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Guide To Las Vegas
written by: debstevens

If you are looking for something with glitz and glamour, then Las Vegas is the place for you with the world famous Strip, numerous casinos and spectacular shows playing every night to keep you entertained. However, there is so much more to the city than gambling and bright lights that lead to it earning the nickname, “Sin City” with a whole host of museums to check out, helicopter tours to go on, the chance to go horseback riding or even just laze in one of the many spas to name just a few things. So read on to find out more about the wonderful city that is Las Vegas.

The Climate:

As you may expect with its location the climate around the Las Vegas area is one that is arid, very sunny and at times extremely hot. During the summer you can expect daytime temperatures to almost always be between 90F and 100F, but with next to no humidity on top of this and even at night you can expect it to hover around the 70F mark. This does change in the winter months where it drops to below 60F on average and at times it can hit 25F with the occasional flurry of snow. However, for the average tourist it will be fine to visit in the summer months due to the widespread use of air conditioning and the lack of humidity does make it that bit more bearable.

Arriving:

If you are flying to Las Vegas, then you will land at McCarran International Airport as this receives a number of flights both domestically as well as internationally and it is situated only five miles, 8km, away from Las Vegas itself. When you land you do have the option of either hiring a taxi cab or the airport bus to get to the strip and the taxi version is going to cost you anywhere between $10 and $20, but do watch out for them taking you via The Tunnel as this is done to add another $5 or so to your bill and there is no other real reason for them taking you that way.

The bus you are generally looking for is the Number 108 and this departs half hour from the airport and takes you to the edge of the strip for just a few dollars. Alternatively, you may also want to consider hiring a shuttle van with a number of other travellers and this is going to cost you anywhere between $5 to get to the Strip to $8 to hit downtown and up to $24 if you are staying at one of the casinos located on the outskirts of town. These vans are great as they will take you right to your hotel, but do remember that you are sharing it with other people so if your hotel is the last one they reach, then you have a long ride ahead of you.

Should you be travelling to Las Vegas from elsewhere in the United States, then there are a number of bus companies that run services from around the country as well as the occasional bus service even from Mexico. Greyhound currently run services to Las Vegas from Phoenix, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Kingman, but it is the Los Angeles service that is certainly the most popular. Alternative bus companies that also run services include Lux Bus, which has four daily trips from Los Angeles, San Diego, and Anaheim whilst Tufesa connect the city to places in Mexico.

The journey time from Los Angeles to Las Vegas by bus fluctuates between five and eight hours and you are looking at a one way ticket costing you in the region of $40 or less if you book far enough in advance. The return journey option will tend to cost you anywhere between $55 and $60, but one thing to look out for is that you may be charged a couple of dollars more for booking your bus journey online as opposed to at an actual ticket office so this may have some bearing on when you buy it.

Travel and Getting Around:

Getting around Las Vegas
is very easy and if you are just wanting to explore the Strip and check out the various casinos, then staying on foot is certainly the best way to go as all of the main places are within easy walking distance of one another. You will also find that certain casinos are linked via bridges or underground passages so this does make it easier on those particularly hot days where the sun makes it almost unbearable to move around.

However, there are other ways to get around and one popular method is the monorail that runs alongside the east side of the Strip and this will stop at different hotels between its starting point at the MGM Grand and its finishing point at the Sahara. This monorail service operates between 7am and 2am on Monday to Thursday and it then extends its hours to 7am to 3am over the weekend. The cost is $5 if you just require a single ride, $9 for a return journey, $14 for a day pass, and there is a $30 option for a three day pass also available. Tickets can be purchased at station machines or you can also buy tickets via the internet where special deals are often available. Do note that you will be stopping at the back of the hotel and this does mean you must negotiate your way through the building to get to the Strip so this can be quite time consuming due to the size of some places.

If you want to get to some places based on the west side of the Strip, then there are several free trams that you can hop on and off as much as you like with them running between the hours of 9am and 1am and they operate approximately every 15 minutes. The main ones you may wish to use will run between Mandalay Bay and Excalibur, another from Treasure Island to Mirage and finally that goes from Monte Carlo through the actual city center with it finishing up at Bellagio.

For people who wish to use the local bus service, then you will need to look at the local bus line Citizens Area Transit as they cover 49 routes that will take you into every corner of the city. The majority of services will operate between the hours of 5:30am and 1:30am on a daily basis, but some will run 24 hours a day and when it comes to prices, then it will cost you $2 to go local, but if you want to ride on the double decker versions that go along the Strip, then it will cost you $3. One thing you must do is have the correct change as they will not give you any themselves.

