Las Vegas Strip Must-See Attractions
As a frequent visitor to Las Vegas, I am amazed when friends and acquaintances
return from a first trip to this interesting city having missed seeing much of the "good stuff".My goal in writing
this article is to provide you with my views on what Las Vegas Strip highlights to see first. If you are in town
only a few days and take in most of these attractions (most are free), you will have made a decent sight-seeing
trip to tell your friends and family about. Last
update April, 2015.
This article is limited to mostly free attractions on the Las Vegas
Strip and downtown Las Vegas. You can use this article as a guide and add other attractions you want to see as your
time permits. Click on small pictures for a larger view. I recommend you bookmark this site and stop back
from time to time to see what may have been added.
What I recommend as
a Las Vegas first-trip
Spend most of the first day visiting "must see" sites
(mentioned below) on Las Vegas Boulevard (the "Strip"), go downtown in the evening to see the sites plus take
in the sound-and-light show on Fremont Street. Top off your day by driving down the Strip to see the lights at
night. Take any additional days you have to visit those sites missed on the first day plus any shows or other
sites that "catch your eye".
The Las Vegas Strip is about four miles long from the Stratosphere on the north end to Mandalay Bay on the south. Driving and parking can be a hassle. So
your best bet is to limit these to a few locations and do most of your site-seeing on foot. With some free trams
along the way plus above-street walkways (with escalators or elevators), this is not as bad as it sounds. Other
travel options include the Las Vegas Monorail, Deuce and Strip Trolley.To make it easier, I have divided the Las Vegas Strip into an upper section and a lower
If you had taken this picture, you would be standing
on an overhead walkway overlooking one of the busiest intersections on the Strip, due in no small part to nearby
McCarran International Airport. It is the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue. On your left
(not pictured) is the Excalibur and the free tram to the two southern-most casinos on the Strip, the
Mandalay Bay. On your right (not
pictured) are the Tropicana and, beyond that, Hooters (the old San Remo) casinos.
Across Tropicana Avenue from the Excalibur is New York-New York which is on the left. Beyond
that you may be able to spot the Monte
Carlo marquee and part of City Center including
the City Center Aria sign. The tall building with the "C" on top is the Cosmopolitan. The gold-colored building in the distance
is the Trump Tower (which is about two thirds of the way down the Strip) and in front of that
is Treasure Island (TI) with
the Mirage marquee to
the left of TI.
It should be easy to spot the Eiffel Tower in front
of Paris Las Vegas which is across Las Vegas Boulevard from Bellagio. Planet Hollywood (previously
the Aladdin) appears
just to the right of the Eiffel Tower and MGM
Grand dominates the picture's right side. The Strip is not a
straight line from south to north but takes a slight "dog leg" to the right by The Mirage and The Quad. So the buildings north of these casinos
as well as the High Roller are not visible from this location.
With this brief introduction out of the way, my suggested tour of the Upper Strip
takes you down the west side of the street to the Bellagio. You can then cross the street and go back up the other side
until you reach MGM or the Tropicana (depending on where you are parked).
Upper Las Vegas Strip
AttractionsIf you are not staying on or near the upper strip and have a
car, there is an open-air parking lot in back of Excalibur and another between
the Tropicana andHooters Casino
Hotel. Otherwise, MGM Grand has an indoor ramp. You
can start your tour wherever you want but for the first of your must-see attractions I recommend you start
at Luxor. You
can walk or take the free tram which runs between the Excalibur and Mandalay
Bay. (One tram stops at the Luxor, and one doesn't). Watch for
the tram signs. If traveling by taxi, get dropped off at the Luxor front door. Click on
any picture for a larger view.
This 30-story pyramid has been one of the best themed hotel/casinos (Egyptian of
course) and one of my favorite. Upgrades to the Luxor's
atrium (or lobby if you prefer) have replaced some of Egyptian decor with non-themed "glitz" However, there is
enough left throughout the casino to enjoy. Take time to stroll if you enjoy classic Egyptian statues and
monuments. If the weather is nice, you can do a quick tour of the Luxor's outside grounds with 10 story sphinx. If you are in the area
at night, you will see a powerful light beam atop the Luxor that can reportedly be seen by aircraft 250 miles away.
