LAS VEGAS: 6 Sugar Shops & Bakeries

smore cupcake closeWhile bars are a dime a dozen, those wanting a non-alcoholic treat have to search a little harder to find satisfaction. Whether you want a cronut, éclair, decadant chocolate or old-fashioned apple pie, we think you should try one of the following Sin City establishments and score some “sweet” treats.

Sweet Ruby Jane Confections
Named after Grandma Ruby, this candy store offers “handcrafted candy with a retro flair.” That includes brittles and barks, cookies and clusters, popcorn and pretzels, you name it, they make it. Try one of their popular cookie pops, s’mores, or cinnamon caramels. You will not be disappointed. 9550 S. Eastern Avenue, Las Vegas

Gimme Some Sugar Bake Shoppe
Kristen LoVullo and Ashley Mastowski started making elaborately designed cakes for special events and have now opened their own shop. The décor features their whimsical and sophisticated themed cakes along the walls, while the bakery cases spotlight their artful  macarons, mini-cakes, pastries and cookies.  Try their Dirt & Worms (chocolate mousse, Oreo cookies, whipped cream and gummy worm), the decadent Opera Cake (Kahlua-soaked jaconde filled with coffee buttercream and covered in dark chocolate ganache) or their maple-bacon macaron. Mmmmmmm. 19 S. Stephanie Street, Henderson

Bambu Desserts & Drinks
Located over in Chinatown, Bambu Desserts & Drinks has almost 100 offerings, most of which include unusual Asian ingredients (lychee, longan, lotus, pandan jelly, taro). These exotic treats all come in a cup, whether it is a grass jelly or tapioca-based desserts or one of their milk teas, smoothies, or traditional hot drinks. This is a great place to try something new and be a bit more adventurous. (You are in Las Vegas, after all.) 4810 Spring Mountain Road, Suite B, Las Vegas

Sugar Factory
There Sugar Factory operates two restaurants as well as 4 stand-alone stores in Las Vegas. The Paris Las Vegas Hotel contains a full-serve brasserie, Sugar Café and Chocolate Lounge (open 24 hours/day) and there is a 7,000 square-foot brasserie at Town Square. Both offer their cool line of signature cocktails (Cotton Candy Cosmo, Blow Pop Martini, Cherrie Tootsie Pop to name a few), an extensive menu (with a lot of comfort food), as well as yummy desserts and fondues. For desserts only, you can find their stand-alone stores at the Paris, MGM Grand, Planet Hollywood and The Mirage. They have a full line of candies, cupcakes, desserts and are most well known for their couture pops (your girl will flip for the Britney Spears jeweled lolly pop) and Hello Kitty line of sweet treats.  Town Square: 6605 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Suite 145, Las Vegas/Paris Las Vegas Hotel: 3655 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas

Sprinkles
This Southern California company is setting up shop inside The Linq complex mid-strip and scheduled to open—fingers crossed—in February. In this new prototype store, you’ll not only find an assortment of their 50 types of cupcakes (love those salted caramel cupcakes!) and rich and creamy ice cream flavors, but a new line of gourmet cookies as well. As a bonus, they will be installing a cupcake ATM. Yep, a vending machine that dispenses fresh cupcakes, baked that day in-store. (See video here.) And for those of you out for a stroll with Fido, you can purchase doggie cupcakes, too! The Linq, 3475 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas

Kuma Snow Cream
Opened late last spring over in Chinatown, this dessert palace was created by Jet Tila (formerly of Wazuzu at Encore). Snow cream is a cross between shaved ice and ice cream, featuring only a quarter of the fat found in a typical scoop. Kuma offers 5 base flavors to start (currently kuma snow, mango, strawberry, taro and green tea), to which you can add from a selection of 24 dry or 5 liquid toppings. And to stay true to its Sin City location, Tila may eventually add an alcohol component to these sweet treats. 3735 Spring Mountain, Las Vegas

And don’t forget, Cake Boss Buddy Valastro will be opening a Carlo’s Bake Shop in the Venetian in early 2014. The 2,200 square-foot space will serve up his famous cannolis, biscotti, and Italian sponge cakes, as well as the elaborately decorated cakes he is famous for.

LAS VEGAS: Family Adventure Awaits at Cowabunga Bay

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Keeping the kids entertained in Las Vegas just got a whole lot easier with the announcement that the ‘60s-themed Cowabunga Bay will soon be open in nearby Henderson. Cowabunga Bay is a 23-acre water park that offers a variety of water slides, massive sand beach (with cabana rentals), endless lazy river, 33,000-foot wave pool, as well as food, drinks, and children’s play area.

