Gambling capital, vacation paradise or premier business destination; these are all definitions of the city that never sleeps. Reality takes a hike when you enter the world of glittering casinos with their 24-hour gambling excitement. The scarcity of clocks adds to the fantasy of those taking time off from the real world. As a family vacation destination, the city offers the ultimate in entertainment for all ages. As a business destination, Las Vegas wins hands down with the volume of facilities and services available for either large conventions or small business get-togethers. Multitudes of upscale eateries are at your fingertips for a business lunch or dinner and after-hours entertainment is plentiful and diverse. Whether you are planning to move here, attend a business meeting, skydive, get married or just relax and enjoy, you will find Las Vegas to be a city like no other in the world.
The Strip: Las Vegas Boulevard
This fabled three-mile area holds more hotel rooms than any other city in the world. You will find the most famous and remarkable resorts such as
Downtown: Fremont Street
The original Las Vegas, where people hung out in the '30s and early '40s, is still thriving, but with a modern face known as the
In recent years, hotels have sprouted up near the Strip, which are conveniently accessible by shuttle bus, taxi or car. Some of the better known of these are
This has become something of a phenomenon in itself. The Boulder Highway was once a sprawl of small motels and businesses, leading from Fremont Street out to the city of Henderson and beyond that to Boulder City and Boulder Dam, also known as Hoover Dam. But in recent years it's become the "Second Strip" with its proliferation of large, popular hotels and casinos including the
North Las Vegas
The city of North Las Vegas has the
Located in the far northwest section of the Las Vegas valley, Summerlin is a planned community with homes, shops, recreational activities, festivals and concerts. A wonderful accommodation in this area is the
Beyond Las Vegas
For day trips that are well worth your time, check out nearby Boulder City,
"Glitter Gulch" is awash with brightly-lit hotels as far as the eye can see. Pyramids, skyscrapers and magical castles present an enchanting scene as you make your way through the desert mirage. The come-hither look of swaying palms, dancing fountains and pirate ships can present quite a dilemma when choosing where to hang your hat, but what a delightful dilemma it is. No matter the reason for your visit, perfect accommodations await. Business or pleasure, with the kids or on your own, Las Vegas has something just for you.
Located on the southern end of the Strip is McCarran International Airport with many great lodging facilities nearby. Alexis Park Resort and Spa is an extremely convenient location for a quick business trip. No gaming is available here, but a spa, gourmet restaurant and business facilities are at your fingertips. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is just minutes from the terminal and provides a fun atmosphere to mix business with pleasure. These two locations are also handy if you have business at the University of Nevada. You can see the runway from your window at the Excalibur and the Luxor. Each venue has its own fantasy theme to take your mind off work for awhile. Mandalay Bay offers its guests many of finest dining options and more upscale accommodations, including the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, which is situated on the 35th through 39th floors of the Mandalay Bay. See the Statue of Liberty at New York-New York Hotel & Casino, or watch the lions play at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. The Miracle Mile will offers a unique shopping experience at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. The city of lights is represented with Paris Las Vegas complete with its own Eiffel Tower. Bellagio is the epitome of luxury with Tuscan architecture, gourmet restaurants, upscale shopping and a fine art gallery. Caesars Palace has been around awhile, but it is always terrific; luxurious accommodations along with a grand casino and upscale shopping mall add to its luxury. The romance of Italy is captured at the Venetian with the Grand Canal Shoppes and the Gondola Ride. With marvelous suites, great gambling and restaurants galore, you never have to leave. Treasure Island offers a fun pirate-themed stay with a tropical touch. If your business trip takes you to the Las Vegas Convention Center, you might like the Courtyard by Marriott or the LVH Hotel & Casino. Circus Circus is near the Convention Center as well and offers a central location between downtown and the airport. All of the large hotels offer internet, data ports and onsite business facilities for fax or copying. It is no problem to arrange a business meeting, large or small and superior catering is always available. The Las Vegas Strip is second to none when it comes to fabulous resorts.
