Las Vegas Strip is a portion of of Las Vegas Boulevard South that houses most of the largest and most important entertainment buildings in Las Vegas--including casinos, hotels and resorts. One of the most visited streets in Las Vegas, the Strip offers not only top-class accommodations and gambling facilities, but it also offers street entertainment and great shopping.
Stretching over 4.1 miles, the Las Vegas Strip is only partially in Las Vegas, with a large part of it being situated in the neighboring areas of Winchester and Paradise. The Vegas section of the Strip extends from Sahara Avenue in the North to Russel Road in the South. The term Vegas Strip is often used to refer to the buildings and properties around the boulevard, rather than just to the street itself. In that case, the Strip itself extends about one mile in each direction, including buildings on parallel streets (like Interstate 15 and Paradise Road).
Originally named Highway 91, the Strip was at some point called Fifth Street and eventually renamed Las Vegas Strip. There are various stories on how the Strip got its name, the most widely accepted being that of police officer Guy McAfee. He was fond of saying the area reminded him of another strip back in his hometown of Hollywood: Sunset Strip. The Strip saw its first official building, the Pair-o-Dice Club, in 1931. At that point, the road was still known as Highway 91.
Some of the world's largest hotels and casinos are located on the Strip. These include the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino (2,084 rooms), Las Vegas Hilton (3,174 rooms) and The Mirage (3,044 rooms). When the first buildings were built, back in the mid-twentieth century, large hotels and small boutique ones coexisted. However, resorts have now taken over the Strip. Smaller properties either closed or moved downtown. The Mirage, built in 1989, is considered the first mega-resort built directly on the Strip. It has featured a casino, accommodations and live entertainment since its opening. The live entertainment includes a live volcano.
Aside from hotels and casinos, the Las Vegas Strip is also home to a series of entertainment options, geared to both adults and families. The Rat Pack singers--including Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford, and Sammy Davis, Jr.--made a name for themselves by appearing regularly at different venues in Las Vegas. Their acts played an important part in the desegregation movement of the 1960's, since the group refused to play in any place that wouldn't allow African Americans. Today, the Strip is home to the Fashion Show Mall (one of the largest in the world, with 250 stores), the Adventure Dome (an indoor amusement park) and the Fremont Street Experience (a pedestrian mall that features free concerts and impressive light and sound shows). The giant M&M Store--and a series of planned parks and attractions--are also on the Strip.
The Strip offers a unique service in Las Vegas: free transportation to anybody staying at any hotel located directly on the Strip. This means is that guests have free shuttles available to take them back and forth along the length of the Strip or to specific attractions along the way. Las Vegas Monorail runs east of the Strip and offers all visitors a chance to explore the area. Other unique things to be found on the Strip are the the Desert Inn Golf Course (the only golf course directly in between casinos), the 1,149-foot-high Stratosphere Tower (which features an observatory and a revolving restaurant) and the City Center (a complex that features a spa, hotel, retail stores, and entertainment venues).