AAA Editor Notes
The Venetian Las Vegas is at 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (just n. of Harrah's-Las Vegas). Situated on the former site of the legendary Sands Hotel, The Venetian brings a re-creation of Europe's most romantic city to the Strip. On this hallowed Vegas ground, birthplace of the Rat Pack, tabloid celebrities like Kim Kardashian now host parties at the luxury megaresort's Tao nightclub.

It'd be easy to laugh off this evocation of Venice, Italy, as simply another over-the-top theme resort. But architecturally speaking, there's some wonderful attention to detail here. The faux Doge's Palace facade, fronted by a mini Venetian lagoon and flanked by a replica St. Mark's Campanile (bell tower), certainly impresses. Inside, a gorgeous Sistine Chapel-esque fresco graces the entry hall ceiling. Marble columns, statuary, piazzas, bridges (including a pint-size Rialto Bridge) and cobblestone walkways pay faithful homage to the “Queen of the Adriatic”—especially in the swank Grand Canal Shoppes.

Hungry? Food Network fanatics will find a lineup of familiar chefs (Batali, Lagasse, Keller and Puck) helming a slew of high-end restaurants. Gondola rides, both in the Strip-front lagoon and on the waterways of the Grand Canal Shoppes, are big with families and lovey-dovey couples. The always-buzzing, 120,000-square-foot gaming floor (including an outstanding sports book with jumbo HDTVs) is a fun place to gamble, though it wins our award for the most confusing casino layout in town. If you depart without having to consult a casino directory map, congratulations are in order. You're a modern-day Marco Polo.

Food is available.

Indoor or outdoor gondola ride $21 (per person, four-person gondola); $84 (private two-person gondola). Same-day, in-person reservations are required.
Station: Mirage
Casino open daily 24 hours. Indoor gondola rides Sun.-Thurs. 10 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.-midnight. Outdoor gondola rides daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Last ride departs 15 minutes before closing.
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