>>>>>Next - tram or walk (inside or outside)
The Excalibur is well known for
its castle-like appearance and medieval theme. If you are bringing the family on your trip, consider
the Excalibur family-friendly. The rooms are nothing fancy but they are reasonably priced, and the
second level Food Court is easy on your wallet. Take a quick stroll through but don't spend too much time
here. There are better attractions to come.
SHHH: Here's a little
secret. The Krispy Kreme on 2nd floor has FREE (unadvertised) Wi-Fi.
Sit at a nearby table and you and your wireless-enabled device can access the Boingo Hotspot network after
agreeing to their terms. Be careful, it's an unsecure network. >>>> Next - take
the overhead (outside) walkway to:
of New York-New York is spectacular. You can even ride on the Manhatten Express Roller Coaster if you dare. I
consider the outside a must-see and the inside a nice-to-see (unless you are really into the New York City
theme. Then both are a must-see). If you are doing okay on time, I suggest you take a short walk
through New York-New
York to see what they did to achieve a New York theme. Construction
from New York-New York to the Monte Carlo to convert the sidewalks into an outdoor plaza with trees, benches,
shops, etc. has been completed. >>>>> Next -
walk outside, past the Monte Carlo to:
The CityCenter complex has been open
for business on the Las Vegas Strip for a few years. You can't miss this 67 acre, 18 million square foot "complex"
which is located between the Bellagio on the north
and Monte Carlo on the south. The picture on the far left is the entrance to CityCenter's Aria Resort and Casino
with the Veer Towers pictured on the right. If you like lots of aluminum and glass, you will
like CityCenter . If you like lots of high-end shops and restaurants, you will like CityCenter. There is much to see. Just
don't spend all of your time here. Other attractions await you. >>>>> Next - walk
back out to the strip and next door to:
The Cosmopolitan opened on 12/15/2010 and is nestled (more like
sandwiched) between CityCenter and Bellagio. Over 5 years in the making, the Cosmopolitan is worth stopping in to see. Unlike the long walks
to get to the entrances of its two neighbors, the entrance to this hotel/casino is close to Las Vegas
Inside the lobby you will find the Cosmopolitan's Giant Red Shoe which has proven
to be a very popular photo opportunity for young and old (update: on my
most recent trip to Las Vegas, the red shoe was gone and replaced with a glitzy car once owned by Liberace. It's
possible the shoe is just out for repairs as it gets lots of wear and tear from people climbing in and out.). I
recommend you take an inside look of this rather elegant and popular casino.>>>>>>
Next - walk back out to the strip and next door
(click on pics for a larger view)
The "crown jewel" of the strip. With its Italian theme, eight-acre lake and water
show, this is one of my top picks of places to see in Las Vegas. When you enter this hotel casino (built on
the site of the Dunes Hotel (1955-1993)), check out the unique ceiling decoration in the lobby. Walk straight in
from the lobby and you will see The Conservatory, a seasonal flower garden. Take the time to see this. It is an
absolute treat even if you aren't into flowers and greenery.
The Fountains at Bellagio water show takes place in the Lake
Bellagio out front and is truely a "gift" to the Las Vegas visitor. There are a total of 1,214 fountains in the
"show" and, as of this writing, there are 28 different shows. So you may want to take in more than one.
The Bellagio is classy and elegant and I am not, but I have never felt out-of-place spending time
here. >>>>>Next - take the overhead (outside) walkway across the street to:
Paris Las Vegas
I rate this a border-line
must-see because of its enjoyable replicas of Paris landmarks, most notably the 540 foot tall Eiffel Tower
(with wonderful views from its observation deck). You can see three of the Eiffel Tower's legs from inside the
casino which adds a nice "touch". Don't miss the Streets of Paris walkway (toward the back) with its shops and
restaurants. The walkway eventually leads into Bally's, but you don't have to go
that far. This walkway is interesting but narrow and can be hard to get through when
busy. >>>>>Next - walk (OR take the Monorail
from Bally's) to MGM Grand.
