Las Vegas hotels
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Whether you fly in or drive up, as soon as you see Sin City, you just know you’re in for a good time. A banner at the airport invites you to ‘Eat, Drink and Be Rowdy’, and the only people you see are either just arriving, bright-eyed and fidgety with excitement, or just leaving, ragged and hungover, with the hollow-eyed look of folks who can’t quite figure out how they spent the last few days.
Las Vegas is a smorgasbord of shows, super-clubs, great restaurants, booze and mind-boggling hotel-casinos. It is the ultimate city of excess, from the live lions that roam an exhibit inside the MGM Grand to the star-spangled ceiling of the Venetian.
The Paris Las Vegas is one of the most recognisable structures on The Strip – just look for the faux Eiffel Tower glistening amid the neon wonderland. Not content with making French visitors cringe, Las Vegas ruffles Egyptian feathers as well. The Luxor Casino is modelled on the Egyptian sphinx and pyramids.
Everything in Las Vegas is customised to help you make rash decisions, from slot machines that take $100 bills to quickie wedding chapels like the Little Chapel of the Flowers.
Las Vegas is the adult equivalent of Disneyland. It is unashamedly tacky, mind-bendingly extravagant and unstoppably brutal on the liver. When you arrive you’ll think you need to stay longer to see everything, but after a few days you’ll be clinging to sanity by your fingernails. Las Vegas chews you up and spits you out in a fog of smoke and booze – and while you’re sure to have a good time, just remember: The house always wins.
Las Vegas’ Top 10
10. Magic and Movie Hall of Fame Be awed and entertained by a huge array of magic and movie memorabilia.
5. Gallery of Fine Art Isn’t it nice of the Bellagio to accommodate those who like their fine art?
9. Adventure Dome Rides, 4D experiences and stacks of fun.
4. Vegas Zoo A great place for the whole family (a rarity in this town). The chimps are hilarious and adorable.
8. Hoover Dam This mammoth, man-made dam is awe-inspiringly big – and the reason Vegas is able to exist in the desert.
3. Gondola Ride Who cares about going to Italy when you can take a romantic gondola ride at the Venetian.
7. Neon Museum An awesome collection of old school neon lights from times gone by.
2. Bellagio Fountains Watch the water dance to music and lights. It’s truly spectacular and makes for great photos.
6. Fremont Street Experience You can’t miss out on this canopy of lights and lasers.
1. The Strip This is a must and let’s face it – it’s the sole reason anyone even goes to Vegas. Hire a convertible by the hour and drive up and down…
Las Vegas History
- Old Mormon Fort – Built in 1855, the fort comprises the oldest non-Indian structure Southern Nevada has to offer.
- Golden Gate Casino – This 1906 casino is Las Vegas’ oldest casino still in operation.
- El Cortez – Located in the east end of downtown, the original, Spanish-style building is still open to the public.
- Post Office/Federal Building – Built in 1933, this ancient structure epitomizes neoclassical style.
- Las Vegas High School – Now referred to as the Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts, this school is an architectural masterpiece.
Las Vegas Art & Culture
- Gallery of Fine Art @ Bellagio – One of Las Vegas’ finest fine-art galleries.
- Las Vegas Chinatown Plaza – An Asian cultural centre worth checking out.
- The Neon Museum Las Vegas – An outdoor lot packed with gigantic displays.
- Las Vegas Natural History Museum – This popular museum educates children and families on the natural sciences.
- Lied Discovery Children’s Museum – Contains more than 100 hands-on exhibitions related to the sciences, arts and humanities.
Las Vegas Shopping
- Fashion Show Mall – On Las Vegas Boulevard, this expansive mall is home to almost all the major U.S. retail chain stores.
- Town Square – This outdoor mall centres on a real town square.
- Las Vegas Outlet Centre – An outlet mall featuring 120 stores in an indoor setting.
- Forum Shops – This huge, high-end shopping area also offers a free animatronics show.
