What to See and Do
This is the fastest-growing city in America -- not only
in the number of new residents who move here each year, and
hundreds of new houses built on the desert, but each year
there's another new and more spectacular hotel.
There's lots of power flowing from Hoover Dam to keep the
neon blinking, and there is a not-so-subtle shift taking
place in Las Vegas, toward offering more of an all-around
family vacation experience, with gambling playing a lesser
role in some hotel operations.
Excalibur -- the huge medieval hotel -- started
the trend, and there are more hotels combined with theme
park type entertainment. Hotels that have been around for
awhile include the MGM Grand, Treasure Island,
and Luxor. Circus Circus, the original
family-oriented casino-hotel, has added the adventure center
"Grand Slam Canyon."
Then there are the newest breed of super-spectacular
hotels: with Bellagio -- the first -- opened in 1988. Mandalay Bay and The Venetian opened in 1999.
The Aladdin opened in August, 2000. The options
expanded when The Palms opened, attracting a hip
young crowd and lots of sports stars. The boldest
new hotel, now with a large expnasion, is Wynn Las Vegas, developed by Steve Wynn who built Bellagio among other
leading casino hotels.
In addition to the attractions of Las Vegas, the city is
just 140 miles from the middle of Death Valley and only 20
miles from Red Rock Canyon -- a wonderful
conservation area that offers an archeological loop drive.
The city is 50 miles from Valley of Fire State Park,
where 1,500-year-old Indian rock paintings are found amidst
North of town, Mt. Charleston offers a cool
retreat from the bustle of Las Vegas with recreation sites
operated by the Forest Service. It's only 40 miles away.
You can take a canoe or raft trip down the Colorado
River, below the Hoover Dam, and through the
Colorado's Black Canyon to Lake Mojave. Even
Arizona's Grand Canyon is less than a day's drive
from Las Vegas.
For more on day trips, go
This is a university town with several good museums,
including the Clark County Museum (1830 South Boulder
Hwy. in nearby Henderson), the Las Vegas Art Museum (3333 W.
Washington), the Las Vegas Natural History Museum (990 Las Vegas Blvd.), and the Nevada State Museum (700 Twin
Lakes Drive). The University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV)
has two fine cultural attractions to visit: the Museum of
Natural History and the Alta Ham Fine Art
Gallery, both at 4505 S. Maryland Parkway. The city's Zoo is located at 1775 North Rancho and is open daily
from 9 am to 5 p.m. Commercial museums include the Liberace Museum and the newer attraction next door,
the Bethany Celebrity Doll Museum -- think of it as a
miniature wax museum. They're both located at Tropicana
Blvd. and Spencer Street.
One of the best family attractions in Las Vegas, Shark
Reef -- at the Mandalay Bay Hotel -- is a large and
dramatic aquarium featuring dangerous and unusual aquatic
animals and fish from the world's tropical waters, Shark
Reef takes visitors on a journey through what appears to be
an ancient temple that has been slowly claimed by the sea
and a sunken galleon ship where sharks lurk in the
There are close to 2,000 animals in Shark Reef. The
inhabitants include ten different species of sharks, several
varieties of tropical fish including angelfish, puffer fish,
lion fish, and fox face fish -- some of which are poisonous.
Reptiles and invertebrates are also found in the exhibits,
including crocodiles, sea turtles, water monitors, eels,
rays, and jellyfish.
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