Newsletter: Vegas Escapes: New hotels, new team, new stadium

Resorts World, which features two 60-story hotel towers, takes shape in Las Vegas. It will have more than 3,200 hotel rooms when it opens toward the end of 2020.
(Jay Jones)

You know how everybody used to say, “If you haven’t been to Vegas in six months, you haven’t been”? Growth was off the chart. New building was everywhere. It was go, go, go.

Suddenly it was 2008 and it was no, no, no. By September 2010, unemployment in Las Vegas-Henderson was 14.1%, according to U.S. Labor statistics from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

My name is Catharine Hamm, and I’m the travel editor for the Los Angeles Times. When the balloon burst, things got quiet for a while. But in the roller coaster that is life, we seem to be heading back toward supercharged.

That means there will be more to do and see in Vegas than ever.

It’s not as though that’s not consistently true in many smaller or less visible ways. In the city that never sleeps, never even thinks of snoozing, we have new shows (think action and immersion), new attractions for adults and kids (and adults who act like kids), a new look coming soon to Fremont Street, and new discoveries on the Colorado River.


Top it all off with the news of the return of free parking, plus Chris Erskine’s report on Nevada’s Electric Highway, and it’s Vegas for the win.

Getting hot

A new stadium. A new team. Two new resorts. A convention center expansion. If this seems familiar, it’s part of the go-go cycle we’ve seen in Vegas, but not for a while. The recession behind it, the city is taking off again, Jay Jones writes, and that can mean only one thing: There will be more to see and do than ever. Check out the timeline for putting all the new stuff in play.

The pace of change picks up again in Las Vegas.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Bigger, brighter, better

The Fremont Street tech arch is getting a $32-million upgrade that will make it the ultimate in high-def. Say hello to the Viva Vision canopy, which updates its 1995, lifetime-ago predecessor, Michael Hiller writes. It will run 24 hours a day now instead of just at night.

Fremont Street’s Viva Vision canopy in downtown Las Vegas is getting a major upgrade. The existing white roof is being replaced by a black mesh grid embedded with custom-made LED modules.
(Michael Hiller)

Here’s something that hasn’t changed

The Vegas sign. Happy birthday, old pal, and thanks for welcoming us to your city with such style and grace these last six decades. The piece of Googie (not to be confused with Google) design has a few secrets (even though it spilled the beans on its age) that it would like to share with you, Jay Jones writes.

People pose for pictures at the iconic Las Vegas sign at all hours of the day or night.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

And … action!

You know Cirque du Soleil, the graceful, daring, daunting, death-defying, acrobatic shows that leave us gasping for breath and asking for more? They’ve been a Vegas staple for years. But now there’s going to be a new Cirque kid in town, called “R.U.N.,” to open this fall. It’s a distinctively different Cirque production, relying on action narrative and immersion but not acrobatics, Jay Jones writes.

Cirque du Soleil’s “R.U.N.” will open at the Luxor in October, the first new Las Vegas show for the troupe in six years.
(Meggin Rouse)

And … more action!

If you’re a fan of action movies, here are a couple of exhibits at MGM Grand and Treasure Island that will get your engine racing if you’re fond of “Avengers” superheroes and of Katniss Everdeen of “The Hunger Games,’” Michael Hiller writes.

Visitors will see Iron Man and other characters at the “Marvel’s Avengers Station” exhibit at Treasure Island in Las Vegas.
(Tomek Pleskaczynski / Marvel Avengers Station)

Did someone say ‘free parking’?

As a matter of fact, we did. Or, more accurately, Wynn and Encore did. The two resorts are reversing course on charging guests for parking. Until recently, no one charged for parking, and suddenly everyone did. The Wynn and Encore have blessedly changed their minds, Jay Jones writes. Find out what other places are bucking the trend.

Wynn and Encore, sister properties along the Las Vegas Strip, will no longer charge for self-parking, starting Wednesday.
(Bill Hughes / Las Vegas News Bureau)

Magical mystery caves

Take a break from your games/entertainments/adult beverages of choice and check out these emerald beauties. We speak not of the gemstone but of these caves on the Colorado River. Between April and October, you can see this phenomenon on a kayak trip, Jay Jones writes.

Two kayaks make their way down the Colorado River through Black Canyon, a narrow rock cut that begins just below Hoover Dam.
(Danny Latham)

Get some practice laps in …

… before you take off on a trip like the one below. New thrills are available for kids and their parents at Vegas Superkarts, which lets you try the twists and turns of Las Vegas Motor Speedway in a little four-stroke-engine kart, Mary Forgione writes.

A new fleet of gas-powered go-karts is ready for racing at Vegas Superkarts.
(Beau Caldwell / Exotics Racing)

On the dark desert highway, cool wind in their hair

Reporter Chris Erskine and photographer Robert Gourley took to Nevada’s Electric Highway (U.S. 95, Reno to Vegas) in a high-tech ride on a trip that also seemed right out of the 1800s. Will the digital age destroy the all-American car trip right in the heart of the Nevada desert, Erskine asks?

A Tesla travels Nevada's Electric Highway to try out something old (a road trip) and something new (a high-tech car).
(Robert Gourley / Los Angeles Times)

Where to reach us and read us and join the party

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Meanwhile, we’ll be back June 27 with another edition that also promises that no animals were harmed in its creation. Until then, we wish you all the fun you can have and all the cash you need to have it.