Sally’s Las Vegas Hit List – Just For the Fun of It

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As I gear up for another funtastic weekend in Las Vegas, this time to see Celine Dion in concert at the spectacular Caesars Palace, I decided to compile a list of cool, Las Vegas-y attractions and happenings. Once I completed and fact-checked the information, I decided this might just be too good NOT to share. I did not include restaurants, entertainment shows or clubs, as I feel that they should have their own list(s). These are just fun, mostly budget-friendly activities that everyone should try at least once while visiting Sin City. Please note that the information below could change at any time, so please contact them directly to confirm details.

NOW, without any further ado… (in no particular order)

Pinball Hall of Fame:  This “living” museum is packed with a crazy cool collection of vintage pinball and video games that are only $.25 each to play with all proceeds going to local charities! Open 11am to 11pm daily.

Circus Circus Hotel Circus:  Be amazed by a wild assortment of world-class circus acts inside the casino throughout the day. 11am until midnight daily. Free!

High Roller (Ferris wheel):  Bird’s eye view of the Strip and surrounding area from observation pods 550 feet up in the air. 30 minutes to complete a full rotation. Adult beverages are sold and allowed on the ride. Free under 12 years old. $26.95 per adult during the day and $36.95 per adult at night. Open until 2am.

Hershey’s Chocolate World:  Free tours, samples to taste and fun activities for kids! Be sure to check out the 800 lb milk chocolate sculpture of the Statue of Liberty as well as customizing your own chocolate bars! Open 9am daily to 11pm/midnight on weekends.

Downtown Container Park:  Funky, cool and environmentally friendly open-air shopping mall. Boutiques, dining, playground and live entertainment stage all made out of repurposed shipping containers and locally manufactured Xtreme Cubes! DO NOT MISS THE 50 FOOT TALL, FIRE SHOOTING PRAYING MANTIS OUT FRONT. Open 11am daily to 11pm/1am on weekends.

Viva Vision Light Show:  Free nightly light shows on the hour starting at dark. Experience the intensity of the 550,000-watt, concert-quality sound system and the 1500′ x 90′ Viva Vision canopy screen that’s made up of 12.5 million energy-efficient LED lamps. Triptacular! For the adventurous crowd, set yourself up with a Slotzilla zipline ride high above the Fremont Street crowd.

Fremont Street:  Be sure to spend some time downtown and take in the energy that is Fremont Street. Live music, street performers and dance bands that perform nightly, not to mention eating, drinking and gambling in the city’s fabulously old school casinos that line the street. Neon alert! Get your cameras ready!

Bellagio Fountains:  Treat yourself to the breathtaking choreography of the dancing waters and light show at the Bellagio Lake. Free shows Monday through Friday every ½ hour 3pm to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday noon to 8pm.

Bellagio Botanic Garden:  Walk inside this magnificent casino and feast your eyes on the Chihuly created glass flower ceiling as well as the whimsical, seasonally themed fresh flower botanic garden just past the lobby. Sensational! Grab a tasty coffee drink and pastry at Jean Philippe Chocolates and Pastries while you’re at it. Lobby open 24 hours.

Neon Boneyard:  Retrolicious collection of Las Vegas’ finest neon signs from glory days past, dating back to the 1930s.Tours only. Visitor center with a gift shop and interactive learning center is neatly housed inside of the old La Concha Hotel lobby building. Too cool! $18 per tour or $30 Mob Museum combo tickets also sold.

Shark Tank Tours at Golden Nugget:  Take an educational tour of this spectacular 200,000 gallon shark tank ($30, Wednesdays only) or take a swim in the pool next to the shark tank for $25 or even just take a free walk by after 8pm daily.

Mirage Volcano:  Catch the new and improved Mirage iconic volcano explosions set to the music of The Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart and Indian tabla master Zakir Hussain. Sunday through Thursday 8 and 9pm. Friday and Saturday 8,9 and 10pm.

Mandalay Bay:  Shark Reef – A mind blowing 1.3 million gallon (main) tank in this ginormous aquarium. Complete with sharks and a shark tunnel, rays, countless fish, and many other marine life as well. Be sure to say hello to all the other creatures featured here such as snakes, dragons and crocodiles. You can even pay to dive WITH the sharks. $20. Open daily 9:30am to 7 pm/9pm on weekends.

Luxor:  Ongoing educational exhibits the Titanic Artifacts and Bodies both $32. Opens at 10am daily with last entrance at 9pm.