Grand has closed the Lion Habitat effective 01/31/2012. This was the
must-see attraction I had been recommending for the last several years. With its closing, you may want to skip this
stop unless you have some extra time. MGM
Grand still is an interesting place to visit but, in my humble
opinion, there are no must-see sites here.
Grand has changed significantly since it first
opened. Gone are the lion's paws which you could walk thru from the
street to enter the casino. The Wizard of OZ themed display by the entrance has disappeared also. There is a
Rainforest Cafe (near the front) which has a gift shop that you might enjoy browsing in. If you have more than a
day in town, you can always stop back to see the MGM Grand's lobby (and shopping areas).
By now you have seen some great must-see attractions and maybe got some great photos
too. It's time to travel down The Strip for more must-see attractions.
Lower Las Vegas Strip Attractions
Your next recommended must-see attractions are in the mid to
lower(north) end of The Strip. If you are not staying in one of these hotel/casinos and have a car, you can park in
a nice, free ramp behind TI (Treasure Island). Most of the
attractions mentioned below are within walking distance.
If you are staying at a hotel/casino in this area, start your morning tour in this
area first and move to the upper strip attractions after you have finished. I am assuming you are not staying in
this area and are either parking in TI's ramp or having
the taxi drop you off at the Mirage front door.
The Mirage opened in late 1989 and is
considered the first of the "grand" hotel/casinos on the strip. As you enter this Polynesian-themed hotel/casino
through the front door, you may want to go to the right and see what's in back of the registration desk. It is
worth seeing and one many people seem to miss on their trip. There is also a nearby tropical rain forest which you
may find of interest.
The Mirage is host to the
combined White Tiger and Dolphin Habitat. Gone are the days when you could see the White Tigers for free. To see
the Dolphins and White Tigers will now cost you $19.95 (adult admission). Follow the signs inside if you decide to
Since opening, the Mirage
has been known for its famous 54 foot volcano that erupted every 15 minutes from dusk until midnight. The volcano
underwent a renovation and was reopened in December of 2008. The original is pictured above and is/was the better
one. >>>>>Next- walk outside (street
The glory that was Rome (well
maybe not quite) is on display in this casino/hotel which has been around since
1966. Caesars takes up a large amount of real estate on The Strip - it is HUGE. You will not have time to
see all there is to see on this first-day trip.
My recommendation to have you enter Caesars from
the Mirage side (as opposed to the Bellagio side) takes you to my
must-see attraction for you - The Forum Shops. You can stroll through this ancient Roman marketplace setting
and enjoy the sights of nearly 100 interesting shops. There are also two shows in this area - the "Rise and Fall of
Atlantis" and moving Roman "statues" at Festival Fountain. If you can catch one of these shows without waiting,
take it in. Otherwise take it in another time.
As you leave this shopping area and walk through the casino, look for the replica
of Michelangelo's David. This casino can be a little confusing to get through so you may miss it and have to come
back another time.>>>>>Next - cross
the street (outside) to:
The beautiful Venetian is home to a number of
attractions - the Grand Canal with its gondolas, Madame Tussauds, the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, The Grand Canal
Shoppes. I hope you are staying more than one day as you will want to come back and tour the quarter-mile Grand
Canal (inside) with its shops, street performers and Venetian Living Statues.
For your first pass I recommend you take in the outside Grand Canal (and the
gondolas and singing gondeliers) from the arched bridge. Then step inside the Venetian, look up and feast your
eyes on the beautiful ceiling paintings. The Venetian has added the
beautiful Palazzo next door which is just as elegant as the Venetian but this may have to wait for another
time. >>>>>Next Stop is the Wynn/Encore.
