Secrets to Vegas: Attractions
We don't live in hotels. Not all Vegas women are showgirls. No one wants your kidneys. Now that we've dispelled those little misconceptions, find out more of what we locals know about the real Las Vegas.
Fast times: You've all heard Las Vegas referred to as an adult playground. For those of us who are denying our adulthood, the casino developers have been kind enough to create mini theme parks. One of the most-raved-about roller coasters on the Strip is The Roller Coaster at New York - New York. Expect lots of twists, loops, dives and inversions at about 67 miles per hour. Although it's not a roller coaster, the Big Shot at the Stratosphere gets high marks for scariness. Imagine being strapped into a chair 1,000 feet above the ground, then being launched 160 feet up a tower in two seconds. Another must-see at the Stratosphere is X Scream, which shoots riders 27 feet over the edge of the tower at speeds of up to 30 mph before pulling them back to safety. We recommend riding both at night, so try to keep your eyes open for the spectacular view. Click here for our guide to Sin City roller coasters.
A very nice price: Las Vegas offers free drinks when you gamble, free lounge acts, free parking and a few free attractions. Some hotels have made an art of outdoor exhibits like the Sirens of TI at Treasure Island, the Volcano at the Mirage and the Fountains at the Bellagio.
Another Vegas must-see that is free of charge is the Bellagio's Conservatory, gorgeous any time of the year. The arrangements change based on the season or holiday; you need to go back each time you visit. One caveat: Children younger than 18 cannot enter Bellagio unless accompanied by adults who are guests of the hotel (or who are visiting one of the hotel's attractions, restaurants or shows).
Click here for our guide to free Vegas attractions.
Quick Bellagio fountain quiz: It's 8 p.m. on a Saturday night, you're on the sidewalk in front of the Paris Las Vegas and suddenly the Fountains at the Bellagio beckon. You (a) run as fast as you can across the street hoping you didn't miss a drop; (b) stay where you are and enjoy the show from there; or (c) look for the nearest crosswalk, knowing that if you missed anything, the show starts all over again in a mere 15 minutes. This safety tip has been brought to you by the staff at VEGAS.com. Because we care about your well-being (and your gambling dollars).
Cheap thrills: So you'd like to enjoy some of the Vegas attractions but want to save some change for the tables? It can be done; not all of them will break the bank. For example, if you want to check out the Auto Collections at The Quad, take a stroll through the casino first -- there always is someone handing out free passes. If you want to see some one-of-a-kind art without the hefty price tag for admission, stop by THEhotel at Mandalay Bay. Go through the entrance and around to the lobby area of THEhotel; there you will find a rotating exhibit of pop and modern art. You also should do a little celebrity sighting at Madame Tussauds, which adds new exhibits every few months, so it's different every time you go. But be sure to walk through the Grand Canal Shops at the Venetian first, where you'll find a Madame Tussauds' employee handing out coupons for $4 off.
Another option to getting the most out of your moola is by picking up unlimited ride passes that are available at most attractions. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or just trying to occupy the kids for a bit, you'll definitely get your money's worth. At the Circus Circus Adventuredome, rides average $4 to $6, but you can get an unlimited pass for $21.95. The Roller Coaster at New York-New York costs $14 for one ride, and riders can make another trip for an additional $7. An all-day pass can be bought for $25.
The outer limits: The Strip is great, but sometimes it just gets too crowded. Most people aren't aware of it, but there's lots to see away from Las Vegas Boulevard. Check out the Old Mormon Fort and see one of the original Las Vegas homesteads. Right down the street is the Discovery Children's Museum, one of the gems of downtown Las Vegas. It's meant for children, but it's just as much fun for the grown-ups.
Get out of town: If you're renting a car or plan to take a tour and want proof that people actually do live in Las Vegas -- and not in hotels -- take a drive to the Red Rock Canyon Loop. Starting from the Strip, you'll head west on Charleston Boulevard for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on traffic. A small per-car fee will get you onto the 13-mile scenic drive through Red Rock Canyon, and it's definitely worth the price of admission. You also can drive out past Red Rock to the Spring Mountain Ranch, a great place to picnic. The ranch also charges a per-car entrance fee. Click here for more information on Red Rock.
Take the plunge (literally): So you've been working out all winter just to show off your pecs or abs or buns of steel during your Vegas vacation. Now your dilemma is determining which hotel pool will be lucky enough to count you as one of its "beautiful people." In our continual effort to make your trip easier, we compiled a list of hotel pools and even picked our favorites. This also will be helpful to those of you who just want to gawk at the buns of steel. Click here for our guide to hotel pools.
Do you have a tip you'd like to share? Send it to email@example.com.