Travel to Las Vegas?
This is without question the gambling mecca of the world, with the biggest, wackiest
casinos and brightest lights you've ever seen, the epitome of glitz.
It's a city of illusion where you can see the world without the risk of actually going there, courtesy of multi-million
dollar replicas, see some free shows, and it's the quickest
place to get married if you're American.
Vegas offers great cuisine, excellent assorted nightlife and varied
shows from world class performers, though prices are no longer low.
And, unlike the old reputation modern Las Vegas is safe and sanitized, even if it is commercial and tacky.
Lastly, the area surrounding Vegas offers some wonderful natural sights and recreation areas, including Lake Mead, the Grand Canyon and Red Rock Canyon.
• If you dislike gambling, glitz or sidewalks full of slow-moving gawpers, then you'll hate it - outdoor lovers should stay away.
• The Strip is overloaded with gambling oriented places and very
short of useful little cool drink or coffee establishments as you
stagger from sight to sight, dying of thirst. Now, I wonder where the drinks are...
Las Vegas certainly has not shortage of sunshine, with an average of 300 sunny days a year, so temperature is the decisive factor for visitors.
Anytime is fine, of course, if you plan to stay mostly indoors and gamble, but spring (March-May) is the best season to see the desert in
bloom and experience cooler, more comfortable temperatures, especially if you're planning to visit some of the dramatic attractions outside Vegas. October is another month with pleasant temperatures ranging from highs of 81F (27) to lows of 55F (13C).
Worst: June-September gets very crowded and is too hot to walk much between the interesting sights, with average highs of over 100F (38C). December-February can get chilly in the evening/night with average lows of 36F (2C), though daytime temperatures are up around 57F (14C).
of stay not including flights
Minimum worthwhile: a couple of days to absorb the spectacular exteriors, see some shows - free or not,
or throw your savings down the pan.
Recommended: 5 days for sights, gambling
and shows at a relaxed pace, with at least 2 days exploring the desert surroundings including Grand
Canyon and much more.
Casinos look absolutely magnificent at
night as free shows, bright lights, lasers, parks and water features
combine with architectural themes to dazzle the potential punters.
of the best casino themes along The Strip:
The Paris (French sights); Bellagio (Tuscan village and lake); Caesar's Palace (Roman splendour); The Venetian (Venice
sights including the Doge's Palace, the Grand Canal and gondolas); Circus Circus (performances in the
Fremont Street Experience: Part futuristic mall, part urban theater, after dark the canopy
of the 5 block street becomes a vast, overhead audio-visual feast
powered by a 540,000 watt sound system and 12.5 million LEDs, showing
different, specially made events - and all for free.
Stratosphere Tower, along with the world's highest roller coaster and
the world's largest public wine collection of 65,000 bottles at
Things to do
apart from gambling
the amazing exteriors by day and night. e.g. Luxor's pyramid and
sphinx, New York New York (with
added roller coaster), the Venetian's beautifully
crafted Venice and so on, though most have disappointingly mundane
slot machine interiors.
Shows: pay shows, a
stunning collection to satisfy all tastes, rock to schlock, magic
to tragic, 3D to kiddy. Only the best and easy to access, but premium
prices these days since plenty of tourists go to Vegas these days for the entertainment alone.
Free shows: the
dancing Bellagio fountains, Treasure Island's pirate spectacular,
erupting volcanoes and more. Crowded of course, but fun and free. Don't miss downtown Vegas' otherworldly and free Fremont Street Experience.
hitched here is fast and could be entertaining. There are many chapels
and ceremonies to choose from, many Elvis themed.
are 33 golf courses within 10 miles of The Strip.
Red Rock Canyon, Lake Mead or head for the big
ones, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce (see below).
Also check out this article about Things to Do in Vegas Other Than Play Poker!
Red Rock Canyon** a popular hiking and biking area just 20 miles from Vegas, with 30 miles of hiking trails, a 13 mile scenic drive and lots of excellent rock climbing opportunities ranging from kiddie climbs to super-pro faces. Note that it will usually be hot so start early and prepare for heat.
Hoover Dam** a
vast dam was needed to water and power Las Vegas; the 1935 build date gave
this structure a great Art Deco style. The dam is 30 miles from Vegas and welcomes visitors.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area** a monster lake (550 miles of shore) for kayaking, boating, fishing, cycling, horse back riding and swimming (tho' no life guards are on duty and it's deep!). Many campgrounds, lodges, marinas, restaurants and so on are available to help you spend your dollars. It's 35 miles from Las Vegas. The Valley
of Fire State Park north of the lake offers strangely eroded fiery rocks
as the sun goes down and is also great for hikes or scenic drives.
Canyon*** adjacent to the Grand Canyon's North Rim but more varied, Zion Canyon is cool and a lot easier to
hike horizontally in splendour. It's 163 miles from Vegas.
Canyon*** the earth's greatest crack is an awe-inspiring must-see 250 miles away (a scenic 4.5 hour drive away via the Hoover Dam). The best hikes head steeply down the Bright Angel Trail (3 miles each way; 5-8 hours depending on fitness and gear carried) so a full hike is not an option on a day trip, but there are some shorter hikes available. The views are incredible.
Bus tours go to the South Rim and usually take about 12 hours, with three hours at the canyon. Helicopter tours fly from the less popular West Rim and last from 1-3 hours. The Canyon Glass Skywalk is on the West Rim.
Museums and Galleries: Vegas is itself an outdoor museum of American Popular Culture but if you need something more official try the Imperial
Palace Auto Museum (famous vehicles); the dazzling Liberace Museum and Elvis-A-Rama
(bigtime memorabilia). Sadly several major art galleries (such as a Guggenheim) have closed due to the recession.
And don't forget to appreciate the original and extraordinary neon art of the city, where kitsch is cool!
If your winnings are huge you could head for the extravagant Picasso Restaurant in the Bellaggio to eat mediocre cuisine under a mass of genuine Picassos.
a great, varied choice of international foodstuffs throughout the
city, from Thai
to French to Fusion to classic Southwestern American.
Casino food varies from reasonable get stuffed buffets (e.g. the
Rio's Carnival World Buffet offers Thai, Mexican and sushi) to full
on mega expensive swank for the high rollers e.g. the Picasso, above.
Go budget, win luxury: Should you want to travel on a budget there are various low-cost options available to save on air fare, accommodation and trips or excursions. Shopping around ensures you'll get the best deal and where there is a bargain to be found adventure can always be found. If relaxing in the lap of luxury with more comforts than home can provide is your style, play for a luxury getaway in a bingo chat room. Sometimes a great holiday is all about relaxation and catching up on 'me' time.
Gambling: everywhere! You need to be 18 to
get into a casino and 21 to actually bet (as with drinking alcohol).
Live Music: lounge lizards will love
the extensive choice of big name performers, but not the prices.
is no longer a cheap place to eat fine food or see a great show
for peanuts. Prices are similar to any big city.
Magic: as well
as making your money disappear the world's best acts put on spectacular
magic shows of all kinds here.
colourful, incredible stunts from Cirque du Soleil (who have at least 6 shows running simulataneously) etc etc.
Trivia: 70% of cars stolen every weekend in states around Las Vegas are found in self-proclaimed Sin City on Monday morning.
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A little advice...
comfortable shoes, you'll be doing a lot of walking. The frontage
of the Bellagio alone takes five minutes to walk.
Learn the gambling ropes beforehand. e.g. Blackjack dealers don't
respond to verbal commands, only hand signals.
Stay in the centre of the Strip (aka Las Vegas Boulevard) if possible,
it's a long street.
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