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Famous for being “America’s Playground”, Las Vegas is the place to go for glitzy showbiz events, cavernous casinos, luxury hotels, and endless buffets serving up every kind of food you can think of.
You don’t need to enjoy gambling to have a great time in Vegas. It’s a destination that families can enjoy, thanks to amusement parks like Adventuredome and Adventure Canyon. Golfers will love playing on some of America’s finest courses, while shoppers can lose themselves in the Fashion Show Mall.
Whether you want to immerse yourself in a week of gambling, feel like catching a world-class showbiz event every evening or just want to be pampered in luxury hotels, Las Vegas is the destination for you.
The Strip is home to some of the most visually impressive, exotically designed hotels and casinos in the world. See the Italian-themed Venetian, the Egyptian Luxor, and Paris Las Vegas, complete with a reconstruction of the Eiffel Tower. At night, the neon lights and fountain shows are a can’t-miss.
There’s a reason why Las Vegas is also known as “Sin City” – gambling. The Strip is home to a massive 41 casinos alone, and there are over 170 in the wider Las Vegas area. Try games like blackjack or craps, spend some time at the slots, or place your bets on the roulette wheel.
Las Vegas has one of the world’s highest concentrations of theaters, featuring everything from the Cirque du Soleil (an exotic, wildly imaginative circus group) to major pop stars like Brittney Spears. You can also catch a musical you love, with the constantly changing selection of shows.
You don’t need to be stuck in Sin City. The Nevada desert is just a short drive away. Head to Burning Man Festival in October, enjoy water sports like wakeboarding on Lake Mead, visit the gardens at Las Vegas Springs, or hike through the beautiful canyons of the Mojave Desert.
Las Vegas is also a city of cuisine and cocktails. Whatever you love to eat, you can be sure that the hotels in town can deliver. There are seafood buffets at the Hollywood Galaxy, a luxury buffet at the Wynn, a meat feast at the Cosmopolitan’s Wicked Spoon, and a healthy Italian spread at Aria.
Las Vegas is one of the world’s showbiz capitals. Head to Luxor to watch a magic show, see the bizarre Zombie Burlesque at V Theater, or book tickets for well-known musicals like Rock of Ages or Jersey Boys. Major artists are always coming to town as well, so keep an eye on the schedule at venues like Caesars Palace and Planet Hollywood.
Enjoy an adrenaline rush in between casinos by riding the roller coaster at New York, New York Hotel, taking the rides over the Stratosphere Hotel, or making the death-defying descent in the SkyJump (also at the Stratosphere). Families can also spend the whole day enjoying the 25 rides at Adventuredome, while Wet and Wild (7055 S Fort Apache Rd) is a great refuge from the desert heat.
Even if you aren’t a fan of gambling, the architecture and atmosphere of Las Vegas’ casinos is an impressive experience. If you do enjoy slots, cards, or roulette, casinos like Caesar’s Palace, the Wynn or the Venetian will keep you occupied. As an added bonus, many casinos also offer free drinks.
Las Vegas may be a desert city, but it has a huge variety of golf courses within easy reach of the Strip. Test your game against challenging courses like Wynn Country Club, Shadow Creek, Cascata, or Bali Hai. They aren’t just high-quality courses – with green fees as low as $20, they are also very affordable.
Sometimes you can get too much of a good thing. When the bright lights become too dazzling, head to Las Vegas Springs Preserve on US-95 where the botanical gardens are filled with colorful flowers and spiky cacti. It’s a wonderful place to relax.
The best times to visit Las Vegas are just before the height of summer and immediately afterwards. If you schedule a trip between March and June or September and November, you should experience warm weather without the intense heat of July and August. The city is also a great place to be for New Year’s, although you’ll need to book well in advance if you plan to stay at a hotel in the city center.
Flying is the easiest way to reach Las Vegas. McCarran Airport links the city to most major American cities and is just 5 miles south of the city center. The best way to get from the airport to town is by taking the RTC City bus from Terminals 1 or 3 ($2). To get to hotels on the north strip, take the Centennial Express. The Westcliff Airport Express is the best option for anyone staying at the MGM Grand, while the route 108 bus stops outside the Las Vegas Hilton (LVH). You can also take shuttle buses to specific hotels ($9 one way).
There’s no Amtrak station in Las Vegas itself. If you want to travel by train, the best option is to get off at Kingman, Arizona, which is less than an hour by rental car to Las Vegas. Amtrak’s Southwest Chief service stops at Kingman and connects the town to Los Angeles and Chicago.
The busiest road into Las Vegas is Interstate 15, which connects the city with Los Angeles. If you come from the west at peak times (particularly Friday evening), leave an extra hour to get into town as I-15 can get pretty busy. The route also passes through some of the hottest desert in the USA, so take plenty of water and rest up before traveling. From the east, I-40 links Las Vegas to Arizona and beyond.
The following bus companies run services into Las Vegas:
Greyhound – Stops at Las Vegas Bus Station and runs services from Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Kingman and Phoenix.
LuxBus – Links Las Vegas to San Diego, Anaheim and Los Angeles.
Megabus – Stops at the South Strip Transfer Terminal and provides connections to Los Angeles and Riverside.
