Linda Johnson Details What the Locals Do in Las Vegas

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In my last blog, I shared some of the Las Vegas locals’ secrets regarding food establishments. In this blog, I’ll be filling you in on some of the locals’ favorite things to do after busting out of a tournament.

The Las Vegas Strip is a major attraction in itself. If you don’t have a car, you can see it all on the Deuce, a double-decker bus that runs up and down the Strip from Mandalay Bay to Fremont Street. The Deuce costs $2 one-way or $5 for an all-day pass and runs every 10 to 15 minutes, 24 hours per day. Another form of public transportation is the Las Vegas Monorail. The Monorail costs $5 for one ride or $15 for an all-day pass and operates from 7:00am to 2:00am every day. The monorail stops at seven stations from the MGM Grand to the Sahara.

If you feel like you’ve been eaten up by the sharks at the table, you might want to venture over to the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef where you will come face-to-face with some real sharks and more than 2,000 sea creatures including rays, sea turtles, piranha, and schools of fish. For those really adventurous (and highly bankrolled) players, you actually can pay $650 and swim with the sharks if you are a certified scuba diver.

If you prefer a tamer form of entertainment, I highly recommend taking in one of Las Vegas’ many production and headliner shows. We are lucky to have six Cirque du Soleil shows in town. Five of them get a huge nod from me, with the sixth (Zumanity at New York, New York) getting a thumbs down. Here’s my personal preference: Love (The Mirage), O (Bellagio), Viva Elvis (Aria), Mystere (Treasure Island), and Ka (MGM).

If you want a great show featuring outstanding music, Jersey Boys at the Venetian is terrific. I saw Jersey Boys on Broadway and actually think the show at the Venetian is better. Le Reve at Wynn is another of my favorites and of course there are many great comedy shows around town.

If budget is a big concern, you should probably go to one of the Tix 4 Tonight or other discount show ticket kiosks and purchase half-price tickets. Note that they also carry tickets for some of the most popular shows, although the discount may not be 50%. The selection of shows varies from day to day and hour to hour.

If romance hasn’t been dampened by your bustout, I recommend the gondola ride at the Venetian. I was in Venice, Italy recently and the gondola experience at the Venetian is better in my opinion since the gondoliers are friendlier there and the price is less (approximately $50).

If you manage to sneak in a proposal as you go under the Rialto Bridge and are looking for a place to get married, Las Vegas has lots of quaint and unique chapels, each with a separate appeal. One of my favorites is the Graceland Chapel. It’s the original home of the “Elvis wedding” with packages starting at just $199. Little Church of the West is another great option.

If you want to blow off some steam and get out of the city, there are lots of “nature” things to do within a short driving distance of Las Vegas. Among my favorites are Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire. Red Rock is a national conservation area and located 17 miles west of the Strip with easy access by going west on Charleston Boulevard. It has a beautiful 13-mile scenic drive, a visitor’s center, more than 30 miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, horseback riding, and picnic areas.

Valley of Fire is 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas via I-15 (Exit 75). It’s aptly named for the red sandstone formations created by shifting sand dunes during the dinosaur ages. I recommend renting ATVs for a great ride through the area.

My favorite tourist attraction is Hoover Dam, which is 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas on the Nevada-Arizona boarder. The tour of the dam is interesting and tells about how this engineering marvel was built with more than six million tons of concrete, enough to pave a highway 15 feet wide from San Francisco to New York City.

My favorite local park for picnicking is Sunset Park at 2601 East Sunset (near McCarran Airport). During the Christmas holidays, it becomes a winter wonderland lit up with holiday décor.

I was born to shop and love the Las Vegas swap meets. In the summertime, I recommend the Fantastic Indoor Swap Meet at 1717 South Decatur Blvd. as a great place to escape the heat. I prefer Broadacres Swap Meet at 2930 Las Vegas Blvd. North when the weather is nice enough to be outdoors. For malls, I think most locals and tourists prefer the Fashion Show Mall on the Strip.

Want to go to a movie? If you have a car, you will probably prefer the Rave Theater on the southern end of the Strip. It has 18 theaters, 18-inch stadium risers, and lots of legroom between aisles. The Brenden Theater at the Palms and the movie theater at the Orleans are also on my list of favorite places to watch a movie.

I love dancing, so will clue you in on some of my favorite local spots to cut a rug. For a special night out, the Fontana Bar at Bellagio has live entertainment and a nice dance floor. Plus, if you get too hot, you can always go outside and enjoy the fountain show from the Fontana’s balcony. The lounge at the Orleans has a small dance floor, but great entertainment. Other spots for dancing are the lounge at the Sahara, Mandalay Bay, and Cleopatra’s Bar in Caesars Palace.

If you are really adventurous, a new zip line has come to the area. Check out Bootleg Canyon Flightlines in Boulder City, about a 30-minute drive from Las Vegas. While in Boulder City, you could also try skydiving. If you’re a bit nervous about making the leap, Las Vegas has an indoor skydive facility at 200 Convention Center Drive.

For bowling alleys, there are lots of places to choose. I prefer the lanes at the Gold Coast and the Red Rock Casino.

One of my favorite pastimes is getting a massage. There are many massage and reflexology parlors in the Chinatown area of Las Vegas near Spring Mountain and Arville. The rates are reasonable, starting at about $35 for an hour of reflexology.

If you’ve really blown all of your dough at the poker tables, Las Vegas has many free attractions. Some of the best are the fountains and the conservatory at Bellagio, the volcano at the Mirage, the lion habitat at the MGM, the aquarium at the Silverton, the Fremont Street Experience, the show in the sky at Masquerade Village in the Rio, the Ethel M factory tour, and the laser show at Sam’s Town.

After my last blog about favorite locals places to eat, I got an e-mail from my buddy Hojo asking how I could have omitted his favorite spot, the 24-hour Fuddruckers at the Orleans. Hojo said they take phone-in orders and have great ribeye sandwiches, ostrich burgers, wild boar burgers, and elk burgers. It’s great for late-night bustouts!

I hope I’ve provided you with some great choices for things to do in Las Vegas. Now play well and get lucky so you aren’t on the rail looking for something to do!

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The Dragon Lady

Great article… I have been to Vegas often but there are some terrific new ideas – ty Linda…

Juli Sobka

OK, Now we can add a name to the First Lady of Poker, and call Linda the Las Vegas Spokesperson. Las Vegas has so many, many things to do we sometimes forget it isn’t always about gambling.


Thanks for the ideas for getting out of a casino once in a while! Also, planning a trip for my parents 50th so thanks for the tip on Jersey Boys…they will love that!


Jersey Boys is at the Palazzo, not the Venetian. I agree, JB vEgas is better than Broadway’s.


Great info!! Thanks


Great article! My sister and some friend are surprising one of her sorority sisters in Vegas in a couple of weeks and I will pass this along. Her friend’s husband is bring her to Vegas for her 40th birthday, but she has NO idea her sorority sisters will be coming too! Thanks so much for the info!!!

Shirley Williams

Donna Houle

Great article Linda, you covered it all!

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