- Las Vegas Premium Outlets – At the gateway of downtown Las Vegas, this shopping hub boasts 120 name-brand stores.
Las Vegas Gay & Lesbian
- Zumanity – Features acrobatics, music and dance.
- Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas – Home to superstar female impersonators portraying well-known American divas.
- Krave – A large alternative club on the Las Vegas Strip.
- The Price is Right Live @ Bally’s – Guests 21 years of age and older may be granted the chance to participate in this live game and win fabulous prizes.
- Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular – A fantastic Broadway-style show.
Las Vegas Outdoor
- Flamingo Garden – This 15-acre garden displays flamingos and other exotic birds, Japanese carp and turtles.
- Red Rock Canyon – On the western edge of the city limits, this natural attraction features countless tours and trails.
- Helicopter Tours from Fly Maverick – Explore all that Las Vegas has to offer from above on a helicopter tour.
- Lion Habitat @ MGM Grand – Get up close and personal with the big cats, followed by a visit to the Garden Cafe.
- Southern Nevada Zoological-Botanical Park – This stunning park is home to more than 150 species of plants and animals.
Las Vegas Sport
- Indoor Skydiving @ Vegas Indoor Skydiving – Learn to skydive without taking to the skies at this unique centre.
- Vegas Horseback Tours – Go for a horseback ride and savor a traditional cowboy meal.
- Sun Buggy Fun Rentals – Enjoy a thrilling off-road experience on the Las Vegas dunes.
- Exotics Racing School – Participate in a special training session before being let loose at the wheel of a famous sports car.
- Kayak Trips from Kayak Las Vegas – Paddle your way along the Colorado River or take a swim in Lake Mead.
Las Vegas LocalThe Strip
This is what you see in the movies and probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Vegas. The Strip is pretty much casino-heaven, so grab those chips and try your luck at places like the Luxor, MGM Grand and Treasure Island. If your gambling is getting a little out of control, take a break and head to the Guinness World Records Museum or hit up Madame Tussauds for some less odds-focused entertainment. Be warned though, even the airport has slot machines, so don’t expect to be able to hide from it anywhere in this city.
If you feel like getting more value out of your holiday romance, don’t forget to head to the famous Little White Chapel (where crazies like Britney and Sinatra got hitched). Even if you don’t decide to tie the knot yourself, it’s a guaranteed good time to watch semi-coherent revellers promise eternity to one another.
This area is away from the buzz of The Strip, but just as enjoyable. Get over to Ethel’s Chocolates, take the factory tour and then buy in bulk. This chocolate is truly worth the calories, so indulge. The plant is also home to the Ethel M Botanical Cactus Gardens and an M&M’s World (don’t forget to buy stacks of cocoa-pleasures there, too).
Once you’re done scoffing choccies, head to the Galleria on Sunset, one of Nevada’s biggest and most attractive malls (it’s got fountains and other pretty things). You’re sure to spend quite some time in here so make sure you take a break, have a bite to eat at one of the restaurants and remember to wear sensible shoes.
This was the place to gamble before The Strip came along. Here you’ll find Fremont Street (the second most important street in the city), more bright casinos and the renowned Fremont Street Experience, a massive array of entertainment that draws in thousands.
If you’ve had your fill of bright lights, head on over to the Arts District, where you’ll find unique stores, galleries and quirky eateries. This district is home to the Arts Factory, Trifecta Gallery and the Brett Wesley Art Gallery, all of which house incredible exhibits. Plus, if you’re a bit of a vintage queen (or king), make sure you check out the biggest vintage clothing store in the world, The Attic, and the Red Rooster Antique Mall.
Las Vegas Eat & Drink
Pasta Pirate This kookily named eatery looks kinda lame and tacky but the food is pretty damn spectacular.
Diablo’s Cantina Diablo’s is part Mexican eatery and part nightclub. Grab a Baja sandwich and a frozen margarita. Yum!
Mr Lucky’s 24-7 This place ain’t fancy but hey, it’s open 24 hours. If you’re craving a big, juicy burger at 4am, you know where to come. Eastside
Olives This elegant venue is a stark contrast to the trashiness outside. Pair one of their famous brick oven pizzas with a nice, rich red.
XS A huge amount of thought and effort has gone into this spectacular-looking club, so try not to be sick anywhere.
Craftsteak This steakhouse is one of the most famous in the country and with good reason. FYI: the Wagyu beef course is to die for.
DJT Trust Mr Trump to come up with gold dishes, velvet walls and marble arches. Enjoy fine American cuisine with a top glass of wine.
PURE Everything is doused in pearlescent white and looks just plain cool. Young Hollywood loves to get their drink on here.
TAO This luxe oasis of a club doesn’t even look like it belongs in the city. Enjoy an expensive cocktail while you scope the talent.
LAX Big celebs and big DJs come here to party till dawn. Make sure you dress well or you’ll be denied in a heartbeat.
Las Vegas Events
Want to see some (faux) celebs? Catch the Reel Awards and the Celebrities Impersonators Convention in late February. Rub shoulders with ‘greats’ like Dave Letterman, Arnie Schwarzenegger and Marilyn Monroe. It’s odd but cool. (And if you can’t make Vegas in Feb, come at any time of year and head to the Elvis Chapel where jumpsuit-wearing celebrants are getter tender-loving couples to say ‘I do’.)
The beginning of May welcomes The Mini Moto SX, the biggest mini-bike race in the world. The race itself always manages to attract big crowds, as do the other sideshows and cool stunts.
June brings one of the creepiest conventions known to man: the Vegas Ventriloquist Convention. You’ll be treated to workshops, discussions and shows on ventriloquism.
Trekkies, unite! One of the world’s most famous and biggest conventions, the Star Trek Convention, takes over Vegas in early to mid-August. If you’re a fan, you’ll be in heaven and if you’re not, loiter around The Rio Suites Hotel for some comedy gold.
NYE in Vegas is legendary. Tonnes of celebs pile into the city every single year to host some of the most epic parties at various casinos and clubs. You need to check info closer to the dates to see who’ll be where, but rest assured, there will be a party hosted by someone you will wanna party with. If clubs aren’t your thing, the streets go just as crazy and the fireworks and buzz will keep you just as happy.
P.S. Don’t forget the plethora of shows, concerts and musicals that are on every single night at various casinos, hotels and venues across Vegas. Cirque du Soleil is the hottest ticket in town –a suitably surreal show to complement a surreal holiday!
When To Go
The heat is intense during June to September and can exceed 40°C (104°F), so if you’re not a fan of the heat you might like to skip summer in Las Vegas. Having said that, almost every hotel has a lavish pool (not to mention superb air-con), so why not just embrace it and make it a pool party?
Spring and autumn are still sunny but with much more comfortable temperatures of around 22-29°C (72-84°F), so head over anytime during these months.
Winter is very mild in Vegas and the crowds dissipate a little, which means you can grab some excellent package deals around this time. The only downfall is that all the great pool parties such as Rehab in The Hard Rock Café are closed.
What To Miss
It’s all fun and games, but there’s nothing light-hearted about how seriously the games dealers and security take their jobs. Don’t joke about cheating, keep your hands off the table and don’t try and take any photos while the game’s in progress. Hotel and casino security is tight and you’ll be thrown off a table faster than you can say ‘blackjack’ if you step out of line.
Keep an eye on how much you’re drinking and spending. The casinos are not only windowless, but have oxygen pumped in to keep people alert, awake and spending for longer. Add to this the fact that if you’re at a cards table or slot machine you’ll be delivered an endless supply of free drinks, and you can easily find yourself penniless and trashed at 5am when you’d only intended to step out for a quick game of craps at 7pm. Two days earlier.
Las Vegas has a zero-tolerance policy on drugs, so hold off on committing that particular sin in this city of sin.
