There’s more to Sin City than casinos and conventions — though you’ll need a means to get to them too. Other great public transit destinations in Las Vegas are journeys through history, business, art and natural wonder.
The only rail in town
On the East side of the strip, running along Las Vegas Boulevard, the Las Vegas Monorail trains arrive every 4-9 minutes at each of seven stations. The rail goes from MGM to the convention center and beyond, and allows passengers to avoid heat and traffic, while taking in a unique view of the city.
In a city known for colorful neon but not for being green, the monorail stands out, creating zero emissions and has been responsible for eliminating over 23 million vehicle road miles over its lifetime.
A variety of ticket price points make this an economical transport option to all the destinations along the route where you can hop on and off at MGM Grand, Bally’s/Paris, Flamingo/Caesar’s Palace, Harrah’s, Westgate and SLS Las Vegas.
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For a different take on the wild things going on in Sin City, stop at the Flamingo Las Vegas to observe the wildlife. Stroll through a 15-acre bird habitat to see swans, parrots, rescued pelicans and, of course, a flock of flamingos.
After all that walking, you may need a spa treatment and while they are prolific, the local secret is that Qua at Caesar’s Palace is the best. Access to Qua facilities for ancient Roman rituals like mineral baths and steams are included with treatments. Also, you can really cool off from the desert heat in the arctic ice room where snow falls while you sit comfortably on a heated bench.
Most people who go to Las Vegas, never leave the strip, but there’s history and hidden gems in “Old Las Vegas.” The downtown area is where the city began as a train stop and trading post. In the 1930s, when the Hoover Dam was being built, the population swelled with thousands of workers.
Where the working men were, so were the ‘working’ women and Fremont Street quickly became a haven for speakeasies, showgirls and crime. In the 1960s, gambling became known as “gaming” and with this legitimation came investors like Howard Hughes. By the late 1980s, the mega hotels we know today emerged leaving downtown in the dust.
After a steady decline the history of downtown is being preserved and the area is now a hub for hipsters, bikers and business.
The Downtown Project’s mission in redeveloping the once dilapidated area is: “to help make downtown Vegas a place of Inspiration, Entrepreneurial Energy, Creativity, Innovation, Upward Mobility, and Discovery, through the 3 C’s of Collisions, Co-learning, and Connectedness in a long-term, sustainable way.”
The simplest and cheapest ways to head downtown is via bus. The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) transit fleet consists of 38 routes, including a “ride the strip” option every 15 to 20 minutes — either express or sightseeing style.
Downtown is where you’ll find some of the oldest still standing hotels in the city and such oddities as The Mob Museum, complete with bullet-ridden bricks from the St. Valentine’s Day massacre, Bugsy Siegel’s sunglasses and plenty of FBI wiretap recordings.
One of the earlier adopters and key leaders in the revival of downtown, Tony Hsieh’s $2 billion Zappo’s is headquartered downtown as well. The unconventional campus and renowned group culture are attractions unto themselves. Take a tour to get a glimpse of the corporate utopia.
Also, stop by Container Park, located at the end of Fremont Street, an open air shopping center where all the restaurants, bars and stores are housed in shipping containers.
Walk the arts
Art installations, galleries, theaters and boutiques — are we back in New York? No, this too is part of downtown Las Vegas — the 18 block (18b) zone is known as the arts district. An RTC bus will drop you off on Charleston in the heart of the district.
Naturally great transit destination
Just outside of Las Vegas are manmade wonders of a different kind – Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam. Nearby and breathtaking natural wonders include an extinct volcano known as Fortification Hill, the Grand Canyon and the Valley of Fire.
Surely the spectacle of the dam and the Grand Canyon are high profile, yet the lesser-known Valley of Fire is equally striking. It’s the oldest and largest state park in Nevada and named for the unusual red rock formations. It’s also home to 3,000-year-old Native American petrogplyhs.
One way to see all of these amazing sights at once is via helicopter. For example, Maverick, offers a sunset tour and getting to the heliport is easy via public transit. Hop on board the 104 bus from The Strip and in approximately 30 minutes, you will be ready to take flight.
What’s your secret public transit destination off the beaten strip?