Overview: For many of us when we think “Las Vegas,” our minds drift toward old-school Elvis impersonators, the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas, drive-up wedding venues, and even scenes from “The Hangover.” In reality, Sin City offers so much more than just a trip along the Strip these days. While Vegas’ nightclubs and glitzy casinos continue to draw weekend party seekers, the city’s more recent influx of gourmet restaurants, art venues, and Cirque du Soleil and headliner shows also attract music lovers, foodies, and culture hounds. Sitting alongside the likes of the MGM Grand, the Bellagio, Wynn, the Stratosphere, and the Venetian, some newer hotels on the Strip have taken the focus away from gambling and put it on stylish design. And downtown Las Vegas has come back to life with innovative development, hip spots such as the Downtown Container Park, a treasure trove of antique shops, and the resurgence of Fremont Street with attractions like the Fremont Experience. The city also pleases art enthusiasts with the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, and the Neon Museum. Plus adventurers looking to visit other Nevada attractions can take advantage of Vegas’ proximity to Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, Lake Mead, and the Grand Canyon for day trips into nature.
Currency: USD $
Time Zone: UTC (-08:00)
Country Code: +1
Best Time to Visit: Spring, Fall
When to Visit: With temperatures reaching more than 100 degrees in the summertime, spring allows Las Vegas travelers to enjoy the warmer weather while dodging the unbearable heat. Fall’s weather averages highs of about 67 degrees, which is perfect for outdoor activities such as golf or going to a minor league baseball game in Downtown Vegas.
Getting Around: Las Vegas’ can be easily covered by the city’s RTC bus routes, but if you’re sticking to the main drag, the Las Vegas Monorail runs adjacent to the Strip, and the inexpensive Las Vegas Deuce runs from the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas all the way to Mandalay Bay. Taxis and Uber are both efficient if you don’t mind the Vegas traffic, although Vegas taxi drivers, like those in other big cities, tend to drive a longer route to raise fare. If you hop in a cab, say you’re from the area and not to long haul you.
Tipping: If you’re gambling, give the dealer a toke (aka tip) of $5 for every $30 you've won from them, or if you’re at the slots, make sure to tip your cocktail server $1 per drink. Other than that, it’s recommended to tip 15–20% at restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
You Might Not Know...If you’re looking for something more family oriented or unexpected, hit up the Pinball Hall of Fame on East Tropicana Avenue, and then grab pizza and an old-fashioned milkshake at Metro Pizza.
Shopping options might seem unlimited in Las Vegas — and, if you don’t hit the jackpot, they can also seem a little unrealistic. So, when it comes to most people’s Vegas budgets, it’s the strip’s centrally located Miracle Mile Shops that will most likely fit the bill. With some 170 stores and 20 restaurants, the mall stretches 1.2 miles in length and wraps around the Planet Hollywood Casino. With a wide range of stores, the selection is ideally suited for just about anyone and for any taste, and especially for those who don’t intend to spend every last cent of their casino winnings.
It’s also a pretty great place to walk around; not only can you escape the often-hot Las Vegas weather, but the mall entertains with sights of sorts, such as its surreal outside-but-actually-inside vibe, an indoor rain storm that pours from a virtual sky, and even a fancy water fountain that, during its hourly shows, sprays water 50 feet into the air through fog and lights.
When it’s time to escape the neon and hustle of the jam-packed Las Vegas strip, the Calico Hills are the perfect location for swapping the smoke-filled gaming room parlors for a breath of fresh mountain air. Set 30 minutes west of downtown Las Vegas, the Calico Hills offer hiking and rock climbing through a dreamy sandstone landscape, where red-hued rock piles form a network of spires and summits for visitors to explore. Located inside of Red Rock Canyon, the Calico Hills are best known for the popular Calico Hills Trail, which begins just after the Visitor Center and runs 3.2 miles to Sandstone Quarry along the base of the hills. For many visitors the thrill of the hike is scrambling up on the rocks, choosing well worn side trails to navigate the boulders and get views of the Las Vegas desert. At an elevation near 4,000 feet the air is refreshingly cool, though summer temperatures can still be perilous if hiking or climbing midday.
Sure—the items in the showroom are for sale, but Rick’s Restorations is much more intriguing than your regular shopping experience. This Las Vegas gallery is the site of the TV show, “American Restoration,” where aging items are masterfully restored into vintage pieces of art. Run by Rick Dale—who also appears on “Pawn Stars”—Rick’s Restorations is serviced by a crew of colorful Vegas characters, some of whom you might recognize from the show as you tour the warehouse. While many places solely restore cars, Rick’s finds pieces of classic Americana and loving brings them back to life, whether it’s gumball machines, jukeboxes, soda fountains, or stoplights. When visiting the shop, you can simply tour the gallery floor and shop for pieces you like, or take a tour to hear the process that goes into the restoration. There are metal workers, polishers, woodworkers, and letterers who all work together to take a clunker and infuse it with shiny new life.
Home to the hit reality TV show Tanked, Acrylic Tank Manufacturing (ATM) is the largest custom fish tank business in the country, specializing in outrageously large and extravagant aquariums for casinos and other VIP clients around Las Vegas. Owners Wayde King and Brett Raymer are the stars of Tanked, and they are sometimes around to meet visitors who come through on a Behind-the-Scenes Tour of “Tanked” the TV Show or a Las Vegas Reality Show VIP Tour. But even if they’re out meeting a client, tours offer the chance to see the operation in real life, including Brett’s messy desk, and see the real business behind the TV show.