Visitors can drop down a 73-foot enclosed tube that circles its way to the bottom and dumps riders through a trap door into a pool of water or take a raft down a 55-foot slide into the world’s largest man-made wave. If you are at all competitive, try the Surfin USA slide where your skills will be tested against 5 other riders as you make your way to the finish. Not adventurous? No problem. You can splash in the wave pool, cruise the Cowabunga River on an inner tube or float around one of the many pools. There is something for kids of all ages, so get on over there and check out the water!

Cowabunga Bay
Where: 900 Galleria Drive, Henderson (off the 515)
When: May 24, 2014 through Labor Day, weekends in September
Cost: General admission $35.99, under 4 feet $27.99, 3-hour evening rates $19.99 (includes free inner tubes and life jackets)

HAWAII: Kauai Festival of Lights

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Celebrate the holidays with a twist on the island of Kauai during the upcoming Festival of Lights. This annual event is in its 17th season and runs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from December 6th through December 24th. Hundreds of thousands of lights ring Historic Park and the interior of the Historic County Building is turned into a winter wonderland, with Kauai-themed decorated trees and forty years of holiday folk art.

Began by Hawaii native Jose Chansky over 40 years ago, this one-of-a-kind event features holiday décor made by local artists, all from recycled materials. Where else will you get to see a Christmas tree made from 7,500 green toothpicks, a tree decorated entirely from ornaments made of aluminum cans, or a SPAM-themed Christmas tree?

Along with the spectacular show of lights comes holiday music and caroling by the Kauai Chorale and visits from Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. Opening night will also feature the Rice Parade, considered “an unique showcase of island lighted floats.”

17th Annual Festival of Lights
Where: Historic County Bldg., 4396 Rice Street, Lihue, Kauai
When: December 6-24, Friday – Sunday, 6-8 p.m.
Cost: Free

SAN DIEGO: Halloween Activities for All Ages

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Whether you are 5 or 55, San Diego will play host to a wide variety of spooky and fun activities for the upcoming Halloween holiday.  Families can enjoy month-long events at Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, Legoland and The Scream Zone Del Mar, while adults can party at several themed pub crawls or the Gaslamp Quarter’s Monster Bash and we’ve made it easy for you to find the event that suits your needs.

Sea World Halloween Spooktacular
Sea World San Diego is offering their annual Halloween Spooktacular, which runs until October 27th. In addition to all the regular shows and exhibits there will be a special Halloween musical at the Sesame Street Bay of Play featuring all your favorite characters, sea lions Clyde and Seamore have a spooky adventure at Uncle Schmedley’s Castle, pumpkinfish will take center stage at the underwater pumpkin patch, and children (who can come in costume) can visit Otto’s Candy Garden where gumdrops and lollipops grow and collect candy at various points throughout the park.  During the month of October, San Diego residents get one free child admission for each adult admission purchased ($79), non-residents pay $79 (ages 10 & up) or $71 for children (3-9).

San Diego Zoo Spooky Sleepover
The San Diego Zoo is offering two overnight adventures on October 19th and 26th. The Spooky Sleepover, hosted by Dr. Zoolittle, will include a special bus tour through the park that will deliver you to haunted Camp Timbuktu where each family gets their own tent for the night. Campers will enjoy dinner, meeting some spooky animals, have the option of participating in a costume parade and, if they can keep their eyes open, take a night prowl through the zoo. In the morning, campers get a buffet breakfast and time to roam the zoo at their leisure. Cost is $139 per adult and $119 per child (ages 4-11) plus zoo admission.

Brick-or-Treat at LEGOLAND
Saturday nights during the month of October bring Brick-or-Treat Party Nights to Legoland. Party nights include a dance party, “Mail Order Monsters Show,” live performances by the Witchettes and a magician, as well as a costume contest with some super prizes. Trick-or-treaters can score goodies at 10 treat stations spread throughout the park and enjoy a live fireworks show before departure. The event is free with paid one-day admission to the park ($59 per person) or $30 for admission from 5-9pm only.

The Scream Zone
The Scream Zone at Del Mar Scaregrounds, open until November 2nd, is not for the faint of heart. Featuring 4 haunts, you will have your choice of one or all: battling the undead at the Zombie Paintball Safari, making your way through the terrifying House of Horror, risking your life on a Haunted Hayride, or entering The Chamber, where there is no guarantee you will exit. The Scream Zone is open select evenings, including Halloween night. Tickets range from $17-$30, plus $20-$25 for Zombie Paintball.

And for those of you over the age of 21 who would like something a bit more raucous, there are two different pub crawls and the annual San Diego Monster Bash.

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