The CAT buses are not only cheap as chips, but most of them also run 24 hours a day, so they’re your best bet for getting around.
If you want something fun, there are plenty of scooter rental places scattered around, but remember that drunk-driving laws apply to you, too.
Walking the strip is a must to properly take in all there is to see. You’ll get a better idea of the vastness of this city when you’re on foot, dwarfed by glittering buildings.a
Las Vegas Information
The shiny desert oasis we know today as Sin City and the Entertainment Capital of the World has modest roots. As a new railroad town in 1905, Las Vegas was for decades just a rest stop for military convoys and migrant workers on the way to California. The tide began to shift however, with the dedication of the Hoover Dam in 1936. Tourists began to visit the area for the first time. The subsequent decision to legalize gambling in the state of Nevada altered the fortunes of Las Vegas forever.
From the moment Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel’s Flamingo Hotel inaugurated the now-iconic Las Vegas Strip on December 26, 1946, the former desert stopover has become the fastest-growing city in America. Now at 1.8 million people strong, the bright lights of Las Vegas, visible from space, serve as a beacon to tourists from all over the world.
The Sin City reputation Las Vegas has today is little more than a nostalgic nod to a seedy era when brothels, bars and rough and tumble casinos were the only game in town. Thanks to a miraculous transformation that took Herculean efforts to complete, today Las Vegas is synonymous with mainstream family appeal. While the city offers all the nefarious pleasures of yore, a once seamy veneer has been scoured into an antiseptic, squeaky-clean, Disneyland gloss.
The action takes place on the Las Vegas Strip of course, where behemoth amusement park casinos jostle for space. No longer sole purveyors of slot machines, blackjack and baccarat, these veritable super-resorts now offer the very best in entertainment, leisure and cuisine.
Hotel casinos like the Wynn, The Venetian, Bellagio, MGM Grand and Luxor comprise the main attractions in town. The resorts offer requisite casino games of course but over time, the ante in Vegas has gone up considerably. In order to pass muster as family destinations, additional features such as rides, fountain and light shows, fireworks displays and even exotic animal exhibits have now become paradigm.
For world class entertainment and restaurants, Las Vegas is impossible to beat. Cirque de Soleil has no less than five permanent shows on the Strip. From O and Zumanity, to Love, a creative tribute to The Beatles, the circus with a twist is the most popular ticket in town. Other top draws in Vegas include Blue Man Group, Broadway shows The Phantom of the Opera and Mamma Mia! and believe it or not, Guggenheim Museum.
The bedrock association Las Vegas once had with "early bird" buffet dinner specials is gone. The allure of resort and casino sweetheart deals has been impossible for celebrity chefs to ignore. No culinary empire today is complete without a haunt in Las Vegas and as a result, Alain Ducasse, Joël Robuchon, Mario Batali and Thomas Keller all have restaurants in Sin City.
More Info On Events
Las Vegas is so rife with choice that mere contemplation on how to spend a day can propel you into a catatonic state. The 4 mile Strip alone is dense with casinos, concert halls, nightclubs and resorts that solicit your attention.
There is however, life outside the Strip. You can tee it up at a championship golf course for one. Las Vegas is a major golf destination, with myriad clubs and resorts and a PGA tournament every Fall.
The home of tennis legend Andre Agassi, the city also hosts the Tennis Channel Open every February.
NASCAR comes to town every March with one of the most popular races on the annual calendar at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is only 15 miles west of the city but feels a world away from the neon glare of the Strip. With a flood of recreational options on hand, superb vistas of Nevada landscape and caves with Native petroglyphs, the park is a wonderful escape from the casinos.
Within the Mojave Desert, the general climate in Las Vegas is dry and hot. Winters are mild and see the majority of rainfall, from January and March.
- Winter (November to February) 2.5-19°C
- Spring (March to May) 8-31°C
- Summer (June to August) 22-39°C
- Fall (September to October) 13.5-34°C
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