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Top-10 non-gambling activities in Las Vegas

31 March 2008

10. Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat

This is the open air home of the animals that made the Siegfried & Roy show famous. Its primary goal is to educate students, teachers and guests alike about the animals living there. And from rare tigers and lions to dolphins, this tropical paradise inside the Mirage has something for everyone. One of the tigers in the habitat is Montecore, which accidentally bit Roy Horn in 2003. The injuries that Horn suffered in the accident forced the show to close.

9. The Liberace Museum

In a city that's all about glitz and glamour, the Liberace Museum fits right in. It's a flamboyant tribute to the over-the-top pianist who was known as much for his ability to put on show as his musical skill. Among its incredible collection of pianos, costumes and Rolls Royces are a rhinestone encrusted piano, a rhinestone-lined black diamond mink cape and a rhinestone-encrusted Roadster.

8. Gondola rides at the Venetian

For star-crossed lovers that can't afford a trip to Venice, a ride on the gondolas at the Venetian is the next best thing. Gondoliers sing to the passengers in Italian, the boats glide smoothly through the canals that run under bridges and right by cafes. And onlookers look on jealously, wishing their significant other would buy them a ride.

7. Dancing Fountains at the Bellagio

The Bellagio is an amazing establishment. But the casino's primary attraction isn't actually inside the casino. It's outside, where thousands gather daily to watch fountains dance to the music of Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Johnny Mathis and others. In fact, you've never officially been to Vegas unless you've seen fountains dance to Sinatra's "Luck be a lady."

6. Paddlewheel cruise at Lake Mead

The Lake Mead cruises are a nice way to get outdoors and away from the Las Vegas strip. And the scenery is spectacular. Among other things, cruise passengers will be able to see an extinct volcano, the Arizona Paint Pots, magnificent panoramic landscapes and the Hoover Dam.

5. Romulan Ale at Quark's Bar

The Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton features two excellent rides -- the new BORG Invasion 4D and Klingon Encounter -- and a first-rate Star Trek museum. But the best (and it's not even close) aspect of the Experience is Quark's Bar. The bar is a faithful reproduction of Quark's Bar, which appeared in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Every detail is correct, from the layout of the establishment to the seats at the bar, the food and drinks served and the ferengi barkeep. So if you are in the mood for Romulan Ale or Klingon Blood Wine (and yes, they have alcohol in them), then hit Quark's Bar. You'll enjoy the food, the drink and the costumed help and characters that treat it as their favorite haunt.

4. Golf at Shadow Creek

Golf Las Vegas author Ken Van Vechten calls Shadow Creek "one of the best golf courses in the world." And that might be an understatement. To those that have golfed there, Shadow Creek features 18 holes that belong on postcards. If you want to golf there, make sure you stay at the Mirage. That's the only way you can get on the course. And bring your American Express. Greens fees are $500.

3. Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam is more than a scenic backdrop for the movie Fools Rush In. It is an engineering and architectural marvel that harnessed the mighty Colorado and helped the desert southwest bloom, providing electricity for millions and irrigation for even more. It's located just 30 miles from Vegas, and is well worth the trip.

2. Red Rock Canyon

The popular red sandstone peaks 15 miles outside of Vegas provide plenty of space for hikers, bikers and rock climbers to enjoy its natural beauty. The highest point of this natural conservation area is La Madre Mountain, which sits 8,154 feet above sea level.

1. The Stratosphere Tower

At 1,149 feet tall, the tallest free-standing observation deck in the U.S. provides spectacular views of Las Vegas. And if you're in the mood for a romantic dinner, try Top of the World, which sits high atop the Stratosphere and revolves 360 degrees to provide panoramic views of the city.

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