal of Hard Rock’s new venture may be limited. We can expect Hard Rock to hit the ground running with an app for iOS and Android. We’ll be looking for an easy user interface and the main spectrum of online games – slots, table games and video poker as well as regular updates from partners.

Bonuses

Again, since we have no information and the folks at Hard Rock are keeping their cards close to their chests, we can only speculate. But the chances seem good that the Hard Rock online casino will launch with significant first-deposit and no-deposit bonuses as well as syndicating bonuses out among other, more established players and portals to try to gain traction quickly.

All this is only one side of the coin. Hard Rock isn’t going digital completely any more than it’s staying a land-only business. It’s too mature a business to operate based on how it reaches its customers. Instead, it’s looking for where its customers are.

In fact, it’s a pivot to a whole new audience

In lower-cost areas than Vegas, Hard Rock’s land casinos represent significant income and ROI – but the opportunity represented by digital may be too great to ignore. Hard Rock’s shift isn’t just to a new channel but to a new, expanding customer base.

In the near future, that customer base could be set to expand even further.

The U.S. federal laws that sanction online gambling are increasingly complicated to interpret. Especially where the state and local levels intersect.

That could be about to change. Last year saw Pennsylvania join three other US states – Nevada (of course!), New Jersey and Delaware – in legalizing and regulating online gambling. The state sent out a notification that it would begin accepting applications for licenses beginning April 2 this year.

A ramp-up that fast could benefit extant gambling-business players who can build their iGaming business right out of their land casino business.

Was that the reason for Hard Rock selling their Vegas land casino? With online gambling legal in Nevada already, it could be a smart regional move that paves the way for nationwide success if the whole country swings over to pro-iGaming laws.

**This is a sponsored post by casinos.co. Views, thoughts and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to Vegas.com.

 

Las Vegas Shows (psst, they’re good)

“What’re the best shows in Las Vegas?” That’s a question we get asked a lot. Seriously. Our friends from out of town inevitably ask us two nights before they get to town and shoot, even the dudes whipping up charcuterie boards at our favorite Las Vegas restaurants are always hounding us. Our answer? Depends. You want music? Are you a sucker for storytelling? Maybe you want to laugh until your kidneys explode? Whatever your little heart desires, Vegas has a show for you. But maybe you’re not even sure what you want. If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered better than a poncho. So listen up folks, ‘cause these are the Las Vegas shows you should see.

Image Courtesy of Wynn Las Vegas

Le Rêve at Wynn Las Vegas

Love water? Love, love? Well this show will have you splashing in puddles to your heart’s content (and your spouse’s dismay). For our non-French speaking friends, Le Rêve translates to “The Dream,” and as the only aquatic theater-in-the-round in Vegas, that’s exactly what it is. Performers can be found swimming, flipping, fighting, dancing and dropping into and on more than 1.1 million gallons of water. But the wet stuff isn’t all that Le Rêve offers, oh no. Any pyros out there are definitely going to appreciate the fire. Love, water AND fire?! Le Rêve has something for everyone.

Image Courtesy of MGM Grand Entertainment

Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil at Mandalay Bay

Something about shiny gloves, the walking dead and insane feats of athleticism just gets us amped. We don’t care who you are, whenever “Bad” comes on, you pop your collar and walk down the hall with that tough guy strut. And that’s what this show is! It’s the in-your-face action that only the experts at Cirque du Soleil can bring you. Now back that awesomeness up with the soundtrack and pageantry of one of music’s GOAT?! Boom! Actually, it’s probably more fitting to say, “Ow (remember the crotch grab?!)!” Everything from the lighting to the sound, the visuals and the theatrics are over the top -which, something tells us, is exactly how the “King of Pop” would’ve done it himself.

