Historic L.A.: Los Angeles Theatre

When one thinks of Los Angeles, historic architecture doesn’t necessarily come to mind. However, Los Angeles, especially Downtown, has incredible architecture. I have recently started volunteering for the LA Conservancy, an organization devoted to saving and preserving historical architecture in Los Angeles. I had the pleasure this past weekend of volunteering for the annual film series, Last Remaining Seats. This series pairs classic movies with beautiful, historic theaters in Los Angeles.

Last Saturday’s installment took place at the Los Angeles Theatre. The Los Angeles Theatre was built in 1931 and is in the French Baroque style. It is possibly the most beautiful theater I’ve ever been in. My favorite until that point was the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. But I would say this one wins. The high ceilings and ornate decor make the LA Theatre breathtaking.

The stage!

We have entered a time of extreme modernization; a time in which new buildings seem to be designed to be as slick as possible. It’s times like these that I’m glad we have places like the gorgeous LA Theatre. I’m also grateful for organizations like the LA Conservancy, that try and do as much as they can to not let people forget the value of historical buildings.

Who can’t appreciate a Ladies Room with a vanity room?

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Zion 2018 Part 2: The Food!

When one thinks of a trip to Zion National Park, I think the last thing on their mind is going to be food.  Perhaps they are thinking of snacks to bring while out in the park, but what about the other meals?  My friend and I are usually very concerned about what we are going to eat.  And not in a “let’s gorge ourselves” way, but we want the food to be worth it.  Nothing makes me more irritated on vacation than having to eat bad food.  This is especially true if the food is a little more expensive than normal.  I don’t like wasting calories or money.  Needless to say, our food choices actually enhanced our trip, instead of just being something we did.  Here are the places we ate at on our trip.

*Stage Coach Grille; La Verkin, UT

In the town in which we stayed, let’s say that there was a lack of options for dinner.  And the one place that seemed to be recommended, and well, serving dinner, was Stage Coach Grille.  It has been my experience that restaurants that seem to be the only option, always recommended by hotel staff, etc, seem to not care about standards.  However, this was not the case with Stage Coach Grille.

We started our meal with Fried Zucchini and we both had the Crab Stuffed Salmon.  And of course, since we were starving, we had the Cheesecake for dessert.  The food was phenomenal.   We were pleasantly surprised about how good it all was, and we just wanted our food to be never ending.

They also had a little field next door with some horses! And we just had to go see them. You know, living in Los Angeles, its not something we see ever day 🙂

*King’s Landing Bistro; Springdale, UT

Closer to the park, in a town called Springdale, there is quite a bit more going on.  There are more restaurants, shops, etc.  For our last night in Zion, we chose a restaurant in Springdale called King’s Landing Bistro.  Honestly, the mixed reviews had us a little skeptical, but again, we were pleasantly surprised by our meal.  They also had a couple mocktails on the menu, which always wins points with me.  I had the Roasted Sea Bass, which was served on top of a rustic ratatouille.  It was so delicious.  Let me tell you, I’m am NOT a fan of fish with the skin on.  For whatever reason, it grosses me out.  But this was delicious.  And of course, since we are still on vacation after all, we got desert.  I got the chocolate mousse cake and it was to die for.  Again, we didn’t want our food to end.  And the views…couldn’t be beat.

*River Rock Roasting Company; La Verkin, UT

When we were coming in to town, we passed this place called River Rock Roasting Company.  Both being coffee fans, we decided we would need to try it out at some point.  Next to our hotel, they had a little drive thru satellite location.  We stopped there for coffee one morning on our way.  Now, when I say drive thru, its not what you think.  You drive up, and a live person takes your order face to face.  Then, you drive around and wait.  We waited for our drinks for about 15 minutes, a marked difference from our single digit minutes wait for coffee at Starbucks.  Nonetheless, the coffee was delicious.  This made us excited to go to the main location to get breakfast/lunch on our way out of town the next day.

The main location of RRRC sits on the edge of a gorge and provides a beautiful view of a different part of the landscape.  The weather was perfect for sitting outside and enjoying the beauty around you.  We arrived right at the cusp of breakfast and lunch, and since I had to get another latte, I opted for breakfast.  I ordered the Ham and Cheese Croissant, and added egg.  It also came with sriracha mayo, which I wasn’t sure about, so I got it on the side.  I also ordered a Hazelnut Almond Milk Latte.  Both items were stellar.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a breakfast sandwich that good before.  I’m not generally a fan of sandwiches, but they looked so good, I had to get it.  And I was not disappointed.  The ingredients were quality and fresh.  And well, the latte, was dreamy. As a result, I walked away with a bag of coffee.

