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Vegas: What to See, What to Avoid

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 boarder-line “more touristy” cases.

Experiences that are cool:

dolphin1. 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

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.  ~$20

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. ~$18  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 area.  ~$$$$$$$!!!!!

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.  ~$100 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. TI Siren Show: They turned a free family friendly pirate show outside of TI into a Siren Show. And the Sirens are pretty hot. Just saying. $FREEbutgetagoodspot

8. Shoppng 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!


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.  ~$85  http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/mystere/default.aspx (But it was easy to get comps to this show because it is older)


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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  1. I also recommend going up the Eiffel Tower at night when the Bellagio Fountains are going!

  2. 1. Botanical garden at Bellagio
    2. Mandarin Oriental’s bar at night because you can get a really good view of the Strip
    3. Use myVegas points for comp Cirque shows, especially “O”.

  3. Hello!!! The outlet shopping is the best about Las Vegas. I go once a year in November to purchase all of my Christmas gifts.

  4. I agree with watching the Bellagio fountains. So beautiful!

    Also, my favorite thing to do in Vegas by FAR is the Cirque du Soleil Love show. If you like The Beatles, definitely go.

    Next time I will check out the Siegfried and Roy Secret Garden. Thanks for the rec!

  5. Oh I love Vegas!! The Bellagio fountains are stunning, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Cirque show. The last time I went I managed to score a cheap apartment too!! The host was really nice–I booked the apartment through roomorama–he left me a list of places to see, eat and drink that on the table when I arrived. Will most definitely visit again!

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