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Miss USA 2011: Some Southern hospitality

Note: This is the fourth in a series of blogs leading up to the Miss USA 2011 competition on June 19 at Planet Hollywood. In this entry, we're highlighting contestants from Southern states, and slowly worked our way up the East Coast a bit.

The contestants for Miss USA are used to answering questions, so we threw some Vegas-related Qs their way. Here are some selected answers:

MISS ALABAMA USA: MADELINE MITCHELL

Q: What are you most excited about seeing and doing in Las Vegas?
A: I'm most excited about the amazing shopping.

Q: If you had to pick five things to pack in your suitcase for a trip to Vegas, what would they be?
A: Swimsuit, oversized sunglasses, my favorite dress, skinny jeans and a sparkly top.

Q: What's the best advice you can give to a first-timer in Las Vegas?
A: You can sleep when you get home!

MISS GEORGIA USA: KAYLIN REQUE

Q: Where do you love to shop in Vegas?
A: The Shoppes at The Palazzo.

Q: What's the best pool in Vegas?
A: Tao Beach.

Q: What's the one thing in Vegas you can't miss?
A: The scenery. I suggest taking a few laps on the Las Vegas Strip to see the people, the buildings and lights at night.

MISS FLORIDA USA: LISSETTE GARCIA

Q: Who would be your dream date in Vegas?
A: Brad Pitt and George Clooney ... and with the rest of the Ocean's Eleven cast!

Q: What's the most unique experience you've had in LasVegas?
A: In 2004, my mom came to Las Vegas to get married by Elvis. I arranged all the wedding events and we had dinner at the Top of the World in the Stratosphere.

Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Las Vegas?
A: My favorite restaurant is American Fish in ARIA. I love eating seafood, and with Michael Mina restaurants, you can never go wrong.

MISS SOUTH CAROLINA USA: COURTNEY HOPE TURNER

Q: What's the first thing you want to do when you get off the plane in Vegas?
A: I want to watch the Bellagio's water show!

Q: What's the one thing in Las Vegas you can't miss?
A: The Luxor, especially if you admire Egyptian culture.

Q: What's the best advice you can give to a first-timer in Las Vegas?
A: Pace yourself, stay hydrated, and bring plenty of sunscreen.

MISS NORTH CAROLINA USA: BRITTANY LEIGH YORK

Q: Who's your favorite Vegas icon?
A: Frank Sinatra is a classic Vegas icon. I absolutely love the era that he represents.

Q: Who would be your dream date for a night out in Vegas?
A: Paul Walker! Fast cars, big blue eyes, and an awesome smile ... who could ask for more?

Q: If you could live at any Las Vegas resort, which one would you choose?
A: The amenities at ARIA seem phenomenal; I could definitely see myself living there!

MISS VIRGINIA: NIKKI POTEET

Q: What is the first thing you want to do when you get off the plane in Vegas?
A: It's a long flight from Virginia, so after I stretch my legs I want to see the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign!

Q: What might you wear in Vegas that you wouldn't wear back home?
A: I have in mind a 1950s showgirl costume, with lots of sparkle and glitz, and a feathered headdress 4 feet tall. Pretty sure that outfit would not be Richmond, Va., appropriate!

Q: What would be your dream date for a night out in Vegas?
A: First, I would want to go to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and race a Lamborghini. Then, to celebrate my victory over my date, I would like to enjoy a nice dinner at a restaurant with outdoor seating. Then, to finish off the evening, I would find the highest point that I can go to, possibly at the top of the Eiffel Tower restaurant, and enjoy my view of the bustling nightlife.

MISS PENNSYLVANIA USA: AMBER-JOI WATKINS

Q: What is the first thing you want to do want to do when you get off the plane in Vegas?
A: Visit one of the amazing spas so I can relax before the competition starts. The locals tell me I should try the Encore spa.

Q: If you had only one night in Vegas, which nightclub would you choose?
A: XS at Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, I always have a great time there.

Q: What's the best advice you can give to a first-timer in Las Vegas?
A: Meet new people, ask the locals for advice and do as much as you can. There is something for EVERYONE in Vegas.

MISS WEST VIRGINIA USA: WHITNEY VEACH

Q: What are you most excited about seeing and doing in Las Vegas?
A: The Vegas Strip and all of the lights. I can't wait!

Q: What might you wear in Vegas that you wouldn't wear back home?
A: That fully sequined mini dress that has been sitting in my closet since I bought it.

Q: What are your must-see shows in Vegas?
A: Peepshow. I love Holly Madison.

All Miss USA contestants surveyed are over 21 years of age.
Images courtesy of Miss Universe Organization

Treat Dad to some Vegas excitement

Please, not another pair of socks. Or a snakeskin-made anything. What Dad really wants is a memory -- so show him your appreciation with a trip to Vegas for Father's Day (then tag along ... you know, just to make sure he has a good time and all that. If you have some fun in the process, well -- bonus!)

Start with a relaxing round on the links. Las Vegas has more than 55 championship golf courses crafted by some of the game's greats, such as Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd, Tom Weiskopf and Arnold Palmer.

Then, help Dad update his wardrobe with some stylish threads. You'll find everything you need to get Dad decked out in Las Vegas' amazing shopping centers.

Charlie Palmer Steak 

Once he's dressed to kill, it's time to fuel up. First, dinner -- most Dad love to eat, and Las Vegas has some of the most decorated restaurants anywhere on the globe. Treat him to a memorable steak dinner at Charlie Palmer Steak at the Four Seasons, or Cut by Wolfgang Puck at The Palazzo. If he's a seafood lover, American Fish by Michael Mina at ARIA Resort has dishes ranging from Copper River salmon to Great Lakes walleye, or treat him to fresh steamers, shrimp, lobster, crab, clam chowder and calamari at the Oyster Bar at Harrah's.

