Las Vegas long ago put aside its image of the gambling mecca that flourished under the mob when Nevada legalized casinos in 1931. Since then, it has evolved from a seedy gambling town to glitzy showgirl glam-a-rama to a family vacation destination spot. But it is still the sin in Sin City that most tourists come for. From the strip clubs to the casinos, vice is doing its usual brisk business.
One glitch: The Las Vegas Monorail, which opened to much fanfare in July, was shut down Sep. 8 because of mechanical bugs; information, www.lvmonorail.com.
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Las Vegas is a fast town. Need proof? Head to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 7000 Las Vegas Boulevard N., Nov. 5 and 6 as the World of Outlaws, the nation’s top sprint-car series, takes to the dirt oval. Tickets from $26.25; 800-644-4444, www.lvms.com.
On Nov. 26, Cirque du Soleil will begin previews of KA, at the MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South. From $99 to $150; 800-929-1111, www.mgmgrand.com.
Burnt on gambling? Less than 20 miles west of the city is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, 702-515-5350, www.redrockcan yon.blm.gov, a serene landscape of desert valleys and rugged sandstone cliffs; $5 a car.
WHERE TO STAY
The Palms, 866-725-6773, www.palms.com, is a mile off the Strip at 4321 W. Flamingo Road. Down comforters are enveloped in 300-count duvets and the TVs play the latest hits from artists you might see in the lobby. The 425 rooms range from $59.
Don’t expect much in the way of frills at Bally’s, 3645 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 888-742-9248, www.ballyslv.com. The 2,814 rooms here have very little personality, but make up for it in location: across the street from the Bellagio and adjoining Paris Las Vegas. From $69 for a standard room.
You can’t beat the 3,005-room Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 888-987-6667, wwwbellagiolasvegas.com, for sheer luxury (and deep bathtubs). But the real reason to stay? The service. Big spenders can request their own butler. $139 to $799. At the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 877-857-1861, wwwvenetian.com, every room is a suite with a bed, couch and two plush chairs, and marble sinks in the bathroom. The furniture is Italian, and carved armoires conceal televisions. $169 to $899.
WHERE TO EAT
The red and blue tile floor, crisp white table linens, and wall paintings of baguettes, corsets and the like set the tone: Bouchon, at the Venetian Resort, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-414-6200, is as close to a Paris bistro as there is in Las Vegas. $180 (dinner for two with wine).
If you’re looking for a cheap and tasty sit-down dinner, the well-regarded Chinese restaurant Chin Chin, 702-740-6300 has an outpost at the New York-New York Hotel, 3790 Las Vegas Blvd. South. What it
gives up in its cafeteria-like style, it more than makes up for in selection and price. $55 (dinner for two with wine).
Simon Kitchen and Bar at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, off the Strip at 4455 Paradise Road, 702-693-4440, is one of the toughest dinner reservations. Celebrities come for the expensive comfort food and industrial-chic touches like the silver metal bar. The meat loaf is tops. $130 (dinner for two with wine