Fantasy is the theme along this stretch of the Las Vegas Strip. Where else can you see the skyline of New York and an Egyptian pyramid—all within a few miles?
Before the theme-resort building bonanza of the 1990s, there was little action to be found around Tropicana Avenue at the south end of the Strip. Of course, the paradise-themed (1) Tropicana (3801 Las Vegas Boulevard S.; www.tropicanalv.com) casino hotel had been standing on the corner since 1957. Yet it took more than a half century for this area to become the all-day, all-night satellite hub that it is today, full of boutique hotels, fine dining, casino gaming, entertainment extravaganzas, and ultra lounges and nightclubs.
After paying your respects to the vintage Tropicana, cross north over Tropicana Avenue using the pedestrian overpass. Jump-start your tour at what is now the world’s largest hotel, the (2) MGM Grand (3799 Las Vegas Boulevard S.; www.mgmgrand.com) casino hotel resort, which has more than 5,000 guest rooms. Even if you don’t stay here overnight, walk through the glassed-enclosed lion habitat, where hungry felines sprawl above tourists’ heads.
Cross west over Las Vegas Boulevard to the mini-Big Apple skyline of (3) New York-New York casino hotel (3790 Las Vegas Boulevard S.; www.nynyhotelcasino.com). Take a quick break on one of the benches next to the pint-size replica of the Brooklyn Bridge. Duck inside the casino for a free trick demonstration at Houdini’s Magic Shop or a rattling ride on the roller coaster, which whips around the hotel’s skyscraper-bedecked exterior.
Cross over Tropicana Avenue south toward the gaudily colored castle towers and onto the drawbridge of (4) Excalibur (3850 Las Vegas Boulevard S.; www.excalibur.com) casino hotel. Catch the free tram south to (5) Luxor (3900 Las Vegas Boulevard S.; www.luxor.com) casino hotel. Once a kingdom of ancient Egyptian kitsch, complete with a museum-quality replica of King Tut’s tomb and the Great Temple of Ramses II, today the signature black pyramid has been reimagined as a chic nightlife destination. After dark, look for an enormous white beacon of light shooting straight up out of the pyramid into space, where it’s said to be visible by astronauts.
Walk through Luxor into airy (6) Mandalay Place (3950 Las Vegas Boulevard S.) shopping mall, where gourmet chocolate and wine shops stands beside European fashion designers’ showrooms. At the south end of the concourse, take the escalator down to (7) Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Boulevard S.; www.mandalaybay.com) casino hotel resort, with its galaxy of eateries and entertainment venues: rock and roll shows and gospel Sunday brunch at House of Blues, championship boxing matches in the special-events arena, and concerts under the stars on artificial Mandalay Beach. Step inside THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, an artistic boutique hotel-within-a-hotel. Take the glass elevators up to rooftop Mix lounge for incredible views over the Strip and the desert mountains of Las Vegas.
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