Image Courtesy of Spiegelworld

Absinthe at Caesars Palace

We’re just going to get this out of the way, ok? If you’re easily offended and can’t take a joke, Absinthe probably isn’t the show for you. It’s an offensive level of potty humor that you’d probably find in a high school locker room. BUT! If you can make it through that, it’s also beautifully intoxicating and utterly mesmerizing. The show’s star, The Gazillionaire, he’s at the heart and soul of the crudeness, but the rest of the show is pure physical talent. Lingerie, acrobats and action are the norm and like your cable and internet bills, it’s often times bundled together. So grab a drink, sit tight and let The Gazillionaire do his thing. Trust us, it’s worth it.

Image Courtesy of Caesars Entertainment

Penn & Teller at Rio Las Vegas

There’s a reason Penn & Teller have been shacked up at the Rio since 2001. Nothing in Las Vegas lasts that long -not even casinos! So it’s a testament to their talent, innovation and personalities that they’ve been able to survive for so long. Their show is the perfect blend of comedy, magic and entertainment, so if you’re not a fan, there’s probably something wrong with YOU. But unlike most other magicians you’ll see on the Strip, these dudes are going to let you in on a few of their tricks. So feel free to run home and brag to your friends that you’ve learned how to swallow a goldfish. You can thank us, or Penn and Teller, later.

Image Courtesy of Caesars Entertainment

Gwen Stefani at Planet Hollywood

We know that one of Gwen Stefani’s hit songs is “Just A Girl,” but can we be honest for a second? Being “just a girl” doesn’t get you a residency on the Las Vegas Strip. Being a bad a** singer, dancer and one of the best of your generation talents is what gets you a residency on the Las Vegas Strip. And her show at Planet Hollywood puts her talents on full display. Mega-smash hits from her Love. Angel. Music. Baby. and The Sweet Escape albums pepper her show, and rightfully so, but what we love most are the nods back to her humble beginnings as the frontwoman of her “little” band, No Doubt. Whether you’re a “Hollaback Girl” or prefer a “Simple Kind of Life,” this show is ridiculously “Cool.”

There you have it, the absolute and definitive list of shows in Las Vegas that need to be seen. Whatever your style or preference, this should help satisfy your show palate. And speaking of “palate,” if you’re looking for the best restaurants in Las Vegas, we have you covered. And speaking of “covered,” if you want to check out some Las Vegas Hotels or need any advice about things to do in Las Vegas, we got you there, too. Check out Vegas.com for all your Las Vegas needs.

Beat the heat with these Las Vegas Indoor Attractions

Summertime in Vegas is sizzlin’ hot, like bacon frying in the morning. We’re not joking when we say you could fry an egg on the sidewalk in the middle of the day. If you’re really into it, eat it and call it the “sidewalk scramble.” When it gets upwards of 110 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s hard to want to be outside. You can turn from pale to lobster in a matter of minutes. So, with that all being said, why go outside when you can stay in the beautiful air-conditioned hotels? Yeah, you might not get any color on vacation, but at least you won’t come back looking too toasted, or worse, looking like a “Jersey Shore” cast member. If you’re going to be a shade seeker like us, there’s plenty of fun things to do in Vegas that don’t involve direct sunlight. Here’s a list of our favorite indoor attractions to give you that “Vegas experience” everyone is talking about.

Photo credit: Vegas Indoor Skydiving

Vegas Indoor Skydiving

As a kid during summer, it was a punishment to stay inside because your parents didn’t want you risking your life on the streets of your suburban neighborhood. But in Vegas during this heat, it’s a blessing and we have some awesome tricks up our sleeve to keep anyone entertained. Vegas Indoor Skydiving makes staying inside one hellavu thrill. Who else from your neighborhood can say they went skydiving in a wind tunnel? Not that many people, let us tell you. Suit up and head to the tunnel where you’ll get a special feeling inside that’ll make you glad you decided to stay in for the day. Yes, you might look like a flapper face doing it, but it’ll totally be worth it. Time to get street cred from the kids in your neighborhood, you’re welcome.

