Category Archives: Things to Do in Las Vegas

Downtown Grand Lends a Hand to Make Downtown Gateway a Thing

It doesn’t happen often, but when we get something wrong, we admit it. We got the downtown gateway wrong, it’s actually a thing.

“What’s the downtown gateway?” you ask, impertinently. It’s this.

Downtown gateway sign

The original Las Vegas sign may not be in Las Vegas (it’s in Clark County), but this one is. Long story.

The new downtown gateway was built by the City of Las Vegas to the tune of about $400,000. It replaces another welcome sign, inspired by the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign on the south end of The Strip, smashed to bits by a bonehead in a truck in 2016.

When we first saw the gateway display, we thought it was fairly lame. All due respect, City of Las Vegas.

While it featured some of our favorite gambling things—dice, chips and a roulette layout—it very prominently featured two cartoon showgirls.

Downtown gateway

On the bright side, Googie stars. They’re the things floating over the “a.” You can never go wrong with Googie stars.

Not that there’s anything wrong with showgirls.

It’s just that showgirls are a somewhat antiquated symbol of Las Vegas, the last true showgirl show, “Jubilee,” having closed in 2016. The same year the “Welcome to Downtown Las Vegas” sign was destroyed. Las Vegas has no shortage of metaphors. Or ironies. Or analogies. Take your pick. We can never keep those straight.

Googie stars

If anyone ever asks what Las Vegas ninjas throw, now you know.

There was also a location problem.

The gateway was built where it was impossible to take a photo without getting a billboard in the background with an ad for a restaurant in the background. It was akin to the power lines at the welcome sign on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Downtown gateway showgirls

All the meh.

And we should also mention the fancy “Las Vegas” typography was taken from a logo the City of Las Vegas abandoned less than a year after it was unveiled.

Anyway, we figured the backward-looking display would be ignored by visitors, but over time, we’ve rarely passed the corner of Main and Las Vegas Boulevard without seeing tourists snapping selfies with the sign.

Hey, we can’t be right about everything.

Downtown gateway display

Great perk of this sign over the other Las Vegas sign: No lines.

In a completely cool move, Downtown Grand even changed up its billboard to enhance the photo op.

Props where they’re due, Downtown Grand took one for the team and made advertising secondary to giving downtown Las Vegas a much more “Grammable” photo.

Downtown Grand billboard

We actually don’t have an adequate supply of props to give to Downtown Grand for this classy move.

The gateway cost about $400,000 to construct, and morons are already finding ways to make it so we can’t have nice things.

Somebody stood on the “L” in Las Vegas and broke it. Word is the City designers are looking for ways to make the display elements more “durable.”

Downtown gateway sign

Please, people, it’s only been there three months.

We suggest the City of Las Vegas buy the billboard from Downtown Grand and swap it out with this one.

downtown gateway Vegas

Seriously, we know a guy who could make this billboard happen.

And, naturally, asshats wasted no time tagging the display.

Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman once got into hot water for suggesting people who do graffiti should have their thumbs cut off. We knew there was a reason we’re such a big fan of Oscar Goodman.

downtown gateway

We checked all the pips on the dice. They’re good.

The City of Las Vegas isn’t done with its welcoming efforts, either.

The City recently started taking bids for an 80-foot-tall “double arch gateway” to complement the existing welcome display.

The location of the arch hasn’t been determined yet (it’s shown in two different locations in two renderings released by the City), but it’s expected to cost $2 million.

Downtown gateway arch

This seems the most likely location, at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara.

The call for bids says construction of the arch will start in June 2019 and be completed by the end of 2019.

While downtown’s welcome display won’t ever be as iconic or popular as the Las Vegas sign known around the world, maybe it doesn’t need to be.

Downtown Las Vegas doesn’t aspire to be The Strip, and its welcome sign has a distinctive vibe all its own.

If you don’t have a chance to stop at the downtown gateway for a photo, we’ve got a back-up plan. This gem outside the new marijuana museum at Neonopolis might do the trick.

