Getting Around Las Vegas
For our first few days in Las Vegas, we walked everywhere despite the summer heat (it reached a high of 111 degrees while we were there)…from Terribles Hotel Casino, up and down the Strip, and to the Liberace Museum. Don’t forget distances between blocks in Las Vegas are huge and what just looks to be around the corner can be a half hour walk. It’s a dry heat so you don’t notice it as much but we were prepared with large bottles of water in our knap sack that we kept handy at ALL TIMES.
When our feet started getting sore…we tried taking public transit and found out it’s very easy. The Deuce is an air-conditioned double decker bus service that travels up and down the Las Vegas Strip. The fare is $5 and it’s valid all day and night for a 24 hour period plus you can use your transfer on the regular transit system as well. That’s what makes the transit system so attractive. These Alexander Dennis double decker buses were made in Great Britain; there is always lots of sitting / standing room and the super efficient air conditioning system is a welcome cooldown. We used it to get to the shopping outlets which we’ll talk about it below and to dine at a Red Lobster restaurant.
Shopping in Vegas
No trip to Las Vegas would be complete without going shopping. You are spoilt for choice. Several hotel casinos have their own shopping mall. Underneath the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino lies the Miracle Mile Shops. One mile of shops selling everything from leatherware to electronic gadgets. The Forum Shops is part of Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino. The interior resembles ancient rome with its streets, columns, and arches. What stood at most to me were the talking statues that are part of the Atlantis laser show and the ceiling which resembles a sky that slowly changes from day to night and back again. The Grand Canal Shops are part of the Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino. The concept of having gondolas and a winding series of canal’s through the mall and outside the hotel is an incredible engineering feat. You could almost be in St Mark’s Square.
If you’re looking for a mall with all the major department stores, check out the Fashion Show Mall. It contains a variety of unique clothing, cosmetic, accessories, and gadget stores.
If you want to visit the shopping outlets, there are a couple of choices: the Las Vegas Outlet Centre (indoor) and the Las Vegas Premium Outlets (outdoor). We encountered the best deals at the former, the stores are slightly lower end but definitely worth a visit. The latter has higher end stores but we weren’t particularly impressed with the sale items.
Even those of you who found the musician, Liberace, too much to bear, you would be fascinated by his legacy he left behind in his museum. From the outside, the building looks abit non-descript but you’ll be surprised. It consists of 2 parts. The first shows Liberace’s family exodus from Europe to America with archival photographic material and a partial collection of his outrageous vehicles. Several of his pianos that were made famous from his TV appearances are also there.
A short walk away will take you to the second building which displays a sample of the outrageous costumes he wore for his performances. Outwardly Liberace might have seemed a bit sissy but don’t let that fool you. He was a strong fit man, he worked out regularly in order to fit into his costumes…some of which weighed over 200 pounds. The famous outlandish rings that he wore are also on display here. They update the items displayed regularly from their warehouse so there won’t always be the same things. We recommend taking a tour with the docent to get the full history of this colourful performer. His museum is not to be missed.
Most of the hotels along the Strip have sales people promoting timeshares. They will attempt to pre-qualify you by asking some questions and then offer you incentives to attend a short seminar in exchange for things like vouchers for free meals, tickets to shows, etc. Be forewarned that these seminars start out very low key but the pressure to buy into the timeshare escalates. It invariably takes up more time than they originally tell you during the pre-qualification, especially if the presentations are off-site. You have to decide for yourself if it’s worth your while to go through with it.
Here is a continuation of my impression of the other major Las Vegas hotels:
HOOTERS CASINO HOTEL: This casino hotel has country music theme and it’s located behind the Tropicana Hotel. It’s location makes it central to the MGM Grand, Excalibur, and New York New York. The casino area has wooden floors and is abit smaller compared to the other Las Vegas Strip hotels.
BALLY’S HOTEL & CASINO: Bally’s is an older hotel. I didn’t find anything architecturally unique about it. It has a very good central location on the strip amongst all the other hotels, bars, and restaurants. You reach the reception area from the Strip through a covered semi-circular walkway which is illuminated at night with neon lights.
