Las Vegas is the most populous city in Nevada, the seat of Clark County, and an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping and fine dining. Las Vegas, which bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, is famous for the number of casino resorts and associated entertainment. A growing retirement and family city, it is the 28th most populous city in the United States with an estimated population by the U.S. Census Bureau of 558,383 as of 2008. The estimated population of the Las Vegas metropolitan area as of 2008, was 1,865,746.
Established in 1905, Las Vegas officially became a city in 1911. With the growth that followed, at the close of the century Las Vegas was the most populous American city founded in the 20th century (a distinction held by Chicago in the 19th century). The city's tolerance for various forms of adult entertainment earned it the title of Sin City, and this image has made Las Vegas a popular setting for films and television programs. On the other hand, Las Vegas also has the highest number of churches per capita of any major U.S. city. Outdoor lighting displays are everywhere on the Las Vegas Strip and are seen elsewhere in the city as well. As seen from space, the Las Vegas metropolitan area is the brightest city on Earth.
The name Las Vegas is often applied to unincorporated areas that surround the city, especially the resort areas on and near the Las Vegas Strip. This 4 mi (6.4 km) stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard is mainly in the unincorporated communities of Paradise and Winchester, and continues partly into unincorporated Enterprise.Hoover Dam
While your first thought of Las Vegas' top activities may involve casinos, lights and entertainment, be sure to make time for a little history during your trip. The Hoover Dam is a national historic landmark and has been one of the most popular attractions in Las Vegas since 1936. Bring the entire family and take a tour of the dam and the Lake Mead reservoir and learn about the past, present and future significance of this affordable Las Vegas attraction.
Lost City Museum
Reflecting a bit of history in just its foundations, the sun-dried adobe brick pueblo building of the Lost City Museum hosts what is often considered one of the best and most educational attractions in Las Vegas. Anasazi Indian artifacts that have been rescued from flooded Hoover Dam sites are exhibited, showcasing ancient Native American tools, pottery, jewelry, arrowheads and more. Let yourself be engulfed in the Lost City when looking for Las Vegas sightseeing opportunities.
The 2.5mi/4km long central section of Las Vegas Boulevard which runs through the city from northeast to southwest, known as the Strip, is lined with huge entertainment palaces, with revue theaters, nightspots, and luxury hotels set in beautiful gardens. The Strip is particularly impressive at night, when the city is illuminated by an endless succession of glittering neon signs. Every evening there are two shows: the dinner show (floor shows and a generous meal) which in most establishments starts around 8 p.m., and the cocktail show (floor shows and a light supper with cocktails) at 11 p.m.
Most visitors enjoy walking along the Strip and taking in the sights. Generally speaking the Las Vegas Strip runs from Mandalay Bay Hotel to the Treasure Island Hotel.
The Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas is considered the city's finest resort and one of the few AAA 5 star rated hotels. This massive hotel complex has a wide variety of attractions including an Art Gallery, Botanical Gardens, Spa and Salon, coupled with some of the finest restaurants in Las Vegas. Of particular note are the dancing fountains in front of the hotel, one of the best free attractions in Las Vegas.
Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art
Stand in awe of contemporary and modern artists' works at the Bellagio Resort Gallery of Fine Art, undoubtedly one of the best attractions in Las Vegas. Traveling exhibitions come through this art gallery in Las Vegas regularly, providing guests and tourists with new and exciting displays and creations. Past exhibitions have featured big names like Andy Warhol, Claude Monet and Roy Lichtenstein. You can even bring a unique souvenir home with you from the gallery store.
The Paris Hotel located on "The Strip" in Las Vegas is one of the most easily recognized establishments in town. Out front is a scale model of the Eiffel Tower and down the way is a recreation of the Paris Opera House. Also on the property is a mock hot air balloon festooned with neon and flashing lights.
Perhaps one of the best known of all the Las Vegas hotel resorts, Caesar's Palace continues to evolve. Currently Caesar's Palace is a massive complex complete with every imaginable entertainment option. Visitors can take in a concert, go shopping, enjoy exceptional dining, check out a display of exotic cars and see the Falls of Atlantis, a free show. The hotel has 3349 rooms and has plans to add more.
