Newsletter: Vegas Escapes: You can chill in Vegas

Welcome to the new look of the still-new Vegas Escapes newsletter. I’m Catharine Hamm, the travel editor for the Los Angeles Times, and in the interest of full disclosure, I love Las Vegas.

Even when it’s hot. Maybe especially when it is.

We SoCal folks know hot, right? Of course we do, and we don’t much like it. So I say to escape the heat, go to Vegas.

Sure, it’s expected to be 15 degrees warmer there this weekend, but air conditioning is a way of life for this Mojave Desert city. Heat’s just not an issue as long as you enjoy the great indoors.

And it is great. No wonder Elvis is said to have uttered, “Man, I really like Las Vegas.” We have some stories this week that will show you why 42 million people a year, more than a quarter of them from Southern California, like it too. Especially on Sundays. Even though National Tequila Day has passed. And often when Sasquatch is involved.

—Catharine Hamm



Think of caramel, chocolate, citrus, vanilla and wood flavors, and you may think of some kind of dreamy dessert, wouldn’t you? You’d be wrong, at least in this case.

Those are some of the notes of the premium Clase Azul tequila, now being served at MGM bars. This limited-edition spirit is one of several top-drawer tequilas showing up in cocktails on and around the Strip.

With such ingredients as grapefruit-flavored sparkling water and blood orange syrup (not in the same drink), they tend to be refreshing.



Here’s the eternal question if you’re traveling to Vegas: Are you flying or driving? Flying is faster, of course, yet we’re Southern Californians and we have a codependent relationship with our cars.

On average, nearly 45,000 cars a day cross the California-Nevada border on Interstate 15. If you’re among them, you may want to stop at Jean, Nev., about 30 miles outside Vegas, and have a chat with Sasquatch, use the restroom, get some snacks and fill the gas tank. Terrible’s Road House is the preeminent pit stop on the road to Glitterville.


Tired of service that seems, well, robotic? If so, maybe Vdara Hotel isn’t for you. But we’re guessing it is, because these cute little mechanical room service guys can deliver drinks, snacks and sundries to your room in a jiffy. Meet Jett and Fetch, who not only deliver but whose service doesn’t cost as much as regular room service. Just don’t ask them to bring you lots of fluffy pillows. The story will tell you why.


If your garden looks as though Mother Nature took a blowtorch to it, check out the Bellagio Conservatory, which changes seasonally, and see what 4,750 dozen flowers can do for a landscape

Now there’s “That’s Amore,” which brings you a nice dollop of Italy on top of the floral extravaganza.


Don’t head back to Southern California just yet. Three restaurants on the Strip are featuring “only on Sunday” menu offerings you just won’t find any other day of the week.

If you have a hankering for lemon-ricotta pancakes with blueberry conserve or a five-course meal centered on Urbani truffles, hang around instead of heading home and get your gourmet on.


Did you catch Travis Pastrana making history recently in Vegas when he safely made it over the fountains at Caesars Palace on his motorcycle? Evel Knievel tried that on New Year’s Eve 1967. Pastrana’s ended well; Evel’s did not, landing him in the hospital with a broken leg, hip, wrist and a crushed pelvis, among other injuries, according to Las Vegas 360.

If you’re a fan of daredevil feats, you can have a steady diet of them as Nitro Circus Las Vegas takes up residence in Bally’s old Jubilee Theater.


If you think the Las Vegas area’s history began with the opening of the Flamingo, you get an F and a dunce cap. (The Flamingo wasn’t the first resort on the Strip, either; that honor goes to El Rancho Vegas, which opened about five years before the Flamingo.)

Take a side trip to Henderson to the Clark County Museum, open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, for a fascinating look at the past.

Best of all, it will set you back just $2 for adults and a buck for seniors and kids. Because where else can you see a copy of Bette Midler’s marriage certificate?

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