Off The Strip, Las Vegas
We discovered this while strolling along the paths at the Wildlife Habitat and pool areas at the Flamingo. It was kind of eerie since there is so many paths that wind along among some beautiful foliage, plus it was at night and they had this lighted and it was at the end of a lovely latticed walkway. Located by the Garden Chapel. I would NOT recommend doing this at night, not a safe place for anyone alone.
The plaque reads:
“The Bugsy Building”
On this site Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel original Flamingo hotel stood from December 26, 1944 until December 14, 1993.
The hotel, which housed 77 rooms, including the notorious Mr. Siegel “Bugsy suite” or “Presidential suite” as it was sometimes referred to. Was unique in more way than one, the window panes for instance were bullet proof, although there was only one entrance to the top floor suite, there were five possible exits. The included a hidden ladder from the hallway closet to a basement tunnel, which lead to an underground garage which Bugsy allegedly had a chauffeured getaway car awaiting at all times.
But Mr. Siegel’s reoccupation with safety and escape routes proved to be geographically misplaced June 20, 1947 300 miles from Las Vegas at the Beverly Hills Mansion of his girlfriend, Virginia Hill, Bugsy was killed in a hail of gunfire from unknown assailants.
Since that day, The Flamingo has change ownership 3 times, including final sale from Kirk Kerkorian to the Hilton Hotels Corporation in 1970.
Flamingo Hotel & Casino
3555 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
As we wondered through Outdoor World, we wanted to checkout the Silverton Casino and we came across the beautiful huge aqarium. The whole family enjoys these a lot. The colorful decorated tanks with the beautiful assortment of salt water fish. The aquarium is 117,000-gallons reef aquarium with 4,000 tropical fish, and three species each of stingrays and sharks. They have interactive feeding shows daily at 1:30pm, 4:30pm and 7:30pm.
3333 Blue Diamond Road, Las Vegas, Nevada 89139
A really great hotel off the strip is the "Alexis Resort & Villas" which is situated across from the Hard Rock hotel. It has been in the process of refurbishment but every room is a suite, all which are very nice.
Mr. Alan Alda told me about this hotel years ago and so we thought to give it a try. The price was reasonable and with AAA there was a nice discount.
The grounds were lovely and there is a lovely garden for weddings and rooms for conferences. It is a non gaming resort so it is perfect for families. The suite and villas vary in size but some have both an upstairs and a downstairs. There is a bit of a walk to the strip but this hotel is worth it.
"I've seen the gateway to Hell and it's in Las Vegas." --RGH
Binion's Horseshoe Casino is locatated on Freemont Street Downtown and from the outside looks innocent enough. But step through the veil of cigarette smoke in the doorway and you may feel as if you've been beamed down into the middle of a David Lynch film, and it's not just a bad dream.
Seriously, though, Binion's houses the biggest bunch of characters I have ever seen under one roof. This place is old-time, Wild West Vegas and is known among hardcore gamblers as a "hot bed of action", as one dentally challenged client told me on the night we were there. It is where the serious gamblers play, not the tourists. It is also the home of the World Series of Poker every spring.
Go and check it out if you make it all the way downtown. Just don't look at anyone's cards too long.
My hubby and my oldest son wanted to try this, so off we went to another adventure. Well, I was apprehensive once they started to explain some of the rules and dangers. So they showed a video and had me sign waiver forms incase of an injury. So I swallowed my fear some and let them move into getting there skydiving suits on. They fitted them all properly with suits, helmets, gloves and made sure they were not wearing anything that would get them hurt or anyone else.
A training instructor is with you at all times and make sure to thank them verbally or with a tip, because they get a work out keeping you safe.
They're indoor skydiving went wonderful and everyone had fun. I must have taken a ton of pictures. Not an easy thing, but they will always have some wonderful memories.
Vegas Indoor Skydiving
200 Convention Center Dr.
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
Toll Free: 877.545.8093
Current Hours Of Operation
9:45 am - 8:00 pm
I'm including downtown under this category because I find that most people who go to Vegas never go downtown. In some ways this makes sense, as it isn't all that close to the strip. If you do go downtown and you've been staying on the strip, be prepared for a bit of a shock because although both places have casinos they are nothing at all alike.
Some people refer to downtown as the "real" Vegas, feeling that it is more authentic somehow than the newer, flashier strip casinos catering to those with a few bucks to blow. In a way I can see their point, because the casinos here are much smaller and have much lower minimum bets and tend to attract customers from a lower socio-economic background. But to me, it is just a different place all together than the strip, and equally "real"; it is sort of like a permanent carnival with it's insane lights and street vendors yelling at the tops of their lungs to induce tourists into feeding their quarters into their slots before they make it into the place next door.
