Before I Deal: I receive an abundance of mail from individuals making their first pilgrimage to Las Vegas asking me this or that about the gaming Meca of the world. Not one to hold back expressing my biased opinion, I will advise you that discounting 50% of my dogma would be appropriate. Two reasons why. First, I don't reside there (I live in northern Nevada but visit Las Vegas a dozen times a year) and second, I'm a journalist. Properly forewarned, here is a sampling of the many questions I get weekly.
...I'm doing a report for school... Here are some Las Vegas fun facts.
- More than 30 million people will visit Las Vegas in 1996.
- 80,000 couples tied the knot there last year.
- Las Vegas has more than 105,000 hotel rooms and is growing hourly.
- Hotel occupancy averages more than 92% annually.
- Las Vegas has 13 of the 15 largest hotels in the world.
- The average annual temperature is 66 degrees.
- The average daily humidity is 30%.
- More than 1.4 million people call Las Vegas home.
- 850 flights a day bring in more than 2.5 million visitors a month.
- MaCarren airport is the 8th busiest in the world.
- The Circus Circus buffet cattle-feeds more than 12,000 customers per day-that's four million per year.
...cheapest place to stay... In your car. A bargain compared to the Ladd Hotel back in 1905. One dollar bought weary travelers-same sex-eight hours sleep in a shared bed.
Honestly, it's a tough call because room rates change with the wind. The best time of the year though is pre-Yuletide. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas rooms can be had for under $20.
...best buffet... Here are my three favorites for those interested in abdominal distention. The Rio Buffet, Fiesta's Festival Buffet and the Texas Station's Market Street.
Warning! For the gastronomically fit.
...I collect war memorabilia from pawn shops... You mean the best place to hock your wedding ring? Try Super Pawn.
...decent steak-and-eggs special... You can't beat the $2.99 special at the Rio or the midnight breakfast specials at Binion's.
...any culture in Las Vegas... The Holyfield/Tyson fight doesn't count? Unfortunately, the only thing I do culturally in LV is walk past the exact replica of David at Caesar's Palace on the way to a hot crap table. Standing 18 feet high and weighing more than nine tons, the stone came from the same quarry in Carrera, Italy that Michangelo used to carve his David.
...best escort service... Ask the wrong person and you'll find out. The Las Vegas Metro Police Vice Squad. Avoid the breakfast they serve. Runny scrambled eggs and cold hashbrowns.
...sound guidance for a newcomer... This cautionary advice comes from Ed Reid and Ovid Demaris in, The Truth about Las Vegas: "The surest way to beat Las Vegas is to get off the plane that has taken you there and walk straight into the propeller."
...favorite swimming pools... The fountain at Caesar's with Giovanni Bologna's Rape of the Sabines in it. I'm not recommending this swimming hole because it will save you a trip to the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. No, no. It's because the wishful sometimes throw in five-dollar chips for luck.
...I want to get married quickly... Try the Little White Chapel. Couples in a rush can use the drive-through window.
...best hamburger... Those with cholesterol levels below 250, try LJ's Place. Above 250, get your doctor's permission.
...best place to shoot pool... The Lion's Den. Forget the fact that it's one of the largest pool halls in the world, or that it is new and clean. I like it because it has straight pool sticks.
...I love singing at Karaoke bars... You're kidding, right?
...looking for a good Sunday brunch...The Sunday brunch in the Ti Amo at the Santa Fe is the best 10 dollars you'll ever spend in Nevada. An incredible value for the price.
...any good prime rib specials...The 16-ounce slab at the Lady Luck for $6.99 is pretty hard to beat.
...looking to waste some time... Check into the 5,005 room MGM Grand Hotel and try to find your way out.
...easy way to get a comp for a low roller...Head to Vacation Village and buy in for $10 in nickels at the video poker bar. You'll instantly become a high roller by receiving a free hot dog and beer.
...best Mexican food... The Tex Mex at Z Tejas is hot, hot, hot.
...cheap beer for the non-player... Seventy-five cents for a Corona, Becks or a Heineken equals a cheap buzz in my book. Slots A Fun, the little annex next to the Circus Circus, serves up some of the cheapest brew in town.
...most impressive casino in Las Vegas... Readers of this column know that there is nothing I like better than half price. So when the MGM-Primadonna partnership built the New York, New York for half the cost of the new billion-dollar properties currently on line, or on the drawing board, naturally I'm impressed. New York, New York's exterior is so spectacular, I can't stop looking at it.
...best hot dog... Las Vegas is home of the 99¢ foot-long hot dog. Journey down the strip and you can easily eat your weight in wieners. But I ask you, is there a better hot dog than Nathan's of NY? New York, New York has them. Case closed.
...I want to get away for the day... From neon to nature, I highly recommend hiking or mountain biking in Red Rock Canyon. Red Rock Canyon's enormous scarlet silence will overwhelm you like nothing man-made can.
...most overrated attraction... Once is enough for the Mirage volcano, but nothing can touch the Freemont Experience downtown.
... things to do in Las Vegas for children... Wet 'N Wild is my kid's favorite, but better yet, get in your car and take I-15 west five hours to Disneyland.
...biggest Free attraction... A battle between the crew of the Britannia and a hearty gang of pirates from the Hispaniola every 90 minutes, for five minutes, is decent. As they say: "To the victors go the spoils of Treasure Island." Just like the casinos, the pirates always win.
...easiest way to get your hands on some real money... While you are downtown, stop by the Binion's Horseshoe from 4 PM - Midnight for a free souvenir photograph next to one hundred $10,000 bills. I'll wager that Benny Binion made that million dollars over and over again from the inquisitive wandering in for the free photo. For more gambling strategy tips by Mark, check out the Deal Me In index page