Hobbies & Activities category: Amusement, theme or leisure park; Hotel of note; Landmark restaurant; Stadium or sports facility; Theatrical hall or company
Las Vegas Hilton
The Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas is one of the major hotels in town. Featuring over 3000 rooms, the Las Vegas Hilton offers almost every amenity a visitor could ask for. Pools, entertainment areas, top-notch performers, and a wide variety of restaurants, the hotel is a destination in itself.
At one time the Hilton featured Elvis Presley as its entertainment. Today there is a statue of Elvis on the premises.
Las Vegas - Luxor Hotel
One of the most distinctive hotels in Las Vegas is the Luxor Hotel. Done up in an ancient Egyptian theme, the hotel is shaped like a pyramid. The Luxor has a wide variety of attractions to entertain its guests from the attractions area on the 2nd floor to top-notch entertainment in the performing venues. The Luxor Hotel also features a wide variety of restaurants and shopping opportunities.
From the highest point of the pyramid a beam of light shoots up into the night sky, which is easily seen from throughout Las Vegas.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
There is always something to do at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, one of the top natural attractions in Las Vegas. Enjoy boating, fishing, hiking, climbing, camping or a number of other Las Vegas outdoor activities at Lake Mead while reveling in the refreshing atmosphere of this 1.5-million-acre park (that's twice the size of Rhode Island). If you're looking for entertainment outside of bars and casinos, this is the place to go.
Lied Discovery Children's Museum
The Lied Discovery Children's Museum is by far one of the best attractions in Las Vegas. This hands-on learning environment has for 13 years been voted the best museum in Las Vegas. Toddlers, children, teens and adults of all cultural and economic backgrounds can enjoy the Lied Museum. You can learn about vision while shooting basketball or make your own meal with the help of the nutrition exhibition at one of the top Las Vegas children's activities in the area.
If you consider yourself a daredevil, an adrenaline junkie or just up for a good time, make the Stratosphere your top Las Vegas activities priority. Four 100-story thrill rides await you at what is considered the tallest freestanding observation tower in the nation. See a full view of the Strip from the observation deck at one of the best attractions in Las Vegas. After your day of thrilling Las Vegas rides, relax at the lounge or the restaurant, located inside the hotel.
MGM Grand Hotel and Casino
Enter a world of excess and luxury at this almost-overwhelming hotel. Choose from nine different types of rooms, whose amenities range from high-speed Internet access and hair dryers in the Grand Tower to espresso machines, immersion-shower chambers, and personal butlers in the Skyloft suites.
The Mirage Hotel is located on "The Strip" in Las Vegas. Here visitors will find an establishment that caters to all needs and to those in the alternative lifestyle category. The Mirage Hotel has nicely equipped hotel rooms, a plethora of dining options, and entertainment that ranks among the best in Las Vegas.
New York-New York Hotel
The New York New York Hotel in Las Vegas is located across the street from both the MGM Grand Hotel and the Excalibur Resort Hotel. Visually stunning the hotel is designed to appear like New York's skyline. If you watch carefully, you will be able to see people riding the roller coaster which circles in and around the hotel. Out front of the hotel is a mini Statue of Liberty.
Treasure Island Hotel
The Treasure Island Resort Hotel is located on "The Strip" in Las Vegas. Considered by many to be one of the top hotels on the strip, the Treasure Island Resort Hotel offers its guests a great number of entertainment and dining options. Be sure to stop by the Treasure Island Resort Hotel in the evening to catch the free pirate show, Sirens of TI. The sidewalk becomes extremely crowded at show times so go early to get a good spot.
Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat
The Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat is located in Las Vegas at the Mirage Resort Hotel. Here visitors can see a wide variety of exotic animals in their natural environment including White Lions of Timbavati and Siegfried & Roy's Royal White Tigers of Nevada. The Dolphin Habitat is open to the public and contains a large number of trained dolphins in its 2.5-million gallon / 10 million-liter pools.
Fountains of Bellagio
It's a picture-perfect scene when you stand on the promenade of the Bellagio hotel and take in the beauty of one of the best attractions in Las Vegas. A mix of opera and Broadway tunes colors this top Las Vegas activity with character and romance. The perfectly choreographed routines are widely varied, with water shooting high in the sky and lights dancing around the fountains. This is one of the best sights in Las Vegas and is not to be missed.
