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Camelot, circus, classic cars, Rome ... all on the Las Vegas Strip.

Part Oz, part Hollywood, and part Route 66, the Las Vegas Strip cuts a blazing neon path across the desert floor, beckoning travelers with its unique brand of glitter, glamour, and excess.

Along The Strip's 3 miles, massive hotels and resorts line up like attractions along a gigantic carnival midway. Fierce competition for tourist dollars has led some to offer far more than rooms, casinos, and restaurants-flashy motifs, thrill rides, exhibits-anything to avoid being just another roadside stop. Here we list eight hotels with the most unusual attractions.

Veni, vidi Vegas-ancient Rome to the tropics, kaleidoscopic bits and pieces

The Strip was born on April 3, 1941, when El Rancho Vegas opened on the old Los Angeles Highway to divert out-of-towners headed for downtown's Glitter Gulch, then the center of gaming activity. This bit of Strip history is long gone; a fire destroyed the original hotel and its trademark neon windmill in 1960.

Even though it turns 50 next year, The Strip is no aging show girl: two brand-new hotels opened in the past year, and major expansions are underway at some older ones. Now the fastest-growing city in the country, Las Vegas is booming.

Given the emphasis on new attractions, trying to find local history here is a curious pursuit. Many of the existing hotels date back several decades, but most have undergone extensive remodeling.

Instead, The Strip has its own, style of history; to paraphrase Santayana, in Vegas, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to reinterpret it as high concept. Listings are north to south.

1 Circus Circus. Vegas often goes over the top, but here the attraction is under the big top. From 11 A.M. to midnight daily, the hotel offers a range of free circus acts, as well as carnival-style attractions.

2 Las Vegas Hilton. The Benihana Restaurant here re-creates not only a Japanese village, but the whole landscape, with waterfalls, streams, and gardens. It even has its own weather (occasional thunderstorms with lightning); call (702) 732-5111 for reservations.

3 The Mirage. Opened a year ago, this hotel-the first one built on The Strip since 1974-hosts one of the city's most spectacular light shows. Every 15 minutes nightly in front of the 3,049-room hotel, a peaceful palm-fringed waterfall turns into a fire-spewing volcano that sends glowing lava flows into the water. The Mirage also shows off rare white tigers in a glass enclosure and a 20,000-gallon salt-water aquarium by the registration desk.

4 Imperial Palace. The hotel's collection of 200 classic cars and cars of historical significance includes one of Adolf Hitler's staff cars and the one that cowboy star Tom Mix died in. Show is open 9:30 A.M. to 11:30 Pm. daily; admission is $6.95 adults, $3 ages under 12 and seniors, free with coupons available in front of hotel.

5 Caesars Palace. Enter this hotel and find a fantasy Rome, with toga-clad cocktail goddesses" and armor-clad centurions. Three moving sidewalks carry visitors into the hotel; take the center one to see a $2.5-million scale model of Rome with holograms of cavorting citizens.

For a more modern experience, Caesars' giant domed Omnimax Theatre screens shows every hour from 11 A.M. to midnight; cost is $4 adults, $3 ages 12 and under. Or skip from Rome to the Far East with a stop at the Hindu Brahma shrine.

6 Barbary Coast. Stained glass is the attraction here, including Garden of Earthly Delights, said to be one of the world's largest Tiffany-style murals.

7 The Excalibur. This $290-million castle-like structure is the world's largest hotel and resort. Here in Camelot, you'll find a medieval-theme carnival, arts and crafts, and restaurants like Lance-a-Lotta Pasta. Lovers of thrill rides and high tech should try the Magic Motion Machines ($1.50), which use hydraulics and 60-frame-per-second films to re-create 90 seconds on a bobsled run, a runaway train, or a drive on a slick mountain road.

8 Tropicana. Here at "The Island of Las Vegas," the desert surrenders to the tropics. In spring and summer, the hotel offers exotic bird shows at 11, 1, and 3 daily and laser light shows at 9, 10, and 11.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Article Type:Directory
Date:Nov 1, 1990
Words:697
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