Las Vegas: There is more to the Strip than meets the eye

Las Vegas truly is a magical city. Not just because it has famous shows with actual illusionists and magicians, but because there is something surreal about the glitz and glam of Sin City. From the moment you arrive at McCarran International Airport you can feel the energy of this desert oasis pulsing through your veins. As soon as you get off the airplane you are greeted with flashing slot machines (yes, inside the airport) and billboards featuring all of the big shows and performances. Whether you come to Las Vegas for the warm weather, to see your favorite singer on a big stage or just to experience delicious meals at restaurants by some of the top chefs in the world – there really is more to do on the Strip than just visiting the casinos.
I have to admit, I have been to Vegas about a dozen times and what I love the most about this electric city is that every single visit can be (and always is) something unique. Whether you come with your closest friends, the entire family, your spouse or even solo – this city of lights can be anything you dream it to be. On this trip I traveled with two RCI co-workers and it was a total blast!
If you’re looking to treat your palette to a variety of delicious dishes, you can spend your vacation on the Strip experiencing every cuisine under the sun. From sushi at Tao in the Venetian Hotel, to pizza at Secret Pizza located in an unmarked hallway in the Cosmopolitan Hotel, to delicious gelato inside the Aria Casino – the options are endless.
Speaking of the pizza, if you are spending a full day walking around town you are going to surely work up an appetite. The Cosmopolitan Hotel is part of “City Center” which is a collection of resorts and residential units that was built in 2009. While you are in this area you can enjoy luxury shopping, art displays and fantastic culinary spots for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We were on the hunt for the “Secret Pizza” shop and found it on the third floor of the Cosmopolitan, and the slices did not disappoint. It was the perfect fast lunch to keep us energized to head off to our next adventure.
Pro Tip: The entrance to the Secret Pizza shop is a bit hard to find but ask around the Cosmopolitan Hotel and you'll be able to locate it among the incredible food choices. It’s a hidden gem, completely no frills, but absolutely delicious pizza slices!
After leaving the Cosmopolitan we walked the strip a bit and headed over to The Miracle Mile Shops which is across the street from City Center. The great thing about Vegas is you get a LOT of steps in each day just walking from hotel to hotel (which is great when you want to do a foodie tour and taste a bit of everything the strip has to offer)! The Miracle Mile Shops are just what you would expect – an indoor mall that is filled with over 200 great stores, bars, restaurants and entertainment. This is a great place to beat the heat indoors, grab a cocktail and shop at popular stores. We popped into Tipsy Robot to see what all the fuss was about since a crowd was gathering and we were also ready for a cold beverage.
This indoor bar is equipped with iPad stations to order a cocktail from the menu, or create your own, and a robot makes it right in front of you! You can watch it shake, shimmy and pour your cocktail and then have it delivered to you on a conveyor belt. I have never had a non-human make my drink before but they did a great job on my margarita!
After we had a chance to cool off and walk around the mall, we headed over to M&M World – a great place to visit with the entire family. This 28,000 square foot, four-level monument to the colorful fun of M&M'S was the first M&M'S World store location ever. It is free to enter and multiple floors of chocolate lover paradise. There is a lot of fun history inside the location about how the company has evolved over the years, and of course, lots and lots of M&M chocolate to purchase. They even have an entire wall filled with every color, flavor and type of M&M which you can use to make your own bag of chocolate. And be sure to race over to get an up-close look at a replica of Kyle Busch's 2018 M&M'S sponsored NASCAR, along with tons of colorful M&M’S Racing merchandise.
One evening we decided to head to Fremont Street, which is the second most famous street in the Las Vegas metropolitan area after the Las Vegas Strip. It is a short drive away and has so much to do, including the Shotzilla which is a slot machine-inspired zip line attraction that is 11 stories high and 2 blocks long. The multi-million-dollar SlotZilla is the world’s largest slot machine and gives you an incredible view at all of the people bustling below. You can also enjoy free live music, sidewalk performers and the Viva Vision free light show in the tunnel all along Fremont. If you’re looking for a low-cost evening with lots of fun Las Vegas history this is a great place to spend a few hours.

