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11 secret spots in Las Vegas

Think you’ve done Vegas? Step away from the blackjack table and discover Sin City’s lesser-known attractions.
By Todd Peterson |
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You’ve checked off the essential things to do in Las Vegas, been to all the best bars and lost a week’s salary in the casinos. What next? We’ve sleuthed out under-the-radar gems and offbeat curiosities both on and off the Strip.

Secret pizza at The Cosmopolitan
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Thomas Hawk
Hotels

Get a secret slice

icon-location-pin The Strip

The Cosmopolitan hosts many award-winning restaurants, such as Comme Ça, China Poblano and Estiatorio Milos, to name a few. But the hotel’s unnamed pizza joint, hidden down an unmarked corridor, flies under the radar. Get there quickly: The cheap and delicious slices are gaining a following. If the line gets too long in the standing-room-only space, you can always pass the time trying to beat the high score on the old-school Galaga machine tucked in a cramped corner. The Cosmopolitan, 3708 Las Vegas Blvd S between W Harmon Ave and W Flamingo Rd (702-698-7860). Tue–Thur 11am–4am; Fri–Mon 11am–5am.

For a tour of other great Chicago pizza spots, click here

Mob Museum
Photograph: Courtesy The Mob Museum/John Gurzinski
Things to do

Infiltrate the mob

icon-location-pin Downtown

Sin City’s ties to organized crime are an “open secret,” but the true connections have never been so well documented as they are at the Mob Museum. This recent downtown addition separates fact from fiction, and lays bare some of the more sordid events in our town’s history, along with stunning artifacts, such as the barber’s chair Murder, Inc. boss Albert Anastasia was sitting in when he was gunned down and the brick wall from Chicago’s 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Afterwards, retire to the Mob Bar in the Downtown Grand across the street for a spine-straightening Prohibition-era cocktail. The Mob Museum, 300 Stewart Ave at N 3rd St (702-229-2734). Daily 10am–7pm; July, Aug: Mon–Thur, Sun 10am–7pm; Fri, Sat 10am–9pm.

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Downtown Container Park
Photograph: Emily Wilson
Shopping, Shopping centers

Shop in a shipping container

icon-location-pin Downtown

Looking for an escape from hotel restaurants and crowded malls? Keep your eyes peeled for the spectacular fire-spewing praying mantis sculpture guarding Downtown Container Park. Constructed from more than 40 shipping containers (did the name give it away?), the indie complex offers unique local shops, bars and restaurants such as the Art Box, selling reasonably priced local work, Pinches Tacos, an authentic Mexican spot, and Oak & Ivy whiskey bar. There’s also an event stage and a kids’ play area. Downtown Container Park, 707 Fremont St between S 7th and S 8th sts (702-637-4244). 

Berlin Wall urinal at Main Street Station Casino
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Fuzzy Gerdes
Nightlife, Casinos

Pee on the Berlin Wall

icon-location-pin Downtown

By the time the 28-mile fortification separating East and West Berlin was knocked down in 1989, the western side was covered with graffiti. You can make your own “mark” on remnants of the wall, which are mounted behind the men’s urinals in one restroom at Main Street Station Casino. The wall is actually protected by glass, so you won’t be defacing history or anything, but it feels good nonetheless. Visit the property’s excellent brewpub to prep for the occasion. Sorry, ladies, this one is just for the guys! Main Street Station Casino, 200 N Main St at E Stewart Ave (702-387-1896).

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Erotic Heritage Museum
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Sarah Murray
Things to do

See a different side to sex

icon-location-pin Las Vegas

In Las Vegas, sometimes it can feel like sex is slapping you in the face (and not in a Fifty Shades way). But if you want to put it in perspective, visit the Erotic Heritage Museum. Check out such educational displays such as “Unusual Sex Practices” and a wall of Playboy covers called “Find the Bunny,” or just browse the Wall of Shame, in which the museum calls political and religious leaders to task for naughty behavior. Erotic Heritage Museum, 3275 S Industrial Rd at Fashion Show Dr (702-997-1392). Daily 11am–10pm.

