Monthly Archives: May 2012

Water Country USA Opening Day

May 19th Water Country USA will be opening its gates once again for a summer of slippery slides and wet rides. The mid-Atlantic’s largest water park, Water Country USA, has developed several water rides and attractions that follow a fun and funky 1950s and 60s surf theme. While the state-of-the-art rides are the main attraction, summer entertainment, dining and onsite shopping venues are also worth a try.

The newest addition to the Water Country USA’s long list of thrill slides is the Vanish Point. Inspired by a wave’s ability to create a crest that exemplifies a partnership between gravity and water, the summit has two separate tunnels for the park’s many guests. After climbing the 75-foot tower, guests will enter a “skybox,” which is basically a clear, vertical tunnel. Before they can get settled in, the floor drops from beneath their feet and they plunge down a 300-foot speed slide.

There are also several family rides available, like the Aquazoid and Super Duck. These two family raft rides take guests along 864 feet of thrilling plunges and under five super-soaking water curtains, all at 20 feet per second. The ride ends with a unique underground finale. Big Daddy Falls is another family adventure that features waterfalls, caves and cannon blasters on a 670-foot long ride. For a friendly competition, check out the Nitro Racer, where you can actually race to the finish of the super-speed slide.

Take the kids to any of the park’s interactive water areas, like Cow-A-Bunga, where water slides, falls, fountains, water cannons and a bubble area are available. There’s also H20 UFO, the park’s largest play area that features slides, spray jets, waterfalls and a ride that children and parents can enjoy together. For the littlest member of the family, the Kritter Koral has scaled-down water sides, play equipment and fountains.

For lodging options within two miles try the Quality Inn at Kingsmill, which has a heated indoor pool, an outdoor pool and a complimentary hot breakfast. The Crowne Plaza Williamsburg at Fort Magruder is also quite close and is only .8 miles from Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The Crowne features a heated indoor pool, an outdoor pool, hot tub and free wi-fi.

Whatever your reason for visiting Williamsburg this summer, be sure to check out the new rides and awesome oldies at Water Country USA.

The History Behind Nashville: More Than Just Music City

Nashville is known as “Music City,” but there is so much more to the area than the sounds of country. The rich history that has taken place in Nashville is both incredible and intriguing. There are a variety of ways you can experience the story behind the city – before it became all about the music. Escape to the simpler days and stroll through beautiful magnolia trees and magnificent estates. Walk through the home of President Andrew Jackson. Get an in-depth look into the Civil War and 19th century Tennessee. When you take a tour into the city’s past, you won’t only get a history lesson, you’ll get to experience the life of the past for yourself.

The Belle Meade Plantation Tour will take you through the plantation from 1853, belonging to the Harding family. This antebellum mansion has been restored and has been kept to the true style of its original owners. When you walk through the landscapes and the hallways of this great estate, you will be transferred back into a time of horse-drawn carriages, stables, log cabins, blacksmiths and more. The Harding family’s stables were known for the quality breeding of thoroughbred horses, including ancestors to famous horses such as Secretariat, Seabiscuit, Smarty Jones and more. When you visit the plantation between now and October, you may also get the chance to participate in “Living History” demonstrations in the 1790s log cabin, including dancing, storytelling, arts and crafts and more. This tour takes you on a journey through time, allowing you the opportunity to experience the life of the past, the beauty of the mansion and the elegance of antebellum South for yourself.

If you are a history buff, then The Hermitage, Home of President Andrew Jackson tour is probably the tour option for you. You will have the chance to explore the mansion of one of America’s earliest presidents, through his stables, several outbuildings, log farmhouse and the garden that serves as the final resting place of the president and his wife. You will get to travel back in time to the early 1800s, and learn how the couple’s property grew from a modest log farmhouse into the elaborate mansion. Learn how Jackson thrived in the field of farming, while also engaging in his military and political careers. Travel with your guide through the stables Jackson added to the estate to compliment his love for racing, and through the garden he made for his wife, where the two now rest. This tour will give you an in-depth look into the life of the former president.

