Las Vegas’ Stratosphere turns the big 2-0

Guess who’s one year shy of buying a cocktail and hitting all the nightclubs?

Yep, you guessed it. The Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower turns 20 this Saturday, April 30. Twenty years is definitely a huge milestone. In celebration of the Stratosphere’s towering presence, we’re sharing our 20 favorite things and tidbits – in no particular order –  on why we love this place.

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Yep, you can’t miss it that’s for sure. The Stratosphere Tower made its mark on the Strip 20 years ago. Photo courtesy of Vegas.com.

1. The Stratosphere tower is a whopping 1,149 feet tall.
There’s a reason why the iconic tower makes it mark on the Strip. It’s the tallest building in Las Vegas and 544 feet taller than the Space Needle in Seattle. The Stratosphere tower is actually the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States.

2. The Stratosphere took over the now defunct Vegas World casino.
The Stratosphere was a vision from the late Bob Stupak who also owned the spaced-aged casino, Vegas World. It closed in 1995 to make way for the Stratosphere, where his dream became reality.

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Good night, sleep tight. You’ll be resting easy with the reasonably priced rooms, that’s for sure. Photo courtesy of Vegas.com.

3. The room value is awesome, especially for the Strip.
Yeah,  yeah. We know that the Stratosphere is not in the center of the Strip but you can easily get a cab, Lyft or bus ride there anyway. And it might be worth your while, since you’ll be saving those dolla-dolla bills. If you’re on a budget, the rooms are a lot more affordable than other ones on the Strip. Rooms start at $41 per night (say what!).

4. The Stratosphere has its own urban legend.
It’s always cool to stay somewhere that has a fun and quirky back story. It’s been said that one of the Stratosphere tower’s tripod legs is crooked. But don’t worry — the tower won’t be toppling in this lifetime. According to a Las Vegas Review-Journal article, the Stratosphere team hires an engineering firm to do periodic inspections of the legs for “structural integrity.”

Nothing a little zoom and crop can't handle. Photo courtesy of Alonzo Wright.

Lovely picture, right? This can be from your camera too — just sayin’. Photo courtesy of Alonzo Wright.

5. The observation deck has amazing Strip views.
The observation deck is situated 869 feet high, which means you can see helicopters at eye level. We recommend coming here at sunset. The pink, purple and orange hues drive us wild every time. If the outdoor observation deck is too intense and gives you vertigo, there’s an indoor deck for your viewing pleasure.

6. High Roller coaster
Long before the 550-foot-tall High Roller wheel hit the Strip, there was the other High Roller — the roller coaster at the Stratosphere. It opened a day before the hotel’s official opening and operated until Dec. 30, 2005. Also known as the Let it Ride High Roller, this was the world’s highest roller coaster. It sat on top of the Stratosphere and took riders on a 360-degree trip. You could only imagine the views.

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for X-Scream! Photo courtesy of the Stratosphere.

7. X-Scream
This is actually one of our favorite rides on the Strip. While the High Roller coaster is long gone, you can still enjoy this one. X-Scream is situated about 866 feet above the ground, making it one of the world’s highest amusement rides. Unlike the High Roller coaster, X-Scream doesn’t whip around the tower. Instead, it has a track that pivots back and forth like a see-saw. The moment you think you’re going to fly off the side of the building, the track teeters back. It’s X-Scream’s way of saying, “Just kidding, guys!”

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Ponytails and man-buns highly recommended. Big Shot, photo courtesy of Stratosphere.

8. Big Shot
This is another fan favorite, and it feels nice and breezy too. But talk about a 3-2-1 blast-off: The Big Shot launches you up into the air so quickly, you’ll feel like you shot off into space. Plus, with the weightlessness of 4 Gs, it’ll feel like you’re floating off your seat. The ride itself is only a couple of seconds, but it’ll be the most exhilarating couple of seconds in  your life. If you want to see a fun video of how the ride looks, check out this Imagine Dragons music video. So what are you waiting for, big shot?

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Whee! This takes your average merry-go-round ride up a few notches… and a few hundred feet up too. Photo courtesy of the Stratosphere.

9. Insanity – The Ride
Insane in the membrane, indeed: Insanity – The Ride extends 68 feet over the tower’s edge and spins you up to three Gs. The ride takes you on a thrilling, 70-degree angle at speeds of 40 miles per hour. The Strip is a staggering 900 feet below, so this ride gives you a rush in more ways than one. We’ll warn you right now that this isn’t the top choice after a big lunch. Also, you’ll want to drink tons of water too.

10. SkyJump
This is the best thrill ride not only at the Stratosphere but like, anywhere. SkyJump for joy on an amazing controlled free fall ride of a lifetime. You’ll be attached to a vertical zip line before jumping 855 feet from the 108th floor of the Stratosphere tower. During the ride, you’ll soar at 40 miles per hour. It’s not super fast, but you’ll appreciate the breeze and views of the city (keep your eyes open, you won’t regret it!). We also love that you don’t get that queasy feeling you would on a roller coaster. Once you get past the butterflies before the leap, it’s smooth sailing. After the ride’s over, you can cross jumping from one of the world’s tallest towers off your list. We’ll stop hyping it up so you can see it for yourself. Watch our SkyJump experience that earned us our sky-high bragging rights.

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This guy’s flyin’! Can you survive 108 flights (1,455 stairs)? We’re gasping for air already. Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Weekly.