Downtown White Castle photo op

You’re welcome.

No visit to Las Vegas is complete without a metric ass-ton of photos, so get busy.

Make sure to check out our list of 25 Offbeat Las Vegas Photo Ops.

11 Amazing Things to Love About Las Vegas

It’s time to celebrate some things we love about Las Vegas!

There’s a lot to love about Sin City, including all its various forms of sin, but these are a few that leapt to mind immediately. Note: We were going to say “leaped,” but “leapt” just sounds fancier.

Share what you love about Las Vegas in the comments.

1. Bellagio Fountains

Leave this off any top 10 list of things to love and you have to forfeit your Las Vegas card. These traffic-stopping dancing fountains, set to iconic music, have enthralled visitors for years, and we hope the dancing never stops.

Bellagio fountain

The Bellagio fountains use four types of nozzles: Oarsmen, shooters, super shooters and extreme shooters. Extreme shooters send water up to 460 feet high.

2. Sexiest Shopping Mall, Ever

Yes, the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace is a shopping mall, but man alive, what a mall it is.

Forum Shops

The Forum Shops at Caesars is the highest grossing mall in the U.S.

3. Strip Clubs

Hey, we waited until number three before getting to some actual sin! Dancers travel from around the world to perform in Las Vegas strip clubs, providing a quantity and quality of entertainment unparalleled in the known universe. Make sure to brush up on your strip club slang.

Pole dancer

Fun fact: Strippers make more when they’re ovulating.

4. Bigass Slot Machine Jackpots

Las Vegas remains the undisputed king of life-changing slot jackpots, and the hits just keep on coming. A player recently won $1.4 million at Cosmopolitan on Wheel of Fortune. We’re pretty sure it was one of the machines we were playing a week earlier. Not bitter at all. Another lucky bastard won $1.3 million at the Cosmo a month earlier. In June, a woman won $1.4 million at Golden Gate.

Megabucks

The biggest Megabucks jackpot in Vegas history was $39,710,826.36, won at Excalibur.

5. OMG the Food, Though

There are so many award-winning restaurants in Las Vegas, they need to invent more awards. There’s something to suit just about any craving, and even if you visited a Las Vegas restaurant every day, it would take a decade to visit them all. Oh, and don’t even get us started about the desserts.

Joe's bone-in filet

This bone-in filet at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab is the second best thing we’ve ever had our mouth on.

6. Highest Concentration of Cirque Shows Anywhere

Cirque du Soleil has been in Las Vegas so long, it’s easy to take for granted the sheer variety and quality of these outsized theatrical spectacles. Have trouble keeping all the Las Vegas Cirque shows straight? We’ve got this with our One-Minute Guide to All the Cirque Shows in Las Vegas.

Ka Cirque du Soleil

If you see “Ka” at MGM Grand, don’t miss this photo op.

7. Venetian Eye Candy

So many Las Vegas resorts feature stunning architecture, it’s difficult to single one out, but we will, anyway. A stroll through the Venetian provides so much eye candy you’re likely to leave with diabetes. In a good way.

Venetian

Venetian is gorgeous, inside and out.

8. Fremont Street Experience Light Shows

It’s easy to take the free nightly light shows at Fremont Street Experience for granted, but they are a must-do. The hourly shows are free and feature bands like The Killers, Imagine Dragons, Green Day and others. The canopy will soon get a $32 million upgrade, so expect a whole new level of “What the hell did I just see?” Fun fact: The canopy’s LED brightness will go from 700 nits to 5,000 nits, whatever those might actually be.

9. The Hooch

Do you know this blog at all? Of course the hooch is on our list! Las Vegas is known for its destination drinking, and there’s no place on Earth with the sheer variety or quantity of alcoholic beverages on tap. Literally. Make sure to check out all our completely consensual panty-dropper cocktails.

Pineapple Express cocktail

And they claim you can’t have a crush on an inanimate object.

