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Destination Guide

Gambling mecca, vacation paradise, premier business destination'these are all definitions of the city that never sleeps. Reality takes a hike when you enter the world of glittering casinos with their 24-hour gambling excitement. The scarcity of clocks adds to the fantasy of those taking time off from from the real world.

As a family vacation destination, the city offers the ultimate in entertainment for all ages. Where else could you visit Paris, New York, Venice and the Pyramids in one day? Play a round of golf at some of the top-rated courses in the United States, be pampered in a luxurious spa, or take the kids to King Tuts Tomb.

As a business destination, Las Vegas wins hands down with the volume of facilities and services available for both large conventions or small business get-togethers. A multitude of upscale eateries are at your fingertips for a business lunch or dinner, and after-hours entertainment is plentiful and diverse. The perfect venue to meet, entertain and close deals.

Whether you're planning to move here, attend a business meeting, sky-dive, get married, or just relax and enjoy, you'll find Las Vegas to be a city like no other in the world.

The Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard)
Most people think of "the Strip" as the beginning and end of Las Vegas'the fabled three mile area, otherwise known as Las Vegas Boulevard, that holds more hotels and hotel rooms than any other city in the world. Here you'll find the most famous and remarkable hotels and resorts: Bellagio, with its Italian Renaissance aura; Caesars Palace'the glory that once was Rome (Las Vegas style); the Flamingo Hilton (where some say Bugsy started it all); the Mirage, with its white tigers and erupting volcanos; Paris Las Vegas, with its outstanding replicas of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, and its magnifique Parisian atmosphere and charm; and Treasure Island, with its live pirate battles offered free of charge on a daily basis. At the "bottom" or south end of the strip, from the ashes of the Hacienda Hotel, now stands the magnificent Mandalay Bay, with its tropical atmosphere and a pool with waves you can actually surf. At the top of the Strip, extreme north end, you'll find the Stratosphere Tower, visible from miles away'the highest free-standing building in the western half of the United States, with views, and even rides, from the top that are indescribable.

Fremont Street (Downtown)
The original Las Vegas, where people hung out in the Thirties and early Forties, is still standing and thriving, but with a new face, known as the Fremont Street Experience. Some tourists actually prefer this area to the Strip because room prices are generally lower, its an easy walk from one casino to the next, and its more reminiscent of the early, nostalgic days of Las Vegas. In addition to some of the more famous hotels, such as The Plaza (formerly known as Union Plaza), overlooking Fremont Street, (and the background in numerous movies), theres the understated classic elegance of the Golden Nugget, one of the few Triple A & Mobil four-star rated hotels in Las Vegas. For nostalgia buffs, theres also the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, recently renovated to its earlier classic glory and appearance, and still famous for its 99-cent shrimp cocktail. Plans are in the works for Neonopolis, a multi-media complex, which will contain movie theatres, the Neon Museum and a variety of shops.

Paradise Road
From the Convention Center at the north end, to McCarran Airport at the south end, you'll find a busy street, just east of and parallel to Las Vegas Boulevard. In the last few years a multitude of hotels and motels have sprouted up, often catering to the business traveler looking for a straight shot from the Convention Center to the airport, without getting involved with the Strip, with its congested traffic and tourists.

"Off the Strip"
In recent years, hotels have sprouted up near the Strip, which are conveniently accessible by shuttle bus, taxi or car. Most of these hotels are small cities within a city, and offer some amenities that many of the major Strip establishments don't?movie theatres, bowling alleys and ice skating rinks; yet they all have the "basics" that visitors and tourists expect?gambling, restaurants, buffets and entertainment. Some of the better known of these are The Orleans (one mile west of the Strip on Tropicana), the Rio Suites and the Gold Coast (across the street from each other), just west of the Strip on Flamingo. Further north, a half mile west of the Strip (and just off the I-15 Freeway) on Sahara, is the Palace Station, the granddaddy of the Station Casinos with its original approach to fine buffet dining (The Feast). To the east, theres the Las Vegas Hilton, with the sprawling Convention Center just adjacent to it. Further south, between Flamingo and Tropicana, east of the Strip, you'll find the "must see" Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, next to the original Hard Rock Café, each with its own fantastic giant neon guitar at the entrance.

Boulder Strip
This has become something of a phenomenon in itself. Once, Boulder Highway was a sprawl of small motels and businesses, leading from Fremont Street eventually out to the city of Henderson and beyond that, to Boulder City and Boulder (aka Hoover) Dam. But in recent years its become the "Second Strip," with its proliferation of large, popular hotels and casinos. The first property, known as the "Flagship" of Boulder Highway, is the Showboat Hotel & Casino, long popular with locals and visitors, and particularly known for its gigantic double bowling alleys. Further south, you'll approach Boulder Station Hotel & Casino, one of the first properties to offer child care at a nominal fee for children of both guests and non-guests; and then theres Sams Town Hotel & Casino, which has become the high standard of western-themed resorts, with its newly added Mystic Falls Indoor Park.

North Las Vegas
The city of North Las Vegas has its Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a major tourist attraction in itself, as well as Nellis Air Force Base, one of the strongest military bases in the US, home to the flying Thunderbirds. As far as accommodations are concerned, there are several spots, popular with both locals and tourists alike, including The Fiesta and Texas Station Hotel & Casino, across the street from each other. Theres also the Santa Fe, in northwest Las Vegas, unique for its Olympic-style Santa Fe Ice Arena.

Located in the far northwest section of the Las Vegas valley, Summerlin is a planned community with homes, shops, recreational activities, festivals and concerts. A major destination is the Regency, (formerly the Resort at Summerlin) a world-class resort which holds its own against the poshest of the Strip hotel/casinos. Its also become an important business center. The latest addition is the new Suncoast Hotel and Casino, which opened in September of 2000.

The fastest growing community in the state of Nevada (next to Las Vegas, of course), Henderson is known for its fine schools and community offerings. It also has its own share of hotel/casinos, including Sunset Station and The Reserve.

Beyond Las Vegas
For day trips that are well worth the trip, check out nearby Boulder City, Lake Mead and Hoover Dam to the east and southeast. To the west, theres Red Rock Canyon, and beyond that Spring Mountain Ranch. In the Toiyabe Mountain Range, just 45 minutes from Las Vegas is Mt. Charleston, with several delightful hotels, cabins and bed and breakfasts, where you can enjoy cooler temperatures in the summer and skiing in the winter.

Judith Gabaldon