The Non-gambler's Guide to Las Vegas

Vegas is to gambling what Vatican City is to Catholicism. But just like Vatican City gets its fair share of non-Catholic visitors, Las Vegas, too, can be a fun playground for the traveler with little interest in the slots and table games.

Mandalay Bay: Stay in the affordable Lap of Luxury

After staying at other venues in and around Las Vegas, the Mandalay Bay is indeed the best hotel around. Make it your home base. It used to be one of the most expensive properties around, but management is working hard to usher in the recession-weary traveler. Room rates vary, but it is possible to get a nice accommodation for $80 a night with a complimentary buffet meal tossed in. Promotions change, so be sure to check in with the hotel often.

Shark Reef Aquarium at the Mandalay Bay

Some 2,000 animals share a number of exhibits. This is not your typical aquarium, of course. Children between five and 12 enter for $12, while adults over 12 pay $18. Truly fearless souls pay $650 to SCUBA dive into the 1.3 million gallon exhibit known as the "Shipwreck." Swimming with you are 30 sharks. All others enjoy the exhibits from the safety of the observation area that mimics a sinking temple. It is the kind of experience you will remember for a long time to come.

Satisfy that inner Car Guy (or Gal)

Ride up to the fifth floor of the Imperial Palace's parking structure. Usually the admission is $8.95 for adults and $5 for everyone else, but the website offers a free admissions coupon. Car guys (and gals) feast their eyes on the best that Bugatti, Maserati, Duesenberg, Porsche, Stutz and a host of other manufacturers have and had to offer. See concept cars, pace cars, high lights and low lights of various makes and models. Allow a good bit of time for this venture; 125,000 square feet and more than 250 vehicles demand rapt attention.

Premium Outlets: Shop till you drop

There are 140 outlet stores with prices so low that you have to double-check the tags to believe it. While I do not usually reserve a lot of shopping time for vacations, this outlet mall is an exception. After you had some time to drop money at Converse, Izod and the Banana Republic Factory Store, stop by Viva Vegas Gifts for a browsing experience you will not quickly forget.

Back to the Mandalay Bay Buffet for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner

It is called the Bayside Buffet and it features marvelous food. Do not limit yourself to menu ordering but instead pick and choose the best that Las Vegas cooking has to offer. Costs range from $17 per person for breakfast to $28 for dinner.

Who says that Vegas is only for gambling?


Mandalay Bay

3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South; Las Vegas, NV 89119


Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay

3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South; Las Vegas, NV 89119

Sunday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday


Auto Collection at the Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino

3535 Las Vegas Boulevard South; Las Vegas, NV 89109

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily


Premium Outlets

7400 Las Vegas Boulevard South; Las Vegas, NV 89123

10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; closes at 8 p.m. on Sunday


Bayside Buffet

3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South; Las Vegas, NV 89119

7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.

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