Photo credit: Mandalay Bay

Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay 

Who needs friendly dolphins when you can have man-eating sharks? We all know that sharks make for a better story, and at Shark Reef inside Mandalay Bay, you’re going to come out with some of the best stories to date. We might be biased toward sharks because we love the vicious action that’s in their DNA, but that doesn’t make this indoor attraction any less awesome! The Shark Reef is one of the dopest aquariums in town and by the end of it you’ll be able to say that you got to pet and feed a shark. A SHARK FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! Besides the coolest moment of your life, you’ll get to explore the depths of this attraction with full 180 views of fish tanks and more than 2,000 species of animals to look at. We triple-dog-dare you to try and find them all. In total, this place has 1.6 million gallons of water. We would like to say that’s the size of the Atlantic Ocean, but that would be a tall tale (tell your friends that anyway and see who believes it). Instead of looking at lobster at a buffet, look through the water and find one instead.

Photo credit: MGM Grand

CSI: The Experience at MGM Grand 

If you’ve ever dreamed about being a real Sherlock Holmes, now’s your chance. CSI: The Experience at MGM Grand will give you a cold case that will put your detective skills to the test. You’ll get an all-access pass to a crime scene, and it’s up to you to solve the whole thing. What’s better than a realistic puzzle? We know it sure isn’t those 2,000 piece puzzle packs that you end up giving up on after five minutes because they’re the most frustrating things in the world. Think of this more like a real-life Clue, but instead of Colonel Mustard with the candlestick in the library, it’s a psychopath killer that used to be on the loose. Time to put on your thinking cap and puff a pipe, this indoor Las Vegas attraction has your name on the file.

Photo credit: The Palazzo Las Vegas

Minus5 Ice Experience at Mandalay Place and The Palazzo Las Vegas

What better place to beat the heat than in a deep freezer? We don’t know about you, but we’ve always wanted to know what frozen food feels like. Just kidding, we’re not that crazy. Who do you think we are? Minus5 Ice Experience inside Mandalay Place and The Palazzo Las Vegas is legit the coolest place in Vegas. Some people call it a “chilling” good time! Get where we’re going with this? Good. Minus5’s thermometer is set to -5 degrees Celsius and the whole place is made out of pure ice. There are ice sculptures of famous Vegas landmarks like the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, there are pop culture references like the iron throne from “Game of Thrones” and they even have you drinking out of glasses made of ice. So how does one survive the arctic temperatures? They give you jackets that will turn any popsicle into a nicely insulated watery popsicle. Time to get our ice on at Minus5 Ice Bar.

Photo credit: Bellagio

Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens at Bellagio

We’ve recommended some intense things to do so far, so let’s slow our roll and take a stroll through the Bellagio Conservatory. With thousands of flowers on display, this free indoor attraction in Las Vegas was made for Instagram selfies. Not really, but it makes us feel better about ourselves every time we go there and take a couple selfies for the ‘gram. You’ll be amazed by the sculptures they put together and the ones solely made out of flowers. It’s like floral origami. The display changes five times a year, and no matter which time of year it is, you’ll be blown away each time. Just google it and you’ll see what we are talking about. So make sure to bring your selfie sticks so you can get a good angle. And don’t forget to stop and smell the roses, literally.

Summer Vacation 2018 -Vegas style

Summer 2018 is in full effect, which only means one thing: summer vacation. You need ideas? We got ‘em. Because let’s be honest, there are four things that make summer, summer. In no particular order: barbecues, fireworks, swimming pools and you guessed it, Las Vegas. So, while you can technically “experience” those first three things in Vegas, not all are exactly “legal” at some of the hotels in Las Vegas. So, maybe just learn from our mistakes and leave the grillin’ and fireworks at home. In any case, we’re here to give you the lowdown on all of the super rad things to do in Las Vegas for summer vacation 2018. So sit back, relax and fuel up at a Las Vegas restaurant, because it’s going to be a summer to remember.

