Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Men, mark your calendars. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Chocolates and roses are always a nice touch, but if you’ve been struck by Cupid’s arrow, the day could call for a grander gesture: a proposal.
Despite Las Vegas’ reputation as “Sin City” — where one-night stands, strip clubs and crazy bachelor or bachelorette parties seem to reign supreme — there is indeed a softer, romantic side to our desert oasis. And we’re not just talking about the stereotypical Bellagio fountains, Stratosphere tower or gondola rides at the Venetian. Yes, those places might seem luxuriously romantic to people who just stepped foot off a plane at McCarran International Airport, but they tend to lose their luster for locals.
Be a little more creative. After all, you’ll likely hear this question for years to come: “How did you propose?”
Consider these (lucky?) seven locations throughout Southern Nevada to get down on bended knee with ring in hand. There’s a place for every couple’s personality and bank account. And who knows — maybe that special moment will happen before Valentine’s Day, evoking the sacred element of surprise.
Love in the Sky
A proposal involving a helicopter might seem like a scene out of reality TV, but according to Papillon Helicopters, it’s not that uncommon.
Raul De La Cruz, marketing supervisor for Papillon Helicopters, said groom-hopefuls have popped the question aboard helicopters circling the Las Vegas Strip and at the base of the Grand Canyon.
This grand gesture comes at a price, though. The Vegas Strip Tour is $104 per person or $624 total to charter the helicopter, which will hold six passengers.
The Grand Celebration Tour to the Grand Canyon, which departs from McCarran International Airport and includes a 30-minute stop at the base of the canyon near the Colorado River, costs $429 per person or $2,574 total to charter the helicopter. The brief stop includes lunch and champagne.
“You can make that romantic, I guess,” De La Cruz said.
Boyfriends, beware: This over-the-top proposal might not sit well with your potential bride-to-be if she has a fear of aircraft.
Love in the Great Outdoors
Sure, the 13-mile scenic drive at Red Rock National Conservation Area boasts breathtaking mountain views and plenty of pull-off locations. But there’s also the tourist factor: swarms of people snapping pictures and calling grandma from our beautiful Nevada landmark.
That’s not very romantic. Instead, try one of these quieter locations to go down on bended knee while still enjoying a picturesque background.
Red Spring boasts a boardwalk, trees and a small water stream with Red Rock visible in the distance, said Kirsten Cannon, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management. Access it by taking a right on Calico Basin, which is about a mile east of the scenic drive entrance.
Farther west, the Red Rock Overlook sits off State Route 159 between the entrance and exit to the scenic loop. The overlook provides a panoramic view to the north of the Calico Hills and La Madre Range in the distance. Added bonus: a picnic area at the overlook.
Officials can’t keep track of how many proposals occur near Red Rock, but 122 couples tied the knot there last year, Cannon said.
Love on a Lake
Airfare to the Mediterranean for a proposal might be a bit steep. Save that for the honeymoon. But if you’re looking for that European romanticism — minus the tourist trap feel of the Venetian’s gondola rides — consider a trek a half hour east to Lake Las Vegas.
The Mediterranean-style buildings will set the tone for the special occasion, with plenty of dining and entertainment options. Plus, there’s a sprawling bridge over the manmade lake, acres of lush landscaping and boat rentals to satisfy any engagement price point.
And if she says yes, an overnight stay at one of Lake Las Vegas’ resorts could cap the perfect end to the engagement day.
Love on the Strip
As the old saying goes, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. If that’s true, your man may have fewer preproposal jitters if he feasts on a hearty meal before the big question.
The Eiffel Tower Restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip could satisfy both sexes’ visions of the perfect proposal — a romantic dinner for two with an excellent view.
The restaurant’s chef, Jean Joho, perhaps explains the location’s allure best: “There’s only one Eiffel Tower outside of France, and that’s here in Vegas.”
In fact, the restaurant caters to this class of love-struck couples by offering proposal packages ranging in price from $500 to a staggering $11,112 per couple. The most modest package includes a table overlooking the Strip and Bellagio fountains, Chef Joho’s seasonal tasting menu, a bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne, a dozen long-stem red roses and a photo in a keepsake folder.
If that sounds dreamy, imagine this: The wallet-busting “ultimate” package includes limousine transfers, an evening helicopter tour over the Strip, a sunrise hot-air balloon ride, an Eiffel Tower Restaurant Cookbook dedicated by Chef Joho, an engraved silver Eiffel Tower replica, a couples beauty package at Mandara Spa, tickets to “Jubilee,” and bride and groom luxury wedding survival kits from Mojuba. Almost forgot — somewhere in there, an engagement should occur.
On Valentine’s Day alone, the restaurant expects to play host to about 20 proposals. It’s safe to assume most of those couples will not experience the $11,112 package, but there’s no harm in dreaming, right?
Love with a View
If you’re a born-and-bred Las Vegas local, a lookout point near Southeast Career Technical Academy might bring back fond (or horrifying) high school memories — perhaps even a first kiss.
If you’re that person, steer clear of this proposal-worthy location unless she’s your high school sweetheart. It’s safe to say your potential future wife doesn’t want to hear those stories.
That aside, this elevated ridge on Mountain Vista Road between Sunset and Russell roads provides a stunning view of the Las Vegas Strip. Envision a proposal at dusk when the setting sun paints the desert sky orange, pink and purple.
Suggest your girlfriend wear sensible footwear before the excursion, though. The lookout point, which is connected to SECTA’s parking lot, involves a brief journey through rocky terrain to get a better panoramic view.
Love on a Train
A 45-minute, round-trip train ride from Boulder City to Railroad Pass Casino winds through desert landscape on a track developed by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1931.
The journey is a throwback to an age without the distractions of modern technology: It’s simply a quiet, relaxing ride. In fact, there’s not even a prerecorded tour guide blaring through the speakers. The Nevada Southern Railway eliminated the recording this fall after officials realized passengers tuned it out.
“Some people just like the serenity of riding the train,” said Greg Corbin, director of the Nevada State Railroad Museum.
Sound romantic? The four closed coach cars feature heat or air conditioning and velvet-cushioned seats. Fares are $10 per adult.
For a private experience, couples can rent the dining car for $500. The dining car, used for special events, can be configured per occupants’ wishes for a two-hour time period.
Love Under the Stars
While Las Vegas can’t provide the serenity of a beach walk for a proposal, Lake Mead isn’t a bad second. The jagged hills surrounding the lake provide at least an interesting, if not beautiful, backdrop against the water. Plus, the recreation area boasts hiking and water access for adventure-seeking couples.
If your girl isn’t the hiking type, don’t force her to shell out unnecessary money on hiking boots she will never wear again. There’s a better compromise — and, after all, isn’t that what marriage is all about?
Take her to Lakeview Overlook, a scenic point perched on a hill above Lake Mead that includes parking. It’s situated north of U.S. 93 between the Lake Mead National Recreation Area Visitor Center and the Hoover Dam Visitor Center.
Locals call it the perfect place to star gaze, away from the neon glow of the Las Vegas Strip. Don’t forget to pack a nighttime picnic, complete with a bottle of Champagne, to celebrate when she says yes.