5 Best Photo Opportunites in Las Vegas
Lee Van Grack
1. The Romantic Photo: The Venetian Gondolas
Couples have gotten engaged and some even gotten married on a gondola ride at the Venetian Hotel. The Venetian says its decorated gondolas are "uniquely crafted and authentically Italian." A gondolier will serenade you while you float along the hotel's version of the Grand Canal that wends through the Grand Canal Shoppes. The cost is $16 per person. If you'd like a two-passenger gondola ride, it'll cost $64. The gondola can be boarded from inside or outside the hotel property. But beware: in the hot summer months, an outside ride isn't likely to be as pleasant as staying inside the air conditioning. The gondolas operate seven days a week. The Venetian is at the intersection of the Vegas Strip and West Spring Mountain Road.
2. The Quirky Photo: Outside Along the Strip
The thing about Vegas is that you're likely to find quirky anywhere you go. There are street performers, guys thrusting porno fliers into your hand, Elvis impersonators, couples in wedding attire, and on and on. So you just need to have your camera by your side, full of film or a storage card, to get that photo opportunity when something quirky comes your way in Las Vegas. That's what happened to me when walking down the Las Vegas Strip one afternoon in November 2009. Right outside the Fashion Show Mall on Las Vegas Boulevard, I spotted a protest. A group of people appeared to be naked, holding a banner that read, "I'd rather go naked than wear fur." Everybody crowded around them, and most had cameras snapping away. After getting a quick shot with my cellphone camera so I could immediately post it on Facebook, I grabbed my digital SLR and started clicking. It just so happened that it was "Fur Free Friday 2009" all over the world. Imagine my luck! Oh, and in case you were wondering: they weren't naked. Being a good investigative photojournalist, I walked around to the other side of the banner and found out for myself. The moral of this story: Have a camera with you at all times, even if it's a cellphone camera or a disposable camera, and don't be afraid to use it.
3. The Family Fun Photo: Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat
Lions, tigers and dolphins, oh my! Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat is a fun family spot that really can be a secret, because it might be difficult to find at the Mirage Hotel and Casino. The attraction is located behind the hotel, past the swimming pool. In this park, you can view panthers, leopards, white tigers, white lions and a family of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. What I enjoyed about watching the dolphins is that you can view them from outside, where trainers will have them do tricks, or from underwater, when you go down below and watch their antics through big glass windows. The garden and habitat are open from 10 AM PT to 7 PM PT from Memorial Day to Labor Day, 11 AM PT to 5:30 PM PT weekdays from Labor Day to Memorial Day, and 10 AM PT to 5:30PM weekends from Labor Day to Memorial Day. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 4 to 12; children ages 3 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. The Mirage Hotel is at 3400 S. Las Vegas Boulevard (aka the Strip).
4. The Scenic Photo: Red Rock Canyon
When you want a break from the hustle-and-bustle neon jungle of the Strip, get in your car and drive 15 minutes west to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. From the Strip, take Charleston Boulevard/State Route 159 for 15 miles to the park entrance. In Red Rock, you'll find stunning natural beauty – 3,000-foot peaks, cliffs and ravines made of gray, white and red sandstone. There are also yucca and the distinctive Joshua trees. There is much to do in this park, including taking a 13-mile scenic drive, hiking on more than 30 miles of trails, mountain and road biking, rock climbing, horseback riding and picnicking. There is a visitor center with a bookstore, exhibit rooms and a gift shop. The Scenic Drive Day Pass for a car is $7; for a motorcyclist, bicyclist or pedestrian, it's $3. For more information, call (702) 515-5350.
5. The Classic Photo: New York, New York Hotel
What's neat about Vegas is that you can travel the world, all in one city. For Paris, go to the Paris Hotel and Casino. For Italy, visit the elegant, opulent Venetian. And to take a bite of the Big Apple, head to New York New York Hotel and Casino. The impressive exterior of the hotel includes a giant replica of the Statue of Liberty. It makes a great backdrop for photos, day or night. You can also ride the hotel's 67-mph roller coaster, which is boarded inside the hotel/casino but also travels outside. An individual ticket is $14 and an all-day ride Scream Pass is $25. New York New York is at 3790 S. Las Vegas Boulevard.
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