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Shark Reef
Darrin Bush - Las Vegas News Bureau

Shark Reef

Best of the City: Out and about

Desert Companion

BFF's | Eat and drink | Mind and body | Out and about | Shops and services Readers poll | Good better best | Bonus: Food and drink | Bonus: Mind and body  Bonus: Out and about | Bonus: Shops and services

PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC

Best Music Venue

Brooklyn Bowl

Anyone who’s visited their local bowling alley has probably thought, “This place deserves world-class entertainment and a gourmet restaurant.” No? Well, luckily, someone did. The venue’s 2,000-person capacity allows it to attract top-tier talent at an affordable ticket price and still maintain a feeling of intimacy, all with the best sonics in the city. And bowling. The Linq, 702-862-2695, vegas.brooklynbowl.com Chris Bitonti

 

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Best DJ for People Who Hate DJs

Professor Rex Dart, Bargain DJ Collective

Tired of the fist-pumping-oonse-jockeys of the megaclub scene? Spend an evening with Professor Rex Dart as he spins nontraditional grooves. With sets that pull from punk, funk, soul and beyond, Rex has the beats to cure DJ burnout. Check out weekly gigs at The Double Down Saloon and Artifice. CB

 

Best Local Band that Might Actually Make It

Rusty Maples

It will be tough for local indie-rock outfit Rusty Maples to top the success they experienced in 2014 — highlights included releasing The Western World EP, landing an opening spot on tour with Chuck Ragan and having a song featured on NBC’s Nashville. But if they do, we just might have to nix the “local” part. CB


LET’S SEE A SHOW

Olivia Newton-JohnBest Old-School Vegas Show

Olivia Newton-John

With due respect to Steve Wynn’s ShowStoppers (which is old-school with a vengeance), we bow to showbiz survivor Newton-John, performing at the Flamingo. Sure, 30 years ago it was fashionable to sneer at her and the single-entendre lyrics of “Physical.” But Newton-John’s a gutsy, charming performer not just living on memories. And when the whole audience sings along to “Summer Nights,” she’s having the last laugh. David McKee

 

Best Comedy Show

Matt and Mattingly’s Bucket Show

Matt Donnelly types a screenplay on a laptop at a Starbucks in ancient Egypt. Paul Mattingly has a look. “Hmm,” he says. “River, boat, wavy line, bird. I’d like to talk to you about a contract!” Ever wonder what Wayne Brady would be like if he were two pudgy white guys and much, much funnier? Matt (co-host of the Penn’s Sunday School podcast) and Mattingly (late of Second City Las Vegas) improv the crap out of audience suggestions every Wednesday night. The Scullery, 150 Las Vegas Blvd. N., mattandmattingly.com Corey Levitan

 

Best Performer

Randal Keith

He’s starring in Steve Wynn’s ShowStoppers, but it’s Keith himself who’s the showstopper — he made an unforgettable run as Jean Valjean in Lés Miserables, on Broadway and in the national tour, was part of the Las Vegas run of Spamalot and is one of only a handful of singers who has played all three major roles in Phantom of the Opera. The Wynn, 702-770-9966, wynnlasvegas.com/showstoppers Jennifer Prosser
 

Best Adapted Broadway
MusicalMillion Dollar Quartet

We love it all: the story that lets us in on the history of music’s biggest legends, the camaraderie (and good-natured ribbing) of said stars trying to outshine each other, the super set, the glamorous costumes and the music that makes us want to get up and dance all night long. Perfect from start to finish. Harrah’s Las Vegas, 702-853-5950, harrahslasvegas.com JP

 

CULTURE — HIGH, MIDDLE AND LOW

Best Intelligentsia Hangout

The Writer’s Block

Books! Other books! Completely different but equally compelling books! Also, quirky décor, cool gifts and a literacy-project space in the rear. You can see why the intelligentsia digs this new Downtown book shop. It’s also obviously a good place to find the literati, and, what the hell, even the cognoscenti can come, those jerks. Anyone who values intelligence is welcome. 1020 Fremont St., 702-550-6399, thewritersblock.org Scott Dickensheets

 

Best Art Space

P3 at The Cosmopolitan

Here, you don’t just gaze subserviently at the art — you help make it, supplying the resident artist with some bit of material or action that accrues, visitor by visitor, toward his or her finished piece. Thus, visitors to Justin Favela’s exhibit drew their impressions of Mexico, from which he then fashioned piñatas. Going beyond simple interactivity, this collaborative space brings you inside the creative process. Makes for a great place to see our most venturesome local artists. The Cosmopolitan, 702-698-7000, cosmopolitanlasvegas.com SD

 

Best Movie Theater

Regal Cinemas Village Square Stadium 18

Hollywood refugees pining for movie houses like the New Beverly, Nuart and Regent are out of luck in Las Vegas. We do, however, have Village Square, where interesting, independent films may not be playing on every screen all the time, but do, at least, regularly occupy a healthy percentage of the screens. 9400 W. Sahara Ave., 702-838-0490, govillagesquare.com/regal-stadium-18 Heidi Kyser

Beg to differ! At the Galaxy Luxury-Plus, pillowy recliners offer an oasis of comfort and personal space unheard of in the American multiplex — you needn’t unrecline to let people pass. You can take your beer and wine in, too. Note: You must reserve seats ahead of time. 4500 E. Sunset Road, Henderson, 702-442-0244, galaxytheatres.com SD

 

