Several years ago, my husband-to-be and I went to Las Vegas. I had never been. It was May, and it was HOT! But we went and we walked and walked and walked and toured as many underground casino malls and shops. The show we saw was Blue Man Group. It was a blast, but I left feeling like, "I've seen Las Vegas. I don't really care if I never go back."
Fast forward several years, and my step-daughter took a job and up and moved to Las Vegas. And as luck would have it, one of my husband's friends lives there was well. Over the past 7 or so years, we've really gotten to know this city from a resident's perspective.
If you spend any longer than 3 days (including arrival and departure days), you owe it to yourself to rent a car and see some of the cool things there are to see.
Here are a few of the offerings both on and off The Strip:
- The Auto Collections - More than 250 antique, specialty and classic cars in a 125,000 sq. ft. space. The exhibit is located at the Imperial Palace Hotel & Casino.
- Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art Museum - Exhibitions from the world's renowned museums and private collections are featured here with audio tours in English, French, Japanese and Spanish.
- Lied Discovery Children's Museum - Programs offering hands-on exhibits about science, the arts and humanities. There is an "everyday living" experiment in which children can pretend to get a job, earn a paycheck, buy groceries and save money in the bank. There is also a science tower with fiber optics and a weather station
- Mob Attraction - The Tropicana features the largest collection of authentic memorabilia, photos and videos of organized crime ever assembled. There are 32 rooms featured on the tour that represent the migration of the Mob from Ellis Island to Las Vegas. At the end of the tour, guests are either "bumped off," go into the "Witness Protection Program" or to "jail." The experience is different for each visitor or group if traveling together.
- Shark Reef Aquarium - Fourteen exhibits are devoted to aquatic predators. You'll see sawfish, giant rays, piranha, sharks and more. There is an acrylic tunnel for viewing from inside the water, a touch pool, and a "Shipwreck" exhibit where visitors who are dive-certified can mingle with the sharks.
- Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition - Imagine 25,000 square feet at the Luxor Hotel dedicated to artifacts retrieved from the Titanic, 2-1/2 miles below the surface. Items include an unopened bottle of champagne!
- Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area - A few miles from the strip in the Mojave Desert, you'll find sand dunes, waterfalls, canyons and desert wildlife. We stumbled upon a cluster of cars and discovered the wild burros beg from visitors. And they're brazen about it! I snapped a picture of a visitor feeding one an apple.
There is a 13-mile loop that you can drive, or you can hike or bike on off-road trails and climb on the massive rocks. There is a visitor's center.
- Hoover Dam - Tour and learn about that wonder that is Hoover Dam (formerly known as Boulder Dam). It's located in the Colorado River's Black Canyon at the Nevada/Arizona border. The dam is currently the world's 34th largest hydroelectric generating station. Guided tours are available, and there is also a Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum.