No matter the reason for your travel you will enjoy Las Vegas, the “Live Entertainment Capital of the World” internationally known for its mega casino-hotels, world-class amusements and plentiful buffets.
Known as simply Vegas, the City of Las Vegas, established in 1905 and incorporated as a city in 1911, is the most populous city in the State of Nevada.
“Las Vegas” means “the meadows” in Spanish, the name given to the area by Mexican scout named Rafael Rivera to acknowledge the wild grasses growing abundantly in an oasis of a barren desert with ample supply of groundwater, a part of the old Spanish Trail used by the Spanish traders in the early 1700s to make their way east to Los Angeles, California.
Due to the city’s tolerance for numerous adult entertainments that have started since the desert valley began as a small railroad town the city has earned the title of “Sin City”. Las Vegas is also credited with its popular advertising campaign slogan “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” – first cooked up in 2003 to brand Vegas for something other than gambling. The ad has helped drive million of visitors to the Sin City. In 2014 a record-breaking 41 million visited the city making it one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
Visiting Las Vegas encompasses two different worlds – the Strip of 4.2 mile stretch of South Las Vegas Boulevard, more lively during the day but expensive and the Old Vegas Downtown, quiet during the day but cheaper. Every time we visit Vegas we stay on The Strip and visit Old Vegas Downtown for two reasons: the Strip is where all the action takes place and has also many reasonably priced hotels.
Downtown Vegas where you will find historic buildings, hotels and museums offers a nostalgic trip back in time. The first hotel and casino, The Golden Gate, located at One Fremont Street, opened its doors in 1906 when rooms went for a $1.
The hotel welcomed the city’s first telephone in 1907 and became well-known for its 50 cents shrimp cocktail appetizers now served in a tulip sundae glass for only $3.99. If you’ve ever wondered what Las Vegas was like in the Roaring 20s or the Rat Pack era then experience the Golden Gat Hotel-Casino. (Rat Pack is a group of Hollywood actor like Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr. originally centered on their leader in the mid-60s.
Check out the city’s first movie theatre in Vegas, called “El Portal”, still standing and the first air-conditioned building in the city. It’s now a gift shop, El Portal Indian Arts & Crafts Store.
Across is “The D Las Vegas” where you’ll be officially greeted by the Dutch naked “little pee man”, the Manneken Pis who has now grown from about 2 to 6 feet tall relieving himself while smiling at you mischievously. A remnant of the past also lives on here – its second floor is dedicated to vintage casino games including coin-operated slots and the “Sigma Derby” horse racing machine.
Don’t miss the Mob Museum located at 300 Stewart Ave. The 3-story building erected in 1933 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places boasts the world’s most extensive collection of mob and gangster memorabilia.
On the corner of Fremont and 6th Streets is the longest continuously operating hotel and casino in Las Vegas, “El Cortez”.
The must-see in Old Vegas at Fremont Street Experience are the free amazingly spectacular Viva Vision Light Shows which happen throughout each night and run every hour lasting for about 6 minutes. The Viva Vision’s projection is the largest video screen on the globe spanning 1,500 feet in length (the size of 5 football fields).
We’ll see you later at the Bellagio on The Strip.