Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas
The Las Vegas Strip is an approximately 4.2 mi stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard in Clark County, Nevada; adjacent to, but outside the city limits of Las Vegas proper. The Strip lies within the unincorporated townships of Paradise and Winchester. Most of the Strip has been designated an All-American Road.
Many of the largest hotel, casino and resort properties in the world are located on the Las Vegas Strip. Nineteen of the world's 25 largest hotels by room count are on the Strip, with a total of over 67,000 rooms. One of the 19, the Las Vegas Hilton, is an "off-Strip" property but is located less than 0.5 mi east of the Strip.
One of the most visible aspects of Las Vegas' cityscape is its use of dramatic architecture. The modernization of hotels, casinos, restaurants, and residential high-rises on the Strip has established the city as one of the most popular destinations for tourists.
Historically, the casinos that were not in Downtown Las Vegas along Fremont Street were restricted to outside of the city limits on Las Vegas Boulevard. In 1959 the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign was constructed exactly 4.5 mi outside of the city limits. The sign is today about 0.4 mi south of the southernmost entrance to Mandalay Bay (the southernmost casino).
In the strictest sense, "the Strip" refers only to the stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard that is roughly between Sahara Avenue and Russell Road, a distance of 4.2 mi. However, the term is often used to refer not only to the road but also to the various casinos and resorts that line the road, and even to properties which are not on the road but in proximity. Certain government agencies, such as the Nevada Gaming Commission, classify properties as "Las Vegas Strip" for reporting purposes, although these definitions can include properties which are 1 mi or more away from Las Vegas Boulevard (such as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino). Phrases such as Strip Area, Resort Corridor or Resort District are sometimes used to indicate a larger geographical area.
The Nevada Gaming Commission considers the Strip's northern terminus as the Sahara Casino. At one time, the southern end of the Strip was Tropicana Avenue, but continuing construction has extended this boundary to Russell Road. Mandalay Bay is located just north of Russell Road and is the southernmost resort considered to be on the Strip by the Nevada Gaming Commission.
Because of the number and size of the resorts, the Resort Corridor can be quite wide. Interstate 15 runs roughly parallel and 0.5 to to the west of Las Vegas Boulevard for the entire length of the Strip. Paradise Road runs to the east in a similar fashion, and ends at St. Louis Avenue. The eastern side of the Strip is bounded by McCarran International Airport south of Tropicana Avenue. North of this point, the Resort Corridor can be considered to extend as far east as Paradise Road, although some consider Koval Lane as a less inclusive boundary. Interstate 15 is sometimes considered the western edge of the Resort Corridor from Interstate 215 to Spring Mountain Road. North of this point, Industrial Road serves as the western edge.
The Nevada Gaming Commission defines the Strip gaming area as encompassing all resorts located on Las Vegas Boulevard South between Russell Road and Sahara Avenue, as well as several nearby properties not directly located on Las Vegas Boulevard. This includes The Rio, The Palms, and several other smaller resorts west of Las Vegas Boulevard and Interstate 15, but does not include The Orleans one block further west. Properties located east of Las Vegas Boulevard on Paradise Road, such as the Las Vegas Hilton, Terrible's Casino, Westin Casuarina Las Vegas Hotel, Casino & Spa, Hooters Casino Hotel, and the Hard Rock, are also included in this area. The Stratosphere, however, is not included in the Nevada Gaming Commission definition of the Strip which includes it in the downtown area. The Stratosphere and other properties not on the Strip are frequently shown on maps as being Strip casinos.
The famous Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign is located in the median just south of Russell Road, across from the now-defunct Klondike Hotel & Casino; another similar sign is in the median at the north end of the Strip near the intersection of east St. Louis and south Main Streets.
Newer resorts such as South Point and the M Resort are on Las Vegas Boulevard South as distant as 8 miles south of the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. Marketing for these casinos usually states that they are on southern Las Vegas Boulevard and not "Strip" properties. However this area is frequently referred to as the South Strip.
The first casino to be built on Highway 91 was the Pair-o-Dice Club in 1931, but the first on what is currently the Strip was the El Rancho Vegas, opening on April 3, 1941, with 63 rooms. That casino stood for almost 20 years before being destroyed by a fire in 1960. Its success spawned a second hotel on what would become the Strip, the Hotel Last Frontier, in 1942. Organized crime figures such as New York's Bugsy Siegel took interest in the growing gaming center leading to other resorts such as the Flamingo, which opened in 1946, and the Desert Inn, which opened in 1950. The funding for many projects was provided through the American National Insurance Company, which was based in the then notorious gambling empire of Galveston, Texas.
