The Jeff Does Vegas Podcast

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My Special Guest - Justin Michael Rodriguez

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If you've found yourself strolling through The Linq on a recent Las Vegas trip, there's a very good chance you've seen my guest for this episode of the podcast performing.

Justin Michael Rodriguez is one of the performers in the show Extreme Live - a very cool, high energy, interactive show at the Linq.

Justin and I chatted about the time he spent growing up in Las Vegas, scoring a lead in the touring production of a major Broadway show, his brush with boy-band fame and his thoughts on the future of entertainment in Vegas.

If you want to keep up with what Justin is up to, you can follow him on Facebook and Instagram.  Also, be sure to follow the Extreme Live Show on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

My Special Guest - Christina Shaw

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One of my favourite things about Las Vegas is the vast array of entertainment options available.  One of the most popular types of shows are the "celebrity impersonator" or "tribute shows" - and my special guest for this episode of the podcast is one of the best in the city!

Christina Shaw has been a professional celebrity impersonator for close to 20 years.  As Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga and a host of other celebs, she's had the opportunity to travel all over the US, Asia and the Caribbean.  Christina has been performing in Las Vegas since 2010 and has had the opportunity to headline on The Strip numerous times, including as a part of the iconic Legends In Concert show.

During our conversation, Christina & I talked about growing up with a very entertainment-centered family, how she got started in the world of celebrity impersonation, some of her early gigs in Las Vegas and the process she follows when working on a new impersonation.

If you want to know more about Christina Shaw you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.  Christina is also available for special greetings as Taylor Swift or Elsa & Anna from Frozen via her Cameo pages!

My Special Guest - Sarah Hester Ross

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My guest for this episode of the podcast is someone I've been trying to connect with for awhile, but up until now our schedules just never clicked.  I'm a HUGE fan of hers and anytime I have a chance to see her perform, I know I'm going to have an awesome time!

Sarah Hester Ross is an incredibly talented musical comedian & singer-songwriter.  And if you've spent time in any of the duelling piano bars on the Vegas strip, there's a good chance you've seen her play.

Sarah & I talked about her musical background & how she made it to Vegas, some of the shows she's been involved with in her time in the city and how she's been building her online presence with the amazing material she's been posting on her various social media channels.

If you want to see what Sarah is working on make sure to follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Tik-Tok.  Also, go subscribe to her YouTube channel and check out her website!

NOTE: I've been made aware of a claim against Sarah Hester Ross surrounding her recording, releasing & monetizing a musical work to which she allegedly did not receive permission or licensing to do so.  The interview for this episode of the podcast was recorded approximately 2 weeks prior to release of this episode and any reference to the allegedly infringed upon musical work has been removed from this episode of the podcast.

John Di Domenco - The Second Term

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It was a little over a year ago that Vegas entertainer & actor, John Di Domenico - who's regarded as the world's best Donald Trump impersonator - invited me to his home to have a conversation for the podcast (check out that interview in Episode #18).  During the course of our chat, John dropped into the conversation that at one time Donald Trump actually thought John had died.  Apparently, I'm not the journalist I thought I was...because I just moved past that and didn't ask any follow-up questions.

Better late than never, I decided to ask John to come back on the show so I could find out the when, how and why the future President of the United States thought John had passed away.

We also got caught up on what John has been up to over the last year including the voiceover work he's been doing as Trump, his opportunity to meet Alec Baldwin, his dive into the world of Cameo and how he's been keeping busy during the COVID-19 shutdown in Las Vegas.

If you want to keep up with what John has going on, follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  And if you'd like one of John's many characters - including Donald Trump, Dr. Evil, Guy Fieri, Dr. Phil and many MANY others - to send a special message to a co-worker, friend or family member be sure to book him on Cameo!

My Special Guests - The Black Donnellys

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I made my first visit to Ri Ra Irish Pub in the Shoppes At Mandalay Bay back in June 2019 and reviewed the experience on Episode #24 of the podcast.  As I described it at the time, everything about Ri Ra was "authentically Irish".  Sitting in this pub in a mall in Las Vegas felt exactly like sitting in the pub in Dublin - and a lot of things helped contribute to that...from the food, to the drinks, to the staff, to the music.

