The free Fountain Show in front
of the Bellagio shoots off every 30 minutes from 3
pm to 7 pm and then every 15 minutes until midnight.
(The routines often vary from one show to the next.)
Wait until after to dark to go see this attraction.
The shows are more frequent and the fountain lights,
which are not very visible before sunset, add to
effect of the routines.
free Volcano Fountain in front of the Mirage errupts
every 15 minutes after dark until midnight.
The free Sirens of TI in front of
Treasure Island at 7, 8:30, 10, and 11:30 pm is a
rather stupid show that they came up with to replace
the Pirate Battle.
at the Venetian are the gondola rides. There are actually two
different rides, both featuring serenading gondoliers. One
outside in front of the resort and one inside through the Grand
Canal Shoppes. Inside rides are given from 10 am to 10:30 pm
(until 11:30 Friday and Saturday) and outside rides are from 11
am to 7 pm. $12.50 a person and same-day reservations are
required. (Details are available at the information desk at the
top of the up escalator just inside the casino's main entrance.)
Eiffel Tower observation deck at the Paris offers a great view
of the Strip and a unique way to see the Bellagio fountain shows
after dark. Operates from 10 am to midnight with a $9 fee.
Tickets are available at booths both inside the casino and
outside the Strip entrance to the casino. There's also a
(expensive) restaurant in the tower. (The locations of the
ticket booths and elevator are shown on the Paris diagram on the
you're a shopper, or going with one, check out the Forum Shops
attached to Caesars Palace. There is an animated statue show
every hour on the hour from 10 am to 11 pm in the first rotunda
and one in the fourth rotunda near the large aquarium. (The
locations of the rotundas are shown on the Caesars Palace/Forum
Shops diagram on the Diagrams page.) The attractions and most of
the shops are on the second level. They have circular escalators
that take you up from the Strip-level entrance. Not
surprisingly, the layout and strategic positioning of benches,
etc. forces you to walk past all the shops on the first level to
get to the escalators, and then go a round-about way past even
more shops to get to the first rotunda.
you're an art lover, or going with one, check out the Gallery of
Fine Art at the Bellagio which routinely features works by van
Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, and Gauguin. There's a
$15 fee. (The location of the gallery is shown on the Bellagio
diagram on the Diagrams page.)
Even if you're not an art lover you'll enjoy
the painted ceilings in the Venetian. The painted ceilings are
actually in three areas; the main casino entrance, the hotel
lobby, and the Galleria hall that connects the two. Once you go
in the main casino entrance and view that ceiling, the Galleria
will be off to your right. (The location of the Galleria is
shown on the Venetian diagram on the Diagrams page.)
you're a gear-head, or going with one, check out the auto
collection at the Imperial Palace featuring antiques and
vehicles owned by celebrities and presidents. Stated admission
is $6.95 but you can go to their Auto Collections Website and
print out the free pass available there.
you like roller-coasters, New York New York, Sahara, and Circus
Circus (indoor) have them. If you're a hard core thrill-seeker,
there's a roller-coaster (called the "High Roller") and a tower
launcher (called the "Big Shot") on the roof of the Stratosphere
Tower, and bungy jumping at Circus Circus.
you plan to go "downtown" do it at night so you can check out
the Fremont Street Experience. The canopy over the Fremont
Street pedestrian mall is the giant "screen" several blocks long
for a great, free light and sound show with 2 million individual
bulbs. Shows start at dusk and are repeated until 11 pm Sunday
thru Thursday and midnight Friday and Saturday.
Another neat lighting display is at the south
end of the Strip at night. While not a "show", the intersection
bounded by the MGM Grand, New York New York, Excalibur, and
Tropicana is a sight to behold at night with all the buildings
illuminated in a rainbow of colors. This intersection has
pedestrian bridges between all four corners so it's easy to
stroll over all four of them to take in the sights.
Las Vegas offers a TON of things to do besides
gambling. Skydiving, riding in a helicopter, driving race cars at
the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and horseback riding in Red Rock
Canyon are just a few.
is your "all-in-one" reference for a
lot of the attractions and activities in and around Las Vegas
(including days and times and whether they are free or a fee is
involved for the resort attractions).
The list is divided into those attractions and
activities available at the various resorts (sorted by resort name)
and those located elsewhere.