Bonus…Las Vegas

Momofuku

I’ve posted about Momofuku before, but I got some different items so I wanted to share.  We started with a half dozen oysters, followed by the shrimp, shitake and pork belly buns.  Then, we finished with the Ginger Scallion Noodles.  Another stellar meal by a David Chang institution, and my belly couldn’t have been happier.

Mon Ami Gabi

If there is anything about me, its that I don’t tend to go to tourist heavy places in Las Vegas.  I go based on what is good, not what is popular.  But for our last vacation meal, we were having trouble deciding.  I’ve seen people recommend Mon Ami Gabi on travel forums and I have always been skeptical.  So, we took a chance.  It was delicious.  I had the Fish & Frites and the Berry Bread Budding for dessert.  I was impressed by this place, and the décor is adorable.

All in all, everything we ate on our trip was delicious, and we didn’t regret anything we ate.  In places like Springdale or La Verkin, you are forced to partake in the local fare.  I didn’t see any chain restaurants (except for a few fast food places along the way), and that makes for an interesting vacation.  When traveling, I always urge people to go to places they don’t have at home.  It makes it more of a vacation.

Zion 2018 Part 1

2018 is proving to be one of my best years.  I’ve really been trying to live my best life this year.  One of the things that is helping me do that is trying to visit places I’ve never been before.  One of those places that I really wanted to visit was Zion National Park in Utah.  On what seemed like a whim, my friend and I decided to go.  And let me just say this, I’ve never seen anything like this before.  It is absolutely stunning.  And its stunning in a different way than looking at the New York skyline at night or a beautiful piece of jewelry.  Its the kind of stunning that you cannot believe what you see is real.  Even after spending 2 1/2 days there, I still can’t believe I’ve been there.  If you ever get the chance to go, just go.

Day 1:  The Narrows

Oh, the Narrows.  Easily, pictures of the Narrows are some of the most recognizable.  You will frequently see pictures of the Wall Street portion, especially if you search for “The Narrows” on Google.  So, of course, we had to do it.  Now, when I say I did research on this, it might be an understatement.  I wanted to know exactly what I was getting myself into.  Most travel forums will tell you that you need to rent the special gear that consists of neoprene socks, special water shoes and a walking stick.  Since the idea of wearing shoes that thousands of others have worn grosses me out, I went in another direction.  I wore my shoes that I bought for a Spartan race.  They can get wet and have drainage holes on the side.  For socks, I bought performance wool socks.  And they worked perfectly.  They provided the grip I needed when traversing over submerged rocks and the wool socks helped keep the heat in so my feet didn’t suffer from the cold.

This hike is so much fun.  Albeit, it was exhausting and at some point, I just wanted out of the water.  But it was fun and a unique experience.  We went about 2.5 miles down and back for a total of about 5 miles.  It took us about 4 hours.  The slot canyons, especially in the part known as Wall Street are incredible.  As you continue on, you can see evidence of flash floods and years of the Virgin River carving out the rock.  It really made me appreciate the power of nature.

Day 2:  Angel’s Landing, Kayenta, Lower and Upper Emerald Pools

One of the most popular hikes in ZNP is Angel’s Landing.  The majority of the hike is a regular, mostly paved trail.  And it just keeps ascending.  The end game is to put your life in the Universe’s hands to climb over a narrow summit to Angel’s Landing.  We ended up not going that far, as the amount of people was a deterrent.  Who wants to be on a summit with steep drop offs and a width of only a few feet while having to share it with someone going the other way?  Not I, is the answer.  Nevertheless, we made it to the part of the trail in which you can have a seat, look out over the canyon and watch all the crazy people make their way to Angel’s Landing.  And that was just fine.  The trail was challenging enough without going all the way, and the view is still ridiculous.  Since this hike only took us a few hours, we decided to tack on some additional trails.