11. The annual Scale the Strat gets your heart pumping.
This annual event raises money for the American Lung Association. During Scale the Strat, you’ll zoom up 108 flights (or 1,455 stairs). If you think that’s a breeze, good for you. We get tired conquering a mere three. If you’re planning to do this next year, make sure you stretch and have your water, Gatorade, coconut juice (whatever keeps you hydrated) on deck. For a double thrill, we’d like to propose the winner of the fastest time gets to go back down via SkyJump. What do you think?

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Gorgeous lounge paired with an even more gorgeous view. Photo courtesy of the Stratosphere.

12. 107 SkyLounge
Whew, after reading all of those Vegas thrill rides at the Stratosphere, it’s time for a drink! And if you’re going to have a drink, we highly recommend 107 SkyLounge. Located on the 107th floor above the Top of the World restaurant (which we’ll get to next), this is one of the best places to admire views of the Strip. Enjoy small plates and cocktails, as well as a twice-a-day happy hour. The DJ-spun music is bumpin’ too. This circular lounge also has one mean dirty martini.

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Dinner with a view is an understatement. Top of the World restaurant, photo courtesy of the Stratosphere.

13. Top of the World restaurant
Want to take this restaurant for a spin? Good idea. Hit up Top of the World restaurant and you’ll have a spinning good time. Don’t expect spinning, like the spinning tea cups at Disneyland. The 80-minute rotation stays at a nice, relaxed pace. It slowly rotates 360 degrees throughout your meal, offering beautiful views of  the Strip and Las Vegas valley. And like we previously mentioned about the observation deck, we recommend dining at sunset. Have drinks at the 107 SkyLounge and you’ll see the restaurant right below. The food is delicious too, offering everything from steak and fish to even vegan options.

14. Fellini’s at the Stratosphere
Believe it or not, Fellini’s at the Stratosphere is one of the best Italian restaurants on the Strip. You have to try it for yourselves. Besides delicious pasta and other traditional Italian favorites, we love the Old World murals and the soothing Motown and ’70s R&B jams that play overhead. After a couple of glasses of wine, we’re sure you’ll be singing and grooving in your seat in no time. Make sure to check out this hidden gem on your next trip. It’s great for date night. Our recommendation? The pasta primavera has us swooning.

15. This hotel has a 24-hour happy hour.
We’re not kidding. Stratosphere is actually the only 24/7 happy hour in Vegas. There are different drink specials every two hours. And speaking of drinks, head to McCall’s Whiskey Bar, offering signature cocktails and a wide selection from the American Whiskey Trail.

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Vegas paradise, baby. Elation Pool, photo courtesy of the Stratosphere.

16. The pools are way cool.
You didn’t think we’d go through this list without any of the pools, did you? We wouldn’t do that, especially with summer around the corner. Both the main hotel’s 8th floor pool, Elation Pool and the 21-and-older Radius pool boast great views of the city and surrounding mountains. The Stratosphere just wrapped up its Elation Pool revamp, which includes new cabanas, daybeds and yummy frozen drinks and island-style food items. Non-hotel guests are welcome for a $10 entry fee.

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Don’t stop ’til you get enough. MJ Live, photo courtesy of Vegas.com.

17. MJ Live
Hee, hee. Oww! If  you’re a fan of MJ, you’ll love this show, MJ Live. A rotating cast of impersonators perform all the King of Pop’s hits including “Bad,” “Billie Jean,” “Smooth Criminal” and even a Jackson 5 throwback. You’ll be moonwalking for the rest of your trip. Or, what the heck — moonwalk up and down the aisles. No one is judging you because they’ll be doing the same dang thing.

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#TBT not needed. We’re ready for this retro show every night of the week. Pin Up, photo courtesy of Vegas.com.

18. Pin Up
Burlesque at its finest: This vintage-inspired show, Pin Up stars Claire Sinclair, 2011 Playboy Playmate of the Year. In this show, she takes you through a month-by-month pin up calendar, complete with dancers, singers and a live band. Plus, you’ll see everything from 1940s through 1960s beachwear and some other racy numbers. You can catch this sexy Vegas show on a Throwback Thursday (#TBT for your hash taggers), or any day after that (excluding Mondays and Tuesdays).

19. Shop ’til you drop.
Just when you thought Stratosphere had it all with its pools, entertainment, room value, amusement rides, restaurants and lounges, the property also has a 75,000-square-foot retail space known as the Tower Shops. You’ll also find the L.A. Comedy Club here and even the 24-hour Fox and House Tattoo Shop. Not only can you get inked, you can also get your ear, brow, belly or nose pierced.

20. And hey, the tower itself works as a great city compass.
If you’re here visiting, the tower works as a great navigational method when you’re driving around the city. The tower marks the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. Once you get your north, south, east and west of Vegas covered, it’s pretty hard to get lost. And when in doubt, your friendly 1,149-foot point of reference isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Happy 20 years, Stratosphere!

Comments

Most folks take their Vegas jackpot winnings back home, but my dad decided to stay here instead. That’s how I left Seattle almost 20 years ago. I moved from greenery and rainy days to hot summers, palm trees and desert. As much as I love my hometown, I decided to stick around Vegas. This city just has so much to offer. You don’t even have to be a gambler, bar hopper or an all-night partier. I love Vegas for its awesome vegan-friendly spots, concerts, swanky hotel suites and spas so big, they’re like castles. The pool scene is not too shabby either, which is why I love taking stay-cations. Besides living it up -- Vegas style -- I’m hanging out with my handsome hubby, adorable baby girl, two cats and super-fluffy Shih-Tzu. I’m also a huge fan of '90s music, shows and movies. You can find me on Google+ and Twitter.