Las Vegas Pictures, Nevada, USA

Las Vegas Strip at speed, Nevada, USA

Las Vegas Strip at speed. Photo by Marco Verch

How to Visit Las Vegas

The new millennium Las Vegas is just as much about extracting dollars through high-grade entertainment, dining, clubs, boutique hotels, art and fashion as through the roulette wheel or one-arm bandit. Sin City nightlife dazzles until dawn while the mega-star shows are world class and range from humour to hard rock to magic to schmaltz. This all comes at a price of course.

Bellagio Casino and Hotel at night, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Bellagio Casino and Hotel. Photo by Photographersnature

Luxor Hotel and Casino pyramid, sphinx and avenue of rams in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Luxor Hotel and Casino pyramid, sphinx and avenue of rams. The originals are in Egypt in case you were wondering, though you wouldn’t recognise the sphinx as the Las Vegas version he has had a reconstructed nose a la Michael Jackson. Photo by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta

Tutankamun

And inside Luxor Casino there’s Tutankamun’s tomb and sarcophogus, in pretty good shape considering they’re several thousand years old. Photo by Gryffindor.

The Main Free Attractions in Vegas

A grren and colorful atrium in Wynn

Wynn’s Hotel central atrium has taken a different approach to design, choosing bright modern themes over ancient replicas. Photo by Jim G.

Walk around the amazing casino exteriors by day, such as 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.

Casinos look even better at night as free shows, bright lights, lasers, parks and water features combine with architectural themes to dazzle the potential punters.
Free night shows: the dancing Bellagio fountains, Treasure Island’s pirate spectacular, erupting volcanoes and more. Crowded of course, but fun and free.

Some of the best casino themes along The Strip: The Paris (French sights); Bellagio (Tuscan village and lake with dancing fountains after sunset); Caesar’s Palace (Roman splendour); The Venetian (Venice sights including the Doge’s Palace, the Grand Canal, Piazza San Marco dining and actual gondolas poling around); Circus Circus (performances in the big top)

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.

Things to do in Las Vegas other than gambling or gazing in awe at stuff

The Stratosphere Tower, along with the world’s highest roller coaster and the world’s largest public wine collection of 65, 000 bottles at the Rio.

Shows: pay shows and spectaculars, there’s a stunning collection to satisfy all tastes, rock to schlock, magic to tragic, 3D to kiddy. Only the best are seen here and they’re quite easy to access, but charge premium prices these days since many tourists go to Vegas these days for the entertainment alone.

Marriage: getting hitched here is fast and could be entertaining. There are many chapels and ceremonies to choose from, many Elvis themed.

Golf: there are 33 golf courses within 10 miles of The Strip.

The expansive Caesar

Caesar’s Palace lobby. Photo by Dirk

The trick to low-cost tourism in Las Vegas is to enjoy the amazing exteriors by day and night, to avoid the generally crass interiors and to find the free shows that casinos use to drag the punters in their direction.

More extreme Las Vegas architecture

Las Vegas Boulevard in daytime, The Strip, New York, New York, Nevada, USA

The Strip – actually named Las Vegas Boulevard – featuring New York, New York hotel/casino and a distant Eiffel Tower.

Las Vegas, The Venetian casino

The quite convincing Venice replica at The Venetian with a popular courtyard in the centre that bears some resemblance to Piazza San Marco.

Caesar

Caesar’s Palace Trevi Fountain replica. All it needs to convince passers-by that this is the real Roman thing is vast crowds of tourists taking selfies and throwing coins into the water. Photo by Amadscientist.

New seriously modernist luxury shops awaiting high rollers in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

New seriously modernist luxury shops awaiting Caesar and other high rollers to Limo by.

Nightime in Las Vegas

Helicopter Night view of Las Vegas

The Strip seen from helicopter by Chensiyuan.

Fremont Street

Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas, USA

Fremont Street Experience. Photo by Jean Christophe Benoist.

The Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas, another dazzling example of Vegas creativity, a shopping mall with a canopy that is 90 ft (27 m) high and four blocks long (1, 500 ft (460 m) and regularly projects extraordinary concerts and light shows to drag the tourists away from the uptown nightime attractions such as. . . .

Bellagio

Bellagio dancing fountains, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Bellagio dancing fountains, Las Vegas, Nevada.

The extravagant and extremely upmarket Bellagio hotel/casino presents one of Las Vegas’ best free shows, a series of dancing fountains synchronized to music and happening every 30 mins from midday to 8pm, then every 15 minutes till midnight, though not if the wind is blowing. The fountains cost $75m to build.

Mirage

Mirage hotel and casino waterfall, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

The Mirage. Photo by King of Hearts.

The Mirage, one of Vegas’ best hotel/casinos with plenty of attractions, including a permanent Cirque du Soleil show, the waterfall pictured that later explodes into a fiery volcano on the hour between 5pm – 11pm, and a spectacular ‘rainforest’ lobby.

Treasure island

Treasure Island pirate show, Las Vegas, Nevada, SW USA

Treasure Island’s pirate ships free show.

Treasure Island, (also known as ‘TI’), next door to the Mirage, stages a big show nightly (weather permitting); this was Buccaneer Bay (now replaced by equally lavish but more adult ‘Siren’s of TI’, every 1. 5 hours from 5. 30pm {winter only} to 11. 30pm {summer only}). A dramatic and expansive attraction but sadly the actual casino is typically disappointing, with a desperately styless, slot-machine-overdose interior. However, TI does run one of Las Vegas’ most highly acclaimed shows, Cirque du Soleil’s (them again) Mystere.

Statue of nouveaux riches in Harrah

We’re not sure if this statue in Harrah’s Hotel and Casino is of the people they’re trying to attract or an optimistic representation of nouveaux-riches visitors leaving their establishment with riches untold.

Las Vegas is also an excellent jumping-off point for a trip around the Grand Circle of SW USA’s sensational National Parks. Hire a car, Harley or RV there (or a limo if you have had a lucrative visit! ) and do a two or three week loop, starting with Zion Canyon and ending with the Grand Canyon, or vice versa. We did it (in a RV) and it was the best road trip ever, bar none.