Vegas4Visitors.com Weekly Column by Rick Garman

Want to know what's happening in Las Vegas? You've come to the right place.

Each week you can come here to get the latest news, the juiciest gossip, and the best reviews for the most fabulous city in the world, Las Vegas. Hey... it says "fabulous" right on the welcome sign!

The latest weekly column will always be on this page, but you can go back through the archives (all the way back to 1999!) or take a look ahead and what's coming up next for Vegas by using the navigation on the left hand sidebar.

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Only in Vegas: Hangover Bus

It sounds like a joke; an April Fool's Day prank. But I assure that the hangover bus is very, very real.

The concept behind Hangover Heaven is fairly simple: drank too much? Call them and a bus will come pick you up and load you up with vitamins, amino acids, and prescription medications via IV while they drive you around Vegas. About 45 minutes later, you may not be hangover free but you will probably be feeling a lot better and they'll drop you off to go on your merry way. Perhaps to drink more?

All of the procedures are overseen by a doctor and trained medical staff and it is all approved by the FDA, although I'm certain when they said "yeah, sure" they weren't picturing it happening on a bus trolling The Strip in Vegas.

The basic package costs $90 as an introductory special (normally $130) and takes 30-45 minutes. The more extensive version, with additional medications and vitamins, costs $150 (normally $200) and takes about an hour.

You can learn more at their website: hangoverheaven.com.

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The Best Off The Beaten Track Las Vegas Experiences

Everybody knows Bellagio. The Mirage Volcano is an icon. The Wynn Buffet is one of the most visited restaurants in Las Vegas.

But Las Vegas is about so much more than just the things to see and do that you are familiar with because of their high profile. Throughout the city there are gems, some hidden and some right under your nose, that most people either don't know about or have never taken the time to find.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to be dedicating space in my column to those off the beaten track experiences. Many of the hotels, restaurants, shows, attractions, nightlife, and shopping destinations that will be featured are geographically off that proverbial track, which is to say not right on The Strip or Downtown. Others are closer to the heart of the action but don't get the kind of attention they deserve because they are overshadowed by experiences with bigger marketing and advertising budgets.

This week, we're starting with...

Lucky 7: Best Off the Beaten Track Hotels

Eastside Cannery

Located on the far east side of town (hence the name), this sister to the Cannery in North Las Vegas has rooms that are as nice as you'll find in most Strip hotels plus a fun casino, plenty of restaurants, and some local-style entertainment all at prices that are way too cheap for this good of an experience. Read the full review.

El Cortez

About a block off of the Fremont Street Experience is one of the most historic hotels in town, in business for more than 70 years. Recent renovations have made this a much nicer, albiet still simple, place to stay and play. Read the full review.

Green Valley Ranch

A gorgeous retreat on the south side of town that has stunningly luxurious rooms, plenty of good eats, and a relatively low-limit casino. Definitely worth the drive. Read the full review.

JW Marriott

One of the few hotels in town that can truly call themselves a resort, this property a few miles northwest of The Strip is like an oasis with gorgeously landscaped grounds, elegant rooms, and a sense of serenity missing pretty much everywhere else in this city. Read the full review.

The Plaza

Despite its highly visible location at the head of Fremont Street, this place has been ignored for years and for good reason: it had become a dump. But a multi-million dollar renovation, using furnishings and decor that was intended for a multi-billion dollar hotel, have made this one worth putting back on the walking tour of Downtown. Read the full review.

Red Rock Resort

Simply put, this is one of the best hotels in Las Vegas and if it were on The Strip, instead of about 11 miles west of it, it would probably be on everyone's must-visit list. Of course if it weren't way over there, it wouldn't have the stunning views of the city and nearby Red Rock Canyon, so maybe it's just fine where it is. Read the full review.

South Point

Just a few miles south of what is considered the southern end of The Strip is this terrific locals' hotel and casino that hits all the right notes: large, comfortable, well-designed rooms at low costs, plenty of budget gambling, affordable eats, and horses. Yes, horses. Read the full review.

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Vegas4Visitors Weekly Awards

The Score! Award of the Week goes to Score!, the new attraction planned for Luxor that will allow sports fans to act out their fantasies of being a superstar player. No opening date is set yet but it is expected by summer.

The Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves Award of the Week goes to The Venetian and Palazzo's new big sister, the Sands Cotai Central in China, which opened last week. The hotel has 5,800 rooms under the Conrad, Sheraton, and Holiday Inn brand names plus one of the biggest casinos in the world

The What's In a Number Award of the Week goes to Las Vegas, which had a terrific February in terms of visitation and room rates. 6.4% more people came compared to February 2011 and they paid, on average, 10% more than they did last year.

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Shopping Review: Zombie Apocalypse Store

Zombies are big business these days. From "The Walking Dead" to the 2013 Brad Pitt movie "World War Z" to the CDC's own tongue-in-cheek zombie preparedness site, the living dead are all the rage.

