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Destination guides > North America > USA > Southwest USA > Nevada > Las Vegas > Casinos, sightseeing, museums & tourist attractions

Las Vegas

Casinos, sightseeing, museums
& tourist attractions

Casinos

Gambling is not something budget travellers do on holiday, but Vegas is different. In Las Vegas, the casinos are the city's major tourist attraction and a trip to Vegas isn't complete without visiting a few casinos.

Although it is unlikely that you'll be playing with the high-rollers, you can sample a few casinos by simply wandering through them and perhaps gambling $10 or so on the cheapest machines.

FREMONT STREET & DOWNTOWN LAS VEGAS

Fremont Street was home to the first hotel in Las Vegas (opened in 1906) and was also the site of Nevada's first gambling licence (the Northern Club) and the city's first purpose-built casino (Golden Nugget; 129 E Fremont Street, Las Vegas).

For many years - before the development of the Strip - the western end of Fremont Street, was known as Glitter Gulch and represented the popular image of Las Vegas.

In an effort to revitalise Fremont Street and downtown Las Vegas, the Fremont Street Experience was developed in the 1990s. This five-block-long pedestrian mall was established by a group of 10 Fremont Street casinos and features a canopy comprised of over 12 million LED lamps.

Although the Strip has eclipsed Fremont Street with larger flasher casinos, it is well worth visiting one of the classic older casinos like El Cortez (600 Fremont Street, Las Vegas) or the Golden Nugget for a feel of old-time Las Vegas.

Even with the revival of downtown Las Vegas, it has a long way to go to match the Strip, which has around 12 times the gaming revenue of the downtown casinos. Fremont Street and Downtown Las Vegas isn't even number two - that spot is taken by the Boulder Strip in suburban Las Vegas (east of the Las Vegas Strip) - but you don't visit the downtown casinos because they are big, you come here for a taste of what Las Vegas used to be like.

THE STRIP

The Strip is a 6km-long stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard South, which stretches from the Stratosphere in the north to Mandalay Bay at the southern end. It is home to 19 of the world's 25 largest hotels and it has the biggest and most impressive casinos in Las Vegas. Only a tiny portion of the Strip lies within Las Vegas' city limits and most areas are in the unincorporated areas of Paradise and Winchester.

The Strip's two poshest casinos are Bellagio (3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas) , which featured in the films Lucky You, Ocean's Eleven and Ocean's Thirteen and Wynn Las Vegas (3131 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas), which cost $2.7 billion to build making it the most expensive private construction project in the United States.

However it is the themed casinos that are more interesting places to visit. These include Luxor Las Vegas, New York New York, Paris Las Vegas and the Venetian.

The Egyptian-themed Luxor Las Vegas casino (3900 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas) is built as a giant hollow pyramid and features a replica of the Sphinx.


The New York themed New York New York (3790 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas) comes complete with replica skyscrapers including the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings plus a half-scale replica of the Statue of Liberty. There is also a roller coaster and replicas of the Brooklyn Bridge, Ellis Island and Grand Central Terminal.

Paris Las Vegas (3655 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas) has a Paris theme that features a 50m-high (5/8 scale) replica of the Eiffel Tower and a 2/3 scale replica of the Arc de Triomphe.

Stratosphere Las Vegas (2000 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas) is the tallest structure in Nevada and is also the tallest free standing observation tower in the United States. It is the only casino on the Strip that is actually within the Las Vegas city limits. Stratosphere features two observation decks but its main attractions are the rides, which are rated as the world's three highest thrill rides. These include the Big Shot, where you shoot up 49m until you're 329m above the Strip; Insanity the Ride, an arm extending over the edge of the tower that spins you at a force of 3Gs and XSCREAM, a giant seesaw that sends you 19.5m over the edge of the tower, 264m above the ground.
Admission tower $13.95; Big Shot $13; xScream $12; Insanity $12; tower admission & one ride $19.95; tower admission & two rides $23.95; tower admission & three rides $27.95; tower admission & unlimited one-day ride package $33.95

The Venetian (3355 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas) is part of the world's largest hotel and resort complex with 8,108 hotel rooms and suites. The casino has a Venetian theme with canals and replicas of the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco.

Sightseeing, museums & tourist attractions

Atomic Testing Museum

This unique museum features exhibits about nuclear testing with an emphasis on test sites in the Pacific Ocean and Nevada. There are also some interesting displays on the Cold War and the atomic bomb's impact on popular culture.

755 E Flamingo Road, Las Vegas
Bus 202 (stop: Flamingo at Palo Verde/Flamingo at Swenson)
Tel (702) 794 5161
Website www.atomictestingmuseum.org
Admission $12 (students $9)
Open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun noon-5pm

Hoover Dam

The massive Hoover Dam spanning the Colorado River at the Arizona/Nevada border was built in 1936 to generate power for Las Vegas and Los Angeles. At the time it was the world's largest concrete struction with enough concrete to pave a highway stretching from New York to San Francisco. It is 48km southeast of Las Vegas.

US Highway 93, Boulder
Tel (702) 494 2517
Website www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/
Admission $11
Open 9am-6pm daily (last entry 5.15pm)

Visit Hoover Dam when you've had enough of Las Vegas's casinos

Hoover Dam is just a short drive from Las Vegas

Las Vegas Natural History Museum

This natural history museum has galleries on prehistoric life and international wildlife and features exhibits on the ancient sea bed that Las Vegas was built upon.

900 North Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas
Bus 113 (stop: Las Vegas at Cashman)
Tel (702) 384 3466
Website www.lvnhm.org
Admission $8, students $7
Open 9am-4pm daily

Liberace Museum

This museum is dedicated to the Las Vegas legend who paved the way for other over-the-top cabaret performers that have played regular gigs in the city. The Liberace Museum's exhibits include Liberace's clothes, pianos and his car collection.

1775 E Tropicana Avenue, Las Vegas

Bus 201 (stop: Tropicana at Spencer)
Tel (702) 798 5595
Website www.liberace.org
Admission $15
Open Tue-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12noon-4pm

Neon Museum

This unique museum features neons signs from Las Vegas' early casinos. It is comprised of a collection on Fremont Street in the city centre, plus the Boneyard, a 1.2ha outdoor collection of more than 150 old neon signs.

Bus (Boneyard) 113 (stop: Las Vegas at Cashman); (Fremont Street) 301 The Deuce (stop: Las Vegas at Fremont)

Tours of the Boneyard are only available by advance online booking.
Website www.neonmuseum.org
Tours cost $15
Tours Tue-Sat 10am

 


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