The brainchild of visionary hotelier Steve Wynn, and now one of the most popular places to stay in Vegas, The Mirage pioneered the ubiquitous Y-shape hotel design, animal attractions, and splashy effects that put Vegas on the map as a destination for more than just gambling and cheap buffets. Twelve years after its opening in 1989, the Polynesian rain forest-themed Mirage (a grand old dame by Las Vegas standards) can still hold its own. All the grandeur remains, including the volcano, which blasts smoke and flames into the sky every 15 minutes starting at dusk. Mirage updated its standard and deluxe rooms in 2002, but they are still fairly ordinary. All have a cupola over the bed and slats on the doors, nicely extending the island theme. There’s no cable, although there are movies on demand. Great views from your room can be guaranteed for an additional $20 a day. Opt for ‘volcano view’, which will give you a good shot of the Strip and the eruptions. The pool area is one of the nicest-an island oasis of meandering lagoons, waterfalls, towering palm trees, Asian statuary, and private cabanas. Set back from the action is Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and the Dolphin Habitat, home to nine Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, including a few babies born on the property. The casino has a legendary smoke-free poker room, which draws pros and semi-pros alike. Sunday through Thursday there are Poker Zone Tournaments starting at 7pm, which feature a wide variety of games.