Ever since Bugsy Siegel opened the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in 1947, Las Vegas has attracted people from all over for the gambling, nightlife and entertainment. What once was a mob dominated destination with little more than casinos filled with smoke, dice and cards has evolved into what is billed as the “Entertainment Capitol of the World”. Today Las Vegas is a popular destination for weddings, bachelor and bachelorette parties, family vacations and conferences. With over 1700 licensed places to gamble in Las Vegas, you’ll have no problem finding a place for betting. Las Vegas offers more than gambling though. With all the conferences and families making Vegas their destination of choice, there’s a lot of activities that have been built to attract the non-gambler or just those wanting to take a break from the tables and slots. The following is our list of things to do and see in Las Vegas besides just the Casinos.
15. Area 51 Tour
Did you ever wonder if the little green men really exist? Take a tour to the most secretive Military base in world. Adventure Photo Tours of Las Vegas will take you on a 10 hour road trip so you can decide for yourself. The tour starts at the Airport where you will see “Janet Airlines”, the airlines that don’t exist, used to transport workers to Area 51. You will travel through the desert and make a stop at the famous A’ Le’ Inn for lunch, Then, you’ll journey to the perimeter of Area 51 where men in black watch your every move. Who knows, you might even spot a UFO.
14. Colorado River Rafting
Expensive but still probably cheaper than spending a day at the blackjack table, Look Tours will take you white water rafting on the Colorado River. At close to $600 this is an all day trip starting with a 4 am hotel pick-up. Your trip includes a 40 mile white water rafting trip through the Grand Canyon with an experienced tour guide. The water part of the trip lasts about 5.5 hours and culminates with a six minute helicopter flight to the top of the rim. You will experience class three to class six rapids and arrive back at your hotel around 8 pm.
13. Drive a Race Car
There are several venues that put you in the driver seat but the Richard Petty Driving Experience gives you the best variety. You can choose anything from ride along experiences to getting behind the wheel. With different programs, you can take a NASCAR or IndyCar through a three lap race to a four hour, 50 lap run complete with an in car video you can keep. Conducted at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, there is no better way to have your moment in the spotlight behind a race car.
12. Las Vegas Mob Museum
Located in a former Federal building, the Las Vegas Mob Museum bills itself as “The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement”. The Museum’s Board of Directors include the former FBI Special Agent in charge of Las Vegas and a former Las Vegas Mayor who represented mobsters Meyer Lansky, Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal and Anthony Spilotro. The Museum has high tech theater presentations that show both sides of the conflict between the mobsters and law enforcement. From artifacts reflecting the notorious history of the mob such as the barber chair where Albert Anastasia was murdered to a look at how Las Vegas attracted the attention of the mob, the museum gives you a look at the real truth about what happened.
11. Shoot a Machine Gun
After checking out the Mob Museum you might be daydreaming of what is what like in the era of gangsters and mobsters. What better way to get this experience than to grab a Thompson Submachine gun and blast away! Machine Guns Vegas offers everything from Thompson Machine Guns, Military .30 caliber machine guns and much more. You can even grab hold of a six barreled mini-gun. A Gatling style gun with rotating barrels, the mini gun can fire anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 rounds per minute. Other weapons from pistols, shotguns and a variety of automatic weapons are available for you to choose from.
10. Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition
When the Titanic sunk in 1912 it made headlines around the world. We are still fascinated today with the Titanic and its story. Located at the Luxor Hotel and casino the Titanic exhibition has been viewed by over 25 million people. Included in the 25,000 sq. ft. exhibition are artifacts recovered from the wreckage. A full scale replication of the grand staircase and a recreation of the promenade deck complete with frigid temperatures piped in, give you a glimpse of what it was like on the fateful ship.
Besides gambling, Las Vegas is known as a world class shopping destination. Everything from bargains to ultra-expensive items can be found. One of the best places to shop or just walk around and look is the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian Hotel and Casino. This upscale shopping mall located inside the hotel comes complete with an indoor canal and gondola rides. Here you can shop at over 160 stores for anything from high end jewelry and fashion to toys. When your feet get tired of all the walking you can take a relaxing gondola ride.
