Things to Do in Las Vegas
Las Vegas may be home to the famous Strip, glittering lights and plenty of world-class casinos, but the Las Vegas Springs Preserve showcases 180 acres of stunning natural landscapes and is the perfect place for travelers and families who want to escape the urban landscapes and spend a day in the rugged outdoors.
Visitors can explore winding nature trails, check out a stunning desert botanical garden, and venture into a natural wetland habitat. An informative museum and historic photo gallery also offer plenty of context for the dynamic plants and unique ecosystems that are a part of this prime family destination.
Both mesmerizing and horrifying, 100 mushroom clouds bloomed from and above the desert at the Nevada Test Site between 1951 and 1962. Hundreds more atomic explosions blasted underground until 1992. One hundred and ten miles away from the site, the National Atomic Testing Museum explores the area’s history, the ‘Atomic Age’ and dissects geopolitical events including what this nuclear history means for the world today.
This colorful Smithsonian-affiliated museum’s 8,000 square feet of collections include some 12,000 artifacts, documents, photographs and video clips that recount the history and pop culture surrounding the Cold War, atomic science and the Nevada Test Site. Walk through a circular bunker to see a 1960s children’s cereal box offering a free ‘atomic ring,’ Native American artifacts from the test area, Geiger counters, a replica 9 megaton nuclear bomb and the reactor that spawned the original nuclear rocket.
Our fascination with the Titanic seems to have only grown stronger with time, and more than 100 years after the ship sank, The Artifact Exhibition at the Luxor Hotel and Casino is one of Las Vegas' many popular attractions.
The exhibit features more than 250 items recovered from the wreck of the Titanic on the sea floor, including the ship's whistle, passenger luggage and even an unopened 1900 vintage bottle of Champagne. There are also careful recreations of some elements of the ship, including the grand staircase, first-class cabins and the promenade deck.
Today's Las Vegas is far more family-friendly than the city used to be. A fine example of this is the new addition of a 41-acre Wet 'n' Wild water park within the city limits.
Wet 'n' Wild Las Vegas opened in 2013 and has a total of 25 attractions, including two pools and 10 water slides. These slides were largely designed for adventure seekers, with names like the Tornado and the Rattler, which may be more like a roller coaster on water than a traditional slide. There's also a kid-friendly area with less intimidating slides and wade pools.
If there’s one thing that sets Rio apart from all other Las Vegas resorts, it’s the fact that its casino plays host to the annual World Series of Poker (WSOP). Guests are welcome to play in Rio’s poker room, the only one in the world that features 100% certified WSOP dealers, where just about every poker game is available, from classics like hold ‘em and seven-card stud to 2-7 triple draw and badugi. There are five poker tournaments held in the poker room daily, with a variety of buy-ins at different times.
Beyond the poker room, Rio’s casino floor has dozens of tables featuring popular games including blackjack, craps, roulette and baccarat. The vast majority of the resort’s 1,200 slot machines are in a masquerade-themed, 100,000-square-foot space, where a series of floats glides over the crowd several times each Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening.
You may have seen the traveling show for Bodies: The Exhibition as it came through your city, but if you missed it or would even like to see it again, you'll be pleased to know there's a permanent exhibit in Las Vegas at the Luxor Hotel and Casino.
In the Las Vegas Bodies: The Exhibition, more than 200 actual human bodies are on display, having been carefully dissected, preserved and reassembled in order to give us a look at how the human body looks and works. There are complete bodies, as well as specific organs and organ systems on display to highlight different aspects of the mysteries of the human body.
More Things to Do in Las Vegas
According to Caesars Palace’s website, more $1,000,000+ casino slot machine jackpots have been won on the resort’s casino floor than in any other casino in the world. Guests can play anything from 1¢ to $500 on traditional reel-type slot machines, video reels machines, video poker games, video blackjack and keno.
The resort features several popular table games as well including blackjack, craps, roulette, baccarat, Spanish 21, mini-baccarat, Pai Gow and Pai Gow poker. The 8,500-square-foot poker room has 62 tables and 24-hours games including a full daily schedule of poker tournaments. Caesars Palace’s race and sports book has 65 private booths, each with a 12-inch flat-screen television, and several oversized screens.
Though all Las Vegas resorts are packed with action, Caesars Palace offers one of the best opportunities to get the best of everything in a single place. Several award-winning restaurants and the new Bacchanal Buffet never leave guests hungry.
Many Las Vegas visitors lament that the city has no history, but that’s not quite the truth. Though some buildings have been imploded and several hotels and businesses have closed over the years, many of the neon signs that branded these buildings have ended up in the Neon Museum, also known as the Neon Boneyard. More than 150 discarded signs in the Neon Boneyard—including those from the Stardust, Moulin Rouge, Desert Inn, Aladdin and Flamingo—memorialize Las Vegas’ history and culture over the years, and they also preserve an art form for which Las Vegas is famous.
The Neon Museum recently celebrated the grand opening of its new La Concha Visitors’ Center, which makes touring the museum significantly easier than in years past. The two-acre exhibition can be viewed by guided tours only. The guides do an excellent job in providing context in which to appreciate not only the signs but the businesses they represented.
Since the early 1980s Harrah’s has operated as a budget-friendly staple of the Las Vegas strip. It’s the perfect place for those who want a taste of Sin City but don’t want to break the bank doing it. This carnival-themed destination has three massive towers which house seven restaurants, plenty of entertainment options, shopping, a full-service spa and even a couple of performance spaces.
With more than 2,500 rooms and close to 90,000 square feet of casino space, guests of this Mardi Gras-themed hotel won’t ever have to leave. The open-air Carnaval Court and indoor piano bar offer travelers two great in-house options for entertainment that’s as inexpensive as it is fun, and while visitors agree the basic rooms are nothing to write home about, they say both the accommodations and the accessibility are tough to beat for the price.
Circus Circus is a hotel and casino that combines a live circus show with the fun and flavor of Sin City. Featuring an indoor amusement park and all the usual Vegas casino games, Circus Circus treads a fine line between 'family' entertainment and straight-up adult gaming entertainment.
In the casino rooms, live circus acts are performed overhead, complete with trapeze artists, and acrobats, giving a new meaning to clowning around.
Then there’s the Adventuredome, an indoor amusement park featuring laser tag, roller coasters, and 3-D rides. These thrill rides are a popular destination for families and couples alike, so get ready to scream in delight.
Inside the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino is the Shark Reef Aquarium, showcasing more than 2,000 animals displayed in 14 different exhibits and almost 1.6 million gallons of water.
The Shark Reef Aquarium was designed to be a “total sensory experience,” and part of that is achieved by leading visitors through an acrylic tunnel with water nearly surrounding them. This exhibit alone includes 15 different species of sharks along with all the other sea life in the tank.
Other species in the aquarium include golden crocodiles, sea turtles and piranhas, none of which are included in the touching pools where visitors can find out what some of the other sea creatures feel like.
Las Vegas doesn't do entertainment on the small scale, and one of its newest amusement-park-like rides doesn't disappoint. The VooDoo Zip Line is strung between the Masquerade and Ipanema towers at the Rio Hotel and Casino and stretches almost a third of a mile between the two. The ride takes you from the high point at Rio's VooDoo Rooftop Nightclub down to the lower tower and then back again–you ride backwards on the return trip.
The zipline is also about 400 feet above the ground, and because Rio sits just off the main part of the Strip, you'll get panoramic views of the Strip and beyond in all directions. You'll have to look quickly, though, as the zipline can get reach speeds of more than 30 miles per hour.
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