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Getting Around

Most visits to Las Vegas are confined to the Strip and downtown, so it is not necessary to hire a car as both are easily navigable by foot and there are several forms of transport that can be used. Local buses run the length of the Strip and into downtown and operate 24 hours a day with a flat fare including transfers. The old-fashioned Las Vegas Strip Trolley also runs the length of the Strip from 9:30am to 2am, and the Downtown Trolley circles between the Stratosphere and downtown from 7am to 11pm. A state-of-the-art monorail runs above the streets, operating from 7am to 2am daily between the Sahara Hotel and the MGM Grand. Taxis are plentiful and can be found lined up outside every hotel and casino and at taxi stands. Cars are the most practical way to explore outside Las Vegas, although there are bus tours offered to Hoover Dam.

Las Vegas

Set in the middle of the vast Mojave Desert, Las Vegas was created entirely to entertain and has been described as the world's largest theme park. This psychedelic city of sin is home to over a million people and welcomes 35 million more each year to its lavish hotels and casinos. Visitors today are amazed that only 70 years ago this thriving metropolis was a backwater with less than a thousand inhabitants whose only guests were railway passengers stopping off to stretch their legs on the long journey between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.

Things started to change in March 1931 when the State of Nevada legalised gambling; one month later the city issued six licenses. Then in 1946, Mafia don Ben 'Bugsy' Siegel opened the sensationally lavish Flamingo Hilton on Highway 91. Las Vegas Boulevard was born and the city would never be the same again.

Soon stars like Elvis, Liberace and Sinatra were making the pilgrimage to what was fast becoming America's premier entertainment centre. In the early days the Mafia dominated the gambling industry but in the 1960s their influence waned and soon all the large hotels and casinos were controlled by big business.

Las Vegas has 18 out of 21 of the largest hotels in the world and walking down 'The Strip' visitors will see the skylines of New York and Paris, discover the canals of Venice and the Pyramids of Egypt and, at Treasure Island, see a full-on sea battle between a pirate ship and a British Galleon. Despite these excesses, room rates and restaurant bills are said to be some of the lowest in the western world - all subsidised by gamblers intent on a free holiday.

Although the principal draw card is still gambling, Las Vegas is now marketed as a family destination and there is no shortage of theme parks, shopping malls or golf courses. However, the vast majority of visitors come to gamble or party and the incredible displays are mostly designed to lure passers-by into the casinos, and once there it's hard to leave; the exits are discreetly hidden.

Getting Around

Most visits to Las Vegas are confined to the Strip and downtown, so it is not necessary to hire a car as both are easily navigable by foot and there are several forms of transport that can be used. Local buses run the length of the Strip and into downtown and operate 24 hours a day with a flat fare including transfers. The old-fashioned Las Vegas Strip Trolley also runs the length of the Strip from 9:30am to 2am, and the Downtown Trolley circles between the Stratosphere and downtown from 7am to 11pm. A state-of-the-art monorail runs above the streets, operating from 7am to 2am daily between the Sahara Hotel and the MGM Grand. Taxis are plentiful and can be found lined up outside every hotel and casino and at taxi stands. Cars are the most practical way to explore outside Las Vegas, although there are bus tours offered to Hoover Dam.

Nightlife

There's a reason they say 'what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas' and the nightlife and entertainment may well be that reason. With bars, clubs, strip clubs, casinos and world-class international shows running for years at a time, it's little wonder that Las Vegas has earned itself a reputation, albeit not always favourable, as one of the world's party capitals.

The world-famous Strip is bland and dingy-looking during the day, but the minute the sun sets this desert oasis springs to life with neon illuminating just about every inch of this infamous city. The real problem when heading out for a night on The Strip is choosing where to begin.

The current trend regarding shows is towards headline comedy or music acts and large-scale Broadway productions all of which can be seen at the main hotels throughout town. World-famous magicians like David Copperfield and Criss Angel, singers like Celine Dion, Bette Midler and Cher, and renowned acts like the Cirque du Soleil and Blue Man Group all call Las Vegas home.

Hotels in Las Vegas with great entertainment include the Bellagio, the Venetian, Caesar's Palace, Mandalay Bay, Treasure Island and the MGM Grand. Las Vegas casinos are also the best place to go for nightclubs and bars, with famous clubs like Pure (Caesar's Palace), Tao (The Venetian), Lavo (the Palazzo), and Wet Republic (MGM Grand) throwing celebrity-hosted parties nearly every weekend.

Shopping

Las Vegas just might be the mall shopping capital of the world: there are more than 20 mega malls competing for your dollar, each uniquely themed in its own style, and each offering prices that retailers in other cities struggle to compete with. So if you are burdened with your gambling winnings here are some shopping venues to help lighten your load:

Town Square Las Vegas is a mega mall with a difference: most of the stores are outside so you can enjoy a pedestrian friendly village atmosphere while exploring a comprehensive range of stores. Town Square also offers an eclectic range of restaurants, a newly built day-spa, and a wonderful interactive children's park. Another retail centre is Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Occupying prime position on The Strip, there are more than 170 specialty stores and 15 restaurants to choose from.

