Eat, drink and play like a native in the rehabilitated heart of Nevada’s most notorious city.
When hacking through the human jungle that is the Las Vegas Strip, one encounters the expected nightlife wildlife: Gamblers, gam-flashing girls, and wannabe wise guys, oh my! Perhaps the only thing more abundant in “Sin City” than stereotypes is neon. But Las Vegas locals will tell you that what happens in Vegas... doesn’t really always happen in Vegas. “My life is not The Hangover,” one born-and-raised native told us. “I don’t get drunk and gamble every weekend, I don’t have a tiger in my bathroom or a naked man in my trunk. And I’m sick of hearing ‘Viva Las Vegas.’”
Go for the Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival. Stay for everything else.
The dignified, well-spoken culinary professionals addressing us from the stage appear ready to stab each other to death with their lemongrass lamb shanks. Such is the level of passion – and, perhaps, self-importance – at the Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival.
In my former life as a childless spendthrift, I had a pretty messy festival habit. Rock festivals, food festivals, craft beer festivals, counterculture art confabs in the Nevada desert – I did them all, from California to North Carolina. And on a reporter's salary, no less. Thank you, Chase Visa.
Straddling two states, Lake Tahoe offers slope-carving fun – and then some.
Viewed from its snow-covered shoreline on a winter day, Lake Tahoe is a thing of brooding beauty. The massive lake – which straddles the California-Nevada border and covers 191 square miles, roughly the surface area of Scottsdale – slumbers under a silent curtain of snowfall. Mountains rise up on every side, offering a tantalizing spread of skiing and snowboarding options. It's stunning.
The “work hard, play hard” philosophy is easier to maintain when you can put a healthy distance between the two. From cannon fights and haunted happy hours to woolly mammoth kill sites and wintertime snowball fights, we’ve got a year’s worth of ways to make Arizona your playground – plus over-the-border escapes for every season.
Hunt for treasure in southern Arizona’s quirky mining hamlet.
“You’ll love Bisbee – it’s really funky.” That’s what my friend and I kept hearing as we planned our weekend sojourn to the former mining boom town nestled in the mile-high Mule Mountains, a little more than 200 miles south of Phoenix. That, and: “Watch out for bikers.” A funky little biker haven? We threw on our jackets and set out to discover this jewel for the first time.
While Bisbee’s eccentric reputation is well-earned – where else can you find a hearse-run ghost tour, a playground that used to be a cemetery and a spa that was once a jailhouse? – its edges are not as rough as most think. Instead, its multicolored buildings of time-traveling architectural styles line winding, sloping streets that lend a cozy, European sophistication to the eccentric mishmash of hippie, family, retiree, biker and hipster types populating them. Cross a twee Swiss village with an artist commune, add a sprinkle of Mayberry, and you get Bisbee.
Adventures await – by air, land and lake – at “Arizona’s playground.”
Lake Havasu City’s new slogan, “Play like you mean it,” should include the disclaimer “results may vary.” That’s because the definition of “play” varies so wildly in this still-young river town, where well-heeled winter visitors and relocated retirees split the seasons with craft-beer-swilling spring breakers and boating enthusiasts. The dual-purpose vibe has proven a boon for Havasu, established in 1963 by a chainsaw maker named Robert McCulloch, who bought the London Bridge from the City of London for $2.5 million in 1968, reportedly outbidding actor Red Skelton. The reassembled bridge (now spanning the waters of Lake Havasu) has been a major tourist attraction since opening in 1971, along with the Parker Dam-created Lake Havasu reservoir and its glut of gorgeous coves.