The Strip AKA Las Vegas Boulevard
One of the two "centers" of the city
"The Strip" is a 3.5 miles (6 km) section of Las Vegas Boulevard.
Here is where the cluster of "themed" hotels lies, including
Luxor, New York New York, Treasure Island, Venetian, Paris and
Bellagio. The views are best at night when the lights are on.
New York - Las Vegas style
New York New York is one of the most
charming casinos in Las Vegas (that is, if you can apply
"charming" to a hotel casino). Especially if you have a thing
for the real New York (which I do). It's facade recreates the
Manhattan skyline, with skyscrapers, an 150-foot replica of
the Statue of Liberty and a replica of Brooklyn Bridge. The inside
is small (compared with other casinos on the Strip) but that
is part of its charm. The casino is dressed as Central Park.
If you get hungry you have the Village nearby complete with
Bleeker Street and Broadway. And if you like roller coasters
"Manhattan Express" comes highly recommended.
Paris - Las Vegas
Paris hotel casino adds another landmark
to the Las Vegas Strip: a half-scale Eiffel Tower. Everything
is mirrored to the smallest details. You can take the elevator
to an observation deck at the top and have a view of the entire
Strip. The facade also has replicas of Arc de Triomphe, Paris
Opera House and the Louvre. At the base of the Eiffel Tower
sits the casino, complete with a Pont Alexander III, cobblestone
"streets" and cast-iron street lamps. Plenty of French
restaurants and stores with French goods complete the picture.
Las Vegas version of Ancient Egypt
Luxor hotel/casino is very easy to spot from
the Strip because of its unusual pyramid shape (quite a neat
building I have to say). It's also very easy to spot at night
from miles away because of a beam of light projecting from the
pyramid's apex. Inside the hotel, the atrium is impressive
because of its sheer size; architectural features are modeled
after Ancient Egypt displaying a mix of temples, statues,
hieroglyphs etc. At one of the entrances, near the walkway to
Excalibur there are two talking camels, so cheesy that they'll
make you laugh for half a day.
All things Italian in Las Vegas
I didn't get to visit Bellagio until my 4th
time in Vegas but I have to say that it's the classiest thing
in Vegas. It deserves to be visited on a first trip to Vegas.
The fountain shows (free every night at regular intervals) are
beautiful and once I've seen one show I wanted more; and since
they change the music, the movements of the fountains and the
light effects from show to show it's hard to get bored. I think
I've seen three or four different ones. Bellagio's interior is
also very beautiful; the main lobby ceiling is made of glass
flowers of many colors; the nearby conservatory is definitely
worth a stop. There's also a Gallery of Fine Art with fine
paintings by Manet, Picasso and others.
The Auto Collection at the Imperial Palace
We went to the Imperial Palace to see the
Auto Collection which turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
The collection is located on the fifth floor of the parking
garage. There is a counter set up at the Strip entrance that
offers vouchers for seeing the collection so you can get in
for free. You can also find coupons on the web or in various
free brochures, but I believe that you still have to visit the
above mentioned counter to get the entrance pass.
I'm not an auto enthusiast but I liked the collection. There
were over 200 classic cars on display. I remember seeing many
Ford, Mercedes, Cadillacs and Chevrolets models. They have a
room dedicated to the British invasion which includes rare
classics from Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, Cooper, Aston Martin,
all dating from the 1930s through the 1960s. The collection has
been there a long time, but from what I understood the cars
rotate in an out. A number of the cars had a "for sale" tag.
I remember seeing a convertible car that used to belong to
Marilyn Monroe. This one was also on sale (together with her
Circus Circus is a family themed resort
located at the north end of the Strip. Besides the large
casino you can enjoy free circus acts performed every half
hour throughout the entire day and all kind of amusements, most
of them designed towards family fun. Above the main casion
there is a game room dedicated to children (the prizes consist
of lots of stuffed animals). This room is where you can see
the circus acts. Circus Circus also has an indoor amusement
park located in the pink dome behind the main building. Most
of the rides are geared towards children. The hotel has
resonably priced rooms, restaurants and buffets.
This hotel/casino recreates the city of
Venice complete with copies of the Doge's Palace, the Campanile
and the Rialto Bridge. Gondolas can take you inside the building
and on the way you can be serenated for a lot less than in real
Venice :-) The canals lead you to - where else - the Grand Canal
(upscale and expensive) Shoppes. Inside the complex cobblestone
streets and bridges lie under a blue painted sky like the one
in Renaissance paintings. Throughout the building you'll find
reproductions of famous paitings by Venetian masters like a
copy of Veronese's painting "The Apotheosis of Venice". They
even kept the same prices as in Venice as the restaurants and
shops are all expensive :-) But I liked their casino which
is big and well air-conditioned. If you are in Vegas,
don't miss the Venetian.
