Once known as the gambling capital of the world run by mob bosses and shady characters, Las Vegas has transformed into one of the top all-around entertainment and recreation destinations for adults, kids, and families alike.
One element that has not changed through the years is the glitzy glamour of Las Vegas, which is the perfect backdrop for the holidays and into the New Year. Cooler desert temperatures in the winter serve as a break from the soaring heat of the summer, allowing for outdoor activities and entertainment venues to open up a completely different kind of Las Vegas than the rest of the year offers locals and visitors.
Holiday Magic at the LINQ Promenade
Located just across the street from the iconic Cesar’s Palace in the heart of the world-famous Las Vegas Strip, The LINQ Promenade is a large, open-air entertainment district filled with a wide range of dining, retail, and recreation options that opened in 2014.
The LINQ Promenade features the new FLY LINQ, the only zipline attraction on the Strip. Fly over 1,000 feet in the air to get spectacular views of the Strip, the surrounding areas, and the mountains in the background, reaching speeds of about 35 miles an hour.
In the winter, Holiday Magic at the LINQ Promenade turns it into a true winter wonderland with wondrous holiday decorations, carolers, shows, and a magical snowfall every night during the holiday season. You will even stroll through the Promenade to the smell of freshly cut pine trees. Holiday Magic runs through New Year’s Eve.
Real Bodies at Bally’s
There is no better way to learn about how the human body works than examining the insides of real human bodies. The fascinating exhibit Real Bodies at Bally’s Las Vegas uses over 20 dissected and preserved displays of real human bodies with the goal of providing a deeper understanding of the human anatomy.
Walk through 11 breathtaking galleries that explore every system of the human form and how they all work together to keep us alive in insightful and compelling ways. Real Bodies is located at Bally’s Las Vegas on the Strip at Flamingo Rd.
Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the sights of fabulous Las Vegas aboard the Big Bus Hop-on Hop-Off Tour. Day or night, cruise the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and Downtown Las Vegas. Feeling lucky as the bus approaches Cesar’s Palace? Hop off and place your bets. Want to do some shopping? Take day trips on the Big Bus that stops at the Premium Outlet Mall. Looking to see all of the iconic casinos and hotels that have made Las Vegas famous for decades? Take a load off and get your camera ready.
Knowledgeable and entertaining tour guides will provide historical context and point out landmarks from the welcoming sign to the downtown historic district. Guides entertain and inform riders with exciting facts and fascinating stories about the lore and lure of Las Vegas. Buses run every 30-40 minutes allowing you to literally hop on and off to get a closer look at the sights, and hop back on to continue the journey.
Comfortable desert temperatures and spectacular holiday decorations make the Big Bus Hop-on Hop-Off Tour an ideal winter activity, and a convenient way to get around Las Vegas. Ticket options include one-, two-, and three-day passes are available, with night tours and the Eiffel Tower Experience included with premium or deluxe ticket options.
Hoover Dam Tour
Dedicated in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Hoover Dam is a beloved National Historic Landmark and has been rated as one of America’s Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Close to 1 million locals and visitors take the Hoover Dam Tour every year.
The Hoover Dam Tour is an interesting and educational look at and inside the dam. The one-hour guided tour includes looks at the power plant and passageways that run throughout the intricate inner workings, while the 30-minute tour includes only the power plant section.
Tours run every half hour from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, and tickets are available on a first-come-first-served basis with just 20 people let in for each tour. Ticket purchases include admission to the Visitor Center. Because you cannot reserve a spot ahead of time, winter visitors should expect long lines and wait times.
Grand Canyon Day Trip
Las Vegas locals and visitors on an extended holiday vacation can get away from the glitz and glamour of “Sin City” by taking a full-day guided bus tour to the Grand Canyon. The trip includes some of the most interesting sights of the area, including the world-famous Hoover Dam, the spectacular Bypass Bridge, Lake Mead, Black Canyon, and the centuries-old Joshua Tree Forest on your way to the west or south rim of the Grand Canyon.
Get out and explore the natural beauty and true wilderness as you walk along the rim. Take in breathtaking panoramic views of one of the world’s most incredible natural creations. Sure, you can get some great pictures, but we suggest you put your phone away and just look.
Stratosphere Observation Deck
The Stratosphere Observation Deck is the tallest freestanding observation tower in the country, offering breathtaking views of the Las Vegas Strip, Downtown Las Vegas, and the surrounding desert and mountains. Over a thousand feet up, there is not a better way to take in the entire area.
The air-conditioned indoor observation deck at the Stratosphere features slanted windows to look down over Las Vegas. The outdoor deck gives you spectacular open-air views with viewfinders to get a closer look at landmarks and other highlights of the area.
If you are an adventurous type, the Stratosphere is home to three of the most exciting and frightening thrill rides in Las Vegas. The Big Shot shoots you 160 feet into the air at 45 miles an hour. The X Scream is a massive teeter-totter that dangles hundreds of feet above the ground, and Insanity lives up to its name with a giant mechanical arm that extends over the edge of the Stratosphere Tower and spins at speeds approaching three Gs.
Learn about the seedy underbelly of the organized crime circuit that helped to make Las Vegas the gaming and entertainment center of the world at the Mob Museum located in downtown. Learn about noted mobsters such as Bugsy Siegel, Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, and Meyer Lansky, who were instrumental in the development of Sin City.
Four floors of interactive exhibits at the Mob Museum feature real-life stories and hundreds of artifacts from the era. Discover the rich history of Las Vegas told through mob folklore and incredible stories of the antics of the mobsters and the law enforcement agencies that tried to stop them.
The Mob Museum is open daily from 9 am to 9 pm, with the underground speakeasy and distillery open until midnight, though there are special hours during December and January.
For an authentic winter wonderland experience just an hour from downtown Las Vegas, head to Lee Canyon to experience a range of winter fun activities, and see real snow! Fun in the snow recreation includes skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and more. Lessons are available for all levels of experience and skill. Lee Canyon is open every day through the winter from 9 am to 4 pm with three lifts.
Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
The spectacular Bellagio Hotel is famous for the incredible fountain show that runs throughout the day. Winter visitors and locals can head inside to the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens with holiday-themed decorations and features, including a 42-foot-tall live White fir tree adorned with thousands of lights, a carriage, and the imaginary host, Her Majesty Queen Bellissima and her elves.
Located just off the Bellagio’s beautiful lobby, the holiday decorations at the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are on display from December 7 through January 4.
Free Entertainment at Circus Circus
The circus atmosphere and daily performances at Circus Circus were one of the cornerstone elements that helped transform the Las Vegas Strip into a family-friendly vacation destination.
Free daily Cirque de Soleil-style acts run throughout the day, with classic circus performers like jugglers, unicyclists, trapeze artists, acrobats, and contortionists. Each performance lasts about 10 minutes long, starting about every half hour beginning at 11 am.
Downtown Container Park
A newly constructed outdoor entertainment venue, Downtown Container Park offers a wide range of shopping and dining options and features a variety of weekly events including art shows, jazz concerts, and major entertainment shows on the second Sunday of every month.
The Dome is a 4K-visual experience that hovers above recliner-style seating to provide dazzling animated images with a soundtrack of legendary rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.
Gene Woods Racing Experience
The ultimate in go-kart racing can be found with the two tracks at the Gene Woods Racing Experience located at the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas. Learn how to maneuver the karts and get some tips from the experts before heading onto the track.
The track is open daily from noon to midnight. A second location sits just south of the Strip at the Las Vegas Sports Center on Sunset Rd.
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