The other side of Sin City
LAS VEGAS MAY BE WELL-KNOWN AS THE GAMBLING CAPITAL OF THE WORLD, BUT THE CITY HAS PLENTY TO OFFER THOSE WHO DON’T WANT TO FLAUNT THEIR STUFF IN BIG CASINOS
would come together in less than 20 years that would help Las Vegas grow into what it is today. Firstly, the construction of the Hoover Dam in 1928 brought thousands of workers to the area. What is now known as Boulder City was established for the workers.
Later, in 1931, Nevada (the state in which Las Vegas sits) legalised gambling, and downtown Las Vegas became an entertainment centre for the dam workers, with casinos and speakeasies. Business became so good that Las Vegas surpassed Reno as the gambling capital of the world in less than 10 years. During the same period in the 1930s, Los Angeles was also growing rapidly from a mid-sized city to a global centre for the entertainment and manufacturing industries. But because gambling was banned in California at the time, Southern California workers began traveling to Las Vegas for vacation, recreation, and entertainment.
Finally, in 1941, the luxurious El Rancho Vegas resort opened on what would later become the Las Vegas Strip. Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel later opened the Flamingo Hotel in 1946. The opening of these two resorts started a building boom and established a tradition of one-upmanship, with each new hotel and casino trying to outdo another. That tradition continues today, hence the astonishing level of luxury seen in Las Vegas.
And indeed, it would be easy to spend a week in Las Vegas touring these hotels, seeking thrills at each of the casinos on the main strip. However, the city has plenty more to offer those who aren’t into gambling, but would still like to sample the glitz and glam of one of America’s most decadent cities.
For example, to see an enormous collection of sea life from a comfortable viewing platform, head to the Aquarium at the Mirage. Or, if you’ve got kids with you, head to the Adventuredome at Circus Circus, America’s largest indoor theme park with 25 rides and attractions.
One of our favourites, though, is the Auto Collections museum at the Quad. Originally an auto museum at the Imperial Palace, The Auto Collections became the largest classic car showroom in 2000, selling, buying and trading more than 200 fully restored cars ranging in price from $15,000 to several million. The collections spans 125,000 square feet and every car is one-of-a-kind.
For history buffs, check out Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at Luxor. The 25,000-square-foot exhibit features numerous items from the Titanic, including luggage, the ship’s whistles, floor tiles from the first-class smoking room, a window frame from the Verandah Cafe and an unopened bottle of champagne with a 1900 vintage. In addition, the exhibit features a piece of Titanic’s hull, a full-scale re-creation of the Grand Staircase as well as a newly expanded outer Promenade Deck, complete with the frigid temperatures felt on that fateful April night.
Otherwise, don’t be afraid to leave the city for a day trip to Red Rock Canyon, right on the edge of Las Vegas’ limits. Climbing is possible year-round, though spring and autumn tend to be most comfortable. There is also a scenic drive through the canyon, which will take you about 30 minutes to complete. And, of course, on the drive there are opportunities to park up and get out of the car for a quick photo shoot.