Should you wish to be slightly different, then a trip on the Las Vegas Strip Trolleys is a must and they are capable of delivering you right to the door of wherever you want to go. They are not the quickest way to get around, but at only $2.50 a trip they do give you real value for money so as long as you are not in a rush, then it is worth checking them out at least once.

Finally, you may wish to travel by car and with this you have two options which are taxi cab or by renting your own one for the duration of your stay. If you want to use a taxi, then they are not allowed to pick you up by you simply flagging them down on the street so you must go to an official terminal to get in one, but they are available at every casino and various other locations around the city. Generally you are looking at it costing you $3.30 when you get in and 20¢ for every twelfth of a mile and the same charge applies when sitting still in traffic for every 24 seconds. One thing to avoid is going down the Strip in a taxi unless you really have to as this will be expensive so consider telling them to use the Industrial Road as this does run parallel. Some drivers will insist that other roads are better, but they will be doing this just so they can charge you more so ignore it and stick to your guns.

If you want to rent a car, then you will need to go to the McCarran Center and this is approximately two miles from the airport as this is where all of the main companies are now situated and you can easily get there via an airport bus. Prices will vary from anywhere between $20 to $70 a day depending upon the car you want and the time of year as clearly busy times will result in a premium being added. Do note that if you hire from the airport there will be a 10% tax surcharge on top so factor this in when working out your budget. To rent a car you must be over 21 and indeed some companies will ask you are over 25 and if you are coming in from outside the US, then you will require your passport, your driver’s license, your travel policy that shows you are covered for things like this, and a reservation voucher and you will be good to go.

Hotels:

Las Vegas does have a wealth of hotels for you to potentially stay at and they do cover a wide range of budgets so no matter how much money you have to spend there will be a number of options still available to you. Most people do; however, look at booking in to one of the many hotels on the Strip with them being linked to the casinos, but what follows are a number of hotels covering each budget with rough guides to the prices in order to help you make your decision. One final note to keep in mind is that some hotels may not allow people under the age of 21 to stay there due to there being gambling on site so you are best to double-check this before making your booking.

Budget Hotels.

When it comes to budget hotels, then there are a number of rooms at big casinos either on the Strip or near it that are at fantastic prices as well as independent hotels that can offer value for money. Only three are listed here, but there are tens of thousands of hotel rooms available at budget prices so do check out as many as possible before booking.

Circus Circus: This is one of the oldest hotels in the area, but it was renovated in 2009 so it is now completely modern and up to date. It consists of over 3000 rooms and its main attraction is its Adventuredome Theme Park which comes with over 25 rides and is like nothing else in Las Vegas. It does of course also have its restaurants, spas, and bars and the casino is one of the most affordable on the Strip although some people do feel it has too much of a budget feel to it when they would prefer to have all of the glitz and glamour. Do also look out for their circus show, hence the name, but the main thing is they do have low cost rooms for people on a budget.

Excalibur Hotel & Casino: If you have children, then the Excalibur Hotel and Casino may be the perfect place for you due to its design reflecting a LEGO castle and it does have a number of activities set up specifically for children. If staying here you should consider checking out their Tournament of Kings dinner show which adds a medieval twist and it will keep your children entertained. There are just under 4000 rooms in the hotel, but one problem is that it can be very busy in the casino as the table minimums are extremely low and this does draw the crowds in.

Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino: If you want to get away from the Strip, then the best budget hotel has to be the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino and it has reigned supreme for over thirty years. This hotel gives you an idea of what Vegas was like when the place was just taking off and do look out for their three-story waterslide that actually goes through their shark tank to give you that extra adrenaline rush. The only problem is that downtown has slipped a bit recently so you may want to take this into consideration when booking.

Mid-Range Hotels.

Trump International: The Trump International hotel is situated near the Strip and this 64 story hotel with 1,282 rooms was only opened in 2008, but it is different in that it does not have a casino and it is classed more as being a condo-hotel. The rooms themselves are owned by individuals and they are rented out with the entire place being managed by Trump. The only problem with this hotel is that it does involve a bit of a walk if you want to get to the Strip itself, but if you want to experience a spa, then the one at this hotel will certainly do the job.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino: If you are visiting Vegas for a party, then the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is probably the ideal place for you to stay at. This is a huge resort with various bars and an almost constant party atmosphere and it is a great place to be if you love to watch people. The swim up blackjack table does make it stand out from the others, but one common complaint is that the staff can sometimes come across as being slightly arrogant, but apart from that it is a fantastic hotel to stay at.

