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Las Vegas has garnered quite the reputation as being perhaps the premier gambling and casino destination in the world, but don’t get the wrong idea, this isn’t the only thing to do while you’re there. The city’s motto is also “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”, which seems to hint at certain daring indiscretions. While it’s true that you can probably find a number of questionable activities to engage in, Vegas also plays host to some attractions which are altogether wholesome and accessible to most people. So, whether you’re looking for a unique nature experience, want to explore the various historic landmarks, or are perhaps interested in more conventional tourist fare, Las Vegas has something to offer you.
Freemont Street Experience
In downtown Las Vegas there is a 5-block section on the western side of Freemont Street which has become known as the “Freemont Street Experience”. Simply put, it’s a large outdoor shopping center / mall which also plays host to a spectacular light show of sorts. The main attraction of course is the barrel vault canopy overhead which is actually an elongated display screen that covers around four city blocks (also called “Viva Vision”). Aside from the amazing visual presentation that the FSE offers, there are often free concerts staged there on one of the two sound stages. Each night and again at dusk, Freemont street fires up an amazing light show presentation, so if you’re taking a trip to Vegas, plan accordingly if you want to catch it. While you’re there on Freemont, you might also want to head over to Neonopolis, which is a very intriguing mall / entertainment complex to say the least, which contains a number of bars, restaurants as well as retail shops.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
If you’re looking for something a bit more closely connected to nature, why not check out the Red Rock Canyon park? Needless to say, this outstanding destination located just west of Las Vegas itself is both beautiful and enchanting. Red Rock Canyon offers visitors a comfortable glimpse of the Mojave desert including its flora, fauna and various imposing rock formations. For those that have never explored the Mojave before, this is perhaps the best opportunity to do so. In fact, some of the sights found at Red Rock almost look like they belong on the surface of Mars, especially around dusk when all your surroundings start to turn a hazy reddish color. But sightseeing isn’t the only thing to do at Red Rock, you can also go horseback riding, biking or explore the 30 miles of hiking trails found there. Moreover, if you’re into nature photography, you’ll probably fall in love with this park straight away. Conversely, if you’re just looking to escape the madness of Vegas itself for a day, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area also makes an excellent picnic destination.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
For those who consider themselves to be big fans of racing, a trip to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway should definitely be in order. The racing complex itself covers an area of around 1,200 acres and is located to the northeast of the city. Since it opened in 1971, the speedway has hosted a large number of events, mostly drag races. In recent times however, the LVMS has become a home for NASCAR racing. In fact, the Kobalt Tools 400, Boyd Gaming 300, and Smith’s 350 (all of which are annual / multi-annual races) are held there. In short, if you’re a fan of any kind of racing and are going to be in Las Vegas for a while, this is definitely a destination worth checking out.
Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay
Certainly the Mojave Desert is an unlikely place to imagine there being a world-class aquarium. Nevertheless, if you’re traveling to Vegas anytime soon you mustn’t miss Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay. With one of the largest tanks in North America (at 1,300,000 US gallons [4,900,000 L]), Shark Reef is certainly very imposing. Perhaps one of its most interesting facets is its “shark tunnel” which affords visitors the opportunity to walk under the water amongst various types of creatures. Aside from containing various types of aquatic species like Green Sea Turtles, Sand Tiger Sharks, and Green Sawfish., the aquarium also holds a Great Hammerhead Shark. In addition to the marine life, the complex also features a Komodo dragon as well as Burmese Pythons.
Smith Center for the Performing Arts
If you’re looking for something perhaps a bit more artistic or cultural, why not plan on paying a visit to the Smith Center for the Performing Arts? This sprawling arts complex is situated on 61 acres in downtown Las Vegas and consists of no less than four main concert halls / settings. First off there’s Reynolds Hall, which boasts 5 levels of seating and is designed to pull the audience closer to the stage. Then there’s the Cabaret Jazz Theater which is known for its intimacy. There’s also the Troesh Studio which often plays host to various types of professional rehearsals. Last but not least, there’s the massive Donald W. Reynolds Symphony Park, which as its name implies, is a premier destination for symphonic concerts. Aside from regular activities from the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Nevada Ballet Theatre, there are also quite a large number of Broad Way musicals staged at the Smith Center.
Adventuredome Theme Park
Last but not least we have the Adventuredome Theme Park, which is a massive 5-acre indoor amusement park. The park itself is connected to the Circus Circus Hotel and boasts an impressive 25 rides, rock climbing wall, an arcade as well as an 18 hole miniature golf course. There are also two bona-fide roller coasters (in addition to all the thrill rides) including the Canyon Blaster coaster. If you’re going to be dropping into Las Vegas in or around Halloween, be sure to stop by the Adventuredome because every year it is transformed into the “Frightdome” (where everything inside takes on a Halloween theme).