CAESARS PALACE HOTEL & CASINO: This is a beautiful opulent hotel which connects to the Forum Shops. The hotel features roman style statues and fountains in beautifully landscaped gardens. Look out for Bette Midler, Cher, and Elton John, these performers alternate their performances throughout the year.
VENETIAN RESORT HOTEL & CASINO: This is one of the best hotels in my opinion. The Grand Canal Shoppes and Madame Tussauds are part of the hotel. If you don’t like the smell of cigarette / cigar smoke, the Venetian make the best effort to mask the smell. I have been to the “real Venice” and I tell you it’s very close to the real thing.
PALAZZO RESORT HOTEL & CASINO: The Palazzo is an extension of the Venetian Hotel and is located between the Wynn and the Venetian. It is just as luxurious as the just mentioned hotels. The theme is of course sicilian and they have used marble extensively throughout. If you’ve never been to Barneys New York, you have your chance now since they have a store on site.
WYNN LAS VEGAS HOTEL: This hotel is very distinct from the outside with its sleek semi circular structure clad in dark red glass. There is a lush garden dome in the middle of the hotel with a few high end shops around the perimeter. If you’re in the mood to shop, the Fashion Show Mall is across the street.
RIVIERA HOTEL & CASINO: This is an older hotel and doesn’t appear to be undergoing any renovations. When we walked into to explore the facility there weren’t many people around or in the hotel casino. Have people given up on this place??? There is a Walgreens nearby and a few souvenir shops as well.
CIRCUS CIRCUS HOTEL: This hotel was better than I expected in terms of cleanliness and popularity. If you’re a doughnut fan, the hotel offers a Krispy Kreme Doughnut store. The hotel’s steak house advertises a $14 steak dinner. Down the street is Bonanza’s Gifts, the largest souvenir shop in Las Vegas. At the nearby Slots-A-Fun, they offer a .99 cent Shrimp Cocktail.
PARIS HOTEL & CASINO: This french themed hotel feature it’s own Eiffel Tower. The casino is built under the base of the Tower with cobble stone streets around it with a variety of shops and restaurants. They have an open stage area beside the casino for live performances. The ceiling is painted blue to resemble a faux sky giving the impression of being outside. The restaurant, Mon Ami Gabi, is cute bistro with patio seating along the Strip. The bistro’s exterior balustrade features cool jets of water mist providing a cooling effect to pedestrians walking by.
FLAMINGO HOTEL & CASINO: Great location one of the oldest hotels on the strip but very well maintained. There is a funky restaurant called Margaritaville for which the food is good value but the Margaritas are a little pricy.
STRATOSPHERE HOTEL & CASINO: This popular hotel at the north end of the strip is located between the downtown’s Freemont Street and the more popular hotel casinos at the other end of the Strip. At the top of the tower there is an observation deck and a restaurant with incredible views of the city. It offers a small mall with lower end shops.
HARRAH’S HOTEL & CASINO: A huge jester statue welcomes you above the main entrance to this hotel casino. It has a central location along the Strip adjacent to the Imperial Palace, across from Caesars Palace.
MGM GRAND: This decadent hotel has a striking emerald green exterior which dates back to its Wizard of Oz theme back in the early 1990’s. It features a large MGM Lion outside as well as a smaller one inside by the cavernous reception area. A popular attraction at the hotel is the Lions Habitat. A glass tunnel runs through the habitat allowing visitors a close up view of the lions.
SAHARA HOTEL & CASINO: This hotel has seen recent renovations inside and out. It offers a large pool area with nice landscaping. From the outside you can see part of their roller coaster ride which runs throughout the day. The food court area has a Nascar theme.
IMPERIAL PALACE HOTEL & CASINO: It’s one of the older hotels along the Strip. It’s located across from Caesars Palace adjacent to the Flamingo. The hotel offers a variety of asian restaurants.