First Impression: The phrase, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” was coined for a reason in this epicenter of extravagant human consumption. This fantasy-land brings out the adventurous spirit in everyone. It’s dazzling with glitz, glamour, flashing neon lights, celebrities, brilliantly architected hotels, trendy nightclubs, a variety of stage shows, high-rolling casinos, thrilling outdoor adventures, and of course, tributes to the King, Elvis Presley, and ole blue eyes, Frank Sinatra with his Rat Pack buddies. There are also plenty of family-fun theme parks and thrill rides, exquisite shopping, gourmet dining, awe-inspiring geological views and legendary landmarks. The famous Strip of Sin City lives up to its reputation with extraordinary adventures that allow you to savor every memorable moment. You could easily spend two weeks in Vegas and still not see everything it has to offer.
Weather: Visitors flock to Vegas at all times of the year for its temperate climate and year-round sunshine. Based on a 30-year average provided by the City of Las Vegas, the annual sunshine is an incredible 294 days per year, the average minimum temperature is 56.3 Fahrenheit (F) and the average maximum temperature is 79.9 F. It is near the desert, so humidity is low, especially around winter, when it can get dry and chillier than you might expect at night, especially between October and early April. If you’re used to higher humidity, make sure to bring and use hand lotion often so your skin doesn’t get dry and crack. Some lip balm and moisturizing nasal gel to keep passages from drying out aren’t a bad idea either. In the higher heat of the summer months, be sure to stay hydrated—bring a bottle of water with you everywhere—and wear sunscreen, a hat if needed and shades to protect your eyes. Overall, it’s the year-round weather, as well as the action, that draws return visitors on average twice per year, especially avid golfers, high rollers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Transportation: There are numerous ways to get around The Strip, including, by foot, cab, bus transit, shuttle or the Las Vegas Monorail, which covers the 4-mile route in about 14 minutes and offers unlimited day, multi-day and share passes. If you’re not up for a scary-fast ride in a cab from McCarran International Airport, the black car and limo rentals offer a more peaceful and comfortable ride, and at a rather fair rate as each competes for the business—unless, of course, your hotel offers airport shuttle service. Fare from the airport is dependent on traffic and runs on average between $8-$20 U.S. dollars. There is no need to call a cab either; just wait in the designated area for your turn as they keep drive up. Expect longer waits during busier times. Many visitors prefer to walk The Strip, though going from one end to the other is quite tiring and usually results in a quick cab ride back to your hotel, so put aside some extra cab money just in case. All hotels have cab areas for patrons. If you walk, be sure to only use designated crossing walks and pedestrian bridges; The Strip is one of the busiest boulevards in the U.S. Many Las Vegas hotels offer shuttles to various points of interest; check the hotel websites for service to see if your hotel is a stop on the Monorail route. The easiest way to take on the town—other than comfy shoes and a Red Bull—and enjoy some day trips outside of Vegas is to rent a car so you can come and go as you please, and enjoy the many splendors of outlying areas.
Shopping: Shopping in Vegas is a sure bet for anyone, whether your pocketbook is busting with jackpot winnings or slimmed down on a fixed budget. You can find everything from malls, upscale stores, boutiques, elite shopping centers, hotel plazas and premium outlets with slashed prices. In fact, the variety and opportunities are so grand, a visit to Vegas is incomplete without a day or two of some serious retail therapy. There are the upscale stores that wind Lake Bellagio at the Bellagio Hotel, where you can gaze at Tiffany & Co. jewels or pick up a new Chanel bag, then grab a gourmet bite to eat. The flagship store of the national Bass Pro Shops chain can be found at the Silverton Casino-Lodge. The 165,000-square-foot facility has become its own attraction and carries everything a sportsman or -woman could ever want. If you’re looking for designer pieces at bargain prices, The Las Vegas Premium Outlets in downtown Las Vegas has more than 120 outlet stores offering savings up to 65 percent off retail prices. If you’re more into antiques, vintage items and collectibles, Antique Row stretches 10 blocks down Charleston to Maryland Parkway. The Funk House also features vintage memorabilia and new art by local artists. Just one block from The Strip, the Las Vegas Antique & Gift Mall specializes in American, European, Asian, and mid-century modern art, as well as art-deco and Victorian pieces. The Antique Mall of America, a giant 43,000-square-foot facility, is filled with antiques, including collectible items and gifts such as art, jewelry, accessories, furniture, home decor, and china. You can also grab a shuttle to the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas at Primm, a 45-minute ride outside Vegas, to hit some 100-plus shops ranging from outlet to high-end retail shops. For a great day outdoors, stroll down the cobblestone sidewalks and tree-lined streets of the District of Green Valley Ranch, which hosts 40-plus specialty retail stores and restaurants for a charming day of indulgence. Historical buffs should also check out Mel Fisher’s Treasures, which displays cargo salvaged from a Spanish galleon that sunk off the coast of Florida nearly 400 years ago. Whatever your desire, you’re sure to find it all in Vegas. Just make sure to leave room in your suitcase.
