Plenty to do in a city built for entertainment
The Fountains of Bellagio is a popular free attraction of dancing waters choreographed to music. The display begins at 3 p.m. weekdays or noon weekends. While you're at the Bellagio, you may wish to visit the colorful and fragrant Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, open 24 hours. 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-693-7111 or 888-987-6667.
While there are plenty of stars to gaze at in Las Vegas, the place to observe those in the skies is the College of Southern Nevada Planetarium & Observatory, 32 East Cheyenne Ave. Programs are Fridays and Saturdays at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Afterward, the telescopes are open for viewing during clear weather. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for kids/seniors. Beginning May 2, the 37-minute film â€śBlack Holes,â€ť from the Clark Planetarium, Salt Lake City, will be shown. 702-651-4759.
Paris in the springtime? No need to cross the Atlantic: Paris Las Vegas is the local â€śFrench Quarterâ€ť here, with several Parisian landmarks, including an exact half-scale replica of Paris' famed Eiffel Tower that offers a panoramic view from the observation deck 460 feet in the air. Nearby are replicas of other Paris sights, including the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre's facade. 3655 Las Vegas Blvd. S. Open from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. seven days a week. 702-946-7000 or 888-266-5687.
The Fremont Street Experience, 425 Fremont St., presents free shows featuring Viva Vision, a 12.5-million-light LED display backed by a 550,000-watt sound system. Images fly across a giant screen to the beat of music, 8 p.m. to midnight. 702-678-5600 or 800-249-3559.
MUSEUMS AND ART GALLERIES
The Guggenheim Heritage Museum at The Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S., is a showcase of art primarily from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the State Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg, Russia. Open to the public from 9:30 a.m to 7:30 p.m. Tours are available; call 702-414-2493 for times and availability. Admission is now free through May 11, when the museum will close its doors after a seven-year run. 702-414-2440.
The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, at the Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S., presents an American Modernism exhibition organized by Boston's Museum of Fine Art, featuring works by Georgia O'Keefe, Marsden Hartley and others. Admission is $17 for adults; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 702-693-7831 or 877-957-9777.
The Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum, 1305 Arizona St., Boulder City, Nev., provides an in-depth history of the region dating from the Depression, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which put the unemployed to work building the dam. The exhibit features photographs, artifacts, oral histories, and the dangers and hardships the project presented. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission: $2 for adults, $1 for seniors/children. 702-294-1988.
The Atomic Testing Museum, 755 E. Flamingo Rd., details the unleashing of nuclear technology at the Nevada Test Site. Through film, narratives, artifacts and more, the museum offers multiple viewpoints exploring the terrifying power of the atom and how its emergence changed the world. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults, $9 for seniors/youth, free for children to age 6. 702-794-5161.
Well, hold on there little buckaroo, if you want to go to an Old West town and see a saloon shootout, head on out to Bonnie Springs Old Nevada, up near Red Rock Canyon west of Las Vegas. Perfect for kids, this replica of an 1880s mining town features an authentic Wild West setting, a petting zoo, cowboys and cowgirls, a miniature train ride and plenty of rootin' tootin' Saturday-movie action, especially on weekends, when a posse recruits kids to help track down the mustachioed villain. Located at 1 Gunfighter Lane in Blue Diamond, Nev. Open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $20 per carload (maximum six persons) or $8 per person arriving by bus. 702-875-4191. Shuttle bus service from Las Vegas is available from Star Land Tours, 702-296-4381.
If you're feeling like the king of the world, drop by the Tropicana, 3801 Las Vegas Blvd. S., for the â€śTitanic: The Artifactsâ€ť exhibit, where you'll see a full history of the fated ship, from its construction to modern-day recovery efforts, including some 300 recovered artifacts. View recreations of the cabins, the Promenade deck and the Grand Staircase. Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Adults $22; children 4-11, $17. 702-739-2222.
Other major scenic attractions near Las Vegas include Grand Canyon National Park, 928-638-7888 or 800-959-9164, Death Valley National Park, 760-786-3200, Hoover Dam, 702-494-2517, and Lake Mead National Recreation Area, 800-255-5561. A variety of activities and tours are available, including sightseeing flights from Las Vegas. Also, the Desert National Wildlife Complex, 702-515-5450, offers hiking and rock climbing in several areas outside Las Vegas.
The Roller Coaster at New York-New York, 3790 Las Vegas Blvd. S., reaches speeds of 67 mph, with a 144-foot drop and loops and corkscrews. Formerly named the Manhattan Express, the Roller Coaster is situated above a replica of New York Harbor, including a 150-foot Statue of Liberty and models of Manhattan buildings. One ride is $14, a second ride is $7 (purchase both at once). Open Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10:30 a.m. to midnight. 702-740-6969 or 800-693-6763.
Adventuredome Theme Park at Circus Circus Hotel and Casino, 2880 Las Vegas Blvd. S., offers thrill rides and roller coasters â€” and all of it is indoors. Open daily, but hours vary. An all-day ride pass is $24.95 for adults, $14.95 for juniors. 702-794-3912 or 800-444-2472.
