Viva Las Vegas!
My favourite bits:
- A Grand Canyon helicopter trip is a MUST
- The Bellagio Fountains (and their buffet)
- The Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay
- The Secret Garden at The Mirage (they have tiger cubs ATM)
- Just tour the hotels and sample what each has to offer (wear comfy shoes!)
- The Stratosphere Tower - watch the terrified faces of the people on the rides above from the balcony below ;)
- Check out the free casino lessons given by many of the hotels.
- La Reve at the Wynn - what they do with a one million gallon pool in the theater is just amazing!
- Tha Canal in the Venetian
DRINK LOTS OF WATER - The Las Vegas Valley lies in a relatively high-altitude portion of the Mojave Desert, and is officially desert - so even when not mega hot you need to drink lots of water to counter the dry air.
Some interesting info & links from The Times here
Depending on how many "attractions" you want to visit, it may be worth investing in a power pass: http://www.bestofvegas.com/Attractions/Las-Vegas-Power-Pass-Ticket/
The weekends get very busy with people from LA etc, prices for rooms double or treble Also check to see if any major conventions are on when you are there
The monorail is inconvenient, try the shuttle buses instead. The exception being to go downtown, use the monorail to the SLS then a cab downtown (if there is only two of you). The bus is slow and crowded most of the time.
The "high street" is Las Vegas Boulevard is otherwise known as The Strip & contains the majority of the best hotels. The following maps are from The Loney Planet pocket guide, conveniently splitting Vegas into 4 main zones:
Stratosphere Tower - The hotel itself is looking a bit dowdy and is a little claustrophobic, the tower is the attraction here & is the tallest free-standing observation tower in the US, reaching a height of 1,149 feet with stunning views of Las Vegas. At the top of the tower are 3 of the most terrifying rides in Vegas:
- Insanity operates via a huge mechanical arm that extends into four smaller vertical arms, each with 2 passengers. The larger arm moves from the loading platform out 64 feet & past the tower’s edge. Each of the four smaller arms spins its passengers into the open air at speeds of up to 3G’s. As the force of the spin increases, each arm tilts into a 70° angle that faces each passenger nearly straight down. The ride is programmable, with more than 100 different versions of it ranging from family fun to extreme.
- X-Scream An 8-passenger open vehicle sitting on a 69-foot long rollercoaster track. The vehicle lifts to a 30° angle before lurching head-first past the edge of the tower & jolting suddenly to a stop at the end of the track where it dangles for a moment & then retracts. It does this twice, with an extra hard jolt on the last drop... there’s another extra surprise at the end...
- The Big Shot is the most famous of the rides here. It starts from the mast top of the tower, where arms and legs dangle off the ride seat, before shooting you up 160ft in a 2.5s at a force of 4G. After a brief weightless pause, the ride shoots down again in a free-fall. After the first drop, the ride bounces up and down the mast three more times before settling back on the launch pad.
Avoid the evenings at weekends as it gets very busy, a ride at night gives you a good view of the lights
The other attraction here is the Top of the World restaurant that rotates 360° in an hour and 15 mins. The food is reported as expensive and not brilliant, but you might do it for the views alone.
The SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, the Rivera & Circus Circus follow along the strip. Circus Circus is a very popular family destination for families.... The pink and white "circus tent" stripes are accented throughout the public areas to give a tent-like atmosphere. It also features the largest space frame dome in the US which houses the Adventuredome - an indoor theme park with rollercoaster, water park-style rides, and classic circus rides. Over the casino floor you can see live circus acts such as acrobats, trapeze artists, clowns, and jugglers performing throughout the day. The resort also features a unique rotating cocktail lounge.
The SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino was previosly known as the Sahara, and is currently under construction and scheduled to reopen in Fall 2014 after a $415 million renovation.
Trump International A distinctive gleaming golden tower, The Trump Hotel Las Vegas is a 64 story hotel-condominium, named for famed real estate developer Donald Trump. It is Las Vegas' tallest residential building at 620ft (190m)
Fashion Show Mall for the usuall mall stuff
Treasure Island One of the "to do's" is the Sirens of TI - Pirate show with big boobyed mermaids ;)
The Palazzo & Venetian are sister hotels. Ride on an Venetian gondola at the Venetian - winding through the hotel and casino underneath its impressive sky-replicating ceiling; down the Grand Canal & underneath bridges and archways, and past cafes and stores in the mall, complete with serenading gondoliers. Each gondola ride lasts about 12 mins and seats 4 people.