Gambling Trivia: Slot machines were originally created to be a diversion for female companions of the men busy playing at the tables. In Nevada, it’s mandatory that video slot machines pay a minimum of 75 percent on average, though slots typically earn 60% or more of a casino’s earnings. The minimum age to gamble is 21, no exceptions. Out of nearly 40 million visitors who come on average twice per year, 89% gamble with an average budget of $500. Hotel security is always on the lookout for photography and video of casino machines and tables—a big no-no—and will quickly remove persons doing so. It’s best to leave your electronic filming devices at your hotel.
Nightlife: Sin City’s nightlife is legendary and never-ending. The pulse of the city and The Strip rises the second the sun starts setting. Jazz up your evenings with an eclectic mix of the trendiest bars, high-energy dance clubs, cabarets, wine bars with live music, laid-back pubs, dinner theaters, dazzling stage shows and entertainment complexes. Expect some long lines at the most popular nightclubs and some celebrity spotting, given many are a hot spot for the elite. In fact, at some places, if you don’t have a pass or know someone, you may not make it in. But there’s more than enough to do to get your fill for the evening. You best bet is to get to high-profile places extra early. TAO Nightclub at the Venetian is one such place, and a popular celebrity spot that often gets reserved out for special occasions by the elite. The successful owners of TAO also opened Lavo at the Palazzo and the Marquee at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, both carrying the same cachet, but each with its own ingenuity and personality. The Marquee features three different rooms, each with its own style of musical genres to please every interest. You can get a touch of classic Hollywood and modern design at LAX at the Luxor. At the swanky Palms Casino Resort, you can dance under flashing lights amid a futuristic setting at the Rain Las Vegas nightclub or hover over Vegas in the cutting-edge Ghostbar, which boasts an unbelievable view of the glittering Strip and much of the Las Vegas Valley. You can dance some more and socialize amid the trendy 1950’s salon-style The Beauty Bar, or sit on the patio in a VIP coach on the patio, and take in the breathtaking 51-story city view at the hopping VooDoo Lounge of the Rio Hotel. Another dancing hot spot and place to be seen is Body English nightclub at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino that is decorated like a British rock star’s pad with mirrored walls, $250,000 chandeliers, leather booths and black walls. Another great place to be seen is relaxing on leather daybeds in the hip V Bar lounge at the Venetian Hotel. Many local singles hangout here to sit, sip and socialize. Caesars Palace is synonymous with Las Vegas offering several clubs, including Pure, which has been hailed internationally as one of the hottest nightspots on the planet; The Shadow Bar, which features sexy shadow dancers and flair bartenders; and Cleopatra’s Barge, the luxurious floating lounge where you can chill out while being transported back to the time of Julius Caesar. Caesars Palace also offers incredible, legendary headliner productions and several other music and comedy legends in The Colosseum. At many of The Strip’s hotels, you can catch any number of stage shows, comedy acts like Carrot Top, magic shows and performances by legendary singers, as well as tributes to Elvis, and Sinatra and the Rat Pack. The Folies Bergere at The Tropicana Hotel and Casino debuted in 1959 and has been amazing audiences with its cabaret acts ever since. Celebrities also often visit Ivan Duke’s Forty Deuce for the burlesque show or to listen to the DJ inside the Mandalay Bay Casino. Afterward, you can grab a table or a stool at the Mandalay Bay’s Rumjungle where you can grab a late dinner before it turns into a full-on nightclub with platform-top dancing girls and Latin music. You can also catch a variety of acoustics, music venues, Broadway shows, boxing and rock ‘n’ roll shows at a variety of facilities around Las Vegas, like at the Aladdin Hotel or The Mandalay Bay Events Center. Part of Vegas nightlife experience is a late-night breakfast. Local show peoples often gather at Hash House A Go Go, on the west side of town, for the huge platters of specialty breakfast foods and miles of French toast. If it is the morning after and you indulged a little too much, one of their Bloody Marys is said to be the perfect pick-me-upper the morning after. Whether you like it shaken or stirred, or 50-plus stories up, it’s hard not to fall under the magical spell of Vegas nightlife!
