Las Ve­gas: Be­yond the Sin City

IMAGINE LAS VE­GAS. THINK OF IT AND THE FIRST THOUGHT THAT CROSSES YOUR MIND IS THAT OF HUGE CA­SI­NOS, FANCY RE­SORTS, GLAMOROUS HO­TELS, LIGHTS EVERYWHERE AND THE FEEL OF A CITY THAT NE­VER SLEEPS.

Excelencias Turísticas del caribe y las Américas - - Via­je­si / Tra­vel -

Las Ve­gas is no doubt one of the ico­nic ci­ties of the Uni­ted Sta­tes, one of its top tra­vel des­ti­na­tions -with over 40 mi­llion vi­si­tors every year- and ho­me to many of the most ama­zing man-ma­de struc­tu­res ever built. Its tou­rism-orien­ted dri­ve has al­so ma­de the so-ca­lled Sin City the host of choi­ce for the next host of the In­ter­na­tio­nal Pow Wow (IPW 2020), the lea­ding in­ter­na­tio­nal in­bound tra­vel tra­de show that re­els in so­mew­he­re around $5.5 bi­llion in fu­tu­re tra­vel to the Uni­ted Sta­tes.

Ha­ving said that, IPW de­le­ga­tes and guests know for su­re what Las Ve­gas has to of­fer in terms of en­ter­tain­ment. But that's not all. The city in the U.S. sta­te of Ne­va­da har­bors a num­ber of ama­zing land­marks and sight­seeing spots worth ta­king a clo­ser look at. The Ex­ce­len­cias ma­ga­zi­ne ta­kes you on a grand tour around just ten of tho­se at­trac­tions that add to the gla­mour of the ca­sino and fro­lic­king nightli­fe.

THE STRIP

The 2.5-mi­le-long cen­tral sec­tion of Las Ve­gas Bou­le­vard, which runs th­rough the city from nort­heast to south­west, known as the Strip, is li­ned with hu­ge en­ter­tain­ment pa­la­ces, many built with a de­fi­ning the­me and ho­me to per­for­man­ce ve­nues, lu­xury ho­tel rooms, and fi­ne di­ning. The Strip is par­ti­cu­larly im­pres­si­ve at night, when the city is illu­mi­na­ted by an end­less suc­ces­sion of glit­te­ri­ng neon signs.

Most vi­si­tors en­joy wal­king along the Strip and ta­king in the sights. Ge­ne­rally spea­king, the Las Ve­gas Strip runs from the Man­da­lay Bay Ho­tel to Trea­su­re Is­land Ho­tel. To truly ex­pe­rien­ce Las Ve­gas, stay on the Strip, pre­fe­rably at one of the ma­jor re­sorts.

FREEMONT STREET

In old down­town Las Ve­gas, Fre­mont Street is a pe­des­trian-only area with all kinds of uni­que si­tes. A fi­ve-block sec­tion of Fre­mont Street is co­ve­red over with a ca­nopy of LED lights that illu­mi­na­te the sky in a spec­ta­cle of dif­fe­rent co­lors and de­signs as you walk be­low.

Known as the Fre­mont Street Ex­pe­rien­ce, each night a fan­tas­tic mu­sic and vi­sual show ta­kes pla­ce over­head. Street per­for­mers and spe­cial en­ter­tain­ment acts of­ten per­form out­doors in this area.

Fre­mont Street is in down­town Las Ve­gas, a few ki­lo­me­ters from the Strip. It is best to ta­ke a ta­xi to reach this area. Or, if you want to truly ex­pe­rien­ce Las Ve­gas at night, ta­ke the 3.5-hour Las Ve­gas Lights Night Tour, which in­clu­des the Fre­mont Street light show and high­lights along the Strip.

THE MOB MU­SEUM

The Mob Mu­seum, or the Na­tio­nal Mu­seum of Or­ga­ni­zed Cri­me and Law En­for­ce­ment as it is of­fi­cially na­med, is a truly uni­que and stan­dout mu­seum in Ne­va­da. The mu­seum is hou­sed in a 1933 Neo­clas­si­cal buil­ding, for­merly the US Post Of­fi­ce and Court­hou­se, that has its own his­tory. It was one of the lo­ca­tions for the fa­mous Ke­fau­ver Com­mit­tee hea­rings in 1950, which re­vea­led so­me ugly truths about or­ga­ni­zed cri­me in Las Ve­gas and across the US.

The mu­seum tells the his­tory of the Mob in Ame­ri­ca th­rough en­ga­ging, in­ter­ac­ti­ve dis­plays and vi­deo clips. Ex­hi­bits deal with everyt­hing from the in­di­vi­dual cha­rac­ters and events to the cul­tu­re and fas­hion as­so­cia­ted with the ti­mes.

THE NEON MU­SEUM

The bright and co­lor­ful neon signs of Las Ve­gas ha­ve been one of the city's most me­mo­ra­ble sights for countless vi­si­tors th­roug­hout the years. The­se mul­ti-story ad­ver­ti­sing bea­cons be­ca­me one of the city's claims to fa­me.