This is not your grandfather's Vegas. Whether you arrive by car, train or plane, downtown is a great place to stay. This area has been revived with the Fremont Street Experience. The familiar places are still there, but they are bigger and better than ever. Under a canopy of lights, one can leisurely walk from casino to casino. The perennial favorite, the Golden Nugget, has an updated look but retains the same great service and even better amenities. The Four Queens is also a popular choice, especially with Hugo's Cellar, one of the best places in town for a romantic dinner. Binion's still has the nostalgic feel of the old days both in the casino, where you can get photographed with a pile of a million dollars in cash, and in the rooms. Go back in time at the El Cortez, built in 1941: it still looks the same, but with an additional 200-room tower. The Plaza Hotel is better than ever offering fine dining at Oscar's Steakhouse overlooking the neon extravaganza of Fremont Street.
Off the Strip
Away from the vibrant energy of the Strip but still within an easy distance to all the major attractions, there are many lodging options that have all the plushness that one would expect from a Las Vegas hotel and casino. Popular with the younger crowd, The Palms Resort & Casino is a hotspot for vacationing celebrities and MTV loyalists alike. The Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino is a fun, Carnaval themed resort, featuring one of Vegas' most acclaimed buffet. The Orleans Hotel Casino brings a taste of the bayou to the desert, while the Gold Coast Hotel Casino emanates Spanish charm. Finally, the Red Rock Casino Resort Spa is a great place to experience fine dining and great nightlife without ever leaving your hotel.
Outside the City
If you're looking for a little relaxation and invigoration, there are plenty of luxury options outside the city with all the outdoor activities and spa treatments you could possibly want. The Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa is an outdoors lovers dream, featuring a championship golf course as well as activities on Lake Las Vegas and Lake Mead. The Montelago Village Resort is a Mediterranean village in the mountains of Nevada. The J.W. Marriott Las Vegas is a golf paradise, with superior golf facilities. Finally, the Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa & Casino offers everything you would expect from any of the hotels on the Strip, minus the crowds and chaos.
Even though there seems to be an endless supply of rooms, conventions and special events fill them up fast. If you're planning on attending a popular event, reserve several months in advance to be safe. Room rates can fluctuate drastically, so if you're on a budget, planning ahead is highly recommended. Even the luxury resorts offer very reasonable prices at various times of the year.
From its earliest beginnings, Las Vegas has catered to the traveler. A nomadic tribe of Indians called the Paiutes settled the area around the turn of the last millennium and occupied most of the area from Mt. Charleston to the Colorado River. Several traders and explorers including Jedediah Smith in 1826 and John C. Fremont in 1844 traveled through the area and made contact with the Paiutes. By 1851, Mormon president, Brigham Young, in his endeavor to create the State of Deseret stretching from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, made Las Vegas one of his important stopovers. To this end, he sent missionaries to colonize the region and convert the Paiute. The location they selected to establish their fort was on a promontory overlooking the Las Vegas Valley, which is now the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Washington. The Old Mormon Fort still has remnants of its original building. Eventually the settlement disbanded and most of the Mormon settlers returned to Utah.
However, a mining boom at nearby Mt. Potosi fostered a new influx of travelers, mainly miners who used Las Vegas as a center for food and supplies. There was no permanent settlement there until 1865, when a group of prospectors, including Octavius Decatur Gass, acquired the rights to the Old Mormon Fort. For the rest of that decade, Gass ran a prosperous business at the Fort, rebuilding many of the structures and farming the land, offering food and shelter to the travelers on the "Old Mormon Trail" (the Salt Lake-Los Angeles wagon road), as well as offering provisions to the nearby miners. Gass was less of a businessman than a prospector at heart and eventually bad business deals forced him to turn the property over to Archibald Stewart and his wife, Helen, who had only intended to stay there temporarily. However, after a feud at nearby Kiel Ranch, which ended in the murder of Stewart, his widow stayed on to run the ranch and see it prosper. This period was from 1882 to 1902, when she sold the ranch to Montana Senator William Clark. Clark was instrumental in overseeing the establishment of the railroad from Utah to California. Acquiring the rights to the Ranch and its abundant water supply ensured that Las Vegas was to become a major stop for railroad travelers. In 1905 an ad was placed in prominent major newspapers concerning "first class inside lots" going for as little as 200 dollars a piece in Clark's Las Vegas Townsite. This encouraged squatters and investors alike, and the auction on May 15, 1905 produced a flurry of sales. Soon hotels and homes sprouted up all along the main downtown area of Fremont Street, as well as schools, a hospital and other essential businesses such as ice plants.
