Sin City, Adult Disneyland, City of Lights, Entertainment Capital of the World… the glitzy legend of Las Vegas arguably has more nicknames than any other city in the world, and most of them are at least vaguely complimentary. Unrecognisable from its seedy origins in which gamblers learned the hard way that the house always wins, Vegas is now a largely family-friendly resort that caters to just about every possible taste and interest. Tourists from worldwide still flock to this city – read on to find out why you should join them.
History of Las Vegas
Las Vegas has strong Mexican connections in its history, with the name of the city translating as The Meadows in Spanish. Despite its position within the desert state of Nevada, Vegas was an invaluable water supply for trading parties on the road, with numerous wells feeding into the urban river The Las Vegas Wash.
Founded as a city in 1905, Vegas has always been regarded as a city of vices. Prohibition hit it hard, and Nevada was the final state to very reluctantly outlaw gambling in 1910. Following the Great Depression, construction work began in Las Vegas and a great many labourers came to the city, creating a market for entertainment such as showgirls. This was in no small part due to allegations of a power base in organised crime, something that dogged Las Vegas for many years.
Nevada legalised gambling as a revenue stream for Las Vegas in 1931, and by the 1950s celebrities flocked to the strip. More links to business owners with dubious histories led to a congress enquiry, however, and Vegas struggled for legitimacy until the late 1980s. Baby Boomers started the ‘mega-resort era’, and to this day Vegas endures as a dazzling family-friendly commercial enterprise with over 40 million visitors each year. Viva Las Vegas!
Las Vegas climate
Las Vegas is located in the desert, so prepare yourself for some scorching temperatures in the summer; thermometers peak in July, often topping out at over 34 degrees. Curiously, however, August is the rainiest month in the city, so pack a thin waterproof jacket if that’s when you’re planning on visiting.
Naturally the trade-off is that things get considerably chillier during the winter months, so if you’re planning a festive getaway you’re more likely to find the temperature in the single digits and a strong possibility of rain. Things steadily start to get a little toastier as spring arrives in March and April.
Where to Stay in Las Vegas
There is no point in visiting Vegas and staying anywhere but one location: The Strip. The Strip is where you will find the vast majority of Vegas’ hotels, casinos, bars and restaurants. Fortunately, the choice of accommodation is plentiful, with bags of luxury novelty options, or budget-friendly choices that that start as low as $30 per night. All the more money for the Blackjack table, right?
If you’d rather stay in a hotel with a casino, you will have no shortage of opportunity; famous names such as the Aria, Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace and The Mirage are still standing. If you’re looking for two holidays in one you could stay in a resort such as the New York New York, Venetian-Palazzo or the Paris Las Vegas, which will help you imagine that you’re in another city while you slumber.
Getting Around Las Vegas
With all the partying that you’re sure to be doing while in Las Vegas, surely you won’t want to hire a car and drive yourself – and there’s no real need, as almost everything will be located on The Strip.
If you do decide to drive, however, parking is abundant, and usually valeted. Keep a steady stream of notes handy for tipping; you’ll be doing a lot of it. If you’d rather not get behind the wheel yourself, getting around the city is simplicity itself, as everything revolves around The Strip, most of which is negotiable on foot (just always be sure to carry water – desert, remember?)
If you’d rather keep yourself fresh and air conditioned, there are a plethora of options. Taxis are plentiful, and companies such as Uber have a heavy presence. Buses run all over, as does the famous Las Vegas Monorail, or if you want to fully embrace the Vegas experience, you can hire a limo from $35 per hour. You can even take a shuttle to the airport from the strip for just $10.
Culture and Attractions in Las Vegas
It may be pushing the dictionary definition of the word beyond breaking point to describe the entertainment in Las Vegas as culture, but it’s certainly utterly breathtaking.
Las Vegas is as synonymous with gambling and casinos as Venice is with canals, so obviously games of chance are high on the agenda of any visitor. There are over 40 active casinos on The Strip alone, catering to both high- and low-rolling budgets, and all will provide complimentary table service drinks as long as you keep playing the tables (don’t forget to tip, tip, tip, however). Gambling in Las Vegas should be a recreational activity, so just remember that when the fun stops, you should too.
If you get your thrills from rollercoasters instead of the craps table, The Strip hosts six amusement parks and rides. There are more luxury shopping resorts than most cities could even dream of, IMAX cinemas, and major events such as boxing matches take place in the many arenas and concert halls. Speaking of which, is music is you passion then Vegas has you covered; its residency shows are the stuff of legend, and there is never a shortage of major names performing at any given time. The Rat Pack, Celine Dion, Cher, Elton John, Barry Manilow, Mariah Carey… the roll call of those who have enthralled Vegas audiences with a glitzy and glamourous show is endless.
Golfers will struggle to find an open course to the public as many were torn down to make way for building projects, and there are no major sports franchises from the ‘big four’ leagues (NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB) due to stringent anti-gambling policies surrounding the profession, but outdoorsy types need not fret. It’s not particularly well known, but if you’re prepared to travel an hour outside of the strip to Mt. Charleston you’ll find the ski slope of Lee Peak.
Just remember the one golden rule throughout your stay, however; what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Unless you get married by an Elvis impersonator. You may have to deal with that one when you get home and sober up.
Eating out in Las Vegas
There is no particular cuisine connected to Las Vegas, but it is still regarding as one of the world’s premier eating destinations. Meals are available to cater for every taste and budget, from the Michelin starred to fast food, and every nation under the sun is represented by at least one restaurant.
The city changes almost as quickly as a punters luck at the roulette table, however, so it’s probably best not to plan too far in advance; you may find that a restaurant has closed down between making a reservation and ordering your starter.
Las Vegas, the convention capital of the world
Las Vegas is a natural location for trade shows and conventions, the sheer amount of hotel rooms, convention spaces and of course entertainment options once the trade show doors have closed is unrivaled. There really are too many conventions taking place in Las Vegas year round to mention them all but one worth mentioning is CES, the Consumer Electronics Show. CES is a well established and absolutely massive show for the trade and consumers alike, think of it as the motor show or fashion show of the consumer electronics trade. Most major product launches take place here so it´s worth a visit if consumer electronics is your thing. For more info about CES, you can check out our article here