Eat, drink and play games on one of the 2500 slot and video poker machines at the Venetian, a Renaissance-inspired casino in Las Vegas that is known for its plethora of fun activities. Restaurants line the outside of the casino, and gondola rides are continuously enjoyed on the Grand Canal replica in the hotel. Go with the family or friends to the wax museum for a taste of true Las Vegas sightseeing.
Madame Tussaud's in Las Vegas is located near the escalators leading up to the Venetian Hotel. Here visitors can see their favorite stars preserved forever in wax. The figures are so lifelike it is almost eerie. At Madame Tussaud's visitors will see everything from Elvis to Shaquille O Neal.
The overall focus or theme of Madam Tussaud's is on people who are associated with Las Vegas.
Venetian Gondola Rides
The Venetian Gondola Rides are one of the more unusual attractions in Las Vegas. Situated in front of the Venetian Hotel, boats await passengers who are then taken on a ride by their personable gondolier through the shopping arcade inside the Venetian Hotel. The shopping arcade is designed to look exactly the same as the city of Venice in Italy.
Cirque du Soleil has been one of the best attractions in Las Vegas for years. O, with its premier cast of swimmers, contortionists, and trapeze artists, is one of the main reasons for the show's popularity. These performers work wonders with water (the play is an homage to the purity of H2O) and provide entertainment that will leave you in disbelief. Plan a special night out with friends and family, and visit this original Las Vegas show on the Strip.
Fremont Street Experience
The Fremont Street Experience is one of the great free Las Vegas experiences. Fremont Street has been covered over with a canopy of LED lights. Each night a fantastic music and visual show takes place overhead. The Fremont Street Experience is located in downtown Las Vegas, a few kilometers from the new hotel groupings such as Treasure Island and Caesar's Palace. It is best to take a taxi to get there.
Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay
A visit to Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas is awe-inspiring. This state of the art aquarium is not to be missed. Visitors tour the huge tanks through Plexiglas tubes and have a 180 degree views of the over 2,000 animals in the 6.5 million liter / 1.6 million gallon seawater tanks. Animals that can be viewed include sharks, giant rays, turtles, piranhas, and even golden crocodiles.
Southern Californians crowd Interstate 15 every weekend going back and forth to Vegas. Expect this drive to be crowded and frustrating, unless you can come and go at off-peak hours. However, many find the 280 mile (450 km) drive along the I-15 restful and scenic. Attractions along the I-15 include the towns of Barstow, California; Baker, California; the Mojave Desert; and small hotel-casinos at Primm, Nevada (at the California border) and Jean, Nevada. Those who traverse the I-15 should remember that they are crossing a desert, and should carry (and drink) ample amounts of water, especially on hot summer days where temperatures can reach 110°F (43°C).
From east of Las Vegas, travellers typically drive on I-40 through Arizona, and then head north toward Vegas on US-93 in Kingman, AZ, before finally picking up I-15. This route will take you along Lake Mead and directly through the Hoover Dam area. Traffic at the Dam tends to be extremely congested and slow-going; usually the slowest part of an otherwise sparsely populated desert area.
From the North I-15 meets the Arizona border at the more relaxed town of Mesquite, NV and shortly goes into Utah. The junction of I-70 and I-15 is where most people driving from the Eastern US will take. Those from further north may meet I-15 from I-80 in Salt Lake City.
Those traveling from the North drive on US 95 from Reno and Tonopah. This is a two lane highway until it reaches the community of Mercury, where US 95 is a four lane highway. The route is sparsely populated and travelers should ensure that their tank is full.
- Greyhound. Operates buses from Salt Lake City, Utah; Kingman, Arizona; and Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
- LuxBus. Offers four daily trips to and from Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Diego.
- Starline Tours. Offers transportation from Anaheim and Hollywood, California to Las Vegas.
McCarran International Airport is served by many domestic and international air carriers. Southwest Airlines has a large hub at the airport, and USAirways has a smaller hub. Like most US airports, you can rent luggage carts for $3. MGM Grand properties (MGM Grand, and New York New York) and Harrah's Entertainment properties (Rio, Harrah's, Bally's, Paris, Caesars Palace, and Flamingo) offer check-in desks and luggage transfers at LAS.