And that's where the people joining me for this episode of the podcast come into play.

My special guests are Dave Rooney and Dave Browne of The Black Donnellys.  They're the resident house band at Ri Ra in Mandalay Bay.

I talked to the guys about growing up in Dublin & the band's origins in Ireland, how and why they made the move to Las Vegas, their various Guinness World Records and their brand new documentary film An Irish Story: This Is My Home.

Of course we also talked about the COVID-19 pandemic and how they've been keeping busy through the Vegas shut-down.

If you want to learn more about Dave & Dave and the Black Donnellys, visit their official website - which includes info on where you can watch An Irish Story: This Is My Home.  Also make sure to follow the band on Instagram and Facebook - where they've been performing live shows.

And if you want to learn more about the tragic real-life story of The "Black" Donnellys - from which the band took their name - check out the website,  Heaven & Hell on Earth - The Massacre of The "Black" Donnellys.   On the site, you can read all about the family, the murders and the aftermath - including the TWO trials that followed - as well as look through archival evidence from the events.

My Special Guests - Makenzie Fly & Colin Cahill aka “Mak and the Cheese”

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My special guests for this episode are Las Vegas entertainers - and married couple - Makenzie Fly & Colin Cahill.

Before COVID-19 shut down Las Vegas, Makenzie was one of the leads in the show, Sex Tips For Straight Women From A Gay Man at the Paris and Colin was a member of the cast in Spiegelworld's newest show, Atomic Saloon at The Venetian.

When they were forced out of their respective gigs by Coronavirus, the pair wanted to keep performing - so they launched Mak and the Cheese.

Makenzie & Colin joined me via Zoom to chat about their life before the shutdown, predictions on what Vegas shows might look like when things re-open and whether or not Mak and the Cheese have a future beyond the pandemic!

Be sure to check out & subscribe to Mak and the Cheese's YouTube Channel and enjoy their music including:

- "You Can't Spell Virus Without Us"

- "Don't Cough on Betty White"

- "The Quarantine 15" (as performed for the Mondays Dark Livestream Telethon)

- And "Spare Me a Roll"

Also, follow Mak and the Cheese on Instagram and Facebook!

Quarantainment

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To say the COVID-19 shutdown in Las Vegas caught people off guard would be a massive understatement.  The complete closure of all non-essential businesses in the state of Nevada has been absolutely devastating to workers in Las Vegas.

One of the hardest-hit sectors is Vegas entertainers.  This group saw their livelihood literally dry up to nothing.  And in addition, a large portion of these workers are self-employed or working under contract, meaning that - until recently - they couldn't even collect unemployment.

Two Las Vegas showgirls saw the direction things were going and made the decision to jump into action.

Devon Alarid and Nina Kane launched The Socially Distant Show, an online show designed to give Vegas entertainers the opportunity to still perform for an audience, even if it meant a virtual one.  They also added a charitable aspect to the show to allow viewers to make donations, which the ladies will distribute to performers who appear.

Devon & Nina joined me from their homes in Las Vegas (via Zoom) to chat about what they were doing before the shutdown, how they heard about the shutdown and what inspired them to launch this program.

To check out The Socially Distant Show, follow them on Instagram and Facebook and be sure to subscribe to their YouTube channel!

My Special Guest - Murray The Magician

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I've had a lot of entertainers as guests on the podcast, but this episode marks the first appearance by a magician on the show!

My special guest is Murray Sawchuck aka Murray The Magician.

Murray has been a long-time headliner in Las Vegas; he currently has a residency at The Laugh Factory at the Tropicana and he recently signed on to be a part of the entertainment with Fantasy at The Luxor.

Murray & I talked about his growing up in British Columbia, when he decided that magic was going to be "his thing", what it's like living and working in Las Vegas, his appearances on TV including "Pawn Stars" & "GLOW" and how he's managed to grow his YouTube channel to almost 2 MILLION subscribers.

