Apart from its size, the Hoover Dam may appear to be a simple concrete construction, but it is far from it. Named one of America’s Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders, the engineering feat cost $49 million during the Great Depression, required thousands of workers and claimed more than 100 lives. The dam capitalizes on the Black Canyon’s natural resources, producing hydroelectric power and irrigation water. In many ways it tames the waterway by controlling flooding and housing water. After years of controversy over its name, Boulder Dam was officially renamed Hoover Dam by Congress in 1947. About half an hour southeast of Las Vegas, its deep blue waters and sloping façade attract upwards of a million guests a year. Drive over the Hoover Dam Bypass and snap some photos or take time to explore the Hoover Dam Visitor Center where tours originate. The surrounding Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a popular spot for boating and other water sports as well.
Aquarium at The Mirage
Looking for free things to do on the Strip? Enter the elaborate lobby of The Mirage to view the colorfully stunning aquarium behind the front desk. Voted one of the best hotel aquariums in the world, the 20,000-gallon saltwater tank is a rainbow bursting with fish and artificial corals. Eighty-five species, more than 450 fish in total, call this squeaky clean glass habitat their home. As your eyes dance over angelfish, puffer fish and tangs, see if your kids can spot any of the characters from Finding Nemo. If sea life captivates you, pay admittance to see Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. Not only will you see bottlenose dolphins but also white tigers, panthers, leopards and lions! The Mirage also features a nightly erupting volcano and an atrium that recreates the rainforest in a 100-foot dome.
If you’re afraid of heights, go somewhere else. The Stratosphere Tower is America’s tallest freestanding tower and features the world’s highest thrill rides! The aptly named Insanity hurls you through the open air at 900 feet until you reach three G’s. Big Shot is Vegas’ version of the Tower of Terror, catapulting 16 riders 160 feet in the air at 45 miles per hour. If 160 feet doesn’t scare you then add that to the starting distance of 921 feet in the air. The ride X-Scream is a giant, adult size teeter-totter that propels and dangles you, and then propels and dangles you again! Last but not least is SkyJump, the tower’s newest and pricier thrill. This is for the crazy individual who has always wanted to know how it feels to jump off the side of a skyscraper in a jumpsuit.
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition
The “unsinkable” Titanic continues to haunt the world’s memories and inspire people’s imaginations. Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition brings its passengers’ stories back to life with more than 250 authentic artifacts and recreations of well-known areas of the ocean-liner. Salvaged from its watery grave, the exhibit features the ship’s whistles, an unopened vintage bottle of champagne, luggage, tiles and a window frame. As you walk through the full-scale recreation of the Grand Staircase and first- and second-class rooms, you’ll see furnishings from the original manufactures. The outer Promenade Deck even simulates the frigid weather from the night the luxury liner collided with a notorious iceberg. Within this exhibition you may feel the same excitement that Jack and Rose showed in the movie the Titanic. Just remember you’re in the Mojave Desert – no life boats needed here!
Discovery Children's Museum
Museums might be the last thing on your list when you’re in the entertainment capital of the world but families will find this hands-on museum to be surprisingly fun. The Discovery Children’s Museum has nine interactive, themed exhibits that are nothing like an ordinary classroom. Do you kids like to play pretend? At the Fantasy Festival, they get to dress up and act out a roll: doctor, astronaut, queen, prince, pirate, etc. Young at Art brings their creativity to life and Solve It! Mystery Town challenges their investigative skills. It’s Your Choice teaches kids about lifestyle habits through game shows and engaging contexts. Help your kids build a Quake Proof structure in Patents Pending and create a current with air blowers in Water World. Just when you think you couldn’t possibly have any more fun, go to Eco City and play house like you never have before. You’ll get to withdraw money from the bank and shop for groceries! One of the main attractions is The Summit, a 70-foot tower that’s taller than the museum itself! Inside you’ll discover 12 levels devoted to sound, space science, magnets, air pressure and more. You even get to lift a car with a giant lever! This is one experience that won’t stay in Vegas – your kids will remember it for years!
As the largest indoor theme park in America, the Adventuredome at Circus Circus Hotel and Casino offers 5.5 acres of nonstop fun, rain or shine. It has all the rides you would expect a good park to have: bumper cars, roller coasters, miniature golf, laser tag, spinning rides, arcades, merry-go-rounds and Ferris wheels. The dome also has the typical carnival games with prize stuffed animals and toys. The food is everything you’d expect as well. Munch on nachos, funnel cake or soft pretzels as you laugh your way through the clown show. Not sure if you can handle this much fun? Don’t worry – there’s a cocktail stand for adults! If you’re visiting in October, don’t miss out on Frightdome. The glass amusement park becomes full of ghosts and goblins making their way between haunted houses.
Jubilee Walking Tour
Get backstage access to Bally’s famous Jubilee! by a showgirl, who will give you a tour of the workings of one of the world’s most technologically advanced stages. On the tour, see up close the shimmery feathered costumes and giant props. Explore the light booth that houses cutting-edge effects and witness a make-up demonstration and costume change. As a backstage guest, you can even take a photo with a showgirl! Please note that this tour includes stairs, making accessibility difficult for some.