When most people think of Las Vegas, they think of the city’s two most nototious activities: drinking and gambling. However, Sin City has plenty of other things to do, if getting drunk and feeding slots is just not your thing.
Touted as the world’s largest gift shop, Bonanza Giftshop occupies over 40,000 square feet of retail space at the south end of the strip. This gigantic tribute to kitsch stocks hundreds of Vegas t-shirts and shot glasses, as well as toys, statuary, and gag gifts.
Thrill seekers won’t want to miss Vegas’s excellent rides. The semi-outdoor roller coaster at New York New York offers excellent views of the strip and features a track curve meant to simulate the “barrel twist” used by fighter pilots. However, the mother of all rides in Vegas is the SkyJump at the Stratosphere Casino, a 108 floor freefall jump (www.skyjumplasvegas.com).
Las Vegas is known for its shows, and you can see everything from Les Miserables to Cirque du Soleil to a vampire cabaret here. Plenty of forgotten stars end up washing up on the city’s shores—when I was there last month, Joey Lawrence (of 90s sitcom Blossom fame) was guest starring in Chippendales Male Review. If you don’t want to fork out the dough for a Vegas show, you can catch a free fountain spectacle in front of Bellagio every hour. There’s also a free pirate performance every hour in front of Treasure Island Hotel.
Another not-to-miss Vegas attraction is the newly opened Mob Museum, which traces the history of the mafia and explores how organized crime has been represented in popular culture over the year. The museum also houses plenty of artifacts from Mafioso history, including an electric chair in which notorious mobster Albert Anastasia was executed (themobmuseum.org)
You may also want to pay a visit to the Neon Museum, home to the neon sign boneyard. This final resting place of hotel signs of yore is a fun place to explore and take photos. Backpacks and large bags are prohibited, and visitors are advised to wear close-toed shoes. The museum is open Tues-Sat and tours must be booked well in advance (www.neonmuseum.org)
Finally, no visitor to Vegas should miss the opportunity to feast at one of the city’s famous all-you-can-eat buffets. Most of these buffets offer upwards of a hundred dishes to choose from, including meats and vegetables from around the world and huge dessert selections. Popular choices include the buffet at Wyn (known for its seafood), the Rio Carnival World buffet (featuring teppan yaki and meat dishes from Asia). The elegant buffet at Belagio serves up delicious food from around the world and offers unlimited sparkling wine (for a supplemental fee) on the weekends. In the words of playwright George Bernard Shaw, I’m only a beer teetotaler, not a champagne teetotaler.