Las Vegas Springs Preserve
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/wildlasvegas
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Discover an urban oasis

icon-location-pin West Las Vegas

Just three miles from the Strip, this natural haven is a bit of a miracle, considering the rapid pace of development. Established less than a decade ago as the Vegas Valley’s sprawl shot out around it in all directions, it has more than 100 peaceful acres of native plants and trees and three and a half miles of walking trails. Ahhh. Las Vegas Springs Preserve, 333 S Valley View Blvd at Meadows Ln (702-822-7700). Daily 10am–4pm.

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Battista's Hole in the Wall
Photograph: Courtesy Battista’s Hole in the Wall
Restaurants, Italian

Dine in a hole in the wall

icon-location-pin The Strip

You just know that a restaurant calling itself a “hole in the wall” isn’t going to register with patrons who prefer the four- and five-star establishments on the Strip. Too bad for them. Just a block away from the bright lights, Battista’s has been serving satisfying, traditional dishes like sausage cacciatore since 1970. With its retro red leather booths and bedecked with wine barrels and other knickknacks, the family-run joint is a gloriously kitsch relic. Battista’s Hole in the Wall, 4041 Linq Ln at E Flamingo Rd (702 732-1424). Daily 5–10:30pm.

Zombie Apocalypse Store
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Kenn Ejima
Shopping, Gifts and stationery

Enter a zombie-hunter HQ

icon-location-pin West of the Strip

Fans of The Walking Dead take note: Once the zombie infestation works its way westward, you’ll thank us for directing you to this unassuming shop near Vegas’s Chinatown. At the Zombie Apocalypse Store you can bone up on shooting the undead and get tips on how to be ahead of the “walker” curve, not to mention stocking up on biter-battling gear like machetes and the Zombie Hammer “Brain Saw.” Casual shoppers may opt for a “Hello Zombie” T-shirt. See you in the survivors’ circle. Zombie Apocalypse Store, 3420 Spring Mountain Rd between Polaris Ave and Procyon St (702-320-0703). Daily 10am–7pm. 

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Stage Door Casino
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Andrew Hall
Bars

Hang around the Stage Door

icon-location-pin The Strip

Despite the proliferation of swanky hotel lounges, there are many gemlike dives throughout the city. But the Stage Door is the only one within spitting distance of the Strip—and it serves $3 beers or $2 shots. Sitting on a prime piece of real estate, Stage Door often uses its marquee to advertise how many years it has left on its lease—a one-finger salute to the surrounding resorts. Stage Door Casino, 4000 Linq Ln at E Flamingo Rd (702-733-0124). 24 hours.

Pacificana
Photograph: Jessica Lin

Seek out authentic dim sum

Didn’t realize Las Vegas had a Chinatown? You’re forgiven. The “town” is really more of a plaza, and it’s only been developed over the past 15 years (ancient history by Vegas standards). Still, this is the best place to find authentic Asian cuisine, with about a dozen restaurants inside the plaza and many others dotting the blocks up and down Spring Mountain Road, plus a number of shops and galleries. 4255 Spring Mountain Rd between S Arville St and S Wynn Rd (702-221-8448, lvchinatown.com).

For a Downtown Las Vegas food tour, click here

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Bugsy Siegel's memorial
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Russ Glasson
Hotels

Pay your respects to Bugsy

icon-location-pin The Strip

There’s no denying that Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s played a key role in the construction of the Flamingo, one of the Strip’s first major resorts, but the ballyhoo that the notorious gangster was somehow responsible for the founding of Las Vegas is incorrect at best. Regardless, Siegel is remembered at this stone shrine, complete with an embossed bronze plaque—like the sort found on roadside historical sites—detailing the mobster’s contribution to Vegas history. It’s tucked away near the hotel’s wedding chapel, an odd placement if ever there was one. Flamingo Las Vegas, 3555 Las Vegas Blvd S at E Flamingo Rd (702-733-3111).

For a wavy guided tour of Las Vegas, click here

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