Excalibur Hotel and Casino

Built to resemble an old English castle, the Excalibur’s entrance features turrets, spires and a 265-foot-high bell tower that stands guard over the moat. To keep pace with the exploding volcano and pirate battle up the street, Merlin the Magician battles a dragon every night in a free laser light show beneath the castle’s drawbridge. Inside, the medieval theme is further reflected in the cobblestone foyer and rock-walled atrium with a three-story-high fountain. The massive registration desk is flanked by suits of armor and decorated in red-on-red carpeting and wall coverings. Like its cousin Circus Circus, the Excalibur caters mostly to families and is usually packed.

The 100,000-square-foot casino is one of the city’s largest, and the action is usually fast and frenzied. In fact, during busy weekends the red-on-red monstrosity can sound like a tin-can factory in an earthquake. At least the race and sports book is separated from the 2,600 slot machines, so sports bettors can watch their football games in relative peace.

On the mezzanine level above the casino, there’s a medieval shopping village where jugglers, musicians, magicians and assorted minstrels provide a roving Renaissance Faire. On the level below the casino you’ll find a dungeon “fun zone” for kids, complete with video arcade, games, and a Magic Motion Simulator that takes you on the high-tech thrill ride of your life.

With six restaurants, finding sustenance should be easy. Sir Galahad’s serves a delicious Yorkshire pudding along with the house specialty of prime rib, while Wild Bill’s offers steaks, ribs and chicken specialties. There’s also an Italian restaurant, continental restaurant, 24-hour coffee shop and Round Table buffet.

The 4,032 guest rooms are done in bold reds, blues and greens and feature dark wood furniture and wrought-iron fixtures. Other hotel amenities include a wedding chapel, beauty salon and two pools.