Murray was also kind enough to perform a few quick magic tricks for us AND show off his very cool collection of vintage Vegas memorabilia.  Head to the official Jeff Does Vegas YouTube Channel to check out those videos...and more!

If you want to learn more about Murray The Magician head over and check out his website; follow him on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook and be sure to subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

 

Darkest Before The Dawn

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A lot has changed in Las Vegas since I released my last regular episode; Hell, a lot has changed in the 3 weeks since I released the last SPECIAL episode.

As such, I thought it might be a good time to jump back on with a brand new episode to provide some news on what's happening in the city & share some of my predictions of what a re-opening of Las Vegas might look like.  I also wanted to check in with everyone & let you know what's going on in my life, what's happening with my friends living in Vegas, what the future of the podcast looks like and - most importantly - reach out to everyone to find out how all of YOU are doing.

And don't forget: If you need someone to talk to during these difficult and - frankly - weird times, feel free to reach out and send me a direct message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  I'm always here and willing to connect!

Girls Gone Vegas

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I recently had a request from a listener who wanted a few suggestions for planning a "girls vacation" to Las Vegas.  Since I'm a 44 year-old married man who usually travels with Vegas either solo or with my wife, I felt I was drastically unqualified to assist - which is why I reached out to my guests for this episode of the podcast...

MJ & Bree are the hosts of the Keeping It Casual Podcast, a sex-positive dating & relationship advice podcast based in Las Vegas.  Whenever I'd listen to their show, they'd talk about all the cool spots they were hitting in Vegas so I thought they'd be perfect to help me plan out the Ultimate Girls Trip!

We covered all the important stuff - including hotels, restaurants, clubs and spas - plus we covered how to avoid "drama" on a girls trip and how to keep yourself safe in Sin City.

The ladies also hit me with a few questions they like to ask the guests on their podcast, which was an absolute blast!

If you'd like to check out the Keeping It Casual Podcast you can get it wherever you find your favourite podcasts of visit their website - where you can also get info on live appearances & merchandise.  And be sure to connect with both MJ & Bree on social media where you can "slide into their DM's" for Vegas hook-up's:

Follow @MJRadioDiva and @Breemixed on Twitter

My Special Guest - Vin A.

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My special guest for this episode of the podcast is Vin A. of The Bronx Wanderers...

The Bronx Wanderers have been headlining on the Las Vegas Strip for the last 3 years and at the end of 2019, they celebrated their 1000th Vegas show.  Fronted by dad Vinny Adinolfi - a recording industry legend in his own right - the band features sons Nicky & Vin A. as well as several of Vin's high school friends.

Vin and I sat down for a conversation during one of my recent Las Vegas trips.  We chatted about the history of the Bronx Wanderers, what it's like performing & touring with family and what life is like in Vegas.  Vin also took us "behind the curtain" on the topic of producing a show in Las Vegas & also did a great job explaining the high turnover on shows on the Vegas strip.

For information, tickets and showtimes visit The Bronx Wanderers website.  Also, be sure to check out Vin A's podcast "What The Cl#ck?!?".  Check it out on Apple Podcasts OR check out the video version!

The December Trip Report

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Welcome to another world famous Jeff Does Vegas Trip Report featuring a recap of my most recent trip to Las Vegas - my EIGHTH of the year - from December 15-19, 2019.

My wife was along for this trip and this time around, I've got reviews of our stay at Bally's as well as meals at La Pizza e La Pasta in Eataly at Park MGM, Le Thai on Fremont Street, Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace and the legendary Golden Steer Steakhouse.  We were also lucky enough to take in a few shows including Atomic Saloon at the Venetian, Carrot Top at the Luxor and Bronx Wanderers at the Linq.

I've also got thoughts on three major trends happening in Las Vegas and why/how pigeons are better behaved than the tourists.

My Special Guest - Mark Shunock

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My special guest for this episode of the podcast is someone who I've talked about a lot in past episodes of the show; in fact, some of you think I talk about him a bit too much...but I'm hoping that by having him on, you'll understand why I spend so much time talking about him & the events he puts together.

