REMEMBER when rock 'n' roll meant packed arenas with huge stages, wild guitar solos, dry ice and Bic lighters held high? If you're nostalgic for yesterday's over-the-top rock, head to a place where that vision lives on: Las Vegas.
The Hard Rock Hotel, just east of the bustling Strip, is a perfect starting point for your Sin City party. After checking in, you can chill like a rock star, lounging by the outdoor Nirvana Pool or enjoying the Reliquary Spa's "drumsticks massage," which incorporates tapping with bamboo reeds -- and actually feels much better than, say, getting thumped by Alex Van Halen.
Next, explore the hotel's massive collection of rock memorabilia, lovingly assembled by veteran curator Warwick Stone.
Right inside the front doors, you'll find Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen's monster kit and the flamboyant suit singer Joe Elliott wore on a 1992 Rolling Stone cover.
Also, view vintage concert posters for The Who and Cream, a blown-up candid photograph of the Rolling Stones by Marc Seliger, or a white lab coat Nirvana's Kurt Cobain once wore on stage, and much more.
Fabulous interpretive text and videos bring these artifacts to life.
If you missed Def Leppard's residency this spring at The Joint, the Hard Rock's on-site theatre, get your '80s air-punching fix with Mtley Crºe during their 12-show run (Sept. 18-Oct. 6). The 4,000-capacity Joint provides an arena-like feel but with impeccable sound and no seats further than 155 feet from the stage. Check out cool interior design features such as giant-sized Zildjian cymbals on the bar ceiling and a guitar fretboard pattern spanning an entire wall.
Another rockin' Vegas hotel is The Palms. Its 2007-launched Pearl Theater, which takes 2,500 spectators, also delivers great sightlines and concerts, featuring classic rockers such as Billy Idol (May 25), Yes (July 12) and Depeche Mode (Oct. 6).
Artists such as Elton John and Journey have recorded at the hotel's state-of-the-art Studio Y.
"The cool thing is that Vegas is a true 24/7 city," said studio director Zoe Thrall. "It lives on the schedule that artists use to make records."
If you want to cut some tunes yourself, the base rate is $1,500 daily.
Splurging on your dreams is what Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp is all about.
This innovative, Vegas-headquartered enterprise enables aspiring musicians to learn from and jam with stars such as Alice Cooper, Bret Michaels and Roger Daltrey. You might see a nine-year-old virtuoso like guitarist Benjamin Bluestein shredding through Ozzy Osbourne's Crazy Train, or get hands-on drumming tips from ex-Dio skinsman Vinnie Appice.
"People come in and have life-changing experiences," said camp counsellor Lita Ford, the ex-Runaways guitarist.
"They conquer their fears and go away feeling good about themselves. It's a school of rock 'n' roll."
Four-day camp packages start at around $6,000, while a Rock Star for a Day option, starting at $299, lets you record with a pro musician.
Prefer to stay in the audience? Check out Raiding the Rock Vault, a new multimedia show at the Las Vegas Hotel.
It kicks off with an enjoyably kitschy sci-fi storyline about discovering a "rock vault" in a South American jungle that's preserved the music for future generations.
When rock stalwarts such as Joe Lynn Turner (Deep Purple, Rainbow) and Paul Shortino (Quiet Riot) aren't belting out pre-1990 hits from Smoke on the Water to Summer of '69, actors are comically portraying the hippie movement or the rise of music videos.
For Beatles fans, Cirque du Soleil's LOVE musical at The Mirage is a must-see. An incredible Back in the U.S.S.R. trampoline act and a surreal aerial ballet set to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds are among the highlights at the custom-built, circular theatre.
Rock of Ages (at the Venetian), the hair-metal spoof that became a Tom Cruise movie, and Million Dollar Quartet (at Harrah's), a Tony Award-winning musical about a legendary 1956 Sun Records jam session, are also worthy evenings out.
Really, in Las Vegas, you can put a rock 'n' roll twist on almost any activity. (And that doesn't even count smoking, drinking or gambling).
Hungry? Try the Hard Rock Hotel's restaurants. You can nosh on soft pretzels with provolone fondue at Culinary Dropout, or split a 35-day-aged, 35-ounce Tomahawk Chop with a friend at the swanky 35 Steaks + Martinis.
At the Mandalay Bay resort, listen to live blues or country music while eating a monumental Cobb salad at the House of Blues.
Tuck into Jack and Coke BBQ Ribs and enjoy the sunshine and people-watching on the Strip-side patio at Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo Cantina.
Designer appetizers and sushi await at Simon. If you meet rock 'n' roll chef Kerry Simon at this Palms eatery, ask him about kayaking with David Lee Roth in Miami or catering backstage food for Led Zeppelin's 2007 reunion show.
Into high-end shopping?
Buy a $9,500 Gene Simmons-autographed bass or a $25,000 Elvis Presley-signed guitar at The Art of Music, a pop-culture memorabilia store with three Vegas locations.
This is a place where rock never stops.
Pose with eerily lifelike wax figures of Stevie Wonder, Bono or Jimi Hendrix in the Music Room at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas. Practise your putting at the 18-hole, glow-in-the-dark KISS Monster Mini-Golf indoor course.
Discover why Vegas dubbed Elvis The Atomic-Powered Singer as you tour the Neon Museum, featuring spectacularly restored vintage neon signs from area casinos, museums and restaurants.
Or fly over Fremont Street crowds on the FlightLinez zip line while Queen's We Are The Champions plays on the gigantic Viva Vision LED screen overhead.
Lost your heart in Vegas?
Throw a customized, rock-themed wedding at the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel.
The menu includes fog machines, a 1964 pink Cadillac convertible and ordained ministers impersonating everyone from Michael Jackson to the Blues Brothers.
-- Postmedia News