Vegas Basics If you're planning a trip to Vegas in the near future there are a few basic things you should know. First things first, walking shoes are a must for any trip to Vegas. You will probably be spending a lot of time on your feet and will need shoes that can handle standing in lines and walking quite nicely. Second, the weather in Vegas is fairly predictable. You are likely to experience rather cool nights, particularly during the months between October and April so bring some warm clothes. You should also be prepared for a lot of sunshine and pack copious amounts of sunscreen in order to protect your skin. Remember that the times around holidays are often the busiest times in Vegas if you want to avoid the higher prices and larger crowds you should avoid booking during these times. And if those are the times you absolutely wish to stay and play in Vegas you should make plans and book well ahead of time to make sure you have your first choice in accommodations. It is important to remember that Vegas is indeed a desert town and that you will need to drink plenty of water and moisturize more than you might be accustomed to. This is a much drier climate than many people experience in their day-to-day lives and the heat and dryness can sneak up on you for a double whammy if you aren't prepared. If you're a golfer, you've found heaven and should come prepared. This means you should bring your best clubs along with you and be prepared to play a few rounds. You should probably also bring a nice set of dress clothes in order to catch some of the great shows that are always playing in Vegas. While Vegas is famous for big spenders, it is quite possible to spend thriftily and have a nice vacation for two at around $100 per day. At the other end of the spectrum, big spenders can drop thousands on one meal very easily. Pay attention to the places you are considering before you enter if you are on a limited budget. If you're planning to stray far from your hotel or resort, it's a good idea if you plan to rent a car or drive your own. The distances here can be quite conceiving and you can easily loose track of time while enjoying yourself inside the many casinos. Vegas is almost as famous for weddings as it is for Casinos. If you are hoping to get married Vegas style you have a lot of styles from which to choose and you are not by any means alone. More than 122,000 couples apply for marriage licenses in Vegas each year. The licensing fees for marriage in Vegas is around $55 (this is the current rate, keep in mind that this rate is subject to change) and then there are the fees involved for the chapel you use, the services offered, etc. You can choose to go as informal and small or as bold and lavish as you can afford. One of the most important things to remember about Vegas is like the new commercials claim, "What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas". So let your hair down and have some fun during your time here and be sure to make plans for your return trip. This can be a wonderful vacation experience for you whether you are planning marriage, a golf smorgasbord, a gambling festival, to see your favorite act, or just to spend time with the family hanging out around the pool. Your trip to Vegas is what you make of your trip to Vegas. I suggest you have as much fun as possible. Enjoy the sights, watch the shows, enjoy the many great buffets, and spend some time at the hotel spa relaxing and rejuvenating as you prepare to go back home and face the outside world yet again. Tips for the Las Vegas Traveler To get from the airport to your hotel in style, you may consider taking a limousine. The airport also runs a shuttle service and there are several taxi services you can employ. Remote check in has become quite popular. If you are staying at Paris, MGM Grand, Bally's, Caesar's Palace, or the Flamingo, you are able to check in once you get to the airport. They give you your room key at the airport and you can go straight to your room without the hassle of waiting in line at the front desk. There are several free guides to tell you what is going on at any given time in Las Vegas. "What's On" magazine will tell you about all of the buffets, shows, restaurants and malls in the area. It also has multiple ads for tours for the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, and Death Valley. Bring a bottle of water with you wherever you go. Because of the dry air of the desert setting, you can lose more fluid than you think. Always stop and get some water or a drink every few hours to rehydrate yourself. Always be careful with your purse or wallet. This is especially true around crowds. At the Fremont Street Experience, there are a lot of people standing around and it is a pickpocket's heaven. Somebody may accidentally bump into you. Check your pockets afterward. Don't try to walk from Fremont Street back to the strip. You will walk through area where there are not a lot of people even in the daytime. Ladies, be especially careful. When crossing the street, make sure to use the crosswalks. You can be fined for not following the sign. Also, wait for the WALK before you cross. Local people will fly down the strip and you could be injured. Many of the people driving cars are also tourists who are sightseeing while driving and not paying complete attention to the road. Tips for Playing in the Casino The first thing you should do when approaching a game or table is to see what the minimum and maximum bets are. Watch if you go to the same one several times, they change these limits Thursday through Sunday sometimes. Also, if the bet limits are too high, try the downtown casinos. They are routinely lower than the strip casinos. Throw out the mindset that the dealer wants you to lose. He is a working guy just like you and it is just a job to him. Help him out by tipping him when you can. You will find he will be helpful in changing coin or explaining the game to you. They want you to win, after all, the more you win, the better the tip will be. If you find yourself in need of chips, go to the table and place your money on the table surface. Never try to hand the dealer the money, they will not take it. It could be considered as a bribe. When you place it on the table, they will pick it up and ask you what you want. Be careful of the free drinks offered in the casino. They will give you all you want for free. They want you to be intoxicated and drunk. They want you to keep playing and, hopefully, losing. They do have juices and soda for free as well. If you are at the table playing a hot game and need to leave for a few minutes, just ask the dealer to "cover your chips." If you need to get some fresh air or take a quick trip to the bathroom, they will cover your chips with a cloth and watch them for you. This is quite helpful if you don't want to lose your spot at a table where you are having a good run. Don't abuse the privilege and don't be gone longer than half an hour. Vegas for the Eternal Planner Are you a gambler? Seriously, do you take your chances on everything or are you a careful planner? Do you through caution to the wind with solid faith that everything will work out in the wind or do you try to control every aspect of the environment around you. I've noticed that in this world there are those that seem born to gamble, to take chances and take risks and those that agonize over he slightest and smallest of decisions often second guessing themselves into oblivion and back again before ultimately deciding to do that which they truly wish to do. There are people who are far too capricious with lady luck and those who harbor no illusions about her fickle nature. Whichever type of person you are, there is a game for you to play in Vegas. Yes, even those who don't gamble and aren't willing to risk a single penny can find something fun and fabulous to do and enjoy during their stay in this great city. Vegas is beginning to transform itself from "Sin City" to a more respectable place to have and bring children. There will always be the shows that this city is so famous for but they are often tempered with afternoon magic shows, clowns, and music reviews that honor performers from innocent (and not so innocent) days gone by. Where else on earth could you see Elvis Presley walking next to Marilyn Monroe and Diana Ross? Where else on earth can you see a clown walking around almost (if not) 24 hours out of each and every day? There are so many strange and wonderful things to see and do in this city that even if you've never set foot inside a casino and still have no intentions of doing so, there are still many, many things you can find to keep you entertained and happy. In addition to the many shows, the shopping in Vegas is almost as good as it is in Milan, New York, and Paris. There are thrill rides that are decidedly not for the faint of heart and great shows and experiences to keep all members of the family happy and entertained for days to come. There are museums, state parks, and the beautiful backdrop of desert scenery. There are weddings on every corner and new beginnings at every turn. This is a city of infinite possibilities that go far beyond the doors of any casino. If you're not sure what you'd like to do in Vegas, my first suggestion is that you find a spa that will let you hide out from the world for your entire first day. Allow yourself to be pampered and primped and treated completely and utterly like the prince or princess you are deep down inside. Once you've begun to really relax and are ready to think about the many options that abound. Consider your budget and choose your activities according to your spending abilities. There are actually enough free activities in Vegas to keep you busy for at least 3 days if not 4 or more (depending on your interests and how many of the paid adventures you'd like to participate in). Beyond that, the problem for many lies in deciding how much money to spend where and how much money you are willing to leave up to fate, lady luck, and the mad, mad whims of man. The Vegas Experience Vegas stands out like a jewel across the desert. The bright lights can be seen from great distances and act as a beacon bringing in droves of visitors in search of riches, romance, and a myriad of other goals year after year. If the lights weren't enough from a distance, once you've entered Vegas you will discover that the lights and sounds are even more pronounced up close and personal. Vegas is probably the ultimate experience in sound and light. If you're not hearing the chinking of slots or music from the Elvis impersonators you are hearing chapel bells from someone getting married along the strip. Whether you are coming to Vegas for the casinos and hopes of finding fame and fortune, the fabulous shows and big name headliners, the wonderful food that is one of the biggest sins to be found in this city, golf, marriage and happily ever after, or the nightlife that has earned Vegas the title of 'Sin City'. You are well on your way to an experience you are unlikely to forget. While Vegas has not always been thought of us an appropriate vacation destination for those with families, this city is really trying to mend its ways and foster a more family-friendly reputation. They are even developing resorts and hotels with kids and family entertainment in mind. From theme park like atmospheres to everything in between the Vegas hotels of today are marketing to a much younger audience. If you haven't checked out some of the newer hotel and resort experiences in Vegas, perhaps now is the ideal time in which to do so. There are so many fun ways to enjoy your time in Vegas that the problem isn't choosing which casino to visit or which hotel you want to stay in, it's deciding which attractions you must see and which attractions you can actually live without. In order to attract visitors hotels and resorts are going to further and further extremes and levels of competition. Some of these hotels have even gone to the extent of bringing thrill rides into the mix in an effort to attract new guests and thrill seekers. If it isn't rides that are being offered it's the biggest shows and brightest stars to perform for your pleasure. With the tight competition among casinos for your business it's hard to imagine just how much money these hotels and casinos are bringing in each and every year but you can rest assured they wouldn't be constantly building, upgrading, and offering more and more features and services if it wasn't a highly profitable endeavor for them. The fierce competition among hotels and casinos is good news to some extent for you as a potential guest. The tightness of the competition keeps the prices relatively affordable and allows you to pick and choose which hotel you want according to the services and amenities they offer rather than by the prices of the rooms. In fact, if you find another hotel that you aren't as interested in for less money, try bartering with the hotel you prefer. It is very possible to get a lower price by going back and forth between two or three competing hotels. Saving money is a great idea in Vegas, the more money you save on hotel accommodations, the more money you'll have to spend on the entertainment of choice. Also consider some of the 'perks' offered by hotels when considering the price of the rooms. Some of the perks will include complimentary breakfast buffets or lunch and dinner buffets. Compare the price of buying breakfast to the price difference in the room before you make your ultimate decision. Some of them offer show tickets or discounts such as buy one get one free offers for attractions that may have been on your itinerary at any rate. It's always good to shop for the best bargain and Vegas is one of those cities where it can't really hurt to ask for a better deal. The Sexy Side of Vegas Shows If you've never been to Vegas or experienced one of the many Vegas shows that are available to behold, let me be the first to tell you: they are not created equal. People will choose to see shows for many different reasons and there is no right or wrong reason to see any Vegas show unless you are simply determined to hate it from the beginning. Even then you might find yourself to be either mildly or wildly surprised. I would be remiss if I didn't take the time to mention some of the wonderfully sexy shows that are prominent in Vegas at the moment. There are quite a few and will appeal to audiences on different levels and for different reasons, well some of them will at any rate while most of them offer universal appeal to certain members of the audience it is important to remember the statement I made earlier, not all shows are created equally and it doesn't really matter how beautifully endowed the members of the cast are if the show has no wit, humor, drama, or interesting points about it. Les Foiles Bergere is one of the best examples of a classic Vegas style show or at least my interpretation of what a Vegas style show should be. This show literally sizzles with its sex appeal and is a great show to kick off your stay in Vegas. You'll be ready to roll the dice after seeing this show for sure. There are generally two shows offered. The 7:30 show is covered so that all ages can enjoy the show all others feature topless numbers and request that audience members be 16 and over. The show can be seen at 7:30 and 10:00 on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Tuesday and Friday offer one show only at 8:30 and Sundays are dark. This is a can't miss show and a real hit for the Tropicana Las Vegas. If you want to go even more darkly erotic, John Stagliano's Fashionistas is definitely the route you should take. This is a very erotic experience everything about this show simply sizzles. Not only is the choreography and costume design stellar, this show has some of the best music to be found in Vegas with songs by Evanescence, Madonna, Led Zeppelin, Lords of Acid, and Crystal Method. La Femme, playing at the MGM Grand is a rather unique show, even for Vegas, in that it literally celebrates that artistry of the nude. The overall affect is a stunning visual display of light, color, sound, flesh, and dance. You must be 18 or older to attend this particular show and there is a dress code for the performances, which is business casual so come dressed appropriately. Shows are Wednesday through Monday at 8:00 and 10:30 pm. If you want to see the ultimate water cooler show, this one is definitely the show to see. There are so many shows in Vegas that it would be virtually impossible to mention each and every one. These are each excellent examples of the sexiest shows that Vegas has to offer. Only you can decide what you are comfortable seeing and if you're curious try one of the shows that offers an optional covered showing rather than making yourself uncomfortable or putting yourself in the position to be uncomfortable. The main purpose of going to Vegas is to enjoy yourself. Do what makes you happy. The Romance of Vegas A trip to Las Vegas is an experience of its own. No matter what time of year you visit there will be some manner of climate that will be new in some way, shape, form, or fashion to those who are visiting. There will be some star in the night sky that seems a little less bright when compared to the glam and glitz that defined Las Vegas and what has become known as "The Strip". Your trip to Las Vegas will be no more or no less than you make it. The problem with gambling destinations such as this is that if you spend your entire allotment of funds in the first few hours you are in for a very long and quite boring and possibly hungry vacation. Self control is not what this particular city is famous for and yet it requires a great deal of self control in order to really win at the games that are most often played in this city. From the bright and glittery nightlife full of dancing girls, flowing booze, and the eternal ringing of the slot machine, Las Vegas is a city that was quite literally built on broken dreams. If you do not realize this going in, the chances are rather great that you might learn the lesson the hard way. This is in no way whatsoever meant to discourage your from visiting or from taking the gamble in the casinos. That is after all the main attraction for a visit to this city. The warning is a friendly reminder that in all things moderation is not really all that terrible a thing. If you're going to risk at all, at least wait till you're getting ready to head out of town rather than doing it your first night in. Las Vegas has a deeply interesting history to it, the kind of history that legends are made of. There have been Hollywood movies, a great deal of novels, hints, and innuendos and even more plain out speculation on some of the central characters that have come and gone during the process of building this glittering desert icon. Beneath the lights and the glitter lies a heart that built this oasis from the desert sand. If you get the chance during your visit find out all you can about the history of this city. I think it will make the trip that much more meaningful to you and might romanticize your time in the city a little bit too. Plus, for your guys, the girls love a good story and if you can woo them with grand stories of Vegas lore, then perhaps you will find a little luck of your own during your visit. Through the years Las Vegas has had both vocal critics and outright devotees, they've legalized prostitution, kept gaming alive and well where others had failed to do so and stood against and corrupted more local and national government officials than anyone might ever care to admit. If one had all the facts about this city and it's oh so interesting history I would certainly love to read this tell all book. Even more than the past, the presence of Las Vegas is raising many eyebrows across America in disdain while others look on with rapt attention. From the gambling and the dancing girls, the bright lights, the games, the gold, the glam, and the glitz there are people that love it with the equal intensity of those that hate it. I guess some things about Vegas will never change. I would choose to visit Las Vegas over many American cities because its history isn't painted as lily white. This is one city that lives in sins and relishes that fact about itself. While some may call it 'Sin City' I prefer to think of it as a city that is unburdened by the sins of its past. When you think about it, those that are simply passing through commit most of the sins of Vegas. The Natural Beauty Surrounding Vegas The first thing most people think of when thinking of Las Vegas is the strip. Bright blinking neon lights, loud music, and spotlights are more of what people envision in Vegas than wide open spaces, natural park like settings, nature watches, and the beauty of the desert at sunset. Of course that is if you can get a little ways out of Vegas otherwise you'll never notice the sun going down for all the bright lights. Granted most of these beautiful places to visit are fair distances from Vegas but if you are this close to them it would be a shame to miss out on their beauty for the sake of a car ride. The first one I'd like to mention is Bryce Canyon National Park. It is actually in Utah and about 270 miles from Vegas. The fee to enter is $20 per vehicle but the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. The views you will see are worth every mile and every penny. You should also be on the lookout for some of the wildlife particularly the Great Basin Rattlesnake, bald eagles, and golden eagles. There are beautiful flowers that often bloom in the spring and early summer months if you happen to be visiting at this time it's worth keeping an eye out. The Grand Canyon is about 300 miles southeast of Vegas. This is another beauty that is well worth seeing if you have a day free or even really to make a priority of. There is a fee to bring your car into the park and you should check to see exactly what the current rate is before making the drive. For most people any fee is well worth experiencing this piece of American legend and lore. You can also opt to take one of many tours that will take you around the canyon and some that will take you to the bottom and back up again. If you are truly brave you should also consider one of the helicopter tours. Floyd Lamb Park is open each day from 6 in the morning until 7 at night. This park is located about 20 miles from the strip in Vegas. It also has four fully stocked ponds, a barbecue area, and is home to some very interesting fossils and remains. The fossils and remains that have been identified here include the following: bison, mammoths, camels, giant sloths, and horse among other animals. This area became a state park in 1977 and visitors who have a fishing license for Nevada may fish in any of the park's ponds but there is a limit of three fish per person. Lake Mead is another great area nearby in which to enjoy the great outdoors of the Nevada desert. Lake Mead is a man-made lake and the 16th largest of its kind in this hemisphere. This lake was created by the Colorado River and the Hoover Dam and is about 1.5 million acres (I don't know about you but that figure to me is actually staggering). This area is a very popular area for boating, swimming, and as wildlife observation area. If you love the great outdoors there are plenty of places to get out there and enjoy nature in and around the Las Vegas area. You can do a lot more than view wildlife in any of these parks and each one offers something special to those that visit. I would hope that you could enjoy them all, however I would recommend that you spend at least one day of your trip outdoors in nature somewhere. The Cultural Side of Vegas You wouldn't think Las Vegas would be the cultural treasure chest is really is, especially upon first glance when you can't really see beyond the many casinos and bright twinkling lights that it is most famous for. You don't expect to find the vast number of museums in Vegas that you will find in other tourist-oriented cities. You would think that the real estate in Vegas has been earmarked in most cases for more profitable ventures than museums. There are however, a number of museums in Las Vegas that are very well worth mentioning and exploring if you have the time during the light of day. The first of these museums worth mentioning is one that is probably quite unique as far as museums go. It is the Atomic Testing Museum. The museums is located at 755 E. Flamingo Rd. Adults admission costs $10 per person and children aged 7-17 command the price of $7 the lessons and the history that can be learned by visiting this particular museum are priceless so this really seems like a small price to pay. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the home to the Carroll Shelby Museum. Shelby had a distinguished career driving cars and breaking land speed records before moving on to do other things in his career as a result of health concerns. When this happened he turned his sites from racing and rested them on design. The fruit of his design labor was one of the fastest production line cars ever and arguably one of the most stunning cars ever made-The Shelby Cobra. One of the other fabulous Museums that Las Vegas has to offer is the Lied Children's Discovery Museum. Children of all ages can find activities to enjoy at this particular museum. This museum has a lot to offer in educational experiences that are cleverly disguised as such fun. This is definitely worth a visit if you're in the area and the $8 admission fee for adults and $7 for children is not that steep when compare to similar institutions around the country. The Las Vegas Natural History Museum is another great museum to enjoy during your time in Vegas. This museum is another that is a great destination for children, big and little alike. The Marine Life Gallery features a 3,000-gallon habitat to some of the ocean's most fascinating marine life. The price for this museum is very reasonable at $7 for adults and $3 for children aged 3-11. It gets even better if you go to the museum's website and print off a buy one adult admission get one free coupon. This museum presents a great way to spend the day with the family in Las Vegas. Another great museum to visit for a lighter side to life is the Liberace Museum. This museum is a tribute to the man names "Mr. Showmanship" and displays some of his rather than flamboyant costumes along with some of his precious antiques, his custom car collection and his pianos. This is not so much of a learning experience as a celebration of a man that lived his life as dazzlingly as the jewelry he so enjoyed wearing. These museums represent fun and fabulous ways to spend the day with your family while vacationing in Las Vegas. The museums are certainly not the only family friendly activities you can enjoy together, they are quite often the most educational ways to spend the day. You have to admit however, that some of these museums are quite unique to the area and well worth the minimal costs of admission. Along the strip you can find the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, which is a collaborative work between the famed Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The fact that they are working together on this project allows them to share artifacts and exhibits that are well known around the world. Enjoy the taste of culture amidst the glitz and glam and have fun while you learn new things each and every day during your stay in Vegas. Indoor Fun to Beat the Desert Heat Vegas has become so famous for its casinos and its nightlife that we often forget that there is a thriving city full of people who call this city home. There are businessmen and women, doctors, lawyers, and average Joe citizens who live in this city and have little or nothing to do with the casinos at all. There are entertainers and artists that live far beyond the world of the famous Strip that Vegas more often than not brings to mind. Vegas is a city that has a cultural center, a religious community, families, and family activities. It is a city in the desert that sees more than its share of sunshine while being particularly vulnerable to rain. It's a city that is famous for it's neon brightness while there are corners of this city that are far removed from that world that is almost as foreign to its citizens as it is to its visitors. Don't overlook the cultural treasure trove that can be found in Vegas by limiting your experience to the Vegas Strip and the offerings of the many casinos. So there is much more to this wonderful city to see and do and enjoy. If you are looking for some great ideas to enjoy during your stay, perhaps you will find some here or at least find inspiration for your own ideas. One thing to remember about Vegas is that you are in the desert and it is sunny most of year. Even if it isn't necessarily warm outside it's a good idea to avoid being outdoors whenever possible or to be sure you are liberally applying sunscreen and using other means to protect your skin from the ravages of a desert sun. Here are some of things you can experience during your time in Vegas if you are willing to seek them out: King Tut's Tomb, the car collection at the Imperial Palace, Chaos at Circus Circus, Gameworks by Steven Spielberg, The Imax theatre at the Luxor, In Search of the Obelisk at the Luxor, Las Vegas Sportspark, Lied Discover Children's Museum, Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, Merlin's Magic Motion Machines, Pioneer Saloon, Pirates 4D, Star Trek the Experience, and the Sunset Stampede just to name a few. The best news of all however is that there are constantly more and more activities and adventures being added to the offerings. This means that there is never a shortage of things to see and do while visiting Las Vegas so there's never a valid reason not to come back. This list is a short list of only indoor activities; you can find a much larger list of things to enjoy if you consider the many things that can be experienced outside under the desert sun. There are other attractions that will also keep you indoors as well. There are actually quite a few museums in Las Vegas; there is M&Ms World, The Lion Habitat at MGM and the White Tiger Habitat at the Mirage. There's also the canal at the Venetian, which is also home to "Streetmosphere," where live actors delight and entertain you with songs and other revelry. You will find many rides and adventure parks indoors in Las Vegas as well. People find that the desert heat can be a real joy killer for a day out in the sun and indoor adventure parks fair much better while delivering entertainment that is far superior to many of its outdoor counterparts. If you're looking for a great way to spend a day indoors, there's no shortage of wonderful things to do and see in Vegas so there's really no excuse. In addition to all the things I've mentioned above, Vegas is home to some of the most splendid shopping in America so be sure to pack your two best friends Visa and Master Card and bring them along for the ride. Also keep in mind that there is plenty to do in the great big world outside these walls and consider the great fun you can have exploring the desert climate of Nevada. How to Really Break Even in Vegas If you're thinking about a Vegas Vacation you are probably thinking about casinos. Most people who have ever gambled harbor no fantasies of striking it rich when going and playing in casinos. Most of us know the ultimate goal is to go in, play a while, have some fun, get some comps, and go home with about what you walked in with. Many who gamble on a regular basis no to only bring in a certain amount of money and to not mix gambling money with money that is earmarked for other things. There are a few things that those who are new to the world of gambling can do in order to avoid spending more than you intended. Anyone who has spent much time in a casino will tell you that it is easy to get your money mixed up and end up spending every dime you walked in with thinking you had more money hidden elsewhere. That being said there is a profound difference in a casual gambler and someone that is willing and expecting to come in and make a hefty investment in the casino. These investments sometimes pay off big time for those who can afford to lose the money. They also can end up costing them big time and taking a while to recover. I recommend starting light. Hopefully these tips will help you go home with a little money in your pocket. 1) Set a spending limit for each day and night of your stay. This sounds simple enough but it you'd be surprised at how difficult this bargain you've made with yourself can be to keep. 2) Bring only that amount of money into the casino with you and bring it in cash. 3) Lock all other ATM, Debit, and credit cards in your room safe along with any traveler's checks and other cash that you have. This prevents the temptation to get one more twenty or fifty until they are all gone. This sounds like a little bit of overkill and people often think they have plenty of self control but there is something about a casino, I swear you sometimes loose every bit of common sense you had when you walk in the door. This prevents you from getting in over your head and taking desperate measures. 4) Set a time limit for your casino fun and when that time limit is up for the evening/day get up from the table and leave the casino whether you are on the hottest winning streak of your life or not. Winning streak ultimately end at some point it is better to leave on a high note and have a little extra money to play with the next night (or better yet to take home with you). Leaving at a set time prevents you from getting over tired and making poor decisions based on the altered state of being sleep deprived. 5) Win and lose graciously. It will earn you a lot more respect from staff and the other players and you may find them wishing you luck because of your graciousness. In Vegas you can never have too much luck but woe to those whose luck has run out. Believe it or not, these five things can save your more money and win you more friends than almost anything other than a super hot winning streak. Great Vegas Shows for the Family While Las Vegas is known for many of its shows and not all of them family friendly, it's great to know that there are still a few shows going on that offer a little something for nearly every member of the family. Even some of us grown up viewers aren't as interested in the shock value of many Vegas shows and prefer much tamer forms of entertainment when enjoying our downtime from work and responsibility. If you never outgrew a love of magic or if you have children of your own that you are hoping to introduce to the wonderment that illusion can bring then Lance Burton, Master Magician has just the show for you to see. He performs at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas Tuesday through Saturday. After you've seen the show, be sure to enjoy the magic of the Monte Carlo. If you loved the Rat Pack, there is no show in Vegas you'd rather see than the Tribute to Frank, Sammy, Joey, and Dean, which shows at the Greek Isles Casino on Saturdays through Thursdays. This is the way to see the Rat Pack back in action and remember the great music and entertainment of days gone by. While this is a family friendly show, children must be over the age of five in order to attend. If you are a product of the 70's and remember ABBA and other musical experiences long gone by you'll have a true appreciation for the magic of this love story that is built around the music of ABBA, which is playing at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas. You can see the show Sunday through Thursday at 7:30 and on Saturdays at 6:00 and 10:00 PM. This is another show that requires children be at least five years of age in order to attend. Legends in Concert at the Imperial Palace offers a great night of entertainment with impersonators to the stars of today and days long past. This is not a lip-synching show but actual singer and dancers impersonating the best. Sit back, watch, be amazed, and see if you can tell the difference. This show is friendly to children age 2 and over and is a show that is generally very well enjoyed by children of this age. You can watch at 7:30 and 10:00 PM Monday through Saturday. Treasure Island is offering the wonderful show of Mystere by Cirque du Soleil. This show has delighted audiences around the world and is sure to please even the most difficult to impress in your group. Watch as colors explode right before your eyes. This act consists of 72 dancers, singers, and acrobats along with a somewhat misguided clown. Enjoy this show with the family for a wonderful night of entertainment. This show plays Friday-Tuesday with shows at 7:30 and 10:30. Caesar's Palace presents Celine Dion to the delight of her fans everywhere. This show plays at 8:30 Tuesdays through Saturdays and is open to children and adults 5 years and older. This show is more than just an ordinary concert, it is a musical experience led by one of the best in the business. If you have the time, this is one show that absolutely should be on your itinerary. It really doesn't matter what particular music tastes and preferences you have, there is probably a show somewhere in Vegas that will appeal to the music that you hold dear. If you have family with you on your Vegas excursion you owe it to the entire family to find a show that you can all enjoy together. If you have youngster in your group there are shows that you can very much enjoy together, the problem is that these shows will most likely be without loud music as there is a fear of damaging the ears of little ones with loud noises often involved in the musical venues. Good Family Fun in Vegas If you are looking for some fun things to do in Las Vegas with or without the family, this should keep you busy for the better part of your travels. Keep in mind that Vegas is a city about lights and action most of the attractions will have on or other if not both of these elements. Enjoy the bright lights of this big city and have as much fun as you can possibly muster during your stay. The High Roller at the Stratosphere Hotel is a roller coaster, which at 909 feet above ground is the world's highest (keep in mind that competition is fierce among coaster makers and that is subject to change). This roller coaster consists of more than 800 feet of track and offers some sharply banking turns at around 32 miles an hour for your coaster fun and enjoyment. The cost for one trip on this coaster is $5 and passes may be purchased for the day (height restrictions apply). The Nevada Zoological and Botanical Park is another great way to spend the day. While this is by no means the world's largest zoo it is a nice place to take your kids and visit the wildlife (well some wildlife that isn't located on the strip at any rate) of Las Vegas. Some of the animals you might see include chimpanzees (usually a hit with the little ones), emus, ostriches, wallabies, and flamingos. You can also choose to take a full or half day eco tour of the desert. These tours give you the opportunity to learn to the view the desert a little bit differently and are a great educational experience disguised as fun for your children. What would a stay at the Venetian Hotel and Casino be without a gondola ride? You do not however have to stay at the Venetian in order to experience this pleasure, nor do you have to venture a transatlantic flight. For an authentic gondola experience you only need to travel as far as the Venetian Hotel and Casino. You will float under bridges as your gondolier serenades you with the sounds of Venice. You can choose and outdoor gondola ride when the weather permits. The outdoor rides are only marginally less expensive and are still quite nice (they might even be preferable on a chilly desert night). Children 12 and under are very inexpensive passengers and if you are traveling with your partner you can opt for a romantic 2 passenger gondola for an added fee. Reservations must be made in person and can only be made the same day beginning at 9 a.m. for the indoor gondola ride and 10 a.m. for the outdoor ride. If you're old enough to remember the commercials that asked if it was live or it was Memorex then you will understand that reference when it comes to Madame Tussauds Las Vegas. Where else can you play a round of golf with Tiger, sail the seas with Captain Jack Sparrow, marry George Clooney, become a playboy bunny, and sing along side The King? You will see some of Hollywood's brightest stars both living and living memories at Madame Tussauds have fun meeting your favorites. This is a must see stop on your trip to Vegas and will have the entire family rolling with laughter, be sure to bring the camera along for this one. Vegas might have been a little slow to see the light, but this city is really working to make this a fun place to be for the entire family and it is slowly building a nice selection of activities that don't directly involve gambling or the casinos. The casinos, recognizing good business sense when they see it have been the pioneers of many of these family oriented activities in hopes of encouraging more guests to come back to the city. Be sure to check out all the wonderfully fun things there are to do with the family during your Vegas stay. Fabulous Vegas Freebies Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a huge fan of freebies and living frugally. What self respecting Vegas visitor would ever pay full price if they didn't have to or leave this great city of chance without getting something for nothing. One of the best services I can provide my fellow man is the ability to share these fabulous free finds with anyone that is interested in what I have to offer. This is better than a 'tell all' book on who did it and why isn't it? The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens offers a delight to the eyes of the beholder. It is a true delight to all the senses to see the sights and inhale the fragrance of these gardens that display seasonal highlights in plants, flowers, and produce. Each season offers new delights to the senses and there is no admission fee to view these beautiful floral arrangements. This is a great place for a photo op to help you remember your time in Las Vegas. Have you ever seen water dance? If not, then while you're visiting the Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio, you'll want to stick around long enough to witness the fountains of Bellagio. These shows consist of more than 1000 fountains that are literally dancing in choreographed unison with light to the music (you may be surprised or quite possibly impressed by the extent and variety of the music play list for this particular show). This is also free to witness and occurs every half hour or so after 3:00 PM throughout the week and after noon on the weekends. If you're looking for more great fun that is free for the entire family to enjoy, head