Las Vegas essentially thrived for the next 20 years because of the railroad; it played host to travelers by providing entertainment and liquor. The liquor was restricted to a certain area, Blocks 16 and 17. This area naturally evolved into a red light district as well. During Prohibition, this section was especially popular. During this period, the city founders realized that as the roads were improved from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, this would promote more tourism and they began to build ranches to appeal to the potential visitors. Kiel Ranch became a popular dude ranch and gained notoriety as a place where people came to wait out their quicky Nevada divorces. In 1931, the combined advent of the building of Boulder Dam (later renamed Hoover), the creation of Boulder City plus the legalization of gambling, ensured a new boom in the prosperity of southern Nevada.
World War II increased the Las Vegas economy even more. In 1940, an air base was established (now known as Nellis Air Force Base) in the northeast part of town. A huge plant, Basic Magnesium, was built for the manufacture of bullets and bomb casings, etc. The plant was instrumental in the establishment of Henderson, just southeast of Las Vegas and now one of the fastest-growing communities in Nevada. In the early 1950s a new kind of entertainment was born: watching the atomic bomb testing, which took place at the nuclear test site, just 70 miles northwest of Las Vegas. A famous Life Magazine photo captured one of the mushroom clouds rising above the waving cowboy, "Vegas Vic" of Fremont Street. In fact, the opening of the now closed Desert Inn was timed to coincide with one of the blasts.
In recent decades the hotel industry has re-invented itself again and again. Just when everyone was predicting a severe depression, especially when Atlantic City emerged as a gambling destination in the early 80s, Las Vegas managed to come up with a new twist. Even today, with the proliferation of gambling in many of the 50 states, Las Vegas only seems to become more popular. Theme hotels have become abundant, starting with the Mirage in the late 80s, followed by the Excalibur, Treasure Island, Luxor and the MGM Grand. More and more soon popped up including the Stratosphere, Monte Carlo, Bellagio, Paris Las Vegas, Venetian, Mandalay Bay and many more. When will the boom end?
Once a vast wasteland of buffets, Las Vegas has come of age when it comes to dining and drinking. Las Vegas has transformed from a mecca of 99 cent shrimp cocktails (which are still available) into a major international culinary destination, with a mindblowing collection of many of the world's best restaurants and chefs all within several miles of each other. Visitors now have their choice of fine dining experiences, both on and off the strip.
Las Vegas, and especially the Strip, has quickly become a hotbed of upscale fine dining establishments, attracting world-class celebrity chefs from all corners of the globe. Famous for his California-style food and original restaurants, Wolfgang Puck has graced the city with several ventures. One of his establishments, Postrio, located inside the Venetian Hotel provides the romantic atmosphere of a genuine bistro, along with private rooms. If you like a fine dining experience with a spectacular view, ascend to the top of the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas for an evening at the elegant Eiffel Tower Restaurant. There is not a bad seat in the house since the room has stunning 360 degree views of the Las Vegas Strip, the fountains at the Bellagioand Red Rock in the distance. Bouchon is world renowned chef Thomas Keller's Vegas venture, offering the very best French bistro cuisine inside the Venetian Resort & Casino. Another celebrity chef who has made himself a home in Las Vegas is Bobby Flay, whose Mesa Grill inside Caesars Palace Hotel Casino brings real southwestern flavor to Sin City. If you're in the mood for something a little more exotic, try Shibuya at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino to sample the flavors of the far east. Visiting the Mohave Desert does not preclude enjoying fine seafood. Chef Emeril Lagasse produces award winning lobster, fish and crab delights of the Big Easy at Emeril's New Orleans Fish House inside the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. Awards have also been garnered by Rick Moonen's RM Seafood at the Mandalay Bay, a restaurant dedicated to sustainable seafood.
If you rather have quantity and quality, there are some great buffets on the Strip. In fact, buffets are less expensive than fine dinning and you can have all-you-can-eat lobster, steak and dessert for one price. Some of the best, though rather expensive, buffets are on the Strip. Le Village Buffet can be found at Paris Las Vegas, where you can sample as much as you can stomach, all from various regions of France. For a more upscale all-you-can-eat experience, it doesn't get much classier than The Buffet at the Bellagio, complete with a champagne brunch on weekends. The Buffet at Wynn also boasts numerous cooking stations, including sushi, risotto and of course, dessert. Spice Market Buffet, located in the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino is a contemporary buffet featuring international delicacies from Mexican to Middle Eastern and is a consistent winner of best buffet in Vegas awards. The Treasure Island Buffet is a tried and true classic, which also boasts an impressive Sunday brunch buffet. Another brunch hotspot is Sterling Brunch at Bally's Casino Resort. While it is only open for Sunday brunch, and is one of the more pricey buffets, it is well worth the effort and money.