Specifically, we decided to start on the Kayenta Trail, which connects to the Upper and Lower Emerald Pool trails.  This makes for a very fun afternoon.  The Kayenta trail was just challenging enough after doing the Angel’s Landing trail.  The Emerald Pools were pretty neat, and I’m glad we decided to go.  What is great about this set of trails is that when you go from Kayenta to Lower Emerald Pools, you end up at the Zion Lodge.  They have a cafe there where you can get a snack before heading out again.

Day 3:  Pa’rus

While we were getting ready to leave this amazing place, we had to squeeze 1 more trail in.  Before breakfast, we choose an easy hike to top off our trip.  We choose the Pa’rus Trail.  This trail really cannot be called a trail.  It is flat and paved and is more like a walk along the river.  Nonetheless, it was great.  This trail would especially for those in a wheelchair, pushing a stroller, etc.  It was proof that you don’t have to be an experienced hiker to experience the beauty of ZNP.  It ended up being a perfect ending to magical trip.

In total, my visit to Zion National Park will go down as one of m favorite vacations.  Being in a place this vast puts life into perspective.  I would urge everyone to visit parks like this if they can.  Spending time in nature is good for the soul.

Coming soon…Zion 2018 Part 2: The Food.

Art Deco, Croissants and Majordomo

Just recently, I decided I wanted to start volunteering for the LA Conservancy.  The LAC is an organization that helps to save and preserve historical buildings in Los Angeles.  In a world where we are always trying to get the shiny and new, they strive to protect the history of architecture in Los Angeles.  Buildings like the Bradbury Building, LA City Hall and CBS Television City are all part of what makes our city distinctively Los Angeles.

One of the things they suggest for new volunteers is to go on walking tours if you want to become a docent.  This is to get familiar with how they work, flow, etc.  Last weekend, I picked a walking tour that focused on the Art Deco of Los Angeles.  Art Deco is a style of architecture that I am not too familiar with.  My major interest lies in Modern, Googie, and Brutalist architecture.  So, learning something new sounded perfect.  The tour itself is about 2 hours long, and covers several buildings that express that gorgeous Art Deco aesthetic.  Probably my favorite building on the tour was the Cal Edison building, which is absolutely tremendous.  I also learned that Serpentine marble is the state marble for California. We also visited buildings like the Oviatt Building, and the Eastern Columbia building.  In Los Angeles, we often times are so focused on what is ahead, that we forget to look up.  Walking tours provided by the LA Conservancy prompt us to look up and take notice of what we don’t always notice.  I highly recommend catching a tour if you are ever in the area.  They are $15 for adult non-members and $10 for youth under 17 years old.

I must confess though.  I had some ulterior motives for wanting to head downtown.  I really wanted to try out the Coffee Bar at the NoMad Hotel.  MilkBar founder Christina Tosi has posted about the croissants on a few occasions.  I knew I must try one.  The Coffee Bar at the NoMad Hotel is beautiful inside, with marble table tops and mirrors everywhere.  It was also extremely quiet.  I ordered an almond croissant and a mocha.  The mocha was not overly chocolatey and was quite delicious.  The almond croissant was hands down the best croissant I’ve ever tried.  It was the perfect amount of flaky on the outside, and dense on the inside.  I cannot wait to go back to try another type of croissant.  They had several flavors, and I am sufficiently hooked.

Downtown Los Angeles is not only about art deco and fancy croissants.  There are areas like North Chinatown that are not so pleasing to the eye, but they allow for certain things to happen.  One of these things is Majordomo.  Majordomo is the first Los Angeles outlet of Momofuku’s David Chang.  Chang is a talented chef and restauranteur who offers a creative culinary perspective that one cannot ignore.

Reservations have been hard to come by, so when one opened up on my birthday, I had to take it.  And it did not disappoint.  It was easily one of the best meals I’ve had in my life, and I couldn’t have been happier.  Los Angeles needs places like Majordomo, in which we are given something interesting and unexpected.  Too many places are predictable or just so so (in my opinion).  I was ready for something new.  Majordomo is fantastic, and is worth waiting for a reservation.

Hiking to the Griffith Observatory

One of the activities that is popular in Los Angeles is hiking.  I feel like its one of those things that it doesn’t matter if you like it or not, you probably do it.  For myself, its been an acquired taste.  I still don’t like to hike in heavily wooded areas.  I’m not sure if that is from growing up in Maine and not wanting a tick to bite me, or if its just simply because I prefer more desert scenery.  Either way, I DO like to hike in places that are pleasant and interesting to look at.  In combination of my interest in the architecture of Los Angeles, I love Griffith Observatory.  Its quintessentially Los Angeles, and its hands down one of the most beautiful in the city.