Finally, treat Dad to any of Las Vegas' unbeatable shows and you've got the perfect Father's Day gift -- a Las Vegas excursion that he'll think about fondly all year long.

Miss USA 2011: Great Lakes and more

Note: This is the third in a series of blogs leading up to the Miss USA 2011 competition on June 19 at Planet Hollywood. In this entry, we're highlighting contestants from states surrounding the Great Lakes and nearby, and we'll also slide down South a little, too.

 The contestants for Miss USA are used to answering questions, so we threw some Vegas-related Qs their way. Here are some selected answers:

MISS MINNESOTA USA: BRITTANY LEE THELEMANN

Q: Where do you love to shop in Vegas?
A: I love to shop at Caesars Palace. It is so beautiful and cool down there.

Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Las Vegas?
A: I've had an amazing steak dinner at the Charlie Palmer steak house (at Four Seasons).

Q: What's the best advice you can give to a first-timer in Las Vegas?
A: Try it all! Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to travel up and down the Las Vegas Strip. There is so much to see and do!

MISS IOWA USA: REBECCA GOLDSMITH

Q: What are you most excited about seeing and doing in Las Vegas?
A: I 'm really, really looking forward to taking a dip in the hottest pools Las Vegas has to offer!

Q: If you had to pick five things to pack in your suitcase for a trip to Vegas, what would they be?
A: A swimsuit, a little black dress, a sequin purse, heels and slippers for the day after!

Q: What's the one thing in Las Vegas you can't miss?
A: I just have to see a drive-thru wedding!

MISS ILLINOIS USA: ANGELA SPARROW

Q: What might you wear in Vegas that you wouldn't wear back home?
A: I can't wait to wear all of my short beaded cocktail dresses.

Q: Who would be your dream date for a night out in Vegas?
A: My dream date for a night out in Vegas would be Holly Madison.

Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Las Vegas?
A: My favorite restaurant so far has been Switch (at Encore at Wynn Las Vegas) because of the atmosphere.

MISS WISCONSIN USA: SHALETTA PORTERFIELD

Q: Who's your favorite Vegas icon?
A: My favorite Vegas icon is Elvis Presley because he "shakes" things up!

Q: If you had only one night in Vegas, which nightclub would you choose?
A: I would go to Pure nightclub at Caesars Palace.

Q: If you could live at any Las Vegas resort, which one would you choose?
A: If I could live in any resort, I would choose the Venetian.

MISS MICHIGAN USA: CHANNING PIERCE

Q: What is the first thing you want to do when you get off the plane in Vegas?
A: Take a lot of pictures!

Q: What are your must-see shows in Vegas?
A: The Beatles' "LOVE" (at The Mirage) and Celine Dion (at Caesars Palace).

Q: If you could live at any Las Vegas resort, which one would you choose?
A: All the resorts offer such amazing amenities and experiences! I guess I would have to choose Planet Hollywood!

MISS OHIO USA: ASHLEY NICOLE CALDWELL

Q: What are you most excited about seeing and doing in Las Vegas?
A: The city lights and competing for Miss USA!

Q: If you had to pick five things to pack in your suitcase for a trip to Vegas, what would they be?
A: Camera, extra-strength Tylenol, a dress to impress, cool shades, swimsuit.

Q: If you had only night in Vegas, which nightclub would you choose?
A: I have been told to check out the clubs at the Palms.

MISS KENTUCKY USA: KIA BEN-ET HAMPTON

Q: Where do you love to shop in Vegas?
A: My favorite place to shop is definitely Town Square Las Vegas and also the Fashion Show Mall.

Q: What is the first thing you want to do when you get off the plane in Vegas?
A: The first thing I want to do is sightsee! I went to Vegas once for five days and it wasn't enough time. I want to re-do everything I did the first time plus more.

Q: Who would be your dream date for a night out in Vegas?
A: My dream date would definitely be with Elton John! I know he is in Las Vegas a lot and he is an icon of mine.

MISS TENNESSEE USA: ASHLEY ELIZABETH DURHAM

Q: Where do you love to shop in Vegas?
A: The Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian. I enjoy the beautiful Venice street scene design with a canal that runs through the center of the shopping area!

Q: What might you wear in Vegas that you wouldn't wear back home?
A: Anything I may think is a little "too much" anywhere else is probably perfect for Vegas! The more sequins or feathers, the better!

Q: If you could live at any Las Vegas resort, which one would you choose?
A: Wynn Las Vegas. It is considered one of the finest hotels in the world!

All Miss USA contestants surveyed are over 21 years of age.
Images courtesy of Miss Universe Organization.

Vegas is tops for tapas

Tapas. Whether you like them warm or cold, you'll find a tasty variety of Spanish appetizers at restaurants all over Las Vegas.

Enjoy tapas and more than 50 other shareable dishes at Johnny Smalls inside the Hard Rock Hotel. Or head over to ARIA Resort & Casino at CityCenter and grab some authentic tapas at Julian Serrano. The renowned chef is a native of Madrid and dishes out great tapas along with signature shellfish, ceviche, paellas and more.

For an intimate setting, try La Cave at Wynn Las Vegas, the perfect retreat for indulging in savory small plates. At Jaleo inside the new Cosmopolitan, chef Jose Andres brings the flavors of one of the country's first successful tapas restaurants to Las Vegas.

You can also find delectable tapas choices at Michael Mina's Seablue in the MGM Grand, Blue Martini at Town Square Las Vegas, and more. So bring your appetite to Vegas and enjoy some delicious tapas!

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