Earlier this month I flew to Las Vegas for a hotel convention. The convention went from Tuesday morning through Thursday evening. I arrived late Monday and flew home Friday morning, so the only touring time I had was during the convention days.
On Thursday afternoon, classes ended early which gave me a few open hours before the closing celebration in the evening. This was my opportunity to explore a little of “Sin City.”
The convention was held in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, so I stayed in the adjacent hotel. One of the sites I was hoping to see was the Paris Hotel and Eiffel Tower. The Mandalay Bay is located on the southern end of the strip, the Stratosphere is at the northern end. The Paris Hotel (and the Bellagio across the street) is near the middle at 1.6 miles north of the Mandalay Bay.
In all, the Las Vegas strip stretches over four miles. Walking from the Mandalay Bay to the Paris Hotel is a little over a mile and a half – Google Maps says it should take 34 minutes, but it would probably tale me longer.
Walk or Ride?
In order to get from one end of the strip to the other, there are several options. There is bus service, a monorail, and free hotel trams, in addition to taxis or ride-sharing.
Prices for taxis and ride-sharing vary widely depending on route and time of day. Bus passes start at $6 for a two hour pass and $8 for a 24 hour one. Buses stop at multiple places along the strip.
The Las Vegas Monorail is located about one block east of the strip. It runs from 7 am to midnight, stopping at seven hotels from the MGM Grand to the Stratosphere. (The MGM Grand is a couple blocks north of Mandalay Bay). One ride on the Monorail is $5, while a day pass is $13.
I was being cheap and wanted to do some walking, so I opted for a combination of walking and free hotel tram rides. The free trams run on the west side of the strip and connect some of the hotels. There are three different trams and the ride from one end of the strip to the other is not continuous.
I rode the tram from the Mandalay Bay Hotel to the Luxor, where I exited and walked to the strip. I walked to the Paris Hotel, then across the street to Caesar’s Palace and the Bellagio. For my return trip, I took the free tram from the Bellagio to the Park MGM. I walked from there to the Luxor and then took the tram from the Luxor to the Mandalay Bay. This map shows all the routes.
Casinos and More
To get to the tram station within the Mandalay Bay Hotel, I walked through the casino. Walking from the tram stop at the Park MGM to the stop at the Luxor also includes walking through casinos. In Las Vegas, the shortest distance between two points is always through a casino. I wasn’t tempted, but several people were sitting by the machines.
If you are visiting Las Vegas with children, be aware that women in skimpy show costumes often walk the strip. For a nominal fee, you can take a picture with them. I wasn’t interested in this either, although I did sneak a picture to share.
Walking the Strip
As soon as I exited the Luxor Hotel tram station, I crossed Las Vegas Boulevard and began walking north. I soon realized my mistake. It was a warm and sunny day – almost too warm – and I had chosen to walk in full sun. I should have walked on the shady side of the street – where it was still very warm – for at least part of the way.
I walked for several blocks until I noticed a Coco-Cola store. I wondered if they actually sold cold pop. They did. I was surprised that the icy cold beverage only cost $1.75. I enjoyed it as I made my way further along the strip.
Paris Hotel and Eiffel Tower
After a short wait, it was my turn to ascend the tower. The guide operating the elevator said the tower is a half size replica of the one in Paris. Like the original, 360° views from the top are available. One of my favorite views, though, is of the fountains in front of the Bellagio Hotel.
After enjoying the views and fountain show from the top of the tower, I descended and crossed the street to watch the fountain show from ground level. The water is sprayed in patterns that coordinate with a variety of music. There are four different sizes of water jets – some shooting water over 450 feet in the air. The shows happen ever half hour during the day and every fifteen minutes in the evening – from 8 pm until midnight. I could spend all day watching the musical fountain show.
Since I planned to take the tram from the Bellagio, I went inside the hotel when the fountain show was finished. I sat for a few minutes admiring the Chihuly ceiling before continuing on my way.
Hotels and casinos line the strip – each block is the home of two or three different ones. The architectural styles of each hotel are different and interesting.
The New York-New York Hotel was built to look like the New York City skyline of the 1940s. Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge replicas stand in front of the hotel.
I’m not much of a shopper, but mixed in among the hotels and casinos are a variety of nice shops and restaurants. There is something for everyone.
Everyone should visit Las Vegas once. Although there are parts of it that I can easily pass up, I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit.