The railroad boomtown of Las Vegas got its start in 1906. But it wasn’t until the 1940s that casino hotels began popping up along the dusty two-lane highway from Los Angeles, today known as Las Vegas Boulevard, aka “The Strip.” The famous Strip is a hub of frenzied gambling resorts with restaurants, nightclubs, shopping promenades, and stage shows that go nonstop 24/7, 365 days a year.
Start your trip along the Strip at the swankiest resort in town, (1) Wynn Las Vegas (3131 Las Vegas Boulevard S.; www.wynnlasvegas.com), which houses a Ferrari–Maserati car dealership for high rollers. Cross west over the Strip to the (2) Fashion Show Mall (3200 Las Vegas Boulevard S.; www.thefashionshow.com); in front is a monumental multimedia installation, “The Cloud,” which at night serves as a movie screen. Walk south to (3) TI (Treasure Island) (3300 Las Vegas Boulevard S.; www.treasureisland.com) casino hotel. In Sirens’ Cove, a mock pirate battle of the sexes with flashy pyrotechnics takes place several times nightly by the bridge.
Look over at the east side of the Strip. The (4) Venetian (3355 Las Vegas Boulevard S.; www.venetian.com) casino hotel, an Italianate triumph complete with a replica Rialto Bridge and canals plied by singing gondoliers.
Cross back to the west side of the Strip. Walk south to the (5) Mirage (3400 Las Vegas Boulevard S.; www.mirage.com) casino hotel, well known for its faux-Polynesian volcano. Tip: It rumbles and belches smoke before erupting theatrically at night. Cool off inside the Mirage by walking through the rainforest atrium conservatory and past the lobby aquarium. Exit by the white tiger habitat—at feeding time, if you’re lucky.
Walk south to the gargantuan (6) Forum Shops (3500 Las Vegas Boulevard S.; www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=224), filled with noteworthy catwalk designers’ boutiques. Enter by the grand escalator spiral and stroll through the mall into (7) Caesars Palace (3570 Las Vegas Boulevard S.; www.harrahs.com) casino-hotel resort, a Greco-Roman fantasia that debuted on the Strip in the 1960s. Farther south, reached via a pedestrian overpass, is the alluring (8) Bellagio (3600 Las Vegas Boulevard S.; www.bellagio.com) casino-hotel resort, which faces a miniature version of Lake Como. Choreographed fountain shows inevitably bring traffic to a halt whenever the operatic arias start.
You’re standing at the famous “Four Corners” intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road. Look northeast at the fabulous neon of the (9) Flamingo (3555 Las Vegas Boulevard S.; www.harrahs.com). Those lights have shone as brightly as a peacock’s feathers since 1946. The infamous casino hotel opened by gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, who named it after his girlfriend, the long-legged, redheaded dancer Virginia Hill. Cross east over the Strip, then north over Flamingo Road. Walk a few steps farther north to see this notorious landmark for yourself.
Shop National Geographic