When I went to the Grand Canyon, one of the things I regretted doing was not preparing enough for the hiking portion of my trip.  Would it have been easier if I had prepared?  Who knows, but it surely wouldn’t have hurt.  So, in preparation of my girls trip to Zion National Park, I thought some hiking was in order.  I found out about the Observatory Trails in researching a visit to the Observatory.  I’ve lived here for over 10 years, and I never knew you could hike to the Observatory on the South side.  There is definitely some truth to the old adage that you learn something new every day.

So, a little about the hike.  There are two Observatory trails, a West and an East trail.  The West Observatory Trail is 2.1 miles (out and back), and the East Observatory Trail is 1.5 miles long (out and back).  For that distance, it was still a good little workout because of the grade.  It is a well worn path, and is well populated, especially on the weekends.  In addition, there is little to no shade, so make sure you wear sun protection.  And the best part of this hike is of course, THE VIEWS.  As you ascend, you get ridiculously great views of the Hollywood Sign, the Observatory and the city below.

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I really enjoyed this hike. Because it wasn’t super long, it left enough time to get brunch after and not feel disgusting.  Again, brunch is something that I’ve recently started to see the appeal.   This is especially true when you have great brunch mates.  If you live in Los Angeles, I highly recommend doing this hike, even if to switch it up every once in awhile.  If you don’t live here, and find yourself visiting our city, do yourself a favor and hike up to the Observatory.  You won’t regret it.

Bonus Tip:  The 101 Coffee Shop is one of my favorite places to eat.  It is located on Franklin Ave. (nearest cross street is Gower St.).  It is fairly close to the Fern Dell side of the trail (about a 10 minute drive).  They have great coffee and yummy food.  My favorite breakfast is the Salmon Benedict!

Link to West Observatory Trail on HikeSpeak.

Link to East Observatory Trail on HikeSpeak.

 

Around LA: Descanso Gardens

Every year during the holidays, I see pictures on social media of people at this magical garden.  It seemed so cool, but I’ve never actually gone.  I found out that that magical place is called Descanso Gardens.  And while it is not the holidays, I had to go.  I took advantage of the California sunshine and headed to La Cañada-Flintridge.

Descanso Gardens is huge.  It is about 150 acres and features different gardens like the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, and their Camellia Collection.  You can literally get lost on purpose here.  There are lots of places to seclude yourself and have some quiet time, and places you can let your kids be kids and run around.  Plus, one of the best parts is that it is only $9 for adults and $4 for children to get in.  This is a bargain in Los Angeles when it comes to things to do.

When I went, it was a bit of a transition period.  I went towards the end of the tulips and cherry blossoms, and missed the lilacs and roses.  If you are interested in just flowers, the best time to go might be May, when the Roses and Lilacs are generally in bloom.  During this trip, one of the highlights were the cherry blossoms.  There is just something about cherry blossoms that make people happy.  Another one of my favorite areas was the Ancient Forest.  This garden features ferns and ancient species of plants that can be dated to prehistoric times.  Regardless of the time of year, this Descanso Gardens is worth the trip.   I have a lot more pictures but these are some of my favorites.

Out and About in Hollywood

Even after living in Los Angeles for over 10 years, there are still things that I have never done, or I don’t do enough.  In addition, I’ve always appreciated being able to explore Los Angeles to do things that are interesting.  There is definitely no shortage of things to do in Los Angeles, but living here, I tend to do the same things all the time.  I had half a day off of work, and wanted to make the most of my time.  So, I decided to have a fun filled afternoon and evening in Hollywood.

In the things I’ve never done category is PaleyFest.  PaleyFest is an annual festival celebrating some of the best shows on television.  For about 2 weeks, each night, there is a panel with members of the cast and producing team.  Ever since I moved here, I’ve wanted to go.  I love television.  That actually might be an understatement.  Many people think it is a waste of time, but I get so much enjoyment out of it.  Anything that brings you joy is not a waste of time.  And since I live a fairly active life, I don’t beat myself up about watching television.