There’s also an outdoor gondola ride for 2 passengers that glides out along the lagoon at the front of the Venetian, past replicas of Italian palaces and piazzas.
Casino Royale and Mirage Watch the volcano (once its working again). I liked Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat with their little white tiger cubs. A serene retreat from the Strip, here you can take a stroll through the gardens and animal habitats that features Dolphin, rare white tigers & cubs, panthers, leopards and other animals. There are special programs where you can be a dolphin trainer for a day or even get a special viewing of the white tiger cubs.
The Quad Resort and Casino, formerly the Imperial Palace is also owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment (Harrah) & has a great central location. Previously known as the Imperial Palace, it houses the Auto Collections - a classic car showroom with more than $100 million worth of special
vehicles for sale and on display for collectors and visitors.
Bellagio One of the most well known hotels. It has one of the best buffets in town, but is best known for its Fountains - a spectacular of music, light, and water & as featured in many films and TV shows. It's worth watching more than once as the show varies, in the evening the lights are better and the frequency of shows increases. It’s a frequent setting for weddings and wedding proposals. Bellagio even offers a wedding package on the Terrazza di Sogno (Terrace of Dreams), an Italian balcony overlooking the fountains. At the exact moment that the couple shares their first kiss as husband and wife, the waters soar into the sky. The fountains can also be watched from Olives restaurant, if you can get one of the tables on the lake terrace.
Opened in 2005, the Cosmopolitan is a luxury casino hotel located just south of the Bellagio on the west side of the Las Vegas Strip and consists of two high-rise towers.
Paris Complete with an Eiffel tower. There's also a good piano duelling bar here
Planet Hollywood Good compromise between cost, quality and location
Adjoining Planet Hollywood is the Elara, a Hilton Grand Vacations Hotel-Centre that is a 50-story glass marvel; it features 1200 vacation villas and 28 penthouse suites, 3.2 million square feet of living space.
Opened in 2009, the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas is a luxury five-star hotel with living spaces characterized by an Eastern approach to design. The hotel’s lobby is located on the 23rd floor.
Also opened in 2009 the Vdara Hotel & Spa, commonly known as Vdara, is a 1,600,000 sq ft (150,000 m2) condo-hotel and spa located within the CityCenter complex across from Aria and a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and Infinity World Development.
Monte Carlo The Brewery at the Monte Carlo is worth a visit - sit at the bar and you can see the vats through the glass wall behind the bar.
New York, New York Famous for its rollercoaster (a bit rattly and old though), it whirls around a recreation of New York City’s scenic skyline. It's the biggest and longest-lasting rollercoaster in Las Vegas (2 mins 45s). It lifts its riders up 203ft, then drops them down 144ft at 67 mph. It also includes a 180° barrel roll, an extreme 540° spiral, and hangs its riders 86ft in the air. The bar at Times Square also has good dualing pianos, get there before 9ish to get in free. Visit the Coyote Ugly Bar for the preppy stag do crowd.
MGM Grand The MGM Grand houses the (free to visit) Lion Habitat. In this large, 3 story glass enclosure, visitors can watch a number of lions as they eat, sleep, and play. There's even a glass tunnel underneath the habitat. The lions brought in are different every day (they live on a ranch outside Vegas).
Mandalay Bay The Shark Reef is home to over 2,000 animals, you walth through, around and under the tanks. If you’re brave enough you can even go scuba diving with the sharks. Alternatively, for more aduly entertainment, if you like Vodka, go to the Red Square ice bar - it has hundreds of different vodkas from all around the world
Little Chapel of the West - The Little Church of the West has been the scene of more celebrity marriages than any other wedding chapel in the world. Betty Grable, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Dudley Moore, Cindy Crawford & Richard Gere, Angelina Jolie & Billy Bob Thornton to name but a few
McCarran LAS Airport - The usual way in/out
Fremont Street Freemont Street is another must, aim to get there just before the hour as the shows start. It's worth seeing two shows and then heading back to your hotel. The area is a bit rough if you stray too far, but there is also some cheap meals down that way.
