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No.163 (5/14/10)

Hanging out in Sin City

By Robert Finley
Chief Writer

“The Entertainment Capital Of The World.” “The Marriage Capital Of The World.” “Sin City.” “The Capital Of Second Chances.” All of these are popular nicknames for a city unlike any other in the U.S. -- Las Vegas!

You are probably all familiar with some preconceptions of Nevada's most popular tourist attraction (and largest city) -- big, over-the-top hotels; lots of gambling; drinking; elaborate shows and concerts ... Undoubtedly it is a place for indulgence in dazzling spectacles and other activities that you simply do not get in every day life. Here's a brief history of Las Vegas, as well as a short list of some of things you can expect from a visit to Sin City!

Las Vegas traces its first reported visit back to 1829, when a European by the name of Raphael Rivera documented a trip to the area. Spaniards ended up naming it Las Vegas (“the meadows”) after seeing how the region was able to support many wells and plant life. In 1905, the town of Las Vegas received its own railroad station, and in 1911, Las Vegas became an incorporated city of Clark County. The city's population didn't feel a boom until 1930, however, when President Herbert Hoover signed the appropriation bill for the creation of the Boulder Dam. When work started on the dam in 1931, Las Vegas went from 5,000 to 25,000 citizens. This growth spurred the creation of the city's first casinos and theaters, which were intended to entertain the new population. After 1931, Las Vegas began its ascent as the gambling capital of the world.

Okay, history lesson over. Las Vegas has never been a place to dwell in the past, anyway, as evinced by their seemingly constant state of demolition, construction, and reinvention.

As you enter the Las Vegas Strip along Las Vegas Boulevard, one of the first hotels you will see is the Luxor Hotel And Casino. The Luxor, an Egyptian-themed hotel that is shaped like a giant pyramid and features a replica of the Sphinx, is a unique experience. It is also home to the “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” as well as the critically panned “Criss Angel Believe” live show. The Luxor also offers a military discount for certain shows.

A short distance down the road will take you to the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Blvd., where three very popular hotels reside: The Excalibur, New York New York, and MGM Grand hotels. The MGM is home to a lion habitat, “CSI: The Experience” (an interactive attraction based on the hit show), and a couple of unique shows -- The Cirque de Soleil show KA, and the Crazy Horse Paris show.

New York New York, directly across the street from the MGM Grand, has one of the most interesting floorplans for its hotel rooms on the entire strip. Towering above the first floor casino area are the rooms, which are designed to resemble all of the trademark buildings from the Big Apple, all in a row. A replica of the Statue of Liberty stands tall next to the hotel's indoor/outdoor roller coaster ride.

Up by the intersection of Flamingo Road sit some more exciting hotels. The Bellagio, prominently featured in the hit film “Ocean's Eleven,” is truly a must-see. Its elegant and extravagant decor houses a slew of interesting attractions, such as the hotel's incredible indoor Botanical Garden, gallery of fine art, and its nightly outdoor water performance dubbed the “Fountains of Bellagio.” This is certainly the biggest attraction the hotel has to offer, and is like nothing you'll ever see.

Across the street from the Bellagio is one of the newer hotels in Vegas, simply called Paris. Featuring a giant replica of the Eiffel Tower and other famous French landmarks, the hotel's colors and themes seem like a perfect fit for young couples looking to get away on a fun and romantic vacation. There is a spa, lots of shopping, and you can even purchase a ticket to travel up to the top of their Eiffel Tower!

Across the street, on the same side of the road as the Bellagio, sits one of the most popular hotels in Las Vegas -- Caesars Palace. Caesars Palace resides on an expansive plot intricately themed and jam-packed full of attractions, such as the incredible Garden Of The Gods Pool Oasis. The hotel attracts some of the greatest talent in the world, such as Jerry Seinfeld, Bette Midler, Cher, and the Korean pop sensation Rain.

For those looking to experience a little bit of the history that is left in Las Vegas, look no further than the area adjacent to Las Vegas Blvd. known as the Fremont Street Experience. Fremont Street is home to some of the classic hotels such as the Golden Nugget, The Mint, and the Pioneer Club. In 1994, this area was closed to traffic and converted into an outdoor attraction, making it a fun place to lounge about and check out some of the classic locales.

It would be impossible to list all of the great, unique hotels that span the stretch of the Strip (and beyond), so this will have to do for now. If you do plan on making a trip out the Sin City, be sure to stop by the famous “Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada” sign on your way out and snap a photo!















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