10. Neon You Want to Dry Hump

Our love affair with neon will never fade, and while lots of casinos are opted for LEDs, there’s still plenty of gorgeous neon in Las Vegas. If you’re pining for even more neon, here’s a bonus thing to love about Las Vegas: “Brilliant” at the Neon Museum, where classic signs spring back to life with the assistance of projection mapping technology.

Flamingo neon

Not for actual licking. Did we really need to tell you that, weirdo?

11. Vegas People

There’s a lot to love about Las Vegas, but ultimately it’s all about the people. It’s about the incredible people who work here and make our vacations possible. It’s about the strangers who become lifelong friends. It’s about the seemingly inexhaustible supply of colorful characters. Las Vegas is the magnet and we’re all wearing iron thongs. Or something.

Beer bottles

Vegas friends are the best kind of friends. Other than rich, forgetful friends, of course.

So, let’s hear more about the things you love about Las Vegas.

Bellagio Conservatory’s Fall Display Raises the Bar, Again

It’s not officially fall unless the Bellagio has unveiled its fall display, and that it has.

The fall 2018 display is called “Falling Asleep,” although, we can’t imagine why.

Bellagio Conservatory

Always stunning, rarely cheesy, the Bellagio Conservatory is one of our favorite places to get our fill of whimsy.

Bellagio has pulled out all the stops for its latest free feast for the eyes.

The exhibit was inspired by “the mythology of the goddess of harvest.”

The slumbering goddess is 38 feet tall and 28 feet long. She is fashioned from natural materials like hydrangeas and oak leaves.

In Greek mythology, the goddess of the harvest is Demeter. It’s also an answer to the question, “What’s a fundamental unit of length in the metric system?”

Oh, like you’re even reading this blog post at this point. You’re just here for the photos.

Bellagio Conservatory

Harvest goddess’ eye make-up is on fleek.

The fall, sorry “harvest,” display at Bellagio runs through Nov. 24, 2018, then it’s on to the Conservatory’s popular holiday extravaganza, Dec. 1 to Jan. 6, 2018.

Bellagio maintains an impressive 120 people on its horticulture staff and they were all kept busy with the fall display.

Bellagio Conservatory

Grammable AF.

The fall exhibit boasts foxes frolicking with acorns. It’s a fun game trying to decide which is a genetic mutation, the foxes or the acorns.

Bellagio Conservatory

Frolic while you can, foxes, for soon you will be replaced with polar bears wearing Coca-Cola branded winter wear.

Here’s one of their mutant fox friends.

Bellagio Conservatory

Somebody clearly got the memo about keeping to the “Falling Asleep” theme.

The exhibit also features two 10-foot-tall tigers, each covered with more than 290 pounds of seeds.

Bellagio always has its eye on Asian guests (who are often very enthusiastic gamblers), so it’s likely the inclusion of foxes and tigers in the fall display isn’t a coincidence.

There’s a famous Chinese idiom, “a fox exploits a tiger’s might,” which tells the tale of a fox about to be devoured by a tiger. The fox convinces the tiger to follow him around to show what a bigshot he is, and everyone runs away. The tiger is duly impressed and lets the fox live, never realizing people were fleeing from him, not the fox. The fox had just assumed the tiger’s majesty.

We’re fairly sure the horticulturalists at Bellagio would say, “Bro, you’re reading way too much into this.”

Bellagio Conservatory

Least favorite Conservatory exhibit of Siegfried and Roy, ever.

Bellagio’s latest effort brings back a crowd favorite, the enchanted talking tree.

Yes, it’s actually fairly creepy, but we’re going with “crowd favorite” just in case Bellagio sees our story and wants to share it.

Bellagio Conservatory

The Bellagio Conservatory literally has every wavelength of light in the visible spectrum.

The eyes of the enchanted tree move, and you’d swear they have somebody behind the scenes making the eyes follow you.

Bellagio Conservatory

The enchanted tree has the ability to peer into your soul. Actual results may vary.

There are photo ops everywhere at the Bellagio Conservatory, including larger-than-life peacocks, dragon flies and autumnal leaves.

