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LasVegas

Sometimes I need a retreat from life’s worries, so I indulge in mini-sabbaticals often. I’ll pack an overnight duffel-bag and jet to a metropolis, beach or foreign locale. I prefer to spend these extended weekends in cities with pizzazz and culture, so I couldn’t resist when my aunt invited me to Las Vegas to celebrate her 40 birthday.

We would immerse in Vegas-culture for three days. I was determined to see as much of the city as I could within that time-frame. I’d visited Las Vegas in December 2012, but I didn’t explore much. This time was different.

We were exhausted when we left Las Vegas. We’d reconnoitered as much as the strip as we could and left with no complaints.

Considering a whirlwind weekend in Sin City? Here’s a mini-guide to enjoying the city.

You’ve got to live. Several hotels participate in M-Life, an incentive-based program that rewards users for gambling, shopping and traveling. You can connect the M-Life program to select retailers and brands, including Southwest Airlines, Avis Budget Group and Royal Caribbean International. More rewards are given as more points are accumulated. We stayed in a MGM Grand suite for free, but there are numerous hotels to choose from. Other participating hotels include Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Luxor and New York-New York.

 You’ve got to eat. The Las Vegas strip is lined with eateries, restaurants and buffets. Most of the food is overpriced, but there are several cheaper locales. There’s Pink’s, PF Changs, the Rainbow Café, Planet Hollywood, the Hard Rock Café, IHOP, Denny’s and even McDonalds. Most of the hotels also have buffets as well.

You’ve got to shop. Malls, malls and more malls line the Las Vegas strip and the outskirts. Most of the hotels, including the Palazzo/Venetian, have higher-end retailers like Christian Louboutin, but a mall on the outskirts of the Vegas strip offers everything from Lane Bryant to independent jewelry dealers.

You’ve got to be entertained. Isn’t that what Las Vegas is all about? We visited the Mandalay Bay shark reef and Madame Tussaud’s wax museum and we attended a Cirque du Soleil show. There are hundreds of nightly shows and tons of things to indulge in. You will be entertained. Las Vegas is also riddled with clubs, bars and lounges, but we avoided those.

You’ve got to drink. No vacation is complete without alcohol. Most Las Vegas casinos offer free cocktails to gamblers, but there are cheap alternatives for those avoiding the slot machines. We invested in Fat Tuesday’s Yard Dog cups. The daiquiri-bar serves frozen mixes for $10-to-$15. Fat Tuesday’s also refills all cups for a cheap price. Flavors range from Pina Colada to Long Island Iced Tea and bartenders can mix two-or-more flavors together. Best of all, Las Vegas has no outdoor-container laws, so it’s legal to drink while sightseeing.

Las Vegas offers it all: Entertainment, luxury and alcohol. I left with a yearning to visit again.

Chime in Clutchettes and gents. Have you been to Las Vegas? What did you do while you were there? What would you add to this list?

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