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Over the last 20 years, Sin City has become a prime destination for major touring acts. U2, Jimmy Buffett and the Dave Matthews Band are just a few biggies who have played Las Vegas, but then again, they also play just about every other big city. The whole point of traveling is to experience something that you can't get near home, right? That's why we recommend seeing some truly glitzy, unabashedly over-the-top and oh-so-Vegas productions
TOP ATTRACTIONS: The glitziest production on the Strip may well be Cher's ongoing residency, which has just entered its second year at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace; http://www.cherlasvegas.net, 866-510-2437. Also recommended is Barry Manilow's run at the Paris Las Vegas; http://www.parislasvegas.com, 866-462-5982. Manilow doesn't have Cher's sense of pizazz (or her abundant wardrobe), but he does boast such fine sing-a-longs as "Mandy" and "Can't Smile Without You." Also, the new Cirque du Soleil show "Viva Elvis" at the beautiful Aria hotel (www.cirquedusoleil.com, 877-25-ELVIS) is nearly as good as the company's Beatles tribute "Love" at the Mirage (800-963-9634). Those traveling with kids should try the "Lion King" at Mandalay Bay (www.mandalaybay.com, 877-632-7400), since it does feature music by Elton John.
WHEN TO GO: Avoid Fridays and Saturdays — Vegas' busiest time — and you can save a bundle of dough. Hotel rooms, even at the swankiest spots, are sharply discounted midweek. Just be sure to check your performance schedule before booking a room.
WHERE TO EAT: Seemingly every hotel here has two or three restaurants worth trying. For one of the most elaborate (and pricey) meals imaginable, make a reservation at legendary French chef Joel Robuchon's self-named restaurant at the MGM Grand; http://www.mgmgrand.com, 702-891-7925. For a more casual dining experience, we recommend the small plates at Spanish chef Julian Serrano's eponymous establishment at Aria; http://www.arialasvegas.com, 877-230-2742. And Vegas is a buffet town, and one of our favorite all-you-can-eat spots is Le Village Buffet at the Paris; http://www.parislasvegas.com, 702-946-7000.
WHERE TO STAY: The Hard Rock Hotel (www.hardrockhotel.com, 800-693-7625) might seem like a good base for your musical vacation, but it's too far off the Strip for our money. Instead, we like the comfy Paris (877-796-2093, http://www.parislasvegas.com), which puts visitors right in the middle of the action.
(Above: The Strip.)
January 12, 2008