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USATourist News Magazine by Elizabeth Blair
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USATourist News Magazine

September 2009 - Las Vegas, NV

In this issue:

Las Vegas, Nevada is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. Everyone knows Las Vegas is the casino capital of the world with over 1700 licensed gambling venues and nearly 200,000 slot machines. But there is so much more in Vegas than gambling. In this issue we're going to delve into some of the various other attractions that help make Las Vegas what it is today. If it has been more than a few decades since you've been, you won't recognize the city. Hotels and casinos are constantly being torn down with new, bigger and better replacements.

People travel from all around the globe to try their hand at winning cash, to stay out dancing all night at clubs and becoming engrossed in this city's non-stop activities. What I've realized after visiting Vegas myself dozens of times, once you have experienced the flashy lights, 24-hour party atmosphere and chiming of slot machines, either you love it or you hate it, but you have to go at least once to decide. (Me, I love it.) With that said, let's see what there is in Las Vegas besides gambling.

Skyline view of the Vegas Strip

Panoramic view of the Vegas Strip and skyline.
Photo by: Mike Leco

Feel the thrill

Often referred to as an adult playground, Las Vegas can also bring out the kid in you via the several thrill rides along Las Vegas Boulevard (aka The Strip).

Stratosphere Hotel & Casino is one of the most famous ride locations. Perhaps, because it is home to three 1,000 feet high rides: Insanity (a spinning ride that dangles riders over the edge of the Stratosphere), X Scream (a back and forth ride that also "runs" on a platform over the edge of the building), and Big Shot (a quick ride up, followed by a freefall ride back down). The only one I can boast riding is Big Shot (and just the thought still makes my stomach still turn). A few years ago the High Roller coaster, Stratosphere's first ride, was removed. If thrill rides aren't your thing, you may visit the Observation Deck, the tallest free-standing observation tower in the United States.

The skyline of New York, New York is the backdrop of Manhattan Express; a two minutes and 45 seconds ride is the longest-lasting rollercoaster ride in the city. It goes fast, has a steep dip and a 540-degree spiral.

Adventuredome Theme Park in Circus Circus has always boasted a theme park atmosphere. Two of the newer rides are Disko'O (a spinning ride) and Special FX Theatre (with a 4D special effects film). But Adventuredome has are over a dozen other rides and games (including laser tag and bumper cars).

Tip: If you plan to ride more than three premium rides, it's best to opt for the All Day Ride Pass (about $25 for those over 48 inches) and $15 for children (under 48 inches), otherwise rides cost $4-7 each

A Table with a 360 Degree View: "Dinner in the Sky"

Speaking of heights, Las Vegas is the 24th city to launch Dinner in the Sky and the only location allowing seating to the general public, which means you don't have to reserve the table with a group of people.

What is it? Dinner in the Sky is a meal served on a table suspended 160-180 feet in the air. The table holds up to 22 people and three professionals: a chef, waiter, and entertainer. The "flight" last one hour and includes: VIP Cocktail Reception, hors d'oeuvres, champagne toast during your Dinner in the Sky flight, souvenir Red Carpet Photo, choice of entrée and the opportunity to relax in VIP cocktail lounge after the flight. Visit the Dinner in the Sky website for more information (the site is translated into 11 languages).

M&M World

M&M World is a candy lover's dream come true.
Photo by: Elizabeth Blair

Crack the Case at the CSI Experience

This past summer MGM Grand opened the CSI Experience in Las Vegas which is based off the hit TV show (the tour is visiting several U.S. cities). The premise of the attraction is that visitors get to attempt to solve a crime by using hands-on investigative techniques at the crime scene and at a crime lab. Participants analyze and record evidence such as DNA, fingerprints, toxicology, blood splatter patterns, shoe prints and more from at one of three crime scenes. Players receive personalized CSI Diploma at the end of their session.

Fun and Free

In Downtown Las Vegas, or Freemont Street, the six minute Viva Vision light show is held nightly on the hour starting at 8pm until 11pm and midnight on weekends. Freemont Street is a classic attraction in itself since it's considered vintage Las Vegas (and home to the 99-cent shrimp cocktail at the 100-year-old Gold Gate Casino).

