Around the Circuit - Las Vegas

atcLas Vegas. What can you say about this city of indulgence? It kind of has a bad reputation. Sure, it’s littered with casinos and prostitutes but you can still find family-friendly activities to do there. It’s surprising, really, the amount of things that you can find to do in Las Vegas that don’t include gambling or nudity. In fact, it seems to become more and more family-friendly all the time. There are theme parks, rides, zoos, shopping - all on and off the strip. Just taking a walk up and down the strip can be an attraction in itself!

If you’ve never been to Las Vegas, come explore as we go around the circuit.

The Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat
Distance from track: in time- 22 minutes; in distance- 16.3 miles. View map
An oasis within an oasis - that’s what you could call this animal habitat. Housed inside the famous Mirage hotel located on the strip, the animal habitat serves as a mini sanctuary for endangered animals. The habitat was built by Siegfried & Roy who wanted to provide a safe haven for these animals - some who are critically endangered.

Walk through the lush rainforest-like garden habitat and stare in wonder at the beautiful and exotic creatures that reside there. The habitat is home to black panthers, golden tigers, leopards, traditional pride lions, white lions and tigers. In addition to the big cat sanctuary, there is a 2.5 million gallon pool that is home to a family of Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. To view all the animals it’s only $15 for adults 12 and over, $10 for children 4-12, and free for children under 4.

If you’re looking for more than a visit to see some wild animals, you can participate in the Trainer for a Day program. It is a little pricy but includes breakfast, lunch, wetsuit, use of shower facilities, photo ops and the experience of a lifetime - spending a day swimming with and learning to train these majestic sea mammals. To participate in the one-day program, the cost is $550. Additionally, you can also take up to two observers with you who get to go behind the scenes and watch for a smaller fee of $150.

No matter what you decide to do, the Siegfried & Roy Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat is a can’t-miss destination along the Las Vegas strip. Visit their website for hours, location, and additional information.

The Las Vegas Strip
Distance from track: in time- 28 minutes; in distance- 21 miles. View map*
From the famed dancing waters at the Bellagio to the volcano at the Mirage to the Sirens of TI at Treasure Island - there is no limit to the amount of live attractions that can be accessed along the strip at regular intervals. The best part? It’s all FREE! Take a walk through the NASCAR Café at the Sahara Hotel to see  the world’s largest stock car**, Carzilla.  You can also stroll through the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace and watch an animatronics show or just look at all the hotels. Where else can you see buildings shaped like pyramids, castles, middle eastern palaces, Venice, and even New York City?

One key bit of advice - as much as it may seem more fun (and cool) to cruise the strip in a limousine, the opposite is true. You can see as well as experience a lot more if you just walk up and down both sides of the street.

The best time to walk the strip is in the mid-to-late afternoon and early evening. You can watch the scenery go from day to night - brilliantly lit up with millions of lights. The Las Vegas “modern” strip is truly a feast for the eyes. To find out about any of these attractions, visit the websites for the hotels listed.

Thrill Rides
Distance from track: multiple destinations
You’re in Las Vegas and you’re a NASCAR fan - chances are, you’re an adrenaline junkie. If this is the case, you’re in the perfect place to get your fix. Las Vegas is home to plenty of exciting things for thrill seekers to do. Here’s a list of a few of the most exciting thrill rides and experiences in and around Las Vegas.

Speed - the Ride, a NASCAR themed roller-coaster, takes you through the Sahara Hotel’s 192 feet marquis, then stops and takes you back through the course backwards! Speed - the Ride Website

The Stratosphere Tower rides have long been a part of the Las Vegas appeal. Recently, however, NASCAR driver Carl Edwards made the jump of his life from the Stratosphere’s SkyJump, bringing the attraction to NASCAR fans attention. The Stratosphere Tower has several rides - the SkyJump, Insanity-the Ride,  X-Scream, and Big Shot. You can experience all of these exciting rides at over 800 feet above the ground! Visit their website for pricing and information.

Once hailed as the world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster, the Desperado still excites and thrills at 90 mph. The biggest drop is 225 feet. It’s 2 minutes and 43 seconds of pure adrenaline. The coaster is located at Buffalo Bill’s in Primm, NV which is about a 40 mile drive south of Las Vegas. Visit the Terrible’s website for hours of operation and pricing.

The rides listed here are only a few of the rides and experiences to be found in Las Vegas. Perform your own search and see what you can find!

The Hoover Dam
Distance from track: in time- 1 hour; in distance- 46.2 miles. View map
The Hoover Dam is one of those “can’t miss” destinations. Straddling the line between Arizona and Nevada, it’s quite a sight to see. You can stop off for just a few moments or a few hours and take in the view of this historic dam along with the other dam tourists.  You can also pick up a dam shirt or even take a dam tour. Puns aside, it truly is a man-made marvel.

The Hoover Dam, which took all of five years to build, was completed in 1936 along with all components. This was a full two years before their given deadline. Before construction on the dam could begin, however, there where other things that had to be built to pave the way for such a large project.

What had to be built?
  •  Boulder City was built specifically to house government and contractor employees.
  • Seven miles of asphalt-paved highway between Boulder City and the site of the dam.
  • A railroad, 22.7 miles in length, between Las Vegas and Boulder City
  • Power transmission lines between San Bernardino, California and the dam site- 222 miles long.
These days, it’s a tourist attraction as well as being a power plant. If you’re interested in visiting, check out their website.

Bizarre - Roadside Attractions in Nevada
Distance from track: multiple destinations. View state map
Every state and many towns have them. You’ve seen them. You probably wondered “what the #*%^@?” while driving past them. Yeah, I’m talking about roadside attractions.

As if there weren’t enough bizarre sights in Las Vegas. Yes, it’s true, there are roadside attractions, even in the tackiest city of all. If you’re an avid pinballer or just really bored, you may want to check out the Pinball Hall of Fame, where you can play on over 120 pinball machines. Because there’s nothing more exciting to do in Las Vegas.

If smacking balls around isn’t quite your thing, check out the Atomic Testing Museum. It’s all about bombs, with some pop culture thrown in, but mostly bombs.

Still haven’t found anything to suit your fancy? We’ve got plenty more!

If old Las Vegas is your thing, then check out the neon boneyard. You can walk through a pre-arranged tour of the old and forgotten signs of Vegas and pay homage to the past.

There’s a lot more where these came from, so check out!

Las Vegas Travel Websites
Find the most exclusive clubs, most thrilling rides, cheapest food, best priced show tickets, flights, hotels or whatever! Look it up on one of these websites:

Glad you came to Vegas with me! Next week, we get some time off after Las Vegas but we’ll return March 16 and visit Bristol, Tennessee!

Genesis ‘Bump ‘n’ Run’ Short***

*Map shows from racetrack to S. Las Vegas Boulevard but not necessarily the Vegas Strip. The Strip is along Las Vegas Boulevard.
**Not confirmed fact but the hotel does claim it to be true.
***Just for fun, sign up for an account on and generate your Vegas name! This is mine.
Around the Circuit - Las Vegas Around the Circuit - Las Vegas Reviewed by Genna on Wednesday, March 02, 2011 Rating: 5