Many of the cliches about Las Vegas are true. It’s loud, bright and, in many ways, relentless. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing – the very best way to make the most of a visit here is to embrace Las Vegas as a unique experience, an enigma where you might spend one day entirely under artificial lighting, the next staring at unparalleled natural beauty. You’d have to be doing something seriously wrong not to have fun on the famous Strip…
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More info: https://www.madametussauds.com/las-vegas/
The Vegas branch of the perennially popular waxworks chain has realized that, in this day and age, it’s not quite enough to stare at likenesses of the great and good (and sometimes the not-so-great-and-good). Instead, there’s a refreshing focus on interactivity, which lets you ride on a wrecking ball next to Miley Cyrus or make your own music video with Drake, while there’s 4D fun to be had with Marvel superheroes. Plus, mocking the waxworks you think look nothing like their subject will never go out of fashion.
More info: https://www.grandcanyondestinations.com/
One of Vegas’ best kept secrets is that its surrounded on all sides by often breathtaking natural beauty. The vistas and brilliant hiking trials of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area are perhaps the closest, but many use Vegas as a hopping off point to visit the Grand Canyon. There are several providers in town who will whisk you off on walking, bus or group tours, but to truly appreciate the grandeur, organize a helicopter tour.
One of the tallest observation wheels in the world, the views from the top of the 550-foot High Roller are truly spectacular. Jump in a spacious pod and you’ll take around 30 minutes to complete a full circle, giving you plenty of time to spot all the local landmarks and take photos. It’s open until 2AM, and Vegas is certainly at its neon-best at night. Back on terra firma, the area is packed with restaurants, bowling alleys, stores and more.
More info: https://www.neonmuseum.org/
While nothing is dimming the lights of the Strip, this wonderfully unique ‘museum’ is preserving those that have gone out. Neon lighting has been elevated to art in Vegas, and this self-styled ‘boneyard’ contains many treasures from the past. Join a guide and you’ll learn some of the stories behind the lights, from defunct casinos to bars and diners that are now part of history. Inevitably, it’s best enjoyed at night.
One of the great attractions of Las Vegas is the plethora of A-listers playing here all year long. If Celine Dion isn’t coming to your town, then you can go to hers. The Park Theater is one of the best and most spectacular venues in the city, with a capacity just north of 5,000 ensuring that shows have stacks of atmosphere but can still feel intimate. Artists making extended runs here change, but have included Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Cher, Aerosmith, and there are year-round dance and magic shows.
You don’t have to be staying at the lavish Bellagio to admire their fountains – it’s one of the most popular free attractions in Las Vegas. The water is modelled on Lake Como, accompanied by Italianate architecture, while the fountain show might feature pop hits, Frank Sinatra or dramatic opera. Come in the evening when the sun is down to enjoy the best of the lights – it runs until midnight. The Bellagio has some excellent restaurants, which allow you an undisturbed fountain view.
More info: https://www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/
Not all wonders are natural. In fact, the Hoover Dam was built to keep nature at bay, an engineering marvel that sits about 30 miles from Las Vegas. Constructed around Lake Mead, it has been a source of power for Nevada and neighboring states since 1935. Drive here in your rental car, take a helicopter for dizzying views or admire the basin’s curve from a boat. It’s an impressive testament to America emerging out of the Great Depression.
More info: https://themobmuseum.org/
A museum dedicated to the nefarious Vegas antics of the mob could easily strike all the wrong notes, but this former courthouse – how apt – is a study in how to get things exactly right. It’s a fun and informative tour of the battle between the likes of Al Capone and Eliot Ness, spanning the mob’s involvement in Vegas rackets from prohibitions and beyond, and the ‘G-Men’ combating them. Staff are great, keeping vintage yarns fresh, while the likes of the speakeasy, crime lab and even a piece of the wall from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre bring history to life.
More info: https://www.thestrat.com/
The Stratosphere – or The Strat – isn’t just an iconic landmark in downtown Vegas, it’s a destination all of its own. The hotel itself is striking, with large rooms, the casino covers 80,000 square feet and the Top of the World restaurants revolves 360 degrees as you dine. Yet it’s the very top that attracts many people – SkyPod. The observation deck is thrilling, but only a warm-up for the white knuckle rides you’ll find up here. Insanity, Big Shot and X-Scream will all have you dangling high above the city, while the SkyJump is not for the faint of heart.
More info: https://www.venetian.com/
This is what Vegas is all about – huge rooms, glamor and ersatz appropriations of European landmarks delivered with brio. The Venetian is a fine hotel, but even non-guests come to gawp at the canal’s gondolas – both inside and outside. Enjoy a ride down the Grand Canal, step inside to see the recreation of St. Mark’s Square, then admire the marble floors of the vast – that’s 120,000 square feet vast – casino.