Editor’s Note: Think you know all there is to know about Las Vegas? Read our Vegas series this week as we celebrate a city that continues to reinvent itself year after year.
I recently went to Vegas after a five year hiatus, a visit so long ago that it almost doesn’t count. So this time I took advantage and tried to see what Vegas has to offer. There were definitely occasions where I thought, “Wow! Only in Vegas…”, and there were different kinds of entertainment every inch along the way. Although some of the sights may be very expensive (like the Louis Vuitton store), luckily there are others that are free for everyone, including those who have lost all of their money at War. No matter what activity you choose, rest assured it will have a spin that’s uniquely Las Vegas in every way. Here are a few of my favorite experiences:
1. Theme park rides in weird places
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Bored of gambling? What about doing a bungee jump down 108 floors? The Stratosphere holds the highest controlled free fall of the world. If bungee jumping isn´t quite your style, the hotel also has Insanity, X-Scream and Big Shot. X-Scream, pictured here, is the third highest thrill ride in the world.
New York New York also has its own thrill ride: a roller coaster that will propel you 67 miles per hour, where you´ll drop and turn and go through the heartline twist and dive. Just to add to the insanity, you can even plan your wedding on the roller coaster! The hotel will take care of the minister; you just have to be ready to take the plunge.
2. A celebration of Las Vegas mob history
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The brand new Mob Museum holds the largest collection of artifacts, memorabilia, photos and videos of organized crime and was opened by the children and grandchildren of legendary mobsters such as Benjamin ¨Bugsy¨Siegel, Meyer Lansky and Sam Giancana.
3. A tube slide through a shark tank
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If you prefer water over air, this ride is for you. At The Golden Nugget, you can actually take a water slide through a tank full of sharks. This two hundred thousand gallon shark tank provides the ultimate backdrop as you whiz past it on the slide.
4. A subzero desert experience
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What a better way to cool off from the hot Vegas weather than to go to an ice bar? Minus 5 at Mandalay Bay has a constant freezing temperature of -23F (-5C), guaranteed to keep your drink and hands cold. You can enjoy your drink and check out the intricate ice sculptures, which are made from 100 percent Canadian ice.
5. A volcano eruption mid-strip
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Named as one of the Best Manmade Wonders, this volcano erupts once an hour from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. The heat and light that come off the 54 foot structure is enough for you to repeat the show an hour later. This has proven to be an oldie but a goodie since it was first built in 1989. If that doesn’t convince you, Hart, the legendary Grateful Dead drummer, and Indian music composer Zakir Hussain worked together to create and perform a soundtrack exclusively for the volcano.
6. A Louis Vuitton megastore
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Strategically placed in the city where you have the opportunity to win big money, the largest Louis Vuitton store in North America is at Crystals at City Center. The store covers two stories and sells traditional and non-traditional collections of luggage, city bags, shoes, watches, jewelry, sunglasses, clothes and much more.
7. Historical landmarks from around the world
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In Vegas but rather be in New York City, Paris or Rome instead? Well, luckily for you, Vegas has replicated some of the world’s most famous landmarks. The Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas was constructed 110 years after the original and is about half its size. Just like the original, there is a gourmet French restaurant and an observation deck.
The Statue of Liberty in New York New York Hotel is also about a half-scale replica, measuring at 150 feet. There are also replicas of the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building that are about one-third the size of the original buildings in Manhattan.
The Colosseum of Caesar’s Palace has room for 4,300 people and was originally built as a stage for Celine Dion. The original in Rome seats 50,000 people.
8. A tribute to Russian vodka
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Looking for something a bit spicier? The Red Square in Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino was voted Best Bar in America by Playboy Magazine. It combines romance and intrigue with its Russian style décor and wide range of Russian vodka. The vodka is served at 5 degrees, and there is enough of it to pass around to all of Russia. Although you can mix it, the general manager advises everyone to take it Russian style- straight up, no mixer.
9. The characters of The Strip
Last but not least, I would count the various characters of The Strip as a sight to see. When I was there earlier this month, I was amazed at all of the weirdness that was crammed into one street. In a ten minute walk, I saw Chewbacca, Michael Jackson, a weird lizard, a midget MC, Spiderman and various others. In this picture, you can see me and my friend with two large snakes. The snake owner asks: “Want to hold them, and take a picture?” We answer: “Of course! This is Las Vegas.”