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Off the track - The Other Las Vegas

When you head to Las Vegas you expect to see the casinos, the clubs, the bright lights and every type of entertainment imaginable. Heading to Vegas for the 2009 UAW Diamler Chrysler 400 adds NASCAR excitement to an already jam packed weekend adventure. What you can't expect is the what can only be described as "The Vegas Vibe". It's this energy that keeps you up all night, yet remarkably not tired in the morning and ready to take on the day all over again. The shows are amazing. Highly recommend anything Cirque Du Soleil or the new Le Riv at the Wynn. There is always some place to go, see and be seen. But your most memorable Vegas experience could be off the strip and the off the beaten path.

If you have an extra day to spend, take a break from your gambling and NASCAR experience and venture a short 30 minute drive over to Red Rock Canyon (http://www.redrockcanyonlv.org/) Admission $5 per car. First check out the Visitors Center, take a bathroom break, and grab a bottle of water. See if there are any tortoises roaming around in the habitat they have set up outside. Then head out on a 13-mile circle drive to see unbelievable scenery and sights that will stay in your memory a lot longer than your last hand of blackjack. Your first stop should be at Calico. These will be the reddest rocks in the most spectacular setting of the entire drive. Even if you're not up for a hike, park the car in the parking lot that hangs over a cliff and take a step outside to breathe the air and hear something you never hear in Las Vegas... nothing. After all the noise of the NASCAR track and the casino slot machines the quiet will almost sound strange to you. Look closely and you will see rock climbers clinging to the rocks. If you did pack your hiking shoes, head off down into the canyon and find yourself surrounded by huge mountainous red rocks. Be aware that those "Easy" trails are still quite difficult for someone coming from a flat midwest state. Also be reminded that you will have to hike back UP the big hills you just came down. Bring that water bottle with you. If you didn't bring a camera you will be kicking yourself at this point. After Calico, complete the drive through the Canyon and head back out onto the highway toward The Strip.

After all that exploration, you will deserve a stop at the brand new Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa (http://www.redrocklasvegas.com) This cool little casino located in a high end neighborhood of Las Vegas is a neat place to catch a bite to eat or lounge in the many trendy bars. The interior decor is warm and inviting. Venture downstairs to the bar with a club feel to it complete with oversized bed lounge chairs and hip music. Recommended eats include T-bones (steak) and Cabo (southwestern/mexican). The locals say the best BBQ in the area is at Salt Lick BBQ. You don't feel like you're in a casino at Red Rock, rather a trendy club that also has gambling. A great retreat from The Strip.

Other interesting places to travel outside The Strip include the Hoover Dam and Lake Meade. $5 gets you a 4 day pass for Lake Meade. It's an easy and very scenic drive about 40 minutes outside of the Strip. Stop by Boulder City on the way back and eat at Milo's Wine Bar and Sidewalk Cafe right in town for fabulous eats and a lot of wine. They feature over 100 varieties of wine and beers from around the world.

Get Vegas-ed and start planning your NASCAR Las Vegas race trip today with Sports Traveler. Make reservations online at www.sportstraveler.net or call 1-888-654-7755 to speak to a reservation specialist to plan your entire visit from your Vegas show tickets to your off the beaten track adventures.

~ Anbritt


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