Getting from LAS to your hotel can be done by bus, airport shuttle companies, rental cars, taxi ($10-20), or limousine ($35). The taxi line is well organized, the city taxi dispatcher will direct you to a numbered space along the curb. You need not tip the taxi dispatcher. As in any city, you can be taken advantage of if the cab driver thinks you are naive or new to the city. Do not allow the cab driver to take you through the I-15 tunnel (an extra $10) or tell you the story about the "big accident" enroute to your hotel, if either of these happens take down the driver's hack license number and call the Nevada Taxi Cab Authority.
The CAT 108 bus runs from the airport along Paradise Road to right outside the Convention Center and the LV Hilton, taking about 20-25 minutes. As Paradise Road meets the Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard), you can switch to the Deuce shuttle bus operating on the strip, traveling north to downtown or south to the hotel casinos. The CAT 108 bus runs at 20-minute intervals from Ground Level Zero (take the escalator down from the baggage claim and walk towards the parking garage; the covered bus stop is on the right). One-way trips cost $1.75 and are a great deal compared to the more expensive options above.
To get to the airport, take the Deuce shuttle bus to the corner of the Strip and Paradise Road, then take bus #108 traveling east on Paradise Road.
When leaving, the 'curbside checkin' counters will save a wait, but cost you $4 + tip, and you won't be allocated a seat number until boarding time (i.e. likely to be a single seat at the back of the aircraft).
Unfortunately, due to service cuts back in 1997, Amtrak does not have a route through Las Vegas anymore. There is a daily bus route from Needles, California to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, with a stop in Laughlin, Nevada. It is operated in concert with Amtrak's Southwest Chief. Amtrak California's San Joaquins route operates 2 buses daily to Las Vegas from Bakersfield, California as part of its service.
If traveling around the strip, walking is a reasonable option as hotel-casinos are found close to each other. In fact in most cases, at least two hotels are connected to each other either by bridge or underground or in the case of Excalibur, Luxor and Mandalay Bay, by a complimentary rail shuttle. Be aware that during the summer, the oppressive heat during the daylight hours may make walking a very uncomfortable activity.
By public transit
The Las Vegas Monorail, +1 702 699-8200, runs on the east side of the strip with stops behind several of the hotels and at the Las Vegas Convention Center. It costs $5 one-way, $9 return and $15 for a one-day pass. Do the math before boarding, it could be cheaper for a small group to take a taxi. Because the monorail stops at the back entrance of the hotels, it takes a long time to wind through the maze of casinos, often taking 30 minutes to an hour to get from one point to another on the Strip - if you're in a hurry take a taxi. The monorail's carrying capacity of 4,000 people per hour is woefully insufficient to handle the evening exodus from the larger conventions which have as many as 150,000 attendees. If you are visiting with a friend from Nevada and want to ride the monorail, consider asking them to buy your fare. By showing a Nevada State ID or Clark County Work Permit Card (issued to all hotel employees) they qualify for the locals fare of $1, this can be purchased from the customer service booths located at each station.