Bellagio Conservatory

Random dragonflies? Nope, in China they’re a good luck charm associated with prosperity.

It’s interesting to note photos of the fall exhibit on Bellagio’s Web site don’t actually reflect what’s in the exhibit. The photos show two massive peacocks where the sleeping goddess is.

We suspect the peacocks asked for more money, and poof, mulch.

Bellagio Conservatory

Bellagio Conservatory nerds will note they’ve cleverly repurposed last year’s peacock tails in this year’s display.

Bellagio has truly outdone itself this time, and the Conservatory remains one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas other than watching women in short skirts on a windy day.

Oh, crap, this is so not getting shared by Bellagio.

Bellagio Conservatory

Everywhere you look there are things you’ve never seen before. Take that, every other free attraction in the world.

Just one more look at this beautiful fall odyssey.

Bellagio Conservatory

Just see it for yourself, already.

The Bellagio Conservatory is a must-do every time you’re here, because it’s the most Las Vegas thing you can do that doesn’t involve dice or sequins.

Kind Heaven at Linq Shares Fresh Renderings

One of the more enigmatic (ballsy) projects in the works on the Las Vegas Strip, Kind Heaven, has provided a fresh batch of renderings for the $100 million attraction.

And by “fresh,” of course, we mean they were released back in July but we do this blog as a hobby and never got around to sharing them, so sue us.

Kind Heaven is slated to open in 2019.

Kind Heaven

Kind Heaven should definitely have an acupuncture kiosk for the dude in the white shirt and his friend.

We’ve talked about Kind Heaven before, and here’s how we’ve decided to describe it: Kind Heaven is an Asian-themed walk-through attraction with music festival roots.

The attraction is a collaboration between the owner of Linq resort, Caesars Entertainment, and Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell.

It’s a partnership one might describe as an “Odd Couple” rather than a “match made in Kind Heaven,” but the idea’s so crazy, it just might work.

Kind Heaven

Unless we’re mistaken, Kind Heaven is going to be body parts-friendly.

Read more about Kind Heaven.

Kind Heaven will take up 100,000 square feet and boast 40 food stations and bars.

Kind Heaven

We refuse to make smart-ass comments for every rendering. Even if one includes a military coup.

It’s also been promised Kind Heaven will feature 130 artists on five stages. Presumably, not all on the same night.

Kind Heaven is expected to dovetail into other offerings at Linq Las Vegas, including a new sports book called The Book (in the former Tag lounge space) and Fly Linq, a new zipline.

Kind Heaven

It’s tough to think about ziplines when Amorino gelato is also in this rendering.

Here’s a rendering of a cone we personally ate at Amorino gelato.

Amorino Gelato Las Vegas

Yes, it’s random, but we’re drunk.

Back to the subject at hand.

Fly Linq is scheduled to open Nov. 9, 2018.

Here’s what Fly Linq looked like the last time we visited the Linq promenade.

Fly Linq zipline

In our day job, we work at SlotZilla, the downtown zipline, so we’re Switzerland on Fly Linq.

That’s the take-off tower for Fly Linq (on Las Vegas Boulevard), and here’s a look at the landing platform, all the way back at the base of the High Roller, the world’s tallest Ferris wheel. Suck it, New York. And possibly Dubai.

Fly Linq Las Vegas zipline

Given the location of the landing platform, the Fly Linq zipline is poised to be a High Roller customer delivery system.

On the whole, Kind Heaven, the new sports book and zipline are intended to appeal to a younger audience than is typical for Linq and its surrounding casinos.

Caesars Entertainment and other casino companies are grappling with changing gambling habits, and Kind Heaven is one of the boldest moves on The Strip in some time.

Kind Heaven

Aw, crap, we’ve run out of blog post and still have more renderings. Proceed will the filler!

If you’ve ever had a fantasy about being hit on by a monk, Kind Heaven is going to be right up your alley.

Here’s another rendering!

Kind Heaven

Apparently, people who do renderings also have issues with alcohol.

