Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Catch a Free Ride in Las Vegas

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White tiger patrols its Mirage enclosure

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Story & Photo

By Cecil Scaglione

LAS VEGAS —- You don’t have to mortgage your mansion to enjoy this glittering Gotham in the Nevada sand. There are more than enough free diversions to keep you enthralled and entertained during a visit here.

Since the only things permanent are the blinking neon lights, some of the freebies listed may no longer exist so look around and you’ll probably find others.

This hub of around-the-clock flashing lights is without a doubt one of the best and brightest spots for just plain people-watching. They come in more shapes and sizes than you thought possible —  in attire that ranges from down-home to out-of-this-world. And much of their behavior should, as the television ads say, be left here.

Do this while making vicarious visits to New York’s Statue of Liberty, Paris’ Eiffel Tower, Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell, and Venice’s St. Mark’s Square and Rialto Bridge. Downtown, at the northern end of world-renowned Las Vegas Avenue better known as The Strip, is the Fremont Street Experience. Featured is a four-times-a-night computerized sight-and-sound show overhead on “The Biggest Screen on the Planet,” the $70 million canopy enclosing a half dozen downtown blocks.

You can also experience climatic changes as you saunter through the hot desert air of the street that’s sprayed with gusts of cool pumped out by the never-closed casinos. And catch a handful of “gambling” beads, the same kind Mardi Gras celebrants corral and collar in New Orleans that cost you a couple of bucks or more in the drugstores and novelty shops along The Strip.

All the while, you can watch femmes in frilly white skirts get their ears pierced at a sidewalk boutique or a butt-crack-jeaned macho guy gripping a yard-long neon-colored daiquiri while getting his other hand tattooed.

A $1.50 bus-ride will get you to another free show at the Stratosphere rooted at the north end of this renowned street of sex and excess. While it takes a $10 elevator ride to get to the outdoor observation deck, the view from 90 stories up is free but worth a lot more. And you don’t have to spend any money to shake and shock yourself on the carnival rides atop this 1,149-foot building. Some spectators get wobbly knees just watching screaming passengers swing dizzily in the desert air hundreds of feet above the shimmering streets below.

Back at ground level, it’s a short hike to the monorail that, for $5, takes you to the MGM Grand, where you can walk across the boulevard to New York New York and over the Tropicana Avenue bridge to Excalibur to catch a free tram connecting it with Luxor and Mandalay Bay, which anchors the south end of this megaplex.

Then decide whether to meander or monorail your way back, catching free sights and sounds in the art shows and exhibits in the lobbies of the various hotel casinos with such mind-massaging names as Bellagio, Casino Royale, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Monte Carlo, Paris, and Treasure  Island.

Stop by Aureole in Mandalay Bay and you might catch a glimpse of the “wine fairies” in this upscale restaurant. You can peer through outsized portholes in the front wall to watch as servers are winched up and down a glassed-in four-story wine tower to fetch special orders from among the 9,500 bottles in its inventory.

There’s also the Memorabilia Museum in Mandalay Bay that has sports and Presidential mementos available for show and for sale. You might see the shot of Cassius Clay’s memorable heavyweight-boxing victory over Sonny Liston, along with Beatle stuff, and an Abe Lincoln-signed military appointment with its $30,000 price tag.

At Circus Circus a few minutes away, you can gaze at glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts rolling along their assembly line. Farther along the Strip are white tigers padding around their enclosure in the Mirage, singing gondoliers cruising canals through the Venetian, and the never-ending dancing-fountain show in front of the Bellagio.

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

June 20, 2015 at 10:28 am

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