By Rob Trautner
Las Vegas is constantly evolving. There are always new casinos to visit, new restaurants to try and new sights to see. I try to hit as many new things as possible every time I visit, but there are a few things I have to see on every trip.
Bellagio Fountain Show
Aside from the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, the Bellagio fountain show has to be the most iconic Vegas tourist spot. You’ve seen it on TV. You’ve seen it in movies. Every time I visit Las Vegas, I go to see it; usually on my first night in town.
Pro-tip 1: As one show is going on, walk over to a central position on Las Vegas Blvd. As soon as the show ends, EVERYONE will clear out, and you can walk right up to the railing and see the next show front and center.
Pro-tip 2: The Paris Eiffel Tower Observation Deck has a great, almost-overhead view of the fountains.
There’s more to the Bellagio than just the fountains outside. Inside, just past the main lobby, is the Conservatory. Trees, flowers, and plants are designed as amazing seasonal exhibits. I’ve seen them in spring, summer, and fall and, each season offers a unique experience that’s completely worth the trip.
If you live west of the Rockies, In-N-Out is probably your favorite burger chain. If you’re on the East coast, you’ve either never had it, or you’ve tried it and really, really wish they’d expand. I don’t get fast food often anymore, but every time I’m in Vegas, I stop at the corner of Tropicana Ave. and Dean Martin Dr. to get these tasty treats.
Just remember to do your homework before you go: In-N-Out has an extensive not-so “Secret Menu” with options for everything from burgers with no rolls, to quadruple burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, and Neopolitan shakes. Trust me; go for a burger, 2×2, animal style with chopped chilies, cheese fries, and a root beer float.
Runner-up Award: There aren’t any Jack-in-the-Box restaurants where I live (the Northeast) either, and the Sourdough Jack is a pretty delicious burger.
Freemont Street Experience
Freemont is where old meets new in Las Vegas. A few of the oldest casinos in Las Vegas like Binion’s, original home of the World Series of Poker, and Golden Nugget reside here. Based on that fact alone, Freemont Street is a must-see for any first time Vegas visitor.
The multi-block Freemont Street Experience is covered by a giant LED canopy that displays a light show every hour starting at dusk.
Newer additions include stages with live bands, and zip-lines running overhead. The combination of classic Vegas with state of the art entertainment, all while screaming thrill seekers zip by overhead, creates a fun atmosphere that’s worth seeing every time I visit the town.
New York New York Roller Coaster
The area leading up to the roller coaster is a nod to Coney Island with a boardwalk theme and arcade. The coaster, with its loops and corkscrews, is more aggressive than Coney Island’s Cyclone (although the restraints are much less painful). While not as exciting as some of the rides in the Circus Circus Adventuredome, or as terrifying as the rides at the top of the Stratosphere, the rooftop location provides a “just right” level of scariness.
Pro-tip: When you get to the area with the pens for boarding the coaster cars, keep to the left and wait for the first car.