Fun and fantasy collide on the South Strip. Whether it’s a man-made beach lagoon, a glass pyramid, a medieval castle, or an Oz-like complex, imagination in these parts most certainly runs wild.
A first-time tour should start at the iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign, just west of the runways at McCarran International Airport. From there, swing through the shark habitat at Mandalay Bay, check out the "Sphinx" in front of Luxor, and the circa-1950 stained-glass skylights inside the renovated Tropicana Las Vegas.
The jousting in the Tournament of Kings at Excalibur is topped only by the gravity-defying loops of the roller coaster at New York–New York. Then, of course, there’s the MGM Grand—still the largest hotel in the world. And Monte Carlo, with fountains and marble staircases that evoke the style and panache of the European city by the same name.
Dig deeper and you start to appreciate the details of the South Strip resorts. The palm-frond fans inside Mandalay Bay. The South Beach white of the Tropicana. Even New Yorkers say the West Village–inspired food court at New York–New York feels like home. And the giant bronze lion in front of MGM Grand is a throwback to the hotel’s affiliation with the movie company, but it's also a veiled reference to the Wizard of Oz, which inspired the building's green hue.
Noncasino destinations are worth visiting, too. M&Ms World satisfies chocolate desires of every age. Town Square, an open-air mall, is a great place to spend the day to escape the casino vibe and spend a day shopping. Compared to the rest of the Strip, which is more modern and, at times, stuffy, the South Strip is whimsical and just plain neat. It’s also a perfect introduction to the grandeur, luxury, and history quite literally down the road.