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Here are a few ideas for a visit to Las Vegas, besides exploring the casinos, restaurants and clubs:
Your first stop should be the Las Vegas Visitors & Convention Center Bureau across the street from the Hilton hotel. Besides having information on anything you may interested in in Las Vegas and the surrounding area, you can also pick up free maps, posters & coupons here. The people there are very friendly and fairly knowledgeable as well.
The Clark County Museum boasts a 30 acre site with a street of historic homes one can self-tour, a Ghost Town and Mining Trail, a nature trail, a main building with diaramas and special exhibit hall and gift shop. The historic homes are air-conditioned in the summer, so don't worry about that! The cost is just $2.00 for adults; $1.00 for seniors and children up to 17 years. This museum is located in Henderson, so while you are in the area, you can visit Hoover Dam too.
Madame Tussuad's Wax Museum is a good place to spend a couple of hours. There are several dozen celebrities that you can touch and get close to, making for great photo ops!
If one has an interest in cameras, especially the Polaroid brand or in the photographs of Andy Warhol, visit the new Polaroid Museum and the Andy Warhol exhibit titled "Capturing Celebrties" portraits on the second floor of the Polaroid Photo Bar Store in the LINQ pedestrian shopping strip.
Another wonderful museum is the Las Vegas Museum of Natural History. Not only is this a family friendly museum that has a variety of displays, it also houses the King Tut exhibit that was previously at the Luxor Hotel. If you go to the LVMONH website, you can print out 2 for 1 adult admission coupons.
If you find yourself in the Arts District, Las Vegas Historical Society is a new free place to check out. They're putting a photo timeline of Las Vegas history together, crowdsourcing historic photos from locals and visitors alike.
If you have children, across the street from the Museum of Natural History is the Lied Discovery Children's Museum. This museum has interesting and educational hands-on exhibits for both children and adults.
M&M World is also a good to place to visit. With four floors of memorabilia and dozens of colors to choose from, you will be glad you stopped by! Be sure to check out the free 3D movie on the 3rd floor the kids will love it.
If you or your children are animal lovers, you have several choices of attractions. The Secret Garden at the Mirage is a good place to visit. There are white tigers, elephants, lions, and dolphins which can appeal to all ages. The Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay is is fabulous - do not miss the jellyfish exhibit.
Both of the above attactions charge admission, however, a pleasant free spot for animal lovers is the Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo. There are some fascinating birds and fish here, all in a lush, quiet environment.
For the science-minded, the Atomic Testing Museum offers a unique look at the history of one of the most important discoveries ever made. It may be too intense (or boring!) for children under about 12.
The LINQ has an excellent car collection located on the 5th floor. There are about 300 cars there, ranging from simple Model T's to fantastic custom vehicles owned by celebrities. All the cars are available for purchase, so don't forget your checkbook :-) The museum entry fee is $9 per person, but you can easily find two-for-one coupons in many LV publications.
There are several thrill rides to try out. There's a roller coaster on top of NY-NY, 3 different rides on top of the Stratosphere, a roller coaster at the Sahara and the Adventure-dome at Circus Circus. And, although not a thrill ride, visiting the top of the Eiffel Tower is a fun experience which offers terrific views of the strip, surrounding desert and zillions of sparkling lights at night.
The Pinball Hall of Fame is not just a museum, but an arcade as well, where you can play with history. It is run by a pinball collectors club. The games cost only what the original price was when they were manufactured. There are few games here that are the only one of their type in the entire world. Besides being great for all ages, it is inexpensive. The money collected from the games goes to pay their rent & utilities first, with remainder of funds being donated to a local charity.
Ethel M Chocolate Factory has very good candy and a great cactus garden. The tour is also fun and gives you a free sample at the end.
The gondola ride at the Venetian is a must-do for any couples looking for a little romance but you must book in advance. There are actually 2 rides, one outside and one in the Grand Canal Shops. There are also performances held throughout the day by singers and dancers dressed in Renaissance costumes, as well as living statues and the Gondolier march in the morning and late afternoon.
Many people like simply to walk up and down the strip, stopping at all of the shops as they go along. There's a shopping mall on the Strip (The Fashion Show Mall) - across from The Wynn - with 250 or more stores and often offering fashion shows and other live entertainment in its confines.
If shopping is your "thing," there is a new mall south of Mandalay Bay, and both it and the Outlet Mall south of the airport can now be reached by riding the Deuce south. The route does not go into the new mall, but it's only a few 100 feet from the street to the entrance to the mall. You would catch the bus at the same place to return to the Strip.
Do not forget the fabulous Fremont Street Experience downtown! A free light and sound show (about 15 minutes long) every hour starting at dusk. It's great fun! Additionally, there are excellent ongoing live musical entertainment along the 4 blocks for the duration of the evening. There are also several refurbished neon signs placed throughout Fremont Street which are beautiful at night.
Speaking of neon signs, you can tour the Neon Boneyard. If you enjoy old neon, old signs or Las Vegas history then book this tour in advance. The cost is about $18.00, is outside & limited to groups of about 20 people. Bring your cameras & wear your close toed comfortable shoes because the tour runs about 90 minutes.
Another option is to see a show. Since this is Vegas, go for something kitchy like Barbara & Frank - The Show that Never Was or The Fab Four (yes, it's a Beatles cover band in Vegas!). If you want some variety entertainment for the family, you could check out Larry G Jones' singing impressionist comedy show that pokes fun at dozens of Las Vegas biggest headliners and performers. Terry Fator, the amazing ventriloquist, appears regularly at the Mirage to present his fun and family-friendly show.
The Silverton Hotel has an advertised free fish feeding show that kids love. They also have a unadvertised show as well. A Mermaid swims around in the fish tank & interacts with those standing outside watching her. She signs "Heart You" to the kids, blows kisses to the girls & does "fist bumps" through the glass with the boys. Just call the hotel for days & showtimes to get the information.
When you tire of neon, sequins, and song, make the 30-minute drive to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. You can hike on your own, but consider going with a local expert. They can arrange private or group hikes and rock-scrambling adventures in the area, with outings tailored to the participants' fitness and experience levels. There's also a visitor center, and a 13-mile scenic drive.
Day trips are also available to the Grand Canyon, Valley of Fire State Park, Death Valley, Lake Mead or Hoover Dam via bus, plane and helicopter, or even cruise, and trips can be booked on line or through your hotel concierge.