Excalibur Hotel/Casino recreates the
medieval world of King Arthur. The exterior of the hotel with
its towers, turrets, a drawbridge and Merlin sitting in a
balcony makes you believe you are in fact at Disneyland. Inside
the hotel the theme continues with suits of armor that line
the entrance and with everything that looks medieval being in
a way or another part of the spectacle. It's actually so silly
that it becames fun to look at all the details.
Stratosphere is located at the northern
end of the Strip, away from the main attractions, but a
visit here is well worth it. The resort has one of the Las
Vegas landmarks, the Stratosphere Tower which is 1149 ft
(350 m) tall. From the top of the tower you get great views
of the city. The views from Eiffel Tower offer more detail
but here you can get a feeling of how big Las Vegas is; the
mountains in the distance make for a great background. Also
at the top two rides are offered, a rollercoaster and a
free-falling thingy called The Big Shot. I didn't try any of
them but I can tell that they look scary.
Apart from the tower you'll find everything of what is offered
in a Strip resort: the casino which is located on the ground level;
shops, restaurants and a 1500 rooms hotel. We stayed here once
and we enjoyed the room and their all you can eat buffet.
Fremont Street Experience
The Fremont Street Experience opened in 1995
as an attempt to revive the area of Downtown Las Vegas. One can
say that touristic Vegas is made of light shows (so much as I
was able to take pictures at night without using the flash or a
tripod); but the most impressive light show is the one that can be
seen every night on the hour on Fremont Street, starting with 6.00 PM.
Above this section of the street (which is opened only to pedestrians)
is a big canopy made of 2 million lightbulbs. The canopy is like a
giant screen on which different images are created and, of course,
everything is set on music. Their sound installation seems to be state
of the art as well. I imagine their electricity bill runs pretty
high ;) There are multiple shows that are being shown, so if you
liked it, you can stick around and see if the one the follows is better.
Treasure Island Las Vegas
Located on central Strip next to its sister
resort, the Mirage, Treasure Island is best known for the show that
takes place here a few times every night. They used to have an
entertaining pirate show which we saw in 2001 but since this is
Vegas they had to make it cheesier and so they changed it into
a sirens show. The sirens show is very similar in fact to the
pirates show, just that now they have some scantily clad women who
dance to music. The show is running three or four times daily and
you have to come early if you wish to get a good spot. Traffic
pretty much stops in this area when the show is on. Treasure Island
hotel and casion is themed on Robery Louis Stevenson's novel of the
same name, although lately the management seems eager to downplay it.
They had a logo with a skull and bones which they replaced it with a
very sleek looking new logo (with no skull and no bones). The entrance
features a Carribbean lagoon (this is where the sirens show takes
place). Inside there are isolated pirate touches like ship
figureheads on the walls. The hotel is also home to the popular
contemporary circus Cirque du Soleil with their show "Mystere"
performed in a specially customized showroom.
The Star Trek Museum
At this point in writing my Las Vegas page
I have to admit that I am a geek. I've watched every Star Trek
episode there is, many of them multiple times (I've probably been
one of the five people who watched Voyager from beginning to end).
So who better than me to enjoy this attraction? The Star Trek
Experience at Hilton hotel... Sounded promising. And indeed it was
lots of fun (and I have to confess to going there three times by now
in about 7 visits to Las Vegas). Anyway. At first this is a "museum"
where you'll find a very serious Star Trek timeline and a few
displays with costumes and all sorts of devices used in the series.
But the fun is about to begin. They have two interactive shows,
with real actors playing the part of the crew. In "The Klingon
Encounter" you're beamed aboard Enterprise and have to escape the
mightly Klingon warriors which involves a bumpy shuttle ride. In
the new show "Borg Invasion 4D" you'll be in danger to be assimilated
by the Borg. The cost of the attraction is a little high in my opinion
but this is Vegas after all where few things come cheap. After
exiting both attraction you'll end up in the gift shop, where they
try to take advantage of you and sell you more stuff you don't need.
There are actors dressed as different species walking around and you
can take pictures with them if you wish. The Star Trek theme area
also includes a "Deep Space Nine" promenade featuring Quark's Bar
and Restaurant (you don't need to buy a ticket to wander off here).