Kind Heaven says it will make guests feel like they’re “walking through an actual night market, getting all the scents and smells.”

First, we’re a little unclear about the distinction between a scent and a smell.

Second, we’re not convinced that’s a selling point. Have these people ever been to an actual night market?

Either way, we’ve now had enough additional words to share another rendering.

Kind Heaven Las Vegas

This is the view of Kind Heaven from the Flamingo. We’ve got to say, Caesars Entertainment has done a kick-ass job of re-imagining what was previously the alley between Flamingo and O’Sheas.

Random O’Sheas memories here.

Here’s a teaser video for Kind Heaven. Please try and keep up.

Here are our top eight buzz phrases from that video, because somebody has to do it.

1. “Experience collectors.”
2. “Inspired to take the journey of transformation.”
3. “Adventurous, curious and connected.”
4. “Full immersion into culture and exhilaration.”
5. “Ready to catalyze change.”
6. “Rebirth your senses.”
7. “Revolutionizing the audio landscape.”
8. “Seekers of the elevated moments in life.”

Not all the announced elements of Kind Heaven—like holographic wrestling monkeys and  streetwalkers—are likely to survive the development process, but from what’s been shared, the entertainment district could very well deliver what Las Vegas visitors crave most, unforgettable experiences they can’t find anywhere else.

Golden Gate’s New High Limit Room Boasts Historic Surprises

Golden Gate has unveiled its new high limit room and guests can expect several surprises that highlight the casino’s colorful past.

Golden Gate high limit room

Same number of blackjack tables as before (three), but quite a bit more elbow room.

While the previous high limit room had only table games, now it boasts high limit slots as well. Note: Downtown, “high limit” is relative. Several of the slots are $1 machines.

The new high limit room (specifically, the slot machine area) integrates space previously devoted to the casino’s cashier cage. The cage has been relocated closer to the hotel’s registration desk.

But the games aren’t necessarily the most interesting aspect of Golden Gate’s new high limit room. That distinction belongs to several hidden gems guests are invited to discover during their visit.

For starters, there’s an unmarked door with an inconspicuous knob which serves as a sort of portal back in time.

Spoiler alert!

Golden Gate high limit room

Coincidentally, Inconspicuous Knobs was the name of our band in high school.

Behind the door is a section of the original brickwork of the Hotel Nevada, predecessor of the Golden Gate.

Hotel Nevada opened in 1906. The address: 1 Fremont Street.

Golden Gate high limit room

When it was built, Hotel Nevada was the only concrete hotel in southern Nevada.

Another charming surprise awaits nearby, tucked away in a hidden corner of the high limit room.

There’s an eye-catching photo op, a floor-to-ceiling “flapper,” but that’s not the surprise.

Golden Gate flapper

Fun fact: When the hotel opened, rooms cost $1 per day.

Next to the flapper, make sure to check out a fountain from the earliest days of the hotel.

It’s estimated the fountain was added in 1909.

Golden Gate fountain

It took hundreds of hours to painstakingly put these ceramic tiles into place. Then again, what the hell else did they have to do in 1909?

It’s unknown if the fountain was used for drinking, or if it was merely decorative, but it’s an utterly unique Las Vegas curiosity.

As you explore the Golden Gate’s high limit room, take special note of the archways.

Golden Gate arches

Arches utilize rigid, curved members to support loads. Architecture is hot.

The archways, too, are a nod to the casino’s history. Work crews realized early on the arches were an integral part of the building’s structural integrity.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at two of the arches before the build-out.

Golden Gate arches

“Best Las Vegas Blog” awards don’t just magically happen, you know. Things must be breached.

The arches inspired the design of the doorways—practically and aesthetically—between the table games area and slot machine area.

Golden Gate high limit room

If you’re a dude, you have to love dark wood. It’s the law.

Golden Gate’s new high limit room won us over immediately, not only because of its clever throwbacks, but because some of our favorite old-school Top Dollar reel slots were relocated from the main casino floor.