Mark Shunock is the creator & host of Mondays Dark, a twice-monthly charity event that raises $10,000 in 90 minutes for local Las Vegas charities.  For just $20, people have the chance to head to Mark's off-strip venue, The Space, to see some of Vegas's top talent donate their time for some amazing causes.

More than that though, Mark is a friend.  In fact, in the 6 years that I've known him, he's become one my closest friends.  He's been there to support my wife and I through some tough times and when I told him I wanted to launch this podcast a year ago, without hesitation he offered to help in any way he could.

In fact, without Mark, this podcast might not even exist; many of the conversations I've had on this podcast are because of connections I've made through him, Mondays Dark and The Space.

Mark was kind enough to take time to sit & chat with me to share the story of the origin & evolution of Mondays Dark, talk about how he & his wife Cheryl have made Las Vegas their home and some of the big projects he's been able to put together at The Space.

Mondays Dark will be celebrating its 6th Anniversary on Monday, December 9th at the Pearl Theater at The Palms - but beyond that they'll be reaching a major milestone as they get set to partner with their 100th charity marking ONE MILLION DOLLARS raised for local Las Vegas charities!

For information & tickets to the Mondays Dark 6th Anniversary show, visit the Mondays Dark website.

Be sure to follow Mondays Dark on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for updates on upcoming shows & events.

Also, follow Mark Shunock on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

My Special Guest - Jimmy Denning

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For almost 3 years, Tenors Of Rock have been headlining on the Las Vegas Strip, performing Classic Rock...with a twist.  They made their Vegas debut at Harrah's in January 2017 and have since made the move to Planet Hollywood, performing 7 nights per week.

My special guest for this episode of the podcast is Jimmy Denning, one of the founding members of Tenors Of Rock.

Jimmy and I connected backstage at the Sin City Theater before a show where we chatted about his musical career, the formation & history of Tenors of Rock, life in Las Vegas and some of the side projects he's picked up since moving to Vegas - including his jump into the podcast world.  He also shared a random David Hasselhoff anecdote and I made things awkward by telling him that my wife loves him.

If you're headed to Las Vegas, be sure to get your tickets to check out Tenors of Rock LIVE!  And if you're a boxing fan, check out Jimmy's podcast Sin City Sluggers and follow the show on Twitter to find out which boxing legend he'll be chatting with next.

 

Vegas FAQ

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For this episode of the podcast, I've put together a little something I'm calling Vegas FAQ.

The concept is pretty simple; I've gathered up all the Vegas-related questions that I see asked most frequently on Twitter & Facebook - and even the ones I personally get asked most often - and I'm going to attempt to answer all of them here in this episode.

I'm going to cover a TON of material here - including questions about money & budgets, getting around Las Vegas, what the weather is like at different times of the year and even those totally subjective questions about hotels, restaurants & shows.  And you can't have "Sin City" with the "Sin" so I'm even going to discuss liquor laws, marijuana laws & prostitution laws.

And because there's so much info in this episode, I've made my notes available to you - Click here to download the PDF file!

 

The June Trip Report

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I've freshly returned from trip #4 of 2019 and it's time for another world famous Jeff Does Vegas Trip Report!

This episode features reviews of my stay at Bally's as well as meals at Village Cafe at Ellis Island, PizzaRev, Yard House at Linq Promenade, The Still at The Mirage and Ri-Ra at Mandalay Bay.  I also managed to (finally) check out Don't Tell Mama on Fremont Street and - of course - I took in another awesome Mondays Dark at The Space.

 

My Special Guest - Lisa Marie Smith

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My special guest for this episode is Lisa Marie Smith.  Lisa is a Las Vegas-based singer, dancer & model.  She's appeared as a headliner in shows on the Vegas strip at the Stratosphere and the Palazzo.  In late-2017, she signed her first record deal with Fervor Records and in November 2018, she released her debut self-titled EP featuring her single, "Get Closer To Me".  Lisa is currently in the process of launching her new band project, LMS.

