Massive Casino at Las Vegas Strip’s First High-Rise Hotel
It’s hard to imagine nowadays, but in the 1950s, the Las Vegas Strip was just a string of modest roadside motels. The Riviera Hotel And Casino was the first to buck this trend, ushering in an era of high-rise towers soaring over the city. Liberace cut the ribbon at the opening ceremonies, and he—along with Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, and Frank Sinatra—performed there for several years. The iconic hotel has served as a backdrop for a number of movies, including the original Ocean’s Eleven, the first Austin Powers, and The Hangover.
Today, the Riv continues to embody the Vegas lifestyle with restaurants, a 100,000-square-foot gaming floor, and a regular rotation of concerts and comedy acts. You’ll still find all the old standbys, including craps, roulette, and blackjack.
Head to the tavern for craft beers, or drop by the comedy club to chuckle along with standup performers. The hotel’s classic and luxury rooms are within walking distance of the casino and the outdoor pool; for more space, choose a studio suite.
Las Vegas: The Strip Past and Present
Las Vegas usually conjures up images of spinning roulette wheels and stone-faced poker players. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll want to make a beeline for the casinos lining the neon-lit Strip. But for lower-stakes gambling in a throwback Vegas atmosphere, head downtown to Fremont Street. Vintage signs and showgirls crowned with headdresses recall the days of Sinatra and Martin, but this Glitter Gulch burns much brighter today than it did in the Rat Pack era: beginning at dusk, a canopy of more than 12 million LED lights erupts in a psychedelic light and music show every hour.
Educational attractions have never been Sin City’s strong suit, but the Mob Museum boasts a winning formula: bank robberies, prostitution, and money laundering. Exhibits profile legendary Mafiosi from Capone to Gotti, and mob artifacts include the bloodstained, bullet-pocked brick wall from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Within the former federal courthouse, you can fire a Tommy gun simulator, participate in a police lineup, or enter witness protection for the rest of your life.