The M Resort: The M Resort opened for business in 2009 and it really is a resort all on its own since it is situated some six miles south of the airport. The rooms here are massive to say the least, but there are under 400 of them so the place never feels too crowded either. It comes with its own casino and they love to promote their spa since a whole range of treatments are on offer every single day and entertainment here is often in the form of concerts held out in the open air making it quite a spectacular scene. The only issues with this resort are that you do need to get a taxi to get to the Strip and the airport is close so there may be some noise from planes overhead, but overall it is a good resort to be based at.

Upmarket Hotels.

Caesars Palace: If you mention Vegas, then Caesars Palace is often the name that springs to mind and it is fair to say that this hotel is extremely opulent, but rooms crammed full of luxury are still available in there for anywhere between $70 and $100 per night so it is still not too bad. The shows at the Colosseum simply cannot be beaten and there are over 160 shops for you to check out in your spare time along with various pools, bars and restaurants.

Luxor Las Vegas: When it comes to an iconic building that everyone knows is in Las Vegas, then the Luxor hotel is probably that building. This hotel is of course based on the world of Ancient Egypt hence the pyramid style design and the hotel does boast the biggest atrium in the entire world. Rooms in the pyramid are quite cramped feeling so you may be best to try and get a room in the towers instead, but you will certainly get some spectacular views from your room should you stay here. Do consider checking out their pool as this is one of the biggest in the city and as with many other hotels you still have your usual selection of restaurants, bars, and a gym to visit.

MGM Grand Hotel & Casino: The MGM Grand Hotel and Casino is one of the biggest hotels in the world as it has just under 4,300 rooms and 751 suites with them spread over five towers each 30 stories high. The entertainment on offer is mind-blowing at the MGM Grand Garden Arena as this hosts shows as well as a number of sporting events throughout the year. If you have kids, then the Rainforest Cafe is certainly one place to check out since it comes complete with its very own speaking animals that will keep them entertained for a long time.

Exclusive Hotels.

Encore: At Encore you do not get a room you get a suite and even the smallest one is a massive 700 square feet and each suite really does just ooze quality. Here you will find pools surrounded by well kept gardens, corridors full of sunlight and flowers and a special Moroccan style spa which has a wide range of treatments available every single day. Night sees one of the hottest clubs in Vegas open its doors at XS whilst you also have pool clubs available at Surrender and the Encore Beach Club if this is what you prefer.

Four Seasons: The only problem with Four Seasons is that it does tend to be quite far away from the other casinos in Vegas, but this problem is counteracted by the luxury that you will be staying in and the fact that it is an extremely quiet hotel due to it being away from the madness that is Vegas. This hotel is extremely family friendly, but if you do want to check out the glitzy side, then everything that is available at Mandalay Bay is also open to you due to staying at this hotel. Do look out for little gifts as every guest is pampered here and just to give you an example every child gets a little cuddly toy and some cookies when they arrive and these little touches does make this place out as being different to many others.

Mandarin Oriental: As the name suggests this hotel is based on an Asian theme and it has to be said that it is also extremely efficient when it comes to service and looking after the guests. The rooms are slightly smaller than you may get elsewhere for the same price, but the rooms are all luxurious to say the least and the hotel does come with an exclusive spa that is only for people staying there.

Alternative Places to Stay.

Apart from hotels there are also several bed and breakfast establishments in and around the area that can offer you home cooking and a quite atmosphere. Two that are certainly worth checking out are Milo’s Inn situated at Boulder City so it does require a trek in to Vegas in order to see anything whilst the other is Michele’s French Country Cottage and this is a great place to stay at when those Vegas lights are just a bit too much.

If camping is your thing, then there are a couple to choose from and perhaps the main two are Hitchin’ Post RV Park and Motel along with the Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort. Do note that both of them are extremely popular so you might find it difficult to get space at certain times in the year. Hitchin’ Post is the closest to the hub of the city and with Oasis you will need to get a bus, but they are regular and as was mentioned earlier cheap for you to get on.

