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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : What is there for a Mormon to do in Vegas? » What is there for a Mormon to do in Vegas?

What is there for a Mormon to do in Vegas?

Susan M - January 20, 2007

I’m headed there tomorrow night and staying for a few days.

My husband’s going for an industry trade show, and he’ll be tied up during the day at the convention center. I went with him last year, too, but didn’t do much while I was there.

This time I want to:

That’ll probably keep me busy enough, but just in case, anyone have any other must-see Vegas locations for me? Photography’s a hobby of mine, I’m content to just wander around with my camera, so anywhere that’d be good for that would be a great suggestion.

We’re also going to see Tom Jones, one of my husband’s favorite peformers. You wouldn’t believe how excited he is. He said, “Do you think if I call out a request, he’ll play it?!” But don’t let him know you heard that from me. Mum’s the word.


  1. most mormons i know go there to gamble… ;-)

    Comment by mike d. — January 20, 2007 @ 11:08 am

  2. Most of my entertainment here is Little league games and school functions. But if you like photography, the Valley of Fire with its petroglyphs is about 45 min. away, Hoover Dam, the view from the top of the Stratosphere. Wandering the Forum Shops with the living statues. Roller coaster at New York New York.
    Just google Las Vegas and you will find plenty of ideas. Have fun!

    Comment by Sally — January 20, 2007 @ 11:15 am

  3. Most of the major casinos are just fun to walk thru. The Venitian and Bellagio are my favorites, New York New York is great, all the big ones, you’ll walk yourself to death just looking.

    By the way put $10 on the blackjack table for me and send me the winnings….my wife won’t let me play anymore!

    Comment by Don Clifton — January 20, 2007 @ 11:40 am

  4. This is going to sound silly, but the county government buildings (near downtown Vegas, not to be confused with the Strip) are really interesting and have some awesome red rock facades, cool angles, etc–might be interesting to a photographer. At sunset or sunrise they are pretty impressive looking.

    Comment by Keryn — January 20, 2007 @ 12:01 pm

  5. The only thing I like about Las Vegas (besides the Bellagio Fountain Show) would be the Temple. I say go do a session. It’s FAR away from the strip and just beautiful. I dare-say it has one of the most beautiful Celestial Rooms I’ve ever seen…

    Comment by cheryl — January 20, 2007 @ 4:29 pm

  6. My job sent me to Las Vegas for a conference last year, and my wife and I made a vacation out of it. It is fun just to look through all the casinos without any thought of gambling–we spent two evenings just wandering, occasionally shopping for small things, and eventually stopping somewhere random to eat.

    For photography, I second the recommendation of Valley of Fire/Lake Mead/Hoover Dam. We spent an extra day before my conference with a rental car visiting these places, and I took some nice pictures.

    Comment by worm — January 20, 2007 @ 4:30 pm

  7. Just spent last weekend there, visiting my new grandson. That was worth the trip.

    The atomic testing museum is pretty interesting, but it costs the same as ten rolls on the dollar slots, and there’s no chance of winning the money back.

    The drive up Mt. Charleston gives you a chance to actually see something growing, but it was covered in 1/2 inch of snow when we were there. And there are some nice views of the countryside from up there.

    If my son and his family left, though, I’d recommend they do one more above-ground N-test, and blow the place off the map.

    Comment by Mark B. — January 20, 2007 @ 4:46 pm

  8. If you’re headed out towards Hoover Dam, a stop at the Ethel M chocolate factory and cactus garden is worthwhile. The candy-making tour is fun, of course, but going through the cactus garden can help you to know what you are looking at when you get out to the desert.

    At least for those of us who aren’t from a desert clime and need some education on cacti.

    Comment by Naismith — January 20, 2007 @ 5:09 pm

  9. I agree with Cheryl that the celestial room at the Las Vegas temple is one of the prettiest anywhere. On the outside, it’s impressive as well, somewhat like the temple in Portland, Ore.

    I don’t know about much else, because the only time I was there recently was for a conference, so I spent most of my hours in hotel meeting rooms. There are some hotel exteriors (Luxor; New York, New York) that might make for some interesting pictures.

    Comment by Copedi — January 20, 2007 @ 5:36 pm

  10. Thanks everybody. Keep the suggestions coming. We’re staying at the Luxor so I’m sure I’ll take some pics there.

    And if I get any interesting pictures I’ll post them here.

    Comment by Susan M — January 20, 2007 @ 6:22 pm

  11. Gamble. But see if the dealers will let you switch out the money with candy.

    Comment by Rusty — January 20, 2007 @ 6:55 pm

  12. Shopping at the mall by Caesar’s Palace.
    Going to the art gallery in the Bellagio.
    Go to a nice restaurant (some aren’t that expensive)
    Go see Hoover Dam

    But in general Vegas is kind of a boring town. There are roller coasters and the like, but they are *way* over priced.