on over to Circus Circus for Circus Acts-this show is free to watch and provides the audience with the thrills and chills of the big top day after day. You can watch different acts as they perform throughout the day at the half hour mark between the hours of 11 AM and Midnight. Sam's Town Hotel and Gambling Hall offers a stunning display of water and laser lights daily at 2:00, 6:00, 8:00, and 10:00. This show is called "Sunset Stampede" and takes place in a 9-story atrium that hosts a natural habitat of live trees, greenery, waterfalls, and trails. Another great free attraction in Vegas is the Masquerade Show in the Sky. The show is free to watch, if you choose to participate by riding one of the floats, the cost is $12.95 (that is subject to change). This experience is very reminiscent of Carnivale in Brazil. The floats are literally suspended from the ceiling for the sake of this show which is considered one of the best free shows that Vegas has to offer. Perhaps one of the most interesting freebies is the Silverton Hotel and Casino's Aquarium. This attraction is completely free to the public and a fascinating thrill to children big and small (even mom's find this one fascinating). Enjoy watching both salt water and freshwater fish in their natural habitats and enjoy the ambiance of your surroundings. The Sirens of Ti is a great sexy pirates tale that shows at Treasure Island TI daily as the weather allows. This is one great show that the kids, especially little boys that think pirates are the bomb and big boys that enjoy watching ships sink and sirens do what sirens do, will all agree to enjoy together. Free entertainment is often the best entertainment that can be found. There are so many things to do and see that cost literal fortunes. It is nice to know that there are so many thrilling adventures available for little or no cost to explore while visiting Las Vegas. If you spend wisely, you will discover that you can enjoy the better part of most days filled with activity without breaking your wallet or becoming close personal friends with any creditors. More Fantastic Vegas Freebies If you're looking for some great free things to do in Vegas, there are some amazing treats for you and the family awaiting. Many casinos in an effort to bring in more and more business are offering elaborate shows free for the family in an effort to bring more warm bodies into their casinos and out of their competitors. This is a win win situation for tourists and locals alike who are seeking entertainment that will leave a little money in their pockets to spend at the casinos (which is exactly what the casinos were hoping for). One of the great shows that is available free to families is the Fall of Atlantis Show at Caesar's Palace. This particular show is a laser, water, and light show that features wonderful animatronics action. Also notice that the show's platform is actually a salt-water aquarium. You can see divers feed the fish each day at 1:15 and 5:15 while another staff member is on hand to answer any questions you may have and explain a little about the facility. You can actually take a tour of the facility at 3:15 each day. Enjoy watching the gods as they entertain you rather than us entertaining them. The Cambridge Community Center offers a free movie and popcorn each Saturday at 1:00. Each week a different movie will be shown and children under 12 must bring an adult to keep them company. You can check out which movie will be playing by checking out the posting on Friday. Another great Vegas freebie is daily performances of the Hawaiian Marketplace Island Performers. These performances take place throughout the day from 11:00 am until 10:30 pm and feature wonderful dances that will remind you of the island. See hula dancers, fire and knife dancers, musicians, lei makers, and animatronic birds. The performances are free and take place at the Hawaiian Marketplace. For the Elvis fan in all of us you can see Pete Vallee perform as Big Elvis from Monday to Thursday with shows that take place at 3:00 and 5:00 pm at the Barbary Coast Casino. The admission for this show is free and he brings in quite a crowd with his vocal talent and heartfelt renditions of Elvis' ballads. M & M World should need no introduction. It is a wonderful and yummy place to visit. More importantly it is a free place to visit. This museum is open Sunday through Thursday from 9 am until 11 pm and Friday and Saturday from 9 am until midnight. This really is a neat attraction to visit and is much more than initially meets the eye. Take a stroll, look around and make sure you see all there is to see or you just might miss something fantastic. For another sweet freebie, you really must make plans to visit Ethel M's Chocolate Factory. The admission for this self-guided tour is free as is the first sample, but who can eat just one chocolate? Be sure not to leave this tour empty handed, as you'll be kicking yourself once you get back to the room and have a craving for something sinfully sweet. In addition to the chocolate factor is the Botanical Cactus Garden that is open from 8:30 until 7:00 daily. Another great thing to see on this particular tour is the Living Machine, which as waste-consuming ecologies that turns 32,000 gallons wastewater each day into water that is clean enough to use for irrigation purposes. The Marjorie Barrick Museum of History, which is located on the University of Nevada Las Vegas Campus, is another place to go and learn while being entertained. Admission is Monday through Friday from 8:00 until 4:45 and on Saturday from 10:00 until 2:00. Admission is free and the museum is closed on all state and federal holidays. This museum offers a great display of Western culture and the history of ancient Mexico. No matter what your specific interests are there are plenty of wonderful things to see and do in Las Vegas that do not put a strain on the pocketbook at all. Las Vegas Hilton: Luxury at its Finest The Las Vegas Hilton is one of the more luxurious offerings on the Vegas Strip. This hotel has a lot to offer its guests by way of luxury and amenities including several packages that are amazingly generous by comparison to most other hotels along the strip. If you aren't seeing a package that is appealing to you be sure to call and see if you might be able to negotiate a more suitable package. In addition to world class accommodations and a fully functional casino the Las Vegas Hilton also has some of the best shows running along the strip. Current acts include the likes of Barry Manilow and Menopause the Musical. Future acts include big names such as Johnny Mathis and the Asian Fusion concert series. Perhaps the most famous attraction at the Las Vegas Hilton however is the Star Trek Experience. The experience is completely out of this world and will have you flying through space in a completely immersive experience that even those who weren't serious fans of the show can appreciate. This is like nothing you've ever experienced before or are likely to enjoy again. There is also a museum that is home to many items from the television series as well as the movies. This is a great addition to your vacation experience even at the rather hefty price tag it commands ($34.99 for adults and $31.99 for children as of this writing and subject to change). If you're going to splurge on one thing during your stay at the Las Vegas Hilton I highly recommend that this be that one thing. There is also the Nemesis Package, which will allow for a reduced rate when purchasing tickets for the Star Trek Experience along with a two-night hotel stay. Keep in mind if you're actually coming to Las Vegas for the gambling and not to go Trekking through the galaxy, the casino offers tournaments rather regularly and you should really check to be sure there isn't a tournament that interests you during your stay or around the times you are considering your stay. It is fairly safe to say that while there are many fun things to do in Vegas these hotels and casinos would really appreciate your business in the casino seats rather than watching the shows, riding the rides, and playing the games. The Las Vegas Hilton also has a full service spa and offers some attractive spa packages to its guests. You'd be doing your body a favor to check out the many packages that are available and combining them in order to get the maximum value for your spa dollar along with your spa visit. You might also consider trying to work a spa comp into your package when booking your room. You'll never know unless you ask. There is all manner of shopping at the Las Vegas Hilton and you should be able to find nice gifts for others as well as a few nice gifts for yourself. If you don't find what you're looking for here you are close enough to other shopping opportunities, if you drag yourself away from the spa that is that it's no serious problem to go out and find those perfect gifts, trinkets, and tokens of your good time while visiting Las Vegas. Of course, you simply must visit the Barry Manilow store while you're here and have fun playing with all the nifty toys inside. You also never know when you'll find that perfect gift for friends and family and this store may be the ideal place to look. If you're looking for a completely luxurious experience for you stay in Las Vegas there are few places that will suit you better than the Las Vegas Hilton. The good news is that you can arrange for your luxurious treatment to be had at a fraction of the price it would cost elsewhere if you pay careful attention to the specials that are available and book accordingly. Excalibur Hotel and Casino Brings Magic to Life If you are harboring thoughts of bringing the family for a Las Vegas vacation, then perhaps you should seriously consider a stay at Excalibur Hotel and Casino. This hotel will have you feeling as though you've stepped into the fairy tales of your childhood. From the moment you cross the threshold from the outside world to the charmed existence of life in the hotel you will find that you have truly been charmed and are leading a somewhat enchanted existence. Not only is there the magnificent casino to enjoy, there is also the wonderful pool, links golf, the castle walk for your shopping pleasure, and the midway where you can play all kinds of fun and exciting arcade and carnival games. Perhaps one of the most memorable and impressive of offerings is the Tournament of Kings dinner show. This show is offered nightly at 6:00 and 8:30 and you will eat in the manner of those in medieval times, without utensils while watching the evil wizard Mordred as he invades the evening festivities. This show is quite enjoyable and relies heavily upon audience participation. Dining in the hotel and casino can be quite the adventure without the assistance of horses and actors as there are several dining options including the Roundtable Buffet, The Steakhouse at Camelot, Regale Italian Eatery, Sherwood Forest Cafe, and how could we forget Sir Galahad's Pub and Prime Rib House? If you're looking for the fairytale wedding of your dreams, then Excalibur has the package for you. You can even elect to rent medieval costumes in which to get married. There are many different packages available to fit various budgets and wedding needs. Wedding packages vary in price from around $400 plus $55 for the cost of the minister to around $1575 plus the cost of the minister. These are all rather basic packages and do not include extras such as costume rentals, extra poses for the wedding photos, or video and candle services. Before your big day make sure you make liberal use of the spa services available at Excalibur Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Of course this is a great idea even if you are just hoping to relax while on vacation. You remember relaxation right? That is what you did on occasion before you had children. You should definitely get the royal treatment that is available through the spa and enjoy every minute of your visit. Some of the spa services offered at Excalibur include: facials, wraps, Aveda facials, and various massages. There are add on services that can be purchased and packages available. This is a great way to spend an hour or three before your big day or any day. Once you've finished getting pampered at the spa, step on over to Kristina's Salon and get primped. You can enjoy everything from manicures to full service hair styling services. Whether you are preparing for your big day and saying "I do!" or simply for a romantic evening on the strip this is a great place to begin. Excalibur also offers full service catering and convention services. Whether you are hosting a wedding reception or a company convention we have the facilities as well as the expertise to keep everything operating seamlessly behind the scenes so that all eyes will be on the things that are important. Projections and profits for the corporate conventions and the bride and groom for wedding receptions. Excalibur Hotel Casino can meet almost any lodging and accommodation needs for those staying and playing in Las Vegas, more than that we can provide a great 'fairy tale' atmosphere for your family vacation or just your big trip in general. If you haven't given proper consideration to the idea of staying here during your visit, I highly encourage that you do-especially if you have a little princess in your party that you are trying to impress. Eating Cheap in Vegas A Las Vegas vacation for many people is an experience to enjoy 24/7 food, drink, and gambling. In fact that is the very reason that many people visit Vegas and it is also one of the main reasons that the city of Las Vegas and the gambling empires that have been built, crumbled, and been rebuilt again and again have had many of the rocky rides that offer more bumps, dips, twists, and turns than you will find on many of the roller coasters that also inhabit this great city. Las Vegas has so much more than that to offer its visitors. Gone are the days when gambling was the sole income of casinos or that casinos were the only businesses in town. Vegas is dressing up a bit in recent years and working oh so slowly and diligently towards changing its image. This city of bright lights and empty promises is quickly becoming a city that offers world-class entertainment and excitement to its residents and its visitors. Las Vegas has some of the best dining on the planet. Many of the wonderful dining experiences are associated with the casinos of the area but they would not be as successful as they are if there was not a reason to keep the tables full. Diners don't tend to dine if the food isn't good and a for a restaurant a bad review will travel around the world three times before ten good reviews will make it once. This means that the world-class fine dining restaurants really must earn their stripes in order to bring in the business required in order to stay in business. I personally tend to look for the dining bargains and that is what this particular article will focus on. There many great places to eat in Vegas that will not have you busting open your piggy bank. Now my guy is a steak and potato kind of man so I always try to look for a good steak bargain. For him, I love Arizona Charlie's Boulder Sourdough Cafe. Here you can get a 14-ounce Porterhouse for $7.99 this includes soup or salad, choice of potato or rice (5 pm-11 pm), veggies, and rolls. You can also get spaghetti and meatballs for $6.49 and Chicken Penne Primavera or fried chicken for $6.99. This is good food at its best at a price that easy on the budget. This is just one of the many places a person or family can get a relatively good meal inexpensively. Not all great bargains involve steaks but there are many great food bargains to have. Be aware of coupons you may find around town offering two for one food purchases or dollars off of entree purchases. It may not seem like much or two but if you can manage to save $2 per two people for 10 meals during your stay, that adds up pretty quickly to $40 that could buy a little time on the slot machines or tickets to one of the many great shows. Cheap dining by no means indicates a lack of quality. While it may not be as sophisticated as some offerings, you might find that a lot of the cheaper places to eat actually have far superior flavor to many of the more expensive dining experiences and it's just nice to get away from buffet food once in a while during your Vegas stay. You can only endure so many buffets before they all begin looking, and tasting just alike. Circus Circus Family Fun Vegas Style Circus Circus Las Vegas boasts of being the most kid friendly hotel in Las Vegas. With its big top attitude and its indoor amusement park it very well may be. In addition to being the most kid friendly hotel on the Las Vegas strip Circus Circus Hotel is also the fifth largest hotel in the world. Of course this is at the moment and that is subject to change at any time. The beauty of this particular hotel doesn't lie so much in its size or even the circus like atmosphere. The charm lies in the fact that it was something new and relatively untried along the Vegas strip. Rather than build to suit the gamblers they were hoping to attract, this particular hotel was wise enough to offer something new and untried by appealing to families with children rather than solely to gamblers. The gamble seems to be paying off in a city that is known for both its hits and its misses. Other hotels and casinos are also working to cultivate the family friendly image that Circus Circus has basically proven. Not only did this hotel build The Adventuredome Theme Park they also decided to make accommodations even more family friendly by accommodating RVs at the Circusland RV Park. This offers a great place for families to stay that might not otherwise grace the theme park, hotel, or the casino. Don't forget that there is a casino involved and that is the primary purpose of this gigantic hotel, resort, and theme park. The casino makes the expense of building it all very much worthwhile and brings in big business of its own each and every day. In grand Vegas style there is also the requisite onsite shopping and of course full service of wedding options in addition to a wedding chapel and banquet facilities in which to hold the reception of your dreams. The shopping at Circus Circus offers everything from ultra exclusive boutique shops and salons to stores such as Under $10 and the trading Post, which offers fad jewelry and other kid friendly gifts. This hotel has a somewhat unique concept that sets it apart from the many others along Vegas' strip. If you are traveling to Vegas with the family I very much recommend at least checking them out and comparing prices and packages with the other hotels and resorts in the area. Keep in mind that comps are like money in the bank particularly when they involve food or activities that you were planning to do even without the comps. So you may be able to negotiate a much better deal even if you're paying a couple more dollars a night by having free parking, complimentary meals, or tickets to events, shows, or attractions. Now we're on to my favorite part of the discussion. Dining options. Circus Circus does not disappoint when it comes to offering variety to its guests. In addition to The Steakhouse, there is The Garden Grill, Mexitallia, Pink Pony, Circus Buffet, Pizzeria, Westside Deli, and Barista Cafe. The food offerings accommodate varying budgets and familial needs by offering some kid friendly dining choices to visitors and guests as well. The good news however is that if these restaurants aren't appealing to you there is another hotel, casino, or restaurant next door that has different fare to offer. If you are looking for a great place to stay in Las Vegas along with the family there are very few hotels that will offer the overall environment of fun and wonder that you will find at Circus Circus. In addition to the wonderful rooms, the great food, the casino, and The Adventuredome Theme Park you will find that the shows here are as kid friendly and entertaining for the entire family as the atmosphere in general. This is a great vacation destination anywhere. Considering the fact that it is in Las Vegas and it is very nearly the perfect vacation retreat for those with children. Vegas Weddings for all Tastes Vegas is almost as famous for weddings as it is for some of its more questionable roots and activities. In fact there are wedding chapels on almost every corner and in almost every major casino on the strip and beyond. There are themed weddings, elegant weddings, simple weddings, alien weddings, and all kinds of weddings in between. Other than gambling, it seems that Vegas knows the most about weddings. If you're planning a wedding, thinking about a wedding, or simply want to avoid a wedding and would like to run away and get married, might I suggest one of the many wedding chapels in Vegas? It takes all kinds of people to put together a fairy tale wedding however it can be done in Vegas in a matter of minutes. There are even wedding chapels in Vegas that will rent you costumes in which to get married. There are also those that rent the dresses and tuxedos for the more traditionally minded among you. There are all kinds of wedding packages that can be ordered from the plain Jane and simple Sue wedding packages that offer no frills and no fun to those with more bells and whistles than you can shake a stick at. Where I come from there are plenty of sticks to be shaken. From professional