Many travelers don’t know (or refuse to believe) Las Vegas has its fair share of cold weather. After all, the city is famous for its desert landscapes and scorching, triple-digit temperatures.
When I first moved to town, I refused to buy jackets. I thought folks here wore shorts year-round. I ended up learning the hard way that winter temperatures can get as low as my hometown in Seattle. We’re talking high-20s to low-30s!
Unless you’re from the East Coast or Midwest, that’s cold — especially if you’re used to wearing shorts at midnight during summer. If you’re heading to Vegas during wintertime and have no desire to wear a bulky jacket all day, there’s plenty to see and do indoors. The city offers attractions fit for every interest during the 15 percent of the year when it’s not bright and sunny.
Shop ’til you drop…by one of these attractions
It may be a bit chilly to take a bunch of pictures outdoors but at the Bellagio Conservatory, your friends back home can’t tell the difference. Located just a few minutes (walking distance) from Via Bellagio is the popular Conservatory. Through Nov. 27, the Conservatory presents its festive fall showcase. Pose next to horses, apples and a 20-foot-tall cornucopia, all made completely of flowers and plants. Plus, scents of chrysanthemums, carnations and roses fill the air. For a moment, you’ll forget you’re indoors. While you’re at the Bellagio, stop by the chocolate shop next door or even the Gallery of Fine Art.
Located within Caesars Palace’s Forum Shops, the Fall of Atlantis features everything from flames and splashing water to talking statues and an intimidating flying creature. You won’t have to line up to see this show, but you may want to get there early to experience the full effect.
It may be cold, but you can check out the hottest fashions at Fashion Show mall’s weekend runway shows at the Great Hall. Why flip through a fashion magazine when you can see live models strut down the platform instead? Another plus: If you see an outfit that you like, you can buy it at Fashion Show that same day. And since no weekend is exactly alike, these shows are always refreshing and fun to watch.
Hardcore gamers: You try and stay away but you simply can’t. It’s cumbersome to pack your Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 in a suitcase, but some of you will do it anyway. Save room in your luggage and check out fun, unique spots in town that even “gamer wives” can appreciate.
Pinball Hall of Fame offers a collection of more than 200 pinball and arcade games. You can play all the old-school pinball games and even check out newer ones like “Iron Man” and “Avatar.” My personal favorite is the hit 1980s arcade game Tetris. I’ve been known to hog the machine for long periods of time on this game alone.
Speaking of Tetris, the 21-and-older Insert Coin(s) Videolounge Gamebar at Fremont East also includes the iconic game. It also features the latest games in a nightclub atmosphere. The “gamebar” holds video game tournaments, while the dance floor gives gamers’ thumbs a break and the chance to show off their fancy footwork.
Take your strategy skills to another level at CSI: The Experience inside MGM Grand. This interactive attraction takes you through one of three murder scenes and tests your crime investigating skills. Fans of the famed television series (and aspiring detectives) will surely get a kick out of this. (And if you really do have a strong stomach, you might want to check out Bodies…The Exhibition at Luxor.)
Adrenaline junkies, rejoice!
Feed that adrenaline rush! Who said skydiving and rock climbing had to be left for the great outdoors? If you’re coming to Las Vegas during its brisk months, these outdoorsy activities are just as fun inside.
Located just minutes from the Red Rock Canyon (about 10 miles from the Las Vegas Strip), the Red Rock Climbing Center offers more than 8,000 square feet of climbing surface. With walls standing 35 feet high and routes measuring 100 feet in length, you might just need to eat a bowl of Wheaties before coming. And if you’re feeling ambitious like the hiker in the movie, “127 Hours,” there are radical overhangs and roof routes, too.
For those who prefer flying over climbing, Vegas Indoor Skydiving has just the ride. Experience body flight during a simulated skydive experience. Think skydiving with the addition of a trampoline floor and foam padded walls. You’ll have the freefall feeling of skydiving without jumping out of an airplane. Set inside a vertical wind tunnel, this tunnel produces enough wind (blowing at speeds up to 120 miles per hour) to keep you afloat.
How many theme parks can you think of that are completely indoors? At Adventuredome inside Circus Circus, you can hop on a handful of thrill rides, including a roller coaster and water ride, all without stepping a foot outside.
Stay warm with museums that share detailed Las Vegas history. The Atomic Testing Museum provides info on past test sites and includes interactive stations that are sure to be “the bomb.” Learn fun facts through a series of timelines, gadgets and old equipment used by on-site workers.
Located in the Springs Preserve, the Nevada State Museum takes you through the journey of Northern and Southern Nevada history. Highlights include an ichthyosaur replica (stretching 40-plus feet long), personal items from Howard Hughes’ home, a 1911 Desert Love Buggy and an elaborate, sparkling showgirl costume gallery wall. Get in touch with your wild side and walk inside a cave and watch a film about the wild animals in Vegas.
If you’re really into history, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit goes far beyond Jack and Rose. Read personal stories of the passengers, sparkling jewelry from the ship, a replica of the deck as well as remnants of the actual ship.
If classic and luxury cars are more your thing, Las Vegas has these museums too: Check out The Auto Collections at Imperial Palace (where you’ll see rows and rows of Rolls Royce cars) and the Penske Wynn Ferrari Masarati showroom. While not all of us can drive away with one of these beauties, there’s a gift shop at both museums. We can at least walked away with something.
The Jubilee! All Access Backstage Walking Tour isn’t a museum per se, but it provides a great behind-the-scenes look at showgirl costumes, wigs, props, headdresses (which are heavier than you think) and so much more.
With so much to see and do indoors, you’ll realize that there’s so much to do in this city, rain or shine.