The city bus line Citizens Area Transit (CAT), +1 702 228-7433, operates 49 routes throughout the valley. Most routes operate 5:30AM-1:30AM everyday. Some routes operate 24 hours. The fare is $2 for adults and $1 for kids and seniors for all residential routes. The Deuce, the London-style double decker bus operating the route along Las Vegas Blvd, costs $3 for adults and $1.50 dollar for children and seniors, and the fare may be paid directly to the driver (exact change). If purchasing a child or senior fare, be prepared to show some form of picture ID to prove your age to the driver. During the larger conventions (such as CES, NAB, and MAGIC) the Deuce also operates on a special one way service from the Las Vegas Convention Center. This service only operates in the afternoon from the convention center to the Strip, the bus travels southbound and services all regular stops from Circus Circus onward. It is important to note that when using this service, tickets must be purchased in advance from the ticket vending machines (located in front of the north and south halls). In addition, 2 additional ticket vending machines are located on the strip, one at the Slots-of-fun/Circus Circus stop and one at the Showcase Mall/MGM Grand stop. It should be noted that when purchasing your fare, the buses do not give change. However, the ticket vending machines do give change, in addition to accepting credit/debit cards. Also it should be noted that CAT buses no longer offer transfer slips that allow you to change buses without paying the fare again, this has been replaced by a residential day pass ($5 for adults and $2 for kids and seniors) that covers all routes except The Deuce, and an "all-access pass" for $7 that covers all routes on the system. If you try to use a residential pass on the Deuce it will cost 50¢ per ride. If you will be staying for a long period of time (at least 8 days for adults or 4 for children and seniors) and plan to buy an all access pass, a more economic option is to purchase a 30 day bus pass. These can be purchased from either of the two bus terminals (both can be reached by riding the Deuce to Downtown terminal, or to the South Strip Terminal), or from any ticket vending machine. It is important to note however, that if you would like to purchase a child or senior fare pass, you will need to do so from the customer service agent at the terminals. These passes are valid from the first use then for 30 days after and can be used on all routes. If the buses are crowded, a good way to avoid waiting for the next bus is to walk one block east from the strip and use route number 108 - Paradise Road or walk one block west to Industrial Road and use route number 105 - Martin L King Blvd / Koval - which mirrors the strip route.
Buying a 24 hour $5 CAT Bus ticket is a very good option but one has to be aware that on the Strip, buses may stop on close intervals and may be there for a couple of minutes as passengers board and disembark. However, it is the best way to recuperate during those hot summer months (since they provide air conditioning) after a long and tiring walk on the Strip. Buses can be an inexpensive and convenient option, especially if just traveling up and down the Strip, or to and from downtown.
Unfortunately, the Monorail and CAT bus are separate entities so a pass from one won't work on the other.
One of the easiest ways to get around is by taxi. It is relatively cheap to go from hotel to hotel. The cab driver is required to turn on the meter and to take the shortest route to your destination. There is a surcharge for rides originating at the airport, but not for extra passengers. Taxi lines (queues) are typically found at the front of hotels. You would be unwise to attempt to hail one on the street, especially on the Strip as it is illegal for a cab to stop traffic to pick up or drop off a passenger. The best way to hail a cab outside of a cabstand is to use the following method: if you are wanting to go north on the strip, stand on the east side about 20 feet before a turn off. The cab you want to wave over will have the yellow lights off. Standing like this allows the cab to turn off the road and pick you up. It is customary to tip the hotel taxi dispatcher $1 or more; tip the cab driver at least 15% of the meter, and about $1 per piece of luggage.
By rental car
Renting a car at McCarran International Airport is fairly cheap and popular. The opening of the new rental car facility has increased the wait time to get your car. All the rental agencies are now located under a single roof and all use the same shuttle from the airport to the facility. There have been reports of an extra 30 min increase in the time it takes to pick up and/or drop off your vehicle, so please add this to any arrival and departure times so you won't be late for anything important. Expect to pay more for your car rental due to recent tax increases.
If you mostly plan to hang around one casino and your time in Vegas is short, you might want to forego a rental car altogether and just take taxis. On the other hand, taxi fares add up quickly, and with car rental so cheap, anyone staying a few days or longer would be better suited with the flexibility of a car. Not to mention that some of the best sights are located just outside of Las Vegas and virtually require that you drive to those destinations. There are numerous car rental offices on the Strip, and therefore it is very easy to rent a car from your hotel for a day trip. Remember to rent ahead of time as it can be busy during the weekends.
Driving on Las Vegas Boulevard (the "Strip"), especially on weekends, is an exercise in frustration; gridlock takes over and you could possibly spend an hour or so just driving through the Strip. Do what the locals do and avoid driving long distances on the Strip altogether. Instead take I-15, which parallels the Strip, and get off at the exit nearest your hotel and park there. Dean Martin Drive (which turns into Industrial Road) lies just west of Las Vegas Blvd and provides another option.
Casinos have low cost self-parking (often free for guests) as well as valet parking. On Friday and Saturday nights the self-parking lots fill up fast; consider splurging on the valet to avoid cumbersome delays and endless circling around.