Did you know: Fremont Street was the first paved street in Las Vegas in 1925 and received the city's first traffic light in 1931.

If you’re looking for family friendly activities look no further than the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. Its main tank is 1,300,000 US gallons which is one of the largest in North America and home to over 2,000 animals including giant rays, endangered green sea turtles piranha and a Komodo dragon.

We decided to beat the heat and spend some time petting sting rays, checking out exotic reptiles and even a 3D penguin exhibit. Prices range from $19-$25 and you can even pay a little more and dive with sharks, but we decided not to opt in for that and venture to grab a bite to eat after our underwater adventure.

We decided to check out Beer Park at Paris Hotel & Casino for a quick bite to eat. Beer Park is an outdoor restaurant and bar that sits on the Strip, across the street from The Bellagio. It’s a great place to grab some appetizers and a cold craft beer. They have fun picnic table type seating and lots of fun group games around like Jenga, pool and darts. Its laid back vibe make it a fun, casual dining experience and perfect at night before or after checking out the Bellagio Fountain show.

Speaking of the Bellagio Fountains, they are a must see when in town and there is nothing like them on the Strip. They are one of the most popular attractions in Vegas, and for good reason, the free shows are choreographed to more than 30 different songs you may not have on your iPod but you’ll probably want to download later. The crowds gather all around the man-made 8.5-acre lake which has 1,214 jets that rocket streams of water 460 feet into the air. If you happen to catch a show mid-way through, stick around and you can usually see another one, with a completely different song/choreography in: 15-:30 minutes.

One last activity you must take in is visiting The LINQ Promenade. This outdoor plaza offers shopping, dining & entertainment, including an observation wheel & zip lines. This area is also home to the world's tallest observation wheel, the High Roller. Topping out at 550 feet, the High Roller eclipses both the London Eye and Singapore Flyer. You can buy a ticket and take a ride around to get breathtaking views of the entire strip. The ride takes about 30 minutes to go around, giving you enough time to take in a bird’s eye view of the Bellagio Fountain show. While walking around under the clear, Vegas night sky you can also stop by for a cupcake from the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM or grab a burger from the infamous In & Out Burger located near the fountains. When you are ready to head back to the strip, cut through the Flamingo casino and ask a staff member to ask to point you in the direction of the Flamingos. They have a tropical oasis inside the casino where there are dozens of these beautiful birds you can visit.

When it comes to a great place to stay while in town, I have to say I really loved The Grandview at Las Vegas (#6923). It is your very own oasis in the desert and the perfect place to stay and play. Guests can lounge out on the large sundeck by one of the four pools, exercise in the fitness room or play some games in the video arcade. The Grandview is a family-orientated resort adjacent to the South Point Casino which has several restaurants, movie theatres and a bowling alley. The resort also offers a free shuttle service to the grocery store so you can stock up your fridge in case you want to make meals during your stay in your full kitchen. I really enjoyed having a place to come back to every night that was a bit more quiet and off the Strip so I could get a good night’s rest which his hard to come by in Sin City.

Final Thoughts

Every time I visit Las Vegas it never disappoints. In addition to the exhilarating casino action and world-class dining, Las Vegas offers a wealth of entertainment opportunities designed to dazzle you and your family. Take a thrill ride on the Big Shot - the Stratosphere's 180-feet free-fall ride. Watch Cirque du Soleil or take in a magic show. Visit Madame Tussaud's Celebrity Encounter, M&M World and the Liberace Museum. Nature lovers can also hike in scenic Red Rock Canyon, take a riverboat cruise on Lake Mead and learn about the Hoover Dam. In the winter months you can even ski on Mt. Charleston or tee off at one of the many nearby golf courses year-round. Make sure to pack some comfortable shoes for your adventures on the Strip, there is so much to see that you’ll easily walk a few miles – which is great to work up an appetite for all the delicious food options available in Las Vegas!