photography to full service spa packages before the wedding for the bride and the bridal party there are all kinds of luxurious wedding touches available to those that are willing to pay for the service offered. Vegas is probably the only city in the world that has professionals dedicated to throwing bachelor and bachelorette parties for brides and grooms to be. It really does beat all you've ever seen and more than most have ever dreamed of. While many people had dreams of fairy tale weddings and mom and dad paying for it, there are just as many who have had romantic dreams of getting married in Vegas since the very first time they heard it mentioned in movies or on TV. There are those that want Elvis impersonators singing as they share vows and others that want him to officiate the services. With so many tastes and wedding wishes, Las Vegas has come through with shining colors as far as making dream weddings possible for all those who enter. It would seem that in Vegas, no wedding request (as long as it is legal) is out of the question. From the simply elegant to the outrageously campy there are chapels of love for all persuasions from pink fuzzy carpet and candles to outrageous dungeon looking rooms and all kinds in between weddings have been performed for many different walks of life and to confirm commitments for all manner of people and relationships from many countries around the world. Vegas is one of the easiest cities in the world in which to get married and all kinds of people take advantage of that fact for a quickie wedding. The one rule is that all parties must be of legal age and must be consenting. Consent is quite recognizable on your wedding day in most cases. If you're planning a Vegas wedding, you are not alone and I wish you the absolute best of luck as you begin your new lives in this infinitely fascinating city of many dreams. Vegas Shows are Big Draw for Tourists Other than gambling, one of the first things that many people think of when they think of Vegas are the many shows that are available to watch. Vegas rakes in a fortune each year off the shows that are offered each and every night. There are major headliners and limited appearances that make the shows the wonderful draws for tourists and locals alike to spend a night out on the town and the shows, dinner, and ultimately the casinos. The goal in almost every effort put forth by the casino parent companies is to get more bodies in the casinos. The more warm bodies that are warming the seats the more money that is filling the coffers. The casinos like to bring in the money and they are willing to spend a little in order to make a lot. The acts that are highlights in this city are well established for the most part and enjoy their celebrity, their fame, and most often for the headliners, the fact that there is some sort of permanence to their existences and they are not required to travel and spend countless hours on the road away from their families and loved ones. You will find the ultra famous rubbing elbows with those who are barely known and occasionally some impersonators. In Vegas and most of them are only too happy to be living the life they've chosen in this great city of lights. If you have the opportunity to check out one of the many shows in Vegas I believe you will find that these shows are amazingly well put together and quite entertaining. This isn't your small town little theatre or your community college stage. These shows are professionally done and in business to make money-and make money they do. The shows bring in clients from all walks of life and financial backgrounds you will find the rich and famous sitting next to the middle class in the audience and all will be either laughing, crying, or cringing together. The shows are designed to elicit different responses from the audiences and to appeal to a wide cross section of the population. If you are in the market for a Vegas show it is recommended that you book around the time or at the same time you book your hotel reservations in order to be sure you can get the tickets. Many of these shows sell out months in advance and for months at a time. The more popular the show the bigger price the tickets will demand and the bigger following the shows will have. I also encourage you to take advantage of some of the free opportunities and events within the casinos where the shows you are planning to see occur in order to get an idea of the lay of the land before the time your show is scheduled to start. You should probably be early for the shows you wish to see and plan to stand in line a little while. While shows are one of the biggest draws for people to visit Las Vegas and some people plan their entire trips just for the sake of catching one show, keep in mind that there are plenty more things to do in Vegas than simply watching a show or two. Take advantage of the many opportunities for entertainment that await you during your Vegas vacation. Vegas Magic for the Family One thing you may or may not have noticed about Vegas is that shows are more often than not, not made for family viewings. In fact, many of the most popular shows are decidedly not appropriate for children and younger audiences. Vegas has often become synonymous with sin or at the very least sex. While that is something that most definitely draws the box office dollars it is not something that makes watching shows in Vegas easy if you have children. Magic shows, however are usually a fairly safe bet from great entertainment and less adult oriented content. One thing that is certain about children and shows though is that most children not only love magic, they also find it utterly and completely fascinating. David Copperfield is one of the most recognized names when it comes to magic and illusion. Your children will be delighted from the first act through the end of the show. This is one show that you won't have to worry about sending negative messages to your children nor will you have to worry about being bored for the sake of your children with this show either. His show may ultimately be the start of something magical in your own children, you never know. Check with the MGM Grand for show nights and times as this show plays two weeks every month but those weeks vary. For a little more Xtreme Magic you should check out Dirk Arthur's show at Tropicana. This show has no age restrictions and the costs are $29 for table seating and $34 for booth seats this show has all kinds of wildlife from beautiful women, lavish dancers, Bengal tigers, a white tiger, and leopards. This show is a very exciting show that displays the art of illusion in a rather extreme form (kind of like extreme sports, this is extreme magic). Show times are 2 and 4 pm Saturday through Thursday. For a little more magic, the Rick Thomas show at the Stardust Hotel has a little bit of magic for everyone. From the exquisitely choreographed moves and the help of a few showgirl type dancers he has created one of the best daytime shows in Vegas. Not only is Rick Thomas an excellent magician and illusionist he is also an extremely talented showman. And anything that can keep the rapt attention of little ones (in addition to their quiet) is a really good thing while on vacation. You can catch his show Thursday through Tuesday at 2 and 4 pm in the Wayne Newton Theatre of the Stardust Hotel. While these shows are hardly inclusive of every magic act playing in Vegas these acts are very much the ones worth mentioning. If you haven't seen any of these guys perform you really have no idea what you've been missing. David Copperfield is truly the Master but he very well may have some serious competition along the horizon. Magic is one of those things that the child in all of us never really manages to outgrow. We see it in brief moments when we hold our children for the first time, when we see their eyes light up on Christmas, when we feel the beauty and perfection of one perfect snowflake. Magic is all around us and so easily missed, there is nothing quite like visiting one of these shows to remind us not only of the magic we're missing each and every day as well as the wonder that we left behind somewhere in our own childhoods. Vegas for Animal Lovers Wildlife is something that big and little kids from all over the world find fascinating. Whether the wildlife is marine, mamma, reptilian, or bird in nature-even insects, kids find intriguing and love to explore. In Las Vegas there are many casinos that not only offer shows that center around animals but also offer shows where animals are the stars. This is one of the few cities in the world that will offer quite the variety of fun, adventure, activity, and fantasy to its visitors. It's a good idea to sit back and enjoy as much of that as floats your boat while you're here. Some of the great animal offerings you can explore and enjoy while visiting Las Vegas include the Southern Nevada Zoological-Botanical Park. This zoo makes up in quality what it lacks in size. This is a relatively small zoo but offers some rare offerings that make this zoo very much worth visiting. Among the rarities at this particular zoo is one of the last families of Barbary apes in the U.S. In addition to these creatures, enjoy watching wallabies, flamingos, chimps, emus, and exotic reptiles. Zoos aren't the only businesses in the business of housing animals. It seems that many museums are cashing in on this act as well. Even if some of the shows are offered free the casinos are definitely cashing in on the big rewards that hosting these animal acts offers. The Mirage is home to quite a selection of animals among the offerings here is a White Tiger Habitat at the Mirage. These magnificent creatures are extinct in the wild. Visitors to this free exhibit are fortunate to be able to view them in their snow-white surroundings (this allows them some degree of security and the ability to 'blend in' with their environment). In addition to the White Tiger Habitat, the Mirage is also home to the Mirage Aquarium. This aquarium is home to more than 1000 animals (60 species) that ordinarily would call coral reefs their home. The coral reef within the aquarium is one hundred percent artificial and there is no actual coral reef in this aquarium at all. The Mirage is also home to the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. I guess you could say that really do love their animals over there. The goal of this project is not only to provide a safe environment for dolphins but also to educate visitors on the important roll in the ecosystem that these wonderful animals have. The admission to the Secret Garden is $15 for adults. For $500 you can become a trainer for the day if you are over the age of 13. This is a wonderful experience for those that are willing to pay the price. Mandalay Baby Shark Reef offers glimpses of some rare and not so rare marine life. There are free aquarium experiences around the city but none of them actually quite compare to the scope of the Shark Reef, which is one of the largest exhibits of its kind in North America. The Shark Bay is open daily from 10 am until 11 pm and adult tickets are $15.95 while children's tickets are $10.95 (4 and under may enter free). This is probably one of the best things to do and see in Las Vegas and well worth the price of admission. This is only a small taste of the wonderful animal centered activities and events that take place in Vegas each and every day. Animal lovers beware, there is much to see and do here. Side Splitting Vegas Shows If you're looking for a great laugh, a great drama, a great show, then Vegas is definitely the way to go. One of the great things about Vegas is all the other great things you get to do while waiting on show time. This is a great city for vacations and you rest rather secure in the knowledge that you can taste a little of the sin in Sin City without getting your hands smacked. At least you can always look. While the shows mentioned here will be rather tame when compared to some of the racier Vegas shows they are still quite edgy and great fun for everyone in the audience The first show worth mentioning is one that is appealing on so many levels. The Sopranos last Supper is a musical comedy that offers a four course dinner. You'll laugh, you might cry, you'll have a little wine and crack some jokes. It's entertainment at its best with an intimate cast of 20 and a captive audience. Seriously if you're looking for a great Vegas experience this night of singing, dancing, and Italian food in an audience participation driven show is a great way to enjoy just that. Tickets for this splendid dinner and show start at $95 and are a real bargain when you consider all you're getting for your money. The show lasts a little over two hours and your sides will probably be a little sore from all the laughing and dancing. Show time at Aladdin is 6 pm Thursday through Tuesday and Wednesdays are dark. The Las Vegas Hilton is home to Menopause the Musical. If you're looking for an irreverent look at growing older as women in the world of today, then look no further. This show has won rave reviews all over the world as one of the most honest looks at life before, after, and surviving "the change". This is definitely a must see for every woman facing--ahem--29 in Las Vegas. If you want a glimpse of dysfunctional America check out Tony N Tina's Wedding playing at Rio. This show plays nightly at 7 pm and it might be a good idea to warn you that you aren't merely watching the show with this one. You are the show! For the price of your entertaining the actors you'll get to have a nice meal, dance a few dances, drink champagne, toast the lovely couple and have a little cake. If you've ever been to a big Italian wedding you know just what to expect so sit back and bring your funny bone. With so many wonderful selections for family fun, adult oriented, and sometimes just plain grown up fun it's often hard to pick and choose between so many wonderful shows and experiences and settle on one or two that you feel is absolutely the must see show or review that you won't regret not having taken the time to see during your stay in Vegas. Of course you could always go ahead and make the reservations for your next trip and make plans to see the shows you missed this time. The problem is that there are so very many shows and only a limited time that you will be around to see them-and for some a limited amount of money in order to fund the tickets. Pick and chose and be happy with the choice you made. Focus on the wonderful shows you saw and the great time you had and you'll find that you forget about the ones that got away over time. See the World in Vegas Las Vegas today is offering many of the wonders of the world on a much smaller scale to its visitors. There is really nowhere else on earth you can go and see all the sights and witness the thrill of the experience that is Las Vegas. With so much to do and see it's a wonder that anyone ever gets sleep in this great town. Look below for some of the many places to go and sights to see in Vegas that will quite literally have the world at your feet. Paris Hotel and Casino Las Vegas presents the Eiffel Tower Experience. Quite literally this is a replica of the famed Eiffel Tower of Paris built at 1/2 scale. You can ride to the top of the tower and enjoy a view of the city from 460 feet above ground while pinpointing other landmarks that you may wish to try next. Rio Suite Hotel offers the Masquerade Village Show in the Sky. This show is designed to bring the thrill of Rio's Carnival to Las Vegas visitors. This is a great show to witness or in which to participate. Enjoy the sights, sounds, and revelry that are unmistakably Carnival. This show is free to watch and costs $12.95 to participate. Luxur Hotel and Casino takes you In Search of the Obelisk. This adventure takes you on archaeological digs searching for Pharaohs. This is a great adventure and takes you not halfway around the world. There are height restrictions for this ride so small children might not be best suited for this particular experience. You can experience the thrills, chills, and spills of the Grand Prix at the Las Vegas Mini grand prix. This park is a fun day for the entire family and even features an Adult Grand Prix with Sprint Kart tracks that have high banks and a more authentic experience. This is a great way to have fun and invite a little friendly competition among family members. If you'd like to experience Venice without traveling halfway around the world then you should really experience the Venetian Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The highlight of your Vegas Venice experience should be one of the Gondola rides that you can take. You can book a private 2-person gondola for a romantic excursion while being serenaded by your gondolier. While at the Venetian you can also check out the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, which will have some of the best offerings from around the world in order to enhance your experience. You should also take the time to enjoy the beautiful Venetian inspired architecture of the hotel and casino while you're visiting in order to prolong the experience. The Mirage offers a volcano for guests to experience. While this isn't quite taking your around the world, most of us do not get to experience the sight of a volcano morphing from peaceful waterfalls into streams of molten lava. This is definitely a must see show in Vegas and is free to the public. You can see this show from dusk until midnight every 15 minutes. If you want an experience that will take you even further away you should try the Star Trek Experience at The Las Vegas Hilton Hotel and Casino. This will not take you to another country per se, but it will definitely take you into another world. Enjoy this encounter with alien creatures and an introduction to the future. Then take a stroll through the museum, which is home to some wonderful memorabilia from the television show and the movies. Just remember that you are on vacation to get away from it all. Isn't it truly neat that you can literally do that and so much more in this unique and intriguing city? You can travel to different countries, experience different cultures, and literally go out of this world without ever leaving the city limits of Las Vegas. Who could ask for more in a vacation experience? Some Dreams are made of Vegas Bachelor Parties Men around America dream of having the quintessential Vegas bachelor party-there are few men who manage but many who share the common dream. The good news is that girls today are demanding equal rights as far as fantasies go and have decided that what is good for the goose is good as well for the gander. In other words more and more women are also deciding to hold their bachelorette parties in Las Vegas as well. This is really good news for Las Vegas as this process is bringing almost as much money and as many guests as the weddings have in the past. Not quite as much but it's a pretty good share of both and a great boon to the economy. There are even services cropping up all over Las Vegas that provide services, decorations, planning, hosting, and the execution of these events for brides and grooms to be alike. Remember, "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" and this is the one last hoorah before you take that long walk down the aisle. The most important thing to remember is that most of these parties are all in good fun and really leave nothing to tell. The most important aspect of bachelor or bachelorette parties for most is that one last night of getting together with old friends, making new acquaintances, and cutting ties with the single lives you are preparing to leave behind. Whether you are just getting together with friends for drinks or heading off to visit all the strip clubs along the strip for one last time it is safe to say that Vegas knows how to throw a bachelor party. One of the most important things to remember about your bachelor or bachelorette party in Las Vegas is that you should probably book your room before you go out partying so that you are certain you have a place to stay when all is said and done. It's always a good idea not to stray too far from your room if you're going to be drinking and having fun but this is a once in a lifetime kind of event so it's forgivable as long as you aren't driving, if you have a little too much to drink. Just make sure that you are able to find your clothes, the ring, and a quick shower the next morning. Some of the parties that are the most fun do not involve leaving the room or suite that you book. You can almost always find strippers that specialize in bachelor parties and will be willing to come to you rather than going from club to club to club. Unless of course you are hoping to experience a little more variety among girls than hiring one or two would provide. When you think about it, Las Vegas really is the perfect city for a bachelor party. You are in close proximity to drinking, gambling, girls, sex, and lots of ribbing from the guys. If you really are a great best man or maid of honor you will have put a lot of thought into what will be done during the bachelor party. Of course, the idea is to send your best friend off into wedded bliss with one last night to remember. It doesn't have to include girls, who's kidding, of course it does. The thing to remember is that it's the best man's job to make sure there is no evidence of impropriety. Make sure you're all having a great night, you're all