To­day, the Neon Mu­seum is wor­king hard to pre­ser­ve so­me of the city's his­tory by pur­cha­sing, sto­ring, and in so­me ca­ses, re­fur­bis­hing the his­to­ric neon signs that ha­ve go­ne by the way­si­de as bu­si­nes­ses ha­ve fa­ded or new signs ha­ve ta­ken the pla­ce of ol­der icons.

You can see many of the­se signs by ta­king a gui­ded tour at the Neon Mu­seum, whe­re old neon signs are sto­red out­si­de in a lar­ge com­pound. Gui­des pro­vi­de the his­tory of the signs and de­signs, which ha­ve evol­ved over the years.

Ef­forts at the mu­seum are on­going, and signs stand in var­ying con­di­tions. In so­me ca­ses, only a por­tion was sa­ved or found, whi­le ot­hers ha­ve been res­to­red to their for­mer glory. This con­trast ma­kes the mu

seum that much mo­re in­ter­es­ting and gi­ves vi­si­tors in­sight in­to how much work and up­keep is re­qui­red with the­se giant signs.

THE STRA­TOSP­HE­RE TO­WER

The Stra­tosp­he­re To­wer is an un­mis­ta­ka­ble sight on the Las Ve­gas sky­li­ne. The to­wer ri­ses up 1,149 feet, and on the roof­top of the to­wer are a va­riety of heart poun­ding th­rill ri­des, in­clu­ding the Sk­yJump, Big Shot, X Scream, and In­sa­nity.

For tho­se loo­king for a little less dra­ma, the­re is an in­door and out­door ob­ser­va­tion deck with great views over the city. The Stra­tosp­he­re To­wer claims the "ta­llest frees­tan­ding ob­ser­va­tion to­wer in the USA."

FLOYD LAMB STA­TE PARK

This oa­sis of grass, ponds, and cot­ton­wood trees has been po­pu­lar sin­ce prehis­to­ric ti­mes. Ho­me to Tu­le Springs Ranch, the springs we­re vi­si­ted by mam­mals from the Pleis­to­ce­ne age.

Fos­sils of ex­tinct mam­moths, bi­son, hor­ses, ca­mels, giant sloths, and mo­re ha­ve been found he­re—not by In­dia­na Jo­nes, but it's still im­pres­si­ve. The springs la­ter ser­ved as a wa­te­ri­ng ho­le for pros­pec­tors and then in 1916 be­ca­me ho­me to a blacks­mith shop.

In the 1920s, it was a self-sup­por­ting ranch and a re­treat for pros­pec­ti­ve di­vor­cees and sin­gles. This is a who­le lot of his­tory, so ta­ke your fa­mily out for a pic­nic or bar­be­cue and spot wild pea­cocks roa­ming the grounds whi­le you ta­ke it all in.

THE SECRET GAR­DEN

Sieg­fried & Roy's Secret Gar­den and Dolp­hin Ha­bi­tat has a spe­cial pla­ce in Las Ve­gas his­tory.

Nestled in­si­de The Mi­ra­ge on the Las Ve­gas Strip, the sanc­tuary has at­trac­ted mi­llions of vi­si­tors in its 27-year his­tory. Foun­ded by the fa­mous ma­gi­cian duo Sieg­fried and Roy, the ha­bi­tat is ho­me to dolp­hins, white ti­gers, pant­hers and lions, and for an ad­di­tio­nal cost, guests can paint, swim or prac­ti­ce yo­ga with the ani­mals.

HOOVER DAM

Whi­le the Strip ma­de Las Ve­gas fa­mous, Hoover Dam ma­de the city sus­tai­na­ble. Cons­truc­ted du­ring the Great De­pres­sion, the en­gi­nee­ring won­der pro­vi­ded des­pe­ra­tely nee­ded work to thou­sands of wor­kers.

Vi­si­tors can tour both the dam and the po­wer plant th­rough dif­fe­rent tours that are avai­la­ble at dif­fe­rent pri­ces. The vi­sually stri­king dam is al­so ex­tre­mely fun­ctio­nal, pro­vi­ding po­wer to Ne­va­da, Ari­zo­na and Ca­li­for­nia th­rough its ar­ched struc­tu­re.

THE SHARK REEF AQUARIUM

Lo­ca­ted in­si­de the Man­da­lay Bay next to the con­ven­tion cen­ter, the Shark Reef aquarium is ho­me to turtles, pi­ran­has, eels, stin­grays and 15 spe­cies of sharks.

The aquarium is a great op­tion if you're loo­king for things to do in Las Ve­gas with kids and is bu­siest du­ring the sum­mer months.

For an ad­di­tio­nal fee, guests at the Man­da­lay Bay can get an in­ti­ma­te look at the aquarium th­rough its pro­gram Di­ve With Sharks.

BE­LLA­GIO CONSERVATO­RY AND BOTANICAL GAR­DEN

Li­ke many things in Las Ve­gas, the Be­lla­gio Conservato­ry draws a crowd. Lo­ca­ted across from the ho­tel front desk, the conservato­ry chan­ges th­roug­hout the year thanks to the over 100 gar­de­ners who de­sign and ca­re for the fa­ci­lity.

Just li­ke the foun­tains in front of the pro­perty and the glass flo­wers in the lobby, the conservato­ry and gar­den ma­ke the Be­lla­gio a worthw­hi­le stop on any tra­ve­ler's to-do list.

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