Lisa is also one of my closest friends.  In the time we've known each other, she's become like a sister to me.  I've introduced her to Canadian delicacies like All-Dressed & Ketchup Chips, Buttertarts and Nanaimo Bars and she's taken me and my wife out to some awesome Vegas restaurants, bars and shows.  Lisa has been there for me during some very tough times and I've been fortunate enough to be able to do the same for her.

During our podcast conversation we talked about growing up in Las Vegas, touring around the world performing on cruise ships, her charity work, her vocal teaching and we also talked about some of her recent personal physical struggles.

Follow Lisa on FacebookTwitter & Instagram.  Stream her EP on Apple Music and Spotify or download from iTunes

My Special Guest - John Di Domenico

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My special guest for this episode of the podcast is John Di Domenico.  John is a Las Vegas-based actor & performer who specializes in character impersonation.  John does this on stage all over the world, on TV, in movies and at corporate events all over the world.  

He has an impressive roster of about 30 different characters he portrays but one particular character has been keeping him very VERY busy as of late...

John is recognized as the best Donald Trump impersonator in the world (or as Donald himself might say, "Tremendous").  You've likely seen him as Trump in one of his multiple appearances on Fox News, late night talk shows (including Conan O'Brien) or in his Facebook Watch series, "The Trump Show."  John also landed his first Vegas headlining gig in "Esther Goldberg's Totally Outrageous Brunch" at the SLS and recently released an Amazon Prime special, "Fake News: A Trump Story" which is now streaming.

John was kind enough to invite me into his home where we talked about his start in acting & character work, the changing landscape of comedy and his charity work.  And of course, when you're talking to the number one Trump impersonator in the world, you're going to talk a bit of politics too.

The April Trip Report

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Back home from trip #3 of 2019, I've got another Jeff Does Vegas Trip Report all ready to go!

(Don't adjust your podcast player...the nasally sound of my voice on this episode is the result of a massive head cold that decided to hit me right before recording, so I do apologize!)

This trip report features reviews of my stay at Luxor, meals at Tilted Kilt, Dick's Last Resort at the Excalibur and Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville at the Flamingo as well my horrible experience with Robert Irvine's Public House at the Tropicana.

I share my thoughts on attending conventions in Las Vegas (I was in town for NABShow 2019) and I also happened to be in town for a Mondays Dark, so I was able to take in that show and spend time with my Vegas family. 

The March Trip Report

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Freshly back from Vegas Trip #2 of 2019, it's time for another Jeff Does Vegas Trip Report!

And I'm trying something a little different for the trip report this time around; rather than a blow-by-blow, day-by-day report, I'm going to hit the high spots of the trip, share some reviews and share my experiences with you.  You know that feeling of dread you get when your friends drag out the photo album and make you look at every single vacation photo?  Yeah...that's what I'm trying to avoid.

This Trip Report features reviews of The Park MGM, Tom's Urban at New York New York, The Henry at The Cosmopolitan and Marilyn's Cafe at The Tuscany.  My wife and I also had the pleasure of hanging out at the Piazza Lounge in The Tuscany for Kenny Davidsen's Celebrity Piano Bar and we took in some NHL Hockey action at T-Mobile Arena as the Vegas Golden Knights played host to the Winnipeg Jets.   

Viva Las Value!

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Money is always a tricky topic when it comes to planning for a Las Vegas trip or when giving advice to Vegas visitors.  As I've talked about in previous episodes, Vegas is one of those rare vacation destinations where you can literally make it whatever you want it to be; whether you want to play "high roller" and drop stacks of cash wherever you go or you want to play it sensible and actually take some of your money home with you, both are viable options.

Viva Las Value is a new website designed to help you do Vegas like a high roller...without breaking the bank.  The site is jammed full of amazing tips & tricks for the Vegas visitor including everything from how to score free drinks while playing slots to how to NOT be overwhelmed on your first trip to the casino to how to earn comps just for playing "pretend" slots on Facebook.  I tracked down Sergio Portesan, the founder and creator of Viva Las Value to get his story & find out the inspiration behind creating the site.

