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Visiting Las Vegas

Updated on February 20, 2011

Las Vegas Montage

Staying Downtown in Las Vegas

The Downtown area of Las Vegas is also called Glitter Gulch. Centered around Fremont Street, this was the first section to build hotels. The Fremont Street Experience has revitalized the whole area again. This experience includes a laser light show and a Neon museum which houses signs of hotels and casinos from days past.

First opening in 1946, the Golden Nugget was the first hotel designed for casino gambling. So named because of the 61 pound Hand of Faith gold nugget that is on display. They have a delicious buffet and a top rated health club for their guests.

The Four Queens which opened in 1966 was named for the owner's four daughters. It only had 120 rooms at its opening, but it has evolved into a major downtown hotel. To get a feel of Old Las Vegas, take a trip to this historic hotel.

The Fremont Hotel opened in 1956. Wayne Newton started his singing career in the old showroom. The Fremont Street Experience can be heard up until midnight in some of the rooms.

Main Street Station is decorated in the fashion of early twentieth century San Francisco. It opened in 1966 and is a mere three minute walk from Fremont Street. Inside the lobby, you will find ornate chandeliers and tin ceilings. Outside there are stained glass windows and wrought iron railings. This hotel is definitely themed for the Old West.

The Lady Luck Hotel first opened in 1964, but under another name. Honest John's boasted a 2,000 foot casino. Today, Lady Luck has increased that to 30,000 feet and they added a seventeen and twenty-five story tower for the hotel rooms. Most of the clientèle at this hotel is repeat business. This hotel is becoming a major player in the Downtown area.

Bellagio Room Video

Mid Strip Hotels in Las Vegas

Mid strip hotels have a big shopping theme for the most part. There are a lot of shops in these hotels mentioned as well as other attractions.

The Bellagio has an eight acre lake in front that represents the Lake Como village that the hotel was named after. In this lake, about every hour, you can view some impressive water ballet and choreography. At night, it is lit up and put to music for an even better show. The shops in the Via Bellagio offer the current trends and clothiers such as Prada, Gucci, and Armani.

Caesar's Palace which is right across the street from the Bellagio has a Roman decor and some of the staff wear gladiator outfits. The 4,000 seat Coliseum was built just for Celine Dion who performed two hundred shows each year. Replacing Celine beginning Feb 20, 2008 is Bette Midler. The Forum Shops cover three floors at one end of Caesar's and they have something for every taste and interest.

The Venetian Hotel is elegance and sophistication. The rooms are done in Italian marble and have glass showers and deep tubs. The second floor houses the Grand Canal Shoppes and these are laid against a beautiful backdrop of sky and fluffy clouds to make you think you are outside. They also offer gondola rides though the hotel.

The Mirage Hotel is located right across the street from the Venetian. They also own the Treasure Island right next door. The first thing you will see when you ride the moving sidewalk to the entrance of the hotel is the tiger habitat. Siegfried and Roy house several of their white tigers in this enclosure. Their CRAVINGS restaurant has a breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet that encompasses every taste out there. Their shops are minimal as they have opened a rain forest exhibit full of palm trees and waterfalls. The one main attraction here is the volcano that is located out front. It goes off after sunset every 15 minutes and incorporates a colorful light show as well.

Bellagio Fountain Show at Night

The South Strip of Las Vegas

The South Strip could be considered the expensive end. Most of the hotels on this end are resorts and are more elaborate than the hotels at the other end of the strip or on Fremont Street. These are hotels with huge towers and everything from shopping to spas to convention centers. Let's take a look at the sights on the south end of the strip.

The first hotel you will see when going north on the strip is the Four Seasons hotel. These people do everything in a big way from the entrance way to the cotton sheets on the beds. There is also no clanging or ringing of a casino to overload your senses as you walk through the door.