8. Fremont Street
Located away from the strip in downtown Las Vegas Fremont Street is a pedestrian mall spanning five blocks. Cordoned off for safety you can walk down the street and experience the light show under the barrel vault canopy. While the lights on the strip never go off at night, the laser light show starts with all the lights on the buildings turned off so you can witness the spectacular light show. Concerts are held on three separate stages on the mall. The Slotzilla and Zoomline zip lines are popular attractions. The Zoomline will take you from 110 stories up and whisk you 1,750 feet down the street over the crowds landing at the Golden Gate Casino. Slotzilla is a 12 story zip line that will take you half way down Fremont Street under the canopy past the casinos and overhead the pedestrians walking below.
7. Hoover Dam Tour
Taking five years to build, the Hoover Dam opened in 1936 during the Depression era. Involving thousands of workers and costing the lives of over 100, the Dam is considered a modern marvel of construction. Visitors can take a guided one hour tour of the Dam including the passageways of the Dam itself and also see the power plant and a stop in the visitor center. The tours begin at 9:30 am and runs every 30 minutes throughout the day until 3:30 pm. Several tour agencies run tours or you can buy tickets at the Dam.
6. Helicopter Tour
Many companies offer helicopter tours of Las Vegas and the surrounding areas. From tours to see the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and the Vegas Strip at night you can get an unprecedented aerial tour of the various sights around Vegas without having to walk or fight the traffic. The Grand Canyon tours take you over Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam and The Grand Canyon for the views of a lifetime. Arrangements can be made to pick you up at your Hotel and return you after the flights.
5. Grand Canyon and Sky Walk
Take a guided tour of the Grand Canyon in a comfortable tour bus. Witness the beauty of the Grand Canyon where artifacts dating back 12,000 years have been found. Historic old structures, ancient dwellings and petroglyphs are located in the park. You can experience a mule ride in the canyon lasting anywhere from four hours to full blown overnight trips. If you want to get a truly unique view of the canyon visit the Skywalk where you step out onto a glass walkway 4,000 feet above the canyon floor. The Skywalk is located at Grand Canyon West and managed by the Hualapai Tribe on tribal lands.
4. The Stratosphere Tower
Visit the Stratosphere Tower. Labeled as the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States, you can check out the views from the observation deck or the more adventurous can partake in more extreme activities. The Insanity Ride straps you into the seat of a mechanical arm that will swing you 64 feet out over the edge, 900 feet above the crowds. The X-Scream is a roller coaster type ride that propels you head first 27 feet out over the edge of the tower. For the brave souls in your party take a leap of faith on the Sky Jump, a controlled free fall from the 108th floor.
3. National Atomic Testing Museum
In the 1950’s atomic bomb testing was a tourist draw in Las Vegas. People would plan parties around the testing times and Casinos would serve up atomic cocktails. The tests could be easily viewed in Las Vegas. Learn all about the history of the Atomic Bomb and check out over 12,000 artifacts from the era. Experience a simulated atmospheric bomb blast in the GZ Theater and learn about the testing at the Nevada Test Site. Rare videos, photographs and artifacts can be viewed along with one of a kind collections from various scientists.
A trip to Las Vegas wouldn’t be complete without seeing at least one show. From concerts to Vegas shows you can take your pick. Singers, bands, magicians, impersonators, comedians and dinner shows are all available. You can get tickets to see people like Celine Dion, Air Supply, Vince Gill and more. World class events such as boxing and MMA routinely held. Check out the famous Vegas show girls or check out one of the free night shows like the fountains at the Bellagio or check out the Volcano in front of the Mirage Hotel and Casino that “erupts” every 30 minutes from 5 pm to 11 pm nightly. The Mirage also has a 20,000 gallon saltwater tank teeming with fish situated behind the front check in desk.
Las Vegas is famous for dining experiences. From $10 dinner buffets to upscale restaurants, it is easy to find a place to suit every budget. You can find several celebrity chef run restaurants in Las Vegas. Chef Wolfgang Puck has six restaurants spread across the city in various Hotels and resorts. Chef Gordon Ramsay has a steakhouse, pub and grill and a casual burger restaurant. Other famous Chefs with Las Vegas eateries, in some multiple restaurants, include Joël Robuchon, Chef Emeril Lagasse, Chef Mario Batali, Chef Bobby Flay, Chef Tom Colicchio and Chef Guy Fieri. With over 30 celebrity chefs and counting more are opening new restaurants all the time. Next time you visit “Sin City” reserve a table in advance at your favorite chef’s restaurant.