Finally, there are a range of hostels to potentially stay at should you be on an extreme budget and they will still all be clean and tidy and comfortable enough for you to stay in. One of the more popular hostels is the USA hostels situated on Fremont Street, but the only problem is that it is perhaps not in the best of areas so do be aware of this if you plan on walking back at night. An alternative hostel is Sin City Hostel on Las Vegas Boulevard South where a bed in a dorm is going to cost you around $15 a night and you are still pretty close to the Strip. By staying here you get a bed for the night in amongst other people, but you do also get a continental breakfast in the morning and this sets you up for the rest of the day. Finally, Tod Hostel is also on Las Vegas Boulevard South and this is slightly more expensive than Sin City at $23 for a dorm, but they do also have private room options where you will pay over $30 a night, but this is still great value for money compared to elsewhere.

Restaurants

The restaurant scene in Las Vegas is characterised by celebrity chefs opening up new establishments along with the various casinos offering you a selection of cuisine including the traditional buffet. However, if you want to get something a bit different, then you are certainly advised to move into the suburbs as there are a whole host of fantastic restaurants to check out that are often largely ignored by tourists with them focusing on feeding the locals. Apart from American style food you will also be able to pick up Italian, Chinese, seafood, steakhouse, European and a whole host of other styles that may appeal. Only some of the best and most popular ones are listed below.

Joel Robuchon: If you love French cooking, then the restaurant run by the famous French chef Joel Robuchin at the MGM Grand is an absolute must. Yes it is expensive, but you are getting absolute quality and if you do not have the money to go for the complete menu, as this can cost you over $200, then consider the sample menu instead to give you a taste of what French cooking is all about.

KOI: When it comes to Asian food in Las Vegas the one name that is currently on the mind of everyone is KOI at Planet Hollywood and if you are able to get a table there, then you may spot the odd star having a meal as well. If you do enjoy a quiet meal, then try to get a table as near to the back wall as possible and then once you are finished check out the open-air patio and watch the world go by.

Burger Bar: The Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay is the perfect place to go if you want to create your very own burger from a whole host of different meats and an even greater number of combinations than you care to imagine. The prices are very reasonable indeed when you consider the location and you will certainly have fun when trying to come up with your own burger creation.

Rao’s: If you are a lover of Italian food, then there are a number of Italian restaurants to choose from in Vegas and indeed a number of hotels will have their very own versions on site. One such example is Rao’s at Caesar’s Palace and this is the same company that has a small restaurant in New York that is constantly booked out, but at least here you have 200 seats to choose from. The food here is typically a family style of cooking and you certainly get hearty portions that will fill you up in no time and for a price that sits quite comfortable in the middle of the price range.

ENVY Steakhouse: For people who love their steak, then there are several examples to choose from in the city and one such place is ENVY Steakhouse situated at Renaissance on Paradise Road. This venue is inspired by the Rat Pack and has a contemporary, but modern twist to it and the same goes for the food. Do check out their wine list as this is rather extensive and you may be best to seek the advice of staff as to what really does go best with your food.

There are also restaurants that deal with various other cuisines such as Mantra Masala on the West Side for Indian, Isla Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar at Treasure Island for Mexican food, Seablue at MGM Grand for seafood, or if you just want a pizza, then Grimaldi’s is just one of several examples. Prices do vary and it is often the case that those linked to the main casinos will of course be amongst the most expensive whilst those in the city center will often be easier on your bank account. Dress code will also vary between places with some requiring you to have a jacket and suitably attired whereas others are happy for you to turn up as you are and just enjoy your meal.

Sights to Explore:

A number of the best sites to see in Las Vegas are the actual buildings themselves as you walk along the Strip, but there are a number of other places that are well worth a visit during your stay there. It is worth pointing out that some of them will be free whilst others will have a fee attached and do also look at potential waiting times when visiting the city in the height of summer.

Alternatively, you may wish to take this opportunity to explore the Grand Canyon as there are a number of bus trips and helicopter rides that leave from Las Vegas on a daily basis. This is an ideal way to spend an entire day of your vacation in the city so consider getting in touch with the Grand Canyon Tour Company or Papillon as they can offer you both options as well as supplying you with a guide who will tell you the story of the Grand Canyon and explain what you see before you. Bus trips will generally cost around the $80 mark per person or $60 for children and you will have the option of going to either the South Rim or the West Rim, but there is no point in asking which one is best to check out as they are both spectacular.

