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Destination Guide

 
 
When your citys economy is built on providing entertainment to its guests, you?d better have some of the top headliners in the world, and the shows had better be spectacular. From the talented to the absolutely amazing, Las Vegas offers the best in magic, theater, dance, song and comedy. While some venues offer an array of feature artists who are in town for only a few nights, many of the larger casinos also provide spectacular standing performances.

The casinos themselves provide sufficient entertainment for many guests. Gambling draws the majority of tourists, and Las Vegas houses a variety of games of chance in each venue: slot machines, video poker, sports books, craps tables, baccarat, poker rooms and more.

Every casino is vying for the quarters of each tourist, but they all offer pretty much the same opportunities to win big. To set themselves apart and draw you into their establishment, the casinos utilize creative themes, which provide their own form of fun.

One of the first to use its architecture as a billboard was Caesars Palace. While impressive during the day, this building is lit at night to accent its Roman columns and beautiful fountains. Next door, you'll find the Mirage, with its towering, exploding volcano, and Treasure Island, where the Buccaneer Bay Pirate Show ensues each night, and you can watch a British frigate be sunk and resurrected every hour. Combine music and water, and you have the breathtaking performance of the Bellagio Fountains.

Its a small world in Las Vegas, so why not visit New York New York Hotel and Casino (complete with a scale model of the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty) or visit the Venetian and take a ride along the canals in a gondola? Travel to ancient Egypt, and be amazed at the pyramid-shaped Luxor. In the mood for French? Try the Paris Las Vegas and take a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower. If you really like towers, ascend the 1,149 foot Stratosphere Tower for an excellent view of the city, day or night.

Many of the first hotels in Las Vegas were located on Fremont Street. These properties are built a bit too close to one another to incorporate flashy new themes, so the Fremont Street Experience was devised to draw tourists to this older but still vibrant area of the city.

There are great attractions inside the casinos to enjoy, as well. The Excalibur Hotel and Casino invites you to be King Arthurs guest for dinner, where you'll eat with your fingers, beat on the table with your fists and enjoy the Tournament of Kings, complete with jousts and battles on horseback. The MGM Grand created a special stage and outstanding special effects for their presentation, EFX. Julius is not to be outdone, so one of the most amazing shows on the strip, is found at Caesars Magic Empire.

Some of these stages are technical wonders, but none can compare to the presentation area for 'O', a 1.5 million gallon tank of water used by the performers of the Cirque Du Soleil circus troope.

Want to tap your toes? You'll enjoy a performance from Lord of the Dance at New York New York. For real Las Vegas showgirls, you'll love the presentation of Jubilee at Ballys. For a 'different? kind of showgirl, try An Evening at La Cage (at the Riviera), where you'll learn that you can't always believe your eyes.

There is always entertainment for rockers at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, and the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino presents some of the greats in an intimate setting. The Las Vegas Hilton Hotel, located adjacent the Las Vegas Convention Center, keeps those conventioneers by offering a trip to where no man has ever gone in Star Trek, The Experience.

Perhaps you came to Vegas because you have a need for speed. Head out to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway either to watch a race or to get behind the wheel of one of those rockets yourself.

Las Vegas has worked hard to re-invent itself as a family destination, so bring the kids. There are a lot of great entertainment venues built with them in mind. The first child oriented hotel-casino was Circus Circus, complete with a Circus Midway full of carnival games and trapeze acts. The Circus Circus Adventuredome is a theme park built under a large (pink, of course) dome, so that the kids can ride the roller coaster year round in climate-controlled comfort. The MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park is a nice park, where you can ride the logs or hear strolling minstrels. For educational fun, visit the Southern Nevada Zoological and Botanical Park or the Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary & Orchards. You'll also find a petting zoo at Bonnie Springs Old Nevada, where the kids can walk the Wild West, and meet up with some mean ol? hombres.

History is kept alive at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, where the dinosaurs move and sharks swim up to greet you. For hands on education, the Leid Discovery Childrens Museum can't be beat. Kids love learning about science, medicine and math by doing.

Las Vegas hasn't forgotten its history, by the way. Visitors will find a number of museums covering many different viewpoints. The oldest, of course, is the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort Historic Park, which allows you to stop into history, and visit the first non-native American structure built in the city.

The Clark County Heritage Museum has rotating exhibits that change every season. The museum also houses old buildings from the dam building era, including the newspaper, a livery and several homes. An antique train is also part of the exhibit.

Of course, Las Vegas has a unique history, built on neon advertising. The Neon Museum will provide a look at some of those historic signs. We haven't forgotten the great performers who made the city famous, either. The Liberace Museum houses a large collection of the performers personal effects and outlandish stage props.

The arts have always been an important part of the citys culture. The Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery provides insights into local artists as well as national figures in the art world. More contemporary pieces can be found in the Las Vegas Art Museum. The Mermaid Café and Art Gallery allows you to dine as well as peruse their collection. For live artistic performance, you can't beat the oldest running small theater in the valley, Las Vegas Little Theater, which presents several shows a year.

Geneva J. King