Hotels

Courtesy of David Clark

First things first, you’re going to need a place to stay. And we’re not sure if you know this or not, but Las Vegas hotels are kinda like a big deal. Hotels are to Las Vegas what Pusha T is to hip-hop, “we’re top 5 and all of the rest are Dylan.” And if you want to dominate the hotel game, look no further than The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. It’s chic, it’s cute, it’s sassy to boot. Ok, maybe “sassy” isn’t the correct word, but it’s definitely one of the most modern resorts on the Strip. With all their contemporary art and minimalist features, the rooms here feel more like a private hipster condo in the city than your typical hotel room. And even better, most of these rooms have their own private terrace for you to slide out onto and enjoy Strip, mountain or Bellagio Fountain views. But if you’re feeling more of the “Vegas-y” vibe, it’s tough to beat MGM Grand. The granddaddy of ‘em all has been the standard for all things cool and innovative in this town since its inception in 1993. The rooms are fresh, modern and flat out comfortable, but perhaps our favorite thing is that they provide instant access to some of the best attractions and shows in Las Vegas.

Shows

Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil

And speaking of Las Vegas shows, we have some really, REALLY good ones. If you know, you know, you literally can’t go wrong with any of our shows, but since you’re looking for advice, we’re going to recommend two. Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque Du Soleil at Mandalay Bay is everything you’d expect from a “King of Pop” – Cirque collab. It’s over-the-top, it’s non-stop action, it has a bomb.com soundtrack AND if you couldn’t already have guessed, it has the moonwalk. Ticket sold? We think so. However, if you happen to be less musically inclined and would prefer some raunchy comedy, Absinthe at Caesars Palace is the show for you. Before we continue, let us repeat: THIS SHOW IS RAUNCHY! If you’re easily offended, please walk away now, because the show’s host, The Gazillionaire, is probably going to publicly shame and/or humiliate you. But if you can stomach the jokes, the mix of acrobatics, sexiness and all-around entertainment is well worth it. Trust us on this one.

Attractions

Courtesy of Alonzo Wright

There’s nothing like Las Vegas. And there’s nothing like seeing Las Vegas from a new angle. Show of hands here, folks, how many of you have rode in a helicopter above the Strip? Whether your hands are up or down right now, you gotta take the Vegas Nights tour. For the uninitiated, Vegas Nights is the tour so nice you have to do it twice. With roughly 15 minutes of flight time above the Las Vegas Strip, you’ll guaranteed to catch more feels than a Beyoncé concert. Heights not your cup of tea? Pole Position Raceway is the real life “Need for Speed” your inner child has been dreaming of. Put the pedal to the metal as you rip around a quarter-mile European-style track in a souped-up go-kart. These aren’t just regular karts though. No, these bad boys can reach speeds up to 45 miles per hour. What Ricky Bobby said, “Slingshot engaged!”

Nightlife

Courtesy of Drai’s Nightclub

No summer vacation (or a regular trip in general) in Vegas is complete without a trip to the club. And this summer, it’s tough to beat the music lineup that Drai’s LIVE concert series offers at The Cromwell. We’re talking 2 Chainz, Chris Brown, Migos, Meek Mill, Logic, Fabolous, Big Sean, Big Boi and way too many others to count. But let’s be honest, music aside, it’s just plain cool to party 11 stories above the Strip. And for our friends that’re allergic to heights, beat the heat with a stop at Wet Republic at MGM Grand. At this point, we think it’s safe to say that Hakkasan Group knows how to throw a party. And once you combine all-star DJ’s like Calvin Harris, Tiesto and Steve Aoki with some pineapple-print swimwear, this place just feels like summer.

Now that you have the keys to a super sick, fun-filled summer vacation in your hands, the only thing left for you to do is to book your trip! Because you already know that we have the drop on the best Las Vegas shows, Las Vegas Attractions, hotels in Las Vegas and more. So, what’re you waiting for? The Las Vegas pools are calling your name.