For casino sounds that are quite abundant, follow the signs and go through the side door of the Four Seasons and you walk right into the Mandelay Bay's casino and gaming tables. If you walk a little further into the lobby, you will see a huge aquarium that advertises for the hotel's Shark Reef Experience. If you have an hour or two, go and see the wildlife ranging from crocodiles, pirahna, sharks, jellyfish, and even some baby rays you can touch.

The next hotel you come to will be the Luxor. You can't miss this one with the big pyramid and Sphinx sitting in front of it. This hotel is decorated with Egyptian tones and has a unique lobby inside. The rooms go up the outside of the pyramid and the elevator which is called and INCLINATOR actually travels at a slant up the floors.

The Excalibur Hotel is out of King Arthur days. It is a huge fairy tale castle complete with dragons and pageantry on the inside. Make sure to eat the Tournament of Kings medieval style buffet complete with a jousting attraction.

Places to Stay Outside of Las Vegas

Luxury resorts aside, you may want to stay somewhere far away from the noise and lights and glitter of the Las Vegas Strip itself. There are two resorts in Henderson which is about a thirty minute drive from the strip.

The Ritz-Carlton is located on the shores of Lake Las Vegas. The style is that of an Italian resort with its marble fixtures and lake views. They have a health club and a spa. You can sign up for all sorts of activities such as stargazing, desert and mountains hikes, tai chi, and fly fishing on the lake. They offer yoga classes and you can play golf on three different courses. Right next door to this fabulous resort is an Italian village with over forty shops and restaurants for your shopping and dining needs. If you are worried about how to get back and forth from this quiet setting, they do have shuttles that run back and forth to the strip until two in the morning.

The Green Valley Ranch Resort is about fifteen to twenty minutes from the strip. Kids and families are always welcome here. They have a multiscreen movie theater and the health club for exercising is free to use. The pool area is part lagoon and is in a weird geometric shape to support all the shallow places and the lounge area. In an adjoining building is the casino and gaming areas. They follow and old school theme and they have a variety of restaurants to dine in.

You will also find a variety of common hotels off the main road as well. They have Motel 6, Super 8, EconoLodge, and Budget Inn's. They also have one place called Terrible's. It is named for the owner who is nicknamed Terrible. The place is about ten minutes from the strip. It is not as expensive as some of the chain motels.

Magicians in Las Vegas





There are many different kinds of shows you can go to see. Some are hard core magicians and some are just jokesters that do magic. Most have night shows up to six nights a week.


Lance Burton, who performs at the Monte Carlo Hotel, is original in his act as well as charming. He starts the show with precise close-up magic. In one show, he tossed a bird in the air that became confetti in front of everyone. He moves onto bigger illusions and his act is extremely good. He also has a juggler in his show that can juggle a chainsaw, a peanut M&M, and a beanbag chair.


Penn and Teller are two magicians you don't want to miss. The ever quiet Teller usually always winds up being the guinea pig to the ever boisterous Penn. They perform magic tricks and then take the time to explain how they are done. They also do juggling, make really off the wall comments, and do some really mean stunts. The stunt most want to see is Teller catch a bullet in his teeth after Penn shoots him.


Criss Angel became famous through his “Mindfreak” television show. He is located at the Luxor Hotel and performs at others in Las Vegas as well. He has done the Houdini trick “Metamorphosis” with no curtain. He has cut himself in two and put himself back together. Criss also shows his mentalist abilities when he asks people to think of certain objects or numbers.


Mac King, performing at Harrah's hotel, is one of the best afternoon shows you can see. He is famous for close-up magic that really defies your eyes and brain. Mac's show is perfect if you need something for the kids right before dinner or another show. He is not very expensive and is an consummate performer.



Shopping in Las Vegas

For the best shopping experience, your best bet is to start out at the Forum Shoppes at Caesar's Palace. It is a huge shopping mall covering three floors at one end of the hotel. They have every kind of shop you can think of plus a few more. You can go from Houdini's, a magic shop, to Gucci for clothes. They have a Planet Hollywood inside and several other chain restaurants. There are also some living statues that come to life every hour to tell about a Roman myth. They have seats so if you are tired from shopping, you can rest a while.