Or, you can take the Civil War Tour: The Battle of Franklin tour and get more insight into the history of the city. You will have the chance to walk along the famed Franklin battlefield, where over 9,500 soldiers gave their lives in just five hours. Be taken back to the time of the war and feel the tug on your heartstrings as you hear the tales of the families caught in the middle of the battle. As you walk along the battleground and hear the stories of the soldiers who fought for their lives on these grounds, you will have the chance to learn more about the incredible history of the war. You will then get the chance to spend some time at the Carter House and learn how the modest farmhouse became ground zero, as well as travel through the city of Franklin on your own. Even more awaits you on this incomparable tour experience.

Finally, the Historic Tennessee Tour will take you on a combination of both the Belle Meade Mansion and The Hermitage. If you want to experience both of the plantations, this tour will be the perfect option for you. You will also have the opportunity to delve into the rich history and culture of the city, including tales of the Civil War, legendary horse racing, plantation life and more. You will start at The Hermitage, then make your way to the Belle Meade Mansion. At the end of the Belle Meade portion of the tour, you will make your way to the “Winery at Belle Meade,” where you will have the chance to enjoy a wine tasting.

When visiting Nashville for these incredible tours, stay close to all of the action when you book a room at a hotel in Opryland. The Radisson Hotel at Opryland, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Opryland and the Guesthouse Inn & Suites Music Valley are all within a half-mile of both the Historic Tennessee Tour and the Civil War Tour. Or, Hampton Inn & Suites Nashville-Green Hills is under five miles from the Belle Plantation Tour. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience the rich history of the city of Nashville. There’s more than just music to explore in the area.

Grand Ole Opry Performances for Thursday, May 10 to Saturday, May 12

If you are planning on visiting the Grand Ole Opry this weekend, you’re in luck, because the following three days are packed with exciting classic and contemporary music stars. It’s getting close to the next Opry Country Classics concert event at the Ryman Auditorium tomorrow evening, but don’t worry if you are a classic country-lover and miss that performance, because Friday’s lineup is full of some of your other favorite classic artists. But if you are more of a contemporary country fan, Saturday night’s event is for you. This weekend, the Grand Ole Opry is prepared to please every country music fan.

On Thursday evening, the Ryman Auditorium is presenting their Opry Country Classics. When you visit the national landmark this week, you will be greeted by, of course, host Larry Gatlin and his incredible lineup of stars. Mel Tillis is the spotlight artist, and you’ll be sure to hear your favorites from his fifty years of stardom. Hear the “Good Woman Blues,” “Southern Rain” and “Coca-Cola Cowboy” and be taken back to the good old days of country music. Tillis was awarded the “Songwriter of the Decade” in 1999, and has also received multiple Golden R.O.P.E. Awards. He’ll be joined on stage by Teea Goans, Garyle Singletary and, an image of country music, Loretta Lynn.

But if you missed the country classics, you’ll have the chance to join some of the other biggest names throughout the years on Friday night. The Del McCoury Band, the Charlie Daniels Band, Diamond Rio  and Joe Diffie are scheduled to take the stage, ready to give you the performance of a lifetime. “Del-Heads” will love listening to “Are You Teasing Me,” “Good Man Like Me,” “Dark Hollow” and more, while the sounds of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “Meet in the Middle” and “Born Country” will reach your ears.

Then, on Saturday, contemporary country takes over. Brad Paisley, Love and Theft and, American Idol winners, Carrie Underwood and Scotty McCreery join together with other modern artists in one incredible night. When Carrie Underwood won the hit TV show “American Idol” in 2005, country music fans rejoiced as she was the first country artist to win the show. Six years later, Scotty McCreery became the second contestant to bring the victory to this great genre. Now, both of them are taking the stage together, alongside Entertainer of the Year Brad Paisley, as well as Kristen Kelly, Love and Theft and John, Jonathan & Nathan McEuen.

