Las Vegas is still on shutdown due to the governor’s orders and supposedly the coronavirus.
Making this the perfect time for a drive down one of the most famous roadways in the world: The Las Vegas Strip!
[arve url=”https://youtu.be/zv7mlsCIgsw” title=”Driving the Las Vegas Strip during shutdown – South to North ” /]
Today’s drive will be from the south to the north and feature the landmarks and popular locations on the east side of the street.
Don’t worry, there is another video in the making showing the opposite; A drive from the north end to the south end and features the landmarks on the west side of the boulevard!
From the South End
I started the camera rolling just as we come up to the Tropicana resort. One of the oldest continually operated casino hotels on the Las Vegas Strip. First opened April 4, 1957. Sitting on one of the busiest street corners in the world. Between the Excalibur, MGM, Tropicana, and New York – New York, there are over 12,000 hotel rooms on this corner.
As you pass the MGM and come into the Showcase Shopping Mall, you will see the new Target “small-format” store just about finished and ready to open. It will be similar to the Walgreens and CVS’s on the Strip. Stocking more of the essentials for the tourist and less of what you would find in a normal Target store.
After the MGM, the next resort would be Planet Hollywood. That was the original Alladin hotel. Followed by the Paris Resort including scaled replicas of the Eiffel Tower and Arch of Triumph. The Eiffel tower has an observation deck on top and a 5-star restaurant at the base.
Next after Planet Hollywood is Bally’s Resort. This was the original MGM Resort when it opened in 1973.
Currently, there’s a rumor swirling around that the Seminole Indians, the tribe who owns the Hard Rock brand, wants to bring the Hard Rock Casino back to Las Vegas and they want to do it on the Strip.
One of the rumored resorts they may be looking at is Bally’s. I doubt that rumor because Bally’s has always been a cash cow for its owner, Caesars Entertainment. It also has a smaller layout that I think would not work for them. Unless they can get it cheap and do a massive remodel. But for now, the new owners of Caesars are being very tight-lipped on the plans for the smaller resorts, it’s anyone guesses what all is for sale and who may want to buy what.
Cross Flamingo Road and we have the Cromwell and the Flamingo.
The Flamingo IS the oldest continually operated casino on the Las Vegas Strip. It first opened on December 26, 1946. As most people know, it was developed by mobster Bugsy Siegel. Financed by the various organized crime families at the time. The Flamingo is also home to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Las Vegas!!
Next to the Flamingo is the Linq Shopping Promenade. The most popular part of this area is the High Roller Observation Wheel that sits in the back and when in operation, takes 30 minutes to do one revolution. Giving the riders a beautiful view of the Linq shopping as well as the Bellagio Fountains when it’s at the top of the rotation.
From there, we find The Linq Resort. That was the Imperial Palace. Caesars renamed it as “The Linq” in 2014, after a $223 million renovation that took it down to its foundation and the bare walls. Most people remember the Imperial Palace for its classic car collection (now closed).
The next resort is of course “Harrah’s” home to my favorite Las Vegas Strip entertainer, Big Elvis! When it all reopens and you want to see a great show, check him out. He plays in the afternoon during the week. Hopefully, he will return when it all reopens.
Next up is the Casino Royale. This is the smallest resort/casino on the Strip and I think the only one still owned by one family (trust). They cater to what are known as “low rollers”. featuring low table minimums for roulette, craps, and blackjack. This is also home to the first White Castle Restaurant in Las Vegas. The hotel part is a Best Western hotel.
We follow that with the Venetian/Palazzo resort complex. Home to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum as well as the famed gondola rides. This is the largest resort complex in the world with over 7000 suites in all the towers combined. This sits where the famous Sands Resort sat. The place that really made Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack famous. The demolition of the main tower was used in the movie Con Air
Orange Cone Breeding Program?
As you drive down Las Vegas Boulevard, you will notice a lot of orange construction cones and traffic changes. makes you start to wonder if maybe we are having an orange cone breeding program here! Don’t worry, it’s not. Actually, 2020 was the beginning of an ambitious and much-needed roadwork project. The complete rebuilding of the Las Vegas Boulevard. So there are a lot of lane restrictions and lane movements. Currently, they are focused on the north end of the Strip and is making things difficult now. I am almost afraid to imagine what this will be like when the usually Strip traffic returns!!
The North End of the Strip
Where Spring Mountain Road/Sands Avenue cross the Strip, begins the “north” end of the Las Vegas Strip. Fashion Show Mall is on the right and the Wynn Resort is on the left. Between the Wynn and the Encore is “The Esplanade at The Wynn”. High-end shops and restaurants, mixed with the usual eclectic artwork the Wynn Resort is known for.
As we pass the Wynn complex, you see the tall red tower on the right. That is Resorts World. Siting where the Stardust once stood. The resort was initially designed around a Chinese inspired theme and they even had talked about live panda bears from China. That’s all been scrapped for a more linear style resort. The new structures resemble the Wynn and Encore to the point that Steve Wynn had sued the developers on copyright violations. They quickly tried to change a few things and the settlement records have been sealed.
Look for a late 2021 opening as a Hilton branded complex.
Back on the right side, is the famous Peppermill Restaurant and in the back of that is the Fireside Lounge. The Fireside Lounge has been featured in a lot of Las Vegas themed movies. Most notable was “Casino” with Robert De Niro.
Coming up on the right as you pass the Peppermill is the new 1.4 million square foot Las Vegas Convention Center expansion. This will include small offices, meeting rooms and a people mover. So you can enter from the Strip and be whisked to the larger Las Vegas convention center building in back.
The Big Blue Silo??
The tall tower you see after the convention center is the 63 story “The Drew Las Vegas” (formerly Fontainebleau Las Vegas). The Fontainebleau project went bankrupt in the 2008 crash. It was 80% complete and more than $3 billion invested. It’s what I always called “The Big Blue Silo” because it has set empty like a big blue silo for over a decade. It’s often referred to as the symbol of the Las Vegas builder’s greed at the beginning of the new century. Leading to the 2008 Las Vegas economic crash. The word is that they are still on-track now for a late 2023 opening as the first Marriott Resort on the Strip.
In front of the building, sits a big open lot. Most people who see it, assume its part of the resort. it isn’t. The land was or is supposed to be the future home of an NBA basketball team. Unfortunately, they have been trying to get the financing to start building for over a decade now. So it’s just there. A big empty hole!
Ending or the Begining of the Strip??
Finally, we come to the legendary Sahara Hotel and Casino. For a time earlier this decade, it was known as The SLS. But new owners brought back the original and iconic name the property has always been know as; “The Sahara”. This was where Frank Sinatra really made his first impressions on the Las Vegas tourist market in the 1950s. So many of the classic vegas’ entertainers cut their teeth in the lounges and the showrooms here.
The street outside is Sahara Avenue. This is the dividing line between the city of Las Vegas and the unincorporated part of Clark County. Much of the famed Las Vegas Strip is actually in the Winchester Township. But most people like to call the entire valley “Las Vegas”. And most tourists don’t know the difference.
Calling anything north of here “The Strip” causes some interesting debates. The roadway is lined with older, smaller hotels, shops, and restaurants that are going through a revival. New owners with new money are rapidly changing the face of this area as we approach the Stratosphere Resort. Now known simply as “The Strat” and we end at the new “Welcome to the City of Las Vegas” sign.
Check back for Part Two Soon!
- Read: White Castle Opens on the Strip
- Read: Deconstructing Con Air
- Read: Big Blue Silo Gets new Name
- Get a Room (Best rates on Vegas hotel rooms)