5 things to do for free when you visit Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS (AP) — If you've got the money, Las Vegas has a million ways for you to spend it — the limo, the penthouse suite, the finest champagne money can buy — and that's before you even hit the casino floor. But even in this town of glamour and excess, there's enough for the guys and girls who didn't get so lucky at the tables last night. Here's a sampling of the best Las Vegas has to offer without spending a dime.
WELCOME TO FABULOUS LAS VEGAS SIGN
A visit to Sin City can't really begin without a stop at this iconic sign. Located at the gateway to town and dating back to 1959, the sign is usually swarmed by dozens of tourists posing for photos and a bride or two just out of the wedding chapel. The sign is set in the median of Las Vegas Boulevard, better known as the Strip, and buses and cars can slip easily from the southbound lanes into the sign's very own, free parking lot. Officials want to make it even easier to access, and recently approved funding that will triple the size of the parking lot and start plans for a pedestrian bridge.
BELLAGIO FOUNTAINS & CONSERVATORY
The Bellagio resort, with its romantic Italian-inspired architecture, is something of a crown jewel in the heart of the Strip. But when night falls, the real stars are the majestic dancing fountains that emerge from the vast man-made lake in front of the hotel. Illuminated columns of water shoot from hundreds of powerful pipes below the lake's surface, soaring to impossible heights and moving in sync to songs by Andrea Bocelli, Faith Hill and The Beatles. The fountains dance periodically during the afternoon and at 15-minute intervals throughout the evening in a free show that, even to locals, doesn't get old.
After the mist settles, head on into the casino itself to see the thousands of real potted plants and flowers of the botanical gardens. The giant conservatory transforms with the seasons, boasting paper lanterns for Chinese New Year, hot air balloons and larger-than-life ladybugs by summer, and a towering Christmas tree for the holidays.
Las Vegas is a city not afraid to implode a high-rise casino that's past its prime. But history still lives on through the neon signs that once graced the casinos. A trip to the Neon Boneyard, which features more than 150 donated and rescued signs dating back to the 1930s, will cost you and requires an appointment. But you can see a handful of those signs — lit up and restored — for free on a stroll through the outdoor Downtown Gallery on Fremont Street. Among the freebies are a glittering high-heeled shoe from the Silver Slipper Gambling Hall and a horse and rider, circa 1967, from the old Hacienda Hotel.
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