Las Vegas attracted more than 42 million visitors in 2016 and many sources list it as the third or fourth most popular tourist attraction in the world…
Sin City, as Las Vegas is often nicknamed, is of course known for its large number of casinos offering world class gambling. But as I discovered on my recent visit to this incredible city, isolated in the Nevada desert, Las Vegas also has a lot to offer tourists like me who are not really interested in spending hours and hours in dark, overly air-conditioned casinos.
From world class dining to a shark dive or a helicopter ride, it’s all possible in Las Vegas!
They say it about New York but Las Vegas definitely is a city that never sleeps. Not only will you find people gambling any time of day, or night, but you can also always find something else to keep you entertained in Las Vegas…
If you only have a vague picture in your head of Las Vegas, I’m sure it’s an image of ‘The Strip’: a stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard South that holds most of Las Vegas’s famous hotels with unique creations such as its own version of both the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.
The Strip is the one part of Las Vegas you can’t miss on a first visit here.
So, do as I did and find a hotel on The Strip that suits your budget (Groupon.com is a good place to find deals on Las Vegas hotels).
But then what? Should you spend most of your time inside your hotel casino gambling your hard earned money away? Or get married at one of their ridiculed chapels? No! Go out and explore!
What to do in Las Vegas besides gambling?
Walk The Strip
If you don’t like walking or if it’s just too hot (you are in the desert after all!) ask your hotel for available shuttles or take a tram or the monorail to get from one hotel to the next. (For more information about public transport: www.vegas.com/transportation)
But otherwise I’d recommend to walk from hotel to hotel since they are all right next to each other and most of them are quite a sight from the outside as well!
See a different country without leaving the city
Well, not really of course but their attempts to recreate Venice in Hotel Venetian, Paris in Paris Las Vegas and New York in New York New York are all worth a visit!
As you stroll down Las Vegas Boulevard you will find all of these hotels and many more. Stop outside the Bellagio to watch their impressive fountain show. Every half-hour between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and every 15 minutes from then until midnight, an 8.5-acre lake in the middle of the desert explodes with 1,214 spritzers shooting water up to 460 feet in the air — the water rockets and dances, perfectly choreographed to different songs.
Buffets, shopping, shows and clubs
The other things Las Vegas is world famous for are its endless buffets, its good shopping, its impressive shows and of course its nightlife.
Every hotel seems to offer a buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s hard to find out which one is the best but many votes seem to go to the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace. My personal favorite was the Le Village buffet at hotel Paris, not only because as a European I was desperately craving quality European food after several months in the US but also because of its nice ambiance, trying to make you feel as if you are having dinner (or breakfast, or lunch) in an ancient Parisian neighborhood.
Most hotels on The Strip offer a selection of shops that can keep you entertained for quite a while but some of the best shopping on The Strip is allegedly found at The Forum Shops, part of the Ceasars Palace hotel, the Via Bellagio Promenade inside the Bellagio hotel, the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Palazzo inside the Venetian hotel and, if you really have money to spend, check out the designer stores and the Wynn Las Vegas.
Shows are also offered by most casinos, with Cirque du Soleil, offered in several hotels, being one of the most famous options. Use Google if you want to find deals on show tickets or otherwise just ask your hotel to see what they offer.
Since Las Vegas is a city that never sleeps you really don’t have to worry about having to go to sleep before the sun comes up. From exclusive private clubs to trendy bars and happening nightclubs, you can find them all in Las Vegas. Check out this article for a top 10 of Las Vegas clubs.
A few more unique things to do in Las Vegas
A shark dive
The Mandalay Bay’s aquarium, Shark Reef, allows SCUBA certified guests to get in the tank and swim with actual sharks.
Shark Reef, located inside the Mandalay Bay hotel, is a full-sized aquarium featuring lots of predators, including rare golden crocodiles, moray eels, jellyfish and piranhas, and 15 species of sharks. The dive lasts 40-45 minutes in the largest tank at Shark Reef, the 1.3 million gallon Shipwreck, with about thirty Sand Tiger, White Tip Reef, Gray Tip Reef, Sandbar, Zebra, Nurse, and Galapagos sharks, plus moray eels, sea turtles, rays, and lots of fish.
If you’ve had enough of The Strip for the day, go to recently revived Downtown Las Vegas and its Fremont East District. Each summer, Fremont East hosts a series of free concerts.
Downtown’s vibrant restaurant and bar scene make Fremont East a great way to spend an evening on the town in Las Vegas. Some best bets for restaurants are La Comida and Le Thai, and as far as bars go no visit to Fremont East would be complete without a stop at Commonwealth or the Downtown Cocktail Room.
Go for a drive in a Lamborghini
Fast, shiny cars are a huge attraction in Las Vegas, and at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway you can take the wheel of a quarter million dollar Lamborghini Gallardo LP 610 Huracan with its V-10 610 horsepower engine and blazing 2.9 second 0-60 acceleration.
Have a drink with a mermaid
In Las Vegas you will definitely find some of the strangest things you have ever seen and that includes a mermaid bar… Located at the Silverton Casino.
Sip on a cocktail in the company of silver-finned fish-women, before moving on to other oddities in the city of lights.
Kobe Beef & Rare Lobster Tastings
Wynn hotel Las Vegas is one of the rare locations in the USA where you can get certified authentic Kobe beef and besides Kobe they serve other premium real Japanese wagyu along with the finest quality U.S. and Australian beef.
