LAS VEGAS -- There's so much to see and do on a golf trip to Sin City.
The desert scenery from world-class golf courses like Cascata, The Wynn, Rio Secco, Bali Hai and TPC Las Vegas just can't be beat. The sights along the Strip after dark are just as intriguing. And I'm not even talking about the women wearing stilettos.
Every day during a recent stay at Caesars Palace I ran into something -- or someone -- amusingly fun and memorable.
I almost bumped into Zach Galifianakis near the elevators of the new Octavius Towers, home to grand rooms that are more comfortable than my own home. Later, I saw Ed Helms slip behind a curtain set up in a main hallway. The two were wrapping up the filming of the third 'Hangover' movie.
The following night, I passed several older couples wearing togas. It was, shall we say politely, unsightly.
Walking across the street to the Bellagio my last night, I couldn't help but notice Spiderman sitting at the bus stop. I was tempted to ask why he needed public transportation, but I thought twice about mocking a superhero on hard times. The next morning, the 'Doctor' himself -- NBA legend Julius 'Dr. J' Erving -- slipped out of a limo and handed the bellman a $50 bill. Only in Vegas, right?
From the shows and golf courses to the nightclubs and restaurants, there's nothing this town can't deliver.
Tyler Volk of Vancouver has visited the past several years with a large group of Canadians who call themselves 'Divots Adventure.'
'We love Vegas. We keep coming back,' Volk said. 'There is so much to do here. The quality of the golf is great. There is something for all, something for the partiers, gamblers, the serious golfers.'
On the golf course in Las Vegas
Las Vegas golf can be sorted out by price tiers. Two of the rounds priced north of $300 come on the Strip: Wynn Golf Club and Bali Hai Golf Club. Shadow Creek sits 20 minutes northeast of the Strip. And Cascata -- the signature golf experience associated with Caesars Palace -- is in Boulder City, a half-hour's ride to the southeast. For the record, they're all worth the splurge.
The golf clubs a half-step down in price are just as good as the upper echelon. Rio Secco Golf Club in Henderson features a gorgeous Jones golf course overlooking the Strip, along with the original Butch Harmon Golf School. Roughly a dozen PGA Tour pros regularly practice at the TPC Las Vegas, another reason besides an excellent desert-style track to visit the Summerlin area.
The best bang for the buck comes a half-hour from the Strip in the middle of nowhere at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort. Pete Dye designed its three courses -- Snow Mountain, Wolf and Sun Mountain -- in a panoramic setting of the nearby mountains.
Those looking for something more affordable near the Strip can take a cab ride to Desert Pines Golf Club, run by Walters Golf, the same company that manages the tropical Bali Hai and the British-Open-themed Royal Links Golf Club.
At the dinner table
If there's a bad restaurant on the Strip, I haven't found it. Finding a succulent steak is easy. I've sampled the finest cuts of beef at SW Steakhouse at the Wynn Las Vegas; the Old Homestead Steakhouse and Mesa Grill Las Vegas, both inside Caesars; STK at The Cosmopolitan; Jean Georges Steakhouse in Aria Resort & Casino Las Vegas and TENDER Steak & Seafood in the Luxor.
TENDER also offers one of the largest selections of wild game on the Strip. Try the Wild Boar Sausage as an appetizer or the Durham Ranch Bison Ribeye as a main dish.
Perio's Italian Cuisine delivers a welcoming change to all the steak/seafood joints of the casino hotels. The restaurant, celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2012, oozes an old-school Italian vibe with a lounge singer most nights and private dining areas, which celebrities love. Scenes from the movie 'Casino' were shot here.
Caesars Palace has upped the ante on the traditional Las Vegas buffet by opening the Bacchanal Buffet (a.k.a. the Bacchanal Feast). The opening has created such a buzz that lines have been as long as four hours long to get in. The gorge-fest is definitely worth the wait.
The Country Club inside the Wynn Las Vegas rates in my book as the coolest golf course restaurant in America. It's got ambiance, scenery and fabulous food. The shrimp-and-grits appetizer is off the charts.
Las Vegas shows
It might not seem logical for a group of golfers (stereotypically dudes who love to gamble and crash bars) to see a show, but I'd highly recommend it. I hadn't seen one for two decades until attending Absinthe at Caesars Palace and Zarkana at the Aria Resort & Casino Las Vegas last month. Both were weirdly spectacular.
The tiny tent outside Caesars where Absinthe is staged adds to the tension as performers show off their tricks within feet of the audience. I should be embarrassed to admit how funny Absinthe was, considering how risque and racially charged the humor was, but everybody else was laughing right along with me. The two German performers who wore leather and zoomed around on roller skates will forever haunt my dreams. I'll leave you with two words only insiders will understand: Puppy show.
Zarkana's plot (or lack thereof) didn't catch my imagination, but some of the acts sure did. The ball-bouncing woman and the two human hamsters -- you have to see them to believe their superhuman feats -- earned my utmost respect.
Who needs a down-on-his-luck Spiderman when you've got the marvelous miracle workers of Cirque du Soleil?