While home at one point to Elvis, the Rat Pack and Liberace (now Bette, Cher, Elton and Barry), Vegas also has a history steeped in tacky. Consider yourself forewarned. Wandering around Downtown after sundown, paying money to climb to the tops of things, waiting to get into a club you know you don't belong at … time best spent elsewhere.
Almost as pedestrian as it is shabby, the Fremont Street Experience
is a "must see" highlighted in every pickpocket's guide book. But if blinking lights and craning your neck like an ostrich in a rainstorm appeals, do what you must to hide your belongings where you would at least notice an intruding hand.
Unlike San Francisco and New York, whose Chinatowns sprung up via a natural, organic influx of immigrants, resulting in a thick concentration of pan-Asian culture, Vegas' Chinatown
is about as real as the Venetian's gondoliers' accents. Hokey, garish, and filled with mediocre restaurants and bubble tea houses, this area just west of the Strip at Spring Mountain is best left to the masses. Only Tofu Hut and Joyful House redeem.
Attractions with no attraction
Topping the list: Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
, M&M's World
, The Titanic Exhibit
, Tournament of Kings
in fact, stay out of the Excalibur and Circus-Circus altogether if possible. If it can be found at the Mall of America, skip it.
The Monorail vs The Deuce
Money-wise, at $2 per ride ($5 for a 24-hour pass), the Deuce double-decker busses are cost-effective and take you further and wider. The Monorail, at $5 per ride ($12 for a one-day pass), takes you from the MGM Grand only as far as the Sahara and is not available 24/7 like the Deuce. Time-wise, they both fail miserably. Take a cab.
If your heart's desire is to ascend to the top of the Eiffel Tower, then Paris, France awaits. Vegas' pint-sized Eiffel-ette is not going to scratch that itch. Want to see the Pyramids of Giza? Skip the Luxor and go to Giza. Avoid theme-y recreations of France, Italy and beyond
and that includes gondola rides in the Canal Shops at the Venetian and note that Lake Las Vegas is manmade. For a truly jaw-dropping vista of the valley without the cheesy costumes, the best view (other than from a tandem skydive plummeting to the desert floor) is from the top of the Stratosphere the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States.
Decrepit wedding chapels
Most of those wedding chapels
of old are … old. And in varying states of disrepair. Unless you're truly in a hurry (in which case there really is a drive-through chapel
), skip the Chapel of the Bells/Flowers/West, and the Wee Kirk O' the Heather and either invest just a tad
more for one of the myriad Strip hotel chapels many with useful amenities and package deals (adventurous couples can really stretch their imaginations with helicopter rides to the Grand Canyon for a sunset ceremony, a night-time ceremony over the Strip or even a wedding in the ice bar at New Zealand export, Minus 5 at Mandalay Place) or, for the most personal service, held anywhere you desire, have a friend or family member ordained
via the Universal Life Church (free, takes under one minute) to legally bind you in holy matrimony.
Got any more places to avoid? Have your say using the comments form below.
Next: Near the beaten track