Self Indulgence: Grab a quick massage or relaxing treatment after a night out on the town and indulge in high-end exotic treatments at one of Las Vegas’ award-winning spas, with facilities as splashy and lavish as the hotels in which they reside. As one of the most popular spa destinations in the world, Vegas attracts some of the most talented therapists in the world. Some of the most popular luxury spas include the 134,000-square-foot Canyon Ranch Spa at the Venetian Hotel, a 134,000-square-foot haven of relaxation, which features a signature Canyon Ranch Mango Sugar Glo, a body scrub derived from natural sugars, jojoba esters and beta carotene; Qua Baths & Spa Hotel at Caesars Palace, which taps into the healing properties of hot and cold water therapies of Roman baths; Spa Mandalay where the goal is to provide guests the ultimate relaxation experience, an awakening of the senses, and rejuvenation of the mind, body and spirit; Spa Bellagio offers a full complement of therapeutic and rejuvenating facial and body care treatments, and worldy varieties and therapies; The Spa at Mirage offers comfort and service in the European tradition and the latest fitness, health and beauty programs; The Grand Spa at MGM is a full-service spa with an elegant, Asian-inflected realm; Paris Spa by Mandara Las Vegas is where you can experience the art and science of French beauty products at the 26,000-square-foot facility featuring a European spa, salon, two spa boutiques and a fitness center; Oleksandra Spa & Salon at Treasure Island is a sanctuary that offers favorite treatments and massages with their own distinctive flair; and the Spa at Wynn Las Vegas offers a signature treatment based on the five elements of feng shui—health, wealth, prosperity, happiness and harmony, and includes a 50-minute custom massage, heated Thai herbs, a luxurious foot treatment, moisturizing hand therapy and an aromatic scalp treatment. Go ahead…indulge yourself. That’s what amazing getaways are all about!
The Great Outdoors: Outdoor enthusiasts give Vegas a big thumbs up, given its multitude of options for every interest. Las Vegas’s glitzy charm may not last forever, so it’s a good thing that the area boasts canyons, rivers, kayaking, desert cycling, hiking, skiing and loads of outdoor activities that are close at hand. Some popular favorite activates include jumping off the Stratosphere, a 100-story free-fall from a three-legged tower 350 meters above The Strip; early morning or late afternoon hiking in the Valley of Fire, an hour north-east, for a classic south-western experience just like in Hollywood westerns and also features bizarre rock formations, some inscribed with ancient Native American petroglyphs; kayaking the Colorado River, just a 40-minute drive from the Strip and popular day trip for Vegas visitors; taking an awe-inspiring scenic view helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, probably the U.S.’s signature natural attraction and the fastest way to get to the canyon from Vegas, which is 5 hours away by car; golfing at Angel Park, a beloved by locals for its 36 holes designed by pro legend Arnold Palmer, and offering inspiring vistas of the Las Vegas Valley and Red Rock Canyon desert; feeding your need for speed at the Richard Petty Ride-Along, where you can buckle up and feel the real-life adrenaline rush of NASCAR racing; rock climbing or a 13-mile scenic cycling ride at Red Rock Canyon, a technicolor natural conservation area composed of sandstone bluffs, seasonal waterfall oases and desert hiking trails that wind past prime wildlife watching areas; bird watching at The Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, home to thousands of migratory waterfowl as well as numerous resident desert birds; river rafting The Colorado River with Black Canyon Willow Beach River Adventures, which offers a narrated tour that launches from the base of Hoover Dam, and includes geology and history teachings, wildlife and a box lunch in a souvenir cooler; zip lining where the biggest thrills are out of town in the desert terrain of Bootleg Canyon near Boulder City; boating on Lake Mead, the largest man-made lake and oasis in the middle of the desert, just outside of Vegas; skiing and snowboarding near Mount Charleston, an hour’s drive north-west, where The Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort is ideal for beginners and intermediate skiers of all ages; and desert dune-buggy racing with Sun Buggy, which lets you bring along a group of friends for the Mini Baja Chase, a 30-minute race feeling the thrills of flying on downhill descents and roaring up and over sandy hills. Whatever your pleasure, Vegas and its outlying areas can get your adrenaline pumping or soothe your spirit with its many outdoor adventures!