MGM sure has the action lately, one of the other new attractions is the glass enclosed Lion Habitat at MGM Grand (when I saw the lions, the workers were inside the habitat hanging out with them).

Not far from MGM is the four story M&M's World. You can have your choice of dozens of themed souvenirs and colorful M&Ms, many of which you can't even buy in the store - but be prepared for the ridiculously escalated prices.

Cheap Food

Las Vegas has always had a reputation for cheap eats but for the most part, it has become a thing of the past. Some of the smaller casinos have inexpensive buffets or try UEatCheap.com - just plug in a city name and a map of cheap restaurant locations will pop with. It also works for other cities, too.

Lake Las Vegas Resort

Relax in luxury at Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort.
Photo by: Elizabeth Blair

Need to Recover from Las Vegas? Head to Loews Lake Las Vegas

This summer my family and I spent several days at Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort. Lake Las Vegas is only 17 miles from Las Vegas, but in a calmer and more serene environment, very "un-Vegas like," with a desert mountain setting, spas, golf, boating and fishing. Apparently, many international tourists visit Loews Resort for an extended stay after time on the Las Vegas Strip. Located in the heart of Lake Las Vegas is MonteLago Village which caters to shoppers and diners with restaurants, bars, boutiques and even a casino (the only one in the area). On weekends there are live outdoor music concerts. Guests bring blankets and relax on the grassy hill and can purchase beer and wine from outdoor venders.

Do you have a favorite Las Vegas spot? We'd love to hear about it, so stop by our USATourist Community and tell us about your travels.

Happy Travels!

Special Deals

Cruise the strip in style with a late model bike from Eagle Rider and check out their Hot Deals.

When you need a break from the casinos, treat yourself to something special... a fun-filled day with shopping, dining, and relaxation. http://ladiesdayoutlv.com/index.html

Grand Canyon Tour Company offers the BEST tours at the BEST price from Las Vegas.

Don't miss out! Book tickets to the hottest shows in Vegas today. http://www.usatourist.com/english/reservations/tickets/las-vegas-show-tickets.html

Las Vegas Power Pass- One Price! Sightseeing Pass with Admission to many popular Las Vegas attractions!

Las Vegas Vacation Deals
Save up to 50% on Las Vegas Vacation Packages. Book today!

Skip the Line: Grand Canyon Skywalk Express Helicopter Tour - The quickest way to visit the Grand Canyon Skywalk from Las Vegas, this express helicopter tour is ideal for travelers short on time. Enjoy a scenic helicopter flight over Lake Mead, Hoover Dam and the Las Vegas Strip, before taking advantage of the incredible panoramic views from the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

Grand Canyon West Rim Deluxe Sunset Helicopter Tour - Take off from Las Vegas on a magical sunset helicopter tour to the Grand Canyon. You'll enjoy a 45-minute helicopter flight each way, land at the Grand Canyon for a champagne picnic while you watch the changing colors of sunset, then fly low over the famous neon-lit Las Vegas Strip on your return.

Ultimate Hoover Dam Tour - This is the "Best of the Best" Hoover Dam Tour! Your professional Comedian tour guides will educate and entertain you on all aspects of Hoover Dam in an informative and interesting way, allowing you to enjoy every moment of your visit. Not only will you join the Government's Power Plant Tour and Visitor Center Tour, the Ultimate Hoover Dam Tour is one of the only excursions from Las Vegas to offer an exclusive 45-minute Walk On The Top tour.

Las Vegas Night Flight by Helicopter with Dinner - Experience an evening of food and flight! Begin with a fabulous Italian meal, then take to the skies at night for an exciting flight over the Las Vegas Strip. See the lights of the Entertainment Capitol of the World. Soar past the dancing waters of the Bellagio, the fiery Volcano at the Mirage and see the sparkling lights of the Eiffel Tower.

Las Vegas Double-Decker Bus of the Stars - Hop onboard with your favorite celebrities and tour the world-famous Las Vegas Strip! This one-of-a-kind tour takes place on an original London double-decker bus and every sightseeing show is varied, ensuring a unique experience every time!

More Vegas tours, attractions and discounts! http://www.partner.viator.com/en/5156/

Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair

All Photos © USATourist.com

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