safe and sound, and that your friend makes it to the chapel on time tomorrow and you might all survive the bachelor party experience. Las Vegas will always be the ideal place to go for brides and grooms alike as they face their upcoming vows and gather with friends as single men and women one last time. While there is something somewhat sad about the process there is also something wonderful about the upcoming future and bright possibilities that lie ahead. Leaving Vegas Happy Winning in Vegas isn't about going home rich; it's about not going home broke. You've probably heard many horror stories about people loosing it all their very first night in Vegas. The sad truth of the matter is that it happens quite often because it is so terribly easy to do. Casinos have many tricks (whether deliberately contrived or accidentally achieved) that help you make poor decisions as a result of slightly impaired judgment. The bells and whistles of casinos are fun for the first few hours, after that they tend to become dull and mind numbing. You'll even find that those who have been at the casino for a while will show slower and less enthusiastic responses to jackpots after a few hours. This is part of the process. We become number and mindlessly feed our 1's, 5's, 10's, 20's, 50's, and 100's into the machines and loosing count along the way. Casinos are also kind enough to allow many people ups and downs along the way. They are quite smart in doing this. Many people find that they can get pretty far ahead early on and then are surprised to suddenly find themselves falling behind at an alarming rate. When they have you is at the moment you put yet another bill into the machine intending to get back the money you lost. Most of us manage to get back our original investment but decide that we want what we had won earlier and end right back at the bottom again starting the entire process over. Don't do that, I can tell you it hurts the next morning when you're kicking yourself for being stupid. This of course brings me to my next point. Ever see a sunrise from the inside of a casino? Me either, but I've walked out into the blinding light of day before. It's very easy to loose track of time in a casino. It's dark in there and the only lights are quite often from the slot machines and blinking neon signs. There are no indicators for the passage of time and unless you are clock watching, which most of us are not when we're having fun, it is quite easy to lose many hours of time and find yourself suddenly very tired and making poor decisions and taking risks you'd normally not take rather than cashing out and going back to the room for the night. This is another one that generally hurts when you wake up. In order to avoid things like this set a vibration alarm on your cell phone and have it buzz you when it's time to go. Only bring in a certain amount of cash into the casino and when that's gone it's gone. Don't go back to the room and get more money or make costly trips to the ATM. Those trips will suddenly add up and find you with no true idea of how much money you've spent or have left in your bank account. You can quite easily win at the casino game on your trip to Vegas as long as you remember that you are playing at a casino and making a conscious decision not to be played by the casino. Common sense will help out some but avoiding traps is the difference in spending your 'mad money' at the casino and going home busted or spending your next few paychecks at the casino long after your vacation is over.
Tipping in Las Vegas Being the money making location Las Vegas is, it only makes sense that everyone is out to get their share of the pie. Tipping is expected in certain circumstances and venues. Here is a list of people and tips they are expecting to receive: * Hotel bellhops get $1 per bag, unless man bags, then $2-3 per bag. * Chamber staff get $1-2 a day, unless you have a pet or made a big mess. * Tip the doorman or concierge only if they have given you specific information about something you want to do or see. * Valet parking attendant should get $1 every time you get your car. * Restaurant servers get 15-20% of the bill. * Bartenders get 10-15% of the total bar bill. * Coat room attendants get $1 per article of clothing. * Cab drivers get 10-15% of the fare. * Skycaps at the airport get $1 per bag, unless you have many bags, then $2-3 per bag. * Barbers and Hairdressers get 15-20%. * Ushers at movies get no tip. * Gas station attendants get no tip. If a theater has maitre d' seating and you want to upgrade your seat, tip him $15-20 per couple. But have your money ready, because they get annoyed if they have to wait. You may also tip with chips from the casino where the show is playing. Dealers in the casino get a few dollars if you had a big win or if they helped you by explaining how to play and what to do. Remembering to tip can also get you unexpected results. The cab driver may take you the scenic route. The concierge may work harder at getting those hard to find concert tickets. The chamber staff may grant special requests that they normally wouldn't do. Thrill Rides in Las Vegas The Stratosphere Hotel has possibly the most scary thrill rides in Las Vegas. The rides are on the 109th floor of a 1,149 foot tower. They have three outrageous rides you can choose to ride. One is the High Roller. This is a roller coaster that goes at the fastest speeds possible as it races around the track that seems as if it is suspended in midair. The second is called the Big Shot. Hold onto your stomach, this is a free fall ride that sends you 160 feet up in the air on a 228 foot tower and plummets you back down again. You sit in an open car and it will appear that you are dangling over the strip. The third ride is the X-Scream. This giant seesaw device propels you over the side of the building and lets you dangle there weightlessly before bringing you back to safety. At the Sahara Hotel, they have a roller coaster that loops around in front of the hotel. They call it Speed: The Ride. It takes off through a hole by the new NASCAR Cafe in the hotel and goes around the loop, under the sidewalk and up a 250 foot tower where you are weightless for a few seconds. Then you ride the coaster backwards through the whole track The Cyber Speedway boasts a NASCAR vehicle about three quarters of its normal size. You can choose to race around the Las Vegas racetrack or race through the streets of Las Vegas. At the end, you get a computer generated report to tell you how you did. The Adventuredome at Circus Circus is an amusement park with several rides for the kids. They do have a roller coaster that races through simulated Grand Canyon mountains. They have several other swing rides and a mini-golf game. There is a small arcade where you can play video games as well before you hit the Midway. The North Strip of Las Vegas The north end of the strip is known for its inexpensive hotels. There are several to choose from and some are older hotels that have been around since the 1950's. The Riviera was the first high rise hotel opening in 1955. Liberace and Joan Crawford hosted the ceremonies. This is an adult oriented hotel and they advise against bringing your kids. They have many wonderful shows such as Crazy Girls, and An Evening at La Cage. Splash has ended its run at the hotel. It is located right across the street from the Circus Circus. The Circus Circus is definitely a hotel for families and welcomes kids. They have circus acts that perform over the casino floors which the little ones can also watch from the second floor. There is the Adventure Dome complete with roller coaster and other exciting rides on the second floor too. They also have a midway arcade that is quite popular. A little further down the strip and you will find the Sahara. This hotel has a huge roller coaster wrapped around the front of it as well. Inside they have quite the Nascar collection above the eatery. They have cars, shirts, posters, autographed pictures, and keyrings. This hotel is done in Moroccan decor and Arabian Night themes. The Stratosphere is a unique hotel due to its awesome size. It is 1,149 feet high. The building has 109 floors. On the top floor, there are three rides for the adrenalin junkie. They have the High Roller which is a roller coaster that goes around the outer rim of the top of the hotel. The Big Shot which is a free fall ride that sends passengers back and forth at 45 mph, also at the top of the hotel. And the last is called the X-Scream. This gives you the feeling of falling off the side of the building from 109 stories up. The Forum Shoppes at Caesar's Palace The Forum Shoppes have been described as a little bit of Rome married to Rodeo Drive and painted with Spielberg and you have an elegant retail space to shop. You enter through a forty eight foot archway. They have also painted a Mediterranean sky that the light changes as the day goes on. A goddess of fortune welcomes you under the central dome. Opened in 1992, the Forum Shoppes are a 250,000 square foot shopping paradise. The architecture takes us back to between 300 BC to 1700 AD. There are animatronic statues of Bacchus, Venus, Pluto, and Apollo playing the lyre. It is a seven minute show with dancing water and a laser-light show. An extension was added in 1998 called the Roman Hall. This hall houses a 50,000 gallon circular aquarium that includes shows involving fire (it does get hot, so stand back), dancing water and animatronic figures that tell the story of the rise and fall of Atlantis. They have many shops in the Forum. There is a shop for every taste and interest. Just to name a few: Houdini's, Louis Vuitton, Ann Taylor, Gucci, Versace, Antiquities (a movie memorabilia place), Fendi, Armani, and FAO Schwarz (a toy store). In addition to shopping, there are several restaurants to get a meal and take a break in. Perhaps the most famous is Wolfgang Puck's Chinois. There is also a Planet Hollywood and a Cheesecake Factory. There was a second expansion that opened right onto the strip. They added a three story glass entrance and 175,000 more square feet of retail stores. The shops are open until 11 PM on Sunday through Thursday and 12 Midnight on Friday and Saturday. Take a whole day here just to browse or see the animatronic shows. This place has a lot to offer and the aquarium has seats nearby so you can just sit and relax watching the fish after an exhausting day of shopping. The East Strip in Las Vegas These are hotels near the Convention Center and most are chain hotels with a couple of exceptions. Look around for a good deal in this area and see what you can find. The first hotel that is in this area is the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. It boasts 657 rooms and has plenty of Hollywood and music industry memorabilia. If you like having the casino close by, you will appreciate this hotel. The lobby borders around its casino. The hotel also has a great pool setting. Several pools joined by some sandy beach and a lazy river. The Las Vegas Hilton is about two blocks off the main strip. Barry Manilow performs here at present in the Headliner Showroom. Also out front, you will find a statue of Elvis Presley outside the doors, and as you walk in, you will see one of his sequined jumpsuits. He played over 837 sold-out shows at the hotel. Also, you will find the Star Trek Experience here. You may even run into some Borg, Andorians, or Klingons. They have several packages to choose from and in one behind the scenes tour, you get to see an actual bridge set used in "The Next Generation." They have hundreds of props, paraphernalia, and articles of clothing from the television series and the movies. There are several chain hotels that you can stay at relatively cheap if you don't need the casino glamour and all its casings. There is the La Quinta Inn, Residence Inn by Marriott, Best Western Mardi Gras Inn, the Emerald Springs Clarion Hotel Suites, Fairfield Inn, and a Motel 6. All of these offer clean rooms, a bath, in some cases, a suite with a living room area and some have a continental breakfast. Strip Clubs in Las Vegas The mentality of "Something for Everyone" even extends to the strip club business. If you walk down the strip at night, there will be people handing out flyers for the clubs. Taxis also have a sign in their cabs about different places. The Palomino is one of the oldest clubs outside the city limits. Since they are outside the city limits, they are one of the few clubs that have both total nudity and serve alcohol. It has two levels where the featured dancers do themed dances with specific props and music. Glitter Gulch is located right in the center of the Fremont Street Experience. They have basic shows where the women wear long gowns and slowly take them off to reveal just a G-string. This is also one of the places due to its convenience, you can visit, check it out, and leave if it is not to your liking. The Sapphire Club is the largest strip club in Las Vegas. It has 71,000 square feet of nakedness. This one is different from most. It is not only friendly and clean, it is modern and you won't find any attitudes here. They have giant television screens so you can keep an eye on what is happening on the other side of the room. The upstairs rooms are posh and very expensive. Cheetah's is a widely known strip club. It was used as the background set for the movie "Showgirls." Renovations have been made since then and the only familiar sight in the club is the big stage where the dancers perform. This is considered a sporty frat bar and usually the age group seen here is 21 to 40. Eight television sets line the walls and the club does a good business during major sporting events. Travel Tips Emergency Services can be reached from anywhere in the United States by dialing 911. To reach the Nevada Highway Patrol, dial 647 on a cellular phone. Parking your car may take some fancy footwork as you are not allowed to park on the strip at any time. If you can find a parking lot or a garage to leave your car in, that would be the best bet. You avoid paying the fees for the garages if you use the valet parking at the hotels. If you are staying in one place for several days, you might consider doing your own laundry. Of course, there are clothing and drug stores everywhere in case you did forget something. So don't pack your suitcase to the brim. Save room for all the souvenirs you will be bringing home. Use fabric softener sheets to keep your clothes smelling fresh in the suitcase. Make a little bag of things you find you might need on a trip. Your list might include pens, pencils, safety pins, sewing kit, and some stamps to mail your postcards. If you are running late the morning of your departure, call down to the front desk and see if you can delay your check out time. In most hotels, the check out time is noon. For a small fee, they may add a couple hours to the time so you don't have to rush around. Bring a couple of pairs of comfortable walking shoes on your trip. There is a lot of walking inside and outside the hotels even if you ride the bus to each one. Make sure you have broken in your shoes so you will not be suffering later. When you get to your room, no matter if you are only staying for an hour, place the dead bolt on the door. Thieves will stop at nothing to get your valuables. Most hotels have a coded safe in each room so you can feel safe in leaving your extra money or jewelry in them. Top Attractions in Las Vegas There are many fabulous things to do besides gambling in Las Vegas. Whether it be a show or shopping, you can always find something to do if you look for it. The hotels are the best attractions in Las Vegas. Hotel hopping can take the better part of a week to see them all. That is just a simple walk through from one side to the other. Plan on at least a day in your favorite ones just to see all the sites. But be forewarned, some that look small on the outside are huge when you get in the door. Shark Reef at Mandelay Bay Hotel will take about one to hours to visit. Here you will see all kinds of sea life and reptiles. They have everything from crocodiles, pirahna, jellyfish, sharks and even some baby rays you can touch. They also have an underwater tunnel you can walk through to see the sharks and other fish swimming above you. Star Trek: The Experience and Borg Invasion 4-D is definitely worth a visit if you are a hard core Trekker. You may even run into some Klingons, Borg, or an Andorian. They have a behind the scenes tour where you can see a bridge used in the television series "The Next Generation." They also have you "beam" from a cargo bay onto the bridge. The tour also includes viewing of some of the paraphernalia, props and clothes used in the series. The Stratosphere Thrill Rides are not for the faint of heart. They are located up on the 109th floor of the hotel. They have the High Roller, a roller coaster, The Big Shot, a free fall ride, and the X-Scream, which is a dangling teeter totter that suspends you off the side of the building. Some Quiet Things To Do in Las Vegas If you want to get away from all the noise and people, but don't want to leave Las Vegas itself, there are several things you can do for a quiet afternoon. Here are a couple places that you can go and see something different. The Double Down Saloon has cocktails, a wild jukebox, and bizarre mural work by local artists. Mingle with some of the local folks or, if you are lucky, you might spot the occasional celebrity that visits. The Chinatown Mall is an Oriental type of place with some good restaurants, fascinating shopping, and some unique items. Everything has a background of the Far East as its theme. The Arts Factory has a a gallery with first rate collection of art pieces. They have parties the first Friday of every month to help showcase the local artist's work. The West Sahara Library Fine Arts Museum building is one of the few buildings that is built to Smithsonian specs. It is an urban building that accentuates its space and art work perfectly. The Guggenheim/Hermitage Museum was a venture between St. Petersburg, Russia and the Guggenheim. Located in the Venetian, it is right by the front door and has an outside entrance. There is some sculpture and glass pieces in the museum. King Tut's Tomb and Museum located in the Luxor Hotel is a reproduction, full scale, of King Tut's tomb in Egypt. It includes the antechamber, annex, burial chamber, and replicas of all the treasury inventory. King Tut was discovered in 1922 in the Valley of the Kings. All of the tomb and its accouterments were handcrafted by Egypt artisans using the gold leaf, linens, tools, and ancient methods. If you want to spend a nice quiet hour or two on your own, check out one of these destinations. Side trips from Vegas If you get tired of the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas, there are several side trips you can take to get away. Most of these include driving to Henderson or surrounding counties to see what is out there. The Ethel M Chocolates is about six miles from the strip. They offer free tours and it is better to go on a weekday when they are operating. Ethel Mars began her candy making in the early 20th century and these became famous candies: M&Ms, Milky Way, Mars bars, 3 Musketeers, and Snickers. The tours last about ten minutes and is made up of viewing stations explaining the chocolate making process. You get one small chocolate sample at the end. Ron Lee's World of Clowns is also located in Henderson. The store features clown figurines and some Disney figures. The tour offered take you around to watch as the workers mold and paint the clowns. Be sure to hit the gift shop which offers high quality clown figurines. Grand Canyon tours are offered in Las Vegas. You can spend a full day on a touring bus and go to see the majestic canyon and be back the same day. You can also choose two or three day trips. The prices usually include the tour through the national park, a flight over the canyon, and lunch. Some excursions include hiking as well. Hoover Dam is visited by 2,000 to 3,000 people every day. If not for this architectural and structural creation, there would be no Las Vegas. Built in 1931, it took 5200 workers doing twenty four hour days to get this dam built by 1936. That was two years ahead of schedule and fifteen million under budget. There are tours conducted and they go down 561 feet into the belly of the dam. You can see the giant turbines and go outside and look back up at the huge dam. Shopping in Las Vegas For the best shopping experience, your best bet is to start out at the Forum Shoppes at Caesar's Palace. It is a huge shopping mall covering three floors at one end of the hotel. They have every kind of shop you can think of plus a few more. You can go from Houdini's, a magic shop, to Gucci for clothes. They have a Planet Hollywood inside and several other chain restaurants. There are also some living statues that come to life every hour to tell about a Roman myth. They have seats so if you are tired from shopping, you can rest a while. Next up is the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian. Head to the second floor and take in all the amazing scenery. The second floor is made to look like outside in Venice complete with gondola rides. High and medium-end brand names are found here as well some expensive trinket shops. There is everything from Banana Republic to Ann Taylor. Fashion Show Mall which is almost right across the street from the new Wynn Las Vegas Hotel is a