    Comment by clark — January 20, 2007 @ 7:07 pm

  13. I am a HUGE Vegas fan – I am there 3 times a year on business and I drive up from So Cal another 5 or 6 times a year. I just got back from a week long convention.

    Things to do if you don’t gamble:

    Fountains at the Bellagio (and also check out the art gallery and the botanical gardens/conservatory).

    Go see a show. http://www.tix4tonight.com/ shows you how you can get 1/2 price tickets for many top shows.

    If you do a buffet, the absolute best ones are at the Aladdin (Spice Market Buffet) and the Wynn.

    Take a drive to Red Rocks, Mt. Charleston, Hoover Dam, Temple etc.

    Here’s something very different – the pinball hall of fame


    I go there every trip to spend a couple of hours reliving my misspent youth at the arcades :)

    Oh, and if you do gamble, stay away from blackjack that pays 6:5. The house advantage quintuples on this, turning one of the best games in the casino into one of the worst.

    Comment by Phouchg — January 20, 2007 @ 8:38 pm

  14. And can I add something? I am sick of people bagging on Las Vegas, implying that it should be nuked (#7) or Mormons looking down their noses at the city. There are 21 stakes in the Las Vegas Valley and a very entrenched LDS community that has positions of power and influence (including the LDS Mayor of Henderson, and much of the Clark County School District board is LDS). Once I went to Deseret Book on Green Valley and was chatting with the person at the register. His ancestors were among the LDS settlers of southern Nevada. He said he loved it there and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

    So enough with the Las Vegas bashing. If you don’t like it, don’t visit. More hotel rooms for the rest of us.

    Comment by Phouchg — January 20, 2007 @ 8:48 pm

  15. Okay. So…I’m walking down the strip to take my children to see the Bellagio Fountain Show and I had to make my 5 year old daughter look at her dad in front of her and talk about the lights and “ooh! Look at that” to stop her from seeing the PORN all over the sidewalk. EVERYWHERE. The ENTIRE way (and no, driving was not an option). Soft porn on billboards, porn on signs outside our hotel window, porn on signs throughout the hotel (and we stayed in Excalibur, apparantly “family friendly”), and even advertisements for more porn in the rooms. My kids are asking me why all the women are half-naked –and I’m supposed to think Las Vegas is “great”?!!?

    Okay, maybe for the members that live there and never go on the strip, yes, I can see why it could be nice. They wouldn’t have a Temple there if it was so awful. But I always found it interesting that they built the Temple on the one side of the valley where Moroni, who always faces East, would be facing AWAY from the strip.

    See, Phouchg, you have to understand that when people think “Las Vegas”, they are thinking about the strip, and that is the most widely visited part of the city. Sure there are other parts of Vegas that are great –but for this Mormon Mother, I’ll just let Las Vegas lie in the hands of those that love it…

    Comment by cheryl — January 20, 2007 @ 10:12 pm

  16. I lived there for 30 years, and almost all of my family still lives there, but I’m glad I’m away from it. You really can’t drive around in certain parts of the city unless you are ready to have some frank conversations with your toddlers. The whole city just has a really unhealthy obsession with sex. IMHO, on a spectrum, Provo is one end (obsessed with not having it), Vegas is the other (completely obsessed with it). Luckily, there are other places to live.

    But anyway, back to the original question, what to do when you are VISITING:

    The neon graveyard is a cool place to take pictures. It’s where they take all of the classic old neon signs once they are retired. It costs about $5. You have to make an appointment, but they have regular appointment hours, so it’s not a big deal.

    The top of the stratosphere tower and the eiffel tower replica are great places to take pictures. If you’re gutsy, go on the big shot on the top of the stratosphere. They shoot you up in the air and it’s terrifyingly fun.

    The shark reef is fun, and if you can get in, the pool area at the Four Season/Mandalay Bay is amazing. If you have kids, the Children’s Discovery Museum is great.

    Other touristy standbys:
    -Ride a gondola at the Venetian (and go to the SPA there amazing!)
    - Visit the forum shops at Ceasars
    - Art Galleries at the Venetian (guggenheim museum) and Bellagio (usually have amazing traveling exhibits)
    - Rollercoaster at New York New York of course…

    Comment by Sue — January 20, 2007 @ 10:37 pm

  17. I’m with Cheryl. I would’ve suggested the temple. Maybe you could tour the mission homes, too. :)

    Comment by Kim Siever — January 20, 2007 @ 10:59 pm

  18. I went to the Ethel M factory while I was student teaching down there and you’re right, the cactus garden was the more interesting/enjoyable part.

