The Silverton isn’t located on the Las Vegas Strip, so it’s no wonder this quirky place has a distinctly un-Strip-like attitude.

First of all, let us explain where it is. The Silverton is located just west of Las Vegas Boulevard, off the I-15 at Blue Diamond Road. That’s about five miles south (a 10-minute drive) of the famous Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. If you don’t have a car, don’t worry. The Silverton offers free shuttle service to and from McCarran International Airport and Aria, which sits at the center of the Strip. Anyway…getting back to the Silverton’s attitude…maybe we should expand upon “un-Strip-like” because it also has a very “un-desert-like” outlook.

This hotel was designed to resemble a mountain lodge (minus the mountain). And, except for the casino and the huge aquarium with mermaids (hence why we called it “quirky” above), it does a good of job of capturing a peaceful, rustic feeling. You’ll get a down-home welcome when you arrive, and the decor — lots of stone and wood detail work — evokes a warm, outdoorsy feeling. For this reason, the Silverton seems to attract a more rugged, independent-minded group of visitors who embrace going off-the-beaten track in Vegas. And this also explains the hotel’s featured attraction: Bass Pro Shops.

The beloved Midwestern chain has a two-story flagship store connected to the Silverton (you can literally walk right into it from the casino). Modeled after an Adirondack hunting lodge, Bass Pro Shops houses everything related to fishing, boating, camping, golf and open-air recreation. You’ll find archery and shooting ranges here. There’s even a waterfall that feeds into a 40,000-gallon aquarium where fishing lessons are conducted.

Because you can never have enough aquariums, there’s an impressive one inside the Silverton too. It’s a circular 117,000-gallon saltwater aquarium. People are always gathered around it, mesmerized by the exotic fish — including leopard sharks, stingrays, parrotfish and triggerfish. At various times on Thursdays through Sundays, you can catch free live shows called “mermaid swims.” (If Ariel is your favorite Disney princess, then you’re in for a treat!) Although there are plenty of benches, chairs and nooks around the aquarium (in addition to the Mermaid Cove Art Gallery, where you can purchase paintings of mermaids by Wil Comier), the nearby Mermaid Restaurant & Lounge boasts elevated seating with a great view.

When you get hungry, the Silverton is home to many other restaurants that have nothing to do with the sea. Sink your teeth into a succulent cut of meat at the Twin Creeks Steakhouse. Dig into Mexican specialties while surrounded by colorful lights at the Mi Casa Grill Cantina. Devour upscale cafe fare in the Sundance Grill, which also has a yummy gelato stand. Or pile your plate high in Seasons, the resort’s popular buffet. It features foods from several different cuisines, and on Saturday nights there’s a special themed Polynesian spread.

If you’re more interested in drinking than eating, there are a few nice bars at the Silverton. Our favorite is the Shady Grove Lounge because it has a vintage 1950s Airstream trailer with two mini bowling alleys inside. The Flare Bar, near the parking garage, offers a more contemporary vibe highlighted by 260 color-changing light fixtures.

During the summer the Sway Pool & Lounge is a pleasurable place to soak up the sun. Specialty cocktails (like the Silverton Punch) are served at the small yet stylish dipping pool, which is surrounded by cabanas, daybeds and a hot tub. So even though the Silverton is un-Strip-like, it’s perfect if you’re looking for an affordable, laid-back Vegas vacation. You won’t be far from the action, but you will be far enough away to enjoy a more secluded stay…in a curious lodge-meets-casino-meets-mermaids world.

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