Mob Museum:  Aka National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. This incredibly well thought-out and interactive museum dedicatd to the history of organized crime in the US, famous gangsters & Las Vegas-specific history. Housed in the former Las Vegas Courthouse and Post Office. NOT TO BE MISSED. Allow at least 2-4 hours. Day passes are good for same day re-entry. Snacks and drinks are sold on site. Fantastic gift shop. Due to mature/violent content, please leave children under 12 at home. Open 10am to 7pm. $19.95.

Caesars Palace:  Fall of Atlantis – Before dropping from shopping, take a much needed break while at the Forum Shops and watch this mesmerizing spectacle of fire, water and 9 foot animatronic statues who recount the myth of Atlantis. Free shows daily 11am to 11pm, on the hour every hour.

Grand Canal Shoppes Venetian:  Experience Streetmosphere! Among the hustle and bustle of the shoppes you will watch street entertainers, Italian folk musicians, jugglers on stilts, livings statues and live opera – all free performances in St. Mark’s Square 10am to 10pm daily. Be sure to visit the magnificent Palazzo Waterfall Atrium and Gardens while you’re there as well. Open 24 hours.

Bally’s:  Swarovski Starburst – Every night is New Year’s Eve at Bally’s! Nightly at 9pm and midnight this sparkling crystal-bedazzled starburst drops 55 feet from above the Grand Bazaar Shops in a magical light display. Just like a fairytale. 

Flamingo:  Wildlife Habitat – Displayed on 15 acres of lush gardens and waterfalls, the delicate Chilean flamingos, parrots, ducks, swans turtles, koi and two rescued brown pelicans are cared for lovingly and here for your viewing pleasure. Two live feedings every day. Free and open daily 8am to 8pm.

Mirage:  The world famous Siegfried and Roy Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. Weekdays 11am to 5pm and weekends 10am to 5pm. Come face-to-face with some of nature’s most exotic and majestic creatures. You can paint or practice yoga with the bottlenose dolphins, be a trainer for a day, or just visit and admire the white tigers, white lions and leopards in a lush and serene environment. Be sure to see the two new babies! $22 for adults.

Wayne Newton’s Casa de Shenandoah:  See how the other 1% live in this hidden world of opulence that is Wayne Newton’s home. You never know when he might pop out and say HI! Just recently opened to the public in September 2015. Gold ($35), Platinum ($49) and Diamond ($95) tours ranging from 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours in length. Located 4 miles off the Strip.

Westgate:  Graceland Presents Elvis! – Elvis never really did leave the building apparently. This exhibit is housed in the Westgate, formerly known as the International, where Elvis had his long standing residency. The man, the legend, the King. The first, permanent Elvis exhibition featuring hundreds of artifacts from life in Tupelo to Hollywood to Las Vegas, that have never before been displayed outside of Graceland. Daily 10am to 9pm. Located in the Northtower and tickets are $26.

Welcome to Las Vegas Sign:  Who wouldn’t want to have their photo taken next to this iconic 1959 neon sign? Just south of Mandalay Bay on the Las Vegas Strip and a 12-car parking lot for your ease and convenience.

Well boys and girls, cats and kittens, there you have it. Las Vegas. One of the most exciting cities in the world. Always buzzing, evolving, expanding, creating and certainly never dull. Something for everyone. I hope this list sheds a little light on all the wonders and fun to be had in Sin City. 

Now get out and enjoy yourselves! 

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Pinball Hall of Fame Las Vegas: A Real Life Pinball Nirvana

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Ahhh pinball. The lights, the sounds, the music all set to countless movie, entertainment, sports and cartoon themes. Slipping your coin in the slot, pulling back the plunger, watching the ball cruise up the alleyway through the tunnels and up the ramps, hitting the bells, bouncing off the bumpers, falling into hidden bonus holes leading to extra bonus worlds, using your flippers to save those near misses, the frustration of TILT, the dreaded “drain” and the victory of winning a Replay! This game has got it all! Play solo or compete against others, but either way, you’re going to have a screaming good time. It’s no wonder I love all the sensory stimulation of Las Vegas casinos. I grew up with a Dad who was THE Original Pinball Wizard and can remember playing pinball and skeeball (ohhh skeeball) in arcades as young as probably 5 years of age!

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Earliest versions of this beloved arcade game date back to the mid-1600’s, with electrification and bumpers added in 1933 and flippers coming on to the scene in 1947, as the first official pinball game as we know it, Humpty Dumpty made its debut. This game has a long, lovely history around the world with manufacturers such as Gottlieb, Midway, Sega and Bally. Why oh why did the days of pinball ever fade? So, on a scorching day on a recent trip to Vegas, it came to me as a huge and welcomed surprise to learn that there is a Pinball Hall of Fame right off The Strip in Las Vegas! Yes! There really is! And what better way to spend a sweltering afternoon in Sin City?

