Seeing Las Vegas in Style: OnBoard Tours

Lisa Fritscher September 16, 2011 No Comments

OnBoard Tours Las Vegas

The bus was easy to find

Dad and I have been to innumerable cities around the world. We love to get out and walk around, mingle with locals and get to know each place in depth. In order to achieve that, however, we need to figure out where we want to go. Whenever possible, we head out on a bus tour within the first day or so. This provides an overview of the city and helps us decide where to focus our attention. In Las Vegas, we selected OnBoard Tours.

About OnBoard Tours

OnBoard Tour Guide Sean

Sean was a terrific guide!

Based in New York City, OnBoard Tours is relatively new to Las Vegas. The company offers fully-narrated daytime and evening bus tours of the famed Las Vegas Strip. Unlike most bus tours, however, the guide actually steps off the bus with you, providing guidance and narration at each stop as well as during the ride.

Although both tours welcome children, the company especially recommends the evening See the Lights tour for families with kids. The tour blends history with fun, stopping frequently to take in the city’s many free evening shows. The See the Lights tour departs at 8 pm nightly from the bus entrance at Bally’s Resort and Casino. As of 2011, tickets are $44.99 per person. Children under age 2 may ride free on a parent’s lap.

Our Experience

Las Vegas Strip Crowd

Believe it or not, this was a light crowd!

We signed up for a Wednesday night tour, which proved to be a good choice. We shared the bus with only a handful of other visitors and, while crowded, the nighttime shows were not nearly as busy as they are on the weekends.

Free parking is offered at all of the Las Vegas casinos. We arrived at the Bally’s parking garage around 7:30 pm and found a spot on the fourth floor. Incidentally, we drive a Ford Expedition, which is a full-sized SUV. Some casino garages have low clearance, but we had plenty of room at both Bally’s and the Luxor, making it easy to access everything along the Strip.

The Vegas casinos are a lot bigger than they appear at first glance, and getting around can be confusing. If you have any concerns about where to meet the tour, just ask a casino employee to direct you to the bus entrance.

OnBoard Tours Comfortable Bus

The bus was comfortable

We made our way through Bally’s and met our tour guide at approximately 7:45. The company reserves the right to release seats to walk-ups ten minutes before the tour, so make sure you arrive a few minutes early.

The bus was large and comfortable, with softly padded seats. Our guide, Sean, introduced himself and the driver, Amber. Sean used a headset microphone, making it easy to hear his narration. He was raised in Las Vegas, and his mother had been a showgirl at the Tropicana, so he was definitely an expert on all things Las Vegas!

The Shows

Sirens of TI Treasure Island Show

The Sirens of TI show was spectacular!

Las Vegas is well-known for its plethora of free evening shows. The tour took in four of the most famous. At each stop, Sean gave us a bit of background on the hotel and the show, maneuvered us into excellent viewing locations, and even warned us about potential water splashes and various pyrotechnic effects.

Our first stop was Treasure Island, home of the Sirens of TI. This pirate-themed show is mildly risqué, but has no inappropriate material. Keep a close hold on your kids, as the viewing area is tightly packed with visitors. If your kids are sensitive, you may want to take a few steps back from the rail, as the show is extremely loud and the fire effects are intense. There is a slight chance of getting wet during one moment in the show, but Sean warned us in advance and offered to step in front of anyone who was concerned.

Treasure Island Fire Show

Setting the lake on fire was a particularly cool effect

As soon as the show was over, we joined the mass of humanity making its way across the street to the Mirage. Sean did an excellent job of keeping us all together and securing a location along the rail. The Mirage Volcano was truly something to see, blending fire and water effects in exciting new ways.

Amber brought the bus around to meet us at the Mirage, where we enjoyed complimentary bottled water during the short drive to the Bellagio. The impressive Bellagio Fountains dance in tandem with a musical soundtrack that changes every hour.

Hand of Faith Golden Nugget Las Vegas

The 875-ounce Hand of Faith

Back on the bus, we made our way to the famed “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, where Sean gave us plenty of time for photos. Then we left behind the modern glitz of the Strip for the older charm of Downtown Las Vegas. Along the way, Sean pointed out such landmarks as the drive-through wedding chapel and Gold and Silver Pawn, home of TV’s Pawn Stars. Soon we arrived at the Golden Nugget.

An intimate hotel and casino, the Golden Nugget is home to the largest intact piece of gold currently on display. Known as the Hand of Faith, the gold nugget weighs nearly 875 troy ounces. Across from the nugget is a vending machine that dispenses genuine bars of gold at current market prices.

Fremont Street Experience

The overhead show at the Fremont Street Experience

We made our way through the hotel to Fremont Street, home of the Fremont Street Experience. Now a permanent pedestrian mall with stage performers most evenings and street performers around the clock, the section of Fremont Street from Main to Fourth is covered by a metal canopy encrusted with LED lights. Every hour throughout the evening, a light and music show is presented on the canopy. Themes vary from ‘80s videos to a patriotic tribute. Interestingly, in a city known for never turning off the exterior lights, the surrounding casinos turn theirs out for the duration of the show.

On the return trip to Bally’s, Sean regaled us with tales of Las Vegas’ history, including quite a bit about the Mafia’s role in creating the Vegas of today. The information was fascinating, and Sean’s easy yet professional style kept everyone riveted.

Tips for Parents

Mirage Dancing Waters Las Vegas

The dancing waters were fun

At more than three hours, the tour is one of the longest and most complete in Las Vegas. Yet Sean and Amber kept the energy up, and the time flew by. This does make for a rather late evening, though, so you may want to plan your schedule accordingly. An afternoon nap and a late start the next morning can help ensure that your kids are energetic and happy rather than tired and prone to meltdowns.

The usual buses are not wheelchair-accessible. With advance notice, though, the company can provide an accessible bus. Just let the reservationist know when you call to purchase your tickets. Strollers are not permitted on the tour. However, if anyone in your group is tired or does not want to walk, you are welcome to remain on the bus with the driver at any stop.

Beware of the “clickers.” All along the Strip, you will find men and women handing out flyers and cards for “adult entertainment services.” Known as clickers due to the clicking noise they make with their stacks of cards, they will try to push literature into your hands. Just ignore them and keep walking. They’re harmless, if a bit annoying, and your guide will steer you around them as much as possible.

Sugar Factory Las Vegas

Late-night breakfast at the Sugar Factory is a true must-do!

Consider carrying a light snack. Bottled water is plentiful, and you are welcome to take as much as you like. But there is a lot of walking, and a few crackers or a piece of candy can keep everyone’s energy up.

If you are hungry after the tour, ask your guide for directions to one of Las Vegas’ famed midnight breakfasts. Dad and I particularly enjoyed the Sugar Factory inside Paris, which is connected to Bally’s. It’s worth the wait for a patio table overlooking the Strip.

Remember that Las Vegas is in the desert. Even at night, the weather can be quite hot and dry. Wear lightweight clothing and comfortable walking shoes.

avatarAbout the Author:

Lisa is a full-time travel writer. She lives in an RV with her disabled father and writes about their experiences. Although she has no children of her own, Lisa loves being an Aunt to her own relatives and the children of all her friends. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Travel Confessions.

Tags: Reviews

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.