Several decades ago, Las Vegas Boulevard South was called Arrowhead Highway, or Los Angeles Highway. The Strip was reportedly named by Los Angeles police officer Guy McAfee, after his hometown's Sunset Strip.
In 1968, Kirk Kerkorian purchased the Flamingo and hired Sahara Hotels Vice President Alex Shoofey as President. Alex Shoofey brought along 33 of Sahara's top executives. The Flamingo was used to train future employees of the International Hotel, which was under construction. Opening in 1969, the International Hotel, with 1,512 rooms, began the era of mega-resorts. The International is known as the Las Vegas Hilton today.
The first MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, also a Kerkorian property, opened in 1973 with 2,084 rooms. At the time, this was one of the largest hotels in the world by number of rooms. The Rossiya Hotel built in 1967 in Moscow, for instance, had 3200 rooms; however, most of the rooms in the Rossiya Hotel were single rooms of 118 sq. ft (roughly 1/4 size of a standard room at the MGM Grand Resort). On November 21, 1980, the MGM Grand suffered the worst resort fire in the history of Las Vegas, killing 87 people as a result of electrical problems. It reopened eight months later. In 1986, Kerkorian sold the MGM Grand to Bally Manufacturing, and it was renamed Bally's.
The Wet 'n Wild water park opened in 1985 and was located on the south side of the Sahara hotel. The park closed at the end of the 2004 season and was later demolished.
The opening of The Mirage in 1989 set a new level to the Las Vegas experience, as smaller hotels and casinos made way for the larger mega-resorts. These huge facilities offer entertainment and dining options, as well as gambling and lodging. This change affected the smaller, well-known and now historic hotels and casinos, like The Dunes, The Sands, the Stardust, and the Sahara.
In 1995, following the death of Dean Martin, the lights along the Strip were dimmed in a sign of respect to him. This was repeated in 1998 in honor of the recently deceased Frank Sinatra. In 2005, Clark County renamed a section of Industrial Road (south of Twain Avenue) as Dean Martin Drive, also as a tribute to the famous Rat Pack singer, actor, and frequent Las Vegas entertainer.
In an effort to attract families, resorts offered more attractions geared toward youth, but had limited success. The (current) MGM Grand opened in 1993 with Grand Adventures amusement park, but the park closed in 2000 due to lack of interest. Similarly, in 2003 Treasure Island closed its own video arcade and abandoned the previous pirate theme, adopting the new ti name.
In addition to the large hotels, casinos and resorts, the Strip is home to a few smaller casinos and other attractions, such as M&M World, Adventuredome and the Fashion Show Mall. Starting in the mid-1990s, the Strip became a popular New Year's Eve celebration destination.
In 2004, MGM Mirage announced plans for Project CityCenter, a 66 acre, $7 billion multi-use project on the site of the Boardwalk hotel and adjoining land. It consists of hotel, casino, condo, retail, art, business and other uses on the site. City Center is currently the largest such complex in the world. Construction began in April 2006, with most elements of the project opened in late 2009.
In 2006, the Las Vegas Strip lost its longtime status as the world's highest-grossing gambling center, falling to second place behind Macau.
The Strip today
While not on the Strip itself, the Las Vegas Monorail runs on the east side of the Strip from Tropicana Avenue to Sahara Road.
RTC Transit (formerly CAT or Citizens Area Transit 1992–2008) provides service on the Strip with double decker buses known as The Deuce. The Deuce runs between Mandalay Bay at the southern end of the Strip to the Bonneville Transit Center (BTC) in Downtown Las Vegas, with stops near every casino. RTC also operates an express bus called the Strip and Downtown Express (SDX). This route connects the Strip to the Las Vegas Convention Center and Downtown Las Vegas to the north, with stops at selected hotels and shopping attractions.
A tourist trolley service travels up and down the Strip and stops at various, but not all, Strip hotels, along with a stop at the Fashion Show Mall. The fare is $3 for a one way ride, regardless how far riders travel down the Strip. Alternatively, a 24-hour pass is $7, and exact change is required. Trolleys are scheduled to arrive every 15 minutes.
