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

Virtuozity - - Travel -

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.

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