Best of all, they offer tasting plates to compare. A truly one of a kind bucket list experience for the steak lover, worth traveling to Las Vegas for. At its Lakeside restaurant, Wynn takes the same tact with rare breed lobsters, offering a range that includes not only the common Maine variety but also the Scottish (or Brittany) Blue, Moroccan Pink, South Australian spiny lobsters, California Rock lobsters, and even the very rare Juan Fernandez lobster, found in only one spot in Chile.
Dig a hole in Las Vegas
Kids play in sandboxes but only in Las Vegas can big kids try a grown up version of the experience, where visitors can drive full-sized bulldozers and excavators. Dig This, the “Heavy Equipment Playground,” lets you choose to take the controls of either a Caterpillar D5G Track-Type Bulldozer, or a Caterpillar 3I5CL Hydraulic Excavator, and move dirt, making gigantic earthen piles or digging deep trenches. There are also skill “games” such as stacking or pushing one ton monster truck tires. Being Vegas, this “adventure” begins with a breathalyzer test.
SlotZilla Zip Lines
This $11 million attraction fits the “it could only happen in Vegas” theme perfectly.
The zipline launches from an 11-story, 120-foot high takeoff platform designed as a giant slot machine with two different launch levels. That’s just the beginning: SlotZilla is set at one end of the pedestrianized Fremont Street Experience and riders on the higher level – the “Zoomline” – are shot out of SlotZilla at 35MPH using a first-of-its-kind propulsion launch system that lets them soar the entire length of the Fremont Street Experience, over a quarter of a mile.
Riders fly relatively close to the ground, just above strolling tourists and between iconic casinos. In true Vegas fashion, the giant slot machine’s handle periodically pulls down, the digital reels “spin,” and a beacon on top lights up. SlotZilla is adorned with two Vegas “showgirls” standing 37-feet tall and a 20-foot wide “Welcome to Fabulous Downtown Las Vegas” sign.
Record Breaking Roller Coasters
The main destination for thrill ride junkies is The Adventuredome at Circus Circus, which features the world’s only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster, The 55MPH Canyon Blaster.
At the other end of The Strip, The Roller Coaster at New York-New York drops from 203-feet at a speed of 67MPH, and this indoor/outdoor 3½-minute adrenaline rush takes riders through a novel 180-degree twist and dive maneuver. The sky high Stratosphere offers four high-altitude outdoor thrill rides of its own, including the newest, SkyJump, a controlled free fall – from 108-floors up! The rooftop Insanity puts riders through 3-Gs of terror, the X-Scream is a teeter-totter suspended 866-feet above the sidewalk, and Big Shot is a 4-G vertical catapult that takes riders to 1,081-feet above the Strip.
And this is only a selection of the crazy activities offered in Las Vegas…
If you ever do make it to this insane, artificial but highly entertaining city, check out Time Out Las Vegas to see what’s happening while you are there: www.timeout.com/las-vegas
For good deals on tours and attractions in and around Las Vegas I recommend checking out Trusted Tours
My personal Las Vegas hotel top 5
Because I feel you really should stay on The Strip if you are a first time Las Vegas visitor, I have only included hotels there to create my top 5:
1. New York New York
This hotel is my favorite because of the atmosphere. Inside the hotel they have tried to recreate New York streets with cozy bars and trendy restaurants. They also offer several bars / restaurants with outdoor seating which I appreciated because daylight is hard to find inside most hotels on The Strip!
2. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
A trendy, comfortable, modern hotel with a nice atmosphere.
If all the artificiality of replica Eiffel Towers and Venetian Gondolas is too much for you then I highly recommend The Cosmopolitan. With its contemporary design, several swimming pools with their own vibes, nice restaurants and over all quality it’s just a very comfortable luxury hotel right in the middle of The Strip.
3. Paris Las Vegas
For similar reasons to why I would recommend New York New York I would also recommend Paris: the atmosphere.
Of course it’s not quite the real Paris and every real Parisien would probably either laugh at this attempt to recreate their city or even be offended to think anyone would try, but just check out all the detail that went into designing this hotel!
Not only did they recreate the Eiffel Tower, they created entire French streets inside the hotel with cute French cafés and restaurants. Even the way they have painted the ceiling to resemble the Parisian sky on a semi-sunny afternoon is impressive!
4. Bellagio Las Vegas
Comfort and class, that is what the Bellagio is to me. If you want to stay on The Strip in style, a classic style that is, then go for the Bellagio. Plus you get to see their impressive fountain show every time you leave the hotel!
Located right in the middle of The Strip this hotel also has the perfect location for exploring the rest of The Strip.
5. Wynn Las Vegas
One of the newer hotels and seen by many as one of the top hotels but I have to say it only barely made my top 5.
Yes, it’s a luxury hotel and if you are looking for a comfortable stay I am sure the Wynn can offer that. It’s an impressive looking building but I feel they got a bit confused when decorating it. From traditional red carpets to modern, metallic looking giant tulips and a carousel adorned with colorful flowers…
To me it feels like a clash of styles a bit but maybe flamboyant is the right word and if that is your style then the Wynn will definitely offer a luxury 5-star experience.
There are so many crazy, zany and fantastically decadent hotels in Las Vegas it was difficult to keep it to a mere Top 5. Wherever you decide to stay I’m sure you’ll have a blast and remember, Viva Las Vegas! 😉
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