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Las Vegas Is More Than Gambling

by Karen Marks

Las Vegas is more than a place to go gambling. It offers attractions for everybody. For instance, you can enjoy the Grand Canyon West Rim Motorcoach Tour, offered via Grayline Tours. The tour features the Hualapai Indian Reservation, a barbecue lunch, Lake Mead, Hoover Dam and Joshua Tree Forest. Your day tour to the Hualapai Indian Reservation, located 120 miles southeast of Las Vegas on the West Rim of the Grand Canyon, is a scenic adventure of rolling hills through the Joshua Tree Forest, rugged mesas, breathtaking cliffs and deep gorges. This tour lasts ten and a half hours.

Laughlin Day Tour

This tour, also offered via Grayline, includes a lunch or dinner buffet. You'll travel through Searchlight, where gold was discovered in 1897, and from the highway you'll see evidence of the current-day prospectors' mining efforts. Then it's on to Laughlin, where new hotels and casinos hug the banks of the Colorado River. After a complimentary buffet at a selected major resort hotel and casino, your time is your own to browse the many specialty gift shops. You may also enjoy the river's transportation system, which will shuttle you up and across the Colorado on river ferryboats. This is a six-hour visit to Laughlin.

Colorado River Raft

This tour includes a picnic lunch and an exciting float trip through one of Colorado River's canyons. You'll start from the base of the Hoover Dam and travel 11 miles through the Black Canyon, free of rapids and full of history. You'll even see water springs bubbling out of the cliffs, making their way to the river.

Las Vegas City Tour

Visit Cranberry World West and learn how cranberries are harvested, as well as how they are used. This is an educational tour of Ocean Spray's production facility, which includes juice drink sampling and bakery treats. Afterward, stop at the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory to taste free samples and walk through their cactus gardens. Here you'll enjoy a sumptuous international buffet. Your tour includes a ride to the top of Stratosphere, and lasts seven and a half hours.

Valley of Fire and Desert Tour

Go back in time 20,000 years and visit the Lost City Museum. Here you'll see unusual rock formations that have been used in movies, drive by a breeding farm for Arabian horses, and catch a glimpse of Wayne Newton's ranch. Lunch is included in this tour.

Other Attractions

Buccaneer Bay

Every 90 minutes each evening, cannon and musket fire are exchanged in a dramatic pyrotechnic battle between the pirate ship Hispañiola and the British frigate HMS Britannia in the middle of Buccaneer Bay.

Cowboy Trail Rides

From one-hour to seven-day camping trips, Cowboy Trail Rides customizes and specializes trips to fit riders' needs and desires. In addition, CTR offers some of the most beautiful and scenic horseback riding available anywhere in the world. Bring your camera and enjoy one of the two- or three-hour sunset rides with a barbecue dinner, or take the three- to four-hour ride and end up on a high ledge overlooking the entire Las Vegas Valley.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Designed to provide a superior racing experience for fans, race teams and sponsors, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is located in the entertainment capital of the world. The motorsports entertainment complex includes a 1.5-mile superspeedway, FIA-approved 2.5-mile road course, state-of-the-art drag strip, and half-mile dirt oval, not to mention Go-Kart and Legends Car racing facilities, an industrial park, a dozen driving schools and even a country club.

Lee Canyon Ski Resort

Las Vegas' only ski resort is located at the apex of beautiful Lee Canyon, at the foot of Mt. Charleston, and caters to skiers from November until March. Snowmaking equipment helps keep the skiing conditions in peak form.


It's good to know beforehand the prices of the buffets. You can visit Buffets in Las Vegas to research prices for breakfast, lunch and dinner at various restaurants. My favorite places to eat in Las Vegas are the MGM Grand Hotel, Caesars Palace, Circus Circus and Excalibur; they have the best-tasting food and widest variety.

MGM Grand Hotel and Casino

I highly recommend staying at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. Its deluxe standard rooms average 446 square feet, and are decorated according to classic motifs including the "Wizard of Oz," "Hollywood," "Southern" and "Casablanca." The hotel also features four 30-story emerald-green towers soaring 280 feet. Other features include:

* 16,325-seat Grand Garden Arena

* Three live theatres

* Ten signature restaurants, three managed by celebrity chefs

* 380,000-square-foot Conference Center

* 6.6-acre Grand Pool and Spa complex

* Luxurious suites ranging in size from 675 to 6,040 square feet, multiple bedrooms, outdoor patios with whirlpool, saunas and Italian marble bathrooms. The suites are also decorated in themed motifs including "Traditional," "Marrakech," "Oriental," "Bahamian" and "Las Vegas."