However, if you want to explore more of the Grand Canyon, then the helicopter ride is the best method and you can pick up flights from under $300 for adults and around $250 for children, but this does depend upon the time of year that you will be there. Additionally you may also see the Hoover Dam or even land in part of the Canyon itself, but this varies according to the trip you book.

Shark Reef: If you love the idea of exploring underwater without getting wet yourself, then Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay is going to be a wonderful experience for you. At this attraction you will find yourself in the ruins of a Mayan temple surrounded by a wide range of tropical fish before moving along tunnels before finally appearing in the ruins of a sunken ship where sharks can swim all around you and through the ship itself.

Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat: Siegfried and Roy are of course well known for their exotic animals and you are certainly advised to take a trip to The Mirage to check this place out. This particular sanctuary has a selection of rare animals for you to check out whilst they also have a number of dolphins held in a tank that has over two million gallons of water and if you have a spare $500 you can get closer to them on a VIP day out. Prices are around $20 for adults and $15 for children.

Auto Collections at Imperial Palace: This particular collection is regarded as being the biggest in the world when it comes to classic cars as over 250 of them are on display at any one time. They tend to have been owned by famous people, such as a 1938 Chrysler connected to Johnny Carson, and if you are lucky enough to find them online you can pick up some free entry coupons. However, if your luck is out, then it will cost you $9 for adults and $5 for children under the age of 12.

Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort: This is the oldest historic site in the Southern Nevada area and it was built in 1855 by the Mormons and it has now been restored back to its original state after being a resort for a period of time. It contains a number of antiques that show what life was like over 100 years ago and it is only $1 for entry and it can be a good way to spend a couple of hours of your day.

The Roller Coaster: There are several theme parks such as Adventuredome at Circus Circus or Stratosphere Thrill Rides that are certainly not for the faint hearted, but one of the most popular places is The Roller Coaster at New York – New York. This ride takes you along the replica of the New York skyline, but as it does so you will encounter a complete somersault, a 144ft drop and travel at up to 67mph through a series of twists and turns so perhaps avoid going on this with a full stomach. Tickets cost you $14 or you can get an all-day pass for $25.

There are of course a number of other museums, gardens, and various other sites to see during your stay and there are also always several exhibitions that are also worth checking out. Do consider visiting the likes of The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, Madame Tussauds next to The Venetian, Mob Attraction at Tropicana, or the Eiffel Tower experience to give you a viewpoint of the city. Do just remember to check online first for any potential money off coupons and also remember that there may be long queues at peak times.

Some free sites to check out include the various fountains that are scattered throughout the city as well as the volcano at The Mirage along with the Fremont Street Experience, the Marjorie Barrick Museum, and the Ethel M Chocolate Factory is a fantastic place for both adults and children. As with anything else do ask at reception for personal tips and advice from the staff as to what kind of sites they would recommend.

Entertainment:

Las Vegas is certainly never lacking in entertainment and the city does indeed come to life in the evening with shows being held at all of the main casinos covering dance, drama, musicals and virtually everything else you can think of.

Nightlife:

As you would expect, Vegas does have an amazing nightlife and there are a whole host of nightclubs that will let you party until the early hours of the morning. Apart from clubs there are also a selection of bars and comedy clubs that are certainly worth a visit with some of the most popular ones being listed below.

The main clubs are; however, going to be in and around the hotels and the general prices you will be looking to pay are approximately $4 for a bottle of beer and up to $10 for most others, but there are of course cheaper places if you look away from the Strip. The most popular nightclubs will be very busy at the weekend and you will often need to pay around $15 as an entry fee and there will often be a queue to stand in and if you are lucky it will only take ten minutes, but it could easily take you over an hour just to get in the door. Dress code is always smart so you will not be allowed in if you are wearing jeans and sports shoes and even a t-shirt is to be avoided.

Tao: This particular nightclub is situated at The Venetian and this really is one trendy spot to be seen at during the night as it is the place of choice for Hollywood. The only problem is you are best to get there early in order to even stand a chance of getting in.

Tabu: Tabu is a nightclub at the MGM Grand, but you do need to be able to blank out the rather posh people that seem to frequent it on a regular basis. Do be careful and keep an eye on your bill as it can be quite expensive and you do not want to be caught out.

Drais: If you want to play it cool and check out some pretty people, then Drais has to be the club to check out, but one piece of advice is to make sure that you do get there before 1am in order to beat the queues.

