Most people think of Las Vegas as a getaway for gamblers. While it is the world’s most well known gambling center, there a lot more to Sin City than card games and slot machines. Each of the attractions listed here are wheelchair accessible. I’ll offer my perspective on what I believe is worth your time and money, but I’d love to hear your take in the comments at the bottom of the page. I’ll get the most obvious Vegas activity out of the way first.
Gambling in the Casinos
I’m not much of a gambler and I’m not drawn to the flashy slot machines that give the house a tremendous edge. Slot machines are easy to roll up to in a wheelchair, but so are the table games. If I’m going to make a wager in a casino, I want to make that wager on games where I have the highest chance of winning. For me, those games are video poker, blackjack and roulette. I’ve also been known to put down a little bit of money at the sports book, but I stay clear of complicated parlays and risky long shot wagers.
I enjoy the casino atmosphere, and there is something fulfilling about the highs and lows of betting, winning and losing. As you play, cocktail waitresses will serve you complimentary alcohol. On my last trip to Las Vegas, I spent a couple of hours playing video poker at casinos on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. My wagers were 50 cents per hand, and I was never left with an empty beer bottle. I did okay – won $30 bucks and drank a few beers while chatting it up with my friends.
Be smart when you gamble, and enjoy the thrill of the experience. Take a few friends along and enjoy your time in the ritzy casinos on the Vegas Strip.
Architecture Tour of the Las Vegas Strip
The Strip is lined with interesting structures, from the Luxor Hotel & Casino’s pyramid and sphinx combo, to the New York City skyline at New York-New York, and the medieval castle at Excalibur. That’s just on one block. While the building facades may be gimmicky in nature, I’m a fan of architecture, and enjoy spending a few minutes checking out each of the impressive structures. Best of all, you can spread this self-guided tour over several days, and it’s entirely free. 🙂
A boneyard covering more than 6 acres of real estate, the Neon Museum in Las Vegas displays the signs from old casinos and other businesses. The museum maintains the restored signs used in the Fremont Street Experience and those housed in the sign boneyard. Some of the pieces currently held by the museum include the iconic Silver Slipper, Stardust hotel, Caesars Palace, Moulin Rouge Hotel and Desert Inn signs. Daytime tours are $18.00 for adults and $12.00 for seniors age 65+, active military and veterans. The evening tours featuring the lit signs are $25.00 and $22.00, respectively. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit neonmuseum.org. The museum and boneyard are ADA compliant and wheelchair accessible.
Fountains of Bellagio
The Fountains of Bellagio is a choreographed water show set to lights and music. Opened in 1998, the fountains have become a hallmark feature of the Las Vegas Strip and a major tourist attraction. The entire show occurs on an 8-acre man-made lake and incorporates more than 1,200 fountain nozzles and 4,500 lights. The show changes throughout the day and is set to tunes such as “Viva Las Vegas,” Luck Be a Lady” and “Proud to be an American.” During the late morning and afternoon, the performance runs every 30 minutes. Between 8 p.m. and midnight, showings occur every 15 minutes. The show is free and visitors can line up along the lake perimeter and sidewalks of Las Vegas Boulevard to take in the show. Wheelchair users should arrive 10 to 15 minutes prior to the show in order to gain a spot with an unobstructed view along the railing which surrounds the fountains and lake.
Gold and Silver Pawn Shop
The Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, featured on the History Channel’s Pawn Stars television show, is located on Las Vegas Boulevard and open to the public. The store is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and the History Channel is filming almost every day. The shop is wheelchair accessible. Feel free to visit the store to browse or to sell or pawn an item. There is no published information on when the show’s stars will be in store. For more information on the shop, visit gspawn.com.
Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat
The Secret Garden is located at The Mirage Hotel & Casino, on the Las Vegas Strip. While the garden does have some flowers and plants on display, the true secret is in the incredible creatures that you’ll find inside. You can come face-to-face with bottlenose dolphins, tigers, lions and leopards.
I’m not usually a fan of zoos – I don’t like to see wild animals enclosed in small habitats, but they seemed to be active and had good relationships with the trainers. I’ll stop there, since this isn’t a blog about animal rights.
My favorite part of the tour was the underground dolphin observatory. The room had many windows into the dolphin habitat, and the dolphins were very interested in their human spectators. For an additional fee (beyond the $22 day pass for adults) you can swim with the dolphins! I haven’t been into a pool since my car accident, so I passed on that opportunity. If you’re comfortable in the water, though, they are set up for participants with mobility challenges.
Although it was a fun experience, and I was even able to see an organized dolphin show, I don’t think it was worth the $22 admission fee. But, it’s Vegas, so maybe you should do it anyway – just to say that you did.For more information on the Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat, click here.
