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But visitors who know where to look can still find remnants of vintage Vegas, from the hotel room where the King canoodled with a certain Viva Las Vegas co-star to the original neon of Glitter Gulch. For clients interested in a glimpse of old Vegas, we’ve created a sight-seeing checklist that starts where else—at the sign that says it all.
Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign:Most visitors come and go without ever seeing the landmark that has been beckoning fun-seekers and their wallets since 1959. Look for the sign in the center island on the southern end of Las Vegas Boulevard South (“The Strip”) between Russell and Sunset roads. There’s no legal parking here so clients may want to hop on a double-decker Deuce bus.
Little Church of the West:This rustic chapel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been popular with celebrities ever since actress Betty Grable said “I do” to bandleader Harry James in 1943. The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign is located just down the boulevard, resulting in a steady stream of brides in white gowns and flowing veils darting between traffic for a quickie photo shoot. 4617 Las Vegas Blvd. South.wwww.littlechurchlv.comCommission: $35-$75
Folies Bergere:One of Las Vegas’ original “feather shows,” this classic revue at the Tropicana celebrated 50 years of bringing va-va-voom to the Strip. Those who blush easily may prefer the 7:30 p.m. show. Otherwise, send clients to the 10 p.m. show, one of the longest-running topless revues anywhere. Be sure to check out the vintage pool, which offers swim-up blackjack between Memorial and Labor days.3801 Las Vegas Blvd. South.www.tropicanalv.com
Imperial Palace:Now part of the Harrah’s empire, this Asia- and South Pacific-themed hotel started life in 1959 as a small motel called the Flamingo Capri. Today it’s mostly known for its classic car showroom and long-running celebrity impersonator show.3535 Las Vegas Blvd. South.www.imperialpalace.com
Battista’s Hole in the Wall:Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin dined at this throwback of Italian eatery, a fun antidote to the overpriced, chi-chi dining scene on the Strip. Gordy, the strolling accordionist, and the low prices ($18.95 buys a full dinner with house wine) make up for the cheesy decor and mediocre food. Look for Battista’s behind the Flamingo.4041 Audrie St.www.battistaslasvegas.com
Peppermill:The intense pink-and-blue neon and mirrored ceiling of this original ultra lounge, featured in a scene in Martin Scorsese’s “Casino,” will take clients back to their disco days. The comfy sofas around the sunken fire pit, where flames leap from a bubbling pool, are a good place to stoke love’s embers or start up a new romance. Keep an eye out for magician Penn Jillette (the tall one who talks), a regular in the restaurant.2985 Las Vegas Blvd. South.702-735-4177
Golden Steer Steak House:The big, yellow cow in front and the strip-mall location belie the five-star dining, popular in the day with John Wayne, Elvis, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, who slipped over after a little ring-a-ding-ding at the Copa Room at the Sands. Little has changed since the Rat Pack days: The vibe is manly, the steaks juicy and the lights low.308 W. Sahara Ave.www.goldensteerlv.com
Las Vegas Hilton:The big, bronze statue out front pays homage to Elvis, who rocked the house (then called the International) for 837 consecutive, sold-out shows starting in 1969. The King’s final performance here was Dec. 12, 1976, eight months before his death.3000 Paradise Rd.www.lvhilton.comCommission: 10 percent
Golden Gate Hotel:Las Vegas’ oldest lodging establishment opened as the Hotel Nevada in 1906 and was renamed the Sal Sagev (Las Vegas backwards) in 1931. A grieving Clark Gable holed up here after a plane slammed into a nearby mountain in 1942, killing wife Carole Lombard. Today, visitors come for the 99-cent shrimp cocktail and to check out Sin City’s first telephone, on display in the lobby. (The phone number was simply 1.)One Fremont St.www.goldengatecasino.net
Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel:The original home of the World Series of Poker started life as Binion’s Horseshoe, and was the first casino to offer high-stakes gambling and free liquor. Located in “Glitter Gulch,” now known as Fremont Street, the hotel’s 24th-floor steakhouse is a good place to spot your favorite NASCAR driver or rodeo cowboy.128 E. Fremont St.www.binions.com