You do not want to miss seeing these collections of talented artists on stage. Join them this weekend for three nights of incredible performances. While you’re visiting the Grand Ole Opry, stay at one of the hotels located in Opryland to be close to all the excitement. Such theaters include Fairfield Inn & Suites Nashville Opryland, Courtyard by Marriott at Opryland and Comfort Inn Opryland Area. The complete talent lineup is as follows:

May 10 – Opry Country Classics at the Ryman Auditorium

  • Host: Larry Gatlin
  • Spotlight Artist: Mel Tillis
  • Loretta Lynn
  • Teea Goans
  • Garyle Singletary

May 11 – Grand Ole Opry

  • Del McCoury Band
  • Charlie Daniels Band
  • Diamond Rio
  • Joe Diffie

May 12 – Grand Ole Opry

  • John, Jonathan & Nathan McEuen
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Braid Paisley
  • Kristen Kelly
  • Scotty McCreery
  • Love and Theft

…and more!

Money Saving Promotions at Six Flags Fiesta & Enchanted Springs Ranch San Antonio

Vacations are expensive, especially when you want to take the whole family. To make your vacation easier, we’ve put together promotions for two of San Antonio’s top family activities; Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Enchanted Springs Ranch. Spend some time with the whole family in San Antonio now at more affordable prices.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas has several rides and attractions that the whole family can enjoy, and with our special promotional offer, when you buy one ticket you can get the second half price. Enjoy thrilling rides like the Boomerang, a super-coaster that’s nearly 20 stories high with loops and corkscrews that never seem to end…until you’ve done it all backwards! Also try the Superman: Krypton Coaster, which features twists and turns of nerve-shaking steel.

Rides for the younger kids in the family include classics like the Carousel as well as more interesting rides like the bouncing Buckarooz. Ride together on family-friendly rides like the bumper-car Fender Bender or the Scooby-Doo Ghostblasters.

There are also several concerts and live shows going on throughout the park over the summer, so be sure to check out any free events that may be happening during your scheduled visit.

The Enchanted Springs Ranch is a working ranch that stretches 86 acres, with re-enactors in western garb, old saloon-style buildings, unique animals and fun activities. With our promotion, two adults and two children can visit the ranch for one low price. See the fascinating ranch animals, which range from the everyday to the exotic, with horses and longhorn as well as red deer, the red-footed Egyptian geese, wallabies, emus and an Oryx.

The ranch was originally designed as a film and television set and now operates as a family attraction that includes a tractor wagon ride through the Wild Animal Park and a self-guided tour through the Old West Town and Texas History Exhibit. Each exhibit features actors and artisans who demonstrate the trades of the old west. You’ll see a blacksmith, gunsmith and undertaker among other things. You’ll even get to try a few trades for yourself. Be sure to keep an eye out for the ranch’s many shows, like Pistol Packin’ Paula, The Stunt Show and Gunslingers.

Here at Vacations Made Easy we realize that vacationing is not always wallet-friendly. With these helpful promotions, let us send you and your family to one of San Antonio’s top attractions.

Use the Force & Set Sail with LEGOLAND California’s New Attractions

All aboard LEGOLAND in California this summer as the long-awaited Pirate’s Reef attraction sets off on its maiden voyage. Other new additions to the park include an expansion of Star Wars Miniland and a sparkling new award for the LEGOLAND Water Park, which received last year’s Industry Innovation Award.

The Pirate Reef allows guests to battle in true pirate fashion by blasting water cannons at the neighboring ship and passengers. There’s a main splash bridge and a chute that plunges 25 feet down into the water below the battling vessels. Project Designer Lindsay Burroughs thought that the combination of the new LEGOLAND Water Park and Pirate Shores area would be extremely popular with visitors “The biggest things they are going to be excited about is getting to stand onboard a large, life-sized LEGO pirate ship,” said Burroughs. Certainly, guests will be inclined to agree. Each ship is over twenty feet high and forty feet long for a realistic and thrilling water park experience.

The newer Star Wars expansions are now operational having been successfully completed this year. The additions include a never-before-seen galleries made from LEGOS. Each exhibit is modeled after famous scenes from the six Star Wars films as well as the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The entire project took 1.5 million LEGO bricks and is fashioned on a 1:20 scale. The expansion includes an “underwater” scene in Naboo where Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn and Jar Jar Binks are traveling to the city of Theed. See the new Jawa sandcrawler in Tatooine, the Rebels captured in an Ewok net trap on Endor and the 6-foot crystal tower on Christophsis.

