The Mirage Overview

updated June 2015

When Steve Wynn opened the Mirage in 1989, it was the most expensive hotel-casino in history and it started the mega-resort era of Las Vegas. The Mirage Poker Room was home to some of the biggest poker games before they moved to the Bellagio. MGM acquired the Mirage in a merger in 2000 which created the MGM/Mirage company which has since become MGM Resorts International.

The iconic volcano in front of the Mirage was redesigned in 2008 and now features a more intensive fire-show as well as music by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. It erupts every hour on the hour from 5pm until 11pm. Continue reading The Mirage Overview

KISS Monster Mini-Golf

If you need a KISS fix or perhaps want a little bit of family friendly fun near the Strip, check out KISS Monster Mini Golf.  You can play through their miniature golf course under blacklight or play skee-ball and arcade games. The golf course is suitable for all ages and is setup to be fun, not difficult. We only had trouble with the lava hole where the cup is in a raised mini-volcano. You finish the round on the 18th hole where you have to send your ball up Gene Simmons’ tongue.
Tickets are $11.95 for a round of mini golf.  If you want to save a little cash, you can find a 2-for-1 coupon for KISS Monster Mini Golf in the 2013 American Casino Guide . Continue reading KISS Monster Mini-Golf

The Neon Museum: A Must-See

(updated June 2018)
On New Year’s Eve we took a tour of the Neon Museum.  I cannot recommend this tour strongly enough. It would have been enough just to walk through the signs, but our guide was a great storyteller and had a really good knowledge of Las Vegas history and the history of the signs. I think she loved Las Vegas history as much as I do.  At each of the stops along the tour our guide shared the history of particular signs as well as information about what else was going on in Las Vegas at the time.

Here are some photos from our tour. The photos are no replacement for actually visiting the museum and taking the tour, but they should give you a good idea of what to expect. Continue reading The Neon Museum: A Must-See

The Cosmopolitan

I like The Cosmopolitan.  I don’t do much gaming there, but from the start it was positioned as an upscale resort with gaming, not a casino with a fancy hotel. It is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.  If you don’t want to book your room through the casino website, you can book your room through the Marriott website and use Marriott Rewards to cover your room.

The hotel rooms are in 2 towers (East and West). The elevators for each tower are separated into banks by floor like most Las Vegas hotels. Even thought this is a boutique hotel with fewer rooms per floor, on a busy holiday weekend the wait time for an elevator can be excessive.  It works well during the week, though.  That is kind of how I feel about The Cosmopolitan in general.  I like it a lot during the week when there is less going on.  I don’t suggest going there on a Friday or Saturday night unless you are going to Marquee or a special event. Simply walking through the second level shopping and dining area can be a bit of an adventure on a club night. Continue reading The Cosmopolitan

The Gold Coast. A Pleasant Surprise

A few weeks ago I spent a night at the Gold Coast. It had been a while since I had been to the Gold Coast and I was expecting the casino to be smoky and run down. I had never stayed there, but knowing that it was an inexpensive, low-roller type place I wasn’t expecting much from the room either.

I was happily surprised on both counts.

First, the casino is using some kind of air freshener in their ventilation system so that the casino doesn’t smell like smoke and actually has a semi-tropical scent (similar to what Strip properties like Mandalay Bay and the Mirage do).  It makes a big difference. I had just come from the Imperial Palace (which is rather smoky) and the Gold Coast was quite literally a breath of fresh air. The casino has the usual array of table games starting with $5 minimum bets, good video poker pay tables for most versions and denominations, a lot of reel and video slot machines and a 720 seat bingo hall. It does not have a poker room.

The rooms are small and utilitarian, but work very well for a no frills night’s sleep. They are 360 square feet, which is on the small side for a basic Las Vegas room. It has a very standard bed, dresser, table and 2 chairs layout. There is no closet, but there is a place in the bathroom area to hang your clothes. That and the sink are open to the room. This is a lot like some of the Best Western rooms I have been in across the country. They get a few extra points from me for having separate shampoo and conditioner instead of a conditioning shampoo more typical of lower level hotels. They also include a single cup coffee maker.

The Gold Coast is off-Strip, but still fairly close. It is on Flamingo Road with the Rio on one side and the Palms on another. It is a local’s casino, which means you can usually find low room rates, dining deals (they have coupon in the American Casino Guide that gets you a free buffet with very little play), low limit gambling with better slot payback percentages and better table game rules (where applicable).

They offer a free shuttle to the Strip (center Strip drop off at Bill’s Gambling Hall) as well as their sister property, the Orleans. The Palms and Rio also have shuttles to the Strip and might actually be a bit more convenient.

The ATMs at the Gold Coast charge a fee of $3.50 instead of the usual $4.99 on the Strip. As usual, these ATMs are not affiliated with a particular bank, so you may also have to pay whatever your bank charges for using for using an ATM.
The Gold Coast does charge a resort fee of $3 which covers local phone calls, in-room coffee, fitness center access and shuttle service. I took the shuttle twice and they never asked for a room card.

While is it not as fancy as most places on the Strip, I’d definitely consider staying at the Gold Coast again when I want a low key, relaxed trip.