An AWESOME Ride
tandem skydive is the most AWESOME experience I've ever had during
any of my Vegas trips. With a tandem jump you're harnessed to a
jumpmaster and just "going along for the ride" so there's NO LENGTHY
TRAINING CLASSES involved. You'll likely be back at your hotel
within four hours. There are a couple places that offer tandem
skydives. Both are actually about 20 miles outside of Las Vegas but
they both have a shuttle service (and you can see the Strip resorts
from both drop zones). They also both offer a package which includes
a video tape and still photographs of your jump.
If you plan to get a video of your jump, Vegas
Extreme uses the more traditional method of having another skydiver
with video and still cameras mounted on their helmet jump along with
you. Skydive Las Vegas uses "wrist-cams" to video your jump. This is
where the jumpmaster you're jumping with has a small camera strapped
to their wrist. The benefit of a wrist-cam is that the canopy ride
portion of your jump is also videoed (and audioed). The downside is
having a camera two feet from your face when it is being pushed out
of shape by the wind of a 120-mph free-fall (a look only a mother
could love - maybe). If how you look on your video is important to
you, then you may want to go with Vegas Extreme.
There's also an outfit called Fly Away Indoor Skydiving which is an
indoor vertical wind tunnel where you can simulate a free-fall.
However, it can't simulate the canopy ride which is the greatest
part of a skydive in my opinion. You fell like a bird soaring around
under that chute and your jumpmaster will likely let you steer it
around if you'd like. If you want to know more about what it's like
(along with a couple free-fall pictures), check out our
Doing A Vegas Tandem Skydive
Weekends tend to be busier than weekdays so
if your stay in Las Vegas includes a weekday
you may want to make your reservation then
rather than on a Saturday or Sunday. You
won't have as long of a wait for ride up.
Be sure to call ahead and make reservations.
||Skydive Las Vegas
|Vegas Extreme Skydiving
|Fly Away Indoor
||Boulder City, NV
East of Las Vegas
South of Las Vegas
|Just east of the
on Convention Center Dr.
South Strip pick-up
AM only during the week
North and south Strip pick-ups
||View of Hoover Dam &
Lake Mead during jump
(but tandem jumps only)
(Experienced skydivers welcome)
|Not really skydiving
(for those who don't want
to jump out of a plane)
Scheduling a jump in the morning is better
as winds tend to pick up in the afternoon.
Higher winds cannot only increase the chance
that your jump will be cancelled, but it
kicks up dust which can reduce visibility of
the distant scenery.
Heli USA offers FANTASTIC night-time helicopter
flights up and down the Strip (their "Apollo Night Flight" package).
They pick you up at your hotel, give you free champagne while you're
waiting to go to the flight line, and drop you off at your hotel
after your flight. Cost is $80 per person (worth EVERY penny) but
they often have a coupon in What's On magazine. Check out one of my
pictures from a night-flight.
Cameras with a built-in flash are not
allowed on night flights because the flash
will mess up the pilot's night vision. Use a
camera without a flash that can take
high-speed (ASA 800 or 1000) film, or a
also offer a variety of day-time air tours of the Grand Canyon
(which is the best way to see the Grand Canyon in my opinion). The
Chariot of Fire is their basic Grand Canyon tour costing about $300
and takes less than four hours pick-up to drop-off (flight time is
about 1.5 hours departing from McCarran Airport). If you're
considering a less traditional wedding, you can get married during
your own night flight or at the Grand Canyon. Full details are
available on their Website or you can call them at 800-359-8727 (or
736-8787 in Las Vegas).
only to skydiving, this is one of the neatest experiences I've had
in Vegas. If you don't think a desert can be beautiful, take a break
from the hustle and bustle of the Strip and spend a leisurely two
hours horseback riding in the desert around Red Rock Canyon. Cowboy
Trail Rides offers a free Strip shuttle that picks you up and drops
you off at the tour lobby in the "Rear Rotunda" of the Excalibur.
(Look around the tour bus parking area for a white bus with the
"Cowboy Trailrides" sign in the window or a white van with red
lettering.) Spectacular views riding along a canyon rim may even
include wild burros and other desert wildlife. What struck me is
that this is not a "tourist trap" operation. These people care about
the land and their horses and they enjoy sharing them with visitors.
