Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous for its consolidated casino–hotels and associated entertainment. A growing retirement and family city, Las Vegas is the 28th-most populous city in the United States
A Wild West town on the edge of the desert, there’s more to do in Las Vegas than just gamble. Gaze slack-jawed at the Strip’s free-for-all shows, or dig into the city’s hurly-burly past at offbeat museums, while adventure awaits just outside the city limits.
Las Vegas: Ten top sites attractions
Nothing says classic Las Vegas more than the Bellagio’s (1) lakefront dancing fountains with a soundtrack of Rat Pack crooner Frank Sinatra in the background. Inside the elegant casino, gawk at over-the-top seasonal floral displays at the conservatory.
Address: 3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Contact: 702 693 7111; www.bellagio.com
Opening times: Fountain show daily, every 15 minutes 8pm-12am, every 30 minutes 3pm-8pm Monday-Friday, 12pm-8pm Saturday & Sunday. Conservatory open 24 hours
Eiffel Tower Experience
Much of the Strip’s eye-candy architecture mimics world icons like Egypt’s pyramids or the canals of Venice. At Paris Las Vegas casino (2), crowds zip up this half-size replica of Gustave Eiffel’s French creation just for the views. Go during the daytime, when it’s cheaper and lines shorter.
Address: 3655 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Contact: 702 946 7000; www.parislasvegas.com
Price: Adult $10.50 (child $7.50), after 7:15pm adult $15.50 (child $10.50; express pass $22
Opening times: Daily, 9:30am-12:30am (weather permitting)
Sirens of TI & Mirage Volcano
Las Vegas casino shows don’t get any cheesier than the barely-clad pirates’ battle of the sexes happening in the artificial bay outside TI (Treasure Island) casino (3) nightly, complete with booty-shaking dancing and fiery pyrotechnics. At the neighbouring Mirage casino, a faux-Polynesian volcano erupts spectacularly after dark, stopping passersby in their tracks.
Address: 3300-3400 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Contact: 702 894 7111, 702 791-7111; www.treasureisland.com, www.mirage.com
Opening times: Volcano nightly, 7pm-11pm, every hour on the hour. Sirens of TI nightly, weather permitting) at 5:30pm (winter only), 7pm, 8:30pm, 10pm, 11:30pm (summer only)
Get a thrill over 100 stories above the Strip atop this tripod-legged skyscraper’s observation deck (4), reached by the USA’s fastest elevators. Mechanical rides will put your heart in your stomach, while real daredevils can freefall 800 feet into thin air on the SkyJump.
Address: 2000 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Contact: 702 380 7777; www.stratospherehotel.com
Price: Elevator ride $16 (child $10), with unlimited thrill rides $34, SkyJump from $110
Opening times: Sunday-Thursday, 10am-1am (2am Friday & Saturday), weather permitting
Kitschy 1960s Vegas stays alive at this clownish hotel (5), where trapeze artists, contortionists, jugglers and more dangle above the casino floor. If it’s raining outside, let your kids loose inside the Adventuredome indoor theme park, where carnival rides await and clowns perform throughout the day.
Address: 2880 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Contact: 702 734 0410; www.circuscircus.com
Price: Casino shows free. Adventuredome rides $5-8, all-day pass $17-27
Opening times: Casino open 24 hours. Adventuredome open daily, hours vary
Fremont Street Experience
Streaking down the middle of downtown’s old-fashioned casino row, this 1500ft-long canopy (6) flashes with 12.5 million synchronized LED lights and booms with 555,000 watts of sound as zany six-minute-long animated movies play overhead.
Address: Fremont Street, between Main Street and Las Vegas Boulevard
Contact: 702 678 5777; www.vegasexperience.com
Opening times: Shows nightly, dusk-1am, every hour on the hour
Unearth the past at this multimillion-dollar natural history museum complex (7) lso home to the Nevada State Museum. Exhibits treat Native Americans and railroad pioneers to casino impresarios, mobsters and showgirls. The surrounding nature preserve has walking trails, an eco-living educational center and a green-themed gift shop and café by Los Angeles chef Wolfgang Puck.
Address: 333 South Valley View Boulevard
Contact: 702 822 7700; www.springspreserve.org
Price: Adult $19, concession $17, child $11 (under 5 years old free)
Opening times: Daily, 10am-6pm
Atomic Testing Museum
In the Fabulous Fifties, Las Vegas casino tourists watched as atomic bombs exploded on the desert horizon. Explore the city’s Cold War days and the state of nuclear non-proliferation today at this Smithsonian museum affiliate (8).
Address: 755 East Flamingo Road
Contact: 702 794 5151; www.atomictestingmuseum.org
Price: Adult $12, concession $9 (children under 7 years old free)
Opening times: Monday-Saturday, 10am-5pm (12pm-5pm Sunday)
Everyone runs wild in Las Vegas. Now is your chance to try firing a real live Beretta or Glock just like a gangster, or trade up to a semi-automatic rifle in this off-Strip indoor firearms range (9). Tuesday is ladies’ discount day.
Address: 2900 East Tropicana Ave
Contact: 702 454 1110; www.thegunstorelasvegas.com
Price: Gun rentals from $25
Opening times: Daily, 9am-6:30pm
Erotic Heritage Museum
Only in Sin City would you find a warehouse-sized museum of human sexuality (10) in the shadow of a strip club. Peruse the collection of objets d’art from around the world, or sneak upstairs to see groovy 1970s “blue movies” playing on endless loops. Check the website calendar for kinkily themed events.
Address: 3275 Industrial Road
Contact: 702 369 6442; www.eroticheritagemuseumlasvegas.com
Price: Adult $15.
Opening times: Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday, 11am-4pm (12pm-10pm Friday & Saturday).
More than just a big hole in the ground, this ethereal wind- and water-sculpted landscape ranks among the USA’s top natural attractions. Tip: Skip the gimmicky SkyWalk and visit the national park instead. From Las Vegas, several companies offer bus tours, or take a flight-seeing trip aboard a private helicopter or plane (from $359; www.maverickhelicopter.com). If you drive, it’s about 4½ hours each way.
Contact: 928 638-7888; www.nps.gov/grca
This art-deco desert masterpiece of engineering towers above the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, backing up onto artificial Lake Mead. Learn all about the history of the dam, built during the 1930s Great Depression, while taking an underground tour that visit the dam’s massive hydroelectric generators, each of which could power a small city of 10,000 people. Bus tours from Las Vegas are inexpensive and can be booked after arrival.
Contact: 702 494 2517; www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam
Red Rock Canyon
A haven for hikers, cyclists, rock climbers or anyone eager to escape Las Vegas’ neon jungle, this national conservation area protects iconic desert scenery: eroded red-rock cliffs, hidden springs and wide-open Western horizons. It’s less than a 30-minute drive west of the Strip.
Contact: 702 515 5350; www.redrockcanyonlv.org
Nestled in the Spring Mountains, outdoorsy locals come here to hike during summer and ski and snowboard during winter. The drive northwest of the city takes about an hour.
Contact: 702 593 9500, www.skilasvegas.com.