Las Vegas Holidays
Las Vegas is a city like no other, a place that has to be seen to be believed. The fact that it's known both as "the Entertainment Capital of the World" and as "Sin City" could give you some idea of what you might find there. In fact, though, nothing can prepare you for the jaw-dropping galaxy of glitz, glamour and sheer extravagance that is Las Vegas.
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Vegas Has it All
Although gambling, entertainment and nightlife get most of the press, it's important to remember that Las Vegas nowadays is a very diverse destination, with more than enough to offer all ages and types of visitor, including families. From culture and history, to awe-inspiring national parks and fabulous shopping, Las Vegas really does have it all. The latest boom is in adventure holidays, for people who prefer to get their adrenaline rush somewhere other than the casino.
In the Midst of the Desert
One great thing about the city is that its location in the midst of the semi-arid Nevada Desert means it enjoys sunshine and warmth all year round. In fact, the summer months between May and September can be a bit too hot, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees centigrade. Often the best times to explore the area in comfort are spring -- March and April -- or the autumn or fall months of October and November.
The desert location also means that some of the world's most awesome natural wonders are right on the doorstep. Only about 17 miles away is the sensational Red Rock Canyon, with its extraordinary rock formations and unique geological features, offering scenic drives, rock climbing and hiking trails; or you can enjoy a day trip into the Mojave Desert to see the stunning landscapes of the Zion and Bryce National Parks, varying from slot canyons and ancient red, white and orange rock formations to peaceful rivers and luxuriant greenery. Five hours away is the iconic Grand Canyon, one of the greatest natural wonders of the world, and you can also explore the gorgeous Lake Mead Area, where vast lakes meet desert mountains.
When exploring the city itself, the two places most visitors head to first are Fremont Street and The Strip. Fremont Street in the early days was the location of many of the city's most famous casinos, and its western end, called Glitter Gulch because of its abundance of neon signs, became the image that symbolised Las Vegas throughout the world. Now this section of the street has been transformed into the Fremont Street Experience, called "the party that never ends", covered by a huge barrel-vault canopy which is illuminated by more than 12 million LED lamps, and features nightly light and sound shows. The biggest attraction is the Slotzilla Zip-line, called the world's largest slot machine, offering two flight levels -- a lower zip-line, travelling half way along the pedestrian mall at 40 miles per hour, and the upper Zoomline, 10 storeys up, travelling the whole distance, with flyers travelling prone in super-hero style.
Cruising the Strip
The Strip of course is the place that most people think of when Las Vegas is mentioned -- it's a six-kilometre stretch of the Las Vegas Boulevard, home to some of the most colossal casinos and most glitzy hotels on the planet. Cruising the Strip, by car or preferably on foot, is a required activity for a first-time visitor, perhaps starting at CityCenter, the "city within a city", a 67-acre complex at the heart of the Strip, home to six huge properties including the stunning Aria Resort and Casino. Further along is the LINQ entertainment complex and shopping promenade, full of new restaurants, shops and performance venues, and containing the High Roller, the world's tallest observation wheel.
It's on the Strip that you will encounter some of the world's most stupendous mega-resorts, and even if you can't stay in them (though hotels in Vegas cost a lot less than comparable hotels elsewhere) you can still gaze at them in wonder. Among the Strip's most awesome attractions are the fountains in front of the Bellagio, which provide spectacular performances using a dramatic combination of water, light and music -- but the fountains are just the start of this incredible hotel, built to epitomise elegance and romance, from the astounding Chihuly sculpture of more than 2,000 glass flowers hovering over your head in the lobby, to the three-storey chocolate fountain, the world's largest.
Just as jaw-dropping, The Venetian sets out to replicate Venice without sacrificing any of the Las Vegas zing, starting with the lobby ceiling reproducing the Sistine Chapel (which is of course in Rome). In front you can ride a gondola along the Grand Canal and under the Rialto Bridge, or visit the restaurants and shops in St Mark's Square in the huge retail complex, the Palazzo, covered with authentic cobblestones. With swimming pools that mimic the fountains of Venetian palaces, la dolce vita is alive and well in Las Vegas.
These are just two of the Strip's many vast and incredible hotels, and you could spend your holiday gazing at these alone. But if you want something different, you can try Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat further along the Boulevard, where you can meet white lions and white tigers and swim with dolphins, or try one of the many adventure trips available, such as Hoover Dam Rafting, or Desert Adventure ATV (all-terrain vehicle) tours. Whether you want to party all night or just enjoy a fabulous meal, this magical playground will deliver an experience you will never forget.