Casino Bars: There are of course a number of amazing casino bars to choose from and several of the best are listed below.

Fusion Mixology: Fusion Mixology can be found at Palazzo and whilst the casino does have a number of different bars you should venture to this one if you are fond of the odd cocktail. You can have a chat to one of the bar staff, tell them the drinks you like, and then let them get to work on creating something that will taste out of this world.

Eastside Lounge: Eastside Lounge is situated at Encore so do not expect it to be the cheapest of places that you can visit for a drink. This particular bar is quieter than most of the others so it is a great place to just relax in whilst sitting in absolute luxury.

The Bars: Mandalay Bay Hotel does have a selection of fantastic bars all under the one roof and each one does focus on a certain thing as its speciality. If you want a coffee, then the Orchid Lounge is the one to visit, but if you love your music and dancing, then attention must switch to Eyecandy Sound and Lounge Bar is the place to check out, but if you just love a drink and a chat, then check out the lounge where you can laze in leather chairs and talk until the early hours of the morning.

Centrifuge: Centrifuge is one of the bars at MGM Grand and you will be drawn in by it having some rather soothing lighting, but if this is not quite your scene, then there are several other bars worth exploring within the same hotel. The key ones to look at are Rouge if you prefer to just sit around and chill, but if you want something a bit more upbeat, then Diego should always be the place to check out.

Theatre and Shows: Las Vegas is world famous for its spectacular shows that include some of the biggest acts in the world and they tend to run throughout the year. Do ask staff at your hotel for information on who is performing where and they can also help you get tickets, but will expect a tip for doing so. Apart from this there are also a number of permanent shows to choose from and some of the key ones that you are advised to try to check out include:

Absinthe at Caesars Palace: This show has a heady mixture of comedy and acrobats and it is currently seen as being the top show in the whole of Vegas. The atmosphere is pretty special and one of the best things is that due to the theatre being relatively small it means you feel as if you are in the middle of the action and this just adds to the experience.

The Beatles “Love” at The Mirage: The Beatles are still loved and adored by so many people and if you like their music, then this is the show for you. This show does more than entertain as it actually moves you with a whole host of amazing performances, but it is extremely popular so do fight to get a ticket as you will be glad that you did so.

“O” – Cirque Du Soleil at Ballagio Hotel: Cirque Du Soleil is clearly known around the world for a spectacular show even though the tickets are expensive and quite difficult to get hold of. There is; however, a second show by the same company on in Vegas with this being at Treasure Island Hotel and the show is called Mystique so if you fail to get a ticket for one, then do try the other so you do not miss out completely.

Penn and Teller at The Rio: Vegas and magic have always worked well together and with Penn and Teller you do get two amazing magicians working together in a spectacular show. By going there you will wonder where the last 90 minutes have gone as time flies past and you will certainly have lots to talk about after it when trying to work out how they pulled off various tricks.

Shopping:

One problem with shopping in Vegas is that you do need to spend the time working through all of the tourist type stuff that tends to clutter the various shops, but you can still find all of the usual names tucked away in little corners with there being an absolute wealth of options available. One of the best places to check out for shops is the Forum or Appian Way at Caesars as you have over 160 different stores to browse through at your leisure and this is where you will get the classy names such as Cartier as well as a host of Italian names that just shout out quality. If luxury is your thing, then The Shoppes at The Palazzo is somewhere else that you may wish to check out as this will let you see what is new from the likes of Jimmy Choo, Bottega Veneta, and there are also numerous jewelry stores with some eye catching items to check out.

Other main shopping areas that you should really check out includes Grand Canal Shoppes situated on the Strip and this will be where you can check out names such as Sephora, Ripa da Monti and Dooney & Bourke. This mall is open until midnight on Friday and Saturday and 11pm on other nights, but apart from shopping you will also want to visit their open air cafe that is crammed full of street performers who will keep you entertained.

Whilst some of the malls are indeed connected to the casinos it is also worth pointing out that there are some that are not and may be capable of giving you a real bargain. If you just feel like getting away from the main areas, then Town Square may be of interest as this is actually an open air mall that is laid out similar to a Mediterranean town. However, if you are in Vegas to have a go at the various gambling opportunities, then a trip to the Gambler’s General Store on South Main Street will be your very own personal mecca. This is the place where you will be able to pick up all kinds of books and information on the various games that you may encounter along with various other items related to gambling including the chance to purchase your very own slot machine, but do be aware of various restrictions when doing so.