    Other than that I’d just tell you to go down to the Methodist church next to UNLV and tell their choir I miss singing with them very Sunday and Wednesday:)

    Comment by Bret — January 21, 2007 @ 2:57 am

  19. You will see the show of your life with TOM JONES. Now that James Brown has left us, TOM is without doubt the hardest working man in show business. He will most likely NOT do a request since his show is fine-tuned to be a crowd pleaser every time – but he will chat with the audience a bit. Brace yourself for the best boost of energy and pure fun ever! And The Voice is still like no other.

    Comment by Ruth — January 21, 2007 @ 5:23 am

  20. Oh, and don’t forget, Las Vegas is the home of Gladys Knight and the Saints United Voices. I wonder if they open their rehearsals to the public, like the MoTab do? Wouldn’t that be fun to watch.

    Comment by Naismith — January 21, 2007 @ 6:52 am

  21. There are some fine suggestions above. I’ll add one that my wife found moving when I took her to my home state. Several miles out of town (in our case on Lake Mead Blvd. and over the mountains to the east), find a dirt road off the highway that you’re comfortable driving on. Take that as far as you can, then get out and walk a few hundred yards away from the dirt road. It is easy to imagine that you are the first person to step in that particular place in a hundred years or ever.

    Comment by John Mansfield — January 21, 2007 @ 7:28 am

  22. Well if you don’t want to gamble then I suggest going to a show and finding some good places to eat. On the less expensive side the Grand Cafe at the Venetian is an upscale Cheesecake Factory (owned by the same people) and has a creme brulee that comes with two dishes, one chocolate and the other traditional. There are lots of other good places. Still on the cheap side I’d list In and Out, but only because they don’t have any in Utah so it is a bit of nostalgia for me. On the more expensive end, the Bellagio has great places to eat and a small art museum. Just try not to think too hard about the smell during the fountain show. The are also two Roy’s in the area. I’ve only been in Hawaii, but I hear it is great there as well.

    If you’re a nerd there is the Star Trek Experience and museum in the Hilton.

    Comment by a random John — January 21, 2007 @ 2:45 pm

  23. I second Red Rocks – Take Charleston West til you hit themountains.

    Hoover dam is pretty neat too.

    Go to the Desert Demonstration Gardens for the Water District.

    Ethel M is good – but they have restricted the candy making hours – if this is a must for you – call first. They do give free samples
    do M&M world/coke world (at coke try the sampler)

    Take a drive down to Primm and ride the roller coasters and shop the outlets

    Go see a show – Right now Blue man Grouop and Mystere (Cirque du Soleil) are 1/2 price for locals – so hit someone up for an address. If you were coming in march I would recommend spam a lot at the wynn.

    Generally – STAY OFF las vegas blvd. It is crowded – boozy, and porn slappers abound (which the casino crowd would love, and has tried, to get rid of!).

    Eat! Eat! Eat! Where else will you find Michelin 3 star restaurants! It can be expensive, but totally worth it. Spago is great, and since not new easy to get into. Bouchon, etc. Or go off the strip for some great deals. Table 34 (on warm springs just south of the airport), Rosemary’s (on charleston on the way to redrock(. or for authentic ITALIAN pizza, try Settebello (started by former usc quartback and italian missionary). Wonderful!

    Also you can go to the fremont stret experience, it is downtown and covered lights.

    Definitely check out the lobby and conservatory of the Bellagio. Last fall they had an amzing train display, with cities, villages, towers and bridges, all made out of natural materials!

    If you are into it – go golfing! Great courses abound.

    Take a drive out to lake las vegas (215 or 95 to lake mead drive – out towards henderson).

    Check out the china town area (spring mtn and decauter). Joy fortune is great, as is noodle palace. Chinsese, Korean, Mongolian, vietnamese etc, all in a strech area along spring mountain and down decatuer.

    Also many of the casinos offer slot clubs which will give a free play bonus for signing up. The wynn just had a $25 promotion, where they gave you $25 in free play. The slot clubs also have coupons for the buffets, shows etc.

    Comment by Jay S — January 21, 2007 @ 9:04 pm

  24. Something a co-worker enjoyed in Las Vegas was a firing range where he could shoot machine guns. The ammunition is not cheap, though, and is used up quickly.

    Comment by John Mansfield — January 22, 2007 @ 10:08 am

  25. You can do that in a lot of places John. There’s a range in Springville that does that.

    Comment by Clark Goble — January 22, 2007 @ 12:54 pm

  26. I had a chance to see the magician Lance Burton and he put on a heck of a show. If you enjoy the art of illusion I recommend putting his performance on your to do list.