For those with ice in their veins and perhaps a cap of nitroglycerin in their pocket, the Thrills! rides at the top of the 1,149-foot-tall Stratosphere Tower, 2000 Las Vegas Blvd. S. â€” the tallest freestanding observation tower in the U.S., and the eighth tallest building on Earth â€” are the hot ticket. Not recommended for those susceptible to vertigo, as several of the rides, including the hair-raising X-Scream, will suspend or thrust you over the edge of the tower's observation deck, 100 floors above the ground â€” but if adrenaline is your thing, you'll likely be flooded with it. Various packages are offered, up to an all-day admission with unlimited rides for $31.95. 702-380-7777 or 800-998-6937.
Buffalo Bill's Thrill Rides is another popular Las Vegas amusement park. If you're going to ride the Desperado, one of the world's tallest and fastest roller coasters, or the Turbo Drop free-fall experience â€” each $7 per ride â€” Buffalo Bill's is probably best visited after only a light meal. 31700 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-386-7867 or 800-386-7867.
If you're a Trekkie at heart, beam yourself up to Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton, 3000 Paradise Rd., where you can tour the museum, take part in â€śmissionsâ€ť â€” â€śKlingon Encounterâ€ť and â€śBorg Invasion 4Dâ€ť are featured â€” and eat and drink at Quark's Bar & Restaurant. If you're feeling romantic, you can even get hitched on the bridge of the USS Enterprise. General-admission tickets are $42.99 for adults, $35.99 for seniors and kids. Museum-only passes are available. Hours: noon-11 p.m. (10 p.m. Sundays). A behind-the-scenes tour is available for $31.99 with purchase of a ride admission, or $39.95 for the tour alone. 702-697-8700 or 800-732-7117.
Many of Broadway's top shows are running in Las Vegas. â€śDefending the Cavemanâ€ť (Golden Nugget, 702-385-7111/800-634-3454), â€śHatsâ€ť (Harrah's Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, 702-369-5000/800-427-7247), â€śToxic Audioâ€ť (Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, 702-785-5555/877-333-9474), â€śMenopause: The Musicalâ€ť (Las Vegas Hilton, 702-732-5111/800-732-7117) and others put on productions that are often specially tailored for Las Vegas audiences and venues. Call for ticket prices and show times.
â€śMamma Mia!,â€ť at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S., is a two-hour production that features 22 hit songs by Swedish pop group ABBA. The curtain goes up at 7:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and Saturdays at 6 and 10 p.m. Tickets are $49.50-$110. 702-632-7777 or 877-632-7000.
At the Pallazzo Resort, Hotel and Casino, 3325 Las Vegas Blvd. S., â€śJersey Boysâ€ť delivers the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Showtime is 7 p.m. daily, except Wednesday, with an additional 10 p.m. show Tuesday and Saturday. Tickets are $65-$135. 702-607-7777 or 866-263-3001.
Monty Python's â€śSpamalotâ€ť is playing at the Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S. The 90-minute show goes on at 8 p.m. (no show on Thursday); on Saturday curtain times are 7 and 10 p.m. Tickets are $69-$179. 702-770-7000 or 888-320-9966.
Some say the Broadway experience is perfectly embodied in â€śPhantom,â€ť the Andrew Lloyd Webber smash hit that's been adapted to a 95-minute version for Las Vegas audiences, playing at the Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S., with showtimes of 7 p.m., Monday-Saturday, and a second show at 9:30 p.m. Monday and Saturday. Tickets are $69-$150. 702-414-1000 or 877-283-6423.
The celebrated Cirque du Soleil has five shows currently running in Las Vegas. Among them, at the MGM Grand, â€śKaâ€ť enchants audiences with 80 performers doing acrobatics and martial arts on a multimedia stage set. 702-891-1111/800-929-1111. At the Mirage, â€śLoveâ€ť celebrates the music of The Beatles with dance, aerial performance and extreme sports. 702-791-7111/800-627-6667. Treasure Island is host to â€śMystĂ¨re,â€ť a colorful production featuring high-energy acrobatics and more. 702-796-9999/800-392-1999. â€śO,â€ť at the Bellagio, is an aquatic show where the cast performs synchronized swimming, diving and acrobatics. 702-693-7722/888-987-6667.
If you like vintage race cars, you're in luck: May 3-4 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 7000 Las Vegas Blvd. N., NHRA nostalgia drag racing will be in town for the â€śLas Vegas Speed Spectacular.â€ť An accompanying car show will be hosted by the Las Vegas Cruisin' Association. Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for kids for both days, or $20/$6 for one day. Spectator gates open at 8 a.m. 702-644-4443 or 800-644-4444.
NASCAR fans can ride shotgun or even learn to drive a NASCAR race car at the Speedway's Jeff Gordon Racing School, or you can do the same with a two-seat Indy-style car or a BMW sports car at the Mario Andretti Racing School. For $75 you can ride with an instructor for eight laps; several packages are available, including a day-and-a-half driving program for $2,999. 6925 Speedway Blvd; 702-315-6300 or 877-263-7388.
Play ball! Get your peanuts and Cracker Jack at Cashman Field Tuesday or Wednesday, May 6 and 7, where the Minor League Las Vegas 51s play the Memphis Redbirds at 7:05 p.m. 850 Las Vegas Blvd. N. Tickets are $8-$13. 702-386-7200.
For golfers, Las Vegas boasts as many as 60 courses, most of them open to the public. We recommend you visit www.vegas.com/golf, www.lasvegasgolfcourses.com or lasvegas.twoguyswhogolf.com for details.