Activities:

There is more to do around Las Vegas than just sitting in a casino hoping that lady luck is on your side and whilst each hotel does have its very own pool for you to laze around in it is best to check out what else is on offer around the city.

Indoor Skydiving: Head along to the Convention Center to have a go at indoor skydiving where you are all kitted out in the suit and then placed in a vertical wind tunnel that will lift you off the ground and allow you to float on air. This is going to simulate what it is like freefalling for around three minutes, but you do require some 20 minutes of training before being allowed on. The price for this is $85 for your first flight, then after your training it is $50.

Vegas Balloon Rides: For around $225 you can experience Vegas from a hot air balloon, weather permitting of course, and you will even be picked up from your hotel first thing in the morning. Your guide will tell you all about what is now below you and you will also get a champagne toast to celebrate your flight over the city. Do remember that this activity will depend on the weather so cancellations are possible.

Vegas Mini Baja Chase: Spend a day driving about the various dunes on a sand buggy as you have a space of over 15,000 acres to explore. This will be perfect for those people who love speed and adrenaline fuelled activities and the price for this full day is just over $200.

Gondola: Situated at St Mark’s Square, the gondola ride is one of the most popular activities in all of Vegas and it is so busy that they had to hire more people to work there and it can still be extremely difficult to book a ride so do look at getting there as early as possible to try and beat the rush. Be serenaded as you sail along this replica of Venice and take the chance to relax instead of being surrounded by the madness of the casinos. It will cost you under $20 per person although a private trip for two will be more expensive.

Red Rock Canyon: 20 miles west of Las Vegas is Red Rock Canyon and this is a great spot to go hiking or cycling as there are a number of trails to explore at your leisure. It costs you $7 per car to park there, but there are buses available to get you to the canyon and you are then free to explore it at your own pace. The park does close at night, but the times will vary according to the time of the year so check this as you enter.

You can also spend time checking out places such as the Bryan Head Resort only three miles away, try ice skating at the Fiesta Rancho Ice Arena, experience some of the hot springs in the area, or swim and jet ski at Lake Mead, which is the largest artificial lake in the country and is only a short drive away. If you are stuck at all, then staff at your hotel will be more than willing to help point you in the direction of things such as bicycle hire, horse riding, or even a round of golf if this is what you would prefer as all the need to know are your interests and there will tend to be something there that is suitable for you.

Security:

When it comes to your own personal safety, then you are going to have to just keep your wits about you as the crime rate in Las Vegas is higher than it tends to be in cities such as New York or Los Angeles. The most common crime is aggravated assault and robbery, but as long as you do not flash your cash, then your stay here should pass without incident. Do be street wise at all times and certainly avoid leaving anything valuable in your car and if you are lucky enough to win at the casino, then either get a cheque or ask for casino staff to escort you to your room so you can safely tuck your money away in a safe. You will be entirely safe when you are inside the actual casinos as they do have security cameras covering every square inch of their building, but do still be sensible enough to carry your purse or wallet in front of you and do not put things in your back pockets as this can attract some unwanted attention.

Tips and Other Advice:

Tipping is of course a way of life, but if you are from outside the US, then you may not fully understand what is expected from you. Basically, when someone brings you a drink, then it is common to give them $1 tip even when you are being handed that free drink in the casino to keep you there. If you are gambling, then it is quite customary to tip the dealer at least once an hour and you should give them something that is pretty similar to the average bet you are making.

Other tip amounts to be aware of include around $5 to $10 for a tour guide and when you are at a restaurant, then consider tipping anywhere between 10% and 20% to the waiter. Finally, look at the same percentage for people who get you tickets for shows or arrange things for you and it will always result in you getting better service not only now, but for the rest of your stay.

If you are a smoker, then the casinos generally allow it, but other places such as bars and restaurants are banned from allowing people to smoke inside, but they will often provide you with a place to smoke outside, but make sure you are in the correct area because if you are caught, then you can expect a fine of over $100.

The other key bit of advice you must take on board is connected to the heat especially if you are not used to it. You must always make sure that you are hydrated enough even if you are staying indoors the majority of the time during the scorching hot days. If you do venture outside, then consider a hat to keep the sun off your head and use sunblock to save you getting burnt.

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