July 28, 2005: This file photo shows an electric company worker changing ballasts and lamps on the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign.AP
The Neon Museum shows the original Aladdins Lamp from the Aladdin Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.AP/The Neon Museum
March 20, 2012: This file photo shows the Bellagio fountain spraying in sync with music during one of its afternoon shows in Las Vegas.AP
It can be difficult to believe that a mere century ago, Las Vegas was nothing more than a sleepy frontier town. Thanks partly to legalized gambling, the city has grown from its humble origins to become one of the most glitzy, glamorous and famously hedonistic metropolises in the world. Tens of millions of tourists descend on Sin City each year to experience the heady mix of colossal casinos, exclusive hotels and spectacular shows.With so many sights and sounds to occupy the senses, deciding how best to spend your Las Vegas experience may be challenging. Here are three attractions that are sure to draw you out of the bars and casinos to experience the magic of Las Vegas.
Since opening its doors in 1998, the Bellagio has become one of the most celebrated landmarks in Las Vegas. Aside from boasting the most opulent hotel in the city, the resort also contains several of Las Vegas’ most intriguing attractions. The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art hosts rotating exhibitions showcasing the work of such renowned artists as Warhol, Picasso, Monet and Roy Lichtenstein. Elsewhere, the blooming flowers and exotic plants in the hotel’s magnificent conservatory and botanical gardens stand in stark contrast to the concrete jungle just outside.Though the hotel’s botanical gardens and Gallery of Fine Art draw sizable crowds, the main attractions are undoubtedly its famous fountains. Dozens of times each day, these aquatic wonders perform a visual water symphony, choreographed to popular and classical songs. This mesmerizing display makes for a genuinely romantic, and quintessentially Las Vegas experience.
Looking for a true rush without having to bet everything on black? The Las Vegas Strip is home to some of the most thrilling roller coasters in the world, located within easy walking distance of each other. At the New York-New York Hotel and Casino, the Manhattan Express coaster speeds past a replica New York skyline while passing in and out of the hotel building. A few blocks north, at Circus Circus Hotel, the Adventuredome's enormous roller coaster soaks passengers as they careen through the indoor amusement park. Also check out the Stratosphere’s X-Scream, which suspends thrill seekers from the top of its tower – a spine-tingling 84 stories above the Strip. The central location of the city’s largest roller coasters means that you can also catch breathtaking glimpses of the Las Vegas skyline as you hurtle through the air.
Fremont Street Experience
Located in the heart of the downtown casino corridor, Fremont Street’s neon-lit signs and casinos stand as perhaps the most recognizable symbol of old Las Vegas glamour. Every evening, a five-block open-air section of this iconic street is lit up by a dazzling light-and-laser show featuring 12.5 million lights and 550,000 watts of sound that present classic Las Vegas with a modern twist. Although the Strip has surpassed Fremont Street’s title as the epicenter of Las Vegas, the Fremont Street experience alone makes it well worth a visit.