Las Vegas, seen at night as a spectacular explosion of light in the darkness of the Mojave desert, is the ultimate city escape! This iconic city is like no other place on earth, with extravagant hotels playing an endless game of one-upmanship up and down the Strip, each one striving to be more eye-catching and luxurious than the last. Each hotel features at least one gimmick or attraction that distinguishes it from the rest, transforming them into unmissable landmarks.
Rubbing shoulders with the lavish hotels are the casinos that first earned Las Vegas its fame, drawing in a mix of casual gamblers and daring high rollers. Many holidaymakers drop by for a cheeky flutter in the gambling capital of the world, but don’t get carried away – remember the house always wins!
For all its casinos and nightclubs, Las Vegas is also a surprisingly family-friendly destination. Many of the hotels feature attractions and performances intended for children, and kids will love entrancing shows by the likes of Cirque du Soleil, the Blue Man Group and magicians Penn & Teller.
Things to Do
The Las Vegas Strip is the iconic centre of the city, a 7km boulevard lined with the hotels and casinos that make Las Vegas a world famous destination. The casino hotels in Las Vegas are more than just places to rest your head at night - they are the city’s landmarks, so don’t be surprised to find groups of tourists snapping photos in your hotel lobby. Some of the most impressive hotels include the Venetian, featuring a real-life canal complete with gondolas, the Mirage, where a volcano outside erupts routinely throughout the evening, and Caesars Palace, modelled on Ancient Rome. Visit each hotel to truly appreciate their unique identities, and drop by a few of the casinos if you’re feeling lucky.
Las Vegas has dubbed itself the ‘Entertainment Capital of the World’, and it has truly lived up to the name with a staggering choice of shows on offer throughout the year. Circus shows, magic shows and musicals are permanent fixtures on the bill, and there are always countless comedy and tribute acts to choose from. Cirque du Soleil and the Blue Man Group are practically permanent residents of Sin City, and in recent years the city has featured famous headliners such as Britney Spears, Celine Dion and Prince.
Families should not be deterred from visiting Las Vegas; despite its reputation as a hub of gambling and drinking, the city has many attractions suitable for, or even intended for, children. Kids will love the aquarium at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and the Big Apple rollercoaster at New York New York, and M&M’s World is a sure bet for an afternoon of fun (and a chocolate coma!). Certain hotels are more child-friendly than others; catch an acrobatics show at Circus Circus or a medieval dinner show at Excalibur.
5 hours’ drive from the city is one of Las Vegas’ greatest attractions, the Grand Canyon - a long drive, but worth it! One of the most iconic natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is quite the spectacle, up to 18 miles wide and in some parts over a mile deep. If you don’t want to hire a car you can book onto a coach tour to take you to the canyon, or splash out on a helicopter ride for a spectacular aerial view.
Food and Drink
Las Vegas has a range of eating options on offer, many of them hosted inside the luxurious hotels. Breakfast is a great chance to fill yourself up for the day; many of the hotels offer huge buffet breakfasts, charging a flat rate for as much as you wish to eat and serving any kind of breakfast food you could possibly imagine. The Wynn, Paris and Bellagio offer some of the best buffet breakfasts, at very competitive prices.
Many of the eating options on the Strip are to be found inside the hotels; the complexes are so huge that all cuisines and budgets are covered in any one hotel. Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay is the top choice for burger fans, while Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan puts an upscale spin on the Las Vegas buffet with artfully served food portions and a traditional carving station. Top of the World at the Stratosphere pulls in the customers with its 360° view of the city from the 106th floor, and Twist at the Mandarin Oriental offers fine dining from Michelin star chef Pierre Gagnaire.
In a city as outlandish as Las Vegas, is it any surprise that their bars are equally lavish? The Minus5 Ice Bar requires drinkers to pick up a fur coat and gloves at the door, while Frankie’s Tiki Room is a 24-hour tiki bar serving dangerously potent cocktails around the clock. It’s also worth bearing in mind that casinos offer free drinks to all gamblers, so as long as you don’t allow the alcohol to go to your head at the card tables this is a great way to enjoy a few drinks on a budget. Just remember to tip your waitress - $1 per drink is considered the standard!