Check out the polished brass and white-leather seats in the casino: day or night, the Golden Nugget is downtown's poshest address. With classy eateries and a swimming pool famous for its shark tank, the Golden Nugget outshines its competition. This swank-carpet joint rakes in a moneyed crowd with a 38,000-sq-ft casino populated by table games and slot machines with the same odds as at Strip megaresorts. The nonsmoking poker room hosts daily tournaments.
Wunderkind entrepreneurs Tim Poster and Thomas Breitling bought this vintage Vegas casino hotel, which was once owned by none other than casino impresario Steve Wynn, in 2003. The duo catapulted the Nugget into the national limelight on the Fox reality-TV series Casino, but then sold it off to Landry's Inc.
One of the Golden Nugget's claims to fame is the Tank, an outdoor pool featuring a three-story waterslide through a 200,000-gallon shark tank. Swimmers can press their faces against the glass to come face-to-face with six species of sharks, rays and tropical fish. If you want to get up close to the fish without getting wet (or being a hotel guest), take a behind-the-scenes tour ($50) or stop for a drink at Chart House, a seafood restaurant where you can perch at the bar encircling a 75,000-gallon tropical aquarium.
Another of the Nugget's famous attractions is the Hand of Faith, the world's largest single gold nugget still in existence. Discovered in Australia and weighing a massive 61lb, it's on display under glass near the North Tower elevators. Taking photos is not permitted in most casinos for security reasons, but the Golden Nugget smiles benignly upon wide-eyed visitors who photograph the mighty rock.