The Gun Store on East Tropicana is fun, fire anything from handguns, to Winchester rifles, M16's and Bren guns. Not too expensive either.
Malls are everywhere, but worth mentioning are Fashion Show Mall, Caesers Palace Forum Shops, Grand Canal Shops (Venetian), Meadows Mall - More moderately-priced shopping, and Town Square Outdoor Mall (NY, NY)
There are also 2 nearby shopping outlets: The Las Vegas Premium Outlets is the closest, just north of the strip; and, a little further away, The Las Vegas Outlet Center on Las Vegas Boulevard itself, but just a few miles south.
Further away is The Fashion Outlets at Las Vegas, if you're driving to Las Vegas from Los Angeles via Interstate 15, you can't miss this mall, it's very visible next to the Primm Valley Resort Hotel soon after you cross the Nevada state line.
Go and see one of the Cirque du Soleil shows. Get show tickets from the cheap booths up and down the strip, or the one at the bottom of the fashion show mall. The Tkts4tonite booths do cheap tickets for a lot of the shows, although they don't normally have the bigger shows.
Recommended Fine Dining..
Wolfgang Puck's Bar and Grill (MGM Grand)
Gallaghers in New York New York, awesome steaks and you won't get ripped off
For a Steak or surf-n-turf BOA at Caesars Mall has been thoroughly recommend
Be prepared to queue a while to get in and guys will have to pay whereas women go free in many. Blokes struggle to get in any kind of nightspot after ten at the weekend unless with company of the female kind (in which case it's easy). Take ID everywhere you go, to gamble or get in to bars and clubs, they do ask and it doesn't matter if you look 50 years old, no ID, no entry; a driving licence in card form is fine.
It's worth booking up the VIP Club stuff before hand. Check the hotel websites etc. the clubs are for ever changing in Vegas so its impossible to keep up. Nevertheless.....
Voodoo lounge on top of the Rio. Short way off the strip but because of this it gives amazing rooftop views. Go even if you don't like clubs. The view is worth it. Also open in the afternoon.
Ghost at the Palms, similar idea but smaller.... Tryst, Tao, Pure and Body English are all good
The Hard Rock hotel is VERY busy and popular with a younger crowd.
Hoover Dam + bridge
Lake Mead - hire a boat or jet-ski & go wakeboarding/skiing, or just wizz around to the back of the dam. Hire jet ski's from the Las Vegas Boat Marina about 25 mins out of Vegas.
Red rock canyon - often overlooked, only short drive away
Mount Charlston - you can even go skiing at certain times of the year (don't forget extra clothes as, it gets unsuprisingly cold)
Grand Canyon The South rim has the best views - fly over or six hour drive and stay the night, make sure you get there at sunset or sunrise if possible. Loads of accom in the toursit area nearby. The West rim has the Sky Bridge - 3 hours drive. There is a gravel road for about 20 miles at the end, so check your car hire covers you for that. The Sky bridge is reported as expensive (and looked rather small to me from the helicopter)
The Lotus Performance Driving School is located on the Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch located just 45 mins from Las Vegas, Nevada, in the quiet town of Pahrump Also see here for an Elise roadtrip report of Las Vegas to San Francisco (including a Spring Mountain visit)
Furnace Creek Resort, in-park lodging in Death Valley National Park
http://www.wyndham.com/ for cheaper hotels - central booking to cover all many chain hotels - Super8, Howard Johnson, Travelodge, Days Inn etc. Sign up for rewards card, in one trip you potentially will get a night free.
http://www.dreamcarrentals.com/vehicles.php - greysquirrel "The cars we rent are available for pick up and drop off at our Las Vegas, Nevada locations. We do deliver cars to California, Utah and Arizona, there is a delivery fee that applies. You are able to use the Dream Cars to go anywhere you like in the states around Nevada (California, Utah, Arizona), as long as you bring it back. If you go out of state there is a fee for out of state driving. You can not take our vehicles to Mexico at anytime. There is no driving to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon since this is a dirt road. If you do go to the West Rim a fee will be assessed to your rental contract."
And last, but not least.... http://www.lasvegas.com/restaurants/