There's more to Las Vegas than gambling. Click ahead for entertainment that makes you feel good about dodging slot machines and smoke-filled casinos. (Editor's note: We found out these dolphins suffer from lack of shade and depression. We urge the Mirage Hotel to hire veterinarians and environmentalists to make changes so these creatures have good accommodations! Or donate them to a dolphin habitat where they can live out their lives in peace.)
This was one of my best friends at the Mirage Hotel. The dolphins live in pools within Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. Hang around long enough to watch "play time" with the dolphins. The dolphin tanks include subterranean viewing rooms.
Click here to go to the Mirage Hotel web site.
Instead of fighting the bustle of the city, you can watch it from your hotel room. Here's the view as day slips into night.
After the sun goes down, take in a show at one of the big hotels. Try to attend a show once every night or two you are there.
Start planning your trip with a visit to the official web site of the las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority click here - lvcva.com.
Just north of Las Vegas is Area 51, the UFO siting spot. This is the famed "black mailbox" (black refers to secret government activities, not the color of the box).
The real secret of Area 51: no aliens, but the government tests new weapons there. The facilities include a nine mile landing strip.
This is the marker for the little town of Rachel. This town is famous among UFO researchers. In Rachel is a cafe, now known as the Little A'Le'Inn. They sell alien souvenirs and the food is good. Most popular are the alien burger and alien veggie burger.
Area 51 is difficult to find and it's a long drive (150 miles north of Las Vegas), so the best way to do it is to sign up for a guided tour. Pick up this brochure from your hotel lobby or go to their web site: AdventurePhotoTours.com (this site takes a while to download, but it's there) they invite you to call 702-889-8687 with any questions. They also do Grand Canyon tours.
The Washington Post - government cops to existence of Area 51 in 2013 (eight years after my visit) washingtonpost.com
Here's a rough map of how to reach Area 51.
Map is from Maps.Yahoo.com; photo of warning signs is a postcard, distributed by Custom Souvenir and Novelty, Las Vegas, NV. All other photos by Nori J. Muster, 2005.
Las Vegas offers a good variety of organic food for vegetarians. One of the best is Rainbows End, an old-time health food store with a sit down restaurant inside. Be sure to pickup natural sunblock, organic fresh fruit, and snacks to eat back at the hotel.
If you're staying on the Strip, take I-15 north a few exists to Sahara Avenue, go east about a mile and you will see Rainbows End on the left. Large parking lot behind the store.
Other good bets: Just west of the city is a warehouse size Whole Foods Market that offers numerous food bars and indoor/outdoor seating. The city also offers a Sunflower Market, two Trader Joes, and a Wild Oats Market. The addresses and directions are listed at HappyCow.net.
Once you get to know the streets in Las Vegas, you will see that all journeys begin with I-15.
Just twenty-five miles outside Las Vegas is Lake Las Vegas Resort. It's a European village set in a golden desert landscape. The village consists of the MonteLago Village Resort and the Ritz-Carlton. These are condo hotel complexes, where investors buy the units and the company rents them out to travelers.
The Hyatt also has a beautiful resort hotel in Lake Las Vegas, just on the other side of the golf course. The Hyatt looks like Morocco with beautiful views of the lake.
During your stay at Lake Las Vegas Resort, drive down to Lake Mead and Boulder City for more fun in the desert.