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Attractions to See and Skip in Las Vegas

The sheer amount of things to do in Vegas can be overwhelming.  Some things can be really cheesy or really awesome (and sometimes, in the case of Elvis Karaoke, both).  This is a list of experiences that when I heard about them, straddled that line of cheesy/awesome.  Here’s my verdict on them.

To be clear, these aren’t my top experiences to engage in necessarily, but when trying to decide what to do, this is my verdict on these border-line “more touristy” cases.

Experiences that are cool:

1. Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat: It sounds cheesy and I only went because a friend wanted to, but it was really, really fun: http://www.mirage.com/attractions/secret-garden.aspx

dolphin

Just watch out because Lions and Tigers mark their prey by peeing on them, and they have good aim, distance, and their shots are spray-scattered shots. If you see them start to turn, back up FAR.  ~$22

2. The Mandalay Bay Shark Reef: I found the Shark Reef really fun, though if you’ve ever been to the Atlanta aquarium, you may not be as interested.  But there’s a tunnel at the end that’s really cool to go through.  It’s seriously like being wrapped in the ocean. ~$20 http://www.sharkreef.com/

3. The New York-New York Roller Coaster: It was more fun than I expected it to be, and it’s cool zooming through a Casino.  ~$14  You can also get married on the roller coaster if you feel so inclined.  http://www.newyorknewyork.com/attractions/the-roller-coaster.aspx

4. Driving Exotic Cars: This is redonkulously expensive, and I’ve never done it, but my friend has: http://www.worldclassdriving.com/drive-exotics-las-vegas Getting to drive exotic cars around the track.  ~$$$$$$$!!!!!

5. Lake Mead Hoover Damn Tour:  I did a Lake Mead Hoover Dam boat cruise that was awesome, but it was also my 5th time to Vegas, so it’s something worth doing some day, but probably not your first visit.  ~$109 http://www.lasvegasgrandcanyontour.com/COMBO-lake-meade-cruise-hoover-dam.php

volcano1-lg6. Volcano at the Mirage: Check out the Volcano at the Mirage, it is so pretty, and the grounds around it, and the Wynn. Both are pretty properties in general. I love getting a drink in the Mirage too because it has real nice ambiance in there and it smells pretty damn good.  $FREE plus cost of libations  http://www.mirage.com/attractions/volcano.aspx

7. Shopping at the Venetian and Caesars: Just stroll around the Venetian shopping center — a river in a mall and the Caesar shopping center — Spiral Staircase Escalators!  Seriously, spiral staircase escalators.  So cool!

Maybe

A lot of people like the original Circ du Solei, Mystere. I’ve gone three times with people wanting to go, and each time, it felt like a strange trip, but everyone I was with LOVED it. So maybe I’m uncultured or I don’t appreciate strange trips, but letting you know other people really liked it. I thought it was bizarre.  ~$69  http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/mystere/default.aspx (But it was easy to get comps to this show because it is older)

Skip

The Art Museums: There will be one or two cool items, but mostly filler, and you’ll do better to take time to walk around one in another city like New York, Chicago, DC, Philly, etc. rather than use up some Vegas time on it.  IF you do not travel much and this is your one trip in four years and do not live near an art museum, then I’d say differently.

Temporary Exhibits: When I’ve been in Vegas for work, I’ve gone to things like the Titanic Exhibit, but everyone’s really too drunk in those things to enjoy, and then you are out $20. So I suggest skipping.  Especially if YOU would be the drunk person wandering around in the exhibit.

What surprised you in Vegas by being better than you thought it would be, or conversely, what sorely disappointed you?

Disclaimer: If you go to Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat and get peed on by a lion, don’t say I didn’t warn you!  Seriously, I’ve seen it happen.

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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11 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing. What about the new VR Attraction next to the Linq? Or the indoor sky diving? Or the ones on top of Stratosphere? Have you done any of these?

    • I haven’t done those! I also don’t consider those quite as touristy as the things I laid out. I did enjoy my time in the high roller in the Linq, but that’s also not a typical touristy attraction (Edit to say, that’s a tourist attracting in Vegas, but one of those over-the-top-typically-vegas ones)

  2. I will be going to Vegas for my first time next week. My first real solo trip. I’m looking forward to seeing the Shark Reef at the Mandalay Bay. I’m going to see Cirque du Soleil, KA as well. I seriously cannot wait.

  3. One of my favorite attractions in Vegas has to be the Neon Museum! It’s a collection of signs from some of Vegas’ most famous hotels, restaurants and landmarks from the 1930s – today… Just a short taxi ride from the strip and well worth it!

  4. The Neon Museum is great!

  5. Vegas was designed to extract as much money out of you as possible. Get a hotel with nice rooms and pool; you’ll want to spend a lot of time in each to avoid bleeding cash. The best bang for the buck is to walk the strip with a can of beer purchased from a drug store.

    Vegas is for living large, but you can’t do it 24/7. This penny-pinching minimizes the guilt when getting bottle service at a club or eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      Oh yes, that’s a good tip!

      I like to purchase liquor at Walgreens and have people over in my suite. It isn’t any more expensive than at home (and water is really cheap there too)

  6. Fremont Street is really fun as well, plus free shows on the canopy and some crazy street performers. The Golden Nugget (on Fremont Street) actually has a pool with a shark tank that you can the slide through.

  7. For shows, my wife and I both love Cirque du Soleil’s “O” and Absinthe, although Absinthe, while gut wrenchingly funny, is extremely politically incorrect and not for the easily offended.

    One day, my wife talked me into visiting the location just outside of town where the original springs were located that initially drew people to the area. The springs themselves have dried up, but there’s an old time Las Vegas museum, wildlife preserve, sustainable dessert living models, mini zoo of sorts and a lot more. We spent almost a full day there, and it was surprisingly interesting.

    The Mob Museum is a fun way to kill a couple of hours if you’re in the downtown area, if you’re into the mob, history, or both.

    For our next visit, we’re thinking about the neon museum, since it has a lot of the iconic neon signs from decades ago.

  8. I’ve been to Vegas pretty often. My favorite must-sees are: Penn & Teller, Absinthe (every seat is fantastic, so close to the acrobatics), Zombie Burlesque (with included jello shots), Cirque du Soleil KA and O for the expensive shows, Mystere for the cheap shows, Evil Dead The Musical, Pinball Hall of Fame (off strip, but worth the taxi fare: so many games in this museum), and Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat (love that you can get so close to the dolphins). My least favorite: Le Reve (more expensive and not as good as any of the Cirques), High Roller (expensive, and awkward if you are going alone, and once you get up to the top it gets kind of boring – might be better if you’re in a group), Madame Toussands, Zarkana (now closed), Goreatorium (now closed), and walking through every smoky casino hall (I don’t miss that).

  9. I’m a big fan of Cirque having traveled the globe to see shows.

    I was in the show Mystere…it was awesome experience

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