Several free trams operate on the west side of the Strip:
- Mandalay Bay Tram connecting the Mandalay Bay, Luxor, and Excalibur
- CityCenter Tram connecting the Monte Carlo, Crystals, and Bellagio
- Between Treasure Island and The Mirage
Taxis can only stop at hotel entrances or designated spots, so when planning to get somewhere, passengers inquire as to which hotel or taxi stand is closest to the intended destination.
Before CAT Bus came on in 1992, mass transit on the Strip was provided by a private transit company, Las Vegas Transit. The Strip route was their only profitable route and supported the whole bus system.
Some of the shuttles have a policy requiring a room key from an affiliated casino. Enforcement of these policies may vary.
- Between Harrah's and the Rio. Approximately every 30 minutes.
- Between Sam's Town and Bill's Gamblin' Hall, Harrah's, Riviera, and Tropicana. Approximately every hour and a half.
- Between Paris/Bally's and the Rio. Approximately every 30 minutes.
- Between Hard Rock and the Fashion Show Mall. Leaves the Hard Rock every 60 minutes on the hour.
Several Strip hotels have undertaken efforts to make the street more pedestrian-friendly. New casinos design their façades to attract walk-up customers, and many of these entrances have become attractions themselves—the Fountains at Bellagio, the volcano at The Mirage, and the Sirens of TI show at Treasure Island. Spectators gather on the sidewalks in front of the casinos to watch these shows.
To alleviate traffic issues at popular intersections, several footbridges have been installed to help pedestrians safely traverse the roads. The Tropicana – Las Vegas Boulevard footbridges were the first to be installed, and based on the success of this project additional footbridges have been built on Las Vegas Boulevard at the Flamingo Road intersection; between The Mirage/Treasure Island and The Venetian, and at the Las Vegas Boulevard-Spring Mountain and Sands Avenue intersection connecting the Wynn with the Fashion Show Mall and The Palazzo. A new footbridge has recently been completed and connects Planet Hollywood with CityCenter and The Cosmopolitan at the Harmon Avenue intersection.
In recent years, all but one of the on-Strip golf courses (the Desert Inn Golf Course) have fallen prey to the mega-resorts' need for land and have closed. Developer Steve Wynn, founder of previously owned Mirage Resorts, purchased the Desert Inn and golf course for his new company Wynn Resorts. In 2005, he opened Wynn Las Vegas, complete with remodeled golf course providing tee times to hotel guests only.
In 2000, Bali Hai Golf Club opened just south of Mandalay Bay and the Strip.
Major hotel locations
| North towards Fremont Street
|Sahara Avenue||Sahara Avenue|
|Circus Circus||Fontainebleau (on hold)|
|Echelon Place (on hold)|
|Desert Inn Road||Desert Inn Road|
|Las Vegas Plaza (On hold)||Encore|
|Fashion Show Mall||Wynn|
|Spring Mountain Road||Sands Avenue|
|Treasure Island||The Palazzo|
|The Mirage||Casino Royale|
|Flamingo Road||Flamingo Road|
|Vdara, Cosmopolitan||Planet Hollywood|
|Harmon Avenue||Harmon Avenue|
|Aria, The Harmon (on hold: Demolition Pending)||Grand Chateau, The Signature|
|New York-New York||MGM Grand|
|Tropicana Avenue||Tropicana Avenue|
|Four Seasons, Mandalay Bay|
South towards Interstate 215 to McCarran International Airport
- Bonanza Gift Shop is billed as the "World's Largest Gift Shop", with over 40000 sqft of shopping space.
- The Shoppes at The Palazzo feature luxury stores including the only Barneys New York department store in Las Vegas.
- Fashion Show Mall is adjacent to Treasure Island and opposite Wynn Las Vegas.
- Grand Canal Shoppes is a luxury mall connected to The Venetian with canals, gondolas and singing gondoliers.
- Miracle Mile is part of the Planet Hollywood hotel.
- The Forum Shops at Caesars is a luxury mall connected to Caesars Palace, with more than 160 shops and 11 restaurants.
- Crystals at CityCenter is a luxury high-fashion mall at CityCenter.
