A winter trip to Las Vegas is about so much more than gambling. Following are the best reasons to start your vacation here:
1. More non stop, cheap flights are available to Las Vegas from almost anywhere in North America. Canadians, see aircanada.ca and westjet.ca.
2. Cheap car rentals: compared to other cities, car rentals are less expensive by hundreds of dollars per week.
3. J .W. Marriott’s excellent golf packages: Play three top Vegas courses with a free shuttle to each and to the 19th hole on the strip.
4. Best steak house on the planet, The Strip House Restaurant puts all others to shame. Take a few friends to share the 24-layer chocolate cake after downing signature dishes of New York strip served with goose fat potatoes.
5. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area: This 13-mile scenic loop offers great hiking, picnic sites and photo ops at minimal costs, minutes from Vegas.
6. The Neon Boneyard: Check out the vintage neon signs from Las Vegas’s storied past on a guided tour over a 2 acre outdoor city lot.
7. Scenic drive to The Grand Canyon
8. Easy access to Bryce Canyon, Utah and the Red Rock Golf Trail starting in St George, Utah with green fees from $30.00 on beautiful canyon tracks.
9. Two hours puts you into Palm Springs with a slew of colorful 50’s motels to choose from all within walking distance to the downtown strip and the Contemporary Art Museum and adjoining hillside hiking trails.
For the best in desert golf, head to Las Vegas. Las Vegas courses present unique challenges. For starters, you have to be long and straight to carry the desert gullies interspersed with smatterings of dusty green fairway. The under-watered greens are firm and fast sending even the most artful approach shots bouncing off the surface. After watching one too many balls disappear into the rocky rough, I learned it’s best to roll these shots up from the front of the green. As cool, biting winter winds play havoc with high shots, it’s best to golf here in spring. A golf pro offered us putting tips for local courses.
“ If you’re facing the Snow Mountains, then you’re putting uphill and if it’s the Strip you see then it’s a downhill putt, but faster than most downhills.”
Nowhere would this point prove truer than on the neighbouring TPC Las Vegas course where greens are not over seeded and water is scarcer. Green fees are steeper too on this Audubon certified course, topping out at $175 a round, the price of playing in the footsteps of the greats who last graced the course in 2007. A well stocked pro shop, attractive clubhouse and attentive service almost make up for the lack of GPS carts.
A great place for a Vegas golf getaway is the JW Marriott Resort and Spa in Summerlin, 20 minutes west of the Strip. The resort offers free shuttle service to three area courses that are surprisingly varied as well as a free shuttle to the Las Vegas Strip – perfect for fans of the 19th hole. For those seeking a true car free experience, airport pick up can be arranged.
Across the road from the JW Marriot, the ever popular Angel Park features three Arnold Palmer designed tracks and a real grass putting course. Summer golfers will love the “Cloud Nine” that’s lit up until 11 p.m. to take advantage of temperatures that cool to 90 degrees. The attractive bar and outdoor patio offer some of the best food off the Strip and are excellent spots to enjoy the hazy pink and orange twilights.