I also liked the fact that they offer a waiver option that allows
you to opt out of wearing a riding helmet.
offer a $129 morning "canyon Rim" ride (8:00 am pickup) and a $189
"Sunset BBQ" ride (pickup times vary throughout the year) which
includes a steak dinner with all the fixin's cooked on a large
outdoor BBQ grill after your ride. If you go to Vegas more than once
you may want to do both rides because they take different trails
with the Sunset ride going to the top of ridge that overlooks Las
Vegas valley and the lights of the Strip. Both tours are offered
Tuesday through Sunday but reservations are required at
702-387-2457. Long pants (no shorts) and closed-toe shoes (no
sandles) are also required.
Because there are a limited number of horses
and "wranglers" (guides) these rides do fill
up. You may want to phone in your
reservation before you leave for Vegas and
let them know if you'll be needing the Strip
If you need to pick up souvenirs for the folks
back home there are numerous small shops all along the Strip that
specialize in selling low-cost Las Vegas-logoed items and clothing.
addition, most resorts have "signature shops" that sell items with
their logo on them. My all-time favorite is the Caesars Exclusively
signature shop at the Forum Shops (location is shown on the Caesars
Palace/Forum Shops diagram available on the Diagrams page). Some
very classy items with a good portion of them, such as chocolates,
coffee mugs, glasses, etc., being under $15. If you really want to
impress the souvenir recipient, get them one of the Caesars "Greek
Key" terry-cloth robes with their fancy trimming and gold crest.
They cost around $90 but are so plush it's difficult to pack them so
you may have to carry it back on the plane with you. The cart
vendors in the mall of the Forum Shops also sell Caesars signature
items, including T-shirts, at reasonable prices.
If you don't get all of your souvenir shopping
done before it's time to leave, fear not.
Most of the major resorts have signature
shops in the center area of Terminal 1 at
the airport but they close at 11 pm.
Most of the major hotel/casinos on the Strip and
downtown have three daily buffets. They used to be a cost to the
casinos as a means of bringing people into their establishments, but
with the corporate takeover of the resorts they've become a profit
point and prices have risen dramatically in recent years. I've tried
a lot of the buffets along the Strip and those that deserve mention,
good or bad, are listed here and in the Not Impressed section below.
You may notice that I only address dinner buffets here. I don't eat
breakfast or lunch so you're on your own when it comes to those
Buffet prices change. The prices shown here are
from a given point in time and are given for the sake of comparison.
In addition, local taxes will raise the price by $1 to $3 more than
what is shown.
Lines can be quite long at some buffets,
especially on weekends, so be prepared for a
wait. The busiest period is from 5 pm to 7
pm. Most dinner buffets start at 4 pm or
4:30 pm and go until at least 9 pm so going
a little earlier or later may reduce your
wait time. In addition, if you've been
playing at one of the resort's casino tables
for an hour or more prior to heading to the
buffet, you can ask the floor man or pit
boss if you qualify for a "buffet line pass"
as a comp. This line pass will allow you to
go directly to the front of the line,
bypassing the wait.
If you can only hit one buffet in Vegas, take the
tram down to Mandalay Bay ($22). In addition to having one of the
nicest dining atmospheres of any buffet I've been to, they have a
good assortment of entrees from seafood to pasta to specialty pizza
including some of the biggest hot crab legs I've ever seen. You'll
find the buffet at the opposite corner of the casino from where you
arrive on the tram.
Instead of taking the tram back after
dinner, walk the "Mandalay Place" shops to
the "Attractions Level" of the Luxor where
you'll find a variety of activities to chose
from including IMAX theaters and a large
The Flamingo's food is just OK but their dining area
overlooks a tropical garden with white fish and, what else,
flamingos. You may want to try a breakfast or lunch buffet here as
the daylight will allow you to see more of the garden ($16).
All the lobster you can eat is the big attraction at
the off-Strip Rio's seafood dinner buffet but it comes at a price of
$35. (See the Shuttles page for shuttle bus information.) They often
have small lobster tails or larger tails cut into pieces. Note that
the Rio has a couple different buffets in different parts of the
hotel. Don't go to the "Carnival World" buffet off the main casino
by mistake. To go to the "Village Seafood Buffet" just follow the
signs to the Masquerade Village. The buffet is located in the back.
Catch a performance of the free "Show In The
Sky" in Masquerade Village before or after
your meal. Show times are 3, 4, 5, 6:30,
7:30, 8:30, and 9:30 pm. You can even be in
the show if you like. Ride on one of the sky
floats for $13.
is the key to the $25 Bellagio buffet ($32 on Fridays and Saturdays
with more gourmet entrees). Exotic foods such as wild boar, buffalo,
squid, clams, sushi, and dishes you won't recognize by name or sight
are common. Be sure to take small portions so you can sample the
extensive variety and leave room for the impressive assortments of
fancy cakes and pies for dessert. (The location of the buffet is
shown on the Bellagio diagram on the Diagrams page.)
