It took me three trips to Sin City to figure out that the best place to get a sunset photo in Las Vegas was from the top of the Stratosphere tower on the far north end of the Strip. Since Las Vegas is on the “edge” of its time zone, the sun sets a little earlier than you’d expect. This fact slipped our mind – as our cab driver went all NASCAR on us to get us to the tower as we were watching the sun slip behind the mountains.
We did manage to arrive at the tower, get our tickets ($9 just to go to the observation deck), and get up to the top to see a little color left in the sky. We also got to watch from high above as the Strip began to light up in all its neon glory – one hotel at a time.
While we were on top of the world, we got to watch the newest thrill ride in Vegas – the Stratosphere’s new XScream ride. This is essentially a big see-saw that throws its riders over the side of the building. Maybe it’s because I’m older and wiser now, but I’m just not ready to trust something that hangs me over the edge of a building. Next year – April 2005 – the Stratosphere will take crazy people to a whole new level of craziness with a swing ride that is suspended off the tower. Um, I’ll say no to that as well. I have, however, ridden one of the tamer rides on the tower – the roller coaster that circles the top. Although it’s still quite scary – you see nothing but the strip below – I didn’t feel like I was going to be plummeting to the concrete below. There’s one more ride (yes, it’s nearly a theme park in itself) that essentially shoots you up the Stratosphere’s needle.
While you’re at the Stratosphere, take some time to play the slots. It’s a Vegas secret that the Stratosphere offers better odds on their slots to attract visitors all the way up the Strip to their slightly-more-remote location. There are also some good restaurants (see the Fellini’s journal) and some interesting shops as well.