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 March, 2014.
This article is limited to mostly free must-see
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 any picture for a larger view. I recommend you
bookmark this site and stop back from time to time to see what may have been
What I recommend as a Las Vegas
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 (click on pix for larger images) 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 section.
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 and Hooters Casino Hotel (the old San Remo). 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.
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
New York-New York
The outside 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 is currently going on from New York-New York to the Monte Carlo to
convert the sidewalks into an outdoor plaza with trees, benches, shops, etc. >>>>> Next - walk outside, past the Monte Carlo
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 left is actually a scale model of the entire complex as displayed in the lobby of the
Mirage. The picture on the
left is the entrance to CityCenter's Aria Resort and Casino with the Veer Towers 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:
"new" 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 Blvd. 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 to:
The "crown jewel" of the strip. With its Italian theme, eight-acre lake and water show, this is my #1 pick 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 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.
The MGM 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.
The MGM 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, 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 see them. 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. Here is the old Mirage volcano on the left
and the new one on the right (I liked the old one better). >>>>>Next- walk outside (street level) to:
The glory that was Rome 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 a 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 but this may have to wait for another time. >>>>>Next Stop is the Wynn.
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. Prince Harry
thinks it's THE place to stay while in Las Vegas.
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 (about
$20) 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
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 places downtown are the
Golden Nugget and the Las Vegas Club but I've been to most all of them - Binions, Fremont, Fitzgeralds (now The D), 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 at Golden Nugget 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.
Fremont Street Experience
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 are 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 they
are all different. 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. This is one of the best free attractions Las Vegas has to offer.
Please NOTE 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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