Most major cities around the world have their iconic sights: buildings or structures that visitors feel they must see - New York has the Empire State Building, San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge, L.A. has the famous Hollywood sign, London has Big Ben, and so forth, but the Las Vegas Strip and the Downtown area sometimes called “Old Vegas,” have so many iconic attractions, many visitors might find it difficult to see them all in one trip!

Here are just a few of the fantastic sights you can see only in Las Vegas!

The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign
At the southernmost end of the Las Vegas Strip, sits the famous “Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.  Created in 1959 and designed by Betty Willis, this is one of the best known “roadside” signs in the world - the design is in the public domain, so it’s been seen in countless films and TV shows, not to mention license plates, souvenirs, t-shirts, and even a certain writer’s website (www.myvegasobsession.com).  The 25-foot-tall sign consists of an elongated diamond shape, topped by a neon starburst, and seven silver dollars, containing the letters W-E-L-C-O-M-E, with the rest of the message within the diamond itself.  The sign has helped promote causes like women’s cardiovascular health, it’s color has been changed to lavender to support Las Vegas Gay Pride, and most recently, it went red to commemorate World AIDS Day. In 2013, it was added to the State Register of Historic Places, and in keeping with the times, it’s now solar powered.  For the quintessential Vegas snapshot or selfie, this is the place to do it!

The Fountains of Bellagio
The Bellagio Resort has much to offer: A casino with a classic feel, Dale Chihuly’s glass flower installation, a free botanical garden, and a museum of fine art, but the attraction that consistently draws crowds on the sidewalk outside, is the Fountains of Bellagio.  Set in the 8.5 acre lake in front of the hotel, the fountains are made up of over 1,200 nozzles and more than 4,500 lights.  Their shows are choreographed to a variety of music, including Sinatra’s rendition of “Luck Be A Lady,” Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas,” and one of the most popular selections, Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.”  The dynamic finales of some of these shows, employ nozzles called Extreme Shooters, which blast water up to 60 feet in the air!  Many of Bellagio’s restaurants overlook the lake, so you and your loved one can have a romantic meal while watching the fountains, but if you’d rather not splurge, just grab a spot around the perimeter of the lake, and experience the dazzling Fountains of Bellagio for free.  That’s a true Vegas bargain!

The Volcano at Mirage
When the Mirage Hotel and Casino opened in 1989, the erupting volcano in the lagoon out front was one of the first free spectacles on the Vegas Strip.  Even now, it’s still one of the most popular shows in town.  Crowds still gather to watch the fiery display, and if you’re a first-time visitor to Las Vegas, it’s a must see!  Created by the same design team responsible for the Fountains of Bellagio, the volcano was renovated and improved in 2008.  The mechanism is essentially a large fountain, enhanced with lights, smoke and large fire jets, some of which can shoot higher than 12 feet in the air.  Scattered throughout the lagoon, are pipes creating smaller fireballs, synchronized with a percussive score composed by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and Indian composer Zakir Hussain.  The finale of the eruption is a massive burst of fire that must be seen...and felt...to be believed!  Bring your cameras, bring your kids, or just go be a big kid yourself.  After all, where else but Las Vegas can you safely get this close to an erupting volcano?

Downtown Vegas/Fremont St.
Fremont Street, considered by most to be the heart of Downtown Vegas, is not only iconic, it’s historic!  It was the first paved street in Las Vegas.  One of the first gambling licenses issued in Nevada went to Fremont Street’s Northern Club, and it’s currently home to some of the oldest and most iconic casinos like the Golden Nugget, Binion’s, and the Four Queens.  In the early 1990’s, with most tourist business going to the Vegas Strip, Downtown Vegas had declined in popularity, but in 1994, Fremont was closed to traffic and became a pedestrian walk.  In 1995, a five-block portion of the street was covered with a huge, vaulted LED canopy called Viva Vision, on which dynamic sound and light shows play.  The Fremont Street Experience began bringing crowds back to the area, and now, more than 19 million people visit Downtown Las Vegas each year.  The enormous amount of old fashioned neon on the building façades, earned Fremont Street the nickname Glitter Gulch, and you’ll find plenty of iconic old signage downtown - from Aladdin’s Lamp from the old Aladdin Casino Hotel of the 1960’s, to Vegas Vic and Vegas Vicki (aka Sassy Sally), the neon cowboy and cowgirl seen in films and videos like U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”  Dazzling!

There are other famous sights, of course - The Eiffel Tower replica at the Paris Las Vegas, the Luxor Pyramid, with its giant sphinx out front and its 42 billion candle power beacon at the apex, the Venetian’s replica of Piazza San Marco, and their gondola ride, the Stratosphere tower, with it’s rotating restaurant and thrill rides at the top, and most recently, the High Roller, the worlds tallest observation Ferris wheel.

One of the reasons Las Vegas is a mecca for visitors, is that another breathtaking, iconic sight is just a little farther down the Strip!