Next up is the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian. Head to the second floor and take in all the amazing scenery. The second floor is made to look like outside in Venice complete with gondola rides. High and medium-end brand names are found here as well some expensive trinket shops. There is everything from Banana Republic to Ann Taylor.

Fashion Show Mall which is almost right across the street from the new Wynn Las Vegas Hotel is a much more fitting Vegas type of mall. It holds 250 shops, restaurants, and service stores. They have valet parking and will even offer to hand wash your car while you are having fun shopping. Some of the stores in this mall include Sak's, Nordstrom's, Macy's, and other high-end retailers. You can't miss the place either, it has a huge circular object on top of it that looks very much like an UFO.

Boulevard Mall was the largest around until Fashion Show Mall came along. With its 144+ stores, it took up 1.2 million square feet. It has several anchor stores likes Sears and JC Penney as well as Dillard's and Marshall's. You can find almost anything you are looking for at reasonable prices. It it a medium-end mall and has several eateries you can eat and take a few minutes to rest.

Kid Attractions in Las Vegas

Those visitors under 21 may look around Las Vegas and think the place has nothing to offer them. They are not old enough to gamble or enjoy some of the nightclub shows. If they look around, there are several attractions that they can enjoy despite their young age.

Head down to Circus Circus and catch some of the circus acts that go on all day over the casino floors. There is also the midway arcade and the Adventuredome on the second floor. This is an amusement park complete with mini golf and a roller coaster ride.

The Mirage Hotel has the white tiger exhibit and the Secret Garden of Siegfried and Roy. There is also a dolphin habitat where you can watch the dolphin swim by.

The Excalibur has the medieval pageantry and a whole basement level with arcade and video games. The Tournament of Kings is one of the nice shows for kids as you get to see a medieval joust and get to eat like they did in King Arthur's days – No forks or spoons here, use your fingers.

Gameworks is also a basement level arcade and game center. It is quite easy to find on the strip, just look for the big Coca-Cola bottle and the M&M shop. It is located underneath these two shops. They have batting cages, motion-simulation rides, video games, and air hockey.

For toddlers and young children, you might try the Lied Discovery Children's Museum. There are plenty of interactive games for them to engage and play. They could feed a wooden sandwich to a snake and a human to see how they both use nutrition. There is a mini grocery store, a radio station, and a music/drawing area. They can also pla basketball in a wheelchair to see how it is to be handicapped.

Side trips from Vegas

If you get tired of the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas, there are several side trips you can take to get away. Most of these include driving to Henderson or surrounding counties to see what is out there.

The Ethel M Chocolates is about six miles from the strip. They offer free tours and it is better to go on a weekday when they are operating. Ethel Mars began her candy making in the early 20th century and these became famous candies: M&Ms, Milky Way, Mars bars, 3 Musketeers, and Snickers. The tours last about ten minutes and is made up of viewing stations explaining the chocolate making process. You get one small chocolate sample at the end.

Ron Lee's World of Clowns is also located in Henderson. The store features clown figurines and some Disney figures. The tour offered take you around to watch as the workers mold and paint the clowns. Be sure to hit the gift shop which offers high quality clown figurines.

Grand Canyon tours are offered in Las Vegas. You can spend a full day on a touring bus and go to see the majestic canyon and be back the same day. You can also choose two or three day trips. The prices usually include the tour through the national park, a flight over the canyon, and lunch. Some excursions include hiking as well.

Hoover Dam is visited by 2,000 to 3,000 people every day. If not for this architectural and structural creation, there would be no Las Vegas. Built in 1931, it took 5200 workers doing twenty four hour days to get this dam built by 1936. That was two years ahead of schedule and fifteen million under budget. There are tours conducted and they go down 561 feet into the belly of the dam. You can see the giant turbines and go outside and look back up at the huge dam.