This year, they had popular shows Riverdale, Stranger Things, The Big Bang Theory, and others.  One of my favorite shows this year was The Good Doctor.  To say this is good, is selling it short.  This show is one of those shows that comes along every once in awhile that intrigues you, not just entertains you.  The show is about surgical resident, Shaun Murphy, who has autism and Savant syndrome.  The cast is top notch, especially with Freddie Highmore in the title role.  Anyone in their 30s or older has literally watch Highmore grow up on screen.  He is a brilliant actor who is going to be one of the greatest of our generation (in my opinion).  Highmore is backed by a stellar and fantastically diverse cast that includes Richard Schiff, Tamlyn Tomita and Antonia Thomas.  Its obvious how much I love the show.  So, it was a no brainer when I heard one of the nights of PaleyFest was for The Good Doctor.  And I’m so glad I went!

If you live in Los Angeles or New York, and you love television, I highly urge you to go to PaleyFest.  It allows the audience to get a glimpse into the processes behind the show, whether it be the writing, the acting, casting, etc.  It also lets you get to know the cast as real people, and not just their characters.  For this panel, they actually treated us to the season finale before the cast and producers came out.  It was fantastic, and I might love the show even more after this.

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PaleyFest:  The Good Doctor @ The Dolby Theatre

Now…onto the things that I don’t do enough.  One of my favorites theaters in Los Angeles is the El Capitan in Hollywood.  It is now owned by Disney, and they only play Disney movies.  I took advantage of its proximity to the Dolby Theatre (where PaleyFest was) to see the latest Disney film, A Wrinkle in Time.  The movie was fantastic, and I was reminded that I don’t go there enough.  After the movie, it was time to eat before I went to PaleyFest.  I chose a place that I love.  On the ground level of the Roosevelt Hotel, is a diner/bar called 25 Degrees.  They have one of my favorite burgers, and I’m never disappointed.  An added bonus is that you can walk through the lobby and feel a little bit of that old Hollywood glamour for a bit.  In fact, the mirror you can supposedly see Marilyn Monroe’s ghost in was moved to the lobby because of its popularity.  On this particular trip, I ordered the Number Four which is a tuna burger with butter lettuce and crispy onions.  It was delicious.  If you are ever in the area, check it out.

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Decorations at El Capitan for A Wrinkle in Time.

Solo Travel: Arizona! Part 3 Winter Trip 2018

One of my goals for 2018 is to visit more of this country.  In my 35 years of life, I have only been to a handful of states.  And even if I’ve technically been to a state, I may not have been able to actually spend time there.  It has unofficially become a personal tradition of mine to take a little trip in the Winter.  Usually, its to Vegas to just clear my mind, eat good food, and have some fun.  But this year, I decided to do something a little different.  I decided to add some time in the Grand Canyon and Arizona.  I’ve only been to Arizona once, but I really didn’t feel like I got a good visit with this state.  I also used this opportunity to check off two bucket list items; visiting the Grand Canyon and driving on Route 66.  Now, you may say, how is that a bucket list item.  Route 66 is extensive and could easily be checked off by going to the Santa Monica Pier.  But really driving on it, visiting the people that live there, and soaking it in.  That is the experience I wanted.

After Vegas I headed to the Grand Canyon.  There are multiple ways to see the Grand Canyon, but I didn’t want a touristy experience (looking at you West Rim).  I wanted to really see it, go in it, and enjoy it.  So, I headed towards the South Rim, which is probably one of the most popular way to see the Grand Canyon.  It has several hotels, restaurants, etc inside the park, and you could easily spend a whole day there.  My big plan was to hike down into the Grand Canyon.

Due to my late start on the day, I wasn’t able to get there in the morning like I wanted to.  So, I had to just do a shorter hike.  I hiked the Bright Angel Trail and it was phenomenal.  It was probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.  If the sheer size of the Grand Canyon doesn’t leave you in awe, seeing it below the Rim will give you another perspective on it.  I highly encourage anyone visiting to go below the Rim.  I will always be grateful that I have the physical ability to be able to handle a hike such as this one.  Of course, the descent was A LOT easier than the ascent.  I hiked to the 1.5 mile mark and then back.  It took about 2.5 hours, and was breathtaking (literally and figuratively).  I got to the top about 20 minutes for sunset.  So, I was able to enjoy that before I headed out.  Again, spectacular.