You can now meet your favorite characters in 3-foot LEGO form, featuring models of Princess Leia, R2D2, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Anakin, Boba Fett, Chewbacca, Yoda and Darth Maul

Of course, the unique water park will also be open this summer along with its incredibly popular rides. The Build-a-Raft River allows guests to create their own rafts using soft LEGO bricks before they test their construction skills on an 850-foot lazy river. At Imagination Station, guests build their own cityscapes, including bridges and dams, and test them against the water. There’s even a musical fountain where the touch of a hand allows kids to conduct a watery melody.

Located in Carlsbad, lodging options near LEGOLAND include Quality Inn & Suites North Legoland Area and Comfort Inn Near Legoland. Whether you’re a LEGO block construction genius, a water park enthusiast, a scallywag, Jedi or landlubber, there’s sure to be an attraction you’ll love at LEGOLAND California.

South Dakota: More Than Just Mount Rushmore

When you think of South Dakota, an image of four giant presidential heads is probably what first comes to mind. If you are anything like me, you probably don’t expect much else out of a visit to South Dakota. Well, when you visit the northern state this year, you will have the opportunity to get a lot more out of your visit than you ever anticipated. South Dakota is the perfect vacation spot for any history buff, but the activities are enjoyable for anyone. With visits to the National Presidential Wax Museum and Big Thunder Gold Mine, your South Dakota vacation is bound to be one you will remember forever.

Get an in-depth and unique history lesson when you step foot into the National Presidential Wax Museum. Learn how democracy came to be in this great nation as you stroll along the life-size and life-like wax figurines. Some of the biggest names in United States history are stationed within this museum, which accurately represents historical settings. Former president John F. Kennedy and his son John Jr. come to life in one exhibit, while you can observe George W. Bush’s visit to “Ground Zero” after the 9/11 attacks in the next. Go back in time to when the founders signed the Declaration of Independence, and then see artifacts belonging to more recent presidents, including Bill Clinton’s red, white and blue saxophone. This museum presents a more entertaining way to learn about the history of the nation.

While even kids will love the realistic wax figures inside the museum, everyone can enjoy a game of Holy Terror Mini Golf as well. Located at the Wax Museum, Holy Terror is named after the last active gold mine in the city of Keystone, South Dakota. Test out your putt putt skills as you knock your golf ball around boulders, over hills, through the slew of the mine and across the bubbling stream. Getting a “hole in one” will be an exciting and entertaining challenge on this course, even for putt putt “pros.” Take a break after a visit through the museum and stop for a “Holy Terror” game of miniature golf before you hit the sights again.

If the idea of gold mining interested you on the golf course, try your hand at the excavation yourself. At Big Thunder Gold Mine, you will have the opportunity to pan for gold in a stream. First, take a tour of the area and learn how the miners struck gold in the glory days of the mine. Then, take the time to do it yourself. Big Thunder Gold Mine was built in 1895, and was running up until 1914. In 1913, its biggest load ever created the slope room. In more recent times, the mine has generated more interest as the possibility grows of another vein of ore. Experience the history for yourself – you may even find some gold of your own!

When you are visiting the area, some of the hotels you may want to look into include Best Western Four Presidents Lodge, which is within two miles of all the above-listed activities, or Best Western Golden Spike Inn & Suites, which offers incredible amenities during your stay and is still within a short distance of all the historical attractions.

A visit to South Dakota can’t be complete without a tour of Mount Rushmore, but it shouldn’t only be about the national landmark. South Dakota is rich with culture and history, and now you have the perfect opportunity to explore it all.

Memphis’ Top Attractions Made Easy

Courtesy of the Tourism Cares and the Tourism Cares / Globus American “American Icons” Program, visitors to the Rock ‘n Soul Museum can now get a free ride to other popular Memphis attractions. First visit the Rock ‘n Soul Museum, then take the shuttle to Heartbreak Hotel, Graceland and Sun Studios. The shuttle leaves every hour at the half hour each day from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm.

