Sin City – City of Lost Wages – Disneyland for Adults – Entertainment Capital of the World – call it what you will – it’s Fabulous Las Vegas!
The city of Las Vegas sprang out of Nevada’s Mojave Desert in the USA around a hundred years ago and is famed for its vibrant nightlife and fabulous themed hotels along the focal point of its four-mile-long boulevard affectionately known as ‘The Strip’.
Las Vegas is many things to many people – a Mecca for those who want to chance their luck in the twenty-four hour casinos, a world class entertainment centre for those who love music and shows, a fantasyland for just about everything that your indulgent adult heart might desire.
When a destination offers you so much, and you can’t possibly see and do it all in a limited amount of time and on a realistic budget, but you want to experience the best that Vegas has to offer, then it’s hard to know where to start and when to finish in Vegas. Having just experienced four wonderful days and five fabulous nights in Las Vegas myself and having had an amazing and fun trip, I feel I can offer you some first-timers tips and advice on how to make the most of your Las Vegas experience.
What time of year? First up, remember that there is no right or wrong time to visit Las Vegas but it is built in the middle of a desert, so springtime (March, April and May) and autumn (September, October and November) are considered the most pleasant times of the year. But if you are looking for low prices and special deals, you may want to look to June, July and August, when it will be very hot indeed but if you are going to spend your time inside in air-conditioning or cooling off in your hotel pool, then the extreme temperature might be less of an issue. However, if you really can’t stand the heat, January and February are considerably cooler months with temperatures averaging around 14-17 C or 58-63 F.
What day is it? The Vegas week is split into two when it comes to hotel prices: weekend and mid-week. So when looking for your best deals it pays to be flexible. You’ll often find that airfares work in much the same way.
Where to stay? This one is entirely down to you and your budget and your personal preferences. If you want luxury and a five-star experience then you may be looking to stay at hotels like The Bellagio of The Venetian, or if you are looking for mid-range affordability then maybe the MGM Grand or New York New York, or if you need a budget deal there are plenty to be found. My husband and I stayed at Palms Place, an apart-hotel just off the Strip next door to The Palms Hotel and Casino, at a special deal price. It offered us the best of both worlds with a stunning view and a luxury suite. Just a few blocks up the street from Palms Place is a big supermarket called Smiths. We went there on our first day to stock up on snacks, beverages and breakfast goodies so we could enjoy late-night movie snacks and have breakfast on our own terms before heading out for the day. Top Tip: research online and find those special deals for whatever time of year or day of the week you plan to visit fabulous Las Vegas.
Casinos: Casino hotels dominate the Las Vegas Strip and can also be found in old ‘downtown’ Vegas on Fremont Street. If you are a true gambler then you just found mecca but if you only have a few spare dollars in your pocket and you want to have some fun – and free drinks while you play – then a stint on the slot machines is a lot of fun, and you never know, you just might get lucky.
Restaurants and buffets: You won’t go hungry in Las Vegas because the place is a culinary wonder of affordable excesses and you won’t have to go far to find something delicious to eat. There are high-end restaurants, mid-range family-style diners and brand-name burger joints and everything in between. My preference for a pre-show dining experience is for one of the high-end hotel buffets because this is something that Vegas does like nowhere else. The buffet is where you can buy endless pours of wine and champagne and eat and drink every type of cuisine to your heart’s content. If you are not a ‘buffet person’ you might change your mind when you experience the astonishing quality and the eye-popping variety of food and opulent desserts on offer. Some may want to buffet for variety and some for value and quantity, whatever your reason, the Las Vegas buffet is a staple Vegas experience.
It’s impossible to say which of the top hotels offers the ‘number one’ buffet, as competition between them is fierce and their chefs are constantly sourcing the world’s finest foods to offer their distinguished diners; but I can certainly recommend The Wynn to you, as it takes the buffet experience up a notch in its presentation by offering what feels like a fine dining experience and it was my personal favourite. Incidentally, at The Wynn, we just happened to go in towards the end of the lunchtime period and so also enjoyed the more expensive evening dinner options at the lesser price – a jackpot situation for sure. You may also want to explore the buffet at The Bellagio, The Bacchanal at Caesars Palace and The Wicked Spoon at The Cosmopolitan and the buffet at Aria, to suggest just a few of the high-end buffet options on offer.
Experiences: Las Vegas is billed as a fantasy-land for adults and so the most unique bucket-list experiences are to be found here. Do you want to cruise The Strip in a shiny Ferrari or drive a fast car at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway or even a full size bulldozer or excavator at the heavy equipment playground at Dig This Vegas? Why not add a visit to a fun and quirky museum like The Pinball Hall of Fame or The Mob Museum or Madam Tussauds at The Venetian and afterwards take a romantic glide in an authentic gondola operated by a singing gondolier down the Grand Canal also at the Venetian Hotel?
Not adventurous enough for you? Why not zip line from a giant slot machine or even get fired out of it on the ‘zoom line’ at SlotZilla Zip Lines at Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Vegas. Those seeking even more in the way of thrills might ride a roller coaster at the Adventure Dome at Circus Circus or at New York New York. Do your research and choose your fun or fantasy!
Shows: Las Vegas is truly the entertainment capital of the world for live acts and dinner shows and attracts world class entertainers and epic headliners as well as lounge musicians, top magicians, and spellbinding circus entertainers and dazzling tribute acts. Top Tip: don’t forget to check who is on and where as part of your pre-vacation trip planning.
Weddings: Thousands of couples come to Las Vegas to get married and weddings here can be romantic, traditional, fun or formal. You can marry in a hotel, a traditional chapel, a drive-through chapel or even in the shark tank at Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. However you do it, your ceremony can be both simple and sentimental and, as long as you are both over eighteen years old, a marriage licence is all you need and there is no waiting period. There are so many themed ways to say ‘I do’ in Vegas or even to renew your vows with ‘I do again’ – which is what my husband and I did with a fabulous Elvis themed ceremony at the Graceland Chapel on our thirty-third anniversary. It was wonderful crazy fun and absolutely the highlight of our Las Vegas trip.
Excursions: There are so many places to explore from Las Vegas that many visitors add excursions to their Vegas experience. Trips include the Mojave Desert and Red Rock Canyon, The Valley of Fire State Park, Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam, Route 66 and the historic towns of Kingman and Seligman, Arizona, all on route to the sight that everyone wants to see, The Grand Canyon. Top Tip: allow a day or two to allow for bucket-list day trips.
There really is nowhere in the world like Las Vegas. As an adult playground it has something for everyone. Adult in the USA means aged twenty-one and over if you want to drink and gamble in the casinos, and if you look younger you’ll certainly want to carry an I.D. The Strip is home to twenty or more of the world’s largest hotel and casino resorts and their architecture alone is a sight to behold; from the Luxor pyramid and its laser beam to the over-the -top luxury of The Bellagio and its synchronised to music fountains. The Las Vegas Strip by night is all twinkling lights and glitz and glamour and total extravagance mixed together with decadence and dingy and seedy. I loved it – I wanted more of it – and had to remind myself that you always have to leave in order to go back again.