Be sure to give Viva Las Value a follow on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram to interact.

 

Vegas’ Most Overrated & Underrated

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Las Vegas is the official city of HYPE!  Everything in Sin City is EXCITING AND AMAZING...or is it?

There's nothing worse than being amped up for an experience only to end up being horribly disappointed.  But at the same time, it's always fun to come across those "hidden gems" that nobody else knows about.

That's what this episode is all about - Vegas' Most Overrated and Underrated!  

Are those celebrity chef restaurants worth the hype?  Should you stay at one of the big-name mega-resorts...or pick a smaller off-strip spot?  How many Cirque shows is TOO MANY Cirque Shows?  This episode will answer those questions - and more!

Thanks to this week's guest contributors:

 - Sam Novak from "Vegas Unfiltered", the Las Vegas blog that's just that - unfiltered!  Sam is never afraid to speak his mind on the goings-on in Sin City...and he gives us his picks for Vegas' Most Overrated & Underrated.  Be sure to follow Sam on Facebook and Twitter.

 - Jenna Nye from "Off The Strip", where the motto is "There's More To Vegas".  Jenna joins us live from Las Vegas and shares some of her favourite underrated hidden gems away from the insanity of the Vegas strip.  Find Off The Strip on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

The Solo Trip

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The inspiration for this episode came from a post on one of my favourite Vegas-related Facebook pages, "Talk Las Vegas", where a gentleman named Michael was asking about whether or not he should do a solo trip to Las Vegas after his travel partner cancelled on him.

I myself have done numerous solo trips and have a blast every single time.  So, I thought I'd share my thoughts on travelling alone to Vegas as well as a few tips & tricks on things to do, where to eat and - most importantly - how to stay safe when travelling solo!

If you're planning on a solo trip to Vegas, check out these links:

- The Vegas Solo...The definitive website for solo travellers headed to Vegas

- Vegas Bright's guide for female solo travellers headed to Vegas - including some great safety tips

- Frontdesk Tip's complete guide to visiting Vegas as a solo traveller

 

The February Trip Report

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This episode features an in-depth trip report of my most recent getaway to Las Vegas, from February 3rd-6th, 2019 featuring:

- Meal reviews including Wahlburger's at Bally's Grand Bazaar, Virgil's Real BBQ at Linq Promenade, Gordon Ramsay Burger at Planet Hollywood, Sake Rok at The Park and Grand Lux Cafe at the Venetian

- Off-strip visits to dive bars The Hard Hat Lounge & Dino's Lounge, drinks and pizza at Corduroy & Evel Pie on Fremont Street and an EPIC Prime Rib Dinner from Ellis Island Casino & Brewery

- The pros and cons of landing in Las Vegas during the Super Bowl (aka "The Big Game")

- Thoughts on the current state of the GO Rooms at The Flamingo

- And a safety tip/PSA on how to correctly cross the street in Las Vegas

 

Bringing Kids To Vegas

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This week's episode is about a topic that always manages to get people going online - whether it's on Facebook, TripAdvisor or any of the thousands of other Vegas-related blogs or websites out there:

BRINGING KIDS TO VEGAS 

Big thanks to my guests who joined me to talk about this very polarizing topic:

- Jessica aka "Vegas Princess Bella" - She's a long-time Las Vegas visitor who runs Las Vegas Pics and Tricks on Facebook and a mom, who recently took her 8 & 10 year-old children to Vegas.

- My good friend Adam West, Midday Host & Program Director at Hot 100.5 FM in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada - He's a frequent Vegas visitor and a dad of 3 who has some strong yet valid opinions about the PARENTS who bring their kids to Las Vegas.  Find him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

- And Maria-Leena Kerr - She's the owner of DanishTourGuide.com, an online concierge platform and sightseeing company.  Maria also provides tour services in Las Vegas and helps families organize their trips to Vegas.  Reach out to her on Twitter and Instagram

Listen in for great insight on bringing children to Las Vegas.