Strip Area Sightseeing
Bellagio Fine Art Gallery
Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
The stately gallery contains one of the most impressive collections of masters and post impressionist artists in the West, including works by Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, Gaughin and Monet. Among the treasures that attract nearly 2,000 visitors a day are Pablo Picasso’s Portrait of Dora Maar, Edgar Degas’ Dancer Taking a Bow and Claude Monet’s Water-Lily Pond With Bridge. Most of the paintings are owned by Mirage Resorts chairman Steve Wynn, who often rotates paintings in and out of the gallery.
Casino Legends Hall of Fame
Tropicana Hotel, 3801 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Mostly a tribute to past entertainers and casino moguls, the Hall of Fame has hundreds of historical photographs and documents, audio and video displays that include early news footage, old-time stage acts and hotel implosions. There’s also a bronze statue of Bob Stupak, a collection of commemorative liquor decanters, and more than 8,000 gambling chips, many of which are from casinos that no longer exist. Although there is an admission charge, you can usually find free-admission coupons in tourist magazines or at various locations inside the Tropicana casino.
Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas
3655 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Although it’s only half the size of the real Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Vegas version nonetheless gives visitors a nice view of the Strip. The observation deck is also a good spot to watch the Bellagio fountain show across the street. Rides to the top are $8 for adults and $6 for seniors and children.
Gondola Rides at The Venetian
3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Purchase your tickets at St. Marks Square then take a gondola ride through canals that interweave monument-like Venetian architecture. The wooden gondolas are authentic and the singing gondoliers are on-key, but the backdrop of tourists gawking at you can dampen any hope of a romantic moment. Cost is $10 per person for a 10- to 12-minute ride, with a discount for kids under 12.
Guinness World of Records Museum
2780 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Life-size replicas, videos and even a computer data bank capture some of history’s most compelling human feats. Visitors are greeted by a 9-foot-tall lifelike statue of Robert Wadlow, the world’s tallest man. A special Las Vegas section details fun facts about the city. You want to know which stars were married here? Looking for some quick history on Las Vegas entertainment? A computer databank will provide the answers on demand. TV monitors show rolling video presentations throughout the museum. A dozen videos, including a five-minute tape of the world’s longest domino fall, play constantly. The self-guided tour takes about a half-hour. It’s all just up the street from Circus-Circus. Admission is $4.95 for adults, $3.95 for seniors, students and military and $2.95 for children ages 5 through 12. Hours are 9 AM to 8 PM daily.
Imperial Palace Auto Collection
3535 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
This place has big-name wheels from Adolph Hitler’s to John F. Kennedy’s. With nearly 200 cars on display (as part of a rotating collection totaling around 750), the IP houses some of the most famous and infamous vehicles from across the globe. Der Fuhrer’s 1936 Mercedes was armored and mine-proofed. JFK’s 1962 Lincoln was the bubbletop version–not the one that took that fateful turn in Dallas a year later. Other mobile classics belonged to Al Capone, Max Baer, W.C. Fields and, of course, such Las Vegas icons as Howard Hughes, Liberace and Elvis Presley.
Admission is $6.95 for adults and $3 for seniors and children ages 5 to 12. Kids younger than 5 and AAA members get in free. Discount coupons are widely distributed in entertainment and tourist magazines. Daily hours are 9:30 AM to 11:30 PM.
Lion Habitat at MGM Grand
3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Not to be outdone by the Mirage’s white tigers, the MGM has a multi-level animal habitat with overhangs, four waterfalls, a pond and Acacia trees. There may be up to five lions lurking among the foliage. Admission is free, but if you want your picture taken with Simba, the cost is $20.
Madame Tussaud’s Celebrity Encounter
The Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Opened in mid-1999, the wax museum is a 3-D version of People magazine, not a very strong recommendation unless you’re a celebrity addict. As such, you can get your fix from more 100 lifelike reproductions of celebrities in various settings. In the Hollywood VIP party, you’ll see perky versions of Whoopi Goldberg, Brad Pitt, Jerry Springer and Oprah Winfrey, to name a few. Other settings feature sports figures (Babe Ruth, Joe Montana, Muhammad Ali), rock stars (Elton John, Tina Turner, James Brown) and Las Vegas legends (Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett).
Magic and Movie Hall of Fame
3555 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
The life and times of big-name illusionists and magicians are on display in this 20,000-square-foot hall located at O’Shea’s Casino. Learn about levitation master Harry Kellar here, and Mephistophelian Dante, who concocted the terms “hocus-pocus” and “abracadabra.” More than 120 exhibits will entertain you, and so will the half-hour magic shows at 2, 3 and 4 PM in the Houdini Theatre. Hours are from 10 AM to 6 PM Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $9.95 for adults and $3 for children 12 and younger.
3785 Las Vegas Blvd. South
This mini-mall next to the MGM Grand has only a handful of tenants, but exploring them could take an entire afternoon. The 100-foot-high Coke bottle out front signals the entrance to the World of Coca Cola, a multilevel museum/logo shop for Coke history and merchandise. For a fee you can tour the Coke museum–basically a promenade of retro shops (a 1930s soda fountain, ’50s appliance store and ’60s garage) equipped with vintage clocks, TVs, gas pumps, coolers and other Coke-branded gadgets. There’s also a theater for viewing Coke commercials (people actually videotape them and sing along to the jingles) and a fountain where you can sample coke soft drinks from around the world. Try the Columbian Coke–soft drink, that is–a sweet concoction not unlike cream soda. The other Mall tenants include a four-level shrine to M&M candy and Ethyl M Chocolates (they’re owned by the same family, Mars), as well as a United Artist Theater, All Star Cafe and GameWorks, the ultimate arcade for kids, which is spotlighted under Adventure Parks in this chapter.
Rio Suite Hotel & Casino,3700 W. Flamingo Rd.
Several hundred authentic artifacts from the Titanic surface in this exhibition, which opened in late 1999 to display many objects for the first time ever. Among them are a ship’s whistle, an unopened bottle of olives, silver flatware, fine china, money, jewelry, personal letters, clothing, suitcases and a pair of shoes. Many of the ship’s rooms have been re-created for the exhibit, and interactive audio displays provide background information on the artifacts.