After spending the afternoon at the Grand Canyon, I drove to my home for the night; Seligman, Arizona.  I spent the night at the Supai Motel.  It was exactly what you think of in a traditional Route 66 motel, complete with a real key and a great neon sign.  I had a lovely dinner at Lilo’s and was able to talk to some of the locals.  My original plan was to just get some take out and go back to my room.  But I’m really glad I stayed.  You can get a good sense of the town if you actually talk to the people that live there.

The next morning, I grabbed breakfast at the Route 66 Roadside Cafe, went into a couple of shops, then got back on the road.  Seligman is a wonderful town and the people are incredible as well.  They are proud of their town and have a genuine love of living there. I already can’t wait to go back.

Now…Route 66.  The romance of Route 66 has always been there.  Its much like McDonald’s.  It quintessentially American.  It reminds you of days before strip malls, traffic, interchanges, and rushing.  Now, in order to travel the entire length of Route 66, I wouldn’t make it back home in time.  So, I decided to travel on Route 66 on the stretch from Seligman to Kingman.  And it was SO much fun.  On the way, I was able to stop and do a tour of the Grand Canyon Caverns (formerly the Dinosaur Caverns).  If you are ever in that area, I highly recommend visiting.  I never thought in a million years that I would have so much fun in a cave.

After a brief stop in Kingman, I was back on the modern highway back to California.  My visit to the Grand Canyon and Arizona was absolutely wonderful.  We tend to stay in our own little bubble, or tend to not want to go to places that don’t seem super interesting on the surface.  While the Grand Canyon is very popular, the rest of Arizona just isn’t.  I had such a good time, getting into places less traveled.  I really hope to incorporate more places like this in my future travels.  I’ve loved the desert for some time now, but I truly fell in love with the American Southwest on this trip.

Solo Travel: Momofuku & Hell’s Kitchen (Las Vegas) Part 2; Winter Trip 2018

One of the most fantastic things about Las Vegas is the food.  There is everything from cheap eats to fine dining.  Like Los Angeles, you can get almost anything in Las Vegas.  While I enjoy cheap eats, I really take advantage of the fine dining.  The 2 restaurants on my radar for this trip were Momofuku and the newly opened, Hell’s Kitchen.

I watched a show called Mind of a Chef about 2 years ago.  In that show, it featured a chef named David Chang.  He is behind restaurants like Momofuku Noodle Bar, and most recently Majordomo in Los Angeles.  He opened his Vegas outpost of Momofuku in The Cosmopolitan last year.  His Vegas location serves as a greatest hits of his other establishments.  I have been dying to try it, but it just never worked out.  It was worth the wait.  When in New York this fall, I was introduced to the Momofuku family by Momofuku Noodle Bar in the Village.  So, I knew that it would be good.  I just didn’t know how good.

I ordered the Ginger Scallion Noodles, Dried Mussels and for dessert, a slice of MilkBar Birthday Cake.  Hands down, this is one of the best meals I’ve ever had.  The Ginger Scallion Noodles were topped with pickled shiitake mushrooms, which were my favorite part.  It is definitely a testament to how a simple dish can be elevated to the point of excellence.  The Dried Mussels were excellent.  It was a last minute decision to order them, and they were the perfect addition to my meal.  And for dessert, I knew I was either going next door to get something from MilkBar.  However, because they go with each other, they had MilkBar desserts available there.  I had a slice of MilkBar Birthday Cake.  As the other times before that I’ve had MilkBar, it was outstanding.  Chef Christina Tosi is really just one of the women I admire the most.  I love how creative and classic she can be at the same time.  And it comes out in everything MilkBar comes out with.

 

The next night, I tried the new Hell’s Kitchen.  I have been to 3 out of 5 of Gordon Ramsay’s other Vegas restaurants.  I have yet to try his Fish & Chips place, but that is for next time.  For this trip, I couldn’t wait to try Hell’s Kitchen.  I feel like the concept is a long time coming, and is pretty cool.  Especially if you love the show, it will be just that much more fun.  There was absolutely no question that I was going for the Hell’s Kitchen prix fixe menu.  It had all the parts of the menu they serve on the show.  It had the Seared Scallops for an appetizer, Beef Wellington for the entree and Sticky Toffee Pudding for dessert.  I also partook in a mocktail called the The Whispering Banshee.  The meal was to die for.  It is exactly how you think it would taste, but better.  Now, disclaimer…I had never had Beef Wellington before.  And holy cow, it was incredible. The waiter told me that they were fully booked every single night, and they had seen 50K diners since they opened last month.  This is no doubt due to the Ramsay name and the show, but it most definitely has the food to back it up.

