No, we didn’t take a quick trip to the Big Apple! Since we stayed downtown, we didn’t see much of the Las Vegas Strip, the row of casinos and resorts along Las Vegas Boulevard just west and north of McCarren Airport. Back in the day, the first casino built along U.S. Highway 91 was well out of town. In 1931, Al Capone built the Pair-O-Dice nightclub. Gangster families were already reaching out to the mecca of legal gambling. That stretch of highway soon garnered hotels and casinos and would become what is now known as the Las Vegas Strip. We spent most of our time this trip downtown, but we decided to spend a few hours on the strip just to say we went there. Traffic and parking are problematic on the Strip, but we found a solution. There’s a monorail system that services the southern end of the strip and it goes from near the Westgate Hotel and Las Vegas Convention Center, near downtown, for about 4 miles (6.4 km) to several stops along the strip. A quick Google search for parking allowed me to discover a parking tip. As long as there are no special events at the Westgate Hotel or Convention Center, parking at the hotel is free. We drove the three miles (4.8 km) to the Westgate Hotel. The convention center is pretty busy so be sure to check before heading out. From where we parked, it is just a short walk to the tram station, as you can see by the photo above. The station is on the right in the shadow of the Westgate Hotel. Fares are inexpensive on the monorail, though truth be told, we could have parked the car closer to the strip for less money than we paid for three day passes. On the other hand, a day pass allows you to get on and off the tram as you wish with no additional charges. It was definitely cheaper than two taxi rides from downtown to the strip and back. We elected to take the tram to its final stop, behind the MGM Grand Hotel. The last time I made a trip on the tram, things were much different than they are today. Walking into the MGM property, we discovered a huge shopping and restaurant mall, busy with traffic and apparently not suffering at all trom the malaise that’s affecting most malls around the country. The gallery of images features a few shots of the mall and our walk to Las Vegas Boulevard.
After quite a walk, we finally made it to the lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel. From here, we exited the hotel and walked a short distance to the intersection of four major hotels: MGM Grand, Flamingo, Excalibur and New York, New York. The highways at that intersection are major vehicle thoroughfares. Each corner has escalators to skyways that take people over the street so pedestrians don’t have to mix with vehicle traffic. As a bonus, the views from the glass-enclosed skyways are interesting, to say the least.
Looking north from the skyway between MGM Grand and New York, New York; the view is of Las Vegas Boulevard, the Strip. It was now late afternoon and time for some refreshment after our walk. We opted to head for an Irish Pub inside of New York, New York. Nine Fine Irishmen found us and we discovered that even as early as it was, there would be a wait for either a seat inside or just outside the pub, but still in the casino. We accepted the pager and sat in a waiting area. We decided that once we got in, we should order our evening meal. After about a 30-minute wait, we were seated. After a good meal and a dark brew, we were ready to explore. One of our goals was to grab some evening shots of the casinos. We would play tourist and hang around the small “borough” of shops and restaurants inside the hotel/casino.
Once darkness was upon us, we headed out to the skyways to get some views of the hotels at night. Those shots and others captured on our tour are featured in the gallery of images at the end of this post We didn’t stray from that intersection much for the rest of the evening and eventually found ourselves back on the monorail tram headed for our parked car and the short drive to our downtown hotel. I submit for your review our gallery of images captured that afternoon and evening. Select an image to enlarge it and to scroll through enlarged views. Most browsers support the higher quality images I upload here for your review.
We finish our trip to the Las Vegas Strip and to the City of Lights with a shot of the famous 1950’s era Welcome to Las Vegas sign. The iconic image is so popular, there are signs telling people to stand in line to get a shot of the attraction. I found it more interesting to include the line of people wanting to get their own “up close and personal” souvenir image.