Local Flavor: The Strip and surrounding areas of Vegas are a foodie’s dream come true, with a wide variety of cuisines and celebrity-owned restaurants that read more like a world map. Sin City serves up a diverse menu of restaurants and ethnic cuisines to whet your appetite and help you step outside of your comfort zone with confidence. Buffets are BIG and legendary in Vegas: The Buffet at the Bellagio will satisfy your palate with international selections, while Cravings Buffet at the Mirage offers 11 live cooking stations. Other recommended dining among endless options include sampling all the fare at the Moroccan-themed Sahara’s six stations: seafood, pizza, pasta, Asian, barbecue, omelet and the carving board. It’s well-known around town for its good value and delicious food. At Pietro’s Restaurant on the mezzanine level of The Tropicana, you can dine on fresh pasta served tableside, Pietro’s roasted rack of lamb or the famous Chateaubriand for two, expertly flamed tableside, or a few tasty appetizers such as the Pate de Maison served en croute with a tangy lingonberry sauce or the Escargots a la Bourguignonne in herbed garlic butter. Enjoy a thick steak or fresh catch of the day at Alan Albert’s near the college campus, or take in the unbelievable view that comes with a memorable, award-winning dining experience at Top of the World, located 800 feet above The Strip in the Stratosphere Tower, Hotel & Casino. Indulge in exceptional steaks and a circular caviar and champagne bar at the uber-chic N9NE Steakhouse on The Strip. A popular menu item visitors recommend at the Triple George Grill, a classic seafood and steakhouse, is the broiled salmon Caesar. Grab a hearty burger or sandwich at Carl’s Jr., or try one of the best Kobe or buffalo burgers (as well as other varieties of meat) at the Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay, which also features the spectacular Aureole where critically acclaimed Chef Charlie Palmer has created the ultimate experience in the theatrics of dining out. Also, don’t miss one of Las Vegas’ premier dining destinations, one of New York City’s most historic restaurants, the Old Homestead Steak House in Caesars Palace. If you’re really into BBQ, stop by Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-b-que, in the District of Green Valley Ranch area, and try the tri-tip sandwich, which is Angus beef slow-cooked in barbecue sauce and placed on a potato bun. If you have a hankering for French fare and an extensive wine list, dine at Marche Bacchus, a revered local secret. Diners can also buy their own bottle for a small corking fee from the front-end shop, and choose to sit inside or outside on the shores of the Desert Lakes housing community. The pate, steak tartar, tuna Carpaccio and fresh cheese platters are among the most popular menu items. If sushi is tempting your taste buds, try Sushi Roku in Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops. It’s been seducing diners with its sensual food and cool, trendy décor for years. You’ll also find there Il Mulino, which offers excellent northern Italian dishes paired with exquisite wines and exceptional service. At the Forbes Five-Star awarded TWIST, guests dine amid a whimsical twilight glow from sculptural globe lighting and 20-foot windows with spectacular views of The Strip from the 23rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental, while Chef Pierre Gagnaire’s innovative cooking engages the senses with modern interpretations of traditional French cuisine. You also haven’t quite experienced Vegas without at least one late-night breakfast after clubbing. Many of the show people gather after hours at Hash House A Go Go, on the west side of town, for the huge breakfast platters of specialty breakfast foods, such as Salmon Eggs Benedict and acres of French toast with fresh maple syrup. It’s also said that their Bloody Mary is the perfect pick-me-up the morning after a bit too much indulgence! You can bet that Vegas can satisfy every craving, even those of the most discerning palates and budgets.
Historical Snippets: Vegas emerged from the desert over 100 years ago. It was a sleepy frontier town until gambling was legalized in 1931.The Golden Gate Hotel and Casino opened in 1906, making it the first hotel and casino to open in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 1941, the El Rancho Vegas was the first resort to open on The Strip—across from what is now the Sahara. In 1946, notorious gangster Bugsy Siegel opened The Flamingo Hotel, which he named after his girlfriend Virginia’s long legs. Some say his involvement in the project and possible embezzlement is why he was murdered in 1947 at the Beverly Hills mansion he shared with Virginia. A memorial plaque for Bugsy still stands on the Flamingo grounds today. Many of the first hotels on The Strip opened in the 1950’s such as The Desert Inn, The Sands, The Riviera, The Dunes, Hacienda, Tropicana, Royal Nevada, Moulin Rouge and The Stardust. The famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign was created in 1959 by Betty Willis. The four hotels at the corner of Las Vegas Blvd. and Tropicana (MGM Grand, Tropicana, New York-New York and Excalibur) have more hotel rooms than all of San Francisco, with MGM being the nation’s largest hotel with over 5,000 rooms. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority, Sin City has some 150,000 hotel rooms and nearly 40,000 million visitors per year, 89% of which gamble with an average budget of $500 and return twice per year.