The main street downtown is Fremont St which is covered by a huge canopy of lights. Every hour after dark you can catch an amazing light show here complete with rock music. It's cool. Just watch your pockets while you're looking up.
To get here, just ask any cabbie to take you. It's the easiest and safest way.
The tour of the Ethel M chocolate factory ends with a free sample! It was a holiday the day we went through so there wasn't much activity. Here you see some satin creme filling being mixed -- that's a BIG pile of butter off to the left!!!
Do NOT miss the cactus garden. For my pictures please visit the travelogue on this page.
As well as seeing the bright lights of the city, we wanted to explore the desert surounding Las Vegas. Through Virgin and a local company called Adventure Tours (highly recommended-we went on several tours with them) we embarked on the area 51 trip. Basically it was just us and the guide and the driver in a ford 4 by 4 travelling through Nevada's breathtaking desert. Because they do the tours only in small groups, they welcome you to say if you want to stop along the way anwhere to take photos etc. We stopped at an old ghost town, and a tranquil stream where it was so refreshing to paddle and soak up the beauty of the surroundings. Along the way they tell you lots of info and also ufo consparicies etc! this is quite a laid back fun trip ! We stopped for lunch at small inn called the Little Aleinn (get it??!!) Inside all the walls are completely covered in photos of ufos that tourists have pinned up-its fascinating. This inn really is in the middle of nowhere, food is great (service very slow but thats ok-it gives you time to talk to chill out-who's in a rush anyway?)and this place just reminded me of those inns in american movies where time seems to stand still. After lunch we went through the Joshua tree forest to get to the Area 51 perimiter, where there are security guys in black jeeps sitting on the hills with binoculars observing your every move. They have these big signs everywhere warning you not to cross the line as they can use lethal force -this makes it quite eery as you really start to wonder what secrets they could be hiding. Amongst the trees they have hidden cameras watching people like us to make sure we don't try and enter. There is further along the road an alien postbox for tourists to post their letters! A great fun day and a chance to see the most amazing landscape. Venture out of Las Vegas for the day and see it for yourself.
You can see these at the City Center shopping mall called the Crystals. It was created by WET Design (the company responsible for the Bellagio Fountains and The Volcano at Mirage), these water scultpures are really neat to see in person. The colors change and they are quite beautiful for being so simple.
Hours of operation: Sunday - Thursday, 10 a.m. - 11 p.m.; Friday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - midnight.
3720 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Nancy Rubins – “Big Edge” 2009, Stainless steel and aluminum water vessels, 51 x 75 x 57 feet
Located at: Vdara’s main drive
Vdara, 2600 W. Harmon Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89158
Nancy Rubins created one of the most visually stunning commissions at CityCenter with a large-scale installation: “Big Edge.” Cantilevered over Vdara’s main drive and measuring approximately 57 feet wide and 75 feet long, Rubins’ work of art at CityCenter is a colorful composition of numerous aluminum rowboats, canoes and other small river and ocean vessels finessed into an eye-catching, gravity-defying form the artist calls “a blooming flower.” The boats are connected with thousands of pounds of stainless steel wire cable forming a web-like structure, where compression and tension create what Buckminster Fuller referred to as “tensegrity,” making the whole stronger than the parts. Each boat was precisely placed according to Rubins’ direction based on its color, shape and structural contribution to the whole. Rubins maintains the look, shape and feel of her chosen objects, so each reclaimed craft showcased in the piece is exactly as originally found. The commission is located on the exterior of Vdara Hotel & Spa and is one of Rubins’ few works with a permanent home. Rubins has designed amazing works of art from mattresses, trailers, hot water heaters, airplanes and small appliances since the 1970s. For more than 25 years, Rubins has exhibited extensively around the world in major solo and group exhibitions.
On our way to the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign, we spotted the Little Church of the West, one of the city's few National Historic Landmarks. Dating back to 1942, this small wedding chapel is the oldest existing structure on the Las Vegas Strip. Built of beautiful cedar and California redwood, the chapel claims to be the people's favorite location to get married in Las Vegas, and they've got an ever growing list of celebrity weddings to back them up: Zsa Zsa Gabor, Johnny Hallyday, Dudley Moore, Mickey Rooney, Bon Geldof, Judy Garland and David Cassidy, just to name a few, have all tied the knot at this wedding chapel, as did Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford in 1991 and Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton in 2000 (hey, there's no guarantee that the marriage will last!).