Hint: Never take the first offer!

Golden Gate high limit

You know where to find us.

The high limit room’s dark wood is very appealing, and the space manages to feel private while providing “windows” into the lively casino.

We especially like this framed window that looks out into the dice pit.

Golden Gate high limit room

You can call it “craps,” but the cool kids call it “dice.”

Another benefit of the new high limit room is it’s a good 30 decibels quieter than the main casino.

There are more surprises to come at Golden Gate.

The casino recently expanded into the former La Bayou casino, and another expansion took up the space previously occupied by Du-Par’s restaurant.

Next on the agenda at Golden Gate is a new sports book.

The casino is making the most of its tiny footprint, and remains one of our favorite places to play (and drink) in downtown Las Vegas.

Kudos to the Golden Gate for finding a way to provide shiny new things while giving a hat tip to history.

Golden Gate High Limit Room

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Fright Dome Haunted House is Done at Circus Circus

Popular Las Vegas haunted house Fright Dome is cancelled at Circus Circus and we’re your only source for behind-the-scenes scoop about the direful news.

Here’s the lowdown.

Fright Dome being canceled at Circus Circus is the culmination of months of drama between Circus Circus (owned by MGM Resorts) and Egan Productions, the folks behind the lucrative Fright Dome attraction.

Fright Dome

Fear taps into our fight-or-flight response, releasing a hormone called epinephrine. Yeah, we still don’t get it.

The conflict centers around another attraction by Egan Productions, the Saw escape room.

Never heard of it? That’s part of the problem.

Rumor has it the Saw escape room attraction has been bleeding money for months. According to our sources, Saw’s investors have bailed and insiders believe the demise of Fright Dome could also signal a nail in the coffin for Saw.

It seems financial pressures from Saw resulted in Egan Production’s Jason Egan demanding a bigger cut of Fright Dome profits. While Circus Circus is said to have been open to negotiating Egan’s percentage, Egan stopped returning calls and tensions ran high.

In July, we heard things got so bad, Circus Circus staff began tossing out Fright Dome equipment and sets.

You know how ugly break-ups can be.

The ongoing conflict reached Defcon 1 levels when Circus Circus expressed it would run its own haunted house, essentially cutting Fright Dome out of the annual windfall it’s enjoyed for 15 years.

It’s unknown if Circus Circus plans to follow through on its threat.

For its part, Egan Productions isn’t saying much. In a statement, the company said, “Circus Circus has informed Egan Productions that it will not move forward with Fright Dome for 2018. While we regret this bad news, we are grateful to the people of Las Vegas for supporting Fright Dome over the past 15 years. We look forward to many successful Halloween events in the future.”

The long and mutually-beneficial relationship between Fright Dome and Circus Circus has, it seems, is done for good. In fact, it’s as if the attraction never existed. The plug has been pulled on Fright Dome’s Web site.

Before Fright Dome closed at Adventuredome, it was considered the premier Halloween haunted house in Las Vegas.

It featured five acres of space and six distinct haunted house experiences. Favorites included homages to the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and others. Other themes in the mix have included “Hillbilly Hell” and “Flesh Feast.”

Other recent haunted houses included “Zombie City” with a zombie theme, “Fright Dome’s Urban Legends” and “The Anniversary,” Fright Dome’s homage to itself, as far as we can tell.

Of course, no self-respecting haunted house would be complete without an ample supply of killer clowns.

While we are not a haunted house person, we suspect more than a few Las Vegas visitors will be disappointed by the closing of Fright Dome.

Update (9/14/18): A representative of the Saw escape room contacted us with information that contradicts several of the things we’ve heard about the attraction. The rep says Fright Dome doesn’t store anything at Circus Circus, so that would presumably make it impossible for Circus Circus to throw anything belonging to Fright Dome out.  The rep also states the owner of Saw is a sole owner, with no other investors. Saw also claims it is not “bleeding money,” but is, in fact, selling out. The company claims Saw is one of the most successful escape rooms in the world.