Being one of the entertainment capitals of the world, Las Vegas has no shortage of theme restaurants. Perhaps you'd be tickled by dining with a cyborg from the Terminator, or Freddy from Friday the 13th. If so, drop in at Planet Hollywood where you will see authentic movie props and maybe a real star or two. You don't need to travel to the jungles of South America to get a taste of exotic plants and animals, instead you can just pop into the Rainforest Cafe in the MGM Grand, and then pop across the way to check out the real live wildlife in the Lion Habitat. Le Provencal inside Paris Las Vegas will transport you to a small European village, without ever leaving the Strip! For something a little more casual, Burger Bar serves up everything burger, right down to the dessert.
Just like the action never stops in Vegas, there's also a lot of restaurants that go round the clock with you, so no matter what the time, you can always find something to satisfy your appetite. Raffles Cafe at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino is a casual, tropical restaurant with a diverse menu to satisfy any craving at any time. At Caesars Palace Hotel Casino the Central Michel Richard also has American classics with a French twist day or night. Le Cafe Ile St. Louis, overlooking the Paris Las Vegas casino floor, has all the atmosphere of a Parisian sidewalk cafe, offering French and American specialties, and the Grand Lux Cafe at the Venetian offers over 20 desserts to satiate any late night sweet tooth yearnings. Café Bellagio is an upscale coffee shop with gorgeous views any time of day.
If you'd like to save some money for the slots and shows, there are several cheap places to grab a meal. For breakfast, dinner or anytime in between, head to Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino and try Planet Dailies to experience the coffee shop of the future. There are several good dining options at the Miracle Mile Shops @ Planet Hollywood, like Ocean One Bar & Grille, which will really suit your budget. Backstage Deli at the Luxor is a New York-style deli that will make you feel like you've been transported to New York, don't miss their famous triple-decker sandwiches. If you'd rather grab a burger Cheeseburger Las Vegas will to save you some money for the slots and you can top your burger with almost anything you could think of. At the Bellagio, Noodles can give you a taste of Asia without the cost of getting there. They also have dim sum on weekends. Ready for something sweet? Le Creperie in Paris can help, with numerous different dessert crepes, as well as savory options for dinner.
Downtown Las Vegas has both historic and new restaurants. Although you'll still have to deal with the crowds, the prices will be more reasonable than on the Strip. If you want casual fine dining Second Street Grille is a great place to have Pacific Rim cuisine. Grotto Ristorante at the Golden Nugget Hotel Casino is a beautiful Italian restaurant that uses only the freshest ingredients. Binion's Steakhouse is the perfect place to have quality steak or seafood, make sure you try the Chicken Fried Lobster.
Off the Strip
If you don't want to deal with the crowds and the prices of the Strip or downtown Las Vegas, the restaurants off the Strip have plenty of great choices. For a taste of south of the border, head to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to Pink Taco, where you can get tacos, burritos and other Mexican favorites.
Las Vegas has always been known for its numerous, affordable buffets. And while the days of the 99 cent all-you-can-eat prime rib are waning, there are endless quality options available. The Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino features two buffets, the award winning Carnival World Buffet and Village Seafood Buffet, both extremely popular with tourists and locals alike. Ports o' Call Buffet at the Gold Coast Hotel Casino is another local favorite, with seven live cooking stations.
If music is more your cup of tea, you can dine with the world's largest guitar at the Hard Rock Cafe. Mr. Lucky's 24/7 Cafe at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino serves up classics like pizza and burgers with a '50's diner feel 24 hours a day.
Outside the City
If you need a break from hustle and bustle of the touristy Las Vegas, you can find the real deals outside the city. Go to Amigo's Mexican Cantina for a Mexican meal paired with a margarita. If you want an all-you-can-eat option try the international buffet is the Feast Buffet, located a little ways outside the city at the Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa & Casino.