The Rock ‘n Soul Museum’s exhibition was created by the Smithsonian Institution and tells the stories of Memphis’ musical pioneers. From the very beginning of soul and rock ‘n roll, the musical journey begins in the 1930s and continues to present-day. It details the rise of Sun, Stax and Hi records as well as Memphis’ rise to musical significance in the 70s. The tour is self-paced and is accompanied by an audio guide, which features over 300 minutes of informative audio and over 100 musical pieces. Each of the seven galleries contains several artifacts, instruments and costumes. There are even 3 audio visual programs for a more interactive experience.

When you head over to Graceland, be sure that you have your pre-purchased tickets handy. Enjoy the Graceland Platinum Tour, which includes an audio-guided tour of Graceland Mansion and the grounds. With a detailed overview of the mansion and family memories provided by Lisa Marie, the audio lets you see a more personal side of the vast estate. You’ll even here commentary from Elvis himself! The tour will take you through eight rooms, the “jungle” den and the trophy building as well as Elvis’ final resting place.

If you’re interested in seeing The King’s toys, take the Self-Guided Tour, where you’ll see Elvis’ two custom airplanes, the automobile museum, memorabilia museum and several special exhibits.

Be sure to add the Sun Studio Guided Tour to your itinerary so that you can explore the roots of musical legends like Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. There, you’ll see rare memorabilia and hear the little-known tales of the stars that once walked the halls. The only recording studio to be named a National Historic Landmark, Sun Studio displays artifacts like Elvis Presley’s microphone from the recording of his first song, “That’s All Right.”

Once the home of Elvis, the Heartbreak Hotel is both a piece of history and an excellent place to stay. The décor is reminiscent of Elvis’ rather extravagant tastes, with animal print carpet and purple velvet couches paired with the sheen of red leather. The hotel’s amenities are modern with an Elvis twist, featuring an outdoor pool shaped as a heart and a “Jungle Room” lounge.

Have a full rock ‘n roll experience in Memphis with the convenience of easy transportation. Travel to the Rock ‘n Roll museum and learn about the rise of late legends, visit Graceland where Elvis lived and Sun Studio where he worked, then head back to your hotel and relax in true Elvis style.

A Weekend at the Met

There’s always something going on at the Met and the second weekend in May is no exception. This coming weekend features lectures and panels, “Talks and Tours” segments and free family programs that will both inspire and educate. A visit to the Metropolitan Museum is a must for any New York City adventure, and with these fun activities and educational tours you can experience something extremely unique each time you visit.

Michelangelo is one of the most well-known figures of the renaissance era. Now on loan from the French Republic to the Metropolitan Museum, his fragmentary marble statue, Young Archer will be studied in-depth during this symposium. Topics discussed will include not only the statue but also the cultural, religious and socioeconomic forces at work in Florence during the Renaissance era. The Saturday event begins at 10:00 am on the 19th and continues throughout the day with various lectures concerning Michelangelo, his work and his time. The lectures are free with museum admission.

The museum also does several “Talk and Tours” that help guests get acquainted with certain areas and artifacts. One such tour, the Museum Highlights, takes visitors to all of the best spots in the museum, introducing paintings, sculpture and other arts that are nothing short of extraordinary. Other tours are specifically themed, like the Spring, Courtship and Medieval Youth Culture Tour which runs from 12:00-1:00 pm on the 19th. Many tours will be going on throughout the day, like Arts of the Islamic World at 1:45 and Arts and Armor at 2:00. All of these tours are free with admission to the museum.

On the 20th from 11:00 am-12:00 pm the family program “Starts with Art at the Met” begins. There, families with children ages 3-7 can sketch together, explore various areas of the museum and hear the stories of art cultures past and present. At the same time a different family adventure will be taking place in the Carson Family Hall, where families with children ages 5-12 will be exploring different areas of the globe through art. All of the family programs are also free with admission, though space is limited.