The majority of visitors to Las Vegas stay on the Strip, a 4-mile long collection of hotels and casinos. Technically, it’s not in Las Vegas, lying just to the south, but as far as most travelers are concerned, it’s the place to be. Popular hotels on the Strip include Aria (3730 Las Vegas Blvd), Casino Royale (3411 South Las Vegas Blvd) and Flamingo (3555 Las Vegas Blvd S). For a luxury option that doesn’t include a casino on-site, you might try the Mandarin Oriental (3752 S Las Vegas Blvd) while the Four Seasons at Mandalay Bay is another great high-end choice (3960 Las Vegas Blvd S). For families and showbiz fans, the MGM Grand (3799 Las Vegas Blvd S) is another great hotel. Be aware that many of the hotels on the Strip will add a “resort charge” on top of the basic fee (often around $15).
The Strip – Las Vegas Boulevard is the place to head to for casinos and entertainment. It’s also one of the world’s great light-shows, with a dazzling collection of illuminated signs and outlandish architectural sights like the Venetian (which emulates 18th century Venice) and Luxor (which has an exotic Egyptian theme). Entertainment-wise, the Strip hosts circuses at Treasure Island and medieval knight tournaments at Excalibur Hotel, while amusement parks like Adventuredome will keep families busy all-day-long.
Downtown Las Vegas – Clustered around Fremont Street, Downtown is another glitzy part of Vegas that is crammed with neon signs and tourist attractions. This is the place to lay your money down at casinos like the Plaza or Four Queens, but there’s much more than gaming on offer. The Mob Museum provides a window into the city’s past, while The Smith Center is Las Vegas’ newest cultural hub, hosting classical concerts, jazz, and vocal artists in a wide variety of genres.
Paradise Road – Located in eastern Las Vegas, Paradise Road borders the University District, and it has a more relaxed vibe than other parts of town. It has some excellent hotels like the Hard Rock Hotel and is also home to many of the city’s finest night clubs. Check out Piranha or Rehab at the Hard Rock for great spots to dance the night away. Paradise Road also tends to be cheaper than the rest of town, and with superb restaurants like Gordon Biersch or Ferraro’s to enjoy, it’s a good place for families and budget travelers to stay.
Las Vegas has a reliable and (more importantly) air-conditioned bus network that visitors can use to get to any of the casinos or theaters in the center of town. Buses are also cheap, with a $2 single fare ($1 for children and seniors). However, this rate applies to residential routes only, so you may need to walk for 10 minutes to reach the Strip. To get there more directly, you can take the SDX or Deuce, a London-style double-decker bus, which costs $6. Tickets need to be purchased from vending machines before boarding. Passes are also available. A day pass that includes the Deuce costs $7, making it an economical option if you plan to make more than one bus journey throughout the day.
Taxis are an excellent transportation option in Vegas, as they are an affordable way to get around. However, don’t expect to get from A to B quickly on the Strip due to congestion and crowds. Walking is a better bet for short journeys in the city center. Standard rates are $3.30 as a base charge, then $2.40 per mile. You can get cheaper rates with Uber, who charge $2.40 as a base charge, then $1.85 per mile after that.
Renting a car makes sense in Las Vegas if you are staying in suburban hotels or plan to head to attractions in the desert like Lake Mead. It’s also handy for golfers. All of the major car rental agencies are represented at McCarran Airport, including Enterprise, Budget and Avis, and rates are usually around $25 per day. Unfortunately, the cost of parking has started to rise. It used to be free to park at major hotels like the Aria or Bellagio. Now, these hotels have started to charge motorists a small fee ($10 per 24 hours at the MGM Grand, for example).
In general, Las Vegas has a low cost of living compared with other American cities like New York or Boston. Expect to pay around $2.50 for 12 eggs, $12 for a good bottle of wine and $40 for a pair of jeans. It’s also a great place to shop. The Strip is the best place to head for boutiques, chains and discount outlets. There are two major malls, Town Square (6611 S Las Vegas Blvd) and Fashion Show Mall (3200 S Las Vegas Blvd). Bargain hunters will want to head to Downtown’s Las Vegas Premium Outlets (875 South Grand Central Parkway).
Shopping for groceries can be a problem on the Strip and Downtown, where there are very few supermarkets and the stores in hotels charge high prices. If you want to shop for everyday groceries, there are a number of Walgreens on the strip, but the best bet is probably to head to Albertson’s (1300 E Flamingo Rd). You could also catch bus number 201 from Tropicana Avenue, which stops at a Walmart a couple of miles away.
Las Vegas has a massive collection of restaurants serving every imaginable cuisine. For a high-class, high-value French buffet, Le Village Buffet is an excellent choice (3131 Las Vegas Blvd S), while you can fill up on seafood at Village Seafood (3700 W Flamingo Rd). Craftsteak in the MGM Grand is rated as one of America’s best steakhouses, while Mr. Lucky's 24-7 is a fun rock and roll-themed diner at the Hard Rock Hotel, and the Bellagio is home to Olives, one of the city’s best Italian eateries. On Paradise Road, ENVY serves up great steaks (3400 Paradise Rd) and Ferraro’s is an excellent place for Italian (4480 Paradise Rd).