Las Vegas is the place where you can get married by an Elvis Presley impersonator, gamble at glamorous casinos and enjoy incredible nightlife. Each year, Vegas is visited by more than 41 million people. Here are nine things you never knew about Vegas.
The Las Vegas Strip Isn’t in Las Vegas
Okay. This might seem weird, but the truth is that the Las Vegas Strip, home of casinos and hotels, isn’t even in Las Vegas. Instead, it’s in the neighboring town of Paradise. The Vegas Strip stretches 4.2 miles and includes some of the most famous hotels in the world. But, it’s not in Las Vegas. Crazy, right?
Las Vegas Is Really, Really Bright
Las Vegas has millions of lights and is considered the brightest spot on Earth. NASA reports that “the Vegas Strip is reputed to be the brightest spot on Earth due to the concentration of lights on its hotels and casinos.” How do they know this? Astronauts on the International Space Station take pictures of metropolitan areas. When they take pictures at night, Las Vegas stands out among all the other cities in the world.
Casinos and Hotels Galore
Did you know there are 150 casinos and 150,000 hotel or motel rooms in the Las Vegas area? It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the U.S., so of course they need a lot of hotel rooms and casinos to accommodate the masses. No wonder Las Vegas is dubbed the “entertainment capital of the world.”
Gambling? Yes. Powerball? No.
In Las Vegas, you can do all the gambling you want as long as you have money to spend. What you can’t spend that money on is a lottery ticket, however. It’s illegal to sell lottery tickets in Nevada. I guess that’s not surprising since the gambling industry doesn’t want the competition.
Tunnels Beneath Sin City
Sin City has hundreds of tunnels beneath those famous casinos. They run for miles underneath Las Vegas Valley. Initially, these mysterious tunnels were created to protect the city from flash floods. But the tunnels are now occupied by hundreds of homeless people. Not only do the tunnels serve as makeshift homes for the homeless, but they also shelter those same people from the blistering Las Vegas heat. Unfortunately, the people that dwell there always have to be aware of the rain. The tunnels fill with rainwater quickly, about a foot of water per minute.
A Massive Bronze Lion
The MGM Grand is a popular hotel famous for a massive bronze lion that serves as its mascot. It weighs a hefty 50 tons, making it the largest bronze statue in the U.S. Created in 1997 by Snellen Maurice "Snell" Johnson, it measures 45 feet tall and 50 feet wide. Johnson was an ex-con who taught himself how to sculpt and became one of the most prolific artists of his era. The hotel commissioned Johnson to create a new lion because the previous one was unpopular with Asian clientele. The high-rolling Asian gamblers viewed the previous lion as bad luck since you had to stroll through the lion’s opened mouth to enter the building. The new lion was a huge success and guards the hotel to this day.
Howard Hughes and Banana Nut Ice Cream
Famed aviator and uber-rich guy Howard Hughes once requested 2,000 gallons of Baskin-Robbins banana nut ice cream during his lengthy stay at the Las Vegas Desert Inn. But the eccentric Hughes soon grew tired of that flavor and declared that he only wanted to eat chocolate marshmallow. Can you say “high maintenance”? Anyhow, the Las Vegas Desert Inn had a lot of ice cream sitting around, so they decided to give away free banana nut ice cream for a year.
Where do neon Vegas signs go when they die? The Neon Museum, of course. A Salt Lake City business called Young Electric Sign Company, or YESCO, has a Las Vegas storage yard where they keep old neon signs from Vegas’ Golden Age. There, you’ll discover three-acres worth of iconic neon signs like the Golden Nugget, Aladdin Casino and more. You can book a tour online at the Neon Museum’s website.
Wedding Bells in Vegas
Quickie weddings are a specialty in Las Vegas. In fact, over 300 couples get married in Vegas every single day. And 120,000 couples end up tying the knot in Vegas annually. All you need is a driver’s license or passport to get married there. Don’t forget to bring $55 in cash for the marriage license, which they give you in just 20 short minutes. Then prepare to say “I do.”