But most of that is Hollywood hype. What do you do when the actual Zombie Apocalypse comes along? Luckily, there is a store in Vegas that is designed to help.

The Zombie Apocalypse Store, located just west of The Strip, is really just a survivalist store filled with all manner of things with which you could stock your bunker and ride out whatever calamity happens to befall humanity. Here though, instead of nuclear fallout or communists or whichever political party you happen to disagree with, the threat is the dead rising and coming after your brains.

If you can get over the fact that a lot of the goods are designed to appeal to people with an overdeveloped sense of paranoia - knives, pepper spray, ready-to-eat meal rations, etc. - it is great silly fun. There are posters that help instruct you on the best ways to kill zombies, bumper stickers with pithy little sayings like "Fast Zombies Suck," movies and books, t-shirts, and even zombie shaped shooting targets.

My favorite: a t-shirt featuring an anime style kitty face with x's for eyes and "blood" around its mouth under the heading "Hello, Zombie."

They even have a camouflage style bunker of their own where you can sit and relax while watching a zombie movie, just to pick up some helpful pointers.

Prices are all over the map. Most of the kitschy souvenir type stuff is definitely overpriced but if you are serious about wanting to get some supplies to help you prepare for a more realistic disaster (think bad weather), most of the items are fairly reasonable.

If you're looking for a unique keepsake from your Vegas trip, the Zombie Apocalypse Store has plenty of fun things to take home. And who knows... that "How to Kill a Zombie" manual may just come in handy someday.

Zombie Apocalypse Store
3420 Spring Mountain Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89102
866-784-7882
Mon-Sat 9am-7pm
Sun 9am-5pm
website

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Shopping Review: Rick's Restorations

Fans of the TV show "American Restoration" on the History Channel will know this place immediately. It is the working home of Rick Dale and his colorful crew of restoration experts, who take everything from old Coca-Cola machines to gas pumps to children's toys and beyond and bring them back to life with loving, sometimes obsessive, care.

The cool thing about this store is that not only can you browse through some of the treasures they have reinvigorated but you can take a tour of the facility to see the work areas and even meet the cast of the show. If he's not too busy, Rick himself will even come out, shake hands, sign autographs, and pose for pictures.

In the showroom on the day I visited were some vintage soda machines, a giant surfboard, and some Vegas specific items including a vending machine from El Rancho, the first resort hotel to be built on what would eventually become The Strip.

The tour portion meanders through the facility, where you get to peer through giant windows at the workshops areas as a helpful guide explains the various portions of the process. Time it right and some of the familiar faces from the show may pop their heads out for a quick howdy-do. Kowboy and I bonded over our follicularly challenged pates.

There's also a gift shop with hats, t-shirts, mugs, and more.

You're going to need a big checkbook if you want to actually buy any of the restored items. A small, vintage slot machine sitting on top of a counter was going for nearly $9,000! Not saying it wouldn't be worth it, especially for the amount of work that went into making it all shiny and new looking, but this stuff ain't cheap.

They will also talk to you about any items you might have that you want them to restore. If it's interesting enough, it might actually make it on the show.

The store is located in the Arts District between The Strip and Downtown.

Rick's Restorations
1112 S. Commerce St.
Las Vegas, NV 89102
702-366-7030
website
Mon-Fri 9am-5pm
Sat-Sun 10am-4pm

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Shopping Review: Gold & Silver Pawn Store

There are almost too many pawn stores in Las Vegas to list, but this one is different: it's a star. GS Pawn is the home of Rick Harrison and his family, headliners of the History Channel's "Pawn Stars," a show where people try to get the biggest bucks for the often useless crap they are trying to get someone to buy from them.

The store itself is a pawn emporium, with display cases full of jewelry, coins, knick knacks, and other stuff that people have traded in for cash, presumably that they can use in the casinos down the street. There's also a big souvenir section with t-shirts and other "Pawn Stars" memorabilia. Taken on its own, it's a fine place to search for treasures or trash and perhaps get some money for your grandmother's wedding ring so you can go hit it big on the craps table.

The problem here is that the success of the show has turned this into a tourist attraction. At almost all times of day there is a line to get inside. You heard me: a line! To get into a pawn store! Granted, the line usually moves pretty fast; there were about 40 people waiting on the day I showed up and the average wait time was about 10 minutes so don't be discouraged if you get there and see a bunch of people ahead of you.

But a lot of those people who get in are sorely disappointed because the stars of the show are rarely ever on site anymore. There are simply too many fans for GS Pawn to run as an actual business if the Harrison's are in the house, so they conduct most of their work at another location and let less famous faces run the day to day operations.

If you are a fan of the show and have a few extra minutes, it's probably worth a stop just to say you did. Just don't be expecting to get any autographs.

Gold and Silver Pawn Shop
713 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89101
702-385-7912
website
Daily 9am-9pm

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