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I was lucky enough to run into and chat for a few minutes with volunteer Manager and pinball aficionado, Mike. What an overflowing fountain of information he was! Some tidbits I picked up: Owner Tim and his brother bought Pinball Pete’s arcades in Michigan in 1971 and made a killing as the arcade fad skyrocketed. Sadly, when pinball began falling by the wayside due to the new up and coming era of video games, Pete took all of his pinball machines with him when he sold the arcades for a pretty penny and moved to Las Vegas. He actually has an entire OTHER warehouse FULL of games that simply won’t fit in the current building, which they’ve been in for 5 years now. Tim just wants people to enjoy his collection (he owns over 90% of all the games here), so he only charges $.25 per game. A QUARTER?? I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot! The best part is walking around, admiring all the different games and finding all the really old ones, dating back to 1948, and reading their “bios” on the handwritten cards attached to the machine. Like a treasure hunt through the past. Mike grew up on the Jersey Shore, absolutely loved pinball and finally bought his first machine in 1954. He is still so proud of that machine. I love pinball! Love this place!

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Bring a roll or two of quarters and you can have fun for hours! Convenient location near The Strip, no charge for parking in their large lot, and long operating hours. With an average of 20,000 visitors per month and ALL PROCEEDS going to charities including the Salvation Army and a local animal shelter…yes, a Not For Profit pinball arcade. What could be more fun…and affordable?? I HIGHLY recommend this place to kids of all ages. PS..not only do they have pinball machines more or less organized by decade, but over on the far wall they even have Asteroids, Space Invaders Galaga, Ms. Pac Man, Qbert and…. CENTIPEDE!!! My all time favorite when I was a kid. It brought me right back to the days when I would go with my Dad to the Safeway grocery store and while he shopped I would hone my hand-eye coordination skills, often times getting my name on the Top Players list. And guess what? This girl’s STILL GOT IT. I managed to get the #2 slot!! I was one squealing happy girl, even thought I left with two extremely arthritic forearms! Carpel Tunnel Syndrome be damned! This was a fantastic day!

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I left my heart in Sin City

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Las Vegas…Sin City…City of Lights…Divorce Capital of the World…The City of Second Chances….Luck be a lady tonight…however you want to refer to it, this city shines like no other!

Hello…. My name is Sally….and I LOVE LAS VEGAS! Not sure where the cool factor is at on admitting this, but I’m confident enough in who I am to stand up for how I feel. It’s been a long, slow-brew relationship, but I would say it has definitely reached the stage of love. There is something incredibly sexy about the lights, the sounds, the sheer insanity, the excessive over-the-top energy pulsing through the streets, it’s oh so electrifying and contagious! Las Vegas has changed so much in the years since I first started visiting, which can be viewed as a good thing or a bad thing, but I always find myself enraptured by each new attraction as well as feeling that childlike excitement when I come across something from the old days of Sin City. All the gambling, dancing, dining, drinking, swimming, socializing, shopping, strolling, pampering, exploring, entertainment of every kind and then some, and if nothing else, good old-fashioned people watching! And thank the Lord Baby Jesus, since its beginnings in 1905, Vegas still maintains its status as the ultimate adults-only playground, which makes it even all the more desirable! And the icing on the cake…time and age are of no consequence here. Now that’s my kinda town!

Take your pick from the fabulously monstrous casino/hotels that line this 4.2 mile stretch of road famoulsly referred to as The Strip: MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay at one end, ALLLLLL the way down to The Wynn and Stratosphere at the opposite end. And as you continue your walk on the wild side, you will find yourself on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas, which is a whole other universe in and of itself. The parade of neon signs, classic old timers such as Binion’s, the El Cortez and Golden Nugget, not to mention the nightly Fremont Street Experience light and music show. Have you ever walked THE ENTIRE STRIP? Do it sometime. The optical illusion met by the thought “it’s only a couple blocks away. I can see it from here.”