EDC Las Vegas, the best three days of your life

Another year, come and gone. To say that EDC Las Vegas was lit af (or whatever the cool kids say these days) is an understatement. People come from all over the world to experience, what feels like, an overwhelming sensation of euphoria. And no, you don’t have to take blue pikachu’s to feel that way. The people are in the best moods, you see better costumes than Comicon and the effects they instill on the stage are downright the coolest things we’ve ever seen. EDM lover or not, everyone is welcome at EDC Las Vegas. At this festival, you’ll see more colors in the world than ever before (kind of like what Pocahontas said in “Colors of the Wind”). If you didn’t go this year, don’t worry, you have 365 days to plan for the next one. And if you did go this year, see if you can spot yourself in the pics below. EDC Las Vegas is nothing like any music festival you’ve ever experienced before.

Photo credit: Shaun Burgess

Photo credit: Shaun Burgess

Photo credit: Shaun Burgess

Photo credit: Shaun Burgess

Photo credit: Shaun Burgess

Photo credit: Shaun Burgess

Photo credit: Shaun Burgess

Photo credit: Shaun Burgess

Photo credit: Shaun Burgess

Photo credit: Shaun Burgess

EMERGE Impact + Music 2018 recap

As you already know, Sin City is all about that new-new. Whether it’s new Las Vegas shows, things to do in Las Vegas or Vegas restaurants, this city is always on the up-and-up. So it’s no surprise that EMERGE Impact + Music wanted to unleash their roster of musicians, speakers and tastemakers onto the Entertainment Capital of the World. And did they ever. Showcases on showcases at Harrah’s, The LINQ, Flamingo, Brooklyn Bowl and The Bunkhouse Saloon inspired new ideas about engaging with each other, activism and even introduced some new artists to the playlist rotation. If you were able to experience EMERGE Impact + Music 2018, enjoy this little trip down memory lane. If you missed out, here’s your chance to get stoked for next year. And as always, be sure to check out our Las Vegas Events page to learn about the year’s upcoming events.

Polish Club. Photo Courtesy of EMERGE Impact + Music

Bay Ledges. Photo Courtesy of David Clark

OK GO. Photo Courtesy of EMERGE Impact + Music

Sego. Photo Courtesy of David Clark

The Fairytale Ball. Photo Courtesy of EMERGE Impact + Music

Bay Ledges. Photo Courtesy of David Clark

Depressed Monsters. Photo Courtesy of EMERGE Impact + Music

Luna Aura. Photo Courtesy of David Clark

Poppy. Photo Courtesy of EMERGE Impact + Music

Bay Ledges. Photo Courtesy of David Clark

OK GO. Photo Courtesy of David Clark

Photo Courtesy of David Clark

Vegas Bitez Ep. 2: Ferraro’s | Pici Al Cinghiale

You know the kind of place that makes you feel like you’re the guest of honor at dinner and they’ve made your favorite meal? That’s Ferraro’s. And this is where the Italians eat in Las Vegas.

A Sin City staple since 1985, the Ferraro family sticks to three principles: Mangia (Eat), Bevi (Drink) and Divertiti (Have fun). A motto that has served them well over the years, and one we can certainly get behind. So, when Chef Francesco invited us into the kitchen to see how he prepares the pici al cinghiale (wild boar ragu) from his new spring menu, we practically broke our necks to see firsthand what keeps them on top of the food chain.

It takes about a day and a half to prepare the dish. Sourced directly from the rolling hillsides of Tuscany, the wild boar marinates in a medley of herbs and veggies until it reaches the peak of perfection 24 hours later. Then it simmers all day long until it’s tender and fragrant, just in time for the dinner rush.

The Ferraro’s team makes roughly 50 pounds of pasta by hand each day, some of which is the plump spaghetti-like noodle called, “pici.” Originating from Siena, it’s hand-rolled and stretched into stringy shoelaces of dough, encouraging maximum slurpability.

The Ferraro’s kitchen, thick with steam and the spiced aroma of braised meat, is a hotbed of culinary activity. But don’t take our word for it, check out the video to see what we mean. Brace yourself, carnivorous friends, this is about to get delicious.

Looking for a Las Vegas show or more things to do in Las Vegas before or after your meal? We’ve got you covered.

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