BY VICTORIA HENLEY
Although Las Vegas is known everywhere for its top-notch casinos, dazzling shows and pulsating nightlife, the city’s other unique and intriguing activities have quickly gained placement “Top things to do in Vegas” lists.
Accompanied by photographer Lynn, I explored the best attractions that you don’t want to miss on your next “Sin City” adventure.
THE MOB MUSEUM
Voted by USA Today as “The Best Museum in Nevada” and lauded by The New York Times as “A Must for Travelers,” The Mob Museum is a nonprofit organization with an objective to advance the public’s understanding of organized crime history and its impact on American society.
Housed in the stately Las Vegas Post Office, which was built in 1933, The Mob Museum educates and informs through immersive exhibitions, including detailed profiles of some of the mafia’s most notorious mobsters, how their careers in the organized crime industry originated, little known affiliations, and details of the grisly crimes they executed.
Your journey will begin with “100 Years of Made Men” on the first floor, which delves into the origin stories of organized crime’s most notorious members and the multifaceted allures that guided them into an industry filled with illegal gambling, drug trafficking, and murder.
On floor 2, “The Kefauver Hearings” explores the world famous 1950s investigation by the Kefauver Committee to prove the existence of a national crime syndicate to a public and government
Floor 3 dives in to “The Birth of the Mob,” an inexplicably complex and intricate organization whose origins can be traced back to the late 19th century, where Irish, English and Eastern European immigrants struggled to survive a myriad of seemingly insurmountable challenges which awaited them including abject poverty, overcrowding, and discrimination.
Rather than revel in and celebrate the culture of the mafia, The Mob Museum factually presents information about the life and times of the members and leaders of the organized crime industry.
Artifacts including weapons, bullets, garments, and other memorabilia provide a visual aide to a tumultuous time in history where underground crime reigned supreme.
Once you’ve thoroughly explored The Mob Museum, make your way to the basement to experience Underground: The Speakeasy, a gorgeously decorated lair which allows guests to travel back in history to the Prohibition Era, when the nation’s unquenchable thirst for spirits inspired entrepreneurs to open bars in hard-to-find places.
A rousing celebration of the Roaring 20’s , Jazz music, and the inimitable Flapper culture, Underground: The Speakeasy also offers a wide variety of liqueurs available for purchase, as well as a premier tasting experience.
PHONE NUMBER: 702.229.2734
REAL BODIES AT BALLYS
A beautiful, complex, scientifically driven, and emotionally charged exploration of the human body, Real Bodies at Bally’s utilizes real human specimens to explore the ornate inner workings of our genetic make-up as well as the physical, spiritual, and emotional elements which comprise who we are as human beings.
Tastefully and insightfully curated, Real Bodies at Bally’s employs written educational materials and a vast array of engaging exhibits to convey the intricacies and complexities of the human body and outlines the measures we must take to properly care for our own.
Numerous themed galleries are available for exploration in a carefully thought-out order, including “Anatomists Study” where guests can learn more about how we have preserved human remains over time, ranging from Ancient Egyptian anatomists to 19th century academics. A variety of bones are on display with detailed scientific facts, carefully illustrating why our bones are so important and vital to life as we know it.
“Breathe” something all of us do consistently-and often mindlessly- throughout our days. Tips for mindful breathing, illustrations of a respiratory system and a striking/disturbing example of a smoker’s lung is on display within this gallery.
“Hunger” delves into our digestive systems and how we convert the food which we consume into energy we need to both survive and thrive.
“Rhythm” sheds light on the circulatory system through dazzling illuminated displays within an otherwise darkened room and explores the rhythm of a heartbeat.
A highly engaging exhibit, “Move” presents specimens in active poses to illustrate to guests what their own bodies are doing while they move about space.
The gallery “Think” invites guests to ponder what they are thinking, with displays ranging from whole brains to open spinal cords, presented to demonstrate the connectedness of the nervous system.
“What Becomes of Us” encourages guests to address and confront their own mortality and reflect upon what will happen when you die, what might await in the afterlife, and the things you will leave behind on this planet.
“Love” navigates certain elements of biological attraction as well as how a biological need to procreate has transformed over time into commitment, relationships, and love.
Visitors can witness the initial stages of life in a quiet and respectful setting in the “Beginnings” portion of the museum through thoughtfully displayed embryonic and fetal specimens. (Please note: all specimens in this exhibit are from pregnancies which were terminated naturally, and a bypass to the remainder of the museum is available for guests who wish to forgo this portion of the experience. )
“Repair” allows guests to get an up close and personal vantage point of organs and to witness how the miracles of modern medicine are allowing us to live longer, stronger, and more fulfilled lives.