Caesars Palace is home to the hugely popular Forum Shops, with more than 700,000 square feet (220,000 sq/m) of retail space, while the Fashion Show Mall at 3200 Las Vegas Boulevard is still worth a visit for its incredible bargains 30 years after its founding. The largest mall, and indeed the biggest in the whole state of Nevada, is Boulevard Mall offering more than 170 stores and 1,2 million feet (370,000 sq/m) of retail space.

If you like your mall shopping with a healthy dose of kitsch then don't miss The Grand Canal Shops at the Venetian. This indoor shopping area is built as an authentic reproduction of Venice's Grand Canal (and yes, there are gondolas) with a replica of Piazza San Marco as the extravagant centre piece.

The Strip is known for designer boutiques and haute couture, and all the big names are represented here. Away from The Strip and the opulent malls you can find more individual stores selling Las Vegas collectibles (old gambling chips are highly prized), esoteric books and kooky clothing. Two markets are really worth a look: Broad Acres Swap Meet has more than 600 retailers and the Fantastic Indoor Swap Meet has an astounding variety of new merchandise.

Sales tax is built into the price of goods. Because states set their own sales tax the US government has no system for refunding you as a non-US visitor.

Kids Attractions

At first Las Vegas may seem bright and brash, no place to take kids on holiday, but this fun and fantasy-filled city is described as the world's largest theme park - what more could a child want? Set in the middle of the vast Mojave Desert, this vibrant holiday destination offers everything from wildlife viewing to theme parks and shopping malls. Naturally there are many places in Vegas which are not suitable for children, but a concerted effort has been made to accommodate families, with family-friendly resorts springing up in and around the city.

Kids on holiday in Las Vegas will immediately be impressed by the re-created New York and Paris skylines, seen from The Strip, and revel in the adventurous notion of exploring the canals of Venice or the Egyptian pyramids. And all the pretty Las Vegas lights, so many lights everywhere! An 8pm bedtime will be a tough call...

In an attempt to lure gamblers to the casinos to squander all their cash, Las Vegas accommodation and restaurants are surprisingly affordable - a real benefit for families on holiday. The pursuit of pleasure by both parents and children alike is possible year-round; the summers in Las Vegas are definitely hotter, but everything is air-conditioned.

Restaurants

There was a time when Las Vegas' restaurants were known more for quantity than cuisine. This was due to the legendary casino buffets which offered mountains of food for modest prices on the well-calculated assumption that diners would hit the tables or slots machines to work off their meal, and would stay longer in the casinos if lavishly well fed.

Today, however, Las Vegas has a large selection of world-class eateries, with Italian trattoria, classic French fine-dining and luxury steakhouses especially well represented. Some of the country's top chefs are now based here and exciting new restaurants open weekly. In addition, Vegas is home to several world-class sommeliers. Eating out has definitely become one of the many entertainment options in Vegas, with restaurants competeting for attention and many novelty eateries.

All this increasing activity and greater competition means that Vegas offers decent value for money compared to other large cities. The net result is that the former capital of the 99-cent shrimp cocktail is now regarded as a global cuisine capital. When it comes to eating at least, the odds are really in your favour. Don't panic though, the enormous buffets are still available!

Sightseeing

When you visit Las Vegas you quickly realise that the city itself is the biggest attraction. You can simply walk The Strip and bask in the fluorescent lights, soak up the sounds of laughter, traffic hooting, pinging slot machines, and absorb the incredible energy of this improbably fascinating city in the desert. 100 years ago there was nothing here - today it's one of the world's fastest growing cities.

The key sites are naturally the extravagant casinos that line The Strip, all competing to attract passersby with lavish displays and performances. Check out the MGM-themed Mirage, the Egyptian fantasy of the Luxor, and the opulence of the Bellagio. Most people come to Vegas to gamble and party (or perhaps to get married in one of the famous chapels), but the city is an entertainment hub, offering theme parks, incredible swimming pools, giant shopping malls, and much more, which will easily occupy the whole family. Music fans will head for the Liberace museum and the many grand shows, while automobile nuts won't want to miss the world-class Imperial Palace Automobile Collection.

If exploring on foot, do so at night when the lights make their biggest impact and the temperature is cooler. During the day make the most of the city buses which run the length of The Strip.

Climate

Located in the middle of the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas is hot and dry during summer with mild winters, and plenty of sunshine all year round. In the height of summer, during July and August, the mercury often soars above 100ºF (38ºC). Winters are cooler and bring winds and cold nights, with daytime highs of around 60ºF (16ºC) and chilly nights averaging 40ºF (4ºC). What little rain there is usually falls in winter, between January and March. In summer though there are sometimes late afternoon thunderstorms that move in from Mexico.

Average High Temperatures in ℃

  • Jan14
  • Feb17
  • Mar20
  • Apr25
  • May31
  • Jun38
  • Jul41
  • Aug39
  • Sep35
  • Oct30
  • Nov20
  • Dec14

Average Low Temperatures in ℃

  • Jan1
  • Feb4
  • Mar6
  • Apr10
  • May16
  • Jun21
  • Jul24
  • Aug23
  • Sep19
  • Oct12
  • Nov5.8
  • Dec1

Average Rainfall in Cm

  • Jan14
  • Feb12
  • Mar13
  • Apr4.8
  • May5
  • Jun2
  • Jul9
  • Aug13
  • Sep7
  • Oct6
  • Nov11
  • Dec10

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