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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Get off the Strip in Vegas


3. What to Do

Enjoy views of the Vegas skyline at the M Resort's Villaggio Del Sole complex (left); or sunbathe "European-style" at the Cherry nightclub's pool in the Green Valley Ranch Casino.  

Las Vegas’s museum culture makes the MoMa seem like a stuffy old lady. Start at the year-old Erotic Heritage Museum, a17,000 square-foot homage to sex that includes a detailed history of the porn industry starting with a 1915 flick entitled A Free Ride. Pick through Vegas’s past in the three-acre Neon Museum Boneyard, a final resting place for original Strip marquees for old casinos like Caesar’s Palace, the Golden Nugget, and the Stardust (pre-book online). View films of atomic explosions in the Atomic Testing Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate that hosts regular talks from scientists and former AREA 51 employees.

Cool off in off-Strip pools that offer access to non-hotel guests — a cheaper alternative to a pricey cabana. Lounge on a cucumber-and-ice soaked towel at The Villaggio Del Sole complex in the M Resort ($15 admission fro non-hotel guests; pay at the Pool Hut) or take a free swim at the Green Valley Ranch's infinity-edge dipping Pond. Sip cocktails at Cherry, the popular nightclub inside the Red Rock Casino, that allows topless sunbathing during the day.

Forget the high stakes poker professionals at Bobby's Room; you’ll find friendlier joints elsewhere where you can still feel the rush of a winning hand. Stop at the Tuscany where they host daily no-limit tournaments with a $25 buy-in or find a variety of games (Omaha High-Lo, Seven Card Stud, Texas Hold 'Em) at the newly remodeled Orleans poker room. Green Valley Ranch boasts the biggest bad-beat jackpot in town and handheld vibrators let you know your seat is ready at the card table.

Head downtown to bar-hop in a scene that offers more diversity and better values than its Boulevard peers. Search hard for the discreet entrance to the Downtown Cocktail Room, in a former wedding chapel off Fremont Street. Around the corner, Beauty Bar looks like a relic from the Sputnik era but has some of the best live indie music in town. Finish the night in the neon-lit Dino’s with at least one round of cheap beer and karaoke.

Published on Sep 24, 2009 as a web exclusive.

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