much more fitting Vegas type of mall. It holds 250 shops, restaurants, and service stores. They have valet parking and will even offer to hand wash your car while you are having fun shopping. Some of the stores in this mall include Sak's, Nordstrom's, Macy's, and other high-end retailers. You can't miss the place either, it has a huge circular object on top of it that looks very much like an UFO. Boulevard Mall was the largest around until Fashion Show Mall came along. With its 144+ stores, it took up 1.2 million square feet. It has several anchor stores likes Sears and JC Penney as well as Dillard's and Marshall's. You can find almost anything you are looking for at reasonable prices. It it a medium-end mall and has several eateries you can eat and take a few minutes to rest. Places to Stay Outside of Las Vegas Luxury resorts aside, you may want to stay somewhere far away from the noise and lights and glitter of the Las Vegas Strip itself. There are two resorts in Henderson which is about a thirty minute drive from the strip. The Ritz-Carlton is located on the shores of Lake Las Vegas. The style is that of an Italian resort with its marble fixtures and lake views. They have a health club and a spa. You can sign up for all sorts of activities such as stargazing, desert and mountains hikes, tai chi, and fly fishing on the lake. They offer yoga classes and you can play golf on three different courses. Right next door to this fabulous resort is an Italian village with over forty shops and restaurants for your shopping and dining needs. If you are worried about how to get back and forth from this quiet setting, they do have shuttles that run back and forth to the strip until two in the morning. The Green Valley Ranch Resort is about fifteen to twenty minutes from the strip. Kids and families are always welcome here. They have a multiscreen movie theater and the health club for exercising is free to use. The pool area is part lagoon and is in a weird geometric shape to support all the shallow places and the lounge area. In an adjoining building is the casino and gaming areas. They follow and old school theme and they have a variety of restaurants to dine in. You will also find a variety of common hotels off the main road as well. They have Motel 6, Super 8, EconoLodge, and Budget Inn's. They also have one place called Terrible's. It is named for the owner who is nicknamed Terrible. The place is about ten minutes from the strip. It is not as expensive as some of the chain motels. Mid Strip Hotels in Las Vegas Mid strip hotels have a big shopping theme for the most part. There are a lot of shops in these hotels mentioned as well as other attractions. The Bellagio has an eight acre lake in front that represents the Lake Como village that the hotel was named after. In this lake, about every hour, you can view some impressive water ballet and choreography. At night, it is lit up and put to music for an even better show. The shops in the Via Bellagio offer the current trends and clothiers such as Prada, Gucci, and Armani. Caesar's Palace which is right across the street from the Bellagio has a Roman decor and some of the staff wear gladiator outfits. The 4,000 seat Coliseum was built just for Celine Dion who performs two hundred shows each year. The Forum Shops cover three floors at one end of Caesar's and they have something for every taste and interest. The Venetian Hotel is elegance and sophistication. The rooms are done in Italian marble and have glass showers and deep tubs. The second floor houses the Grand Canal Shoppes and these are laid against a beautiful backdrop of sky and fluffy clouds to make you think you are outside. They also offer gondola rides though the hotel. The Mirage Hotel is located right across the street from the Venetian. They also own the Treasure Island right next door. The first thing you will see when you ride the moving sidewalk to the entrance of the hotel is the tiger habitat. Siegfried and Roy house several of their white tigers in this enclosure. Their CRAVINGS restaurant has a breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet that encompasses every taste out there. Their shops are minimal as they have opened a rain forest exhibit full of palm trees and waterfalls. The one main attraction here is the volcano that is located out front. It goes off after sunset every 15 minutes and incorporates a colorful light show as well. Magicians in Las Vegas There are many different kinds of shows you can go to see. Some are hard core magicians and some are just jokesters that do magic. Most have night shows up to six nights a week. Lance Burton, who performs at the Monte Carlo Hotel, is original in his act as well as charming. He starts the show with precise close-up magic. In one show, he tossed a bird in the air that became confetti in front of everyone. He moves onto bigger illusions and his act is extremely good. He also has a juggler in his show that can juggle a chainsaw, a peanut M&M, and a beanbag chair. Penn and Teller are two magicians you don't want to miss. The ever quiet Teller usually always winds up being the guinea pig to the ever boisterous Penn. They perform magic tricks and then take the time to explain how they are done. They also do juggling, make really off the wall comments, and do some really mean stunts. The stunt most want to see is Teller catch a bullet in his teeth after Penn shoots him. Criss Angel became famous through his "Mindfreak" television show. He is located at the Luxor Hotel and performs at others in Las Vegas as well. He has done the Houdini trick "Metamorphosis" with no curtain. He has cut himself in two and put himself back together. Criss also shows his mentalist abilities when he asks people to think of certain objects or numbers. Mac King, performing at Harrah's hotel, is one of the best afternoon shows you can see. He is famous for close-up magic that really defies your eyes and brain. Mac's show is perfect if you need something for the kids right before dinner or another show. He is not very expensive and is an consummate performer. Kid Attractions in Las Vegas Those visitors under 21 may look around Las Vegas and think the place has nothing to offer them. They are not old enough to gamble or enjoy some of the nightclub shows. If they look around, there are several attractions that they can enjoy despite their young age. Head down to Circus Circus and catch some of the circus acts that go on all day over the casino floors. There is also the midway arcade and the Adventuredome on the second floor. This is an amusement park complete with mini golf and a roller coaster ride. The Mirage Hotel has the white tiger exhibit and the Secret Garden of Siegfried and Roy. There is also a dolphin habitat where you can watch the dolphin swim by. The Excalibur has the medieval pageantry and a whole basement level with arcade and video games. The Tournament of Kings is one of the nice shows for kids as you get to see a medieval joust and get to eat like they did in King Arthur's days -- No forks or spoons here, use your fingers. Gameworks is also a basement level arcade and game center. It is quite easy to find on the strip, just look for the big Coca-Cola bottle and the M&M shop. It is located underneath these two shops. They have batting cages, motion-simulation rides, video games, and air hockey. For toddlers and young children, you might try the Lied Discovery Children's Museum. There are plenty of interactive games for them to engage and play. They could feed a wooden sandwich to a snake and a human to see how they both use nutrition. There is a mini grocery store, a radio station, and a music/drawing area. They can also pla basketball in a wheelchair to see how it is to be handicapped. Hoover Dam If not for the Hoover Dam, Las Vegas may not exist. Construction began in 1931 and the workers needed ways to relax on their days off. 5200 laborers were assembled and proceeded working twenty four hours a day. The dam was finished in 1936. It helped conserve water for electrical, industrial, and irrigation purposes. The dam has become just one of the world's major electrical generating plants that provided surrounding towns with a low cost and clean hydroelectric power. The $165 million Hoover Dam paid for itself by selling electrical power to the states of California, Arizona, and Nevada. 660 feet at the top tapering to 45 feet where the road crosses at the top, the dam is a massive curved wall. It is 726 feet tall which is about the height of a 60 foot skyscraper. The dam holds back 9.2 trillion gallons of water. This water is kept in Lake Mead, a reservoir facilitated by the construction of the dam. There are four intake towers on the lake that drop the water down about 600 feet to help drive turbines and create power. The visitor center opened in 1995 and is built upon a three level circular structure with a rooftop overlook. You will enter into the Reception Lobby where there is a gift shop and you can purchase souvenirs of your visit to the dam. They carry photographs, articles, videos, and other paraphernalia relating to the dam and the people who built it. There are thirty minute tours of the dam that leave every fifteen minutes. These tours go down about 561 feet into the bowels of the dam. You will see the massive turbines and even get to go outside on the downriver side for a look back up at the massive structure. Casino Games No matter what your skill level or monetary disposition, you can always find something you can play down in the casino. Las Vegas has everything from Penny Slots to $10,000 bets on the blackjack table. Blackjack is an easy game to start playing. You get two cards to start and then, on your turn, can request more until you get to 21 or close to it. Then the dealer will play his hand. If he has less than you do, you win. Roulette is another simple game to play. You can bet on a number, red or black, or if the number will be odd or even. If the ball lands on where you placed your chip, you win. Slot machines can be fun, but you can lose your money fast playing these games. They have some with just one line to match up the icons. Some machines have up to five lines to match up for you to win. These also cost extra. If you place a quarter in a nickel slot, you can get five one line plays or one five line plays. It can get very confusing, but after you play a couple of times, you will get the hang of it. Poker is another casino game that you will find interesting. Although don't just jump in and join. Be sure to read the minimum bet at these tables as well. You get two cards face down and go through a series of betting after getting up to five cards to build the best hand you can. They also have Video Poker which is you against the computer. The best thing is free classes. If you see a game you want to play, but you are unsure how to get started, go to the front desk of the casino and find out when they hold classes. Most hotel casinos will give classes on all the games and how to play. Bringing Money with You The US money system is quite easy to learn. We have several denominations of bills: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. The coin system is equally as simple. We have a penny (1 cent), a nickel (5 cents), a dime (10 cents), a quarter (25 cents), half dollar (50 cents), and several $1 coins (Sacagawea, the silver dollar, and the new gold President dollar). Foreign exchange bureaus are not easily found in the US so make sure you have your money converted before your trip. Some banks may exchange it for you at a fee. Traveler's Checks in US denominations are accepted everywhere in the US. Foreign checks are quite difficult to exchange. There are three that are widely recognized here in the US. They are Visa, Mastercard, and Thomas Cook. Be sure to keep the serial numbers written down in a safe place in case yours are lost or stolen. To exchange them for US cash, you will need your driver's license and/or your passport for identification. Credit Cards accepted in the US are Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diner's Club, Discover, and Carte Blanche. Some Vegas vendors may also accept international cards such as enRoute, EuroCard, and JCB. Most businesses will have a sticker in the corner of their door to let you know what they will and won't accept. Also, some businesses may require a minimum ten dollar purchase before they will accept the card. ATMs can be found on almost every block in the US. Make sure your PIN number is well out of sight and don't place it on the back of your card. You can only get US currency out of the ATMs. If you are not with the bank you are withdrawing from, expect to be charged $3 or more for the transaction. One way to get around the fee is go to a grocery store and buy something and get cash back. Fees are not usually charged then. Blue Man Group in Las Vegas Only in Las Vegas would you find a group of hairless and non-speaking guys that are blue. The Blue Man Group is really a fantastic show. They use PVC pipe as their drums, beat on drums that are filled with milk or paint, and their facial expressions throughout the performance tell the story perfectly. A branch off the Cirque du Soleil circuit in New York, these guys slipped through the side door. But this is no repeat of Cirque du Soleil. There are no acrobatics or aerial maneuvers in this show. There are just three blue guys making lots of noise and sometimes a lot of messes. It doesn't sound very Vegas, but it is just another end of the color spectrum that is also used by Cirque du Soleil. They wrap themselves up in a blue suit and then paint their faces and hands blue. They don't talk at all during the hour and half shows, but you can see in their expressions and eye what they are trying to get you to see or do. They also let audience members in on the fun. They will choose a volunteer and take them on stage to beat the drums or pipes, and during some shows they encase the volunteer in a cocoon and then paint it blue. They do perform for minor audiences. At the Autodesk convention in November of 2006, they did a show at the Venetian for about 8,000 attendees. Most of these people came out of the show saying how good it really was. Most also said that they would attend the live show if they had a chance. Usually by the end of the show, the audience is roaring with laughter and amazement. Well worth the ticket price to see and you will most certainly be scratching you head in wonder as you are leaving. Best Pools in Las Vegas Swimming in the summer sun can be a wonderful experience after a long day of shopping and casino play. Most of these pools have hot tubs as well. Caesar's Palace has a 4.5 acre Garden of the Gods that includes fountains and statuary. They four Roman-styled pools and two jacuzzis. The Venus pool is top optional, so be sure to check that out. The 2001 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was shot here so you may have seen it many times. Mandelay Bay boasts the best pool in Las Vegas. It has a wave pool with actual sand beaches. It is an excellent way to relax and enjoy the evening. The Hard Rock is the choice for the younger party crowd. It has underwater music, a hair salon, a spa, and swim up blackjack. The poolside cabanas are nice grass shacks and include refrigerators, phones, and misting systems. The Bellagio has an exceptionally elegant pool area. It has a number of smaller pools and citrus trees that have created a very Mediterranean look. You can even reserve a pool for the evening to come and relax. Invite your friends to join you too. The Venetian Hotel has several pools that are heated. Also, on the fourth floor of the Venezia tower, they have four more pools. Two of which are jacuzzis and heated. A wonderful place to relax in the summer or winter. The pool at the Green Valley Ranch Resort is also a winner. It has foliage, a sandy beach, and gambling in the water. Because of its distance from the Strip, it doesn't get as much business. Perhaps the best pool to get wet at, but not swim in is the Mirage Dolphin pool. They have several dolphins you can see and they are working at breeding some more. You can come down and toss a ball to the dolphin and the will bring it back as well as give you a splash just to get you wet. Playing with a dolphin is enough to make anyone's day. 1980s and 1990s in Las Vegas AS the 1980's began, Las Vegas seemed to be booming once again. McCarran airport had just started a twenty year, $785 million expansion plan. Siegfried and Roy started in their own show, "Beyond Belief," that ran for six years at the Frontier. They played a record breaking 3,500+ shows to sellout crowds every night. Steve Wynn opened the Mirage Hotel in 1989. It had five story waterfalls, lagoons, and tropical type foliage. The hotel was fronted by a fifty foot volcano that erupted nightly in a explosion of color. He also invited Siegfried and Roy to come and headline his hotel. The 1990's brought us the Excalibur that along with the Circus Circus was bringing the family attitude to Las Vegas. With its pageantry and medieval background, the hotel was perfect for kids. Also in the 1990s came the Luxor, the MGM Grand Hotel and Treasure Island. In 1995, Fremont Street was completed and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino opened. It was billed as the first rock and roll hotel. 1996 brought the Monte Carlo and the 1,149 foot Stratosphere Hotels. The New York New York arrived in 1997 with its Manhattan skyline and scale size replica of the Statue of Liberty. Between the years of 1998 and 1999, the CEOs of Las Vegas took a look at the growing town and decided to change the look from family vacation place to luxury resort capital. Hotels that were opened after this time reflect this attitude. The Bellagio, Venetian, and Paris Las Vegas were all built to follow the trend. Now they see other hotels are also making expansions. The Luxor, Caesar's Palace, and Mandelay Bay have all added in another tower that has created hundreds of rooms for even more tourists to enjoy. 1960s and 1970s in Las Vegas The 1960's brought the debut of the slot machines. Some of these machines would accept up to a $500 token. The jackpots grew over time from $100 to $10 million today. The Rat Pack was in town filming Ocean's Eleven. The rat pack was chairing a summit meeting at the Sands Hotel. The group included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter :Lawford, and Joey Bishop. The building boom took a brief rest when the El Rancho burned down in 1960. It wasn't until 1966 that another hotel was built. The Aladdin was opened and was quite an exotic Arabian Night type of hotel. Howard Hughes burst into town in the late 60's and went on a shopping spree of land and hotels costing more than $300 million. The Circus Circus opened in 1968 and Las Vegas had become a family destination as well. With the circus acts over the casino floors, adults and children could partake in the shows. Elvis Presley returned in 1969 to the International showroom and his fans had grown up enough to enjoy the show. In 1971, the Union Plaza, a 500 room hotel, opened at the head of Fremont Street. Merv Griffin started taping his shows at Caesar's Palace. He made the city a little more famous by bringing it into people's homes each night on the television. 1973 saw Siegfried and Roy's first show open at the Tropicana. They would turn women into tigers in their show "Folies Begere." They became world class illusionists in their own right. The 1970's also brought two major disasters to Las Vegas. The first was a flash flood that hit the main strip and wound up costing more than $1 million in damage. The second was that gambling was legalized in Atlantic City and this took a lot of tourists away from Las Vegas. Dollar slot machines were brought out at the end of the decade. 1940s and 1950s in Las Vegas Bugsy Siegel started out in Las Vegas in the 1940s. He took some already existing properties and just added to them. In 1941, the El Rancho Vegas was built among these properties almost right across the street from where the Sahara Hotel is located now. Las Vegas was promoted as the Wild West combined with glamour. Hollywood's connection helped the town grow and become a playground for celebrities. In 1947, Siegel opened the Flamingo Hotel and its showroom boasted many headline entertainers. There were Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. Hotel growth was phenomenal during the 1950's. The town was moving from a frontier type to an entertainment type of place. Entertainers such as Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen brought an elegance with them and builders started to add golf courses and tennis courts to the hotels. In 1952, the Binion Horseshoe Club would opened and would later become famous as the home of the World Poker Series. In 1955, the Showboat Hotel opened that not only had the best buffets in town, but also had a bowling alley and twenty four hour bingo games. In 1956, Elvis Presley appeared at the New Frontier, but his fans were too young at the time to appreciate the shows. In 1958, the 1,065 room, 10 million dollar Stardust hotel was opened. The show that opened there "Lido de Paris" was the longest running show ever in Las Vegas. Competition for tourist monies also brought sporting events to the town. The 1950's saw the start of the PGA Tournament of Champions for golfing. Also, the wedding venue took off and Las Vegas became a popular destination to go and tie the knot. A lot of celebrities sparked this takeoff in weddings getting married there themselves. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward are just one of the couples that took advantage of the chapels in Las Vegas. Staying Downtown in Las Vegas The Downtown area of Las Vegas is also called Glitter Gulch. Centered around Fremont Street, this was the first section to build hotels. The Fremont Street Experience has revitalized the whole area again. This experience includes a laser light show and a Neon museum which houses signs of hotels and casinos from days past. First opening in 1946, the Golden Nugget was the first hotel designed for casino gambling. So named because of the 61 pound Hand of Faith gold nugget that is on display. They have a delicious buffet and a top rated health club for their guests. The Four Queens which opened in 1966 was named for the owner's four daughters. It only had 120 rooms at its opening, but it has evolved into a major downtown hotel. To get a feel of Old Las Vegas, take a trip to this historic hotel. The Fremont Hotel opened in 1956. Wayne Newton started his singing career in the old showroom. The Fremont Street Experience can be heard up until midnight in some of the rooms. Main Street Station is decorated in the fashion of early twentieth century San Francisco. It opened in 1966 and is a mere three minute walk from Fremont Street. Inside the lobby, you will find ornate chandeliers and tin ceilings. Outside there are stained glass windows and wrought iron railings. This hotel is definitely themed for the Old West. The Lady Luck Hotel first opened in 1964, but under another name. Honest John's boasted a 2,000 foot casino. Today, Lady Luck has increased that to 30,000 feet and they added a seventeen and twenty-five story tower for the hotel rooms. Most of the clientele at this hotel is repeat business. This hotel is becoming a major player in the Downtown area. Souvenirs in Las Vegas Finding a souvenir shop in Las Vegas is like finding a place to eat. There are several places on every block. Some are little holes in the wall and some are quite huge. They sell a lot of the same items, and the best advice is this, don't buy the souvenirs at the airport. They are way more expensive, unless you have forgotten something. The all around best place to go and find souvenirs is the Bonanza Gift and Souvenir Shop. It occupies the corner across from the Sahara Hotel. They have everything you could possibly want in this store. They have old chips, dice, cards, hats, pens, pencils, calendars, t-shirts, baby clothes, wooden trinket boxes, tote bags, shot glasses, those famous dice clocks, old money, disposable cameras, and batteries. You can spend hundreds in a matter of minutes, so watch yourself. The Arts Factory Complex is right off of Las Vegas Boulevard. They have a gift shop carrying pink flamingos and Las Vegas related items. The tackiest item seen was a pair of earrings with poker chips. Also, check the hotels for gift shops for your favorite performers. The Las Vegas Hilton has Barry Manilow. Also, at the Las Vegas Hilton, you can find a gift shop for that Trekker in your life at Star Trek: The Experience. Caesar's Palace has Celine Dion and an Elton John Store. On the side of Harrah's, you can find Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville shop. The Stratosphere Tower has a gift shop way up at the very top of the tower with plenty of souvenirs and mementos. Circus Circus has several gift shops as you walk through the casino. They have everything from snacks to beautiful pictures of the strip at night for framing. You can even find decorated golf balls. The South Strip of Las Vegas The South Strip could be considered the expensive end. Most of the hotels on this end are resorts and are more elaborate than the hotels at the other end of the strip or on Fremont Street. These are hotels with huge towers and everything from shopping to spas to convention centers. Let's take a look at the sights on the south end of the strip. The first hotel you will see when going north on the strip is the Four Seasons hotel. These people do everything in a big way from the entrance way to the cotton sheets on the beds. There is also no clanging or ringing of a casino to overload your senses as you walk through the door. For casino sounds that are quite abundant, follow the signs and go through the side door of the Four Seasons and you walk right into the Mandelay Bay's casino and gaming tables. If you walk a little further into the lobby, you will see a huge aquarium that advertises for the hotel's Shark Reef Experience. If you have an hour or two, go and see the wildlife ranging from crocodiles, pirahna, sharks, jellyfish, and even some baby rays you can touch. The next hotel you come to will be the Luxor. You can't miss this one with the big pyramid and Sphinx sitting in front of it. This hotel is decorated with Egyptian tones and has a unique lobby inside. The rooms go up the outside of the pyramid and the elevator which is called and INCLINATOR actually travels at a slant up the floors. The Excalibur Hotel is out of King Arthur days. It is a huge fairy tale castle complete with dragons and pageantry on the inside. Make sure to eat the Tournament of Kings medieval style buffet complete with a jousting attraction. History of Las Vegas Hoover Dam actually was the creation of the Las Vegas we know today. When the dam was being built staring back in 1928, thousands of workers came to Nevada looking for work. In 1931, gambling was made legal once more. Fremont Street's gaming casinos attracted the workers from the Hoover Dam. Bugsy Siegel, the man who is credited with developing Las Vegas actually just bought a few blocks of already developed properties. El Rancho Vegas Hotel was built in 1941 right across the street from where the Sahara is today. Throughout the 1940's, the El Rancho became a place where Hollywood stars came to relax. In 1947, the Flamingo opened with Dean Martin headlining several shows. Hotel growth continued into the 1950's. The Riviera was the ninth hotel to open in 1957. Liberace was a headliner at most of the shows. In 1958, the Stardust opened and Wayne Newton fgot his start in Las Vegas. In the 1960's, the Sands Hotel invited the Rat Pack to headline. Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford all came and stayed there while the group was in town filming Ocean's Eleven. In 1968, Circus Circus was opened to the Las Vegas visitors. This hotel boasted circus acts every hour right over the casino floors. In the 1970's, a flood causing almost one million in damage. Gambling was also legalized in Atlantic City costing Las Vegas a lot of customers. In 1989, Steve Wynn finally made people take notice of Las Vegas. The Mirage opened and Siegfried & Roy took over as healiners. As the 1990's and 2000's come and go, even more luxurious hotels will be opening. The Luxor, Venetian, Mandelay Bay, and THE Hotel have even more to offer guests in shopping and gambling. Las Vegas, like its hotels, will keep on growing and making more money every year. Halloween in Las Vegas Halloween in Las Vegas is where the ghosts hang out or so it is said. To see the scary side of Las Vegas, take the haunted tour. It begins at the Greek Isles Hotel and Casinos. It is located right off the strip. You can go and visit the haunting grounds of Liberace, Elvis, and Bugsy Siegel. The tour lasts about two and a half hours. You will find out many dar secrets of Las Vegas. According to a paranormal historian, there have been about forty places where paranormal activity has been recorded. The tour itself includes the "Motel of Death" where many celebrities have died, and Tupac's murder site. You can also listen to stories of Elvis sightings at the Hilton and hear Liberace play the piano for restaurant patrons. Also on or near Halloween, there is a Fetish and Fantasy Ball. It takes place at a different hotel every year. The ball includes erotic stage performances, fire performances, laser and light shows, a DJ, walkers on stilts, and of course, a costume contest. They give prizes in the sexiest, naughtiest, and scariest costume. Early bird discount tickets are available through paypal right now. Performers will be announced for the program as they sign up. So check the site daily to see what is happening. Monster Mayhem is also a big happening in Las Vegas. There are seven haunted houses in which all kinds of ghouls wander around in. There are crypts, creepy catacombs, and fog filled pathways. The houses take about ten minutes to walk through so you need to allow at least a hour and a half to get through all of them. The Boneyard is another scarefest. It is an above ground graveyard with corpses and lurking ghouls. Take your time walking through this graveyard. Best of the Best in Las Vegas Ranking some of the many attractions in Las Vegas is quite hard to do. But several sites have many different favorites. Here are just a few to keep you busy. * Best Non-Vegas Hotel: THE Hotel at Mandelay Bay. * Best Spa & Health Club: The Venetian and the Mirage * Best Luxury Resort: The Palms Resort * Best Pool: The Venetian, The Mirage, and Mandelay Bay * Best Architectural Hotel: Caesar's Palace * Best for Conventioners: Las Vegas Hilton, The Venetian * Best Hotel for Families: MGM Grand, Circus Circus * Best Bathroom: The Venetian and THE Hotel at Mandelay Bay * Best Views: Stratosphere Tower (109th floor) * Best Rooms: Golden Nugget, MGM Grand, and The Venetian * Best Downtown Hotel: Main Street Station and The Golden Nugget * Best for 20-something age group and up: Hard Rock and The Palms Resort * Best place for the Indecisive crowd: Ritz-Carlton and Green Valley Ranch * Best Dining Experience: The Venetian and Bellagio Take these as suggestions for your next trip and check the places out. You may find you like one more than the other and want to stay there. Go on the web and see what each hotel has to offer. See if they welcome children and pets. See if the themes are within your tastes. Call ahead to see if you can get any discounts on the rooms if you are going during the weekdays. The weekends will always be a little more expensive. Throughout scheduling the whole trip, please make sure you stay somewhere that you will be comfortable and don't feel out of place in. This will lead to a great vacation experience and a more exciting time in Las Vegas. So take out all the stops and plan an excellent vacation that will make all your friends jealous. Best Hotels In Vegas In 1997, the New York New York opened and led a new challenge in for others to keep up with them. Nobody did for almost eighteen months. You can tell the hotel by the 150 foot Statue of Liberty in front of it. You can also see a bit of the Manhattan skyline -- The Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. To top it off, it has a huge roller coaster built around it as well. Inside, you can enter the casino through the Brooklyn Bridge, and you will end up in Greenwich Village afterwards. The main casino and gambling areas are done up to look like Central Park. Caesars Palace was opened in 1966. It was built to showcase Roman History. The Coliseum, the baths, the staff dressed in gladiator outfits all serve to remind us what this hotel is about. It has four towers of rooms that have wall to floor windows with the most breath-taking views you will ever find. The Forum Shops occupy three floors and has stores for every taste and interest. From a Houdini magic shop to FAO Schwarz's toy store, you can find a wide variety of shopping available. The Venetian and its twin tower, Venezia, all have suite type rooms. Most have the bed area as well as a sunken living room complete with TV and a mini-fridge stocked with goodies. They boast six outdoor pools and most are heated even in the winter. The Grand Canal Shoppes on the second floor rank up there with Caesar's Forum Shoppes. Also, on the second floor as well as outside the hotel, you can ride in a gondola around the hotel. The second floor's ceiling is decorated to make you think you are outside on a warm spring day. It is a very relaxing place to walk and window shop. Best Buffets In Las Vegas Las Vegas is the place to go for awesome buffets. Most hotels, depending on the theme, carry their own fare on their buffets. For instance, if you go Paris Hotel, you will see French food. They normally serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Your best bet is to go for brunch around 1030-11AM and then go back for dinner around 5PM. Buffets and brunches can run you anywhere from $5 to $58 depending on where you are on the strip. Bally's Sterling Sunday Brunch is one of the most expensive at $58. The variety isn't as big, but the quality is better. Unlimited Champagne, Lobster, Caviar, Sushi, Monkfish, and even tenderloin steaks and ostrich are offered in this eating experience. Paris Hotel's Le Village Buffet is another expensive venture. On their buffet, you will find food grouped according to the French Region. In Brittany, you will find crepes and roasted duck. Alsace boasts a hearty lamb stew, where Provence offers pasta and braised beef. Normandy has quiche and bay scallops. The dinner buffet runs around $25. Harrah's Hotel has a fresh market buffet. With the theme as a farmer's market, they have big sculptures made from fruits and vegetables. There are plenty tastes to choose from at this buffet. You will want to try the seafood, pasta, Mexican, Asian, and American fares. Their dinner buffet runs around $17. The Mirage Hotel has a dining buffet named CRAVINGS. They have something for everyone -- Italian, Chinese, Mexican, American, and more desserts than you could possibly choose from to dine on. Prime rib and seafood are also offered. The dinner buffets here run around $15. The Excalibur's Round Table Buffet is one of the cheapest ones for breakfast. They also offer any breakfast food you care to eat as well as carry a large variety of fruit juices and coffee, tea, or milk to drink. All you can eat for $9. Dinner runs around $13. Expensive Hotels on the Strip The Four Seasons Luxury Hotel and Resort is located on the top five floors of the Mandelay Bay. It has its own registration desk and driveway entrance. It will get you away from all the noise and clash of the Mandelay Bay casino. The service is superb here and you and your children will be so spoiled, you won't want to ever leave the room. If you are pining for the casino sounds, you just have to walk through the front door and you are in the casino. It is never far away, it just seems that way due to the piece and quiet of the resort. These rooms can run upwards of $500 a night. The MGM Grand had added onto its its massive hotel and casino by constructing an Emerald Tower that has about 700 rooms available. It is no longer a family hotel. The Wizard of Oz theme that gave the hotel its identity at first has been replaced by a lounge called TABU and several striptease shows have been added to the show lineup. Wolfgang Puck has an eaterie here as well as Emeril Lagasse. They also have a lion habitat that showcases two lions every hour. The spas and swimming pools are pleasing and leave you wanting to stay in the hot tub. Rooms here run upwards of $330 a night. The Bellagio is a 1.6 million luxury resort. It is named for a small village in Lake Como, but the hotel itself is anything but small. It has marble structures and gaudy glass blown flower sculptures on the ceilings. It has a beautiful choreographed dancing water display that is set to music. At night, when they add in the colored lights, this is really a treat. The hotel has six heated pools and several have gushing fountains in them. The spas and health club facilities are wonderful and the attendants will keep you stock full of towels or iced tea. Rooms here can run upwards up $499 a night. City Layout of Las Vegas The two most identified area of Las Vegas are the Strip and Downtown. The strip is the most famous four mile road in the US. Most first time visitors will spend most of their time on the Strip getting to know the way it works. It has the most top hotels of any other road in the US. The South strip is that portion of the Strip that has the MGM Grand, Mandelay Bay, Luxor, and Monte Carlo. Don't overlook the New York New York with its Manhattan skyline. The Mid strip has Bellagio, Caesar's Palace, The Mirage and Treasure Island. There is also the Venetian and the Wynn Hotel. The North Strip has Circus Circus, the Stratosphere, and the Sahara. The East Strip has grown up around the Convention Center and Las Vegas is a top convention center. The major hotel located here is the Las Vegas Hilton and the Hard Rock Hotel is becoming a major hotel. Between the Strip and Downtown, there is a bunch of wedding chapels, pawnshops, and cheap motels. The area is called the Gateway District. It is making a name for itself as an artist retreat. Other signs of life are sprouting up such as coffee shops and small cafes. Downtown is also known as Glitter Gulch. The neon lights become brighter down here because of the narrow streets. This area is a lot more casual than the Strip itself. The people are more friendly and it is not as snobby a place either. With the start of the Fremont Street Experience, the downtown area has been coming out of the ditches. Don't overlook this area, you may be surprised at what you can find down here. It is a little distance from the strip, but it might make the difference in your trip. Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil's "Zumanity" is definitely one of those Las Vegas shows that is not for kids. So leave them with family if you are able. This is a show celebrating human sexuality. The ushers have on t-shirts that make them look as though they are wearing nothing. This is a better show if you sit farther away from the stage. They have some ladies in a large glass container splashing around. Some of the gymnastics and acrobatics are simply amazing. The clowns still the show at times. This one is shown at the New York New York Hotel. Cirque du Soleil's "O" is actually spelled as "eau" and is the French word for water. This production employs a 1.5 million gallon pool where its characters perform amazing acrobatic feats in and around the pool. This show includes much of the sensual music, humor, and stylistic repertoire of the original show. This show is at the Bellagio. There is also a gift shop at the Bellagio with souvenirs from the show. These include masks, pottery and t-shirts. Cirque du Soleil's "Mystere" began in Montreal as a circus show. They show many wondrous feats of human agility and strength. This production showcases one amazing feat after another using contortionists, acrobats, and some aerial tricks. You can bring your children to this one, if for no other reason, to see the giant snail. This one is shown at Treasure Island that is right next door to the Mirage. The showrooms for all three shows have state of the art music and sound systems. The budget on these shows are astronomical as they have to pay for lighting, costumes, sets, and very high-tech special effects. They are a wonder to watch and you will want to go back again. Christmas in Las Vegas In Las Vegas, the casinos used to close down starting from December 10 to New Year's Eve. It was a real slow time and there weren't many visitors to the city. But, there has since been an increase in Christmas themed activities. Coast Casinos, which owns Gold Coast, Suncoast, and Orleans Resorts, tries to appeal to families every holiday season. The company has been hosting "Forever Plaid" for the past several years and they are planning on spiffying it up a bit for the holidays. The guys get a second chance at stardom, but this time they have to do a Christmas show. The Suncoast has a Polynesian style Christmas. They sing Polynesian carols and everyone shows up in grass skirts. It has a different kind of feel to it coming from the islands. At the Orleans, Donny Osmond's Holiday Celebration can draw a crowd in the 35-45 age group. Some of the visitors come from around the world to see him perform. He gives most of the money he earns to several charities he is close to. Wayne Newton has created a holiday show that will be at the Flamingo. The shows include ice skaters, penguins, and several talented performers. The Scinta family has put new life into the old-school Las Vegas entertainment. They have a Christmas show at the Sahara that features upbeat music, impressions and a comedy routine that has made them favorites of visitors. You can find other light displays at Mystic Falls in Sam's Town. You can also visit the Ethel M Chocolate Factory's cactus garden for a twist on a Christmas tree. The Nutcracker is performed by the Nevada Ballet Theater at UNLV's theater. Christmas can be a fun time with the many holiday themed shows and the attractions available. Many tourists come from around the globe to see the many decorations and the holiday shows and pageantry. Choosing a Casino You came to Las Vegas to gamble, but don't know how to choose the right casino to go to. Here are a few hints to help you make your decision. But ultimately, you have to go where you are most comfortable. If you don't like the service, then leave. There are always other casinos that will treat you better. Moreover, there are more than enough to choose if one is not to your liking. Go casino hopping. Take in all the casinos you are thinking about visiting. See how the dealers treat people and how the wait staff is toward the gamblers. Visit two or three