Your last must-see stop on The
Strip, Wynn, was opened in spring of 2005 at a cost of $2.7billion. Built on the site of the
old Desert Inn (1950-2000) no expense was spared in the construction of the 50
story Wynn and it shows. From the Esplanade with its high-end shops (Dior, Cartier, Chanel, etc.)
to the lobby to the on-site Ferrari/Maserati dealership. It can be a little over-whelming.
Highlights for me are the bright colors, flowers and plants, waterfalls and the
Parasol Down Lounge. The latest Wynn property in Las Vegas, Encore, opened for business in late
December of 2008. With 2,034 rooms and a $2.3 billion price tag, it is just as impressive
as Wynn. It is a
real treat to just stroll through these two Wynn properties but keep track of the time as there is more to
Next stop - downtown Las Vegas. From Wynn to downtown Las Vegas is
approximately four miles. You can either take The Deuce, Las Vegas Trolley, a taxi or drive. Don't even
think of walking any part of the area between the end of The Strip (Stratosphere) and downtown. If you
have a car there is a nice, handy parking ramp across the street from the Nugget (on South 1st
Downtown Las Vegas Attractions
You may hear some people say "don't bother going downtown Las Vegas - there is
nothing down there to see". That is NOT true. There are some must-see attractions and more nice-to-see ones. And
you can still get your picture taken with $1,000,000 at Binions free
of charge - a nice souvenir of Las Vegas.
My favorite place downtown is the Golden Nugget but I've been to most
all of them - Binions, Fremont, Fitzgeralds (now The
D), Las Vegas Club, Plaza, Main Street Station (a great
micro-brewery on-site), Four
Queens, California, Golden Gate (the first Las Vegas casino), etc. You will
notice the downtown casinos have a much different personality
(and some say looser slots) than those on The Strip.
This well known downtown hotel/casino has a must-see attraction that a surprising
number of people know nothing about. The largest gold nugget on public display in the world, 875 troy ounces
(approx. 61 lbs., 11 ozs.), is in a glass case just off from the lobby (click on image for a larger view). The Hand
of Faith nugget was found in 1980 in Australia and sold to the Golden Nugget in 1982. It can be a little tricky to find and if you
have trouble, ask an employee. I think it is well worth seeing (a replica of this famous gold nugget is on display
a the Golden Nugget in Laughlin. Speaking of gold, there is a GOLD to Go (gold dispensing) ATM nearby if you have
done well at gaming and are ready to invest in the shiny metal.
The Golden Nugget
renovated their pool area ($30 million) some time back which includes "the Tank". This attraction is a
200,000-gallon shark tank set up so you can be swimming close to the sharks. How close? This unretouched photo shows Kevin, Jessica and my grandson Charlie Jack just inches
away from one. He loved it! You can also take the plunge thru the shark tank via the three-story waterslide. Worth
a look if you are downtown seeing other sites.
The sound-and-light show on
Fremont Street is one you won't want to miss. The Fremont Street Experience is a four-block, pedestrian-only
section of downtown that opened in 1995. In addition to its famous sound-and-light shows there may
be other forms of live entertainment for you to enjoy. The sound-and-light shows, usually about four of
them a night, start at dusk and go until midnight. They do not last too long but are pretty awesome. If you
take in one, you'll want to see the others as there different ones. If you walk out any of the
Golden Nugget's north
doors you are on Fremont Street and the show is right there.
Nine other casinos front Fremont Street in the four-block stretch and they all turn
out their outside lights as the show starts. One of the best free attractions Las Vegas has to offer.
you will see some real characters on Fremont Street. On my last visit, I ran into a Gold Prospector (at
right, click on picture for a larger view) in front of Binions. Not a statue but a friendly fellow who let me
take his picture for this site. Like any place where large crowds gather, not all are there to watch the show.
Use a little caution and you will be all right.
Well there you have it. My list of recommended must-see Las Vegas Strip Attractions
for you to see in your first few days. No matter where in the world you come from, I hope you find this information
useful. And be sure to visit Source1 Las Vegas again. I
will be adding/updating articles about Las Vegas in the future that you may find of
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