It’s not that warm in Minnesota. I know this from spending half my life freezing in the northern part of the state. So 20 years ago, I decided to thaw out and traded in scarves and mittens for tank tops and flip-flops. I swapped snow for 300 days of sun a year. I may not have been born here but there are hotels that haven’t lasted in Vegas as long as I have. The Sands, Hacienda, Aladdin, Desert Inn and the Stardust too. I've been to my fair share of implosion parties. (Yeah, that’s a thing.) Before joining Vegas.com I worked as a writer for a tourism magazine and for the local newspaper.
Why/when did you move here?
I moved to Las Vegas in 1994. Why? I've got two words for you: Polar vortex. I hate being cold and shoveling snow isn't all it's cracked up to be, so I decided to switch gears and move to one of the hottest places on the planet instead.
When did you start at VEGAS.com, and what does your job entail?
I started working here in 2001. As a writer for Vegas.com, I've applauded hundreds of shows, explored every major hotel in town and raised a few glasses at most of the city's bars and clubs. Now I'm the resident foodie here. I write about all things dining — from $3.99 shrimp cocktail at the Golden Gate to the finest sushi at Nobu, and everything in between.
What are your hobbies?
Movies, going to concerts, reading, skiing. Is shopping a hobby?
Give us a random fact about yourself
I can speak French pretty fluently. It once came in handy when I ran into a group of French tourists on the Strip who were on a scavenger hunt and needed to find an English-speaking person to sing "La Marseillaise" with them. My high school French teacher would be so proud.
Give us your top insider tips about Vegas
You've seen them in TV commercials. You've seen them in movies like "Oceans Eleven." There's a reason the Bellagio Fountains are such an iconic symbol of Vegas. They're one of the most beautiful sights to see in the city. The dancing water accompanied by music that changes for each show is simply breathtaking. Then you can head inside to the hotel's Conservatory, which features an amazing seasonal display of flowers and plants. The best part? Both of these attractions are totally free.
Want to pretend you're British for a day? Head up the elevators at the Mandarin Oriental to the 23rd floor. The elegant tea lounge and Mandarin Bar have floor-to-ceiling windows offering a stunning view of the Strip. Tea service is from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. daily and you can choose from some of the world's finest teas, coffee, juices and cocktails. Pair them with delicious confections like scones, cupcakes and macaroons. You can also opt for classic English afternoon tea service, which includes pastries, sandwiches and loose-leaf tea. There's even an option to pair your tea with a glass of champagne. Too sophisticated for you? Grab a tea cocktail instead. My favorite is the Royal Tea, made with Absolut Mandarin, homemade simple syrup, chilled Oolong tea and a splash of fresh lemon juice.
I know it's hard to believe, but Las Vegas is more than just neon and casinos. Take at least a few hours to tear yourself away from the penny slots and venture off the Strip. Red Rock Canyon is a gorgeous National Conservation Area about 40 minutes from Vegas with a scenic drive, wildlife, hiking trails, rock climbing and, as the name suggests, brilliantly-colored red rock formations.