and make your decision. You may find something you like, such as penny slots in one, that you may not find in another. Be warned that all casinos have no windows or clocks. They don't want you to know what time it is at any given time. If you are on a losing streak, they certainly don't want you to break by realizing it is after three in the morning. Take a watch with you so limits can be set on gambling time. There is an old legend that hasn't been proven or unproven. The thought is the casinos pump in fresh oxygen to keep the gamblers from getting tired. This may be true as some people say they have done a long stretch of betting only to find out later it is the next day. Don't go to into the casino and act like a snob. Likewise, don't go in intimidated because of the sheer enormity of the place. If you are looking for a small place to start out, hit the downtown casinos. Stakes are lower and people are more friendly. Payoffs are higher at some hotels. Most of them are located downtown on Fremont Street. Cheapest Hotels in Las Vegas Barring any of the national chain hotels, there are several hotels on the strip to stay at during your visit. This will also allow you the convenience of not having to rent a car and being able to ride the buses or trolleys down to the next hotel you want to visit. The Circus Circus is a great place to stay especially if you brought the kids. This hotel has a lot to offer such as the circus acts and the Adventuredome and Midway. The Adventuredome is located on the second floor and is an amusement park filled with all kinds of rides, a mini golf game, and its own roller coaster. The midway also located on the second floor has dozens of video games and simulators. Both of these attractions are for kids and adults. There is a wedding chapel on the third floor and the circus acts perform right over the casino floors. So if you are waiting on the kids from the park, you can watch these acts as you play the slots or blackjack. Rooms at this hotel run $59 a night. The Orleans is about two blocks off the strip and has nothing around it. However, it does have its own food court, day care center, bowling alley, and 12 screen movie theater. It also has a brand new 9,000 seat ice rink for minor hockey games. They have a shuttle that runs back and forth to the strip every fifteen minutes. The rooms are nice and have that New Orleans French feel to them. They are supposed to representative of a warm Victorian parlor. Rooms run $39 a night. The Fremont Hotel in 1956 and Wayne Newton got his start here. Right outside the front door is the Fremont Street Experience. The only bad thing is if you go to bed before midnight, you will hear the sounds and noise of the Fremont Street Experience. This hotel has a breakfast buffet and RV park. Rooms here run around 35 a night. Casino Money The casino cashier is located in the "cage." Each casino only has one cage. They have rows like a bank would. You can also set up a credit line here if needed. If you need change and you are nowhere near the cage, there are change booths usually scattered throughout the casino. They don't handle chips, and are usually in the machine areas. There are attendants on the casino floor that can also help you with change. Roaming change attendants are usually seen pushing a cart. Slot attendants are in the middle of a carousel of machines. They have the buckets for holding all your coins. Ask either of these which machine would be the best to play because they are there every day and might know which ones are loose. Casinos do have a color coding scheme for their chips. The $1 chips will vary. $5 chips are red. $25 chips are green. $100 chips are black. $500 chips are purple. $1000 chips are yellow. The important thing to remember is that while most casinos follow the same color scheme, they do not accept each other's chips. Slot machines will also take US denominations of bills to play. Nickel and quarter machines will also take US coins to play. You can only get change at the cages and booths. The attendants will refuse to do it. A secret that most people don't know is you can can place cash on the table if it is just for one or two quick bets. For example, at a $2 Blackjack table, you can place two dollar on the table for the minimum bet on each hand. You can't do it for long, but you should be able to play two or three hands. So if you are on your way out the door, you can still make a last minute bet. Guidelines for Betting If you are going to Las Vegas for the gambling, make sure you take enough money to cover yourself if lose it at the tables. Set a limit and stick to it. It is hard because one more play might be the big one. However, one more play and you could lose everything. Lower your bets when you aren't winning. If you start to losing, switch tables or even casinos. Go where you feel comfortable and try again. Sometimes you will spot advertisements for sure winners or big jackpots. These are scams. Don't buy them. If anybody figured out how to beat the slot machines, they wouldn't share it with everyone else. Quit once you get ahead of where you started. If you up a hundred dollars, get up from the table. Don't let greed separate you from your winnings. Don't go into debt to make bets. If you are down to your last dollars and have maxed out your credit cards, it is time to stop. Don't even let it get that far. Some people have used up their savings and used their homes as collateral. Please be careful in knowing what you can and cannot afford to wager. The chances are you will lose most of the money you have brought with you to gamble. The house usually has the odds on their side. Sure you might win a few times, but they usually will get it all back and more. If you get lucky in a short run, take the money and leave. You will be better off for it. You will also have some coin to play another day. Don't use the winnings from one play to increase on the next. Greed is getting the better of you. Hold on to the winnings and keep your bets at the original levels you started at. This way, you can build up your winnings and if you lose all your gambling money, you still are not completely broke. Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian The first thing you wonder when you get to the second floor of the Venetian is if you took a wrong turn. The shops here are made to look like outside Venice on a warm spring day. The illusion is complete with an azure sky above and gondola rides around the hotel. A boatman will serenade you while you take a lazy stroll down the river. You may even meet a famous Venetian while you are here. Marco Polo may discuss his travels or Casanova exerts his famous charm to the ladies. The boat ride ends at a replica of St. Mark's Square which is a central landmark in Venice. You can also listen to strolling musicians, opera singers, or watch glass blowers make their vases. It is the normal hustle-bustle activity of a Venice marketplace. The Shoppes themselves are directly accessible from the outside so you don't have to try to navigate the casino. Walking through the casino is taking the long way around, but you do get to view the fabulous artwork on the ceilings and in the lobby. Even the floor of the lobby is eye-catching. The Venetian recently added another tower to its structure called the Venezia. This building will adjoin the shoppes at the far end to St. Mark's Square. Thus making it easier for guests to get back to their specific tower and making it easier for visitors to find their way around. The shops themselves are medium to high-end brand names such as Jimmy Choo, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Rockport, and a Venetian glass and paper shop. They have a food court at one end of the shopping mall and the other end leads to Tao, a nightclub where you must be 21 to get into. Getting Married in Las Vegas Las Vegas is the easiest place in the world to get married. There is no blood test and no waiting period. You can even get married at a drive-through chapel and not have to go through all the fancy planning. Your honeymoon destination is right down the street. The cost of a marriage license runs around $60. You go to the Clark County Marriage License Bureau which is open until midnight some days and then you can go plan the most simple or extravagant wedding that you want. Valentine's Day is the busiest day for weddings. They perform over 100 on February 14. The ease of a ceremony is a big attraction because the wedding chapels will usually take care of everything. Sometimes they will even give you a limo ride to the license bureau and back. They also offer different accessories including rings to a video of the service. A really interesting thing to do in Las Vegas is go to the chapels and watch the people. Stand out and watch the different brides and grooms and see how they are attired and how their wedding goes. This may give some idea of the kind of wedding you may want. It is your wedding however, and you need to feel comfortable whether it is a small affair or a large gala. Weddings can be very cheap in Las Vegas running around $500 at some place or up in the tens of thousands. These usually will include photos, video, cake, music, and flowers. There are specialty weddings. You can have Elvis singing or have Elvis officiate your wedding. At the Star Trek Experience, you can get married dressed as a Borg or Klingon. At the Excalibur Hotel, you can dress in medieval clothing. At the Venetian, you can get married on the gondola ride. Free Things to do in Las Vegas There are several things you can enjoy in Las Vegas that don't cost a cent. These can be quite and will take you all over Las Vegas. Go casino hopping. Check out several hotels you like and see what they have to offer. Most of the hotels have a theme and it is neat to see all the different ways they follow that theme in their casinos and decor. You may even find something that you really like and spend a day at that hotel. Caesar's Palace with its casino and Forum Shoppes and Coliseum could take a whole day to get through. The Fremont Experience is in Downtown on Fremont Street. The Neon Museum is also in this area. This is a facility that houses the old neon signs of older hotels and casinos. You can also head over to the Arts Factory and browse their art collection for free. The White Tiger Exhibit at the Mirage is a special treat. Two white Bengal tigers grace this habitat complete with a little river running through it so the tigers can have a swim. These are very beautiful and majestic animals and are part of Siegfried and Roy's magic act. Along those same lines, down at the MGM Grand is the lion habitat. Hey have two to three lions that you can watch walk through trees and under waterfalls. Cruising the strip is a tourist favorite especially at night. The lights are on and the city is quite beautiful in its neon glory. It is also fun to walk the strip at night. You won't be alone. There are as many people on it at two in the morning as at two in the daytime. So get out there and get some good photo opportunities. Free Attractions in Las Vegas Besides gambling and costly ventures, there are many free attraction in Las Vegas if you go looking for them. These will also get you a tour of the strip as well. The Bellagio Fountains are especially beautiful at night. The dancing water is put to music and the choreography is quite mesmerizing. The art work at the Venetian Hotel is quite worthwhile to see. The ceilings are painted with intricate designs. The lobby floor is extremely eye catching as it is an optical illusion. The second floor also has paintings in the ceilings that make you feel like you are in one of the churches in Italy. If you head to the second floor, you can go to their Grand Canal Shoppes. They have serenading gondoliers, street performers, and living statues. You can get a feel for old Italy here. The circus acts at the Circus Circus Hotel are fascinating to watch. They are usually every hour until midnight over the casino floors. After the show is over, you can go to the Midway and try your luck with a few video games. Caesar's Palace animatronic statues are good for a ten minute break. They have laser light shows and dancing waters. All this and they tell the myth of Bacchus or the rise and fall of Atlantis. There are seats all around so you can sit and take a break and be entertained too. The Sirens of Treasure Island have a pirate battle on the strip. But these pirate have worked out and look pretty good. It is the Las Vegas version of pirates in the Caribbean seas. The Fremont Experience is another attraction you can go and view for free. There is live music, street performers, and jugglers. They also have a great laser and light show using some two million light bulbs. Arriving in Las Vegas When you arrive in Las Vegas, you will land at the McCarran International Airport. The airport is east of the strip. Long layovers at this airport don't have to be wasted time. Jump on a shuttle and go gambling or sightseeing before your flight. If you can't leave the airport, there are plenty of slot machines there to keep you busy. The cheapest way to get to your hotel is by shuttle van. The vans will wait for people in a marked area at the terminal. They make stops at most of the hotels. Taxicabs are eagerly awaiting people getting off the planes. The highest amount you should have to pay is around $20. Be careful of drivers who want to take the quickest route. It may be quicker, but they charge by the mile, and it can be very expensive. To find out how long it will take you to get to Las Vegas, look at this quick rundown. Dallas takes two hours. Chicago takes four hours. New York takes five hours. San Francisco takes 1 1/2 hours. Sydney takes eighteen hours, and London takes about eleven hours. If you rent a car, make sure you follow the laws in Nevada concerning driving. Residential street are usually 25 mph, where on major roads, it goes up to 45. Radar detectors are heavily employed to make sure everyone is doing the speed limit, especially in any school zones. Don't go drinking and try to drive either. Nevade police are extremely vigilant about catching drunk drivers. You will be considered legally drunk if your blood alcohol level is above 0.08%. Watch for road conditions that might be hazardous as well. Look for the orange cones or signs stating road work is going on. Local people tend to drive fast and be discourteous. Fast Facts for foreigners coming to Vegas Business hours usually run from 9AM to 5PM. On the weekends, Saturdays are usually the same, but Sundays are from 11AM to 6PM. The drinking laws here are a little different from other countries. The drinking age here in the US is 21 years old. You may be required to show identification when buying alcohol. Electric outlets are also different from other countries. The US uses 110 to 120 volt outlets, and Europe uses 220 to 240 volt outlets. You will need a 110 adapter to use your electrical appliances here in the US. Consulates are all located in Washington DC. There are some consulates located in the major US cities. Washington is the home of the embassies for Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, and Great Britain. Petrol is simply known as gas here in the US. One gallon of gas is equal to 3.8 liters. The gas prices in the US rise and fall especially during holidays and summertime. Emergency Services are reached by dialing 911 in any US city. If you have a health issue, you may want to check ahead and know where the hospitals are located in case you need medical help. Carry a list of medications and surgical dates as well as your General Doctor's name and phone number. Time is in Pacific Standard Time in Nevada. This means Nevada is 3 hours behind New York and in most states in the US, Nevada does observe Daylight Savings Time. Finding a public bathroom is near to impossible. You usually can go into a hotel and find one in the lobby. Restaurants and other food places may not let you use their bathroom unless you are a patron there. Simply buy a cup of coffee or soft drink. The US observes many federal holidays and this may mean several government agencies are closed. Some of these holidays include Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, New Year's Day, July 4th, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Veteran's Day. Family Shows in Las Vegas There are plenty of shows for the family in Las Vegas. It isn't just for adults anymore. Families can come here and find all kinds of things to do with the kids. Afternoon shows and shows at night offer a chance to get away from the loudness of Las Vegas and relax for a few hours. The "Tournament of Kings" at the Excalibur is always a delight. The whole family can go and have a real medieval meal and eat it with no forks or spoons. Yes, they use their hands. Also, there is a jousting tournament to watch during dinner. Merlin even shows up for a sing along. Penn and Teller make a great alternative to other shows. They have a shtick that has been perfected from about thirty years together. They also will sometimes let you in on how the tricks or done. They do tricks and other amazing feats with Teller usually being the guinea pig in Penn's next outrageous idea. At the Forum Shoppes at Caesar's Palace, there are two animatronic living statue shows based on Roman mythology that go on every hour. These shows last for about half an hour and give you a chance to rest in between shopping and chasing the kids. The best part here is they're free to the public. "In Search of the Obelisk" at the Luxor hotel is a neat presentation. It is a motion simulator ride through a pyramid with a chase scene. Some of the shows are 2D and some are in 3D. They have built in speakers to bring the action right to you as well as magnificent special effects. The Cyber Speedway at the Sahara gives you a taste of going around the track at 200+ miles an hour. For even more fun, race around the streets of Las Vegas without hitting pedestrians in the process. Art Museums in Las Vegas Las Vegas does have an art scene and several places that have some awe inspiring work. There are some galleries and some work spaces for local artists. The Art Factory is located in the Gateway District. On the first Friday of every month, they have a party and showcase all the local artists work with live music, other entertainment, and live performances. The MGM Grand took over Steve Wynn's fine collection of art. After he built his newest hotel, the Wynn Las Vegas after blowing up the Desert Inn Hotel, he has placed much of his artwork on display there as well. Pieces such as Picasso's "Le Reve" and Matisse's "The Persian Robe" bring art appreciators out of the woodworks to see what else Wynn will exhibit. Wynn apparently just set some art purchasing records when he acquired some costly masterpieces. Bellagio Hotel has a wonderful art gallery also owned by Steve Wynn. Some couldn't believe he opened a gallery inside the Bellagio, but it has proved profitable. They thought no one would go to see this gallery but they had to relocate the gallery because of all the tourists that came through each day. Steve Martin, the well known actor, is also a collector of art and exhibits his collection here and at the MGM Grand as well. What they have is an exhibit of European masterpieces from England's Chatsworth Manor. There is silver, gold, rare books, furniture, and jewelry on display here. It is expensive to visit but well worth the price if you are an art lover. A different kind of art is found at the Guggenheim/Hermitage Museum at the Venetian. This is modern art form and has one of the finest encyclopedic collections in the world. Most of the artwork is about modern pop icons. This is a co-venture between St. Petersburg in Russia and the Guggenheim Museum. Area 51 If you are a X-files fan or just a conspiracy theorist, this is the place for you to visit. Unfortunately, this area is supposed to be a secret military facility. So getting on the base might prove to be a little harder that you think. This secret hideaway is about 150 miles north of Las Vegas and is off what some call the "ET Highway." It is so called because people started seeing lights and aliens long before anybody thought about them. Don't go thinking you will see much of anything. The topography of the land is quite scenic. However, there are no markers, monuments, or signs pointing you in the right direction. It is said when you get to the place where the base is located, there are signs that warn you against going any further for threat of bodily injury. They will also slap you with some jail time and fines. As you ride down the road, notice the absence of animal life. The few cows you see in the fields don't really look like any cows you seen before. Take note of the crater holes in the earth, and you will realize that this is really a nuclear test site and all the isolation makes sense. There are security guards at every gate to make sure you don't get through. Take your look around and get on your way. There is an Area 51 Research Center you can visit. Just look for a big yellow trailer. There aren't any hotels or inns out this far, so unless you brought your camping gear, you should make this an early morning trip. There aren't many gas stations, so fill your tank before you leave. You should also bring plenty of water for yourself and your car as you will be going through a lot of desert to get to your destination.
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