Las Vegas is a desert metropolis built on gambling, vice and leisure. The entertainment capital of the world welcomes tens of millions of visitors (yes, millions) to this oasis every year. It specializes in luxury and the thrill of fantasies fulfilled.
Let me take you on an an adventure. To places and experiences that can only be had in Las Vegas. Some you may know already but I can guarantee you’ve never heard of the rest.
There’s more than meets the eye in this desert oasis.
You knew this one was coming.
What you may not know is that gambling has been part of the lifeblood of this state for over a hundred years. The State of Nevada became the last western state to outlaw gaming. This occurred at midnight, October 1, 1910, when a strict anti-gambling law became effective in Nevada. This had very little impact, as gambling went underground into speakeasies and illicit casinos. The Nevada legislature legalized gambling at the local level in 1931.
The rest, as they say, is history. Today, you can be part of that history. Challenge the gods of chance at any venue within Las Vegas and play slots with every possible theme and pun imaginable.
Even at the airport.
Fly to the Stratosphere
You may already know about gambling and the strip, but you may not know that you can have a unique view of it all. The Stratosphere Hotel and Casino has a bar atop its signature tower: The Level 107 Lounge and Top of the World Restaurant. Here, you can enjoy truly spectacular 360 degree views. The reason? The venue revolves every 80 minutes, so you will always have the best view in the house.
Amidst empty sockets and rusted metal life remains. The Neon Museum is an institution that seeks to preserve and celebrate Las Vegas’ most distinctive landmarks; the neon sign.
Portents that once lit the sky have now been grounded. You can walk amidst these vintage beauties and admire their deliberate and self-acknowledged theatricality. They are both art and performance.
Gaudy and ostentatious and oh so very Vegas.
Enter at The Gift Shop
Where the tacky and tasteless reside.
If you’re in Vegas and want to get your fill of souvenirs, then the world’s largest gift shop is the place to go. The Bonanza Gift Shop takes up a whole strip mall on the North end of the Las Vegas Strip. Don’t worry, you can’t miss the sign. It is the one stop shop for mementos of your trip. It has all the trinkets and impulse buys you’ll ever need and some you didn’t even know you wanted.
Swim With the Fishes
A 1.3 million gallon shipwreck.
The Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino is home to the Shark Reef Aquarium. This is a a full size aquarium that also happens to be a platform for research, conservation and education, a place where visitors can immerse themselves in an underwater world.
Literally. This unique exhibit allows certified divers to swim with over 30 exotic sharks, a higher concentration than you would ever find in the deep blue ocean. If that’s not enough adventure for you, you can also get up close and personal with 300 pound sea turtles and feed stingrays and ancient horseshoe crabs.
Contrary to belief, prostitution is not in fact legal. It is illegal in Clark County, which contains Las Vegas. The rest of Nevada’s counties are permitted by state law to license brothels, which have existed in Nevada since the mining days and were first licensed in 1971. So, you’ll have to travel quite a bit to visit one.
Experience Vegas in all its neon glory.
Are you afraid of heights? Then this is your opportunity to confront them. The High Roller is the world’s tallest observation wheel. It is 550 feet tall and 520 feet in diameter, eclipsing its nearest rivals, the London Eye and the Singapore Flyer.
With 28 spherical glass-enclosed cabins, it feature unique views of the city. The wheel is parallel to the Las Vegas Strip, so you will have access to broad views of Sin City. Each full revolution takes 30 minutes and each one of the pods can hold up to 40 people.
Enjoy the view.
Survive the Zombie Apocalypse
Do you have what it takes?
Have you ever asked yourself that question? Well, this is your opportunity to find out. The Zombie Apocalypse Store offers something unique: the Zombie Apocalypse Experience. You will feel like feel like you’re living through an episode from the Walking Dead.
This is an extremely immersive experience. The combat zone is a large warehouse, where you have to safely negotiate to a series of safe zones as zombies appear from behind corners or climb out of holes. Don’t worry though, you’re armed with realistic and powerful paint guns. Your aim will be affected as the adrenaline kicks in with the involved and talented cast of zombie hordes.
National Atomic Testing Museum
Experience Nevada’s explosive history.
Ignore the shows, hold off on the clubbing, forestall the casinos siren song and experience the razor’s edge of the Cold War. The National Atomic Testing Museum is an institution dedicated to the history of America’s nuclear weapons testing program at the Nevada Test Site.
The museum is a warren of fascinating memorabilia, instrumentation, photographs, documents, and relics of the Cold War. You’ll experience actual videos of atomic bomb testing; underground, above ground and in the atmosphere. It’s a short history lesson on the race to build atomic stockpiles between the US and Russia.
And it all happened a mere 60 miles from the Las Vegas Strip. Ponder on that for a moment.
One of a Kind
If you’ve been to Vegas, you already know it’s a place like no other. I encourage you to further that knowledge and visit some of the places and experiences I’ve detailed.
It will make your visit unforgettable.