I recently returned from a weekend getaway to Las Vegas, Nevada. Only a six-hour drive from Salt Lake City, Las Vegas is a popular vacation spot out here. I remember taking annual summer trips to the fabulous city growing up, and enjoy escaping to Las Vegas every now and again with my friends now that I’m older.
That’s the great thing about Las Vegas. While its reputation makes the city seem adult-friendly only, the town is really built for fun-lovers of all ages. The Strip has been designed to entertain the young and the young at heart. Here are five of my favorite attractions from being a wide-eyed tyke in Caesar’s Palace to a 20-something thrill-seeker.
5. Race for Atlantis – Caesar’s Palace
I’ll lead with the bad news: this ride doesn’t exist any more. It was taken out recently due to some remodeling, however, I remember this virtual trip through the sea as a kid and it was amazing. Now, although the ride is gone, the pre-show and aquarium are still there. Caesar’s features a small, round aquarium that contains many fascinating sea creatures from stingrays and blue tangs. It’s not quite the same, but still gives children and adults alike an entertaining view. And above the aquarium you can still catch the pre-show, where King Atlas asks his son and daughter to duke it out for who will be the next ruler of Atlantis. These animatronics figures use fire and water to engage the crowd and it ends in a shocking display of fierce family competition. Although this won’t entertain you all day, it’s a great show to catch in-between shopping and dining at Caesar’s Palace.
4. The Big Apple Coaster – New York, New York
There are many rides to choose from when in Las Vegas. The Big Apple Coaster was one I had wanted to try for a long time and I was finally able to during my most recent visit. The coaster is visibly older and not nearly as fast as I thought it would be, but it has loops and corkscrews that keep it interesting. It’s a short ride and contains no unseen turns, so hesitant children needn’t be too afraid. Every passenger gets their picture taken before and during, which make for great souvenirs. Also, the entrance is located at the back of an arcade, so those who prefer not to ride can be entertained and it gives everyone a fun place to be after the ride. Maybe you’ll even get lucky and will a few prizes!
3. The Lion’s Share Slot Machine – MGM Grand
I’m a sucker for mythology and this slot machine has a lot of it. Two decades ago when the MGM Grand first opened, the Lion’s Share machine sat amongst hundreds of others waiting to be played. While the other slot machines have cashed out their lottery and been removed for newer models, the Lion’s Share stays because no one has ever scored the big bucks. Today, with a $2.345 million jackpot and counting, the Lion’s Share has become a legend, encouraging gamblers from all over the world to come and test their luck at this life-changing machine. Legally, the MGM Grand can’t remove the ancient device until the maximum lottery is won, so the Lion’s Share stays while the rest of the casino has grown and modernized. The romantic idea of the $3 minimum turning into over $2 million is what draws hopefuls to this machine day and night, and is why it’s a must-see stop when visiting Las Vegas.
2. Bellagio Fountains – The Bellagio
One used to be able to find many free and elaborate shows simply walking along the Strip. However, favorites like Treasure Island’s “Sirens of TI” have been replaced by Walgreens and shopping centers. Fortunately, the water show outside of the Bellagio is still in full force. Featuring classic tunes by Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, the fountains dance through the hot Nevada air every 30-minutes. The gentle mist of the water-works cools observers’ faces as tourists young and old gather around the 8.5-acre lake for a little bit of Las Vegas magic. I make sure to catch a show every time I visit Las Vegas and it never gets old. I revert back to my youthful sense of astonishment every time.
1. Wander the Strip
It may seem ridiculous that this is my favorite thing about Las Vegas, but it is. As a young girl, I remember walking through mall after mall and seeing all of the beautiful, sparkling things and people. A decade later, I’m still mesmerized by everything that Las Vegas is. Yes, there are some grimy, inappropriate parts. But there is also constant spectacle; Las Vegas is a place where you must suspend your disbelief and live in a new kind of place. Simply sliding on your walking shoes is the beginning to an unpredictable adventure every time you’re in this city. From the extravagance of fine eateries and elaborate acrobatics to costumed superheroes posing for pictures and lazy days by the pool, Las Vegas has entertainment for all sizes of people and budgets.
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