The Las Vegas Strip, with its multicolored lights, oversized buildings and outrageous designs, provides a visual feast to bystanders.
But with everything on such a grand scale, it's impossible to absorb it all except in small, sidewalk sections. You need a spot with a great view.
Nearly every hotel has one, whether it's from the top floor of the parking garage, a bar balcony or a gourmet restaurant. Of course, depending on what you want to see, some vantage points are better than others. Some people say the best way to take in the valley is from the window seat of an airplane.
But for those who want a viewpoint that doesn't require air travel, we rounded up a half-dozen Strip spots with spectacular views.
1. The observation deck at the Stratosphere, 2000 Las Vegas Blvd. South, at more than 800 feet above street level, is probably the most obvious spot for looking down on the city. Observers have a clear, 360 degree view of the whole valley, all the way out to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area during the day. Admission is $15.95 for adults, $12 for locals and $10 for children ages 4 to 12; the deck opens at 10 a.m. daily. It's not necessarily the best viewpoint for seeing the Strip in all its glory, though. You're better off finding a spot that provides an unobstructed view of the various properties, such as the view from our second spot, Mix Lounge.
2. Mix Lounge on the 64th floor balcony at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, will make you feel as though you're on top of the world, or at least Las Vegas. Luxor looks absolutely tiny. If you look out of the floor-to-ceiling windows to the left, you can see that you're almost level with the roof of Mandalay Bay. At night, the Strip looks like a box full of brightly colored, neon Jolly Ranchers. The observer can see everything north of Mandalay Bay all the way to the mountains that ring the valley. But the view isn't necessarily free. You'll have to pay a cover charge of $20 to $25 unless you're a local lady. Then you pay nothing. Mix opens daily at 5 p.m.
3. The Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas, 3655 Las Vegas Blvd. South, offers an ideal view of the Fountains of Bellagio. From either the restaurant or the observation deck, you have a perfect view of Bellagio's lake, and you don't have to peer over the tops of people's heads to see the fountain show. You may have to jostle for position on the observation deck, which is surrounded by wire mesh to prevent falls. That makes getting a good photo tricky. Still, the deck is 460 feet above street level, and if you wait around long enough, you'll get a good look. Admission to the observation deck, which opens daily at 9:30 a.m., is $10 during the day and $15 after 7:30 p.m. There are some two-for-one coupons out there, usually in visitors' guides. If you prefer the view from a table in the Eiffel Tower restaurant, you'll pay a bit more. Besides the fountains, you can see the mountains to the west during the daytime.
4. Mandarin Oriental, Mandarin Bar and the 23rd Floor Tea Lounge, 3752 Las Vegas Blvd. South, is the newest vantage point on the Strip, providing observers with a sightline to the north and to the south. The floor-to-ceiling windows almost make you feel as though you're suspended in air. There's a reason the 23rd floor lobby is called the "Sky Lobby." Access to the floor requires you go to one of these spots, unless you're a hotel guest. At the tea lounge, you can get afternoon high tea with your high-up view of the Strip. Prices range from $12 for a pot of tea to $40 for the full spread.
5. VooDoo Steak and Lounge at the Rio, 3700 W. Flamingo Road, probably is one of the most well-known spots with a view. VooDoo Steak and Lounge is on the 50th and 51st floors of the hotel. In actuality, it's really only about 30 stories up; in numbering the floors, management skipped 40 to 49 for the sake of feng shui. Still, the view is near-perfect. Since it's just off-Strip, observers get a complete north-to-south picture of Las Vegas Boulevard. Cover charge is $20 to $30, but free if you grab a coupon from a host handing them out by the escalator.
6. Boa Steakhouse and Sushi Roku restaurant. If heights make you queasy, you still have some choices for seeing the Strip sights and combining them with a meal. Try one of the spots closer to the ground. Boa and Sushi Roku, both on the third floor of the Forum Shops at Caesars, 3500 Las Vegas Blvd. South, look down the Strip. It's not the same as a view from VooDoo Lounge or Mix, but it's still an experience. Reservations are suggested by calling 733-7373.
Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at email@example.com or 702-380-4564.