    Comment by cew-smoke — January 22, 2007 @ 2:52 pm

  27. This is off topic, but a few years ago I helped teach a Java class for IBMers that were transitioning their skills from mainframe to more recent technologies. One of the guys in the class taught us a bunch of tricks in the evenings and even took us to the Magic Castle or whatever it is in LA. Once you know how some of the basic stuff works it takes a great deal of fun out of magic shows. Since I rarely use the tricks to impress anyone it really hasn’t been worth it for me. I’d rather be able to attend a magic show with a sense of wonder rather than being able to know how 80% of the tricks are done.

    Comment by a random John — January 22, 2007 @ 3:17 pm

  28. Ok, Phouchg, I should have changed my suggestion about what to do to Las Vegas:

    If my son and his family and the other Mormons left, though, I’d recommend they do one more above-ground N-test, and blow the place off the map.

    That a large number of Mormons (including my son) have chosen for the time being to live in Las Vegas does not mean that it isn’t a rathole. And it’s not just the Strip and the hookers and the nude dancers (if they’re showgirls, though, it’s art, isn’t it?). It’s the environment–from the natural to the man-made.

    Comment by Mark B. — January 22, 2007 @ 4:47 pm

  29. The faux architecture (within minutes you can go from Rome to Egypt to Paris to N.Y.), the art museums (particularly Steve Wynns – small but wonderful), and Ethel-M’s Chocolate Factory, the best lemon and raspberry chocolates anywhere.

    Comment by larryco_ — January 22, 2007 @ 4:56 pm

  30. Mark (#28):

    >>>That a large number of Mormons (including my son) have chosen for the time being to live in Las Vegas does not mean that it isn’t a rathole.

    In your opinion. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    >>>And it’s not just the Strip and the hookers and the nude dancers (if they’re showgirls, though, it’s art, isn’t it?).

    Hookers: Prostitution is illegal in Clark County. (NRS 244.345 permits brothels in counties of fewer than 400,000 people).

    Nude Dancers: There is a curious county ordinance that says the clubs may serve alcohol OR have nude dancers, but not both. So there are technically no nude dancers in Las Vegas (except at places that charge $10 for a glass of fruit punch). The City of North Las Vegas (a separate political jurisdiction) has no such ordinance in force.

    As to showgirls being “art” I will simply defer to the ruling of Miller v. California and allow the community to define its own standards.

    >>>It’s the environment–from the natural to the man-made.

    I agree there is some incredibly tacky architecture. There is also much architecture that is very inspiring, innovative and beautiful. As to the desert – well, I have lived and/or worked in Palm Springs since 1994 and this boy from New England has grown to love the unique beauty the desert holds.

    Las Vegas is the ultimate expression of free agency. I will close with these words from Las Vegas resident Drew Carey – words with which I agree 1000%:

    “Vegas is everything that’s right with America. You can do whatever you want, 24 hours a day. They’ve effectively legalized everything there. You don’t have to gamble if you don’t want to. There’s tons of churches in Vegas, too: You’ll see a church right next to a casino. But a lot of people like gambling, so they make money off it. Nobody forces you to put money in a machine and pull the handle. But the fact is they allow it. Nevada’s one of the most conservative states in the Union, but you can do what you want in Vegas and nobody judges you.”

    Comment by Phouchg — January 22, 2007 @ 9:19 pm

  31. I didn’t suggest that, just because I thought Las Vegas is a rathole and should be the new Nevada test site, everybody else has to agree with me. You don’t have to agree, Phouchg.

    But I am really glad that prostitution is illegal in Clark County. I should have stopped and told that girl a few blocks off Fremont Street, who was standing outside in a 3 inch long skirt in a 30 degrees/30 mph wind afternoon. I’m sure that she would have been shocked! SHOCKED!! that prostitution was going on in violation of the law.

    I’m also glad that nude dancing is illegal. That huge billboard of the girl in the G-string had me worried, but I guess she’s wearing a body stocking. (But it was a back view, so maybe her breasts were bare.) Or, maybe the law makes a distinction between buck naked and mostly uncovered. Those fine distinctions are what we lawyers thrive on.

    If you think that people making wrong choices is the “ultimate expression of free agency,” then I really am worried for you.

    Comment by Mark B. — January 23, 2007 @ 10:11 am

  32. [...] Thanks to everybody who made suggestions for my trip. I had a blast. I was in Vegas with my husband, who went for the snowboard/ski industry trade show. We stayed at the Luxor. He went to the trade show all day Monday. I went to Red Rocks and the Valley of Fire. He went to the trade show all day Tuesday. I went to the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort. We saw Tom Jones perform Tuesday night. And Wednesday my husband ditched the trade show and went to Red Rocks with me. [...]

    Pingback by Nine Moons » Blog Archive : What a Mormon does in Las Vegas (a photo essay) » What a Mormon does in Las Vegas (a photo essay) — January 25, 2007 @ 9:03 am

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