1. The Strip
Los Angeles Boulevard, a.k.a. "The Strip," is home to some of the most delightfully garish architecture in the world. Staying in one of the Strip's extravagant hotel/resort/casinos is a memorable experience, but if you opt for more budget accommodation make a point of checking out the free attractions offered both outside and in the major hotels. Paris Las Vegas has a reproduction of the Eiffel Tower and New York-New York boasts its own Brooklyn Bridge and Empire State Building. Mandalay Bay has a shark reef and Treasure Island stages a dramatic pirate battle several times each evening. The Mirage has an erupting volcano and white tiger and dolphin habitats. The Bellagio, the city's most lavish hotel, has famous dancing waters outside and a stunning lobby ceiling designed by glass artist Dale Chihuly.

2. Haute cuisine
Las Vegas dining gets better every year, and many of the restaurants on and around Las Vegas Boulevard are outposts of fashionable New York and Los Angeles eateries such as NYC's Le Cirque, Lutece, and Nobu, and LA's Spago and Chinois. For more affordable fare, the casino buffets are highly recommended. Less than 30 dollars buys all-you-can-eat lobster, shrimp, steak, or whatever else tempts your palate.

3. Low-roller gambling
Not everyone travels to Vegas to gamble, but the pastime remains the desert city's economic lifeline. Gambling facilities are found everywhere--from budget motels to the airport, and serious gamblers will have no trouble finding the perfect casino to risk their savings. With $3 blackjack and craps tables extinct, and $5 tables an endangered species, gambling in Vegas can be a little intimidating for amateurs or the fiscally conservative. Two casinos that specialize in low-roller gambling are the Sahara, notable for its $1 tables, and the Casino Royal Hotel, which has penny slot machines. Those who can't stomach risking a cent can become acquainted with casino culture at the Gambling Museum in the Tropicana.

4. Elvis-a-Rama Museum
Elvis Presley's spirit lives on in Las Vegas, where the King of Rock and Roll had a famous performing stint in the 1970s. Elvis impersonators can be found everywhere, but for a comprehensive look at the patron saint of Vegas head to the Elvis-a-Rama Museum located just off the Strip. The museum's impressive collection of Elvis artifacts includes a letter he sent to a teenage sweetheart, three of his cars, gold records, his famous peacock jumpsuit, Hollywood movie clothing, and much more. Of course, Elvis impersonators-both young and Vegas-era Elvis--shake their pelvises in the museum's small theater.

5. Downtown Las Vegas
Take a shuttle from the Strip to the original downtown Las Vegas gambling scene, still home to such classic casinos as the Golden Nugget and Binion's Horseshoe Hotel and Casino. The heart of downtown is the Fremont Street Experience, a pedestrian promenade that presents a spectacular (and free) hourly light and sound show each evening

6. Cirque du Soleil's "O"
Visitors seeking big-name entertainment will have no trouble finding a great show in Vegas, but a sure bet for children and adults alike is Cirque du Soleil's "O," an aquatic extravaganza that opened in the Bellagio in 1998. The highly original show, which tells the tale of theater through the ages, is staged in and above a 1.5 million gallon pool of water and features an international cast of more than 80 performers.

7. Guggenheim Las Vegas and Guggenheim Hermitage Museum
High culture found a permanent home in Las Vegas in 2001 with the simultaneous openings of the Guggenheim Las Vegas and the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum in the Venetian. The Guggenheim Las Vegas, the newest edition to the Guggenheim museum family, was designed by Rem Koolhaas and is showing its popular Art of the Motorcycle exhibit through 2002. The more intimate Guggenheim Hermitage Museum is a joint effort by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, to bring their fine art to a wider audience.

8. Neon lights
Art and cultural critic Dave Hickey has called neon "the only indigenous visual culture on the North American continent," and nowhere in North America is neon more prevalent than Las Vegas. The glow of Vegas at night is visible from space, and some of the larger casinos have their own power plants to guarantee that nothing will keep their neon from shining. The best way to enjoy the city's obsession with light is through a stroll down the Strip, but enthusiasts should also check out the Neon Museum, which displays its collection of vintage Las Vegas neon at the Fremont Street Experience.

9. Showgirls return
After years of catering to family holidaymakers with its Disney-style theme hotels, Sin City has been returning to its roots with the resurgence of adult entertainment. Worried that the world's gambling capital had developed too "soft" an image, promoters have been emphasizing the wilder side of Las Vegas in an attempt to lure back the partying visitors on which the city has always relied. The MGM Grand, opened as a family-oriented hotel in 1993, now celebrates "the art of the nude" with "La Femme," an adult revue starring performers imported from France. And the Plaza offers a "gentlemen's club" and a topless show.

10. Hoover Dam
Despite the glitter and glamour of the Strip, Hoover Dam is still the top tourist destination in southern Nevada. Just an hour's drive south down Boulder Highway, the highest concrete arch dam in the United States is definitely worth a side trip. One of the great engineering feats of the 20th century, Hoover Dam was built during the height of the Depression and is a major symbol of American ingenuity. Seventy-five stories tall and containing enough concrete to build an interstate highway from Atlanta to San Francisco, it is an awe-inspiring sight.

Privacy Policy
. .