People come here from all over the world, escaping to this city to indulge in…whatever floats their boat. If you can imagine it, it can happen in Vegas. I have seen countless shows and concerts, comedians, magicians, Cirque du Soleils, all of them utterly fantastic. Watching a concert from inside the wave pool at the Mandalay Bay Beach Resort and then heading inside to the casino to play some roulette. Dancing the night away to the DJ with strangers in close quarters at Rouge Lounge inside the MGM after a concert at the Garden Arena. Renting a cabana at the pool of the Paris Hotel and Casino with a group of friends and spending the day lounging, laughing, eating and drinking poolside while ogling behind dark sunglasses. Watching the majestic dancing waters of the Bellagio Fountain. Sky rocketing up to the stars on a roller coaster or waving hello to them from a pod in the High Roller. Visiting an aquarium or shark reef. Strolling through downtown and stepping back in time as you wander through the surviving casinos of yesteryear, playing the slot machines at El Cortez where you can actually still pull the handle, perusing through vintage historical photos in the poker room of Binions, checking out the always outrageous street performers on Fremont Street. Stopping in the Golden Nugget for some pampering complete with catered snacks and bevvies. Spending the day exploring the depths and wonders of The Mob Museum, snapping millions of photographs at the Neon Boneyard or enjoying game after game at the Pinball Hall of Fame. Take a trip through the unassuming doors of downtown’s Golden Steer restaurant which has been serving savory delights with class to the likes of the Rat Pack, Elvis, Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe since 1958 and treat yourself to a  genuinely exquisite old school meal with 5-Star service. There is something for everyone here; never a shortage of deliciously wild, indulgent and/or devilish activities to choose from, it’s just a matter of what you’re looking for. It warms my heart to see this city bustling once again after the Great Recession. Busy streets, busy casinos, sold out shows, that’s the way Vegas should be!! The ever changing, morphing creativity and ingenuity of this city truly boggles my mind. It must be respected, if not loved. My Grandpa, the King of the Imperial Palace, must be one happy camper watching all the action from up above sitting back in his lounge chair in the sky. Viva Las Vegas and may the ghosts of the past always be there to retain the character and foundation this city was built upon.

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Rouge Lounge in the MGM is one of THE BEST places to boogie down to a DJ in town.

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The Mob Museum…my latest Las Vegas crush. This fascinating experiential museum will blow you away! A must-see on every visit to Vegas! Learning about the underworld can be great fun!

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Who could visit Vegas without thinking about the infamous Rat Pack? They ruled this town back in the day. The Kings of Cool.

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MGM Garden Arena is an excellent venue for large scale concerts. Not a bad seat in the house!

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The Golden Steer…what a GOLD MINE of Las Vegas history. Everyone who was anyone ate here at one time or another. This is Elvis’ favortie booth that he would sit at while having dinner between shows down The Strip at the International. I honestly don’t know which is better..the food or the ambiance!?

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The Pinball Hall of Fame is one of THE COOLEST places to spend an afternoon in Vegas. It’s a museum of the world’s largest pinball collection where you not only view games as old as 1948, but you get to play them as well! All revenues go to non-denominaitonal charities. How cool is that? This is Mike, he volunteers his time here all for the love of the game and he is standing in front of the first pinball machine he ever purchased, back in Atlantic City. What a great guy! What a fantastically fun place!

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Downtown Las Vegas…jam packed with vintage neon, casinos, and more!

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Ultimate inconic Las Vegas neon!

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Neon heaven in Downtown Las Vegas!

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My one and only real weakness in the casinos…the one armed bandit! GOD HOW I LOVE THESE THINGS! I sure do miss the days of being able to pull the arm AND watch your coins fall out of the bottom! LOVE IT!

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Las Vegas history is unbelievably interesting. The good, the bad and the ugly. So cool!

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A neon photo fanatic’s dream!

 

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Can you just feel the energy?

 

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Golden Nugget…a real classic!

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Neon on Fremont Street

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Benny Binion…need I say more?

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The Fremont Street Experience light and music show. One of the trippiest, coolest uses of today’s cutting edge technology. The Doors’ show was outta sight!

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One of the many interesting street performers along Fremont Street. He was dressed as a member of the band KISS. Love the boots…

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Las Vegas early days…what a town!

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The Strip…creativity and engineering at its finest.

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A vintage slot machine displayed at The Mob Museum

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You just never know who you might run into while you’re in Las Vegas!

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Mandalay Bay Beach summer concerts are THE COOLEST way to see a show. EVER. You can sip on a beer or cocktail while frolicking in the resort’s wave pool or on the sandy beach. Doesn’t get much cooler than that, does it?

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The Golden Steer Restaurant, a Las Vegas fixture since 1958. Do yourself a favor and check it out. You will not be disappointed!

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Pampering your pup and your dogs at the same time…only in Vegas!

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Art and magic… everywhere you look…

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Insider Tip: check out the bands that play in the lobby bars..they are THE BEST! This one was at Mandalay Bay. They had a packed dance floor all night long. Awesome fun!

 

Time to start planning my next visit. Las Vegas...who loves ya baby?

Time to start planning my next visit. Las Vegas…who loves ya baby?