 

I highly recommend both of these restaurants if you visit Las Vegas.  They are for sure worth the money.  I did not leave disappointed at either place, and I cannot wait to be able to go back again.  I would also suggest reservations for both places.  Especially Hell’s Kitchen…they get booked fast.

Solo Travel: The Neon Museum (Las Vegas) Part 1; Winter Trip 2018

Every year, I try to take a trip to Vegas in the Winter.  This is usually a solo trip where I can figure out ME.  Even at 35 years old, I still haven’t really discovered everything about what makes me happy, truly happy.  However, this year, my trip was absolute perfection.  I learned more about myself over the last 4 days than any other trip I’ve taken.  Now, let me get on my soap box for a minute.  Solo travel is one of those things that many people do not do.  Either they think it would be weird to be by themselves.  Even in every day life, a lot of people I know would not go to eat by themselves, or even see a movie by themselves.  As a society, we are conditioned to do these things only in groups of 2 or more.  I am of the opinion that people should do things occasionally by themselves. It forces you to get comfortable with the one person you can’t escape from…you.  Ok, off my soap box.  On to the fun stuff.  As I was editing my pictures for this post, I realized quickly that there was no way I could fit it all into 1 post.  For whatever reason, this trip was special, and deserves multiple posts.  I hope you enjoy the first in the series about my Winter Trip.  First up…The Neon Museum.

Now, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this place too much or not.  I believe I have taken the regular day tour 4 times.  This time, I decided to do a night tour.  Then, I saw something incredible in my Facebook feed.  It was an article about a new event at the Neon Museum.  It is called Brilliant! and it is just that.

First of all…a little about the show/installation.  Brilliant! is housed in the North Gallery.  Ah, yes, the coveted North Gallery that is normally not open to the public.  Well, now I know why.  This took a long time to put together.  It uses a technology called Projection Mapping.  And the genius behind this is artist, Craig Winslow.  So, what is the point?  Well, I’m sure the artist had multiple reasons as to why he took on this project.  But the most obvious and relevant reason to a visitor is to make the non-operational signs look, well, operational.  And he, in collaboration with the Neon Museum, did just that.

Now, don’t think they just turn it on and you can take pictures and leave.  No.  Its not that kind of party.  What it is, is an experience.  It a) gives you a little history lesson about the fabulous neon signs of Las Vegas and b) it is set to music (good music).  You are not allowed to take pictures or video while the show is going on.  In our Instagram obsessed world, it forces us to go old school and actually experience something and to experience it over and over through our memory (shocking, I know).  At the very end, they turn it all on and let you take pictures and video.  They wouldn’t torture us and our Instagram feeds, would they?  Of course not!

I’m going to get a little sign geek on you right now.  I love signs.  Not just any signs.  I LOVE neon signs.  And they don’t just have to be ones in Las Vegas.  I am madly in love with the El Capitan signage in Hollywood, which is right at the top of the list with my favorite sign, the Stardust Hotel & Casino sign.  The Stardust will always be my favorite.  The original sign in a showable form is on the regular tour.  But Brilliant! showcases the later version of the sign that we probably all are familiar with.  So, to see this “lit up”, quite frankly, got me a little emotional.  You see these signs in the Boneyard, just metal and glass.  And you see pictures of them in their hey-day.  But you may have never seen them operational, or at least not for a very long time.  The Stardust was the very first place I stayed in in Las Vegas when I was 12 years old.  So, to see parts of the Stardust sign shine again, was well, brilliant.

If you are in Las Vegas, I strongly urge you check it out.  At the time of this post, the show costs $23.  It is for sure worth it, and you get a discount if you also want to do a regular tour.  The Neon Museum is very committed to preserving and protecting the city’s neon history intact.  Las Vegas Neon is one of the most identifiable things about Las Vegas, and I am grateful that they stay committed.  They add new pieces to their collection as the town makes way for the new and shiny.  Recently, they acquired the Riviera signs prior to implosion, as well as the original Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign.  They currently have a campaign to help with restoration costs of this beauty, and I look forward to seeing it in the Boneyard someday.

Visit their website here… The Neon Museum of Las Vegas.

Signs in all their non-operational glory.

Signs in the Brilliant! installation, “lit up”.