Some Quiet Things To Do in Las Vegas

If you want to get away from all the noise and people, but don't want to leave Las Vegas itself, there are several things you can do for a quiet afternoon. Here are a couple places that you can go and see something different.

The Double Down Saloon has cocktails, a wild jukebox, and bizarre mural work by local artists. Mingle with some of the local folks or, if you are lucky, you might spot the occasional celebrity that visits.

The Chinatown Mall is an Oriental type of place with some good restaurants, fascinating shopping, and some unique items. Everything has a background of the Far East as its theme.

The Arts Factory has a a gallery with first rate collection of art pieces. They have parties the first Friday of every month to help showcase the local artist's work.

The West Sahara Library Fine Arts Museum building is one of the few buildings that is built to Smithsonian specs. It is an urban building that accentuates its space and art work perfectly.

The Guggenheim/Hermitage Museum was a venture between St. Petersburg, Russia and the Guggenheim. Located in the Venetian, it is right by the front door and has an outside entrance. There is some sculpture and glass pieces in the museum.

King Tut's Tomb and Museum located in the Luxor Hotel is a reproduction, full scale, of King Tut's tomb in Egypt. It includes the antechamber, annex, burial chamber, and replicas of all the treasury inventory. King Tut was discovered in 1922 in the Valley of the Kings. All of the tomb and its accouterments were handcrafted by Egypt artisans using the gold leaf, linens, tools, and ancient methods.

If you want to spend a nice quiet hour or two on your own, check out one of these destinations.

Souvenirs in Las Vegas

Finding a souvenir shop in Las Vegas is like finding a place to eat. There are several places on every block. Some are little holes in the wall and some are quite huge. They sell a lot of the same items, and the best advice is this, don't buy the souvenirs at the airport. They are way more expensive, unless you have forgotten something.

The all around best place to go and find souvenirs is the Bonanza Gift and Souvenir Shop. It occupies the corner across from the Sahara Hotel. They have everything you could possibly want in this store. They have old chips, dice, cards, hats, pens, pencils, calendars, t-shirts, baby clothes, wooden trinket boxes, tote bags, shot glasses, those famous dice clocks, old money, disposable cameras, and batteries. You can spend hundreds in a matter of minutes, so watch yourself.

The Arts Factory Complex is right off of Las Vegas Boulevard. They have a gift shop carrying pink flamingos and Las Vegas related items. The tackiest item seen was a pair of earrings with poker chips.

Also, check the hotels for gift shops for your favorite performers. The Las Vegas Hilton has Barry Manilow. Also, at the Las Vegas Hilton, you can find a gift shop for that Trekker in your life at Star Trek: The Experience. Caesar's Palace has Celine Dion and an Elton John Store. On the side of Harrah's, you can find Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville shop. The Stratosphere Tower has a gift shop way up at the very top of the tower with plenty of souvenirs and mementos. Circus Circus has several gift shops as you walk through the casino. They have everything from snacks to beautiful pictures of the strip at night for framing. You can even find decorated golf balls.

Las Vegas Stratosphere X Scream Ride


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    • Mike Lickteig profile image

      Mike Lickteig 

      8 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      An excellent hub with a lot of information about the history of downtown, but I'm surprised you didn't mention the El Cortez. I think it was the first casino built downtown. It's kind of a scary place, but the locals go there to gamble.

      Good hub.

    • profile image

      howto increasever 

      9 years ago

      Thanks for the excellent reviews and good posts..

    • starrkissed profile image


      10 years ago from Arizona

      amazing hub!

    • puter_dr profile imageAUTHOR

      Mike Bouska 

      10 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks for the kind comments

    • AuraGem profile image


      10 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      O wow! What an amazing hub! I have spent quite awhiles absorbing all the glitter of Vegas here!

      Perhaps my favourite must be the Bellagio Fountain! That's the romantic in me!

      Just great!

      Smiles and Light


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