Fremont Street Experience
The Fremont Street Experience (FSE) is a 5-block span of Fremont Street with a pedestrian walkway that is covered by a canopy. This canopy amplifies the lights of the casinos and hotels connected to the canopy at night, as you can see in the photograph above. My photos of Fremont Street did not capture the magical glow, so I sourced the photo from Jean-Christophe Benoist (thanks, man!). Among the hotels which comprise the FSE are Las Vegas icons the Golden Nugget, the Fremont Hotel and Casino, and the California Hotel and Casino. The casinos collectively stage the Viva Vision Light Show beneath the canopy every night. The FSE is fully wheelchair accessible and offers access 8 casinos in just a 5 block stretch. For more information on the FSE, visit vegasexperience.com.
SlotZilla Zip Line
The SlotZilla Zip Line and Zoomline are two of the most extreme wheelchair accessible experiences you’ll find in Las Vegas. I recently had the opportunity to try out the zoomline, and was able to fly like Superman (face down) over Fremont Street. I took off from a height of 114 feet (almost 10 stories!) and had one of the thrills of my life. After my car accident, I figured that riding a zip line was a thing of the past, but the great people at SlotZilla and the Fremont Street Experience have made it possible again. I was able to zoom down the line at a speed of about 35 miles per hour, all without having to exert much effort of my own. Safe, accessible and exciting – you can’t beat that! I wrote a complete review of the experience in my blog post, Wheelchair Accessible SlotZilla Zoomline in Las Vegas. I should have put on a superman cape, because that’s exactly how I felt!
High Roller Ferris Wheel
Opened in March 2014 and located at The Linq hotel and casino, the High Roller is the world’s tallest observation wheel. The wheel stands at a height of 550 feet and features 28 cabins, each with a capacity of 40 persons. It surpassed the 541-foot Singapore Flyer for the record title. One complete revolution of the wheel requires 30 minutes. The High Roller provides excellent views of the Las Vegas Strip and is across the street from Caesar’s Palace. The ride is wheelchair accessible with ample space for wheelchairs in each cabin. Tickets to ride in the daytime are $25.95 and $34.95 in the evening. The wheel is illuminated by more than 2,000 LED lights on its exterior. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit caesars.com/linq.
Permanent Circus at Circus Circus
At the Circus Circus hotel and casino, it is possible to see trapeze, high wire and stunt artists perform free of charge. The hotel is home to the world’s largest permanent circus. The acrobatics take place daily from 11 a.m. to midnight, every half hour on the hour. The performances can be watched from the casino floor or from an observation deck surrounding the stage. The shows are located near to the midway section of the casino. More information on the permanent circus and the acts currently in rotation can be found at circuscircus.com.
Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
The Shark Reef Aquarium at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino opened in 2000. Its unique features make it more than “just another aquarium.” Most aquariums are located next to an ocean (I have reviewed aquariums in cities like Boston, Seattle, San Francisco and Amsterdam), but the Shark Reef is located in the middle of a desert far from the Pacific Ocean. The aquarium’s primary tank holds 1.3million gallons of water, making it one of the largest in North America. The facility is some 95,000 square feet and displays numerous species of sharks, rays, fish and reptiles. In total, more than 2,000 animals representing over 100 species are resident of the aquarium. The most spectacular exhibit is the shark tunnel, which allows visitors to walk through the tank and see the marine life extremely close. It is one of only a small number of such tunnels worldwide. Tickets are $18.00 for adults and $16.00 for seniors age 60+. For more information on the aquarium, its exhibits and resident marine life, visit sharkreef.com. The Shark Reef is fully accessible to wheelchair users via elevators and ramps. It is ADA compliant.
CBS Television City Research Center at MGM Grand
Las Vegas tourists have the opportunity to get a sneak peek of upcoming television shows, ads, products and more at the CBS Television City Research Center. Visitors will participate in a typically hour long research study session. This will involve watching a TV show pilot episode, an episode of a current TV show or a series of commercials. Following the viewing, visitors will be asked to respond to a series of questions on a keypad. This information is used by Viacom, which owns the CBS, MTV and Nickelodeon networks, to make decisions on the programs that are aired on these and other networks. Tickets are free and can be picked up in front of Television City, which is located at MGM Grand. For more information on the experience, visit tvcityresearch.com. The building and theaters used for the research screenings are wheelchair accessible. Visitors with a mobility disability are able to participate fully in the studies.
Shows and Performances
Las Vegas is not only a center of gambling, but also of entertainment. Shows and performances occur every day in the countless theaters and concert halls located in the hotels and resorts lining the Las Vegas Strip. Among the most popular are the headliner shows featuring performances from major artists such as Britney Spears, Elton John, Mariah Carey and Rod Stewart. Eight Cirque du Soleil shows are currently showing, including the wildly popular “O” and “Mystere.” Also available are performance, magic, psychic, musical, comedy, tribute and adult shows. For a list of current and upcoming performances or to purchase tickets, please use my affiliate link to visit Vegas.com. I will receive a small commission when you make a purchase.