A celebration of the complexities of the human body with a surprising amount of emotional and spiritual depth, Real Bodies at Bally’s offers one of the most educational and thought-provoking experiences you’ll find on the Las Vegas Strip.
PHONE NUMBER: (702) 777-2782
TWILIGHT ZONE MINI GOLF (Located in Bally’s)
Owned and operated by the dynamic Monster Mini Golf company, Twilight Mini Golf is a wildly unique and innovate miniature golf course that allows guests to step into “The Twilight Zone” with a variety of themed glow in the dark figures and paintings that are based upon the imaginative television series. Festive, creative, and one of the most affordable destinations for fun on the Las Vegas Strip where you can feel comfortable bringing the entire family, Twilight Zone Mini Golf is a 10,000 square foot attraction featuring 18 fun and challenging holes as well as phenomenal hand painted artwork and lifelike statues (perfect for social media photo ops).
A live DJ spinning tunes and giving special shout outs to visitors celebrating birthdays or special occasions makes periodic appearances at the DJ booth throughout your game, and clever, thought-provoking quotes by the enigmatic screenwriter, producer, and Twilight Zone host, Rod Serling are painted on walls throughout the venue’s glow in the dark ambience.
Also featuring extraordinarily fun miniature bowling lanes, a full arcade, and an alternate dimension gift shop, Twilight Zone Mini Golf is an outrageously fun experience for the whole family. (Also, be sure to check out the company’s SYFY wedding chapel , which is the only one of its kind on this planet! )
PHONE NUMBER: (702) 333-2121
KISS MINI GOLF
Also a part of the Monster Mini Golf Empire, Kiss Mini Golf is the only course of its kind, featuring a rocking 18 hole course, fully inspired by, and dedicated to, the iconic 1970’s rock band with an array of glow in the dark, hand -painted artwork, life size figures, and interesting, little known factoids about the group’s illustrious career painted on the 13,000 square foot venue’s walls. Several interactive challenges which encourage guests to shake up their game by standing on one foot or closing their eyes while putting, help make the game even more exciting and challenging while a live DJ periodically spins your favorite KISS Tunes and announces KISS trivia, complete with prizes, and much more. Located inside the Rio Hotel and Casino, Kiss Mini Golf offers a one-of-a-kind and truly unforgettable miniature golf experience that is perfect for the entire family.
KISS Mini Golf course is not only a miniature golf course, but also a miniature museum with actual band members’ guitars, various personal belongings, and a drum stool utilized on a world tour on display.
PHONE NUMBER: (702) 558-6256
GONDOLA RIDES AT THE VENETIAN
One of the most universally popular attractions on the Las Vegas Strip, Gondola Rides at the Venetian offers a relaxing, winding boat ride through the incomparably elegant atmosphere of the myriad of shoppes and eateries lining the Grand Canal. Once you climb aboard your gondola, you’ll be given the opportunity to pose for a photo to commemorate your special memory (various photo packages are available for purchase in the Gondola Gift Shop), then you’ll be greeted by your very own personal Gondolier, who will commandeer your upcoming water adventure. Each Venetian gondolier has been classically trained in the art of Italian Aria and opera; Therefore, a “free concert ” of classic operatic songs ranging from classic to contemporary to romantic and theatrical is included with each Gondola ride.
Our Gondolier, Giorgio, boasted a strong and powerful singing voice and performed numerous outstanding Italian pieces, including a smashing rendition of the 1958 hit, “Volare.” Brimming with boisterous energy, Giorgio informed us of several unique and interesting facts about the history of Gondola Rides and little-known factoids about everything ranging from Las Vegas’s vast history to stories about the many weddings which have been conducted at Gondolas at the Venetian.
Several packages are available to suit each guest’s specialized needs, including both indoor and outdoor gondola rides, which each offer different sets of picturesque views and completely different ride experiences, as well as a one of a kind “Wedding Gondola” where you and your love can exchange vows while you sail over the crystal blue waters.
During your ride, you just might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the world-renowned “Streetmosphere” show: a fast-paced and enthusiastic 15 minute production in Market Square featuring a variety of singers and musicians as they fill the airwaves with melodious classics such as Andrea Bocelli’s “Time to Say Goodbye” as well as rambunctious renditions of newer hits from Ed Sheeran, The Jonas Brothers, and more.
Another thrilling sight you might expect to see on your ride is the Gondolier March, a special tradition which happens only twice per day. The immensely talented team of gondoliers sings along the indoor canal to announce their arrival for a full day of serenading.
(Note: Tipping the gondoliers is customary, and all guests are required to wear masks inside the boat at all times– except for the initial photo taken by the professional onsite photographer– regardless of vaccination status.)
PHONE NUMBER: 702-414-4300
Victoria Henley’s Backstage Pass can be heard on iHeart/FCB Radio Network and seen at CTFashionMag.com.