* 171,500 square feet of gaming—the equivalent of four football fields

* Approximately 3,700 gaming machines ranging from nickel to $500 slots

* Approximately 165 gaming tables, including Baccarat, Pai Gow Poker and more

* Poker room

* Keno

MGM Restaurants

Emeril Lagasse's New Orleans Fish House

Emeril Lagasse brings his signature New Orleans blend of modern Creole/Cajun cooking to the MGM Grand with Emeril's New Orleans Fish House. The restaurant features his delectable dish, Emeril's New Orleans BBQ Shrimp, as well as a study of lobster, fresh fish flown in from around the world daily, and his special double-cut pork chop. Emeril's is open for lunch and dinner. Located next to the restaurant is Emeril's Seafood Bar, a walk-up style eatery featuring fresh shellfish and other quick seafood specials.

Mark Miller's Coyote Café and Grill Room

Mark Miller has recreated the best of his modern Southwestern cuisine at the MGM Grand's Coyote Café and Grill Room. Decorated with hand-painted coyotes, lizards and other desert art throughout the terra cotta stone café, the restaurant has the rich feel of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Dishes are Southwestern specialties, including black beans, blue-corn enchiladas, and chicken burritos topped with homemade guacamole and sweetened mild salsas. Margaritas and custom-blended pineapple rum create sweet delights for the daiquiri lover. For casual dining, visit the Coyote Café, or dine in the upscale Grill Room for dinner.


This signature gourmet restaurant features a unique blend of Continental cuisine with an eclectic California flair. Headed by Las Vegas executive chef Terry Fong, this intimate 68-seat restaurant boasts a Bonnet kitchen system used in very few restaurants worldwide. Gatsby's serves only the freshest ingredients with a rotating array of dishes and specialty entrees, which change daily.

Specialties on the nightly menu include farm-raised ostrich, pâté de foie gras, and ahi tuna (Fong's signature dish). Imported Dover and Colorado rack of lamb, prime meat, fish and game are featured on the à la carte menu, along with signature and vegetarian specialties.

Gatsby's also features one of the finest wine selections in the State of Nevada. Three separate wine cellars, each temperature-controlled for whites, reds and champagnes, host more than 600 collections representing every wine region of the world. These wine cellars are on display inside Gatsby's.


Just Oz features gift and apparel from the Land of Oz. Located in Gold Rush Junction.

Kodak Photo Products Center/Stroller Rentals offers two-hour film processing, and camera supplies and sundries, as well as strollers and electric wheelchairs, and is located at the entrance to the park.

Backstage Collectibles, located on French Street, is home to Hollywood's most popular cartoon characters ranging from Betty Boop to Popeye and his friends.

Celebrity Wear features Hollywood-themed clothing and accessories. Located in Canterbury Square.

Positively Grand offers a full line of logo merchandise. Also located in Canterbury Square.

Bayou Toys carries a variety of specialty toys and apparel for children of all ages, including collectible dolls, masks and holograms. Located on New Orleans Street.

Family Entertainment

MGM Grand Adventures, an outdoor entertainment complex for people of all ages, features theme park rides, shows, themed streets, entertainment, restaurants and retail shops. Grand Adventures is also home to SkyScreamer, the world's largest Skycoaster. Entrance to the park is free; all-day passes for the rides and attractions can be purchased inside the park. All-day passes do not include SkyScreamer.

Arcade, an 11,400 square-foot game/arcade center, features various games of skill in addition to the latest video arcade and high-tech virtual reality games.

MGM Grand Youth Activity Center is supervised by professionally trained youth counselors. This self-contained facility is intended for children (ages 3-12) of hotel guests and Las Vegas visitors. Open daily, the facility features an arts and crafts room, Super Nintendo, lounge area, table tennis, mini-pool tables, hockey and basketball group activities, movies and board games, as well as a complete pre-school room. Daily meals and supervised theme park packages are also available.


Karen Marks is a travel consultant, freelance writer and Polynesian dancer.


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