Las Vegas, Honolulu and New Orleans are among America’s most indulgent destinations. Here, three travelers explore healthy itineraries in these hedonist hubs.
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Healthy Vacation in Las Vegas
No booze, no gambling, no late-night clubs: Can a sin-free weekend in Sin City satisfy? F&W’s Michael Endelman investigates.
On the flight from New York to Las Vegas, there is no shortage of drinking. Three Jersey Shore types behind me are downing vodka tonics while arguing over Texas Hold ’Em strategy; the middle-aged man to my left pounds three Scotches in an hour. On my tray table: A can of seltzer and a sad little nubbin of lime. I’ve passed up my traditional Bloody Mary because I’m heading to Sin City for a weekend of clean living.
The idea is not as ridiculous as it sounds. The casinos have figured out that a pretty significant slice of the population is more interested in early-morning yoga than all-night clubbing. And since I’m traveling with my six-months-pregnant wife, I’ll have a cheerleader to help me avoid all-you-can- eat buffets, 2 a.m. bourbons and other activities corrosive to the mind, body and soul.
Still, there’s something supremely strange about striding across a gambling floor in workout gear at 7 a.m., while most people are winding down from last night’s party. I’m off to a class called Jukari Fit to Flex, co-created by Cirque du Soleil, at the Bellagio gym (doubles from $169; 702-693-7111 or bellagio.com). For 50 minutes, I jump and lunge with a resistance band, pretending to be, in order, a sassy bullfighter, a sassy belly dancer and a sassy rodeo cowboy. I think it’s during the cowboy section that I start to loosen up. Smacking the floor with a giant rubber band while screaming “Yee-haw!” will do that to you.
Yoga Among the Dolphins
Only in Vegas: A yoga class with an underwater view of the Mirage’s dolphin habitat, with their whistles and clicks as a sound track. $50; mirage.com.
Mandarin Oriental Tea Lounge
Very proper Asian- and British-style teas in a serene space 23 floors above the 24-7 motion of the Strip. mandarinoriental.com.
Jukari Fit to Flex
A fun if somewhat silly resistance-band workout that requires a little flexibility and a lack of shame. $40; bellagio.com.
Healthy Vacations in Honolulu
A locavore paradise it isn’t—Hawaii imports 85 percent of its food. F&W’s Christine Quinlan finds great places that challenge the status quo.
Despite Hawaii’s perfect climate, it’s weirdly a tough place to find fresh, local food. But on a recent trip to Honolulu, that was my quest. At the He’eia Kea Pier General Store & Deli, a 20-minute drive from the city, chef Mark Noguchi revamps the iconic, gravy-soaked plate lunch, serving a pa’i ‘ai (taro root) burger with greens from nearby Ma’o Organic Farms (808-235-2192 or heeiapier.com). It’s also possibly the only plate-lunch spot in Hawaii with two sous vide machines in the kitchen. Chef Jon Matsubara wakes up before dawn every day to hit the Honolulu fish auction for Azure, where he serves local fish roasted simply with Meyer lemon, herbs and white wine (808-923-7311 or azurewaikiki.com). Eric Rose of Morning Glass Coffee roasts his own Hawaiian beans. Paired with a breakfast sandwich on a homemade English muffin, a cup set me right for the 5,000-mile flight home (808-673-0065 or morningglasscoffee.com).
More Healthy Honolulu
The Iron Chef has a private plot on a Big Island farm to grow produce like yuzu for the first Hawaiian branch of his sushi empire. morimotowaikiki.com.
Paddle Core Fitness
In a calm cove just west of Waikiki Beach, this outfitter’s lessons mix paddle boarding with cardio and a strength- building workout. paddlecorefitness.com.
Healthy Vacations in New Orleans
On nights off, local food critic Brett Anderson is not ordering beignets or gumbo. Here, his healthy Crescent City food-and-drink hit list.
After chronicling New Orleans’s food culture for more than a decade, my most cherished reprieve comes in the form of something most people never consider obsessing over: a quinoa salad. In fact, it is possible to have a favorite quinoa salad in New Orleans. Mine is made with carrots, sprouts, olives, edamame and feta and resides at Satsuma Cafe, a coffee shop and juice bar with the heart of a locavore bistro (504-304-5962 or satsumacafe.com). Near my home in the music-heavy Faubourg Marigny is the routinely mobbed Three Muses, a bacchanalia keyed to vintage jazz with a standout vegetarian section (504-252-4801 or thethreemuses.com). Freret Street in Uptown, which for years had great fried chicken and not much else, has recently been transformed into a dining and drinking destination. One of my new standbys there is Beaucoup Juice, which uses fresh-squeezed juices in Snoballs, an indigenous treat traditionally made with synthetic syrups. Here, it becomes the rare New Orleans indulgence you won’t have to repent later (504-430-5508 or beaucoupjuice.com).
More Virtuous NOLA
The Green Goddess
Chefs Chris DeBarr and Paul Artigues turn out pasta-less beet ravioli and cream-free curried pumpkin soup garnished with rum-spiked yogurt—because it’s New Orleans. Left: A margarita spiked with sake, ginger and tangerine juice at The Green Goddess greengoddessnola.com.
New Orleans Healing Center
The healing center includes art galleries, a dance studio, a food co-op, a yoga studio, alternative-medicine practitioners and Fatoush, an organic Middle Eastern cafe. neworleanshealingcenter.org.