Most of the attractions and shows on the Strip are located on the hotel casino properties. Some of the more popular free attractions visible from the Strip include the water fountains at Bellagio, the Sirens of TI show at Treasure Island—TI, the volcano at The Mirage, and the Fall of Atlantis and Festival Fountain at Caesars Palace. MGM Grand features a glass-sided lion habitat inside the casino area, in which up to six lions are shown every day.
The only movie theatre directly on the Strip is the 10-screen Regal Showcase Theatre in the Showcase Mall next to the MGM Grand (opened in 1997 and operated by Regal Entertainment Group).
Demolished or closed Strip casinos and hotels
- Big Red's Casino: Closed in 1982. Property developed for CBS Sports World Casino (Changed name to Sports World Casino after the CBS threatened to sue): Closed in 2001, now a shopping center.
- Boardwalk Hotel and Casino: Demolished May 9, 2006 to make way for CityCenter.
- Bourbon Street Hotel and Casino: Demolished February 6, 2006, now an empty lot.
- Desert Inn (and golf course): Inn demolished in 2004, now Wynn Las Vegas; golf course retained and improved.
- The Dunes (and golf course): Demolished in 1993, now Bellagio.
- El Rancho (formerly Thunderbird/Silverbird): Closed in 1992 and demolished in 2000, will be the site of the 4000-room casino-hotel Fontainebleau which is currently under construction.
- El Rancho Vegas: Burned down in 1960. The Hilton Grand Vacation Club timeshare now exists on the south edge of the site where the resort once stood; the remainder remains vacant.
- Glass Pool Inn: Demolished in 2006. It was called Mirage Motel until 1988 and changed names due to The Mirage opening down the Strip in 1989.
- Hacienda: Demolished in 1996, now Mandalay Bay. A separate Hacienda now exists outside of Boulder City, formerly the Gold Strike Inn.
- Holy Cow Casino Cafe and Brewery: First micro brewery in Las Vegas. Closed in 2002, property currently vacant.
- Jackpot Casino: Closed in 1977, now the Sahara.
- Klondike Hotel & Casino: Closed in 2006, demolished in 2008.
- The Landmark: Demolished in 1995. Now the site of a parking lot for the Las Vegas Convention Center (Demolition was filmed for the feature Mars Attacks!).
- Lucky Slots Casino: Closed in 1981, now a shopping center.
- Lotus Inn Hotel & Casino: Closed in 1978, now a Rodeway Inn.
- Money Tree Casino: Closed in 1979, now Bonanza Gift & Souvenir Shops.
- Marina Hotel and Casino: Westward pointing tower (known as the West Wing) of the MGM Grand.
- The New Frontier: Closed July 16, 2007, demolished November 13, 2007. Was to have been replaced by the new Las Vegas Plaza, but that project was put on hold.
- Nob Hill Casino: Closed in 1990, now Casino Royale.
- Paddlewheel Hotel & Casino: Closed in 1991 and reopened in 1993 as Debbie Reynolds' Hollywood Hotel & Casino, which itself closed in 1996 and is now the Greek Isles Hotel & Casino.
- Sahara Hotel and Casino: Closed May 16, 2011, The owner of the hotel, Sam Nazarian, left open the possibility of reopening the property at a later date.
- San Souci: Closed in 1962 for the Castaways, which itself was demolished in 1987. Now the site of The Mirage.
- The Sands: Demolished in 1996, now The Venetian.
- Silver City Hotel & Casino: Closed in 1999, now the Silver City Shopping Center.
- Silver Slipper: Demolished in 1988 for a parking lot. Now the site of the Desert Inn Road Arterial.
- Stardust Resort & Casino: Closed November 1, 2006, demolished March 13, 2007. Was to have been replaced by Echelon Place, but that project was put on hold in August 2008.
- Tally Ho Hotel: Closed in 1966. Became the Aladdin, which in 2007 became Planet Hollywood.
- Vacation Village Resort & Casino; Closed in 2002, demolished in 2006. Site of the new Town Square development.
- Vegas World: Demolished in 1995 and rebuilt as the Stratosphere; parts of the old Vegas World still remain.
- Westward Ho Hotel and Casino: Closed in 2005, demolished in 2006.
- Downtown (Nevada gaming area)
- Atlantic City
- Las Vegas Weather and Climate from NOAA
- Official State of Nevada Tourism Site
- Las Vegas Strip travel guide
- Neon Sin City: Las Vegas in Lights—slideshow by The First Post