Las Vegas: a trip to this desert oasis is a once-in-a-lifetime dream for people around the world. Las Vegas offers as many activities as it does slot machines leaving most tourists with far too much to do and too little time in which to do it. Among the most important of these choices, however is simply seeing Vegas. The history of this town, blended with its ever-changing hot spots is a lesson in American opulence throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Both by day and by night and from many different vantage points, Vegas allows visitors the ability to “see” it warts and all. Each of these perspectives will shed new light onto the wonders, dangers, and sin of this famous city.
“See” Vegas from on High: The Stratosphere Observation Deck
On April 30, 1996 the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower opened and still stands as the 5th tallest building in all of the United States. It is one of the most anticipated destinations on any Vegas tour, and for good reason.
Standing a towering 1,149 feet above the ground, Stratosphere is the tallest freestanding observation tower in the US. Stratosphere represents one of the most daring and awesome views of Las Vegas day and night. Admission to the tower is $16 for adults and $10 for children, but it is also included in many tour passes such as the Vegas Power Pass. It offers panoramic windows for a 360° view of the City of Lights, as well as some of the most thrilling rides in town, including the world’s tallest controlled free fall in Sky Jump Las Vegas.
“See” Vegas as a Bird”: Nighttime Helicopter Tours
Another great aerial view of Las Vegas will gives a far different perspective on the majesty of the city’s lights by allowing tourists to take a bird’s eye tour of Sin City via helicopter. Nighttime helicopter tours of Las Vegas are not always cheap, but the 15-20 minute ride aboard these luxury aircraft is far worth the splurge. Many people who have taken them call these tours the highlight of their trip, offering a view of Vegas straight out of CSI.
There are several reputable helicopter companies who offer varying tours from the Vegas strip and surrounding areas. HeliUSA Airways offers discounted tickets to Power Pass holders and several other tour companies hold specials online and in Vegas. Since helicopter tours rely on good weather, plan ahead if this element of your trip is a priority. However, last minute seats are usually sold at a discount as well.
“See” Vegas as a Gangster: The Mob Museum
Located at 300 Stewart Ave, the Las Vegas Mob Museum is formally called The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. Overseen by the City of Las Vegas, the museum is dedicated to telling the story of both organized crime as well as law enforcement officials who fought them throughout Las Vegas and the world. Its exhibits include a timeline of Las Vegas and its intricate relationship with organized crime, profiles of famous mobsters such as Al Capone, John Gotti, and Bugsy Siegel, as well as descriptions and recounts of the law enforcement officers who worked to bring these mobsters down.
For fans of the Godfather and the Sopranos alike, taking a look at Sin City’s original sins can be enlightening and entertaining. Admission to the museum is $18 for adults and $12 for children and students; it is open 7 days a week at 10 am.
“See” Vegas Naked: The Erotic Heritage Museum
If the Mob Museum isn’t sin enough, the Erotic Heritage Museum, located at 3275 Industrial Road, will fill in the rest of the gaps. Open only to those 18 years and older, the 24,000 square foot space was formerly known as the Déjà vu Love Boutique. Through the museum’s more than 300,000 pieces of art and memorabilia, the concept of sex is explored not as that of sin and debauchery, but as art and an important cornerstone to all socio-cultural experiences across time. Though not for the prudish at heart, the Erotic Heritage Museum is sure to offer information and intrigue to all who are interested.
The museum is closed on Mondays. General admission is $15, with 1 discount given to seniors and military personnel.