Once known as the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, Bally’s Las Vegas is one of the strip’s most famous hotels. With nearly 3,000 guestrooms that are 450 square feet (or larger!)—most of which were recently renovated—Bally’s is quintessential Las Vegas glitz, glam and luxury. A neon-wrapped moving sidewalk, more than 100 shops, a handful of diverse restaurants and even the long-running show Jubilee are among the features that make this Las Vegas strip hotel a favorite among travelers. Theater lovers can check out other in-hotel performances like “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding”, a country superstars musical tribute and even a new adults-only show called “50 Shades! The Parody”. Fitness buffs will love the contemporary gym facilities, championship tennis courts and pool—perfect for relaxing after a night at the casino.
Opened in 1990, this re-creation of a medieval castle with its matching interior was a popular draw in its heyday, especially for families. As bigger, brighter and fancier resorts have opened up and down Las Vegas Boulevard, Excalibur has lost a bit of its luster, but it has managed to stand the test of time for those who are time-honored fans or traveling with kids.
Though it’s a bit rough around the edges, the 100,000-square-foot casino offers several table games and more than 1,700 slot, video poker and video keno machines. Excalibur’s casino truly excels in catering to the new gambler by offering several lessons each day (excluding holidays): poker at 11:00 a.m., roulette at 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., blackjack at 11:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., and craps at noon and 8:00 p.m. The resort’s race and sports book offers wagering on every major collegiate and professional sport including football, hockey, basketball, baseball, mixed martial arts, auto racing, golf and tennis.
Just walking into the reception area of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, you might think you've walked into an art gallery. But the glittering Dale Chihuly glass chandelier that covers the ceiling is just the start.
Once you've gotten past the chandelier, head for the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, an actual gallery. The exhibit changes annually, giving repeat visitors something new to see each time. The collections on display aren't vast, but they're carefully curated and feature some of the most prominent artists in the world.
Many Las Vegas visitors lament that the city has no history, but that’s not quite the truth. Though some buildings have been imploded and several hotels and businesses have closed over the years, many of the neon signs that branded these buildings have ended up in the Neon Museum, also known as the Neon Boneyard. More than 150 discarded signs in the Neon Boneyard—including those from the Stardust, Moulin Rouge, Desert Inn, Aladdin and Flamingo—memorialize Las Vegas’ history and culture over the years, and they also preserve an art form for which Las Vegas is famous.
The Neon Museum recently celebrated the grand opening of its new La Concha Visitors’ Center, which makes touring the museum significantly easier than in years past. The two-acre exhibition can be viewed by guided tours only. The guides do an excellent job in providing context in which to appreciate not only the signs but the businesses they represented.
Our fascination with the Titanic seems to have only grown stronger with time, and more than 100 years after the ship sank, The Artifact Exhibition at the Luxor Hotel and Casino is one of Las Vegas' many popular attractions.
The exhibit features more than 250 items recovered from the wreck of the Titanic on the sea floor, including the ship's whistle, passenger luggage and even an unopened 1900 vintage bottle of Champagne. There are also careful recreations of some elements of the ship, including the grand staircase, first-class cabins and the promenade deck.
Las Vegas may be home to the famous Strip, glittering lights and plenty of world-class casinos, but the Las Vegas Springs Preserve showcases 180 acres of stunning natural landscapes and is the perfect place for travelers and families who want to escape the urban landscapes and spend a day in the rugged outdoors.
Visitors can explore winding nature trails, check out a stunning desert botanical garden, and venture into a natural wetland habitat. An informative museum and historic photo gallery also offer plenty of context for the dynamic plants and unique ecosystems that are a part of this prime family destination.
You may have seen the traveling show for Bodies: The Exhibition as it came through your city, but if you missed it or would even like to see it again, you'll be pleased to know there's a permanent exhibit in Las Vegas at the Luxor Hotel and Casino.
In the Las Vegas Bodies: The Exhibition, more than 200 actual human bodies are on display, having been carefully dissected, preserved and reassembled in order to give us a look at how the human body looks and works. There are complete bodies, as well as specific organs and organ systems on display to highlight different aspects of the mysteries of the human body.
Both mesmerizing and horrifying, 100 mushroom clouds bloomed from and above the desert at the Nevada Test Site between 1951 and 1962. Hundreds more atomic explosions blasted underground until 1992. One hundred and ten miles away from the site, the National Atomic Testing Museum explores the area’s history, the ‘Atomic Age’ and dissects geopolitical events including what this nuclear history means for the world today.
This colorful Smithsonian-affiliated museum’s 8,000 square feet of collections include some 12,000 artifacts, documents, photographs and video clips that recount the history and pop culture surrounding the Cold War, atomic science and the Nevada Test Site. Walk through a circular bunker to see a 1960s children’s cereal box offering a free ‘atomic ring,’ Native American artifacts from the test area, Geiger counters, a replica 9 megaton nuclear bomb and the reactor that spawned the original nuclear rocket.
Circus Circus is a hotel and casino that combines a live circus show with the fun and flavor of Sin City. Featuring an indoor amusement park and all the usual Vegas casino games, Circus Circus treads a fine line between 'family' entertainment and straight-up adult gaming entertainment.
In the casino rooms, live circus acts are performed overhead, complete with trapeze artists, and acrobats, giving a new meaning to clowning around.
Then there’s the Adventuredome, an indoor amusement park featuring laser tag, roller coasters, and 3-D rides. These thrill rides are a popular destination for families and couples alike, so get ready to scream in delight.