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.
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 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.
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.
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.