Best Bowling Alley

Red Rock Lanes

Spacious, clean and bright, Red Rock Lanes is a perfect hangout for families. Stop by for cosmic bowling on Friday and Saturday nights, when you can perfect your skills amid glow-in-the-dark lanes and flashing lights. After you roll a game or two, stop by the snack bar and the arcade. 11011 W. Charleston Blvd., 702-797-7467, redrocklanes.com Sarah Vernetti

Beg to differ! Roll for the pins at Brooklyn Bowl, perhaps the best attraction for locals along the Strip. The supercool spot holds 32 Brunswick lanes of 10-pin fun. In addition, it is a killer music venue, has plenty of drink specials and serves amazing fried chicken. It’s a total turkey. The Linq, 702-862-2695,
vegas.brooklynbowl.com Greg Thilmont

 

WHEN CALGON’S NOT ENOUGH TO TAKE YOU AWAY

Best Place in Vegas to Pretend You’re Not in Vegas

Clark County Wetlands Park

When the pressure gets too much, drive to the far eastern end of Tropicana Avenue and lose yourself amidst the greenery of the county’s Wetlands Park. You can easily pretend you’re a world away from Sin City in this oasis, which is home to scores of bird species, dragonflies, even beaver and coyotes. Whether you walk the trails or stand on a platform, watching soft-shelled turtles sun themselves, it’s a therapeutic experience. 7050 E. Wetlands Park Lane, clarkcountynv.gov DM

 

Shark Reef

Best Meditative Space

Shark Reef Aquarium

There is something not only mystical but calming about the languid movements of sea creatures. And Shark Reef takes you deeper and deeper not only into the world of the sea, but into yourself. (Okay, the humping hermit crabs are a tad indiscreet.) Pay particular attention to the slow, serene arabesques of the giant sea turtles. Their undistracted tranquility will put you in a Zen calm that will last all the way home. Mandalay Bay, sharkreef.com DM

 

Best Place to Feel the Complex Weight of History

Warsaw Ghetto Remembrance Garden, Temple Beth Shalom

This small, enclosed garden contains some 250 cobblestones from Warsaw, Poland’s Chlonda Street, part of the Warsaw Ghetto established by the Nazis in 1940. Three years later, a handful of defiant Jewish residents stood up against the Germans; this garden commemorates their bravery. Most of the stones are arrayed in solemn rows on the walls, mute witnesses to historical atrocity, awaiting your attention. Who bled on them, you wonder, and why would people do this to one another? By design, the smallness of the space evokes the entrapment the ghetto’s Jewish population must’ve felt — until you look up and are offered the release of the open sky. Quite moving, whatever your heritage. 10700 Havenwood Lane, arrange tours at 702-804-1333 ext. 100, bethsholomlv.org SD

 

HERE BUT NOT HERE

Best Strip Staycation

The Delano

You’d never know you’re a stone’s throw from a casino. MGM Resorts International has crafted a resort with an expansive, upper-echelon feel. Honest, hearty American fare characterizes Della’s Kitchen, and the Franklin lounge is conducive to relaxation in a hyped-up city. The rooms are expansive, and the beds are so comfortable that we spent more time in our suite than out of it. The Delano, delanolasvegas.com DM

 

Best Off-Strip Staycation

Element

With its eco-friendliness and emphasis on recycling, Westin-branded Element already has much to recommend it. Throw in spectacular views of the Red Rock escarpment, in-room DVD players and kitchens, al fresco grilling stations and exceptionally prompt service, and it’s the perfect home away from home. 10555 Discovery Drive, 702-589-2000 DM

 

Best Place for a Family Staycation

JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa

The lush landscaping and winding pathways will make you feel like you’ve traveled a long way from Las Vegas. Lounge by the resort-style pool, where you can order lunch and drinks from Waterside Grille as the kids splash in the pool’s large waterfall. 221 N. Rampart Blvd., 702-869-7777, marriott.com SV

 

MOM! DAD! WHEN DID YOU GET HERE?!

Best Place to Wow Out-of-Towners

Bazaar Meat

If you have one shot to impress guests, head to the new SLS and let culinary superstar José Andrés razzle-dazzle them with his playful take on fine dining. Unique presentations, tableside theatrics and a something-for-everyone menu provide fun and flavor in equal measure. 2535 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-761-7610, slslasvegas.com/bazaarmeat Debbie Lee

 

Best Place to Shock Visiting Relatives

The Erotic Heritage Museum

The Strip seems pretty tame once you’ve gone a couple of blocks west to the Erotic Heritage Museum, where dildos, bondage gear and graphic sexual art are just the beginning. It has a wedding chapel lined with giant phalluses, to say nothing of a gift shop in which you can buy a souvenir to embarrass the folks back home. 3275 Industrial Road, eroticheritagemuseumlasvegas.com DM

 

Best Place to Show Visitors a Side of Vegas that No One Else Will Show Them

Arts DistrictMain Street

For those seeking alternative options for effortless entertaining, it’s easy to pull together a full day enjoying the Arts District. Start with brewed-to-order coffee and bites at Makers and Finders, then swap your old wardrobe for fresh threads at the recently relocated Buffalo Exchange, or feed your picker urges on antique alley — stops at Patina Decor, Retro Vegas, Amber Joy’s and Desert Buddha are a must. Break to refuel at Rock’N’oodles or Casa Don Juan before capping the day with drinks at Velveteen Rabbit. CB

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