The $25 Paris dinner buffet features many french
cuisine dishes. These entrees are nothing to write home about but at
the end of the hot food line are two dessert crepe stations where
they make your crepe while you wait. Be sure to save room for a
berry crepe topped with raspberry sauce and whipped cream.
The classic Las Vegas "cheap buffet" (dinner) is
getting harder to find these days. The center-Strip Imperial Palace
has the "Emperor's Buffet" is $9.50. The north end of the Strip has
Circus Circus ($10) and Sahara ($8 and $10 on Saturdays), and
downtown has Gaughan's Plaza ($9).
This is not a buffet tip but a cheap food
tip. If your funds are getting low, head up
to Slots-A-Fun (next to Circus-Circus) where
they serve a foot-long, 1/2-pound hot dog
for 99 cents 24-hours-a-day every day. Pile
on the fixin's and you've got a meal for
are two types of shows to be aware of. "Continuous-run" (also called
"indefinite") shows feature performers that are under contract with
the resort for long periods of time. These can run from major acts
such as Lance Burton at the Monte Carlo and Cher at Caesars Palace
to small lounge acts. Then there are the "limited-engagement" shows,
like Ricky Martin doing one night at Mandalay Bay or Howie Mandel
doing a week at the MGM Grand. Every resort has at least one
continuous-run show, and many have several of them. Not all have the
venue for large limited-engagement shows though. The places that
routinely offer big-name limited-engagement acts are the Hilton,
Mandalay Bay, Paris, and the MGM Grand.
resorts sell advance tickets for their
continuous-run shows anywhere from three
days to three months before the show date.
Some resorts sell these tickets on their
Website, holding them for you to pick up at
the box office when you arrive in town. (The
Websites page has links to the Websites of
most resorts.) A lot of the shows do sell
out so figure out which show(s) you'd like
to see and buy the tickets ahead of time
instead of waiting for the day of the
performance. However, tickets for
limited-engagement shows will typically be
sold well in advance of the show date(s),
and are available from the resort's box
office, and may be available from places
I'm not much of a "show person" but friends who's
opinions I respect highly say the following continuous-run shows are
worth the $60 to $100 ticket prices:
Mystere (Cirque du Soleil) at Treasure Island
(seats further back are better).
If you want to see a traditional Vegas-style show
check out Jubilee at Bally's.
The Stratosphere (Viva Las Vegas), and Flamingo
(Bottoms Up adult show) have "free" afternoon shows where admission
is the price of an expensive drink (around $4 to $6) with some
requiring a coupon or as part of a lunch buffet package. Any
available coupons can typically be found in What's On magazine
(covered on the Tips page). If you can't find a coupon try checking
with the hotel's concierge.
has an open-air lounge in the shape of a carousel that features live
muscial entertainment from the early afternoon until around
midnight. It's located between Harrah's and the Imperial Palace and,
because it's outdoors, you don't actually need to go into the lounge
to enjoy the music. There are also numerous cart vendors near the
lounge selling a variety of souvenir items.
Most of the continuous-run shows (as well as
some of the attractions) are "dark" for a
week in early to mid-December. However, this
helps to make it one of the cheapest times
of year to visit there. Note also that,
while it is cheaper to stay in Las Vegas
during the middle of the week, many
limited-engagement shows only have
performances on Friday and Saturday nights.
Many of the resorts have lower-priced shows (in the
$20 to $40 range) of all sorts including adult entertainment,
comedy, magic, musical, or combinations of these. For a complete
list and schedule of shows, including ticket prices and comments and
ratings from those who have seen the shows, see the link to Las
Vegas On-Line on the Websites page or pick up a copy of What's On
magazine when you hit town.
I was not at all impressed by the dinner buffets at
the Aladdin, Caesars, Excalibur, Harrah's, Monte Carlo, Mirage, or
Wynn. Particularly annoying was the fact that the Wynn charges more
than the Bellagio, has worse food, and has TV monitors hung on the
walls showing commercials for resort shows.
The Riviera heavily advertises it's show Crazy
Girls. Save your money.