If you’ve decided to stay close to the Met for your New York weekend, try The Sheraton Manhattan – Times Square Area or the Hotel Carter Times Square Area, both of which are within a two mile radius. For a more scenic stay, book the Comfort Inn Central Park West, which is only a mile from the Met and is within walking distance of Central Park. If you’re interested in staying in New York a bit longer, check out some of the area’s top activities.

Wherever you go in New York a rich sense of culture commingles with the sounds of the busy streets. Nowhere do they celebrate the culture of New York better than at the Metropolitan Museum, where the past and present come together in a colorful artistic display.

The Best of Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg is full of incredible sights, from the beautiful and powerful Smoky Mountains all the way to the exciting attractions. The city has something for everyone; whether you are interested in taking in the essence of nature, or just want to have some fun, the city is the perfect place to plan your vacation. With unique ways to tour the city’s finest sights – both natural and architectural, and some of the most interesting museums, theaters and shows, Gatlinburg, Tennessee is the place to go. The list that follows suggests five of the best activities in the city, so you can be sure to get the most out of your vacation.

5. Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre
From the moment the show starts at the Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre, you will have a smile on your face. The cast will take you on a journey back into the 1890s, where slapstick comedy and witty performances took the stage. You’ll be presented with an American vaudeville performance unlike any other you’ve experienced before. Currently, there are two shows being presented: “The Incredible Adventures of Mary Bright” and “Out on a Whim!” “The Incredible Adventures of Mary Bright” is styled as an 1890s melodrama. The musical comedy will have you laughing from beginning to end. Or, after you see “Out on a Whim!” you won’t be able to find the perfect adjective to sum up the show in just one word. It is silly, charming, unlikely, curious, unbelievable and spectacular. The Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre always brings a good time from beginning to end.

4. The Hard Rock Cafe
The familiar sound of a rumbling stomach is bound to reach your ears at some point during all of the activities. When that happens, the best thing you can do is make a visit to the Hard Rock Cafe. You can still soak in all of the excitement in Gatlinburg, while enjoying a delicious meal. Fans of music love this restaurant, and you will see why from the moment you step onto the premises. Right at the front of the building, a giant guitar stands tall as a beacon to welcome guests into the restaurant. Inside, the musical atmosphere strengthens. Sit among the harmonica Tom Petty used during the “Wildflowers” tour and the red suit that Buck Owens wore at Carnegie Hall. Then, while you are soaking up all the memories of classic music, enjoy the classic meals of cheeseburgers, pork sandwiches and, of course, french fries. The Hard Rock Cafe provides the best place to take a break when you’re not quite ready for the fun to stop.

3. Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tram
When you’re ready to hit the sights again, the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tram will take you on an incredible journey unlike any other throughout the city. This scenic adventure takes you from downtown Gatlinburg to the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort & Amusement Park in a suspended cable car. The Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort & Amusement Park is located on a mountaintop, high above the Gatlinburg area. It is filled with fun and exciting activities for the whole family, from ice skating to the Wildlife Encounter. The Aerial Tramway will give you a convenient way to visit the park, and to see the sights. The route of the car will take you over incredible scenes, from the architecture of downtown Gatlinburg to the beauty of the nature on top of the Smoky Mountains.

2. The Gatlinburg Sky Lift
Not quite done with the sights? The Gatlinburg Sky Lift gives you the best sights of the city and the surrounding nature. You will find unparalleled views of the Smoky Mountains, Little Pigeon River and downtown Gatlinburg from heights above the trees. You’ll start with downtown, then climb higher into the mountains to see the trees, flowers and river. A peaceful ride awaits you through some of Mother Nature’s greatest and most beautiful gifts. Your vantage point will give you the chance to truly experience the wonders of the city. It is a great family activity, or is perfect for a romantic date for two. Sit back and let the sky lift take you through the city on a tranquil ride.

1. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Ripley’s name is known across the country for being associated with peculiar things. Well, when you step foot into Ripley’s Aquarium, you won’t find a shortage of exciting, vibrant and unique sights. The exhibits in the aquarium include the Tropical Rain Forest, the Ocean Realm, the Coral Reef, Shark Lagoon, Gallery of the Seas, the Sting Ray Bay and more. Each of these exhibits is home to some of the strangest beings found under the sea. Stare face to face with a shark, watch a jellyfish float throughout the water with their long tentacles flowing behind them, then crawl through underwater tunnels to see the penguins play underneath the surface all around you. There is always much to do and much to see at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and it always provides you with endless entertainment.

Don’t miss out on a beat when you visit Gatlinburg this year. Summer is coming just around the corner, and you won’t want to miss any of the incredible sights the season will bring. See all that nature has to offer in this beautiful city, then head out to some of the indoor attractions to experience the best of the area. When you are staying in Gatlinburg, book a room at hotel nearby all of the excitement. Econo Lodge Inn & Suites, Westgate Smoky Mountain Hotel and Best Western Zoder’s Inn are just a few of the hotels located within a half-mile of these exciting attractions.

The Best Places to Eat in Vegas

Sin City has a lot of sinful things; booze, gambling, ladies in skimpy outfits and a constant haze of cigarette smoke, but Sin City’s lesser-known crime is that the food there is sinfully delicious. We’ve put together some of the best casual dining restaurants in Vegas to make your vacation a whole lot simpler.

The Hard Rock Café

 The Hard Rock Café of Las Vegas is marked by a distinct 84-foot neon guitar, embodying the casual, comfortable and rock ‘n roll spirit of the American café classic. While you eat, check out the Tower of Power, a tower that runs up the center of the building and features tons of LCD monitors. As per usual, this Hard Rock also has several guitar displays, an Elvis Wall and museum-worthy rock memorabilia. Among these rock artifacts is a cape once worn by Jimi Hendrix, Kiss Costumes from the Psycho Circus tour and handwritten letters from The Beatles.

The food is a legend all its own, with great classics like Hard Rock nachos and hickory smoked chicken wings to start with. Of course, you can’t forget the Legendary 10oz Burger, which is topped with seasoned bacon, two slices of cheddar cheese, a fried onion ring and other legendary toppings. The adventurous should try the Local Legendary, which is different at each Hard Rock location.

 Planet Hollywood

 

Planet Hollywood is known for its strange and dramatic take on classic American foods and in Sin City the more dramatic, the better. Appetizers at this tasty hot spot include the World Famous Chicken Crunch, which comes in a glass full of cheese with mustard dipping sauce. There are also several creative and masterful burgers available like the Celebrity Chili Cheese, which is topped with fresh mmade chili and the Double Down, a combination of a 14 oz double-patty, swiss, sautéed mushrooms, onions, bacon, barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese all on one enormous burger. There are also several pasta and steak options to choose from.

 To top it all off, try one of Planet Hollywood’s delectable dessert creations, like the Cool Planet Double Chocolate Brownie, homemade carrot cake and banana fosters cheesecake.

 Las Vegas Meal Ticket

 If you’re having trouble deciding which mouth-watering delight you’d like cozy up to, you should consider the Las Vegas Meal ticket. Choose from seven of Vegas’ most popular restaurants without worrying about your budget. This includes a meal at Planet Hollywood and Cheeseburger Las Vegas as well as some more exotic options like La Salsa Cantina, the Spice Market Buffet, and Pampas Brazilian Grill. Click here for details.

 Perhaps the most intriguing of these exotic options is the Spice Market Buffet. For those of you who like your meals all-you-can-eat style, the Spice Market Buffet serves up flavors from all over the world, from Mexico, Italy, Asia and the Middle East to country-fried American. There’s also a delicious dessert section that you can’t help but migrate to after your more-than-filling meal. This buffet was even voted #1 in Vegas, so be sure to go back for seconds.

 

When you crawl out of that casino and into the crowded, neon-lit streets of Vegas, you’ll be happy you thought to get a meal ticket ahead of time. Book your hotel ahead of time too with  any of the gorgeous lodging options available, like The Stratosphere, which has phenomenal views of the city. You could even stay at the Hard Rock Café Casino & Resort or the Planet Hollywood Resort for even easier access to these great mealtime options.