There was a wedding going on at the chapel when we saw it; however, by the time we had managed to cross the Strip, the 20-min ceremony was already over! We still walked up to the chapel to see what the interior looked like: the 50-seat little church was nicely decorated, and I guess I can understand why people would want to get married there. With packages starting at $199, it's a heck of a lot cheaper than most weddings I've been to and I have to admit that the Little Church of the West's cosy historic wooden structure adds a certain charm to the quick ceremony. Something to think about for your next trip to Vegas?!
The Little Church of the West is located at 4617 South Las Vegas Blvd, at the corner of West Russell Rd.
Henry Moore – “Reclining Connected Forms” 1969-1974, Roman travertine marble, 10 x 17 x 7 feet
The Park between ARIA Resort & Casino and Crystals retail and entertainment district
3730 LAS VEGAS BLVD • LAS VEGAS • NEVADA 89158
Guests happen upon “Reclining Connected Forms,” 1969-1974, a sculpture by English artist Henry Moore, one of the most celebrated sculptors of his time. Inspired by the fundamentals of the human experience – the primary theme of his life’s work – the sculpture measures approximately 10 feet tall and 17 feet long by 7 feet deep, represents a baby wrapped in its mother’s embrace. The graceful outer shell of the sculpture depicts the changing shape of a pregnant figure as it protects the new life growing within. Moore’s work was traditionally inspired by the human body, organic shapes found in nature and the sculpture of ancient and exotic cultures such as Egypt, Sumeria, Africa and pre-Columbian Mexico. Surrealism, the modern European art and literary movement with a tendency toward abstract forms, also was a major influence. Moore was given his first major retrospective abroad in 1946 by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He won the International Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale in 1948.
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen – “Typewriter Eraser, Scale X” 1998-1999, Stainless steel, fiberglass and acrylic polyurethane paint, 19 x 11 x 11 feet, 3rd edition with one Artist’s Proof –
City Center Entrance from the strip, nearest 3752 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas, NV 89158
Adjacent to Mandarin Oriental, features “Typewriter Eraser, Scale X,” 1998-1999, a legendary piece by Oldenburg and van Bruggen. Designed with the pair’s classic approach to creating large-scale outdoor sculptures of popular commercial objects, the four-ton, 19-foot stainless steel and fiberglass sculpture depicts a giant blue and red typewriter eraser with the bristles of the brush turned upward in a graceful, dynamic gesture. This edition is the largest of three sculptures created of the form, beginning in the 1970s. Oldenburg is most widely associated with the beginnings of the Pop Art movement of the 1960s. His capricious and – at times – deconstructed forms of everyday objects transform the notion of how sculpture is viewed and made. Throughout his career, he collaborated with his wife Coosje on more than 40 monumental projects throughout Europe, Asia and the United States. Their most recent work is the 144-foot-long, 64-foot-high “Cupid's Span” for Rincon Park on the Embarcadero in San Francisco.
Maya Lin – “Silver River” 2009, Cast reclaimed silver, 84 feet long, approximately 3,700 lbs
Suspended over ARIA’s registration desk
3730 LAS VEGAS BLVD LAS VEGAS NEVADA 89158
Considered one of the most important artists of the 21st century, Maya Lin’s remarkable body of work maintains a careful balance between art and architecture, including large-scale, site-specific installations, intimate studio artworks and architectural works and memorials. Perched high above ARIA’s reception desk against a panoramic window is Lin’s first work of art in Las Vegas: “Silver River,” inspired by the boundaries and topography of the Colorado River as it carves the desert landscape of the United States. In the spirit of CityCenter’s commitment to sustainability and in light of Nevada’s standing as “The Silver State,” Lin used reclaimed silver to develop her creation. Lin’s work reflects a strong interest in the environment; she has made many works of art inspired by waterways and natural forms sculpted by the presence of water, including other river works. She also created a pin river, which hangs in the U.S. Embassy in China. Lin has served as an advisor on sustainable energy use and as a board member of the National Resources Defense Council. Lin, whose highly acclaimed body of work includes the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., also has become a celebrated architect. Her life and work were detailed in the Academy Award-winning documentary, Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision. Lin is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2005.
Henderson is the suburb just outside of Vegas. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States and a large portion of its population works in tourist related occupations. Its interesting to drive about 15 miles away from the Strip and find yourself in a regular suburban neighborhood. The Vegas Strip seems larger than life, at least it did to me, but its just a small portion of this area.